The Power of Love

The sun is shining. I haven’t checked the weather yet, but both Iris and Tucks were moved up an hour today due to thunderstorm forecasts. It may rain, despite the sunshine this morning; my windows are covered in condensation so it’s definitely humid out there.

A quick perusal of the weather forecast, however, shows a possibility of a thunderstorm this afternoon around 2–although the little image of the cloud with a lightning bolt on it also says, right above it, “0% chance of rain.” It’s also going to be in the 70’s today; beautiful weather for Iris and Tucks; though it might rain on Endymion tonight. I’m not concerned–Endymion doesn’t go down St. Charles so we never watch it. We used to go out dancing on Endymion Saturday, so we would walk down the parade route to get to the Quarter, and be buried in beads on the way (it does follow St. Charles in the CBD, and goes around Lee Circle before heading back up to the Superdome). But we don’t go dancing during Mardi Gras anymore–I don’t think  my old legs could handle it; they are very tired and sore this morning from all the walking and the outreach yesterday.

Yesterday was beautiful; I walked to work around one o’clock and took lots of pictures along the way. The Quarter was a madhouse; second lines and marching bands everywhere. We gave away 4500 condoms yesterday; we started at 3:15. I was supposed to work the second shift as well as the first, but at 6:00 when the others showed up we were down to less than 200 condoms, so I wished them well and walked home. Paul had been invited to a parade party at the New Orleans Advocate office on St. Charles; I couldn’t go because of outreach. But as I walked home, and walked past their office, I glanced in through the entry way and saw Paul; so I called his name and I got in. Their building, which used to house Michaud’s Cajun restaurant for years, are gorgeous; it’s where I saw Colson Whitehead speak last year. But I had never been up onto their balcony, which is way up there. We went up and watched the start of the Hermes parade, and the decided to walk home. I got some great pictures from up there as well.

This one is a particular favorite:


Gorgeous, right?

We came home, fed the cats, and I took a shower while Paul watched the end of the LSU-Missouri gymnastics meet on-line, and then we headed out to the corner for Krewe d’Etat and Morpheus. We caught a shit ton of stuff out there–Morpheus is a great parade, but by the time it arrives the crowd has thinned out so much it’s easy to catch things, and they throw a lot. Then when it was all over, around 11:36 last night, we came inside and chilled. I finished reading Pictures at a Revolution last night, which I’ll blog about at some point after all the madness is over–just a few more days!

But now I have to pick another non-fiction book to read before bed, and I am leaning towards some true-crime-ish; perhaps the Edgar nominated Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI. I don’t read near enough true crime, and I also just realized I am not reading anything fictional, either; between the trip to Alabama, working on the anthology, and Carnival, I’ve not really sat down and picked something out to read. And I am also behind on the short story project. Heavy heaving sigh.

But I did take Monday off–tomorrow is going to be insane, four parades on the Avenue–so I am hoping to be able to use that day to get some rest, get back to the gym, and get caught up on things I am too tired to do over this weekend.

And now, back to the spice mines. Iris rolls in a little over half an hour!

Cover Me

The first day of the new year: 2018. It is currently twenty-eight degrees outside; which is hideous for New Orleans. Much as I would rather spend the day curled up beneath blankets with a good book today, I am venturing out for an early lunch with a friend before heading back home for the LSU bowl game. I am currently wrapped in a wool blanket sipping my first cup of coffee. I didn’t want to leave the warmth of my bed this morning; it was comfortable and warm in there under all those blankets. Tomorrow I have to work a long day which will entail getting up quite early; I am not looking forward to that as the temperature is supposed to be around the same as it is this morning.

Not a pleasant start to the new year, but i am grateful that at least our thermostat is in the positive numbers.

Yesterday after lunch at Commander’s, I stopped at Garden District Books and bought myself a blank journal; while watching the Saints lose (seriously, they couldn’t have played worse if they were trying to lose) I wrote three pages of notes on the WIP in it; and they are good notes. Sometimes, it’s necessary to go back to your roots to kick the cobwebs out of your mind and get things together. I’m glad I remembered that I used to do this with my journals, and I can carry it with me everywhere, just like I used to; and I can just scribble notes, even just brainstorming and free association the way I used to rather than rabidly checking my phone.

