Riders on the Storm

Sunday morning the Gregalicious slept late.

Yes, that’s right–I didn’t get out of bed until the sinfully late hour of eight thirty. (It’s kind of sad that I now consider that to be late, isn’t it?) But I have eaten two pieces of chocolate-marble swirl coffee cake (my GOD, it’s good) and am about to have the first of my morning coffee. Yum, marvelous. There really isn’t anything quite like the first cup of coffee in the morning, is there?

Yesterday morning’s workshop went okay–there was a light turnout, which I had kind of worried about–so rather than going with the whole presentation I’d prepared (I remembered the correct notes to take this time) I tailored it down to fit a smaller audience and made it more intimate conversation. I don’t know if it was any good or the attendees got anything out of it, but I guess it went well. They did have questions, and there were answers I didn’t have for them–but I also didn’t pretend to know them, either, which I think is worse than not having an answer. I did stop at That’s Amore on the way back home and got us a deep-dish Chicago style pizza, which was absolutely lovely, but other than that I really didn’t do a whole lot yesterday. We finished watching Queer as Folk, which I have thoughts about–am curious to see what other people think about it–but regardless of anything else, the show certainly made New Orleans look beautiful, or rather, really did a great job of capturing how beautiful New Orleans actually is. (One of the only reasons I kept watched Real World New Orleans: Homecoming beyond the first episode was specifically to see my city and how beautiful it looks on television…I am not entirely sure I am going to continue watching it because I don’t really care about any of these people.) We also watched the new episode of The Boys, which we enjoyed, and then I toddled off to bed for the evening. I am going to spend this morning swilling coffee and reading Tara Laskowski’s The Mother Next Door, and then maybe this afternoon I’ll do some cleaning and writing on “Never Kiss a Stranger.” I realized that last week at this time I was scrambling to finish the edits, so this is really my first free weekend in quite a while…and so I think, after taking yesterday off after getting home, I may just take all of today off as well.

How fun is that?

And yes, the kitchen is a mess, but I’ll get around to it at some point today–there’s also a load of laundry that needs folding–but for right now, the entire concept of being lazy and slothful for the rest of the day, to completely recharge my batteries (or finish recharging them) sounds entirely too good to pass up, and so I don’t think I will. AND NO GUILT ABOUT IT EITHER IF THAT IS THE PATH I CHOOSE.

I did spend some time yesterday reading some history in the form of Ernie Bradford’s The Great Betrayal: The Great Siege of Constantinople, which has to do with the Fourth Crusade–and if Constant Reader has been around long enough, they would know that I am fascinated by this historical event, which was of a far greater import than Western historians ever give it–there are reasons for that, too–and has always seemed to me to be the starting point for a great treasure hunt/adventure story, and one that I have always wanted to spin Colin off into. (I’ve always wanted to spin Colin off into his own Indiana Jones/Clive Cussler/Steve Berry type series, where he goes around the world in his role as an operative for the Blackwood Agency…but I’m not really great at writing action/adventure, and of course whenever you write something like what I see as the first Colin adventure, you kind of have to be good at it–I also don’t see how you can tell a story like that making it up as you go along, either.) So, in some ways it’s research that may prove useful someday–which is how I always read non-fiction; with an eye to it being useful to me in some way in the future–and I am learning about the crusade and the fall of the city, which is always a good thing, at least in my mind–I always think learning new things at any age is crucial and vitally important.

it’s also Father’s Day and I forgot to mail my dad his card–which I will put in tomorrow’s mail–as usual. I really am a terrible child.

The one thing I am going to do today is figure out what all I have to get done and make appropriate lists.

And on that note, I am heading to the easy chair with my morning coffee and The Mother Next Door. Talk to you tomorrow, Constant Reader, and have a great Father’s Day.

Love Her Madly

Today I am heading out to Kenner to do my sex writing workshop at the North Kenner Library; I had thought it was the East Jefferson Parish library, but was incorrect. We’ll see how it goes.

Yesterday was kind of a shit day. I had to take the day off so I could take Paul out to Metairie for an appointment, and the weather–slightly overcast and sprinkling–had turned super-ugly by the time we left. It wasn’t raining terribly hard here, but by the time we got on the highway it was a downpour, flash flood warnings were in place, and water spouts were being spotted on the lake. I got soaked running back to the car from the building where his appointment was, and we decided to go into a sporting goods store that was just across the parking lot, with the hopes of spending enough time shopping so that when we were finished the storm would have mostly passed. That strategy did pay off, but we then stopped at Costco, and after unloading the car, I went and made groceries. By the time I’d unloaded the car and put said groceries away, I was exhausted and happily retired to my easy chair for the evening. We did watch some more episodes of the Queer as Folk reboot, about which I am having mixed feelings. (I did spot my supervisor as an extra being totally extra in a couple of scenes, which was very fun.) I also made dinner last night–I wasn’t really sure what to make, so finally settled on something easy from Costco that just had to be heated in the oven. I didn’t write at all yesterday, and I was too brain-fatigued to read anymore of Tara Laskowski’s The Mother Next Door–but I did read some of it while I was waiting for Paul to be finished with his appointment. It’s quite good, and after I get home this morning I intend to do some more reading…tomorrow I will write.

I did sleep really well, though.

Sigh.

