Saving Myself

Very tired this morning, after being out late bar testing last night. Hanging on by my fingernails until this weekend, I’m afraid. Definitely more coffee is in order this morning before I can function. I’m also trying to decide if I want to take lunch or if I want to get a gyro from Mona’s. Right now I am feeling so incredibly unmotivated I don’t even think I have the energy to shower and pick out clothes to wear to the office, quite frankly. It’s not even that I didn’t sleep well–I did. I am just physically worn out, which means I really need to focus on getting back into better shape than I currently am in. Seems like I’ve been saying that since January, doesn’t it? And it’s not like I’ve been so motivated to get a lot where I need to be with my writing. ENOUGH! I must get back on schedule with the revision.

And that’s the name of THAT tune.

I’m still reading and enjoying Dan Chaon’s Ill Will, although I’m still not very far into it. I want to finish reading that this weekend; I think after I finish him I’m either going to read either something from Lisa Unger, or maybe something horror; I’m not entirely sure. I did notice yesterday that I’ve been reading a lot of men lately; which is unusual for me. I generally tend to read more women–not to disparage male writers, of course, there are a lot of them I enjoy (Bracken MacLeod, Christopher Golden, Owen Laukkanen, Chris Holm, Michael Koryta, etc etc etc; it’s just there’s so little time and so MANY books!) But Project Purge continues apace; I have another bag full of books that need to go out for donation, and I am very pleased about that. I am taking a four day weekend for 4th of July, and am hoping to be able to get over to the storage unit on that Monday to start making inroads on THAT mess (if they’re open; I shall be highly annoyed if they are not, but that Wednesday is also a bar testing night, so I won’t have to be at work until later in the afternoon so in a worst case scenario I can get over there on that Wednesday morning). I do need to get in there because I have no copies of Bourbon Street Blues, Jackson Square Jazz, and Mardi Gras Mambo available here in the house; but have cases of them in there. I also fear they are in the back; but there are also boxes of books in there that can be donated. It’s definitely going to be a more than one-day purge, I fear.

Heavy heaving sigh. But hey–you don’t become a hoarder over night, you know. And if I can get that mess cleaned out, I can clean out the storage attic over the laundry room, which would be freaking awesome.

A boy can dream.

And on that note, it’s back to the spice mines. Here’s your Throwback Thursday hunk, Matt Lattanzi, who was in Rich and Famous and later married Olivia Newton-John.

e09cdfd0fa15e8901ebb3165caf1686e

 

Another Saturday Night

Well, it’s early afternoon in New Orleans. I’ve done my workout, run errands for both myself and Paul–including the always dreaded grocery run–and now am home, a bit worn out and needing to hop in the shower. The humidity is thick out there today, so thick I’ve already had to take a Claritin-D, and my kitchen is a mess and I have lots of laundry to do. I don’t think I’m going to do any writing today–my brain is tired; that may change later, one never knows–but I think I am going to just spend the rest of the day relaxing, reading, and slowly but surely getting the apartment straightened up and cleaned up and organized; the never-ending struggle not to live in a slovenly dump. Heavy heaving sigh. I also want to get back to reading About the Author, and select what I am going to read next (although I suspect, having gotten two anthologies in the mail–Storm Warning: Chesapeake Crimes and In Sunlight or In Shadow: Stories Inspired by the Paintings of Edward HopperI may just curl up with some exceptional short stories.

Stranger things have happened.

We got all caught up last night on both The Handmaid’s Tale (which continues to be incredibly gripping while horrifying) and The Mick, which is a truly demented sitcom we are enjoying tremendously. I’m not sure what we are going to watch tonight–we’ve started watching the new season of American Crime, which seems to be about migrant worker, sex trafficking, and the opiod addiction crisis, and it really looks really gripping and good; I am really sorry the show has been cancelled. We never did watch the first season, so we can also always go back and watch it, but it’s a shame. Then again, a highly intelligent show about crime that shows the same crime from many different perspectives, with all the necessary nuance and complexity, without clear cut villains and heroes–well, it was bound to not last long.

