War

Monday morning, and all is quiet and calm in the Lost Apartment. We are finally working normal hours at the office this week, which means 12 hour days on Monday and Tuesday for me, my old normal on Wednesday and Thursday, and very short days on Fridays, which is absolutely lovely. Since Paul will be gone this Friday, I will probably run what errands need to be run when I get off work, come home and clean the house thoroughly, and perhaps watch season three of Versailles, which I am leaning toward buying just so I can finish it off. I do have a Christmas party to attend on Saturday night, but I’ll just be bouncing around the Lost Apartment for the most part, amazed at how empty and quiet it seems without Paul–as I always do.

I did manage to get chapter six of Bury Me in Satin finished, despite being so tired, and am hoping that I can get past the hump–or rather, that getting past that particular hump–will make the rest of the writing go even more smoothly. I can dream can I not?

We continue to enjoy Schitt’s Creek–Daniel Levy and Catherine O’Hara are fucking national treasures, and I do not understand why they both haven’t won Emmys, or even been nominated. I guess because it was Amazon Prime and it didn’t get that much attention? The show is hilarious, absolutely hilarious, even as it is nonsensical…and there is plenty of lovely male eye candy on the show; we are now up to Season 3, and a bisexual love interest has been introduced for Daniel Levy’s character and his female ex, Stevie, who runs the motel they are living at. (Stevie is also one of my favorites on the show, and she had the best line thus far–after being told something truly horrible: “Okay then, if you’ll excuse me, I am going to run a warm bath and plug in my hair dryer.” It still makes me laugh.)

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

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Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head

I fell into an Internet wormhole the other day–history, of course, was involved–and now, with my scattered ADHD mind, I can’t stop thinking about the unintended research I was doing. An ad popped up on the evil Facebook (or the even more evil Twitter) about the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453; and yes, that triggered me going into a search about the fall of the city, why it happened, who was the last patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church at the time of the fall, what was the last Byzantine Emperor’s story, and so forth.

I’ve always had a Colin stand-alone adventure novel in the back of my head, going all the way back to Bourbon Street Blues when I first introduced the character. My original plan, as you know, Constant Reader, was to make Bourbon Street Blues a stand-alone as well; when I introduced Colin and came up with his backstory, I thought, wouldn’t it be fun to write a series about a gay undercover op for hire? I had always had this idea for a treasure hunt novel–yes, inspired by Indiana Jones, if you must know, go ahead and judge me–but it had to do with something smuggled out of Hagia Sophia before Constantinople fell to the Venetians and the Crusaders in 1204; but having researched that actual event, it doesn’t really work for the story. But the final fall of the city–turning it from the Christian capital of the East to the capital of an Islamic empire, and also ending the Roman Empire once and for all–actually would work for this story, based on what I read yesterday. The thing that was smuggled out was a document, or an original manuscript, of a secret book of the new Testament that challenged the very nature of Christianity as it was known then; Catholicism and Orthodoxy–which means the stakes in the current day would also be pretty high.

Will I ever write a Colin stand-alone novel? Probably not, but you never know. I have so many other things to write. I’ll never be able to write everything I want to write before i die, I fear.

Such is life. There’s never enough time, and of course, I am horrifically lazy, which doesn’t help on any level.

And of course, now that it’s around four in the afternoon I am getting tired. I woke up at six this morning, stayed in bed until seven, and then got started on my day. I drank coffee and cleared out my email inbox; I wrote a bunch of emails and saved them in the drafts folder to send first thing in the morning; and then I went to the grocery store. After putting the groceries away, I started making a birthday cake for a co-worked–a new red velvet cheesecake recipe I’d been wanting to try–and of course, while I was working on the cheesecake layer my hand mixer burned out. Complete with burning electrical smell and smoke coming out of the motor (three hours later the kitchen still smells like an electrical fire) and so, not wanting to go to Walmart on a Sunday, I walked over to the Walgreens on the corner, vaguely having seen that they sell kitchen appliances. I rarely go there–and usually only in case of an emergency, which this certainly was–and of course, they’ve rearranged the entire store since the last time I was there. And of course there are aisles of Christmas stuff where other things ought to be. But I persisted, because I really didn’t want to go to Wal-mart on a Sunday afternoon just to buy a hand mixer, and I found one. It seemed a bit pricey, but then I figured you bought the last one twelve years ago so prices may have gone up since then besides you’re paying a premium for convenience. 