I guess when I get home today I will work on chores, as they are always waiting for me. I need to figure out something–I’m not entirely sure what, though–to do about files and so forth; I don’t really have as much room as I need for the files that are working or those that need to be put away. (My filing cabinet is an utter disaster that needs desperately to be worked on, but it’s also full to overflowing. I don’t have space for a taller file cabinet, which could be the solution to the problem, but who knows? I have a file box under my desk and off to one side that is supposedly “working projects”…but it’s not easy to access and I forget often that it’s even there. Maybe tomorrow I will walk over to Office Depot in the miserable heat and humidity to find something to use for files that I can make room for somewhere to look at…)

So, in some ways, today is kind of a day off where I don’t plan on writing anything or running any kind of errand or so forth; rather, today is a “clean up and get organized” day around here, which is kind of nice. I am also going to stop at That’s Amore out there to get us a deep dish Chicago-style pizza, which will most likely take care of any food needs for today and tomorrow–although since I made groceries and went to Costco yesterday, there’s not really a whole lot of room in the refrigerator–and then tomorrow I can do some writing. I also want to make it to the gym tomorrow, for my return to the working out regularly plan that I want to put into place for over the summer. It’ll also be fun to start walking through the neighborhood again, taking pictures and remembering the past again.

I guess today could be seen as a transitional one. I need to start thinking about my Scotty book, but what I would really like to do is reread some of the Scottys to get a sense of him and his world again before trying to write him again–and of course, maybe, just maybe, the best way to do that is to finally compile the over-arching Bible of the series, which lists all the recurring characters as well as the who the villains are, as well as to trace out the Diderot/Bradley family tree. I also have to figure out how to weave the elements of the story I want to include together and have the plot coalesce and take shape as well. Some of the action is going to take place in a fictional river parish (I had thought about using the same fictional river parish I’ve been using for other stories–Redemption Parish–but decided not to use that one after all; there are more than one river parishes in Louisiana as well as more than one bayou parish), and so I have to also figure that out.

Heavy sigh.

I’d also like to get this revision of “Never Kiss a Stranger” finished as well.

And on that note, I need to get ready to head out to Kenner. Wish me luck, Constant Reader, and I’ll check in with you again tomorrow.

Sweet Mary

Preparing for a workshop on writing sex scenes is not as easy as one might think. And of course, I have to do it today since the workshop is tomorrow morning, but I am going to have to do it around appointments and driving all over the metropolitan area of the city and it looks like we’re going to be having a shitty weather day on top of it all. Huzzah. I did sleep in this morning–I suspect my Fitbit, which I am not so sure I trust anymore is going to tell me that I didn’t sleep well (oh, there was some thunder!) and in just now checking the weather I see we are going to be having thunderstorms during the entire time I will be out dashing around the city. Huzzah.

Heavy heaving sigh.

Last night after Paul and I got home, I finished (I’d started the night before while I was waiting for Paul to come home) watching the first episode of The Real World New Orleans: Homecoming, or whatever it’s called. We used to watch The Real World religiously; I think we stopped watching during the Austin season, and never went back. But we were very excited back in the day when the New Orleans show was announced, and of course, even in those pre-Internet days stories about the cast and the filming used to break in the newspaper. They also were living in the Belfort mansion, which isn’t far from where we lived then (and now), but in the years since it’s turned into a boutique hotel. (The owner–mentioned but not by name–used to work out at my gym.) I am not sure where the house they are living in for this taping is, but I think it’s on Esplanade Avenue; I don’t recognize it from the exteriors. I never really had put a lot of thought into the shows before it filmed here–but once it started, I started to understand that “reality television” wasn’t really reality. They weren’t on camera 24/7, like the show claimed, and they also set up shots and maybe there wasn’t a script, per se, but it wasn’t “real”–we used to see the cast walking around the neighborhood, followed by a film crew that wasn’t filming them. They also filmed in places we knew; Danny the gay one worked as a bartender in one of the gay bars (I want to say Oz? I could be wrong, it’s been over twenty-odd years), and of course we used to see them and the signs on the doors of businesses announcing that the show would be filming there, the time they would be filming, and being present inside during those times meant consent to being filmed unless you advised the crew otherwise (those people who are pixilated out in background scenes didn’t give consent). The “job” the cast did while here was to produce a talk-type television show on local public access which began airing while they were still filming; Paul and I actually caught it by mistake flipping through the channels, and as we watched it, we both said, “Oh, this isn’t going to go over well here”–they were being hypercritical of the city, and yes, as you can imagine, it didn’t go over well. Places began denying them the right to film there, they were criticized everywhere–from all the local newspapers to all the local media–and they eventually had to apologize in order to get places to let them film. (I actually kind of felt sorry for them–they were kids, for Christ’s sake.) The reunion show is weird to watch–again, they were going to places I recognized (the drag show was at the Bourbon Parade, the dance club above the Pub), but it’s also weird to see how they look now, who they’ve become, and hear their stories about the impact being on the show had on their lives.

Then Paul came back downstairs and we watched the first two episodes of the new Queer as Folk, which was filmed here and is also set here. New Orleans is a beautiful city, and that’s one thing the producers and editors decided to play off; the show is beautifully filmed, and they made sure they showed off the city’s beauty at every opportunity they had. It was kind of choppy at the start–uneven, but first episodes when you’re launching a new series often are; it is the rare show that pulls off the first episode perfectly, especially when there’s a large ensemble cast. I love the cast, by the way; it’s mixed and diverse and displays a broad spectrum of the community, as opposed to the original (with its focus on white cisgender men, with the token lesbian couple thrown in just for fun). Paul and I watched the original primarily to be supportive; we knew it was a groundbreaking show and we needed to support it so networks would see there was value in queer programming, but neither of us were really fans of the show itself. It was very earnest, very ABC Afterschool Special and preachy when it came to important topics; and then would veer off into the ridiculous. For me, it was this weird mix of a Very Special Episode and silliness, and it is virtually impossible to do both. Daytime soaps make it look easy, but it’s not that easy to do–we always kept saying, “they need to either decide if they want to be a serious drama or gay Melrose Place” (obviously, we were hoping they’d go the Melrose Place route), but it seems like this reboot–despite the shaky opening–is off to a good start. We will continue watching, and hoping for the best (my supervisor at my day job filmed with the show; he does drag as Debbie with a “D”–his outfits and lewks are fucking amazing, so I am also hoping to see Debbie on the show)–and as Paul said, (and is why I’ll keep watching that awful Homecoming show) “at the very least, the city looks beautiful.” Babylon, the queer bar in the show, was actually in the neighborhood of my old office; it sits on the corner of Frenchmen Street and Chartres, and that neighborhood you see in the show isn’t the Quarter but the Marigny (I miss my old office on Frenchmen Street). We will probably continue watching it tonight, and I am kind of oddly looking forward to it. I am definitely here for all the queer rep on television lately, even as the trash continues to come for us and our rights.

