The Coventry Carol

New Year’s Eve Eve, and all is quiet in the Lost Apartment this morning. Scooter has been fed and given treats, so  he’s gone back to bed; Paul is curled up with him upstairs. I overslept again this morning, not as late as yesterday but still–I woke up just before ten. Obviously, I need the rest, but at the same time it becomes a little frustrating because I generally do my best work in the mornings.

I did some work yesterday but not much. I got sucked into the college football vortex after going to the grocery store and picking up the mail, and wound up mostly just reading The Shining most of the time. I finished reading the first part, which is all set-up; we meet the Torrances (Jack, Wendy, Danny) who are point-of-view characters and learn about their background–Jack’s drinking and violent temper; how he broke Danny’s arm in a rage and almost destroyed the marriage; Wendy, who still loves him but isn’t sure she should be staying with him, and young Danny, with his unusual talent and desperate love for both his parents and wanting them to stay married. This is also the tale of how they came to stay at the Overlook Hotel over the long, remote, brutal winter; one of the things that has always been a flaw to me with this book is the idea of a luxury hotel in the Rocky Mountains that is so high up in the mountains that it has to close for winter sports season. But King presents it as a fact; it is a necessary one for the story to work–the Torrances have to be completely cut off from civilization, and that again makes The Shining a novel of its time; even today there would be wi-fi service all winter up there; Jack would be able, undoubtedly, to look up all kinds of information about the hotel on-line (probably would have before taking the job) rather than having to dig through the stuff in the basement. But I am enjoying this reread, and I am also enjoying recognizing why some of the issues and problems I had with this book come from a personal place; I don’t like, for example, stories where children are in danger–whether from supernatural forces or from their parents or from anyone or anything, really. And that is also an interesting thing to unpack: why do these stories bother me so much, get under my skin, make me recoil from them?

I am really looking forward to my reread of Pet Sematary.

So this morning I need to finish cleaning and organizing. I may write today after the Saints game–none of the main players will be in the game, as they’ve already clinched the Number One seed and home-field advantage during the play-offs, so why risk your stars getting injured in a game that doesn’t matter (and games that don’t matter is another thing I dislike about the NFL; all games should matter) so I don’t know how intense the game will be or how wound-up in it I will get. But probably not very; since the game doesn’t matter.

We had a deep-dish Chicago style pizza from That’s Amore last night and it was everything. Everything. It is seriously my favorite pizza in New Orleans, but it’s so thick and heavy you can’t have it regularly; it’s perfect as an occasional treat. We hadn’t had one in months, so having one for dinner (and the second half of it today for today’s dinner) is probably the smart way to go. We are having our annual lunch at Commander’s Palace tomorrow–which will be wonderful–and I am going to simply make baked potatoes for our evening meal tomorrow night; Tuesday I’m going to make Shrimp Creole in the slow-cooker for dinner, and we’ll probably cook out for lunch for the LSU game (GEAUX TIGERS!).

Tomorrow morning’s blog will be my year recap; it’ll be curious to go back to my New Year’s Day blog from last year and see what the 2018 goals were, and if I made any progress on any of them (unlikely). It was an interesting year, to say the least, and one that I’m not in the least bit sorry to see ending. One of my year-end goals is to clean out my various email inboxes, as well, and to henceforth try to stay on top of these things.

We shall see how that plays out, won’t we?

I took some awesome pictures with my phone last night on the walk to pick up the pizza at That’s Amore. I’ll post them on Facebook at some time today.

And now, I am going to dive headlong back into the spice mines. I want to revise another chapter of the WIP and I am going to reread those last five chapters of the Scotty during the Saints game.

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Silent Night

Friday and we are somehow getting through this infernal time between Christmas and New Year’s. Every year I think to myself self, next year you need to take this time off, and every year I forget. Like an idiot.

I’m putting this on my 2019 calendar right the fuck now.

Seriously.

But we’ve made it to Friday, haven’t we, Constant Reader? I’ve managed to get back to work writing–although I should be working on polishing the Scotty, I’ve been bogged down with Bury Me in Satin so keep trying to work my way through it. But I need to get back to the Scotty and cleaning it up; the problem being I am so heartily sick of the opening chapters I don’t even want to look at them anymore. I am going to try to revise and polish the last six chapters, and then work my way back through the entire manuscript, and I still have to write the epilogue. I need to snap out of this malaise/funk I’ve been in ever since the Great Data Disaster, and seriously climb back into the writing and editing, else it will never be done. NEVER. I also need to start reading again. I’d like to finish my reread of The Shining, so I can move on to my reread of Pet Sematary, and then I am going to work my way through the TBR pile….as I’ve said before, I’m going to try to read more minority and diverse writers this next year. I’ve been buying their books all this time, of course, but the books have been languishing in my TBR pile–along with a lot of other books and authors–and I also need to read outside of the crime genre for a while, as well.