Okay, some time has passed, and I indeed curled up in my easy chair with About the Author, and finished it. It’s terrific, full of twists and turns and surprises; and the author, John Colapinto, did a most excellent job of making an extremely unlikable protagonist, well, likable. I can highly recommend it; it still holds up, even though it is nearly twenty years old–obviously, technology has moved on–but other than that, it is so well done and so well told that you don’t really notice that sort of thing. Most, most excellent. I am currently grilling hamburgers while reading Megan Abbott’s story, “Girlie Show”, in Lawrence Block’s Edward Hopper anthology; it is, thus far, quite sublime.

And now, I need to go flip the burgers.

Here’s a Saturday hunk for you.

IMG_2120 (1)

Last Friday Night

I had to fast after midnight until I had blood drawn this morning at nine a.m., which meant NO COFFEE until I was finished. Naturally, I brought a cup in a travel mug, and as soon as my arm was bandaged I started drinking it. I am still way behind in my daily caffeination, and as I have a strict no coffee after twelve rule, I have got to up my game.

Or I’ll be sluggish all day. And it is Friday.

Hmmm.

I also reschedule Wacky Russian to tomorrow morning, and I think I am going to see if I can just make Saturday our regular day rather than Wednesday; I hate getting up early on Wednesdays and I am going to be alternating late nights weekly on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so having an early morning workout on Wednesday just doesn’t work anymore. Nobody wants to be around a physically exhausted and sleepy Gregalicious. And if I work out at ten, then I’ll be awake and endorphined and ready to get shit done, plus that night  I’ll sleep really well. It really makes the most sense.

Yay for that!

Let’s just hope that it works out.

And next weekend is a three day weekend, which is absolutely lovely. So much to do, so little time, which is, as always, the story of my life. But I want to finish reading About the Author, not only because I want to see how it ends but because I want to move on to another book in the TBR pile; I am leaning towards the Pulitzer and Edgar award winning The Sympathizer, but there are so many others in the pile that are begging for my attention…and I was thinking it might even be nice to reread Mary Stewart’s Airs Above the Ground. I am enjoying The Affair of the Poisons, my current non-fiction read, as well. We have this week’s episode of The Handmaid’s Tale to watch, and we are also bingeing–and enjoying–The Mick on Netflix. There are some movies available for streaming now also that I want to see. Huzzah! Should be a lovely three day weekend….might even be a That’s Amore deep dish pizza kind of weekend!

It also pleases me to no end that I can fit into size 33 waist pants and shorts again. I may need to do a bit of reorganizing in my closet again…(a chore for the three day weekend) and the book purge is also going splendidly. Now I need to get back to writing…although I am still in the aftermath of having edited/revised a manuscript, which usually makes it harder to get back into writing again. I did do some work on my short story “Quiet Desperation” this week; being a total rewrite of the original draft, trying on another way of structuring and telling the story, which I am not entirely sure is working, but I am also getting some lovely ideas that maybe I can use in the final version of the story. It’s kind of cool, actually. Like I said, I am enjoying writing again, and am even enjoying the revising/editing that I usually despise.

Who fucking knew?

Okay, back to the spice mines.

Here’s a Friday hunk for you:

10_lg

All Right Now

Very tired today, but in a good way. Yesterday was a rather long day.

It started early in the morning with Wacky Russian and ended with bar testing late last night.  I had a pretty good workout yesterday. I’ve lost twelve or thirteen pounds since Mardi Gras, depending, and have about thirteen or fourteen more to go before I hit my goal weight of two hundred pounds. I can already see a difference in my face–I have dimples again, and it’s not as easy for my chin to disappear into my neck depending on how I hold/position my head as it used to be, which is lovely. I also can see a reduction in my middle–not quite as much as I would like, but definitely progress–and that’s also fine; it usually goes from everywhere else first anyway, so some progress is inspiring. This has all come about from a change in diet–reducing portions mostly, and not eating anything after eight pm–so if I can ever drag my lazy ass to the gym more than once per week,  I can get there even faster. And I don’t even have to do cardio. I can just do weights. I lost weight the first time (and the second time) without doing cardio at all; just from weight-lifting, so there is that.

Woo-hoo!