So I bought it.

Constant Reader, that was the best money I could have spent on a hand mixer. It’s so much better than my old one it’s not even funny; on the slowest setting it mixes with more power than the old one–a BLACK AND DECKER–did on it’s highest setting. In other words, that cheesecake was beaten and ready to go in the oven in no time. And who knew whipped cream was so easy to make?

Well, it is with my new mixer, at any rate.

So the red velvet cheesecake is now chilling in my refrigerator. I tried working on the book but I am tired and my brain is tired too. I am even too tired to read, methinks. So, I am going to go try to find something to watch on the television while I relax in my easy chair.

And who knows? Maybe I’ll have the energy to write later.

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(They Long To Be) Close to You

Correction to yesterday’s new books announcement: I forgot to mention I also got a copy of Jeff Abbott’s The Three Beths.

My bad! Looking forward to it, Jeff!

If I ever get a chance to read again. Heavy heaving sigh.

My flashdrive has disappeared again; I’m hoping it’s either in my car or I left it at the office. It isn’t a big deal–some things, yes, but not as much as one might think. I’ve been trying to use the Cloud to move things around, and back things up to as I work on them, and it seems to be working. So, this wouldn’t be a complete and total and utter disaster–although I do believe the entire Scotty book is on it, and may not necessarily have backed up (but I already turned it in, so my publisher has an electronic version I can simply ask for; and for that matter its probably in my sent mail), but as parenthetically explained, I’m not overly concerned. Bury Me in Satin is safe, and I think I’ve backed up almost everything else at some point or another in the last month or so. Finding things might be a challenge, but they should be there somewhere.

Sigh.

I did work on Bury Me in Satin a little yesterday, around running errands and doing things around the house (I washed the bed linens, made white bean chicken chili in the slow cooker, re-organized some cabinets and drawers, did some filing, paid some bills) and then watched the Georgia-Alabama game, which was quite intense, and then Paul and I watched some more episodes of Schitt’s Creek, which is amazing.

Today, I have to make a grocery run and make a birthday cake for a co-worker, and I hope to do some more cleaning in the living room area. Of course, Paul is also leaving for a week on Wednesday, and so I’ll also be doing a lot of cleaning around that time as well. I need to buy his Christmas presents, so they’re here and wrapped by the time he gets back.

That would be smart. Maybe I’ll even get the holiday cards done while he’s gone.

A boy can dream, can’t he? Especially a fifty-seven year old one.

All right, perhaps I should get back to the spice mines. This stuff isn’t going to get done on its own, after all.

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Bridge over Troubled Water

Looks like we made it, Constant Reader; through another week of trials and tribulations and who knows what all, quite frankly. I woke up at six, but stayed in bed until just before eight, and feel obscenely well-rested, not tired at all; maybe a bit of a sleep hangover, but other than that, in tip-top shape for this lovely weekend. There’s condensation all over the windows around my workspace this morning; I suspect it rained over night and the air out there is probably warm and thick with water. It’s also not cold inside, which is a tip-off that it’s probably a lovely day outside. Paul is going to go into the office at some point today; I intend to go run some errands later as well as get some serious writing done. Conference championship football games are on television all day, but I really don’t care who wins any of them, if I’m going to be completely honest. The kitchen seems scattered and messy today, so does the living room, and of course, Paul is leaving for his winter visit to his family on this coming Wednesday, so I will have almost a full week of alone time.

I am, for December 1, disgustingly behind on everything; from Bury Me in Satin, stalled at Chapter Six, to finishing touches on both the Scotty book and the short story collection. I also need to proof read Jackson Square Jazz at some point so that can finally be available as an ebook; it never seems to end, does it? But I did somehow manage to tear through my to-do list this past week (other than anything writing/editing related that was on it) and I think now, finally, the day job is finally going to settle into a kind of routine schedule. I also picked up Bibliomysteries Volume I, edited by Otto Penzler, at the library yesterday, so I have a wealth of short stories to read. (I also still have all the volumes of anthologies and single author collections I was reading earlier in the year on the mantel in the living room; I should probably get back to those at some point as well.) I am probably going to keep The Short Story Project rolling into the new year; I do love short stories, and I keep finding more unread collections on my bookshelves.