I’ve always believed reading is a crucial part of writing; you can’t be a good writer if you don’t love to read, and reading is also an excellent education in writing. The best writers should inspire you to want to equal or better them, or at least to do better with your own writing. I think not publishing anything for quite some time has also done a number on my confidence as a writer; I think we all tend to be our own harshest critics. I need to stop listening to those horrible voices in my head with their nasty whispers that undermine my confidence and make me worry about my writing; that give me Imposter Syndrome and encourage me to not bother writing anything.

Which is also self-defeating, and self-annihilation, and self-destructive.

So I am going to try to use this long weekend to reboot my life and reboot my brain and get back on track with everything. I need to read some more New Orleans history, and I need to figure out what short stories need to be finished or reworked; I realized the other day what is wrong with my story “The Problem with Autofill” and I don’t know if I can rework it properly; I don’t think the premise actually works. I probably need to free-associate the story and the root problem at its core, and figure out how to fix it. The title is probably going to have to go–perhaps I can use it for another story with a different plot–but I think there’s something there with the story and I can make something work with it.

Heavy heaving sigh.

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

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Do They Know It’s Christmas

Good morning, Friday, and how are you today? A four day weekend—one I have been waiting for, it seems, forever– is just over the horizon and about time, I must say. I am very tired this morning–this week and next I have to work eight hour days on Fridays instead of my usual half-day, because of the holidays, so I am up earlier than normal and quite frankly, I DON’T LIKE THIS–and I am having dinner with friends this evening, so it’s not a normal Friday for me.

But dinner will be fun, so there’s that. Yay, fun!

I am also hoping to get to see Aquaman this weekend, finish reading the book I am currently reading, and move on to another. I got some lovely books in the mail this week as gifts (thank you, generous gift-givers), so I am looking forward to reading some of the others. I also want to reread both The Shining (it’s been years) and Bracken MacLeod was talking about Pet Sematary recently, which made me realize that is one of the Stephen King books from his early period which I’ve not read more than once. The book disturbed me deeply, and I remember recoiling from it as I read it feverishly; it’s a very dark book–even for King, who’s not exactly known for light-and-fluffy–and I am thinking–thanks to Bracken–that I should revisit it now, in my fifties, to see if my own change in perspective and growing up (a lot) since I was such a sallow teen will change my opinion of the book. I also think I might spend some time in 2019 revisiting some of King’s work.

As the end of the year draws nigh, I generally start reflecting back on the year that was, wondering if I’ve accomplished all the things I set out to do and if I achieved any of the goals I set at the beginning of the year. I know I did some, and I also know I failed at others. The Short Story Project was a lot of fun, and I think I am going to sign up to do it again some in the new year; focusing on reading and writing short stories is a lovely thing, and even my blogging about terrific short stories gets even one person to buy an anthology or read a story, it’s a win.

One of the things I’m definitely going to do in the new year is diversify my reading list. I have a number of books in my TBR pile by non-white writers, and I need to start reading those books and writers. Is it an unconscious bias that makes me grab a book by a cisgender straight writer? Possibly and probably, and that’s where systemic bias comes into play; bias we don’t even think about is just as wrong as bias we do think about. It’s even more insidious, because we think we don’t have bias but it’s there, lurking in our subconscious, waiting waiting waiting…and that’s just wrong.

And now, back to the spice mines.

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Santa Baby

Well, yesterday was interesting.

I have some thoughts about yesterday’s recent blow-up within the crime fiction world; deep thoughts that I’ve not been able to coherently pull together in order to share as of yet. These thoughts began to form, and swirl around, inside my head during the last dust-up within my chosen world of crime writing; I’ve been playing with them and trying to put them into a some sort of sense ever since. Yesterday I was busy almost my entire twelve-hours at the office, only able to check in with social media via my phone periodically–and watched, in horror, as the fire not only spread but gasoline was thrown onto it. But as I’ve said before, I no longer want to say things in the heat of the moment, when emotion is running rampant within my head and through my body, and would prefer to sit on it for a few days, think about what I am going to say, and try to say it ina  reasonable way.