So, here are my goals for 2018. I prefer to set goals rather than make resolutions; goals sounds, for one thing, more positive, and not reaching a goal isn’t like failing; breaking a resolution sounds almost criminal, whereas not making a goal doesn’t mean the goal isn’t still attainable; just taking longer than originally anticipated. So, here goes.

Get to the gym at least twice a week. I was doing quite well with doing crunches at home several days a week, until I got sick a few weeks ago and it flattened me out. It will be easier to get to the gym now on the weekends since football season is past; ideally I should make it three times per week; but two is better than once; and once is better than never. Getting into a regular routine will help me get back into better physical condition; being in better physical condition will help me sleep better and help regulate my vitals–blood pressure, etc.

Write a short story every month. I always try to write more short stories; I set this goal every year, and I am even going to allow myself a little more wiggle room here with this one; I am going to expand it to mean just working on a short story every month. I have any number of short stories in a draft form, either unfinished or in need of rewriting/revising/polishing, and the sooner I can get those files off my desk the more room I will have on my desk.

Get an agent. This was a goal last year that I didn’t achieve; but last year I did start submitting queries. Now that I’ve ripped off that bandage, I am going to get going on this and get somewhere with it. However, part of this is having something to submit; and the WIP needs more work. So, I am setting May 1 as the goal date of having the WIP in shape and submittable. That gives me four months, and I should be able to get it done in that amount of time.

Finish the new Scotty and a young adult novel. I’ve had to stop the current Scotty because it was kind of a mess; I am debating whether any of the chapters I’ve written are even usable. I’ll need to reread them all, of course, but I am thinking that not only does the title need to be changed but the book itself needs to be overhauled. This is do-able. I also have about 40k of another y/a novel that’s been haunting my files for several years. It needed about another 20k, and I wasn’t totally satisfied with the plot. I think I know how to fix the plot and get it up to about 60k; with a goal of getting that finished by the end of the summer.

Pay down my debt. Buying a new car and having to have full insurance coverage on it put a major dent in my finances this year; so much so that it’s almost frightening how close to the edge I’ve skated at times. Obviously, the best way to not have financial concerns would be to pay down the debt that I owe, rather than just, as I said, skating along the way I have been, which means tightening my belt and maybe doing without. I am already denying myself new books until I clean out my TBR pile substantially (I will make exceptions, of course, to this rule), and frugality is the key to this year.

Do a better job of staying on top of the household chores, and maybe add a cleaning project each week. The condition of the Lost Apartment is really appalling, and trying to stay on top of things has been much harder than it should have been, but if I add one extra chore to the weekly ones rather than trying to do a massive, over-all all-at-once clean, I can get the house back under control in a matter of months and having it under control after a matter of months is better than never at all, right?

Those are all attainable, and putting them out there in public does make it slightly more likely that I will get them done.

And on that note, tis back to the spice mines. I need to finish the laundry and grab a shower before lunch.

Here’s a Happy New Year hunk to kick off the year for you, Constant Reader, and as always, thanks for being here.



Lucky Star

New Year’s Eve, a time to look back on the past year and reflect on goals either achieved or missed; to look at what was accomplished and what wasn’t, to think about and make plans for the future year.

So, what kind of year was 2017? I didn’t achieve many, if any, of the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year. I intended to write more short stories (which I sort of did) and publish more short stories (which I didn’t really do); I intended to start my search for an agent (which I did); but I didn’t seem to get much else done. I didn’t start working out more, but I did lose weight–so that one’s kind of a toss-up; I weigh 15 pounds less than I did a year ago. I did buy a new car, which was also a goal, and I’ve not regretted it once, despite the impact on my finances. I also didn’t write nearly as much this year as I had hoped/wanted to; there were no new novels published under my name this year; which is the first time I think that’s happened since 2005. That doesn’t bother me nearly as much as it did in 2005, to be honest; my self-worth and identity as an author apparently no longer requires me to write and publish at the insane pace that I used to keep.