Yes, I said trash, even though the word hardly expresses my deep, abiding, and utter contempt for those who hate me and my community and wish us dead.

And there’s the rain.

AND the obligatory flash flood warning came right after it started, of course.

Heavy sigh.

I did work on “Never Kiss a Stranger” yesterday some; it’s now about twenty-four thousand words, for those who are keeping track. I am really liking the story and I am really enjoying working on it, for those who were wondering. It’s nice to be writing again and enjoying it–it’s been weird this past year how that has gone; but I’ve also come to recognize that I have had periods of my life where I was going through depression and didn’t realize its extent until it had passed. I feel like I’ve been experiencing at the very least low-key depression since March 2020–the kind where I am tired all the time, not sleeping well, and even when I look back at that period, I’ve either forgotten everything and what I actually can remember…it’s through a bit of fog, with darkness around the edges…and I’ve not really been enjoying writing since March 2020, if I’m going to be honest. I am enjoying it again–good thing, since it’s compulsive for me and I always will do it, regardless of how I feel about it–but my writing has always been a source of joy for me, and having that not be the case has been very unpleasant. I’ve really not been finding much joy in anything since March 2020, but I also feel like I’ve kind of turned a corner, somehow–my brain snapped or something and it snapped back into the place where it should have been all along.

And on that note, best get ready to head out to Metairie in a thunderstorm in flash flood conditions. Woo-hoo!

Talk to you tomorrow, Constant Reader.

The Wedding Song (There Is Love)

Thursday morning and my last day in the office of the week–tomorrow I took the day off for miscellaneous appointments and things (and yes, a trip to Metairie is required, sigh) which will be nice. I don’t have to get up super-early to go, for one thing, so I can allow myself to sleep in a bit, and then I can leisurely enjoy my coffee throughout the morning before it’s time to head out there. I am also going to stop at Costco on the way back home, so it’ll be a big day for one Gregalicious. I imagine by the time I get home I will be hot, sweaty, crabby and ready to spend the evening inside with the air conditioning.

Such an exciting life I lead!

I slept really well last night–an enormously pleasant surprise, given the questionable sleep I got the previous two nights–but according to my Fitbit, it was yet another bad nights’ sleep. I am beginning to think my Fitbit doesn’t know what it’s talking about when it comes to my sleep, you know? I feel rested and a bit groggy this morning, which hopefully the coffee will take care of (fingers crossed) but I will say yesterday I felt a bit out of it for most of the day. I didn’t get nearly us much accomplished as I’d intended when I got home from the office last night–I didn’t really do much of anything, to be honest. I wrote for a little while before retiring to the easy chair, where I fell into a spiral of videos about French history, which is always fun for me. When Paul got home we watched Obi-wan Kenobi, which I am really enjoying, on-line haters be damned, and the little girl who plays Princess Leia is fantastic–it’s completely believable she would grow up into Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia, and props to Disney Plus for pitch-perfect casting. The show is also doing a really great job of filling in some gaps in the story of Star Wars, too.

Today hopefully will be a good one. I want to get some more writing done–for whatever reason, “Never Kiss a Stranger” is finally taking shape the way I want it to, although now I am worried that its going to wind up being far too long, and far too melancholy, than I want it to be. Its a melancholy story, really, so that’s probably a really good thing, but…I don’t suppose melancholy is the right mood; I am thinking I want to go for a Daphne du Maurier tone (which I love); I don’t want to call it gothic either, but if you’ve read du Maurier you know what I mean. Hmmm, perhaps I should dip into her collection Echoes from the Macabre again, to get a better sense of what I am talking about here…that is actually a really good plan, now that I think about it.

You can never go wrong rereading du Maurier.

One thing that is interesting/kind of fun about writing this novella is that it is set in a place that no longer exists–New Orleans in 1994. I was talking to some of my younger co-workers (ha ha ha, they’re all younger now, I am the old man of the department by a LOT now) about how different New Orleans was when I moved here in 1996 than it is now; and I was thinking about that some more last night. Gentrification hadn’t really gotten started in the city yet; it was a crumbling, dying city whose glory days were in the past. The Lower Garden District was considered a bad neighborhood back in those days; we moved in just as it was started to regenerate…but there was still a crack house next door, and of course the Camp Street on-ramp to the Crescent City Connection was still there, about fifty yards of concrete climbing into the sky and just ending (if you ever watch the Brad Pitt/Tom Cruise version of Interview with the Vampire, there’s a scene when Louis–Pitt–leaves a movie theater in New Orleans that is showing Tequila Sunrise. That was the Coliseum Theatre, which was closed but still there when we moved into the neighborhood. It burned to the ground a few years later. Anyway, as Louis/Pitt walks out, the camera pans back and shows a highway on-ramp with cars going up–that was the old Camp Street on-ramp, still in use when the movie was filmed but not when we moved here two or three years after the movie’s release). I also imagine that on-ramp, when it was still connected to Highway 90, was a bitch for traffic in the neighborhood, since the bridge backs up all day now; I imagine there were times when that ramp backed up all the way down Camp to probably the Garden District. Where it was now is a lovely neutral ground that separates Camp and Coliseum Streets, beautifully designed and landscaped so it seems like a perfect extension of Coliseum Square. That’s why I want to write about that time period, when gay bars still occasionally got raided by the cops, when there were still two bathhouses in New Orleans, when many of us could only be openly gay when we went to the bars in the Quarter on the weekend, and how frenetic and wild and crazy those weekends were; all the gay bars in the Quarter were packed every weekend, and of course, deeply closeted gays from the surrounding areas–the rural parishes and Mississippi–would come into the city so they could let go and be free.