Even despite the fact that quite a lot of what’s been happening in my community has been, quite frankly, un-fucking-reasonable.

But sometimes…to effect change you have to wait and allow a cooler head to prevail. Sigh. I hate being more mature.

Needless to say, I got little to no writing or editing done yesterday. Having the lengthy work day is part of the problem, of course–at the end of one’s second twelve-hour day one is a bit tired–so when I got home last evening I simply collapsed into my easy chair and spent the rest of the evening bingeing Schitt’s Creek until I actually fell asleep in the chair. So, yes, in case you’re wondering, I did sleep really well last night. I moved from the chair to the bed and immediately fell back asleep; I think I woke up once around three in the morning but embraced Morpheus again almost instantly. I feel most wonderfully rested this morning; and hopeful that I’ll be able to get back on the horse from which I’ve fallen and get some more work done. I have to get through three more days of work before a four day weekend–and I do think we’re going to go see Aquaman this weekend–and I am equally hopeful I’ll be able to get a lot done this weekend as well.

Fingers crossed, for sure.

I’m also really glad I did all that cleaning on Monday night during the Saints game. *Whew*.

And Christmas is less than a week away now. YIKES.

I am swinging by the post office this morning, hopeful that the last of the gifts I ordered for Paul will have arrived, so I can hide them in the back of the car until such time as I can sneak them into the house and wrap them. I also ordered some gifts for myself–what can I say, I’m a giver, and sometimes you need to order something extra for the free shipping–and hopefully all those have arrived. I actually ordered copies of two comic books from my childhood that, for some reason, resonated with me: DC’s The Brave and the Bold, issue 98, and Charlton Comics’ Ghostly Tales from the Haunted House issue 91: “Bloody Mermaid.” I recently reread The Brave and the Bold #98, and regret to inform you, Constant Reader, that the tale doesn’t stand the test of time; but it did provide me with a kernal of an idea for a book (and in all honesty, when I first read it when I was ten it inspired an idea for a book, and part of the reason I ordered the comic was to see if the idea still remained okay–which I think it does). I have yet to reread “Bloody Mermaid”; I’ve already discussed how it inspired a germ of an idea that eventually became my novel Dark Tide.

And on that note, I am heading back into the spice mines. Have a fabulous Hump Day, Constant Reader!

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Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

I may have to rethink this two-twelve-hour-days-to-start-the-week thing.

Or maybe it’s just this week that’s the problem. I know there’s a four day weekend lurking just over the horizon, and all I really need to do is just get through this week and then I can rest and relax and enjoy the holiday and spend a lot of time thinking oh, it’s a four day weekend I can get things done tomorrow until suddenly it’s Tuesday night and I have to go back to work the next morning.

I also felt like crap all day; that certainly didn’t help. I don’t know if it was low blood sugar, or what, but I just didn’t feel good, and that’s always unpleasant when you’re at work. I soldiered through though. This morning, I feel somewhat better–there’s still an itchy feeling in my throat which I don’t much care for–but at least I feel better rested ths morning than I did yesterday.

I also cleaned the apartment. The Saints game was giving me extreme levels of stress, so rather than sitting there and allowing it to make me crazy, I got up and started cleaning. Dishes, laundry, vacuuming…yes, I managed to get that all done during the Saints victory last night–which was in doubt until the fucking very end. I’m not sure what is up with the Saints exactly lately–whether it is some kind of late-season “we’ve made the play-offs already” malaise…but it’s painful to watch, even as they manage to eke out the win.

I don’t understand why they want us to  have cardiac arrest and hypertension, but there you have it.

I do feel better this morning; more tired than anything else, but I’ve also already taken my morning dosage of DayQuil. The DayQuil didn’t seem to help a whole lot yesterday, but on the other hand, it may have been worse had I not taken it. My nose is raw (again) after having to repeatedly blow/wipe it, and that is also highly annoying.

But…tomorrow I get to sleep later, and run pick up the mail before I come into the office. I am so not an early morning person. I can handle getting up at seven, but these two mornings of rising at six are horrific. I did drink some of that “help you sleep” tea last night, and so I slept deeply and well…but that also could have come from being so worn out and tired. But today and tonight I am hoping to get some chapters of Scotty reread and revised between clients, and maybe take some notes on Bury Me in Satin. I also am thinking about getting back to doing some work on short stories that are in progress; “Never Kiss a Stranger” has literally been languishing for weeks, and there are several others that I’ve started and not gotten very far on. I also want to get back to reading my New Orleans histories, as well.