As Constant Reader may or may not know, I often struggle with self-image issues, and have all my life (being told, repeatedly, that I was dumb, fat and ugly as a child took its toll), and when I initially started going to gay bars and so forth, I was overweight and always wore my glasses. It was unpleasant, and after being told that I would basically never find anyone because I was fat and ugly (it was much worse than that brief recap, I might add) I decided that I could do something about my body, even if I couldn’t about my face. I transformed, and my life changed so much as a result I became a personal trainer, so I could help other people change their lives–and realize that it’s about being healthy, not being sexy, which was the mistake made. It’s a story for another time, really, but this made me want to write an Ugly Duckling transformation story, and when Kensington wanted me to do another fratboy book, I said yes–and decided this was the time to do it. As I wrote it, I called it beautiful, but Kensington wisely changed the title to Games Frat Boys Play, to further develop that brand, and it got the same style cover as the original.

games frat boys play cover

I didn’t think it was possible to get a better cover than the original, but I was wrong. I liked this one even more than the first!

I’d kind of wanted to do a Dangerous Liaisons kind of thing with the fraternity boys, but my editor wasn’t keen on that idea, so I went with an ‘ugly duckling’ story. I’ve always been a sucker for a revenge story (not sure what that says about me, frankly), and so I kind of patterned it after an old ABC Movie of the Week, written by Joan Rivers, called The Girl Most Likely To, which was Stockard Channing’s first big role on television or in film. The premise was her character was frumpy, overweight, and unattractive, but incredibly sweet if naive. She was also a genius. So when she went away to college, everyone treated her horribly, humiliation after humiliation, and then she was horribly humiliated in a terribly public way. In tears, she drives away from the campus and is in a terrible car accident, and winds up in a coma. She didn’t have her driver’s license on her, so they reconstructed her face based on her bone structure, and while she was in the coma she lost thirty pounds—so, she came out of the coma beautiful and thin–and unrecognizable. So, she goes back to the campus and gets even with everyone–killing them all in ingenious ways. I loved that story, and wanted to do something similar–but how to transform him in a very short period of time without using a coma?

Hmmmm. Finally, I realized that the only way the character could be naive and shy, or at least for me, to work would be if he had spent most of his life in private boarding schools…which meant he had to be filthy rich. I also decided to bracket the story around a police investigation, starting with a cop coming to talk to my main character at his apartment to find out what happened at the fraternity when someone was injured (possibly fatally; we don’t know that until after the main character finishes telling the cop his story). I created Jordy Valentine, a sweet, nerdy, incredibly smart kid whose father invented accounting software and made hundreds of millions, and sent Jordy to an exclusive, expensive boarding school in Switzerland, where he didn’t fit in and basically kept to himself. Jordy’s decision to attend CSU-Polk rather than Harvard or Yale or any of the other Ivys is because he wants to interact with more normal kids, have a normal college experience at least for a couple of years, and maybe learn how to be better with social interactions.  Jeff and Blair from Every Frat Boy Wants It live in the apartment across the hall from Jordy, and they’re the ones who convince him to rush Beta Kappa. The brothers aren’t particularly interested in Jordy as a pledge until they find out who his father is–and that he is, therefore, swimming in cash. He falls hard for handsome and sexy Chad, the bitchy rush chairman–and the story is off and running.

“This,” reflected police detective Joe Palladino, “is an awfully nice apartment complex for a college student to be living in. How the hell does he afford it?”

The Alhambra Apartments, he knew, started at a mere $1500 per month for a studio and went up–way up–from there. When they’d opened a few years earlier, his then boyfriend, Sean, had wanted to take a look at them. Joe had failed to see the point–there was no way they could afford the rents there, even with their combined incomes–but Sean had insisted, and it was easier to give in then to have an argument. And yes, the place was gorgeous–you had to be let in by security, and there were fountains and tennis courts and swimming pools conveniently placed throughout the complex. Each building had a laundry facility, and near the clubhouse was an on-site dry cleaner. There was even a fully equipped workout facility with state of the art equipment that put Joe’s gym to shame. The apartments themselves were large, full of light, and luxurious–but after the tour, Sean had pouted all night because they couldn’t afford to live there, as though it were somehow Joe’s fault. But everything had always been Joe’s fault, which was why he’d dumped Sean shortly after that. There was, after all, only so much complaining that anyone can put up with. Sean wanted everything but didn’t want to work for it–and Joe eventually tired of being compared to Sean’s previous, much older boyfriend and being found wanting. Sean was young and handsome–and so thought everything should be handed to him. He didn’t like having to work, and he didn’t like that Joe’s income wasn’t enough for him to live a life of luxury and idleness while being supported.

