Ridin’ the Storm Out

I can’t remember the last time we got this much rain in New Orleans. It seriously feels like it’s been raining non-stop every day for months. And I don’t mean the usual, around- three-every-afternoon-it’s-gotten-so-humid-it-turns-into-rain rain; I mean, nonstop, pretty much all day long every day rain, sometimes with thunder and lightning thrown in for good measure as well. Of course, yesterday, today,  and tomorrow it all has to do with a tropical weather system; which means endless rain until at the very least Thursday, and maybe even beyond.  Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel is in town, or at least was; that’s always unpleasant. The naming of this storm as Cindy also makes me uneasy; Cindy was a named storm in the summer of 2005 that came through New Orleans, something that most people have forgotten about that summer of storms. Katrina was actually the third storm system to hit New Orleans that year; in July, in back to back weeks, we were hit by Cindy and Dennis. I had a very visceral reaction when I heard what this storm would be named, quite frankly.

Heavy sigh.

The good news is I am back on schedule with the revisions! Yes, somehow I managed to pull it off, primarily because yesterday I was able to get through four chapters before I went to work. I’m now on Chapter Eleven, of nineteen; if I go back to one per day the whole thing will be finished by the 30th, in time for another going-over on my four-day holiday weekend. I need to rewrite the ending almost completely, though, so that won’t be as easy; there’s a twentieth chapter that needs to be appended onto the book that wraps everything up. As I get closer to the final chapters, there’s going to be a lot more work to be done. But I am enjoying myself, enjoying getting my ‘house’ in order. And that’s something.

I’ve also decided on what story I want to submit to a major anthology later this year; and I know exactly how I need to completely revise the story I’ve selected to make it better, to give it a better shot at getting accepted. It’s still a long shot, but I am determined to get into one of these anthologies one of these years.

I also need to run to the grocery store this morning, which could be horrifying–it depends on how people are reacting to this coming storm. I get the sense that most people aren’t too concerned about it–it’s not like work was cancelled today or anything–but I do need bread and milk, which are always amongst the first things to go with a storm coming. Heavy sigh.

Ah, well. Might as well get a move on; groceries aren’t going to just magically appear on my doorstep.

Here’s a hot guy in the rain:

8445daf527e1bca590d2839967f87af3

King of Wishful Thinking

Friday!

Tomorrow, though, is going to be a little on the heinous side: I have Wacky Russian in the morning, then I have to go into the office for a few hours; meeting a friend who’s moving away for lunch after that; and then I have to come home and make macaroni-and-cheese for a party I am going to in the evening. In other words, I will barely have time to breathe all day. Hardly my idea of a peaceful, relaxing Saturday, but what can you do, right? I don’t usually have crazy Saturdays like this very often, so there is that. And then I have Sunday to get groceries, etc.

Meh, it happens.

The revision proceeds apace; I got more than one chapter–one and a half, say–done yesterday; I am still behind schedule slightly–a chapter a day pretty much adds up to finished right on June 30th. Then, I can spend the 4th weekend adding a coat of polish and then….time to start sending it out to agents. Keep your fingers crossed for me, Constant Reader!

I slept really well last night, which was all kinds of awesome. I’m not groggy or tired this morning, and I also slept late–I don’t have to be at the office until later today; I had thought about going to the grocery store this morning but I think I will wait until Sunday, simply because of the parking situation out on the street is easier to deal with Sunday mornings than it is on Fridays; and I can stop on my way home from work to get the stuff I need for the mac-and-cheese, and a few other things we need to have today. I am working late on Wednesday next week, so that’s when I’ll go to Costco, probably; although I am not entirely sure I need to go for any other reason than wanting to, really.

No, I need Pellegrino, and I also need laundry pods. We’ll see how I feel on Wednesday; i could always wait until the following weekend.

I haven’t had time to read any more on Since We Fell, because what spare time I’ve had the last couple of days has been spent on the revision.

And now, methinks I had best get back to the revision.

