I Miss You

And here we are on a lovely humid Saturday morning in the Lost Apartment. I overslept this morning, or rather, slept later than I had intended or wanted to, but seriously, I’m learning to accept these things as messages from my body that I need more rest. I felt weirdly tired most of yesterday, despite the good night’s sleep; it kind of felt like my body never completely woke up, although my fevered brain was working properly. My body just felt like it would have preferred to stay in bed for the rest of the day. On the way home from work I stopped and made some groceries; today I’ll run uptown and get the mail, making a stop at the Fresh Market for fruit, vegetables and berries on my way home. I may order a Costco delivery for this afternoon (or tomorrow) as well; I haven’t really decided. I started doing some shopping on their website yesterday, but we really didn’t need as much stuff as I would have thought we needed going into their website. (Some of the stuff I wanted wasn’t available, either; which was annoying to say the least–but that would probably also be the case were I to actually go there in person, as well) I also have a library book to pick up today while I am out and about in the humid air of an August Saturday. Huzzah?

I hope I can stay motivated today and get to everything I want to get to this weekend; the jury, of course, remains out at this point.

But if I don’t, I don’t. The world won’t stop turning, after all.

We watched They/Them last night, and it was interesting. It was billed as a horror film, but I really didn’t feel like it was a horror movie rather than social commentary using horror tropes, if that makes sense? The young queer actors playing the kids at the conversion therapy camp were terrific–so were the older cast (Kevin Bacon, Anna Chlumsky, Carrie Preston)–but the movie never quite gelled as being anything more than a clever idea. A “slasher” movie with “they slash them” in the title I bet made the people around the creative table very excited. And maybe I went in expecting a little too much from it, I don’t know. But it really says something about us as a society that this is the first time we’ve ever seen a horror film rooted in the real-life horror of a reparative therapy camp; they are such real horrors that it’s hard to clear your mind to watch the film objectively; obviously, everyone involved with running the camp are the real monsters, etc. and Paul figured out very early on who the killer was–I didn’t bother trying to figure it out, because the identity of the killer (or killers) in these movies, Scream series notwithstanding, really isn’t a big Scooby-Doo reveal or the point of the films. Ultimately, while the film was actually well done, if you want to see a better send-up of slasher flicks, much as I hate to say it, the latest season of American Horror Story was probably better than They/Them, but at least They/Them is mercifully shorter than any season of AHS. Watch it for yourselves and make up your mind; it does bring up some interesting things to think about.

We then watched the first two episodes of a Netflix true crime series The Most Hated Man on the Internet, about Hunter Moore and his horrific revenge-porn site IsAnyoneUp.com. It’s a horrible story–we stopped before the third and final episode, in which Moore is finally arrested and charged–but riveting and hard to stop watching. The story is primarily told through the eyes of his victims–women whose intimate photos were posted on his website–and its yet another compelling example of how women can so easily be dehumanized and devalued by men and society as a whole. It’s a pretty disgusting story, as these kinds of stories so often are, but I think people do need to watch it. It’s pretty frightening how successful a sociopath can become in this country, and a stinging indictment of our society as a whole. Tonight I am excited to start watching The Sandman–one of the greatest comic book series ever done; I hope it translates well to the new medium (I really didn’t care for other Neil Gaiman adaptations, American Gods and Good Omens, even though I loved the books they were based on). There’s a lot of good stuff dropping this month, too–yes, I will watch House of the Dragons because I’ve missed Westeros since Game of Thrones ended, and I am not ashamed to admit it, either.

Just glancing around my home office as I swill coffee and swim up from the depths of Morpheus (see what I did there?) induced sleep, I can also see that there are a lot of odds and ends that need doing around here as well. I am hoping to get some writing done today–I want to really start digging into the Scotty book this weekend, and of course I need to work on some short stories and so forth. I went ahead and bit the bullet and submitted a story yesterday. I don’t think they’re going to accept it, to be honest, but that’s okay. They certainly can never accept it if I never send it to them for consideration, can they? It never gets any easier, either, the longer I do this: the minutes-long debate with myself before I hit the submit button. I hate that I still have so little confidence in my skill as a writer and I am this far into it, which means that confidence will probably never come along; it’s not like one day I will wake up with an entire new mindset and brain…plus, I think the insecurity is a driver in keeping me writing, frankly, which is in and itself probably more than just a little bit neurotic.

Nothing ever really changes around here, does it? I suspect that this blog–going back now seventeen years or so–is nothing more than an endless log of neuroses and insecurity and self-loathing. (A little voice in my head just shouted, and that will be your legacy!) I was also looking at the saved drafts in my folder–entries that I wanted to write but decided I needed more time to think about before posting, and in many cases they are unfinished–and thinking I should spend some more time actually finishing and posting them. While the blog has always been intended primarily for me–it’s a warm-up writing session at best, at worst it’s some writing I do every day to keep my hand in–there’s no reason I can’t use the blog for other purposes; like publishing an essay about something that I care about, or a personal essay built around something that happened to me. I don’t trust my memories, as I’ve often mentioned here (I sometimes think that if I were ever to start writing memoirs, it would have to be called False Memories or Memory Lies), and so writing about personal experiences is something I have always been highly reluctant to do. There are any number of things I could write personal essays about, but everything is entirely subjectively MY opinion, which makes it a bit harder for me to think anyone would even care to read them. I am not known as a great thinker or as an intellectual; far from it, in fact, and there’s quite literally nothing I can think of to say about anything that would be clever or insightful or meaningful.

Then again, that could just be the Imposter Syndrome speaking again, too.