I got some books in the mail yesterday; the two most recent Donna Andrews Meg Langslows, Toucan Keep a Secret and Lark! The Herald Angels Sing (which I wish I could read over the Christmas holidays; I love reading Donna’s Christmas books during the season but I doubt I’ll have time to read Toucan first; and yes, I have to read them in order DON’T JUDGE ME); two novels by Joan Didion, Democracy and The Last Thing He Wanted; two books by Robert Tallant, one fiction (The Voodoo Queen, an undoubtedly error-riddled and racist biographical novel about Marie Laveau) and one nonfiction (Ready to Hang: Seven Famous New Orleans Murders); the next volume of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice, A Clash of Kings; and Hester Young’s follow-up to The Gates of Evangeline, The Shimmering Road. 

So, yes, my plate is rather full this weekend–but I shall also have plenty to do while Paul is gone. I am also thinking about buying the third and final season of Versailles on iTunes to watch. I will probably make an enormous list of all the things I want to get done while Paul is in Illinois and wind up doing none of them.

Heavy heaving sigh.

I also need to figure out his Christmas presents while he’s gone, so I can get them and have them all wrapped before he gets home.

And so now, ’tis back to the spice mines with me. Have a lovely day, Constant Reader.

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Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

Well, Constant Reader, we did it. We made it to Friday, and a weekend looms with neither an LSU nor a Saints game on tap. This also means I have nothing to watch and no excuses to get all the things done that I need to, which include running a shit ton of errands today (it’s my short day), and doing a shit ton of writing and editing. I am way behind on the new manuscript–which I’d hoped to have a first draft of finished by tomorrow–and I need to do the final tweaks of the new Scotty and the short story collection by the end of December. It’s definitely do-able, but I’d also love to get it done and out of the way so I can focus on one thing, which is finishing this draft of the new manuscript.

But I don’t know how that’s going to happen, frankly. Working on this lately has been like pulling teeth, and as I struggled with Chapter Six last night, I decided that what I need to do this weekend is go back and revise the mess that is the first five chapters., and maybe that would do the trick of toggling my mind back into creativity.

Maybe. Maybe not. Heavy heaving sigh.

I’d also like to get some more stories out there to markets; maybe I can get that done this weekend as well.

And I need to clean. I always need to clean.

But the kitchen isn’t in that bad of shape. I did the floors last night and there’s a load of dishes to put away in the dishwasher, and a load of laundry to transfer from washing machine to dryer, but other than that–of course, I’ve not done anything thorough to the living room in quite some time. Maybe I can do that this weekend.

And if it’s nice, I could do the windows.

Or I can sit in my easy chair watching Schitt’s Creek all weekend while finishing reading Chariots of the Gods?, The Iron King, and ‘salem’s Lot.

We shall see how it goes, shan’t we?

And now back to the spice mines.

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I’ll Be There

Thursday–the last full day of work for me this week; Fridays I only work half-days. The weekend looms on the horizon, and in theory, my life should be settling down into a normal routine next week at the day job after weeks of never being completely certain what I would be working the next day. For someone who is an utter control freak about time and scheduling, this has been torturous for me. For some reason I crave structure; I have to be at the office at this time, I can go to the grocery store here and then I can come home and spend this time writing and this time cleaning and this time watching television, relaxing.

And yet I also don’t like being caught in a routine, a rut, if you will.

I am nothing if not a writhing mass of contradictions.

But, like with audiobooks, an old dog can learn a new trick every now and then.

I am currently rereading Erich von Däniken’s Chariots of the Gods?, which I originally read in the 1970’s. The 1970’s was, for some reason–probably all the upheaval of that decade and attempts to recover from the social unrest of the previous decade–a decade of weird conspiracy theory and even more peculiar science; the Bermuda Triangle, UFO’s, Area 54, ancient aliens, etc. I used to read a lot of these books, mainly because they were interesting, even though there were frequently enormous gaps and huge leaps of logic required to follow the authorial reasoning to the points they were trying to make in those days; and even as a teenager I often spotted these logistical flaws. But the concept behind Chariots of the Gods? was one that I was interested in, and while von Däniken’s writing style (in fairness, the book was written in German and translated) left something to be desired, one thing I took away from the book in the first place was the realization that exclamation points used in non-fiction usually means most of the reasoning is bullshit.