Here’s a Friday hunk to get your weekend going:

male-models-fitness-hunk-photography-21-1124x731

Don’t Stand So Close to Me

SATURDAY! I’ve already been to the gym–I did not want to wake up this morning and head over there, but like a good boy I did–and now am getting ready to clean the kitchen, make my post workout protein shake, and make a grocery list. I have the galleys of a pseudonymous novel to finish going over today, and I also want to get some more revisions done on the WIP. I have big plans for today, obviously, but we’ll see how it all turns out. I’m almost caught up on American Gods (one more episode to go and I’ll be current), and we also started watching 11/22/63 on Netflix this week–it auto-started after we finished this week’s episode of The Handmaid’s Tale–and we’re enjoying it. It’s very strange to watch something based on a Stephen King novel which I haven’t read; it’s one of the few I’ve not read (including the last three volumes of The Dark Tower, Black House, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, Doctor Sleep, Bronco Billy, and End of Watch) and wasn’t, honestly, feeling all that inspired to read it–I wasn’t all that inspired to watch it, either; the whole Kennedy thing doesn’t really interest me anymore–but we are really caught up in the show, which makes me tend to think the book (which is almost always better than visual adaptations) is probably fantastic; it’s just so damned long. Paul and I have been talking about taking a long weekend and going back to a tennis resort like we did a couple of years ago; if we do that, I’ll probably take 11/22/63 with me to read.

I haven’t had the time to really get further in Ill Will, which is also something I hope to get further along with this weekend. The writing is exceptionally good, and I love the entire premise of the book, too. I’ve not read Chaon’s Await Your Reply, but I do have a copy of it as well. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Chaon; Ill Will is certainly bearing those good things out. And isn’t lovely to find a new writer you enjoy?

Yes, it is. Always.

I’ve also been rereading Mary Stewart’s Airs Above the Ground this week, which is one of my favorite books of all time–Mary Stewart was simply brilliant. I love the premise behind the opening of this novel, just as I loved the premise of The Ivy Tree, and so many other of her books; I’d love to recycle those premises as an homage to her at some point; who knows? Every time, though, I reread a Mary Stewart novel I remember my friend Sara come up to me at a Bouchercon and telling me someone had said on a panel she was watching that “Mary Stewart’s heroines were just too passive for his/her tastes.” I was as appalled as Sara; Mary Stewart’s heroines were not passive; they had agency, didn’t need to be rescued,  and went sailing forth happily into adventures. Airs Above the Ground’s Vanessa March was one of those amazing heroines; and the premise–someone saw her husband on a newsreel somewhere he wasn’t supposed to be, and so naturally she heads off to find out what he’s doing, all the while suspecting he is having an affair. God, how I would love to use that same style of opening…but the premise of The Ivy Tree is even better; a young woman is hired to impersonate another young woman–missing for years–in order to manipulate a dying man into making sure his will leaves his estate to the people who hired her. So fucking brilliant, really.

And now, it’s probably best for me to return to the spice mines. Them galleys ain’t going to proof themselves.

Here’s a Saturday hunk for you:

d954e593-4f28-4cc2-a9a1-43150d9615e0_thumb

 

Big Yellow Taxi

Christ, it’s hot. I think this is the first day so far this year where it’s been hotter than ninety degrees and humid, and yes, in case you’re wondering, it’s miserable outside. I had Wacky Russian this morning, then ran to the post office, the grocery store, and Costco. So, I am both exhausted and drenched in sweat. I just ordered our weekend treat–a Chicago-style deep dish pizza from That’s Amore–and if I didn’t have to walk to pick it up and bring it home, I would be in the shower right now. As there’s no point to taking one now when I am just going to get sweaty all over again, I am holding off.

But I am miserable, even in the air conditioned comfort of The Lost Apartment, as am still wet and sticky. Blech. But…that pizza is going to taste amazing, and then I can take a long, hot shower…then repair to my easy chair with The Sympathizer and some fizzy water. We finished watching The Keepers last night (color me unimpressed; there was such obvious editorial manipulation–which, of course, is always necessary in a documentary, but this was so blatant that it was noticeable, and it raised some questions that it never even addressed), and now will have to find something to watch tonight. I cruised through Netflix, Hulu, and Prime before the gym this morning, and while I did find some things of interest, overall nothing that was oh, I can’t wait to watch this!

Ah, well, we can always rent movies from iTunes, I suppose.

As I was cruising around New Orleans this hot, muggy afternoon, my mind went back to the stalled Scotty book and I realized that, once again, what I was doing wrong was trying to force the original story into the Scotty book. I thought I had figured that out already, and I did to a degree, but it occurred to me that part of what I feel was missing from the series since Katrina can easily be remedied, and if I go back to Scotty’s roots, the book will be that much easier to write. I imagined an opening scene with Scotty having lunch with his sister, Rain, at her house–which we finally saw in Baton Rouge Bingo–and thought it made sense to delve into the family again. As Rain is friends with some of the ‘Grande Dames of New Orleans’, it only makes sense, plus it gives me an opportunity to get Taylor into the story as well. I also need to figure out a way to get Scotty’s parents into the story, and it’s been far too long since there’s been one of these where Frank and Colin both were present–I had developed a  very bad habit of sending Colin off on missions and sending Frank away for wrestling tours so Scotty was all alone–and I want this book to be longer than the others, as well. I want to really get deep into it, in a way I feel I haven’t since Mardi Gras Mambo. 