Heavy heaving sigh.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely Saturday, Constant Reader, and I’ll check in with you again tomorrow, okay?

Bombay Sapphires

Friday! This morning I am heading into the office for a department meeting and potentially the monkeypox training; it was never officially confirmed, but I think we are going forward with it today. I will let you know tomorrow, Constant Reader, one way or the other. This week kind of went by quickly; I think that’s the thing with being out of the office on Mondays instead of Fridays, which I had gotten very used to: I start my in-the-office week on Tuesday so the week is already on its way. (And yes, while I do work when I am home on Mondays, but not having to come into the office makes it seem like not-work, if that makes sense? I actually get a lot more done when I work at home than I do when I am in the officer; fewer distractions, for one thing) I am kind of looking forward to the weekend, to be honest. I should have all my errands finished today, so there will be no need for me to leave the house (or use the car) this weekend, and I am hoping to make it to the gym tomorrow to get back on track with my working out and stretching again. I don’t think I will ever get my freakish flexibility back again, nor do I think I will ever lean down to my 2007 “fighting weight” body again, but I know it will make me feel better over all, and that’s the most important thing–along with helping me get to sleep every night. Insomnia hasn’t reared its ugly head much over the past few months, but…it’s still there, waiting to fuck me over at the slightest notice.

Bastards.

I am really surprised no one ever came up with a super-villain named INSOMNIA–looking at you, Marvel and DC! Imagine someone with the ability to not only keep you from sleeping, but can make you feel like you haven’t slept in weeks. I just shivered thinking about it.

The horror of it all.

I hope to finish reading Curtis Ippolito’s book this weekend, and move on to Gabino Iglesias’ new one, The Devil Takes You Home. I love Gabino’s voice, and his writing, and I already looked at the first page of this one and was kind of awed by it–when the first page sucks you AND blows you away, you know you’re in for a good time and experience–which is delightful. Gabino is one of the good guys, and it has done my soul such good seeing so many marvelous and wonderful people have their careers take off into the stratosphere. It’s always nice when good things happen to good people, you know? It always pleases me. I have ambitious plans for this weekend, as I always do; I want to get a lot of writing done–I kind of want to go over “The Sound of Snow Falling” once more and get it sent out for submission (I wrote it for Land of 10000 Thrills, but decided against submitting it in the end). I think it’s the only other story I have on hand that is remotely close to being ready to be sent out, so another reread is definitely in order for it. I think I’m going to send it to Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, primarily because it’s been quite some time since I’ve published there (and it’s always nice to sell them another story); I still want to get a story into Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. So many places I want to get published!

I slept really well last night, which feels quite marvelous today. We watched the season three finale of Control Z last night, and I think it was actually the series finale–it had a very interesting ending, certainly not the one we were led to believe we were going to get, which is always courageous and I applaud the writers for doing something different and going against when that audience had kind of been led to expect would happen at the end. I’ve done that with a couple of my books–the unexpected ending the reader wasn’t led to believe would happen–and I am never quite sure how that works with the readers. I always appreciate a surprise at the end, but I don’t think everyone does (go on Twitter and see what people say about romances that don’t have Happily Ever After endings). As Constant Reader might recall, I’ve been thinking about writing a romance novel–I never really have written one, and I don’t know, I think I could probably write a good one, but will never know unless I try. I already have a title and a main character and an opening scene, so who knows? Maybe A Better Man will get written next year. Stranger things have happened, after all. Maybe one of the things I will do this weekend is try to come up with a writing schedule for the rest of this year and next.

Hmmm.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Happy Friday to all, and I will chat at you again tomorrow morning.

Fall from Grace

Thursday, and one more day before the weekend. The weeks just seem to flit past these days–my birthday and Bouchercon will be upon us before we know it–and August is definitely here in New Orleans. It’s so weird, as though the weather somehow knows and thinks hey, it’s August–bet you thought it was ALREADY humid, didn’t you, New Orleans? WELL HOLD MY FUCKING BEER I WILL SHOW YOU HUMIDITY. My windshield kept fogging up all the way into work yesterday morning, and for some reason when I turned on the defroster to get rid of it, it never blew warm air, which is a concern. Sigh, that means another day off and another trip to the dealer on the West Bank (but the plus to that is either Sonic or Five Guys!), but I’ll figure all that out after Bouchercon in September. And who knows? It may have just been a quirk this morning or something, who knows? I really do wish my parents had let me take Auto Shop in high school.

I also wish I had a driveway so I could wash my car at home. But if wishes were horses….that would be a good title, methinks: If Wishes Were Horses.

Yesterday wasn’t so bad, really. I slept well on Tuesday night–at least far better than I had on Monday night, for sure–and so yesterday morning wasn’t the loss that Tuesday morning was. I hate those days after insomnia takes its inevitable toll on me physically and mentally; it’s the worst, frankly. I’ve also agreed to write another short story by the end of the year–if not two, but I am not sure about either, to be honest–and I think I probably already have things on hand that I can use for both, if I so chose. There’s also a submission call for stories based on Alice Cooper songs that sounds interesting–“Welcome to My Nightmare” is such an obvious choice for me, but I would imagine a lot of people would choose that one so if I am going to write something for this I want to be a bit more obscure with my song choice….although “School’s Out” could be really fun. Hmmmm.

