Smells Like Teen Spirit

Well, we got tickets for this Saturday’s LSU game: GEAUX TIGERS! It’ll be fun to watch them play live, and of course, a good time is always had in Tiger Stadium. The Tigers are playing Louisiana Tech, and coming off a big win at Auburn they have to be careful not to have a letdown; the secondary Louisiana universities, like so many secondary university football teams in the South, are a lot tougher than most people give them credit for. SO, it could be what’s called a trap game, a game that on paper the better-known team should win easily, but could be easily lulled into thinking it will be easy and therefore not be as prepared as they should be and be surprised and lose–kind of like Troy last year (Troy also knocked off Nebraska this year, so look out for Troy, people.)

Last night we watched another episode of Ozark that was incredibly tightly written, beautifully shot, and exceptionally acted; as it came to an end I said to Paul, “where on earth do they go from here?” We’re only about half-way through the second season, and this season has been crazily intense, and Laura Linney’s brilliance is really starting to shine through. Dark, Gothic and at times startlingly funny and scathingly witty, I absolutely love this show, and even though we haven’t finished season two, I am already starting to miss it, and hate the thought of it ending.

I worked two longish days this week already–but the rest of the week should slide into the weekend fairly easily. I have an eight-hour shift today, but tomorrow is only a half-day and I have to go see my doctor in the morning; Friday is another eight hour day and then it’s the weekend. Huzzah!

I haven’t had a chance to do much writing the last couple of days; I am still trying to get caught up on all the email that accumulated while I was gone–and this is my second week back at work. Bouchercon really knocked me off my game this year, but hopefully I’ll be able to get back to writing this morning or this evening. I really want to make some detailed progress on the Scotty book, and I thought about ways to improve my story “Never Kiss a Stranger” last night.

I feel disconnected from my writing; the Bouchercon break kind of did that, other than the Scotty. I feel like there’s something I’m not finishing, that I should be working on, but all I can remember is the Scotty…I kind of hate when that happens. OH! Yes, of course, how could I forget my story “A Little More Jazz for the Axeman”? I’ve really been enjoying my excursions into New Orleans history lately; I feel like there’s so much I don’t know about New Orleans and its rich and varied past that could be fodder for so many stories and/or novels. I really am thinking it might be a smart idea to write a series set in the past in New Orleans; I know so many experts on New Orleans and Louisiana history, as well as so many people who work in research collections and archives, that it should be fairly simple to actually connect with people and get their help to find the materials I need to write something new and spectacular and different.

It’s a thought, anyway.

And now, back to the spice mines.

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Come and Talk to Me

Well, that Saints game on Sunday was hideous, but I will take the W. Strange how both LSU and the Saints literally came down to the last second of the game to come away with the win this weekend.

In other exciting news, I started the revision of Royal Street Reveillon at long last, and while I know I am just getting started, it was all so easy and worked so well and flowed so nicely that I really have high hopes that this might actually go quickly and easily, provided I stay motivated and energized. Fingers crossed, people. I’m actually kind of excited; Scotty’s voice is very clear in my head, and I know exactly what I want this book to be about and how I want it all to happen. This could be, with all self-deprecation aside, the best of the Scottys.

At least I certainly hope so.

I’d hate to think I’d already peaked in the series….because if that’s true, then I should end the series.

And I don’t want to end the Scotty series yet, I don’t think.

The second season of Ozark is even darker than the first, which I didn’t think entirely possible. I love this show; the acting and writing are stellar, and you never can see what direction the show is going to go; things just seem to keep getting worse and worse for the characters in every episode. There was also some pretty amazing sleight-of-hand worked by the writers; the show and the main family were not what they seemed to be in the very beginning; as the layers continue to be peeled back, as we get to know them and see their faults and flaws, we know them better but at the same time they become more complicated and complex and harder to know.

Not an easy thing to do.

And now, back to the spice mines.

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Masterpiece

 How bout them Tigers?

I’m still aglow from yesterday’s big upset win over Auburn, and I have to say, LSU not only gave me a heart attack yesterday, but impressed me quite a bit by how well they played. They raced out to a 10-0 lead in the second quarter–and it could have been worse–only to make some mistakes and fall behind 21-10. I am completely ashamed to say that at that point in the game, I honestly thought well, this is going to be a blow out. What happened? They were playing so well. 

You’d think I’d know better by now. LSU came back, and the final score, 22-21, was reached by transfer kicker Cole Tracy putting a forty-two yarder square through the uprights to give the Tigers the win as time ran out and silence a stadium full of people. The LSU-Auburn rivalry, almost always played in September, has resulted in a lot of classic games that went on to be named: the Earthquake Game, the Night The Barn Burned, etc. There have been some blowouts along the way–LSU’s 2011 and 2015 pastings of Auburn come to mind; as well as the 2014 31-7 LSU loss. This is only the third time LSU has won at Auburn this century. Auburn has come back from losing to LSU before–in 2013 Auburn lost 35-21 at Tiger Stadium and played for the national title; last year they lost at Tiger Stadium 27-23, wound up winning the West and playing for the SEC title–and along the way beat both teams that played for the national title (Alabama and Georgia) in the regular season. In fact, Auburn played three of the four teams in the play-offs during the regular season, losing only to Clemson…they played Georgia twice, playing them again and losing in the SEC title game. So, it’s early in the season; far too early to make much of this win–LSU has games against Alabama and Georgia themselves to look ahead to this season; and Mississippi State and any number of SEC games that could rise up and bite them in the ass….but for now, we can relish the likelihood of a Top Ten ranking and showing all the nay-sayers you can’t ever count the LSU Tigers out.

A lot of broadcasters and experts are eating their words this morning, I would imagine.

I think I am back to normal at long last this morning; yesterday I did some chores and dug myself out of most of the mess in my kitchen; filing, making files, putting things away, and working on the laundry and cleaning the living room. There’s still work to be done, of course, but progress was made, and I also made some progress with my writing yesterday. I know, I know, who am I and what have I done with Gregalicious? But I am pretty excited about some things, and I am really excited to get back to work on the Scotty book, as well as the short stories I’ve been toying with for some time. I like the concept of the new one I am working on, “A Little More Jazz for the Axeman,” which I think has a lot of potential; and of course I’m still playing around with “The Blues Before Dawn,” and “Never Kiss a Stranger,” of course; and I need to get organized to keep track of my life again.

And Madeline Miller’s Circe continues to enthrall.

So, for today, I need to take the suitcase back to storage and I need to put air in the tires of the car; and then it’s back home to get some things done before the Saints game, which starts at noon. Then again…it’s always easier to do things out of the house during the Saints game, when tumbleweeds roll in the wind down St. Charles Avenue and the city turns into a ghost town. I also need to get the last few touches of some things done around the house, and perhaps today I can begin the deconstruction of the manuscript I’ve been putting off for quite some time now.

But it’s nice to feel like I fit into my own life again. It really, really is.

And now, back to the spice mines.

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Giving Him Something He Can Feel

GEAUX TIGERS!

I think I have finally, somehow, managed to come back into myself as a Gregalicious, after the long, drawn-out malaise of this past week. Everything conspired against me; I never felt mentally rested,  always felt slightly out of it or disconnected from my everyday life, etc. Bouchercon, and other literary events like it, have that effect on me, but it usually doesn’t take this long to start feeling Gregalicious again. I love my day job–it’s absolutely perfect for me, I can’t imagine doing anything else–and I am very lucky that at least I have a day job that neither makes me crazy nor that I hate.

And having had every shitty job imaginable (or so it seems), this is quite lovely.

I hope that today–since I awoke feeling rested and like myself for the first time this week–will result in me getting a lot done today, around the football games. The LSU-Auburn game this afternoon will be an interesting tell as to how good LSU actually is this year (how good Auburn is as well, for that matter) and has important division implications as well as national ones. The season is young, though, and the Murderer’s Row section of the schedule (Florida, Ole Miss, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi State, Texas A&M) is yet to come. And after the Saints stunk up the Dome last weekend…GEAUX TIGERS.

We got caught up on Castle Rock, which actually took an incredibly interesting turn that I didn’t see coming, and so now I am really curious to see where it’s going to go from here. (I also continue to be blown away by the ridiculous beauty of Bill Skarsgaard.) We also watched the premiere episode of American Horror Story: Apocalypse, which also is off to a terrific and interesting start–but almost every season started off interesting, and so many of them wound up going off the rails (we never finished watching Hotel, for example) that we can never be sure what we’re going to get with the show. We also finished watching Sharp Objects, which was terrific (I see Emmys in the future for Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson), and there are so many other shows now to watch, and movies released to Netflix and other streaming services, that it’s hard to believe just a few weeks ago we didn’t have anything to watch. I also want to finish reading Circe.

But the house is a mess, and I need to run the suitcase back to storage, and the car tires need air–but other than that and cleaning and writing, I have the weekend relatively free. Paul is going out shopping and running errands with our friend Lisa today–he has some ideas about turning the area outside our stairs into a sitting area for when the weather is better–and they are launching that project today.

It does feel nice being myself again, and I can spend the day doing some reading and cleaning. I am writing a new short story, and I need to read up a little bit on New Orleans history in order for the story to actually work. We shall see.

And now, back to the spice mines.

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Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough

Happy Labor Day!

I spent yesterday cleaning and trying to organize; I still have some writing to get done today of course, and I am being interviewed on the air about Florida Happens at 3 pm CST, which you can listen to here, live as it occurs! Thanks to Pam Stack for having me.

There’s also a new tropical storm out there and heading this way; naturally, the forecasts have it coming through here currently at various times on Wednesday, amongst which include our flight time, which might be incredibly inconvenient. I immediately flashed through every worst case scenario possible, from annoying delays to flat out cancellations and inability to get over there at all–(worst case–I could drive. If we leave on Wednesday morning we could be in St. Petersburg on Wednesday night, but I will be one crabby as fuck bitch when I arrive).

And how about them Tigers?

One of the things I loathe about the pre-season in college football–and pre-season rankings–is, no matter how amazing you are as an analyst/coach/commentator, it’s just guesswork with far too many variables involved for anything remotely approaching accuracy. These rankings can only be based on how the team did in the last season, the new additions to the team, and coaching guesses. No one knows how much chemistry a team will have, what pieces might be missing from the previous season and creating holes on offense and defense that might need to be filled, etc. etc. etc. That said, all portents to ranking Miami in the top ten were there–with a bit of a question mark since they lost their final three games after a 10-0 start. As I said to Paul as we were watching the first quarter of the game last night, “I just realized why I hate Miami so much when I never did before–I have actually kind of always liked Miami. But it’s because Mark Richt is their coach now, and in my subconscious playing Miami now is like playing Georgia.”

PAUL: Well, they’re my favorite team in the state of Florida by far.

GREG: Excellent point, mine, too.

Mark Richt is a good coach, but he was never a big game coach during his run at Georgia, where he could have had national champion contenders every year but somehow always managed to blow it, which eventually led to his termination and the hiring of the coach (whose name escapes me now) who took Georgia all the way to the national championship game last year. And after last night, I would imagine there are some questions about his coaching ability and some rumblings at Miami.

But LSU looked terrific last night, with some exceptions–opening game jitters in the first quarter–but once they settled down they looked much better than anyone gave them any pre-season credit for. They’re only going to get better as the season progresses, and as long as their confidence can keep growing with each game, this could be a terrific season. Next weekend is the Southeastern Louisiana game (SLU from Hammond), and after that, it’s off to top ten ranked Auburn, which knocked off a higher-ranked top ten team this past Saturday in Washington, and surely Auburn is going to want some payback for last season’s stunning come-from-behind upset in Tiger Stadium (while we were in Toronto for Bouchercon). And with both teams from the national championship game on this year’s schedule (Alabama and Georgia), along with Texas A&M, Florida, Arkansas, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State–well, there are a lot of tough games and a lot of trap games on the LSU schedule. But I will say this: if LSU can make it through their murderous schedule with only one or two losses, they belong in the Top Ten for sure.

We shall see as the season plays out.

But in the meantime, GEAUX TIGERS!

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So much to do today, and so little desire to do any of it. Ah, well, life goes on.

And it ain’t getting done with me just sitting here.

This Used To Be My Playground

GEAUX TIGERS!

I watched the Auburn-Washington game yesterday while I cleaned the downstairs. I did a lot of chores and errands yesterday; and also did some reorganizing and cleaning so the living room doesn’t look quite so…book hoarder-ish. 

I’m getting better about it. I’ve realized that the true value, for me, of the ebook is that if I read a book I really like and think I’ll want to hang on to for one reason or another, I can donate the hardcopy and buy the ebook; if I’m patient enough and pay enough attention to email alerts and so forth, I can usually get it at a much discounted price. I don’t feel quite so bad about buying ebooks at low sale prices as I would had I not paid full price already for a print version. So, I’m really buying the book twice.

(I also find myself taking advantages of sales on ebooks by a particular author whose books I loved and would love to revisit sometime. I have the entire canon of Mary Stewart on my iPad, and a shit ton of Phyllis Whitneys. I’m also occasionally finding books by Dorothy B. Hughes and Charlotte Armstrong and Dorothy Salisbury Davis, which is lovely; I’ve also managed to get some of Susan Howatch’s lengthy family sagas, like Penmarric, The Wheel of Fortune, and Cashelmara. There are many treasures to be found through e-retailers.)

And I also find that, once I’ve let go of the hard copy, I’m not usually all that anxious to buy the e-version. Most of the books I want to keep is because I think it might be something I’d want to write about in a broader, nonfiction sense; like a book about the Gothic romances of the 1960’s thru the 1980’s, what they were inspired by, and how they were books about women’s fears; yes, there was romance involved, but they were also about the dark side of romance. Or a lengthy essay or study about how gay men are portrayed in crime novels written by authors who aren’t gay men, like the rampant homophobia in James Ellroy’s Clandestine or the male/male relationship in James M. Cain’s Serenade or any number of gay male portrayals over the decades of American crime fiction. Then there are, of course, the nonfiction tomes, about periods of history that interest me that I hold onto because I may need them as research for a book or story idea that I have.

I also keep copies of books by my friends, and whenever a friend has an ebook sale I will always grab a copy if I can.

I still haven’t really shifted from reading hard copies to reading electronically, but I am slowly but surely getting there. Anthologies are really helpful in that way; short stories are, of course, self-contained and by definition can usually be completed in one sitting.

I also finished reading James Ziskin’s wonderful Cast the First Stone, and am now eighty percent of the way finished with my Bouchercon homework.

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Monday, February 5, 1962

Sitting at the head of runway 31R at Idlewild, the jet hummed patiently, its four turbines spinning, almost whining. The captain’s voice crackled over the public-address system to inform us that we were next in line for takeoff. I’d noticed him earlier leaning against the doorframe of the cockpit, greeting passengers as we boarded the plane. He’d given me a thorough once-over–a hungry leer I know all too well–and I averted my gaze like the good girl that I’m not.

“Welcome aboard, miss,” he’d said, compelling me to look him in the eye. He winked and flashed me a bright smile. “I hope to give you a comfortable ride.”

I surely blushed.

Now, just moments after the handsome pilot had assured us of our imminent departure, the engines roared to life, and the aircraft lurched forward from its standstill. Juddering at first as it began to move, the plane rumbled down the runway, gathering speed as it barreled toward takeoff. I craned my neck to see better through the window,  holding my breath as I gripped the armrest of my seat and grinned like a fool. I sensed the man seated next to me was rolling his eyes, but I didn’t care. Of course I’d flown before–a regional flight from LaGuardia to Albany on Mohawk Airlines, and a couple of quick hops in a single-engine Cessna with a man who was trying to impress me with his derring-do. Alas, his derring-didn’t. But this was my first-ever flight on a jet plane.

This is a terrific start to a terrific novel. The fifth book in James W. Ziskin’s highly acclaimed and award-winning Ellie Stone series, it is, alas, the first Ellie Stone I’ve read. I met the author at a Bouchercon some time back (I don’t recall which one) and of course, I’ve been aware of the awards and the acclaim, and have been accumulating the books in his series for my TBR pile, but just haven’t gotten to them yet, much to my chagrin. So while I am not a fan of reading books out of order in a series (a crime I committed earlier in my Bouchercon homework with Nadine Nettman’s wine series), I certainly didn’t have the time to go back and read the first four.

Now, of course, I am going to have to–and what a delightful prospect this is.

Ellie is a delight, for one thing. The book/series is set in 1962/early 1960’s; and Ellie is a report for the New Holland Republic, not taken terribly seriously by the men she works with or for (with the sole exception her direct editor), even though she is the best reporter and the best writer on her paper. (It kind of reminds me of Mad Men in that way.) The opening is terrific; Ziskin captures that excitement of your first jet flight in a time period where it wasn’t terribly common to fly beautifully, and using that experience to not only showcase how adventurous Ellie is but to introduce her to the new reader as well as give some of her background. She is flying out to Los Angeles to interview a local boy who’s gone out to Hollywood to be a movie star, and has recently been cast as the second male lead in one of those ubiquitous beach movies the 60’s were known for, Twistin’ at the Beach. But he hasn’t shown up for his first day of shooting on the Paramount lot, placing his job in jeopardy, and soon the producer has been murdered…and the deeper Ellie gets into her story and her search for Tony Eberle soon has her digging through the seaming, tawdrier side of the Hollywood dream and system. Saying much more would be giving away spoilers, but Ziskin’s depiction of the secretive side of Hollywood, what studios were willing to do back in the day to protect bankable stars, and what that meant to those on the seamier side of the business is heart-wrenching and heartbreaking, and sympathetically written.

I can’t wait to read more about Ellie Stone.

And now I have moved on to Thomas Pluck’s Bad Boy Boogie, the last part of my homework. LSU plays tonight (GEAUX TIGERS!), and I want to go to the gym, do some more cleaning, and do some more writing today.

So it’s back to the spice mines with me.

Finally

Saturday morning, and my ten day vacation from work began last night at around eight thirty, when I got in my car to drive home from passing out condoms all evening. It was a rather long day– I had to work at the main office first for several hours before heading down to the Quarter–and I was physically sore and exhausted and sweaty and crabby as fuck when I got in the car to come home. Once home I took a shower, relaxed, had some wine, and watched the US Open until it was time to go to sleep. I slept deeply and well; clearly, the shower made a significant difference in how this all played out for this morning. I have some errands to run today–groceries, mail, getting the big suitcase out of storage for the trip to St. Petersburg–and I have to do some writing for a website. I want to clean the house–make some progress, at any rate; I like to leave the house very clean when I go on a trip so I don’t have to come home to a dirty house–and I think I am going to try to just read the Scotty manuscript and make notes while the US Open is on. The second season of Ozark also became available last night on Netflix, and I’m really looking forward to seeing if the show can maintain its high level of quality for a second season. I also want to finish reading James Ziskin’s Cast the First Stone so I can start reading Thomas Pluck’s Bad Boy Boogie, and then my Bouchercon homework is done.

Huzzah!

And the LSU game isn’t until tomorrow night, so I may watch some college football–toggling back and forth between college football and the US Open (I still can’t believe it’s football season) while reading in my easy chair. I probably won’t be posting much, if at all, while I am in St. Petersburg at Bouchercon. I do have the WordPress app on my iPad (I don’t bother with my MacBook Air anymore; while I do love my Apple products as a general rule,  I regret buying the Air. I really need to take it into the Apple Store and have them fix some nonsensical things that I don’t understand are wrong with it) but I am not a huge fan of writing on the iPad. Maybe that will change. I did buy the keyboard for it, but I’ve never really had to write on it very much. Who knows–maybe in St. Pete I’ll discover that I love writing on it. Who knows? Stranger things have happened.

Maybe I could try practicing on it here this weekend before I leave on Wednesday? You never know. It’s really about getting used to it because it’s very different from writing on a desktop.

And when I get back I can get back to the Short Story Project! HUZZAH!

I still would like to get the Scotty revision finished by the end of September; and I think if I can focus and buckle down and really stick to it, it’s a definite possibility. And then I can finally get back to the WIP to make the changes it needs before heading back out into the world in search of an agent. I also want to at least get started on Bury Me in Satin by the end of the year; I’d hoped to be finished with it at the end of the year but I really don’t think that’s going to be happening any time soon, either. It’s a great idea, and I think I can do some great things with it, and while I am doing all of this I am going to start researching New Orleans history as I continue to think about writing another, different series. (And once Bury Me in Satin is finished, I hope to start working on Muscles, my long-planned noir.)

And on that note, it’s time to get going on my day. Have a lovely Saturday, everybody

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