On the other hand, maybe I’m not the best judge of this. After all, Katrina kind of intervened, and that changed the way I look at things…so it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that’s what’s going on here.

Heavy heaving sigh.

The revision of the WIP is also going well; I am very excited.

Oops! Time to go get the pizza.

Here’s a hunk for you, Constant Reader.

tt stache

 

Sugar Sugar

So, I finally watched the season finale of Riverdale last night, and I have to say, well done! I went into Riverdale not sure what to expect–and worried I’d be disappointed–but the show really worked on many levels The writing was strong, if a bit uneven at times; the way it was shot–the production values, cinematography, use of color, etc–was always on point; but the biggest strength of the show was the cast. The young actors playing the Gang were appealing and imminently likable; and following the lead of Pretty Little Liars, the older members of the cast were former teen heartthrobs (Jason Gedrick, Luke Perry) or had become successful as young stars (Madchen Amick, Robin Givens). I am really looking forward to the second season.

Well done, Riverdale!

I slept really late this morning, which kind of felt good. I need to finish going over my editorial notes, and making those corrections–I intend to spend tomorrow polishing the book from beginning to end, and I also have to go into the office for a few hours today, as well as make groceries. I’d thought about doing the groceries this morning, but oversleeping took care of that, as well as wiping out my plan to finish the editorial notes. I’ll now have to do that when I get home from the office/making groceries. That’s fine, too; this morning before work I can organize/clean the kitchen and finish the laundry and do all those other lovely chores before running to get the mail and heading in to the office. Hurray! (There really needs to be a sarcasm font.)

I also started reading John Colapinto’s About the Author last night. It was recommended to me by a friend when I told them the basic premise behind my short story “Quiet Desperation”. I am only a few pages in but I am enjoying it so far. When I finish, I think I am going to read either The Sympathizer (won both Pulitzer Prize and Edgar) or Before the Fall by Noah Hawley (recently won the Edgar). Definitely some good reading in my future! Huzzah!

I also, for the first time in a while, looked at Mardi Gras Mambo, aka Scotty Three, and was more than a little startled by how much the tone, how much the character, had changed since then. People change, of course–things that happen affect who you are, affect how you react to things, change your perspective–but in just reading the introduction and the first three chapters, the change was so dramatic it was startling. Should I go back to Scotty–when I go back to Scotty–it only makes sense to read the series over again, from start to finish. Maybe it’s too late to get that sense of the earlier Scotty back now, I don’t know. But some things I’d been feeling make sense now; maybe in rereading the entire series I can figure out how to do the new one.

I have to say, I am starting to enjoy myself again with writing and editing. I think the break from deadlines was precisely what I needed.

And now, back to the spice mines.

Here’s a Saturday hunk for you:

 

456d2da057cb048966f9754624cdcbed

Love Is All Around

Thunderstorms are in the forecast for today–of course, it’s the first weekend of Jazz Fest, and it always rains for Jazz Fest–and I have to make a grocery store run. I’m going to have another cup of coffee while I write this and then make a dash for the store. I slept fairly well last night, despite waking up around four in the morning but it only took me about another fifteen minutes before I fell back asleep. I have a lot of things I want to get done today, so hopefully the thunder and rain will help motivate me. Either that, or I’ll curl up with Cleopatra’s Shadows, which I am enjoying. And really, going to the store early on Sunday morning is the smart thing to do–because everyone is either getting ready for church or already there.

Paul and I watched the first episode of The Handmaid’s Tale last night, and my God, was it chilling. I finally read the book a few years ago, and like so many others, thought it was exquisitely written and thematically terrifying. I wasn’t sure how they would do it as a series, though, and I have to say, it’s riveting and terrifying, and not really hard to see how something like the repressive world of Gilead could happen in reality. Elisabeth Moss is definitely shaping up to be one of the best actresses of her generation, and her choices of roles–from Mad Men to Top of the Lake to this–certainly capture her range. We’ll keep watching, of course.

I drove up to Ponchatoula yesterday to pick Paul up; he’d gone up there on Thursday to visit our friends the Marshalls on the train. His birthday was Friday, so we weren’t together on his birthday, but really, after twenty-one years together (twenty-two on July 20th), things like birthdays don’t matter as much to us as they did when we were newly coupled. I know that probably sounds terrible, but my own birthday never mattered much to me–my family wasn’t big on things like that when I was a kid, and I learned early on that caring about my birthday and making a fuss about it always ended in disappointment, so I got over it very young–and I inevitably end up hurting people’s feelings because I just don’t see what a big deal it is. I also realize that makes me sound awful and uncaring, but I really do think birthdays are for kids.