I also finished the revision of “Solace in a Dying Hour.” I hope they like the changes I made, else I will soon find out otherwise. I am very pleased with the story–the editorial suggestions were absolutely 100% perfect; there’s nothing like editors who are worth their weight in gold, seriously–and now…I think I am all caught up and can focus solely on Mississippi River Mischief for the next few months. I do have some other stories to write over the course of writing the Scotty, as I mentioned above, but it’s always lovely when the things that are causing you stress–even if it’s only a small bit of stressful discomfort–are taken care of and out of the way. I really loved writing this story, though, and I hope people like it when the anthology is released. It’s my second-ever story about a Louisiana “urban legend”–the first was “Rougarou,” which was about a, well, a rougarou, aka a Cajun werewolf (“rougarou” is a Cajun bastardization of the French loup-garou)–and this time I wrote about le feu follet. Maybe someday that collection Monsters of Louisiana will actually come to fruition…

I did come straight home from work yesterday, and did a load of laundry and cleaned out the sink and ran the dishwasher. I also did some filing, but by the time I retired to my easy chair to relax, I was too tired to read and so I started watching things on Youtube before remembering there was a new episode of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, which I tuned into for awhile until Paul got home, and we switched over to Only Murders in the Building and Control Z before going to bed. I was dozing off in the chair during Control Z, which I am not really following–the plot has become incredibly insane, over the top, and hard to follow, let alone make sense of–before retiring for the evening. I think we have a fairly light clinic schedule today as well, which is always a lovely way to finish off my time in the clinic. Tomorrow morning I have a department meeting followed by the monkeypox training, which I am actually looking forward to–I did discover that I won’t be vaccinating anyone, but I am going to be trained on the virus and how it spreads and how to reduce risk for exposure and infection. (It was kind of a relief, frankly; I loathe needles and shots, and while I had come to accept that I needed to learn and it could help me get over my phobia of needles–like how doing finger-sticks every day got me over my squeamishness with blood–I am really glad, Constant Reader, that I won’t be doing it.)

I also seem to have slept really well last night, too, which is nice. I did wake up at three again–I’ve woken up at three every morning this week, which is peculiar–but was able to fall back asleep with ease and I feel pretty good this morning. Maybe not quite “I can conquer the world!” but something akin to that, methinks. I feel rested and alert, which is always a plus. I have a couple of errands to run today on the way home from work, and then I am hopefully going to be able to settle in for some Scotty writing.

One can hope, at any rate.

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

It’s Only Love

AH, insomnia. It’s been a hot minute since you stopped by for a visit, thank you.

At least I slept for a good four or five hours before I woke up around three this morning and wasn’t able to really fall back asleep. I have a longish day ahead of me, too, and I can’t really afford to be tired and sleepy and groggy. I’m not right now–I’m wide awake–but this afternoon I am going to run out of steam. I am getting trained on how to give monkeypox vaccines today–I don’t know that I will actually have to do it; I was a little confused by the messages I was getting from the department head yesterday, but then again being able to give vaccines is a training that could be useful for me, especially as pandemics and epidemics seem to be the thing nowadays. I also assume that, if I am going to be administering them, I’ll be getting one as well? It’s weird, I am not sure how it works, and I am not going to be googling anything before I actually have my training; but I’d assumed it was a two-shot protocol–but who knows?

I got a lot done yesterday, actually. I got all my day job work caught up, and then I spent the evening proofing the pages for A Streetcar Named Murder, and then wrote up the acknowledgements and the dedication and sent them off to my publisher in the early evening. Now I have to do the page proofs for the Bouchercon anthology and do the edits on a short story, and then I am all caught up and can get back to work on writing again. Whew.

I got up early yesterday to go have blood drawn done for my bi-annual lab work, which kind of messed with my mindset a little bit for the rest of the day, but overall I think it was a good day, really. I let Imposter Syndrome out from behind its locked door in my brain for a while last night and went into a bit of a spiral as we watched the latest episode of The Anarchists and got further into the third season of Control Z–which I am not really following; it’s hard for me to remember which characters are which–that has a lot to do with COVID brain, though, I think. It’s hard for me to remember shows we’ve binged because we’ve binged so many over the past three years, and Control Z, which has shorter episodes (slightly longer than half an hour) makes it harder to connect with and remember characters and their story arcs when they aren’t really the main one, if that makes sense? The episode we watched last night ended with a surprise twist in that Pablo might be the hacker….but we couldn’t remember which character was Pablo. See what I mean about it being a problem?

We’re having a thunderstorm currently, which means dashing out to the car while carrying everything and an umbrella, fumbling to unlock the gate, etc. It also means we’re probably going to have flooding this morning as well–that’s what rain usually means in New Orleans during the summer–and also means my feet will most likely get wet (which is why I always have spare socks in one of my desk drawers at the office; there’s nothing worse than wet socks during the work day). Yay. This is the kind of weather than makes me want to stay in bed; one of these mornings when it’s raining on the weekend I am going to come down and get my coffee and go back up to bed to read while it rains, which is one of my favorite things in the world to do but I’ve not been able to do for a very long time, which kind of sucks, really. Simple pleasures are often quite marvelous and endlessly good for the soul–which is one of the reasons I love sleep (when I’m able to get it) so much.

And yes, one of the things I have to do this morning is make a fresh to-do list, and go from there.

And on that note, I am going to finish my peanut butter toast and get cleaned up for work. Have a lovely Tuesday, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again tomorrow.

That Made Me Stronger

Monday morning has rolled around again, and this morning I had to get up ridiculously early to go have blood drawn for my biannual check-up–I find it easier to just get up early, brush my teeth, wash my face, and throw on some clothes to run down there before eating or drinking anything (must fast before bloodwork; therein lies the rub) before rushing out to the car where my travel mug rests with my first cup of coffee in it. That first swallow of coffee is always so blissful once the three vials of blood have been taken from my arm.