But even that wasn’t a guarantee of anything, either. Death stalked the gay bars back in those days–another reason I want to write about that time–and you couldn’t really trust the cops and sometimes it was dangerous to walk back to the lower Quarter or Marigny where you’d parked your car. There was this weird sense of being an outlaw; despite the Lawrence v. Texas decision there’s still a sodomy law on the books here in Louisiana, and once this Supreme Court gets to decide Lawrence v. Texas was wrongly decided (because make no mistake, this Supreme Court is definitely going to dial us back to 1900, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they decided to take the right to vote away from women, too), once again my sex life will become an enforceable crime in Louisiana yet again.

Sigh.

Well, writing that last paragraph certainly made me melancholy. Too bad I don’t have time to work on the novella before heading into the office. Have a great Thursday, Constant Reader! I will chat with you again tomorrow morning.

Here Comes the Sun

Wednesday and yet another edition of Pay-the-Bills Day (woo-hoo?). Another fairly restful night of sleep, one more day to get up this early this week, and before I know it, it’s the weekend. Huzzah!

Yesterday wasn’t a bad day. I wasn’t tired until late in the afternoon, and I stopped at the grocery store on the way home from the office (Christ, the price of everything has so dramatically increased!) and then came home to do a load of dishes and finish the laundry I’d started the night before. Paul was home late from the office–we watched an episode of Why Are We Like This, which is a very weird show about three young people that are friends and kind of awful, but it had some funny moments. I think it’s an Australian show? It was short, and that was really the point–Paul got home too late for us to watch a show that lasted an hour, and I think we’re all caught up on hour-length shows anyway–and then it was off to bed with me. I did work on “Never Kiss a Stranger” again last night–I got the sinking suspicion I was making the story too long again, but I don’t care; the whole point of a novella is you have more room than you do in a short story. I also spent some time cleaning up my CV–it’s still not entirely up to date, but I really don’t want to get that box down from the attic with all my newspaper and magazine articles stored inside, so I can make it up to date–but at least now the short story section is accurate and in date order (I may still be missing some; you never know, and there are so many! I also discovered that I have at least two stories in print that I do not have electronic copies of; that’s not great).

I also got my schedule for Sleuthfest next month in Fort Lauderdale; which is great. I am looking forward to attending–even if it’s going to be ridiculously hot in Lauderdale when I am there–and there are going to be some great people there for me to see. I am hoping, as always, to get inspired while there by listening to great writers and fun people talking about books and writing.

It did occur to me last night that spending this week (and this week only!) working on “Never Kiss a Stranger” might not be the best use of this “in-between books” week, but I don’t really care. The fact that I finished significant edits on a book–edits that had me apparently so stressed that I felt tired all the time as well as defeated (more writer insanity, really)–and was able to write any fiction almost immediately thereafter is a miracle in and of itself; but I do know I need to get my shit together with short story submissions and writing for anthology calls. A task, perhaps, for this weekend. I am actually looking forward, though, to not having anything to work on or do–oh, crap, I forgot about my workshop on Saturday morning, so much for having a weekend free…but at least that doesn’t mean having to write anything much. And it won’t kill me to get up early on Saturday and drive out there.

Or will it?

According to my Fitbit, my sleep hasn’t been great the last two nights, yet I have felt rested and relaxed every morning when I get up. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, of course, but as long as I don’t feel fatigue–mentally, physically, emotionally–I call that a big win. I’m also waiting for the final approval (or more edits) for “Solace in a Dying Hour”–fingers crossed that it’s an acceptance; as a general rule anthology editors don’t ask for a revision unless they are planning on using the story (not always true; one anthology editor made me rewrite a story three times only to end up not using it–and I will never, under any circumstance, submit to that editor again; she also lied to me about the reason for not using the story–apparently she thought I was a rank amateur who has never published much; imagine telling someone who has won awards for editing anthologies–and certainly more awards for editing that this particular fucking editor–a bald-faced lie to excuse their thoroughly unprofessional conduct, and if it wasn’t a lie…well, you are a fucking shitty unprofessional editor. Then again, we’ve already ascertained that she’s an unprofessional piece of shit, haven’t we? Not even a ‘sorry I made you work so hard on this story I’m not going to use, here’s a token payment as an appreciation for what I put you through.’)

I guess my segment on Great Day Louisiana aired yesterday? It was supposed to at any rate; I never heard one way or the other; I just did a search of my name on their website and nothing came up, which is also fine. I always hate seeing and/or listening to recordings of me–I’ve always wanted to transcribe the character workshop I did for Sleuthfest ten or so years ago but it would also require me to listen to my voice as I transcribed–transcription also takes forever–for hours on repeat and I think I would rather drink bleach to wash down a salad of broken glass than listen to my own voice over and over again.

All right, that’s enough tedium for today. Sorry to be such a bore! And I am off to the spice mines.

Don’t Knock My Love

I turned the edits in yesterday and let out a huge sigh of relief. I think I fixed everything that needed fixing, and I think the book is much better now than it was when I actually turned it in (editors are so worth their weight in gold; good ones, anyway).

I feel more confident now about my writing than I have in a long time, to be honest. I feel more confident about life in general, for that matter. I’m not sure what happened, or what caused the change…but I know once I got over being tired from the Kentucky trip, I’ve felt better on every level–emotionally, physically, and mentally. And I hope it lasts.

I also didn’t realize how much stress that turning that revised manuscript in would release from my shoulders. Deadlines are stressful, especially when you have a horrible habit of missing them, and the last couple of months haven’t been the easiest for me on multiple fronts. But when I started working on the edits more deeply this past weekend, I became much calmer than I’ve been in a long time, relaxed, even, which really felt strange. The weekend overall was a pretty good one, to be honest. I didn’t sleep as well last night as I would have liked, either, but this morning feel rested, at the very least. It also feels like I’ve not been into the office in a very long time, which is strange–I mean, I was just there on Friday–but it’s still weird. But even so, this past week was a lot less stressful and tense than I’ve felt in a long time. I am not sure what that’s all about, but I am going to take it as a win.

We watched more of The Boys and Obi-wan Kenobi last night, and are now all caught up on both shows. (I didn’t know Amazon Prime was doing the same, release one episode per week, streaming thing; I don’t remember having to watch The Boys by the week in previous seasons, but my mind has literally become a sieve these days and it’s entirely possible. The ability to binge has seriously affected my memory and how I watch television; it seems completely alien now to have to wait a week to watch another episode of something…let alone having to watch everything that way. How on earth did we used to do that all the time? It’s amazing how easy it is to retrain your mind after a lifetime of doing things one way.) I am really enjoying both shows. I like that The Boys will go places Marvel and DC won’t with their take on super-heroes, and I am really loving Obi-wan Kenobi. I don’t know what the whiners on social media are complaining and/or bitching about, other than it being the usual misogyny and racism. “Oh, no, we have a Sith who is a black female!” Get over your fucking self. Sorry you can accept alien creatures without qualm but get your tiny little nut-sack in a froth over a black woman. The horror of it all! You must have really hated the adaptation of Foundation.

I also wrote nearly three thousand new words of “Never Kiss a Stranger” last night; I decided working on it would be a nice palate-cleanse between finishing the last book and starting the new Scotty. I’m still not sure I am writing it the correct way–novellas are a whole new thing for me, and the structuring is also a new concept for me. But I like what I am doing with it thus far, and while it doesn’t have to be anything, it could just as easily be something I just tinker with from time to time when I feel like it, I am also enjoying it a lot. It’s set in the summer of 1994, and my main character has just retired from the military after twenty years and moved to New Orleans. He’s a gay man who has spent twenty years hiding who he is, and now he has the ability to live his life the way he pleases–so writing about unshackling oneself from the enforced bondage of the military closet is, in some ways, like just coming out of the closet. He doesn’t regret his time in the army, not in the least; he would have stayed in had he not learned he was on a purge list before “don’t ask don’t tell” goes into effect. But I like the idea of exploring how experiencing that freedom for the first time in his life, at almost forty, feels…because in many ways his socialization as a gay man is somewhat stunted; it had to be, because of the military. It’s nice to bring up these things–as well as HIV/AIDS–in a historical piece (sad that 1994 was almost thirty years ago at this point and counts as a historical. This is also my sly way of working some politics into the story, as well. When Peter interviewed me for the Three Rooms Press website as the “featured author of the month,” one of the things he asked about was politics…the truth is my existence is political through no choice of my own, as I told Peter, and I would like nothing more than to just be left alone so I can focus on my writing. I’ve not been active politically for a while–I still vote, and make the occasional donation to a candidate I believe in–but as a gay man in the United States in 2022, the right wing likes to use me and my community to whip up their base of Christofascists, and this year it is particularly ugly.

I also think my work kind of stands as political statements on their own. Let’s look at my last two books, shall we? Bury Me in Shadows examined the generational damage caused by institutionalized racism and homophobia; #shedeservedit was an examination of how toxic masculinity and systemic misogyny damages our young people. Yes, they were crime stories, and yes, I like to think they were entertaining reads–but each had a point that I was trying to make through the story and the characters and what they were facing. I started doing an entry this weekend about the Scotty series, from beginning to its most recent (since I am about to embark on writing a new one)–mainly because there was a song on the list I am using for post titles called “Watching Scotty Grow” and really, was there ever a better title for a post looking back through the years at the Scotty series, its ups and downs and journey from an idea I had one afternoon to getting a contract to write it and going from one publisher to another…and yet Scotty continues to endure.

Well, that’s enough for a Tuesday morning. Have a lovely morning, Constant Reader, and I am heading into the spice mines.

I Am…I Said

Monday morning and I am working at home today; hurray! Data entry to be done, emails to check and answer, amongst various other things that must be done today. Later on, I am going to go over my manuscript one more time to make sure I caught everything and made every change that needed to be made, and then sending it off to my editor. Whew. I spent most of the weekend working on it, and I am pretty pleased with the work I’ve done. Is any of that work any good? Remains to be seen, but I think I managed to do what was asked of me. At least, I hope so.

I slept really well last night–I am definitely on a “good sleep” roll now–and actually woke up before six this morning, but stayed in bed until seven. I feel rested–this entire past week, once I got over the exhaustion from the trip, has been a miracle of feeling rested and good sleep–which is a lovely change from the norm around here. We watched the latest episode of Gaslit last night–I am not sure what the point of all the “Liddy being insane in prison” was about other than just filler; but the tragedy of Martha Mitchell is hard to watch play out fictionally, since I watched it play out in real life. I was an early teen at the time of Watergate; I turned thirteen in 1974, and even though I was apolitical at the time and paid very little attention to politics, just going along with what my parents believed until I got a little bit older and started paying more attention, Watergate was ubiquitous; it was everywhere. The hearings aired on every network every day, preempting everything I usually watched when I was home from school on vacation; it was on the news, in the was in the newspapers, Mad and Cracked magazines talked about it endlessly…I can only imagine how viral Watergate would be in today’s world, but on the other hand, it would have been a lot uglier in this current political climate.

And whatever else can be said about Nixon, when it was obvious how bad it was going to get for him, he did what was best for the country and stepped down–even if it was really what was best for him.

We also watched another episode of Merlí, but while it was very well done, it’s beginning to drag a little bit. The cast is very appealing, but there’s really no melodrama (or much of it, anyway); it’s really about a bunch of college kids learning about themselves and learning about the world, and there’s not even a lot of relationship drama. We’ll probably finish it off–they are all appealing, after all–but it’s not a must-watch must-finish kind of thing for us. We also started watching the new season of The Boys last night, which is interesting–I am really waiting for the arrival of Jensen Ackles, whose character has been teased since almost the opening of the season–and so we’ll probably stick with that. We also watched the first episode of Obi-wan Kenobi, which was better than I would have thought, and we’ll definitely go on watching that. I’m really in the mood for a good crime show, to be honest, and will probably go digging around on Acorn and Britbox to find something.

I was too burned out from the book yesterday to read anything last night, so The Mother Next Door continues to rest on my side table next to my easy chair. Maybe tonight, maybe tonight.

The kitchen is also in a bit of a mess this morning. I still have things that need to be filed and things that need to be put away–there’s also stuff in the refrigerator that needs to be tossed–but that’s cool. I can take care of that when my eyes get bleary from entering data and I need to take a break away from the computer. And my eyes will definitely get bleary; they always do when I’m doing this kind of work, which is why I am glad I don’t have to do it every day.

I also have to start preparing for my class this Saturday. I do have my notes I was going to use for the Saints and Sinners workshop (that I wound up not bringing with me when I went to the Monteleone to teach it, so had to wing it) but this is also going to be slightly longer than the S&S workshop, so I need to be better prepared, and I definitely don’t want to try to wing it at nine thirty in the morning. So, that’s the next big thing when I get this manuscript sent off later today. As I was also saying the other day, I am thinking it might be smart to go ahead and try to write a first draft of Mississippi River Mischief before trying to do anything else, so it can sit for awhile before I get back to it with fresh eyes–it really does help to divorce yourself from the work for a period of time. I think that really worked well with Royal Street Reveillon, and it’s probably the best and smartest way for me to get going on this new Scotty. I also am thinking I should go back and reread the entire series–not thoroughly, just a skimming–so I can get a handle on his voice again, maybe figure out some things, find some things from his past that might need to be circled around back to again. I’m thinking maybe a villain from the past might need to come back into his life at this time again…and of course, there’s the personal story that was left hanging at the end of RSR…I really need to stop doing that, don’t I?

And on that note, I am going to head into the spice mines. Have a lovely day, Constant Reader, and I will chat at you again tomorrow.

Groove Me

And now it’s Sunday in the Lost Apartment, and I didn’t even go outside yesterday. Seriously, and it was lovely. I spent yesterday morning doing some organizing and planning and chores, and then dove into my edits. I emerged from the edits, bleary-eyed and more than a little bit tired, about five or six hours later and adjourned to my easy chair for some “be Scooter’s nap lap for a while” time and watched some videos on European royalty and some who were royalty-adjacent (Ivan VI of Russia, Diane de Poitiers, Elisabeth-Charlotte d’Orleans, duchess of Lorraine, and so forth) until Paul came home, and we streamed for the rest of the evening, which was nice and relaxing. Today I am going to finish the edits so it can be polished tomorrow before turning it in once and for all–huzzah!–and then the rest of the week I will undoubtedly have the “just finished a book for good” hangover and won’t get much else done. But I am already starting to feel that release of having a book finished; and my stress/anxiety levels have gone down significantly. I slept very well last night, which was also very nice and lovely, and I hope to do so again tonight–it’s been really nice getting all this sleep lately.

We watched Fire Island last night on Hulu, and I wasn’t horribly disappointed by it. I’ve seen few gay films–written, directed, produced and starring gay men– that weren’t disappointments; even the ones that come from traditional Hollywood inevitably I don’t care for very much. I never made it through Call Me by Your Name, for one example, and do not get me started on Philadelphia, In and Out, and To Wong Foo. But I enjoyed Fire Island, despite thinking I wouldn’t. I’ve actually never been to Fire Island–although I was invited to go for my birthday one year; their big Morning Party was actually on my birthday–but I was timid and shy and didn’t know how to get there from Tampa, because it involved trains and ferries and things, and I was also always broke in those days, and so I ended up not going. I’ve regretted it ever since…especially when I was writing Wicked Frat Boy Ways, which had a segment actually set on Fire Island. Anyway, I am digressing. I went into Fire Island kind of expecting it to be the same old gay story about Fire Island–I’ve read enough gay literary fiction either written or set in the 1970’s to have formed a strong impression about Fire Island–but the movie wasn’t what I was expecting. I was kind of expecting…I don’t know, another movie about beautiful and rich gay men with ripped bodies that didn’t go very deep, even if it was billed as a rom-com (I mean, a rom-com set on Fire Island?). But it was a lot more than what I was expecting; the characters the movie followed (a group of friends who all bonded and became kind of a family when they all worked at a horrible restaurant in Manhattan with “bottomless Mimosas”–that flashback scene might only be hilarious to former waiters, but it made both Paul and I laugh knowingly) were not rich for sure; the only reason they can afford to be there is they have a friend–a lesbian who won a lawsuit and got a shit ton of money and bought a house on the island, played by Margaret Cho–and there’s definitely some class issues played out in the movie, as well as issues of race. It was also nice to see some frankness about gay male sexuality. I won’t spoil the movie, but it wound up being deeply satisfying, had some really funny moments, and Bowen Yang is the emotional center of the movie–and he kills it. Fire Island may not be for everyone, but Paul and I really enjoyed it a lot more than we thought we would, and the island itself looks beautiful. I am far too old now to “do” Fire Island…but you can’t always do everything you want.

My, how philosophical I am after one cup of coffee this morning.

We also started watching a Spanish language show called Merli: Sapere Audi (Dare to Know), which is a sequel to a show called Merli about a philosophy teacher and ran for three seasons. This show focuses on one of the teacher’s best students, Pol, who is now studying at the University of Barcelona and is played by a really beautiful young actor named Carlos Cuervas, Pol is still in a relationship with Bruno, the son of his old teacher, and is still struggling to come to terms with his bisexuality (or homosexuality; I am not sure which it is), while developing a new relationship with his philosophy professor, who is played by Maria Pujalte, whom we have seen in numerous other shows; she is always great. It’s entertaining enough, and we’ll probably go ahead and finish it tonight. (I laughed because the opening shot of the show has Pol in the shower, with that shot being a close-up of his lovely ass. “Spain understands the gay market,” I laughed as we watched.) I’m not sure what we’ll watch when we finish this, but there are five more episodes so that will be a question for later this week, no doubt…I think the new, New Orleans based and filmed Queer as Folk will be dropping soon on HBO MAX, and we’ll probably watch that and Obi-wan Kenobi on Disney.

And we still haven’t watched all those Marvel shows, either.

I’ve been thinking–always a dangerous thing–lately about trying my hand at writing a gay romance. I’ve always avoided the genre because of it’s commitment to heteronormativity (which actually came up during Fire Island, which was kind of a knowing wink at the audience), but even before watching Heartstopper (I actually think Patrick/Ivan on Elité was when I first started thinking about it.). I even (of course) have a title for it, and was thinking it might be kind of fun to bring Jake from Bury Me in Shadows back and toss him a romance sequel. (I think my next Alabama may focus on his boyfriend Beau from Bury Me in Shadows….if I write another Alabama book. One never really knows.) But writing another book about Jake, or one about Beau would be kind of lazy since I already created them….but I also couldn’t write another book set in Corinth County and not acknowledge Beau…who was a cousin of the main character from Dark Tide, which did get mentioned. I don’t know. But as I put the finishing edits on my cozy mystery, I am thinking it might be fun and interesting to try something–a romance novel–that is completely outside of my wheelhouse. Sure I have to write Mississippi River Mischief, Chlorine and another project first; there’s all those novellas I have to finish as well as all those short stories; and of course, the essays.

Christ.

No wonder I am so tired all the time…

My goal has been to write a first draft of Chlorine in May, and then a first draft of another project (Muscles) in June, spend July writing the short stories and novellas, and then move on to Mississippi River Mischief in August. I’m now thinking–inspired by these edits–that what I really need to do is spend the rest of this month working on the short stories and novellas as well as getting MRM started; it would be great to have a first draft of MRM completed by August 1, and then spend the next two months writing first drafts of the other projects before returning to MRM to finish by December 1. I think that’s not only workable but doable, but I also have to stay focused on the goal and not allow myself to either get lazy or distracted. I really also want to get back down to 200 pounds before Bouchercon; that may not be entirely realistic, but I can at least change the way the weight is distributed on my body somewhat by then–although back in the day, I generally started working on my Decadence body (ah, the days when it mattered so much to me to be in shape for certain weekends of the year!) around June…but my body has aged and changed since those days, and the metabolism has completely slowed down. But my body also craves exercise and stretching–I may do some stretching when I finish writing this, and before I start putting stuff away and cleaning prior to diving into the edits–and it certainly cannot hurt for me to start trying to make it to the gym three times per week again.

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

Mama’s Pearl

Saturday morning in the Lost Apartment, and I have a rather lengthy weekend of work staring me down. Yesterday wasn’t a bad day, per se; I’ve certainly had much worse ones over the years. I didn’t have to be at the office at the usual time–Fridays I can go in later, which is so lovely–and I had slept really deeply and well the night before so the morning started off in a much better manner than usual. I ran some errands on the way home from the office, including making groceries (so I wouldn’t have to do it this weekend), and came home to a nice, lovely and sort of quiet-ish evening. The heat has been miserable here–and there’s already tropical systems forming in the Atlantic and in the Gulf, whee!–and I am already a bit concerned about the power bills to come this summer. It was ninety-five degrees yesterday when I left the office–which is high, even for June, if I recall correctly.

It’s usually the humidity that makes it so miserable here…it feels like August already, so i can only imagine how miserable August itself will actually be.

But I will worry about that when I have to. For now, I am just going to enjoy the cool loveliness of the climate controlled Lost Apartment and pretend I have money to (quite literally) burn.

I slept well last night. We finished watching The Little Drummer Girl and Beneath the Banner of Heaven–both of which I recommend–and I started reading Tara Laskowski’s Anthony nominated The Mother Next Door, and it’s excellent, y’all. I only read the first chapter, but I was immediately sucked in–which is a very good thing; that means I can use the book as a reward for working this weekend, aka if I get this far, I can spend two hours reading Tara’s book. I can see why it was so acclaimed and has gotten so much award recognition–it’s currently nominated for the Anthony for Best Paperbook/Ebook/Audiobook Original–and I am very excited that it’s finally worked its way up to the top of the TBR pile. I keep talking about the golden age of crime fiction we are currently living through–seriously, reading the first chapter of Tara’s book served as further confirmation of that theory.

Today is going to be spent mostly working on the edits, of course. Once I’ve swilled enough coffee for my mind to function–I am also getting the hang of Wordle, I’ve been getting it in two or three tries this past week–and some of this mess organized and cleaned up and put away–I will probably dive headlong into the edits. They went really well last night–I was very pleased with the progress I’ve made and how much better the book is becoming (an editor is really worth their weight in gold, and I am very privileged to be working with Terri Bischoff on this one) as I go. I hope to get really deep into it today, so I can finish it tomorrow and then have Monday to go over it one more time before turning it in, once and for all. I’ve also been seeing a lot of submission calls I find interesting and that I may have something for–there was one in particular that I’d like to submit for, since it was for novellas and those are indeed rare, rainbow and glitter unicorns, and since I have like four or five of them in progress…I should be able to get something together for it, don’t you think? And at the very least, it means I would have one of them finished.

My writing schedule has been so off and so fucked up this year. What a strange year this has been thus far: I am discovering that I am so unused to traveling now that whenever I do it, it takes a few days to recover, which I usually don’t have; the binge-writing thing hasn’t changed, but it’s getting harder and harder to do it now–and much more tiring; I’ve been off my gym/workout schedule for months now, and my body doesn’t like it even one little bit; and my goal to broaden my cooking skills has failed miserably. I have, in fact, traveled only three times thus far this year–Left Coast Crime, the Edgars, Kentucky–and I have only two more trips planned for this year, Fort Lauderdale in July for Sleuthfest and Minneapolis for Bouchercon. I’ll probably wind up going to Kentucky a few more times this year, but I will worry about that when the time comes. I will most likely take the rest of this coming week off from writing anything after I turn the edits in on Monday, and then try to dive back into the short stories and various other projects next weekend–although I do have to teach that workshop at the library on Saturday, which also means I will go to That’s Amore and order us a deep dish Chicago style pizza on my way home–as well as start working on cleaning out the attic preparatory to cleaning out my storage unit (I’d like to get that emptied out by the end of the month so I can close the account and stop spending that money every month; it’s ridiculous I’ve been paying that every month now for so many years), but if not, maybe by August 1 at least. I need to start pruning the books out of the apartment again, too. The only thing I really need to keep is research materials, if that–most of that can be found on-line or as ebooks–and it would really be nice to get rid of some of this stuff, you know?

Clean like you’re moving, Gregalicious.

And of course, I need to get started on Mississippi River Mischief at some point. The story is starting to coalesce in my head, as more and more ideas and things to include come along…I’m actually kind of excited about it, to be honest, and even more excited to have to make some field trips to some of the bayou parishes to get a look around and take some pictures and get some background color for the book. It’s going to be a little bit weird to write more about a fictional parish outside of New Orleans than about New Orleans itself; and yes, I am inventing a fictional parish to go along with the other fictional parish I use for some of my paranormal stuff–St. Jeanne d’Arc and Redemption parishes–just as I have invented some things for the current project in edits. I never used to do that, but if people want to ding me for making some shit up so be it. I find myself not quite as tied to “can’t invent something that isn’t there in the city because I want to” as I used to be–but I will never write about basements or subterranean caverns beneath the city (although I do suppose there are underground drainage tunnels down there).

And on that note, I am heading back into the spice mines. Have a happy Saturday wherever you are, Constant Reader, and I’ll let you know tomorrow how things are going with the edits. I know–the suspense, right?

Woodstock

June first, and the start of Pride Month. I should probably wax poetic about the long struggle for civil rights for queer people–one that I pretty much spent my entire life witnessing (I was eight at the time of Stonewall; I don’t remember seeing any news coverage of it, but it gradually seeped into my consciousness through osmosis or something) and a lot of years participating in at some level. I sometimes wonder if I could have done more, or fought harder, or been better about it in some ways; if I could have done something more that could have caused a greater impact or advanced the cause more quickly in some way. I imagine that’s probably my own issue more than anything else; I always feel like ai should do more.

I slept pretty well last night, and I think I am starting to get caught up on that. I felt better yesterday, but got tired relatively early in the day and of course, had errands to run after work (I cannot be the only person stunned at how much the cost of groceries has gone up, can I?), and then came home to make dinner (I was very hungry, which was unusual but cool as I am usually not hungry after work), and then Paul and I watched another episode of The Little Drummer Girl, a John LeCarré adaptation we’re enjoying, if not completely certain we are following the story completely. I’ve not read much LeCarré; only The Spy Who Came In from the Cold, which was amazing and yes, I am well aware I need to read more. (I also would like to read more Eric Ambler, for that matter, and there’s some Robert Ludlum I’d like to revisit as well.) I’ve not decided what to read next, to be honest; probably something older is most likely; I have a couple of old suspense novels from the 1960’s I’d like to read, and they are short, which makes them even more appealing. I also downloaded another book to listen to on my phone; I am hoping that I can listen to it while doing chores around the house and/or walking to the gym (which I hope to start doing again). I have an eye appointment on Saturday in Metairie (yay) but maybe after I am finished with that and after running a couple of errands, can walk over to the gym Saturday afternoon and start working out and stretching again. I can feel that my muscles need to be stretched (badly) because it’s been so long…

But I do feel better today, like I am finally over the trip.

I am behind on everything, but that undertone of being tired never helps in that regard; when I am tired (exhausted) I always look at everything I have to do from a perspective of oh I will never be able to get caught up and feel defeated. The trip of course was a disruption, and now I have to piece together the many things I was doing and working on before I drove north. But with some clarity–sleeping well helps–I should be able to get that taken care of this morning as well as starting the incredible chore of clearing out my inbox, which has been out of control for quite some time. (Hell, everything has been out of control for quite some time.)

I’ve been reflecting about my gay life a lot lately–primarily because one of my many many projects are set in the past, which requires me to remember things from my life from way back when (“Never Kiss a Stranger” is set in 1994 New Orleans; another project is set in the mid 1970’s in the Chicago suburbs) and while I certainly wouldn’t ever want to go back in time–no matter how awful things seem to be in the present day, they were definitely worse in the past–it’s kind of nice to think back to what many people consider to be “simpler” times. The fact is the times weren’t actually simpler, we were just simpler and certainly more naïve. Maybe that’s just me projecting–always a possibility–and the cynic in me, when people talk about “simpler times”, always wants to say, “what you really mean is you want to go back to a time when you didn’t have to think about social issues because they didn’t really intrude into your life.” It’s very easy to not care about, or notice, things that don’t affect you–which is where the term “woke” came from, if you were wondering or have complained about it before–but (at the risk of making you think of campfires and “Kum-Ba-Ya”) we kind of are all in this together, and is it really so terrible to care about other people and how they are treated?

Apparently, a lot of people think the answer to that question is yes.

Anyway. I don’t think people will ever stop disappointing me. (For that matter, I don’t think I will ever stop disappointing myself.)

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely June 1st, Constant Reader.