Like I said, the book was a lot of fun to write, and it’s still available as an ebook–and it still sells, all these years later, just like its predecessor.

And now, back to the spice mines.

 

Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing

I had a great workout this morning; the first time in a long time I can say that. Usually, I am so tired and brain-dead I just go through the motions, whining, but this morning, after some good sleep, I was wide awake and rarin’ to go, and also enjoyed it for the first time in a long time.  I didn’t sleep well Monday night; never fully going to sleep, spent most of the night in that horrible half-awake state, and was exhausted all day yesterday, which was a long work day for me culminating in a late night of bar testing. I also had trouble falling asleep last night, but I think I wound up with about five full hours of deep, restful sleep. I woke up before the alarm went off, but even that small amount of good sleep was what my body needed.

I don’t mind not getting eight hours, as long as I get some good sleep.

I was so tired yesterday I couldn’t focus, so of course, got nothing done that I needed to get done. That always sucks, of course, but I am hoping that with the rest, and the endorphin rush I have from working out, that I’ll be able to plough through a lot of things today. I want to finish reading Cleopatra’s Shadows, and then I am going to read Universal Harvester, by John Darnielle. I also am going to start restructuring the WIP, which is going to be probably an odious chore, but I am going to do that before I start the revision/editing process with it to get it ready. In an ideal world, it will be finished by the end of this month; in a realistic world more like the end of June. I also want to get the next draft of “Quiet Desperation” finished. (I have an idea for another story I’d like to get started, “In Lieu of Flowers”, so the sooner I can get the one finished, the sooner I can start working on the new one.)

I’m also thinking about the next book I want to write. I know, it’s crazy to start thinking about the next book I want to write while I am still working on the current WIP, but there are two I am toying with in my head–one would be called Girl X, the other You’re No Good–and I’ve had these ideas floating around in my head for quite some time now. (There are always lots of ideas percolating in my head at any time, in case you haven’t noticed by now.) So I am just going to brainstorm those whenever I get stuck on something else I am writing; both are, ironically, stories about the relationships between mothers and daughters–which is odd, since I am neither. But hey, what can I say?

Well, here’s a hump day hunk for you.

hump day hunk

 

Stoned Soul Picnic

In a bizarre blog twist, my entire entry about Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, other than the opening paragraph, has completely disappeared from here, which is very strange. I don’t know how that could have happened; and it’s disappointing, as I made some very strong points about racism and the erasure of the brutality of slavery from our history. I did wonder why it, as opposed to so many of my other entries, wasn’t getting ‘likes’ by anyone, and now I know why–it’s not that it offended people, but rather that the entry is now simply, mostly gone.

How fucking annoying. And, of course, I always write the blog directly here, rather than using Word and cutting and pasting. So, it’s simply vanished into the ether, gone forever. Heavy heaving sigh. As for as writing losses go, it’s pretty low on the scale but at the same time…it hurts to lose any writing. Ever.

Heavy sigh.

I spent some more time reading Stephen King’s Finders Keepers yesterday between doing some cleaning (I never did get to the windows, but will today) and relaxing. I got caught up on Riverdale, ran some errands, cleaned the living room thoroughly (although I needed the ladder to do the ceiling fans and the windows, it was upstairs and so when I moved upstairs to I cleaned up there before bringing the ladder down, and by then I just wanted to relax and read), and did sit in my easy chair thinking about things I am working on. Today, I am going to do some straightening up around here, the windows and the ceiling fans in the living room, and I may finish cleaning upstairs. I don’t know, quite frankly; I am also feeling the lure of Finders Keepers, which I am really enjoying. It’s the middle book of his Bill Hodges trilogy, which began with the Edgar-winning Mr. Mercedes, which I also greatly enjoyed. I am almost halfway finished with the book, and King’s ability to create great characters the reader can understand and even empathize with, no matter how awful the characters may actually be, is on display here.