I finished all the copy edits of the Bouchercon anthology in order to get it turned in (late) last evening; that was quite an experience–but it’s a great anthology. There are some terrific stories from writers you know and writers you may not have heard of yet, but you’ll be delighted to make their acquaintance here. I am hoping to get the page proofs this week so I can get that out of the way–after I finish work tonight I have to finish the proofing for Streetcar–and am feeling a bit weird this morning that it’s now August. (Nineteen shopping days left before my birthday, Constant Reader, so make a note of that, okay?) I also did laundry and dishes yesterday; went over that story one last time and decided to bite the bullet and submit it anyway–if it’s offensive or tone deaf, they won’t use it, after all; ordered groceries on line to be picked up tomorrow night after work; and did some more cleaning around here. I also finished reading Sandra SG Wong’s In the Dark We Forget, which I greatly enjoyed and already blogged about, and started reading Curtis Ippolito’s Burying the Newspaper Man at long last. I’ve also picked up some more books to read along the way somehow, and more are coming that were preordered.

I will never finish reading everything I want to read, just like I will never write everything I want to write.

I did get some writing done over the weekend, though–all this proofing and copy editing and so forth haven’t exactly made it the easiest thing to do, seriously–and I have to get the edits/revisions done on another story that’s been accepted; it’s being edited as a google doc, which I don’t have a lot of experience with and so I am not sure what I am looking at, which is always fun; I hate being technologically challenged on a regular basis–whenever I get used to something like “track changes” in Word, now we have a new way of doing this I have to learn! Hurray! Because, after all, all I have is time to learn how to use new technology when I haven’t completely grasped the old yet. Heavy heaving sigh. AH, well, this evening after the data entry is completed I will see if I can figure it all out. It’s a good story, and I am excited to have sold it….but it also reminds me (when I was looking at the submissions spreadsheet last night, so I could update the story submission from yesterday, and add the others from this year I’ve not recorded yet) how few short stories I’ve been sending out lately. I’ve only sent out three stories this year–two have sold, the other went yesterday–and it irritates me to know that I’ve once again let something slide that I wanted to prioritize this year. And of course now I have exactly three months to write the Scotty book. Heavy heaving sigh. I need to get my shit together, don’t I?

I am also getting trained tomorrow on how to administer the monkeypox vaccine; my department head messaged me over the weekend about my schedule for Tuesday so I can get trained. I am assuming this means we are getting some of the vaccine* in for my clients; since I spend most of the week working in the clinic with appointments every hour I can’t see how I can work vaccinating in other departments or areas of the clinic (I work in the STI clinic for men who have sex with other men and trans individuals; which is just one small piece of our overall massive public health clinic), but who knows? I was a little taken aback to be told I was getting this training–I am not any kind of medical professional, I am merely certified by the state to do rapid antibody tests for HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis C; I turn them over to the nurse for everything else–but I guess anyone can give someone a shot if they know how, and obviously, this isn’t an intravenous shot but one that probably goes into the upper shoulder. I’m not a huge fan of getting shots–I loathe needles–let alone giving them; but…doing fingersticks to draw pipettes of blood to do the antibody tests got me over my dislike and distaste for blood, so this is a really good way to get me over my intensely visceral dislike of needles and shots. I can’t imagine it’s a lot more complicated than doing a fingerstick, really; just a matter of prepping the needle and then using the plunger once the skin has been pierced by the sharp end of the hypodermic. And who knows? Learning how to administer a vaccination might be something that could come in handy for my writing someday.

We also watched the new Neil Patrick Harris show, Uncoupled, on Netflix last night. In it, Harris plays Michael, a gay realtor in New York City whose partner of seventeen years (Tuc Watkins) decides out of the clear blue to leave him, moving out on his fiftieth birthday without any forewarning (Harris thinks they’ve been robbed), and the rest of the season shows him trying to adapt to being single again, dating again, and trying to get over the hurt and betrayal of the end of a relationship he thought was for life–and his old partner just doesn’t seem to want to have anything to do with him again. It was a very well done depiction of grief and anger and finally acceptance–it’s a shitty situation, and his character can’t see past his own shock, hurt and anger to even wonder what went wrong and why he didn’t see it coming in any way–but eventually he starts coming to terms with everything and starts moving on. It’s done by Darren Star, who also did Sex and the City, and there’s a very Sex and the City vibe to the show–I pointed out how like Carrie the main character was, and we spent the rest of the series deciding who Miranda and Charlotte and Samantha were of his friend group. The best part of the show, though, are the women: Marcia Gay Harden is fantastic as Claire Lewis, a wealthy woman whose husband has also just left her out of the blue, and Tisha Campbell is Emmy worthy as Michael’s business partner and best friend, Samantha. We did enjoy it–though I did have some questions about it, which could make (as always) an interesting essay someday–and are looking forward to the second season.

And on that note, this data ain’t gonna enter itself now is it? I’ll check in with you again tomorrow, Constant Reader.

*If this is, in fact, a general thing Crescent Care will be offering to the general population rather than just our established and current clients, I will of course make announcements on social media, so locals–stay tuned or watch this space or whatever you want to call it.

Too Far from Texas

I used to think you could never be too far from Texas, in all honesty, despite my deep appreciation and affection not only for Houston (I lived there for a time) but for all my marvelous friends in Texas. Murder by the Book, the only mainstream mystery bookstore that would allow me to have events in their store when I first published, always holds a deep place of affection within my heart and soul; I love that store, and of course, I also love me some Whataburger.

Whataburger alone makes Texas worth visiting, to be honest.

The Chanse MacLeod series was originally going to be set in Houston. I created him, and actually started writing about him, while i lived in Texas from 1989-1991. I remember distinctly that he had an office and a pager, as well as a secretary and an off-hours answering service…clearly, I didn’t understand how private investigators actually worked and was basing everything off movies, books, and television programs. But I do recall the name of the first book was going to be The Body in the Bayou–and Chanse was also straight in his original iteration–and it wasn’t until later (after my birthday visit here in 1994) that I decided to move it to New Orleans, and of course by the time I started rewriting the New Orleans version, I’d discovered gay mysteries and so of course, I changed his sexuality (I’ve never once regretted that either, I might add). I also put The Body in the Bayou aside and started writing a whole new murder mystery for him (Murder in the Rue Dauphine) that eventually became my first published book. Chanse remained from Texas–a small town in east Texas called Cottonwood Wells–and I even wrote a short story where Chanse goes back home to that small town. (I’d always wanted to write a book where he goes back home and has to deal with memories and so forth; I just never got around to it and his original publisher always made the sign of the cross at me whenever I suggested, “hey, should I set the next one in Chanse’s home town, where he has to go to clear up a crime someone from his past is accused of?”) Cottonwood Wells also popped up in earlier drafts of #shedeservedit, as where main character Alex’ family was originally from; that eventually got edited out over the final drafts.

Sunday morning and I slept late, and even after waking, stayed in the bed for a while longer. It felt very comfortable and my body was very relaxed, which was lovely, and I didn’t really want to get out of the bed, to be honest. I made swedish meatballs last night for dinner and left the mess for this morning (I am now cursing lazy Greg last night who made that decision–part of the reason I made this decision was I realized while cooking that the dishwasher had a clean load in it that needed to be put away, and it was a pain in the ass to do while cooking and trying to time everything) and I didn’t really want to come downstairs and face the mess. I did get some cleaning and organizing done yesterday–I did the kitchen floors at long last–and I also worked on the living room some. I wrote about fifteen hundred words yesterday to flex my writing muscles a little bit–I’ll probably go back over them again today as I write more–and I also have to get the proofs for Streetcar significantly finished today. I also want to work on the new Scotty a little bit as well. We’ll see how much I can get done this morning/afternoon before Paul gets up–although he is going to go into the office today; there was a lot of thunderstorms yesterday and street flooding, so he and the IT guy rescheduled for today (can’t say as I blame him, we were in and out of flash flood alerts all day yesterday; the joys of the tropics in the summer) which will free up this afternoon for proofing.

My self-care appointment (okay, it was a back wax; someday I will write an essay about my issues with body hair) went well and after that, I swung by and picked up the mail. On my way back home I stopped at the Fresh Market (I rarely shop there; I always forget it’s there) to get a few things, and while it is more expensive than other places, I like shopping there. The fruit and vegetables always seem much fresher, and rather than buying prepackaged ground sirloin, I instead got it from the butcher counter, remembering suddenly that it’s fresher that way–and those meatballs turned out superlatively. I think in the future I might shop there a little more regularly. They don’t carry everything I would need, of course–that would make life too easy–but for meats and fruit and vegetables…well, it really cannot be beaten. I spent some more time with In the Dark We Forget–which I am also going to do this morning for a bit, it’s really good and I want to find out what happened to Cleo and her parents–for the rest of this morning, and then I need to vacuum the living room at some point (I swept up the floor in there last night as well, and tried to get it to look cleaner and better organized in there as well; it’s amazing what a difference the clean floor makes). So, a busy busy day for one Gregalicious. But that’s fine, I kind of like having things to do…it’s just when I have so much to do the thought of it is soul-crushing and defeating that I don’t like it.

We started watching The Anarchists on HBO MAX last night, and it’s….something, all right. It’s also interesting how these people chose to define “anarchy” as something other than what most people generally accept it as meaning; but they were using the actual definition of anarchy rather than the societal definition. I always laugh at people who think that laws and rules and regulations are things that restrict freedom and are unnecessary in a society; it’s really just another branch of libertarianism or Ayn Rand’s insane “objectivism”–those laws and rules and regulations exist because they were necessary, because human beings tend to always operate by putting their own needs first. Regulations exist because food manufacturers regularly sold bad, or dangerous, food to the general public because there were no regulations and no one keeping them honest; robber barons created monopolies to exploit the public and make themselves rich (Bezos, Musk, etc are simply the modern day version of the robber barons) at the expense of the needy; hence we needed government intervention to prevent abuses. I’ve never understood the mentality of “oh, if we do away with regulations and laws and rules we’ll all live together in peaceful harmony” because there’s always at least ONE asshole in every group.

ALWAYS.

And on that note, I am going to make another cup of coffee, put the clean dishes away, and go read for a bit. Have a lovely Sunday, Constant Reader, and we’ll talk again tomorrow, if not later. (I’ve been going down the Stevie Nicks discography for my titles, and some of them–along with some of them from other song lists I was using before–wind up having the same titles as some of my books, and I’ve decided–see yesterday’s post about Sleeping Angel–that when I have a blog list song title that matches the title of one of my books, I am going to post about the book. Right now, I have Timothy in my stored draft blogs folder, and I think there’s another called “Watching Scotty Grow” in which I am trying to write the history of the series, which could be helpful as I am writing Book Nine at the moment, and since I am doing Stevie’s discography, that means Sara will also be coming up at some point.)

Sleeping Angel

I originally started writing Sleeping Angel in 1994.