(I also loved the movie Stargate, which can probably be directly traced back to reading Chariots of the Gods?)

I kind of love these theories, though, even as I recognized they are problematic. A lot of human history isn’t recorded, and so we are left, for the most part, to wonder about the origins and rise of Egyptian civilization, or what life was like in Ur, or how the idea for written communication began or where it came from, and so forth. I also remember one of the reasons I was partly drawn into the whole Chariots of the Gods? things in the first place was because one of the “sites” he tried to explain away as being designed for ancient astronauts were the strange lines on the plan of Nazca, in Peru–which I had read about in the forty-fourth Nancy Drew mystery, The Clue in the Crossword Cipher. (In retrospect, I am also horribly disappointed neither Nancy or the Hardy Boys–in the original series–never went to Egypt; both Rick Brant and Biff Brewster did, in The Egyptian Cat Mystery and Egyptian Scarab Mystery, respectively.)

But, as I said, even I, a relatively uneducated and unformed preteen, could spot fallacies in logic and reasoning in the book. It was made into a TV special, In Search of Ancient Astronauts, and then a feature film with the same name as the book. Von Däniken wrote several more books–turning it into a virtual cottage industry–but I never read beyond the first.

I was reminded of this recently when I came across an article on Von Däniken’s racism, and that his theories were based in racism (you can read it here), and as I read through the piece, nodding, I was also amazed at how it never occurred to me that essentially, Von Däniken’s theories were predicated on racism and asserting white supremacy by erasing the historical accomplishments of ancient, non-white civilizations. So, I checked the book out of the library to reread it and look for the racial coding–plus, to see if there are as many irrational and illogical leaps made as I remember.

And I also can’t stop thinking about the Bermuda Triangle and other conspiracy theories that were huge in the 1970’s…and wondering why the 1970’s was such a fertile ground for pseudoscience.

And now, back to the spice mines.

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Midnight at the Oasis

Oh, Wednesday. You’ve dawned cold and gray again, just like your sister Tuesday did yesterday, and this morning I sit, huddled and cold, in my windows at my desk, shivering and wondering if I will ever feel warm again.

Yes, I do tend to overreact in the cold, thank you for asking/noticing.

I have not written a word on the book since before I left for Kentucky; nor, apparently, have I since. This is distressing; the idea was to follow Nanowrimo and have a strong first draft finished by December 1, so I could spend December working on other things and cleaning this manuscript up before starting a new project I must begin on January 1.

Well, didn’t finish writing this this morning, did I? Sigh. I woke up really tired and didn’t want to get out of bed; the cold gray morning didn’t help much, and before I knew it–it was time to get ready for work and now I’m home and here we are.

I did read another short story, though: “Citadel” by Stephen Hunter, from Bibliomysteries Volume Two, edited by Otto Penzler:

The Lysander took off in the pitch-dark of 0400 British Standard War Time, Pilot Officer Murphy using the prevailing south-southwest wind to gain atmospheric traction, even though the craft had a reputation for short takeoffs. He nudged it airborne, felt it surpass its amazingly low stall speed, held the stick gently back until he reached 150 meters, then commenced a wide left-hand bank to aim himself and his passenger toward Occupied France.

Murphy was a pro and had done many missions for his outfit, No. 138 (Special Duties Squadron), inserting and removing agents in coordination with the Resistance. But that didn’t mean he was blasé, or without fear. No matter how many times you flew into Nazi territory, it was a first time. There was no predicting what might happen, and he could just as easily wind up in a POW camp or against the executioner’s wall as back in his quarters at RAF Newmarket.

I’ve not read Stephen Hunter before, but this story! It was more of a novella than a short story–close to a hundred pages–but it didn’t seem long to read; because it moves along at an incredibly rapid pace. The premise is that Bletchley–notably genius Alan Turing–needs a book to break a book code and the only extent copy, besides the one in the hands of the British traitor, is in an archive in one of the Paris museums. So, an agent has to drop into France, make his way to Paris undetected by the Nazis, get into the archive, and photograph the necessary pages of the old book, and then somehow get back out of occupied France and back to England. Danger is everywhere–and I do mean everywhere–and the tension continues to ramp up with each page, each new obstacle, each new twist to the story.

And Hunter saves the biggest twist for the end.

God, I love World War II espionage stories!

And now, I should get back into the spice mines and write some more.

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