I also cleaned out some books for the donation pile, which is always a lovely start. I need to stop buying books, really, is what I need to do, but it’s a lifelong problem, and at almost fifty-six, I’m not sure I can effect behavior change anymore, but it’s certainly worth a try. I am also going to go to the gym later on today as well; and lift weights. If I go back to the old system–let’s face it, I am never going to motivate myself to do cardio–of what I did when I lost weight originally–go to the gym, do a full-body workout with more reps and lighter weights, and do some stretching–in addition to eating healthier, I should be able to get rid of that pesky fifteen pounds and get back down to 200. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get back to 180–my oddly shaped frame would make finding clothes that fit properly an issue (the ten pounds or so I’ve already lost has made all my pants too big in the waist, but they are still tight in the legs, and the small waist and big quads/hamstrings has always been an issue for me with pants), so I don’t know that I’d want to get back down that far. A flatter stomach and more definition is all I really want, anyway, so that I can at least get to the point where I don’t mind going to the beach, as I would really like to get tanned again. And going to the beach is always lovely, anyway.

Apparently it’s going to rain today, so doing the windows is out. Heavy sigh. It does look gloomy out there. There’s always next weekend.

Friday I am driving up to Montgomery for an appearance at the Alabama Book Festival, and driving back to New Orleans for a day before heading up to an event at the Sarah Isom Center for Women at Ole Miss in Oxford. I am very excited, if a bit nervous, to do both events. It’s so lovely having a new car so that I don’t have to worry about the driving, though. I love my new car; and almost three months after I bought it, it still has the new car smell.

I’ve also figured out how to revise “Quiet Desperation”, which is something I’d like to get to work on this week. My work schedule is sort of normal for the week, despite a late night on Thursday. As I start getting back into the groove of writing and rewriting, I am hoping to get a lot more done from now on. I also no longer have to get up ridiculously early for work on Tuesdays anymore–I don’t have to be at the office until 11 henceforth–which makes the week a bit more palatable for me; I won’t be tired and sleepy from Tuesday on anymore. Here’s hoping.

I want to kick my writing up a notch or two, push myself harder. Fingers crossed.

Here’s an Easter Sunday hunk for y’all.

17157363_1290547937659934_1840617754778323019_o

I Wish It Would Rain

Saturday morning in the Lost Apartment and it looks lovely outside. I may clean the windows today. I have to get the mail, pick up some prescriptions, make a grocery run, and I also want to get the car washed, and of course, as always, there is laundry to do. I also want to spend some time reading today, and cleaning the kitchen and living room. Yes, I am feeling rather ambitious today; we shall see how it turns out.

I forgot my book (The Nest) at the office on Thursday night; I worked at the other office yesterday and it’s French Quarter Fest, so getting down to Frenchmen Street would be a nightmare and would make me tired and cranky, so I decided to just start reading another book–Ben H. Winters’ Underground Airlines, recently named a Thriller Award nominee for Best Novel. I’d always intended to read The Underground Railroad and Underground Airlines back-to-back for comparison sake; I forgot and started reading something else when I finished reading the Whitehead. The Winters book was controversial when it was released; it, like the Whitehead, is sort of magical realism/alternate history; Winters’ premise is that the Civil War was never fought as yet another slave-owner appeasement compromise was reached in 1860 that prevented secession and the war; and other compromises were reached over the years since. It’s an interesting concept, and at the time the book was released there was some controversy; the main character is a free man of color who works as a slave-catcher. I’m not very far into it, but it’s well-written and I’m enjoying it thus far.

I also got a lot of work done on “Quiet Desperation” this week; the story is now well over four thousand words. I stopped working on it the other day (Thursday, to be exact) because I felt that I was getting impatient and rushing the ending, so I decided to pull back from it for a few days and then get back to it over this weekend. I also think the story may have meandered a bit. The goal is to finish it and the chapter of the new Scotty I’ve been working on, so I can really get going on both the Scotty book and another short story next week. Ambitious goals, yes, but do-able.

And I want to get to the gym tomorrow morning.

A truly ambitious plan for the weekend, no?

We’ll see how it all works out, won’t we?

Here’s a hunk to see you through your Saturday.