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

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Drummer Boy

And just like that, it’s Friday again. It’s supposed to rain all day today–hurray–but again, I have a very short day at the office, and then it’s back home to get started on cleaning and organizing. I like being able to get the stuff done on Friday that I used to have to do on Saturday; I’m hoping to get the edits on the stories I’ve done this week input today, so I can start polishing the new Scotty, and maybe even get a few chapters worth of work done on Bury Me in Satin. I have two four day weekends coming up after this one, and so I should be able to get everything finished by January 1 that I want to get done.

As long as I don’t get another case of the lazies, which is always possible.

I think I am finished with Christmas shopping for Paul; one gift won’t arrive until after Christmas, but it’s just a fun little gift to make him laugh, rather than anything major that will be missed.

The kitchen is also a terrible mess this morning, as always on Fridays. I just can’t seem to find the energy on weeknights to keep up with this stuff, so it always falls to the weekend for me to get back on top of this stuff. I slept fairly well last night–not great, but not bad; I woke up fairly regularly but was always able to go back into a nice deep sleep, and so I am not tired this morning as much as one might think one would be. But I also don’t have the drive to get anything done before I leave for work…other than maybe folding the clothes currently running in the dryer and maybe moving the stuff from the washer to the dryer to run while I am at work. I also have to swing by and get the mail this morning on my way to the office. I have one more gift for Paul to order, and then I have to order my parents’ presents, and that will wrap up Christmas once and for all with a lovely little bow and maybe some tinsel.

Yay!

We have a Christmas/birthday party to attend on Saturday evening, and I think Paul has plans for the evening, so I am going to be home alone tonight with a needy kitty and lots to do; no real excuse for not getting a lot done tonight other than, of course, the need for attention from Scooter and the tired old mentality well I can always get everything done tomorrow which so frequently seems to affect me on Fridays. But the cleaning is important to get out of the way. And I have to leave the house tomorrow to grocery shop, get the mail and pick up prescriptions, then the party is tomorrow night, so I can be fairly certain that I am going to blow off doing anything tomorrow. And I need to get back into the swing of doing my reading of New Orleans history. It’s amazing how off the Great Data Disaster of 2018 has thrown me.

Ah, well. Tis back to the spice mines with me.

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O Come All Ye Faithful

Thursday and the hard part of the week is already over; the one where I work thirty-one hours in three days at the office. This is the part of the week where I work nine hours in two days, easing into the weekend, as it were. We have a Christmas party to attend on Saturday evening, but other than that and some errands, I intend to spend my weekend primarily working and editing and inputting the hard copy edits I’ve done on my short stories this week.

That’s the plan, at any rate.

But I slept really well again last night–two glorious nights in a row–and I feel incredibly well rested today. Does that bode well for writing this morning before work, and this evening after? Here’s hoping. I’m still trying to adapt and adjust to my new work schedule, and I feel like I am settling into it at long last, which is lovely. It gets harder to adapt to changes, I find, the older I get.

I still feel completely disconnected in some ways from the creativity surge I was feeling before the loss of the jump drive and the frying of the back-up hard drive; like the momentum wave I was riding has somehow now passed me by and I am dog-paddling like crazy in water that’s over my head. (To be fair, I often feel this way, particularly when the work isn’t going so well.) But I am absolutely delighted to discover that the stories I was re-editing and revising for the collection are now in pretty good shape, and now I can even get started (maybe) on tentatively pulling together the second one. I also kind of have lost momentum on my New Orleans research as well as my essay collection; partly because that was some of the work I lost. I did reconstruct some of it this past weekend–table of contents, etc., as well as some other things; writing things up in my journals–something I returned to doing this year–really helped lessen the impact of the Great Data Disaster of 2018. Hurray!

And with the end of the year approaching, I am wondering now what new goals I should set for 2019. Obviously, some of the ones I set for 2018 didn’t happen, but that’s okay; I don’t look as not achieving a goal as a failure. I do think one of the things I am really going to try for in 2019 is getting published in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. It’s been on my bucket list forever, and so I am going to really give it a try. I think my story “One Night at Brandy’s Lounge”–unfinished–might be the one to do the trick.

All right, it’s time to get back to the spice mines. The spice must flow.

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