I read a lot of good books in 2017, discovered a lot of great new-to-me writers, watched some amazing television shows and movies, but creatively I spent most of the year in stasis; just kind of getting through the day every day and then watching as those days turned into weeks and then months. I started a number of short stories that I either didn’t finish, or finished but didn’t know how to fix. The WIP, the manuscript I am shopping to agents, needs some more work. I had started sending it out in the fall, but I am going to hold back on it for a few more months as I revise and polish it some more. I always felt it was missing something, even though I thought it was a good manuscript, and I’ve recently figured out what that something is; and I’ve also realized part of the problem I had with the manuscript and fixing it has to do with my own stubbornness. It’s starting point needs to be before where I start the book; I flash back to the beginning of the story and that kind of is not only a cliche but also steps on the action. Also, where I start the book itself is kind of hackneyed and cliched. There’s another subplot or two that needs to be woven into the story, and I  need to develop my main character more; and there are things about him that know that are kind of crucial to the story that don’t actually appear in the story, and some of the relationships between the characters need to be developed and deepened, more layered. It’s a very basic story right now, and it needs to be more complex; and it needs to go deeper into its theme.

So, that’s something, at any rate.

I also had a good year in that I was nominated for a Macavity Award (Best Short Story, “Survivor’s Guilt”) and an Anthony Award (Best Anthology, Blood on the Bayou). Both were completely unexpected surprises, and enormously gratifying.  As Constant Reader knows, I struggle with short stories and have very little to no self-confidence when it comes to them. So, to get nominated for a Macavity Award for a short story I wrote? That was probably one of the most meaningful things to happen to me in my career thus far. And I was nominated against some amazing writers–I read all the stories–and wasn’t in the least surprised when Art Taylor won; any of the other nominated stories were award-worthy. It was such an honor.

I was so certain I wasn’t going to win the Anthony Award that Paul and I booked our plane tickets home from Toronto for Sunday morning; I was boarding my flight to New Orleans when I started getting texts and tweets and Facebook messages that I’d won. It, too, was an incredibly lovely surprise, and I was extremely happy for the contributors, and thankful to them for their amazing stories.

I also realized this year that something I used to do when I was writing–something that was highly effective, and I don’t know why I stopped doing it–was write about whatever I was working on in long-hand in notebooks. I started doing that again this year, in these last few months–and it proved incredibly helpful with a couple of things I was working on at the time. So, I am going to make that a goal for the new year; to return to buying a blank book to carry around with me at all times, to use for notes and questions I have for myself, for developing characters and things. I think I stopped using the blank books because I started keeping physical files, and it was easier to use a spiral notebook for notes that could be removed and put in the files. There’s no reason I can’t stop doing that, either; but the point is that I need to start doing things like that in long-hand again. It was an excellent way of brainstorming and free-associating that I’ve sadly gotten away from over the years.

Despite getting off to a rough start, LSU also had a great season, one with lots of highlights and excitement, and wound up 9-3 on the year, with a chance for a ten-win season with a bowl win. The future also looks fairly bright for the Tigers going forward; the Saints are also having a great season. Back in September this football season was looking really bleak; who could have foreseen that both of our teams would have such a remarkable turnaround?

I had a lot of fun this past year. Last January I did two library events in Alabama, which were way fun, and was invited back again this year; I also spoke at an event at the University of Mississippi as well as at the Alabama Book Festival (both events were in teh same week, so I was driving around the deep South quite a bit then), and of course, Bouchercon in Toronto was a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to this year’s event in St. Petersburg, and I am also looking forward to a trip to England this spring.

We’re having lunch later at Commander’s Palace; our annual New Year’s Eve meal with Jean and Gillian, which is always a lovely way to ring out the old year. I’ve started reading John Hart’s Redemption Road–I greatly enjoyed his The Last Child and Iron House, so am greatly looking forward to this one. Next weekend I am appearing at Comic Con at the Convention Center every day; that should also be a lot of fun.

And so, I should get some things done before it’s time to go to lunch. The spice mines are always calling me, so here’s one last hunk for 2017, Constant Reader, and have a lovely and safe and happy new year.