That seems like such a long time ago, too. I hadn’t met Paul yet, was still working for that wretched airline at the airport, was broke broke broke and often ran out of money long before payday, and any kind of decent life for me seemed impossible. It was the next year I decided to snap out of the constant feeling sorry for myself, and instead of waiting for the world to come knocking on my door to make my dreams come true, that the only person who could make my dreams a reality was me, and that I needed to make the changes necessary to my life if I were going to become a writer for real–like stop dreaming about it and writing now and then, and start taking it seriously and writing all the fucking time, and trying to make it happen–which meant sending things out to try to get them published.

It’s weird how you forget things about books you’ve written until something out of left field reminds you of something. Julie Hennrikus, during our Sisters in Crime podcast interview, asked me about writing young adult fiction, and how I came to do that. The story is very simple, really; after discovering Christopher Pike and R. L. Stine and other young adult authors who wrote young adult novels that were either crime or horror or a cross of the two, I decided to take the book I was writing at the time–Sara–and write it as a young adult novel instead of as one for adults. It really didn’t take a lot, to be honest–I removed the framing device that firmly set the book back in the 1970’s–and turned it into a modern day story about teenagers (which it always was). After I finished Sara, I wrote another called Sorceress–and when I finished it, I began writing Sleeping Angel. I still didn’t have a strong grasp of how writing actually worked (which is kind of embarrassing when I remember how naive and stupid I actually was back then, but what did I know. seriously? Very little.) and so I never rewrote anything; I just printed them (I had bought a very inexpensive word processor that I loved, and wrote on) out and saved the originals. I was about half-way through Sleeping Angel when I discovered there was such a thing as queer crime novels…so I abandoned writing young adult fiction and started thinking more in terms of writing a gay private eye series…which eventually became the Chanse MacLeod series and Murder in the Rue Dauphine.

Flash forward another decade or so, and in the spring of 2005 I attended BEA and the Lambda Awards in New York. I lost twice that year (Best Gay Mystery for Jackson Square Jazz and Best Scifi/Fantasy/Horror for Shadows of the Night) and then on Saturday night I attended a cocktail party for the Publishing Triangle. (It was at this party that I met both Tab Hunter and Joyce Dewitt.) I also met a very nice man who was familiar with my work, and asked me if I had ever considered writing young adult fiction with gay characters and themes? I laughed and replied that I had two completed first drafts and a partial for another in a drawer back home; he then gave me a business card and told me he would love to take a look at them with an eye to publishing. I lost the card years ago, probably in the Katrina aftermath, but he was an editor for Simon and Schuster Teen, which was very exciting. I told him I would revise one and send it to him as soon as I finished Mardi Gras Mambo, which was at that point over a year overdue (I didn’t mention that part). This was exciting for me, as one can imagine; another opportunity gained by simply being in the right place at the right time, which has been the story of my career pretty much every step of its way. Once I finished Mardi Gras Mambo that August, I started revising Sara.

And then came Hurricane Katrina, and everything went insane for a few years, and I abandoned the attempt to rewrite Sara. There was just too much going on, I was displaced and finding it hard to get back into writing, and I just wasn’t in the right place emotionally to revise or rewrite a book. I’ve always regretted that last opportunity.

Flash forward another year or so and I casually mentioned to a friend this missed opportunity. What I didn’t know when I mentioned it (bemoaned it, really; I still regret this lost chance) was that she had been working for another publisher as an acquiring editor for young adult/children’s work. “Would you rewrite one of these for me? I’d love to pitch this to the company.” So….rather than Sara, I went with a rewrite of Sorceress, which had a teenaged girl lead character and I didn’t see any place to add queer content (I’d been adding that to the revision of Sara ) and sent it to her. Alas, before she had the opportunity to pitch it the line she acquired for was closed down and that was the end of that….until a few years later when she decided to start her own small press for juvenile/young adult fiction, and wanted Sorceress. I sent it to her, we signed a contract…and then I realized I needed to let Bold Strokes Books know I was doing this. I emailed them, and they replied, “You know we do young adult?”

Well.

I wrote back and mentioned I had two others collecting dust, and so I contracted both Sara and Sleeping Angel with them. I decided to do Sleeping Angel first–which is odd, as I didn’t even have a completed first draft; I don’t remember why I decided to do this, frankly–and so I started writing and revising.

The really funny thing–just looking at the cover for the book–is that the character name “Eric Matthews” was one I came up with when I was in college; I had an idea for a book set in my fraternity, and came up with three names for characters that were pledge brothers and friends: Eric Matthews, Chris Moore, and Blair Blanchard. I used Eric and Chris for Sleeping Angel (completely forgetting that I had already used those names in Every Frat Boy Wants It a few years earlier), so yes, even though the fraternity books I used were by “Todd Gregory”, I accidentally re-used the character names.

Whoops.

The original intent with my young adult fiction was to connect it all together, the way R. L. Stine did with Fear Street, and sort of how all of Stephen King’s work is as well. The three books I started with–Sara, Sorceress, and Sleeping Angel–were connected, and were the springboard from which the others would come–or were supposed to come, from. Sara was set in rural Kansas. The main character of Sorceress moved from rural Kansas to a small town in the mountains in California, Woodbridge, which was also where Sleeping Angel was set. The main character of Sara moved to Kansas from the Chicago suburb where the main character of Lake Thirteen was from, and so on. (Likewise, the main character from Dark Tide was also from the same county in Alabama where Bury Me in Shadows took place, and #shedeservedit was set in the town that was the county seat for that rural Kansas area where Sara was set.) I’d consciously forgotten that, but fortunately my subconscious still holds on to things the forefront of my brain doesn’t.

When I originally envisioned Sleeping Angel back in 1993 (or 1994, I don’t remember which), the concept I wanted to explore was something, a concept, that Dean Koontz had used in his book Hideaway–that someone was in a car accident and died, only to be resuscitated by the EMT’s. But when he came back to life, he brought back something with him from the other side that gave him a psychic connection with a serial killer. It was an interesting idea–I wasn’t using the serial killer thing–but I loved the entire concept of someone being brought back with something extra (which, now that I think about it, is also the entire conceit Stephen King built The Dead Zone around). I decided to keep the car accident to open the book in the new version, but the opening I originally wrote had to be tossed. I also came up with an entirely new concept for the book: what if you were in a bad car accident, but there was a dead body in the car who was NOT killed in the accident but had been shot and was already dead when the car crashed? And if the main character has amnesia….who killed the kid in the back seat?

And away we went.

He was driving too fast, and knew he should ease his foot off the gas pedal, bringing the car down to a safer, more manageable speed.

But he couldn’t bring himself to do it.

“Hang in there, buddy,” he muttered grimly under his breath, taking his eyes off the road for just a moment to glance in the rearview mirror into the backseat. What he saw wasn’t encouraging. Sean’s eyes were closed, and he couldn’t tell if Sean was still breathing.

The blood–there was so much of it, and it was everywhere.

He swallowed and took a deep breath, trying to hold down the panic. He had to stay calm. He couldn’t let the fear take over, he just couldn’t. He had to hold himself together. He had to get to town, to get Sean to the hospital before it was too late–if it wasn’t already too late.

Not a bad beginning, right? Pulls you right into the story.

I don’t remember what–if anything–I was expecting when Sleeping Angel was finally released (it actually wound up coming out before Sorceress, ironically); it had not even been six years since the right-wing homophobes had come for me for daring to accept an invitation to speak to high school students in a Gay-Straight Alliance. And now I’d actually dared to write a book about teenagers, for teenagers. The horror! But the book come out and there wasn’t even the slightest whisper of controversy about the “gay pornographer” writing a y/a book. It got really good reviews for the most part, people really seemed to enjoy it, and it eventually won a gold medal for Outstanding Young Adult Mystery/Horror from the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards, which I’d never heard of but was kind of a big deal, or so I’m told. The gold medal was nice, too–very pretty (but it’s not the rock from the Shirley Jackson Awards–the smooth polished stone I got for being a finalist may be my favorite thing I ever received as recognition for my writing).

I’m still pretty proud of Sleeping Angel.

Somebody Stand By Me

Saturday morning in the Lost Apartment and all seems to be well so far–yet it is still early, nevertheless. Yesterday was an interesting day. I had to go to a training, if you will recall, in the morning–it was okay, as far as trainings go–and then of course I had a shortened day in the office afterwards (I can only do six hours on Fridays because I work extra long on clinic days), after which I headed home for the Lost Apartment. I almost have the Bouchercon anthology completed; and now I have my page proofing for Streetcar to get through this weekend. I also have a short story deadline tomorrow; but I am not really sure if I am going to bother submitting this story to it. I’m not entirely comfortable with it and what it’s about; it may be in questionable taste, and that of course concerns me deeply. If the story is problematic I don’t even want the editors to read it, you know? And I have this feeling–that nagging voice, which is so quick to point out every flaw in my life and writing and so forth, is really having a good time with this right now–that if you’re worried about the story being problematic, then it probably is.

On the other hand, I thought Bury Me in Shadows might be problematic, and it wasn’t. So maybe this story isn’t as bad as I think it might be, who knows? I am often not the best judge of my own work, after all–the lack of confidence in my own writing really is not good for me at all–and who knows if I will ever get the chance to publish it again anywhere other than a collection of my own (where I can count on my publisher saving me from myself if it is problematic?), so maybe–just maybe–after I finish the proofs for Streetcar this weekend, I can give the story another once over, and give it a shot.

I slept really well last night. When I got home from work last night I laundered all the bed linens, did another load of dishes, and then just kind of chilled for the rest of the evening as I was a bit mentally tired. I managed to get all the copy edits back to everyone for the Bouchercon anthology; I’m still waiting to get a few of them back and I can turn the manuscript in. I have a self-care appointment this morning at ten; then I am going to come back home and work on the page proofs and maybe carve out some time to read some more of In the Dark We Forget, which I am really enjoying and would love to finish reading this weekend. I need to make myself read for an hour every night; if I read for an hour every day I will gradually work my way through the TBR pile. I think the next book I am going to read is going to be Curtis Ippolito’s Burying the Newspaper Man, although the new Donna Andrews is probably going to be delivered sometime soon, as well as Gabino Iglesias’ new one. I also want to get some filing and cleaning done today–Paul has to go to the office to meet his tech person because his computer is messed up–and I think I am also going to get a box down from the attic to sort through as well as go through some drawers to throw shirts and shorts and things I never wear out. I also plan on getting through all the emails in my inbox at some point this weekend as well; I am tired of all those goddamned emails being in there, you know what I mean?

It also occurred to me yesterday that I should send the Word file of Jackson Square Jazz to my iPad so I can reread and copy edit it on there. Progress can only be made when you set yourself up to succeed, which sounds like one of those horrible motivational posters that were such a thing sometime in my past–they were in office spaces everywhere and always made me want to roll my eyes whenever I saw one. But I slept really well last night, which was incredibly lovely, and I am looking forward to getting quite a bit done this weekend. I already feel rested, which is really nice, and the Lost Apartment isn’t the usual disaster area it always appears to me when Saturday rolls around again. Sure, there’s stuff I need to clean up and organize and there’s always filing to do–not to mention the computer files that need clearing and cleaning up–but after my self-care and my errands, I should be able to come on home and dig into my work that needs to be done.

And on that note, I can actually get started on that before I get ready to leave for my appointment, so have a lovely Saturday, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again tomorrow, or perhaps even later again today.

Rhiannon (Will You Ever Win)

She rings like a bell in the night…

And we have managed to circle back around to Friday yet again. Hurray! I have a training at work this morning (I think it’s “conflict resolution”, and I am astounded that management feels I need this, LOL–just kidding, it’s mandatory for everyone in department), and then I have a lot of things to get done at the office for the rest of my workday before I call the weekend’s beginning, which is rather exciting. I have some major things to get done that I am behind on, but have full confidence I can get it all done. I am going to order groceries for pick-up on Sunday morning (I love this) and I have some self-care scheduled for tomorrow morning; I am thinking I may even attempt a return to the gym this weekend as well. Scared o’that, you know? But it’s kind of past time.

I am not even tired this morning. It’s felt like I’ve not been sleeping deeply this week, but I have felt rested and relaxed all week, only getting tired in the evenings after I get home from work and do some chores around the house, which is not normal for me, but I like it. I woke up before the alarm this morning–Fridays I get to sleep an extra hour, which is quite lovely–and again, don’t feel any fatigue or anything; this is hopefully a good sign. I’m not sure what changed during my COVID infection, but it’s like something changed? Maybe I am tired, but since it’s not the same kind of fatigue/exhaustion I was experiencing during the COVID Times it’s not as noticeable and doesn’t bother me as much as it did before the pink line showed up on my at-home test? It is indeed possible that could be fact.

We watched the latest episode of American Horror Stories last night, and while episode two was vastly superior to episode one, it still wasn’t quite there. Both episodes were clever in concept, but didn’t completely deliver in execution (so often the case with things from Ryan Murphy), but it was entertaining, and then we finished season two of Into the Night, which is this amazing Belgian/French co-production that is non-stop stress, anxiety and drama–and very well done. The concept behind the show is that the sun has turned toxic, killing anyone and everything exposed to it–to the point where it even ruins gasoline and jet fuel and food–and in the first season, everyone was on a plane when they realized what was going on and turned around to fly west to stay ahead of the sun. At the end of Season One they’d managed to land the plane and find a military bunker, prepared for survival; season two is all the drama that one might expect from civilians and military personnel sharing an underground bunker and trying to get along and of course, conflict arises. No one else seems to be watching the show or talking about it, which is a real shame, but it’s quite good and its international cast is stellar. Quite marvelous. This is how you pull off high concept in a television series.

One thing I absolutely have to do is clean out my email inbox this weekend, for sure. Sheesh. It got out of control while I was sick and all I’ve been able to manage to do is stay current with new emails and so forth. I really want that marvelous experience of having an empty inbox again.

So, I have a lot to get done over the next few days, and feel pretty good about the possibilities of getting it all done in the meantime. I’ll have to get and stay motivated–tonight I need to do laundry and dishes, start putting things away and organizing, etc.–and I think we might watch The Gray Man tonight because why not?

And on that note, I’m getting another cup of coffee and heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely Friday, Constant Reader.

Sorcerer

Thursday Thursday–Thor’s Day. Last day of getting up at six for the week–tomorrow I get to sleep in till seven, woo-hoo–and while I am not feeling tired this morning I am also not completely awake. I think I slept well last night–it’s always hard to tell–but I feel rested this morning. How long will that feeling last remains to be seen…but I think we have a fairly light client schedule at the office today. That would be nice, of course, but I don’t expect it to happen either. It could easily have filled up yesterday after I left for the day early. I had a check-up with my primary care physician, nothing more than the every-six-month check-up so my prescriptions can get refilled, but it’s really in everyone’s best interest that my Alprazolam get refilled, trust me on this.

We watched the new episode of Only Murders in the Building but I have to say, I am not loving this season the way I loved the first. It just seems like there are a lot of filler episodes and not much actual crime-solving, as there was in the first season, or maybe the novelty of it has worn off. I still think Martin Short and Steve Martin are fantastic as two of the series leads (I go back and forth on Selena Gomez), but it seems like this season is all over the map and we’re still no closer to finding out who killed Bunny as we were at the end of season one. We’ve also been watching the second season of Into the Night, a French/Belgian thriller series that’s a nonstop adrenaline-based thrill ride from the very start.

After my appointment yesterday, I was tired when I got home to the Lost Apartment. It had been raining most of the day, and after my appointment I decided to run a couple of errands–pick up the mail, make a very small grocery run–and of course, there was flooding going on in Uptown, which always makes me nervous to have to drive through. I also have to go get the mail again today after work, because some packages were alas delivered after I stopped in yesterday, and I also have to stop at CVS to see what the deal with my prescriptions is (it looks like two of them were filled, but it also has that Check with your pharmacy about your refills note appended to them, so I don’t know what that means and it also shows that I don’t have any ready for pick-up either; so I can swing by there and talk to them today after I get the mail and head home.

I also have a personal-care appointment on Saturday morning, and I think I may just go ahead and order groceries on-line again this weekend–why the hell not? Save myself the hassle of actually doing the actual shopping itself, so perhaps I should start thinking about what to order. Hmmm.

And I scheduled my blood draw for the biannual check-in for Monday morning, so I can just wake up, wash my face and brush my teeth, roll out to the car and get it done before I eat or drink anything–yay, fasting–but these are the things you need to get taken care of regularly when you’re of A Certain Age. (Interesting title that would make, no? A Certain Age. I like it.) And I hope to get everything else that is needing to get done by Sunday….done by Sunday.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely Thor’s Day, Constant Reader.