Although it’s really interesting to reflect back on my life and see how I’ve learned to lower my expectations in order to avoid disappointments. It’s very self-defeating in some ways; I’m trying to learn not to be so self-deprecating about myself. There really is something to be said for daily affirmations, which I’ve started doing. Plus not having deadline pressure is helping me relax, and it’s nice being able to take the time to really evaluate and assess everything about my writing and my career and where I want to go with it in the  future. I was so busy writing for so long I never took the time to actually sit back and think about things, make plans, set goals, and figure out how to get there.

All right, I’d best get to the grocery store before the storms start.

Here’s a hunk to start your week:

5e187d00f93f6b678070205c305deadb

 

A Beautiful Morning

I belong to a Facebook group devoted to collectors and fans of children’s mysteries, either the series (i.e. Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, the Three Investigators, etc.) and the ones that stood alone, like Phyllis A. Whitney’s and Mary C. Jane. The stand alones you generally got from either the public library, the school library, or the Scholastic book catalogue. The subject of the Scholastic catalogue came up on that thread, with some of the collectors posting their copies of the books. I recently ordered, from ebay, some of the ones I remembered from my childhood–The Ghost of Dibble Hollow, The Ghost Rock Mystery, and some other Mary C. Janes–because the one thing I am sentimental about is books/TV shows/comic books/movies that I loved when I was a kid. My favorite day of school at Eli Whitney Elementary was the day the Scholastic catalogue came, and I got to go home and my parents would let me pick out two or three books to order. Remembering that also made me remember how my mom used to always deposit my sister and I at the Tomen Branch of the Chicago Public Library while she ran errands, like to Walgreens and other places, like going to the dentist, and would retrieve us when she was finished with my big stack of books. The first Phyllis Whitney book I read was checked out of the library–The Mystery of the Hidden Hand–which was set in Greece and had to do with a long lost statue of Apollo, thus combining my love of mysteries, mythology, and history. I loved to read when I was a kid because the world was such a strange place to me, and I didn’t really fit into it. I didn’t like to do the things that boys supposedly were into–baseball and other sports, playing outside, fishing, etc. All I ever really wanted to do was curl up somewhere with a book, or make up my own stories.

I’ve been questioning my writing lately, more along the lines of my career rather than the actual writing. Yesterday was quite a lovely day; I slept late and Paul went into the office, and I started cleaning the kitchen while listening to music on my iPod. (I still haven’t done the windows yet.) I started reading Finders Keepers, am about a chapter in, and am enjoying it. I’ll get back to it today, of course, at some point. Paul’s going to run errands with our friend Lisa today–they like to haunt second hand stores, and he wants to get another individual small dresser and small bookcase–which means I’ll pretty much be home alone again for most of the day. I intend to finish the living room today, run to the grocery store and post office, and then maybe work on the upstairs. I also want to get another three to four chapters of the secret manuscript reread and outlined; I am very pleased with the quality of it, for a first draft, and I think I can really turn it into something good. Letting it sit for so long the way I did has really helped me with it; I now have the proper distance to get back to it and read it/edit it/revise it, rather than being so deeply immersed in it. I am, Constant Reader, rather excited about this turn of events–and it’s been awhile since I’ve been this excited about something I’m writing. I am also going to critique some short stories I’ve written today, see if I can whip them into submission shape….the market for short stories is, alas, so limited these days.

I may even go to the gym today. We’ll see how the day plays out. I am kind of planning out the day, while accepting that it may not go the way I am planning, and I am also fine with that. Yesterday was such a lovely day–I got to have drinks with my friend Laura, who is in town for the weekend, and we had a lovely chat about books and writing–and it was perfectly timed; sometimes the things I think or even write about on here, need to be SAID ALOUD TO SOMEONE to attain their full power.

There’s something about saying things out loud. I know it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but there you have it. Bearing this in mind, I’ve come with some daily affirmations to say to myself in the bathroom mirror every morning. Feel free to mock me for this; I did it this morning and saying the words aloud, I don’t know, made it seem real, made it seem possible.

A lack of belief in myself has often been my downfall throughout my life. It’s the one piece of the puzzle that’s missing, so I am going to work on that.

And now, off to the spice mines. Here’s a hunk for Easter Eve for you, Constant Reader.

12274244_973457416048612_8193819569627516138_n