Break My Stride

The regular season came to an end for LSU last night with a 45-21 win over Texas A&M, and I am going to miss the seniors and the guys the team will lose to the NFL draft. It’s been a pleasure watching you all play for the last few years. I also want to shout out to Danny Etling, who has never really gotten the kind of respect he earned over the last two seasons. He’s not Eli Manning, but he was a cool, competent quarterback who made some big plays and only threw two interceptions this entire season. That’s pretty amazing. And considering where the team was at one point, it’s no disgrace to take pride in how they closed out the season, winning six of their last seven games–including a win over Auburn, who went on to win the West division spot in the conference championship game by beating Alabama yesterday–the second CFS Number One team they defeated in three weeks.


I also continued working on the Scotty Bible yesterday–found some discrepancies that may not be able to be corrected, at least maybe not right away–but the ones I can’t correct are easily explained away; and I can correct things like the fact that Storm apparently had children in the first two books that completely vanished from the series later. Oops. (I’m not sure if they disappeared or just were never mentioned again; I don’t think I ever said Storm didn’t have children; I just never mentioned them, and that is kind of weird, really; why wouldn’t Scotty or his parents ever talk about his nieces and nephews? Although it might be kind of fun to bring them into the story at some point….hmmmm. Also, I mentioned in one book that Frank’s parents lived in Chicago and then in a later one that they were dead. I think I can correct that in the earlier book; let’s hope.

Obviously, I should have done this years ago.

But I have only one more book to go through–Garden District Gothic–which is incredibly exciting, and then I can create the Scotty Bible, which….is not so incredibly exciting. Ah, well. I have a lot to do today, so it’s probably best to get to it.

Here’s how it looks so far:



Somebody’s Watching Me

I actually finished the first draft of a short story yesterday. It’s very rough, but it’s still a draft, and it’s finished. I’ll take it, thank you very much, and it was only 1200 words or so when I started working on it and it’s now about 3700, so I’ll gladly take a 2500 word tally for the day. Huzzah! I also started writing another one that’s at about 500 words right now, and I sort of have an idea where it’s going to go and how I’m going to finish it, so I take that as a win. I also have to write another one this weekend, and do some Scotty work and some other things, but am very excited to be writing again.

I’m still afraid I’m not able to do it on a daily basis, and everything I am writing is garbage, but hey, what can I say? Even producing work makes me feel insecure.

Paul and I have been watching the Hulu original series, Future Man, and Constant Reader, it’s hilarious, especially if you catch all the 1980’s references. But no worries, it’s just as enjoyable if you don’t. It’s a science fiction/time travel mess, borrowing tropes openly from other scifi–everything from The Last Starfighter to The Terminator to The Abyss–but it’s done reverentially, and it is very much aware. It does start a bit slow, but once it gets going it is hilarious. We’ll probably finish watching it tonight after the LSU-Texas A&M game.

The best character in the show is Wolf, played absolutely straight by Derek Wilson, who is absolutely pitch-perfect in the role. The show’s premise–a combination of both The Last Starfighter and The Terminator–is that in a dystopic future, the ‘Resistance’ sent a video game designed to find someone who would be their ultimate savior back in time, so that they can come back and kill the person who is, in this time, ultimately responsible for the dystopian future they live in. That person turns out to be Josh Futturman, who works as a janitor at Kronish Labs and lives with his parents. Played perfectly by Josh Hutcherson from The Hunger Games, Josh is just an ordinary guy, a bit of a loser with no girlfriend and no future–until the characters from his favorite video game, Tiger (Eliza Coupe) and Wolf (Derek Wilson) suddenly show up in his bedroom and change everything, Eliza Coupe is also terrific as Tiger–but the show doesn’t really hit its stride until they start traveling through time to save humanity from its ultimate destruction in their future. And my God, is it ever funny. Derek Wilson steals the show right out from under the rest of the cast, though–and if he doesn’t at least get an Emmy nom for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, there needs to be investigation into Emmy voting.


Here’s Derek Wilson as Wolf:


And now, back to the spice mines. I want to finish that short story this morning before it’s time for the Iron Bowl.

And by the way, Ivy Pochoda’s Wonder Valley continues to enthrall.


Talking in Your Sleep

My God, that Saints game. My God. There I was, watching the game as I went about my business of the day–I’ve learned not to solely focus on the Saints games, as I can hardly handle the stress–and thinking, well, seven in a row is still pretty damned good, and this loss doesn’t mean the season will end prematurely because we can still regroup. Can I be blamed for moving into the “acceptance” phase? We were down by fifteen points with about three minutes left in the game. BLAM! The Saints move down the field and score, and it’s 31-23. Yeah, sure, but we have to kick-off and the defense hasn’t exactly played well all day, right? And we’d need a two-point conversion to force overtime, on top of that. But you know–that glimmer of hope was there. And then sure enough, there it was–a great stand on fourth down and the Saints get the ball back. Paul had fallen asleep on the couch somehow, and I woke up him up when I shrieked when the Saints got the ball down to about the fifteen yard line for a first down–so he was awake to see the next play; that insane juggling catch for Alvin Kamara that he took in for a touchdown. And sure enough, there it was–the two point conversion. Tied, 31-31, with about a minute left in the game. Still plenty of time though for the Redskins…but it was not to be. OVERTIME. The defense forced a three and out and the Saints marched right down the field and kicked the winning field goal.

I still can’t believe it. 8-2. Eight in a row.

I turned to Paul and said, “remember back in September when we wrote off this football season?”

At that point, the Saints were 1-2 and LSU had just lost to Troy. Troy. TROY. We were looking at probably the worse LSU season since 1999, and the Saints weren’t looking much better. “Oh, well, we had a good run,” I remember saying to Paul. “It’s been a long time since both the Saints and LSU were bad at the same time.” (I distinctly remember one weekend a while back being very excited because both LSU and the Saints had won on the same weekend.) Now, the Saints are 8-2, LSU is 8-3 and, with a win over Texas A&M next weekend and a possible bowl win, could have a 10 win season.

And people are talking Super Bowl for the Saints. I think that’s a tad premature, but it’s kind of exciting all the same. It’s been awhile since the Saints have won eight in a row–probably going back to the year we DID win the Super Bowl.

And…LSU is looking really good. The game this weekend, a 30-10 win over Tennessee, was sloppy; but the weather was insane and hey, a win is a win. It’s almost as though that loss to Troy woke LSU up; when we went to the season opener against BYU in the Dome I wasn’t impressed with this year’s Tigers. They seemed to sleepwalk through the game, and the same again the next week when we went to the home opener against Tennessee-Chattanooga. Then came the embarrassing loss at Mississippi State, the sluggish win over Syracuse–and the horrible embarrassment of losing to Troy. But that loss seemed to snap the Tigers out of their season malaise; as though they finally realized they couldn’t just show up and win. They’ve only lost once since then–to Alabama, and hey, they’re only undefeated and ranked number one in the country, and the Tigers weren’t humiliated; it was a much closer game than the 24-10 would indicate. The win over Florida at their stadium, 17-16, was the start of Florida’s slide that got their coach fired; and good Lord! That come from behind win over Auburn? We watched the first half and the first drive of the second in our hotel room in Toronto; we had to leave to go meet friends for drinks and then dinner. I followed the game on my phone and could not believe they came back. I shouted in the Sheraton club lounge when my phone told me the game ended. (And Auburn trounced Georgia, when Georgia was undefeated and ranked Number One, setting up their Iron Bowl showdown with Alabama next weekend with the SEC West and the play-offs on the line; kind of similar to that year of the Kick Six. Auburn lost to LSU that year, too.)

Next year could be an awesome year for LSU….and this season could be an awesome one for the Saints.

Lesson learned; never count out those Louisiana teams after September.

Oh, yes, I am also in Facebook jail for seven days. I probably waste too much time on there anyway, so without that distraction maybe I can get everything done that I want to get done this week. We shall see, shan’t we?

And now back to the spice mines.

Here’s Charlie Hunnam, flipping off Facebook and Zuckerberg.




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: