Live With Me

Wednesday and Pay the Bills Day has rolled around yet again. Woo-hoo!

Yesterday I was working on cleaning out my inbox–an ongoing struggle, but it’s suddenly gotten easier lately–and around noonish an email from Left Coast Crime dropped in letting me know that A Streetcar Named Murder had been selected as a finalist for the Lefty Awards! I certainly wasn’t expecting anything like that to ever happen, so thanks to everyone who listed me on their ballot. It’s a tough category–the other nominees are Ellen Byron for Bayou Book Thief, Catriona McPherson for Scot in a Trap, Jennifer Chow for Death by Bubble Tea, and A. J. Devlin for Five Moves of Doom. Such a thrill, really, and to be nominated against authors for whom I have so much respect and admiration for their talents and achievements already? And so many other amazing nominees in the other categories as well–including lots of friends! Kellye Garrett, Alex Segura, James L’Etoile, Karen Odden, Laurie R. King, Gigi Pandian, Rob Osler, Eli Cranor, Wanda Morris, and Catriona again (nominated TWICE!!!!). I’m really sorry I won’t be going to Left Coast this year. I had a marvelous time last year, but it’s also the week before TWFest and Saints & Sinners, and there’s no way I could take that much time off so close together–let alone leave the week before the festivals. I’d come home to find the locks changed, seriously. So many amazing reads this past year on this list, and there I am, right there with some of my favorite people.

It’s always lovely to get recognized, of course. Award nominations are always a lovely pat on the back, and yes, while I often joke about always losing everything I am ever nominated for (I love pretending to be bitter and cynical about losing awards), it is indeed a great honor and a thrill and all those things they’re supposed to make you feel like. Being nominated for mainstream awards, like this and the Anthonys, was never in my thoughts or calculations (to be fair, I never think about awards when I’m writing something)–so yes, for the kid who used to give acceptances speeches to the mirror holding a shampoo bottle as a stand-in for an Oscar, it’s an honor and a thrill and a privilege. I mean, winning isn’t really in my control–anyone who’s ever nominated’s control–so I just look at it as a lovely nice job thumbs-up from the community and add it to my author bio.

I slept really well again last night and this morning I don’t feel tired or sore and my mind is completely alert–yesterday there was some residual fog from my trip still, and leftover exhaustion–but today feels absolutely great. I ran errands after I got off work yesterday–some books and other things came in the mail yesterday, including my Rainbow candles (a client gave me one for Christmas; I loved the smell, and then had to go searching on line to find more of them) and the leather-bound copies of Rebecca and Echoes from the Macabre by Daphne du Maurier as produced by the International Collectors’ Library (about time I got two really nice editions of two of my favorite books). I was terribly tired when I got home from work yesterday so I pretty much melted into my easy chair with Scooter asleep in my lap and just watched videos on Youtube (I went down a Rihanna wormhole for a good while–I’d forgotten how amazing her music was–while also looking up videos from Hadestown, whose score I’ve been listening to every since I got home; I cannot tell you how much I loved this show). I need to pay the bills today and get back to work on the book–I’m behind again and am really going to have to work my ass off to get it done by the end of the month now, no time for goofing off or anything other than a major push; I also have a short story to finish that I’ve promised to a friend for an anthology; that will be a nice creative and intellectual challenge to try to get finished around the book, too.

So, yes, Constant Reader, as you can probably tell I’m in a really good place this morning. My coffee is marvelous, I got a lovely pat on the back from the mystery community yesterday (“they like me! they really like me!”), and I am feeling great about my writing and my future. We’ll see how long this happy feeling and inspiration lasts, won’t we? I also think the cold or sinus thing that’s been going on with me since I flew to New York has finally been given the boot by my immune system, which is really nice. (I always feel terrible when I travel–part of it is the lack of sleep and the dehydration caused by the pressure changes required for flying; one of these days I’ll learn to drink water and replenish electrolytes when I travel instead of just drinking Cokes and coffee and alcohol; you’d think I’d know better by now but I clearly do not) But I feel like me again for the first time in what seems like a really long time, and it’s going to take some getting used to and adjusting again. (This weekend especially is going to feel weird as fuck, to be honest.)

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely Wednesday, Constant Reader, and I will chat with you again tomorrow.

Where Do I Go From Here

The earliest years of my childhood–with a few minor exceptions–are lost in the foggy distant parts of my memories, unable to be summoned at will but sometimes resurfacing at the oddest moments. I don’t, for example, really remember much of how I started reading. I remember being fascinated by dinosaurs and getting dinosaur books from the library; I remember Scholastic Books Fairs and going to the library, both the Chicago Public Library’s nearest branch as well as the one inside my elementary school. I remember, vaguely, comic books: Richie Rich, Caspar, Wendy, Dot, Little Lotta and anything Disney before moving on to the world of Archie and Millie the Model before discovering, and loving, the world of DC super hero comics accidentally. Comic books were only a dime or twelve cents when I was a kid with an allowance of a dollar per week, so I could get quite a few comics with my allowance every week rather than trying to save it for another week so I could spend $1.50 on a Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew (by the time I discovered them, of course). I would not, nor would I ever, consider myself to be an expert on comics; I was a fan, and not a rabid one, either. I never learned the names of writers or artists (I do, however, remember Denny O’Neil from the 1970’s) until one of my returns to comics (I often went years without feeding my super-hero addiction); the 1980’s return got me learning names like John Byrne and Tim McFarlane. It’s always been a dream–one I don’t return to very often–to actually write for a comic title (I really really really want to write for Nightwing) someday but the older I get the less likely that item will be scratched off my lengthy bucket list (someday I might blog about the bucket-list things I am slowly becoming aware that I will never ever be able to accomplish).

Naturally, I’ve been looking forward to reading Alex Segura’s Secret Identity ever since the title was announced: comic books? The 1970’s? A crime story? COUNT ME IN.

And I am pleased to report it did not disappoint in the slightest.

Her eyes fluttered open at the sound.

Carmen Valdez rolled out of her small twin bed with ease, the muscle memory kicking in–even now, in the middle of the night. The shrill scream was familiar, too.

She tiptoed across her small bedroom, avoiding the toys strewn on the floor, as she made her way to the door.

Another scream.

Mami.

The screaming and arguing were routine. Carmen found that she’d become numb to it. She could almost predict it, in the hours before bed. If Mami and Papi were drinking–drinking that stuff–it was a bad sign. It meant they were changing. Becoming meaner. Darker. Something else. She would rush through her routine, rush to get to the relative safety of her room, her closed door, her darkness.

But she also knew the darkness could only shield her from so much. It hid her, but it didn’t silence then. She knew the screams would come. Carmen would just pray she could sleep through them.

I turned fourteen in 1975, and the entire world seemed to be, I don’t know, in some kind of transition that most people in my sheltered world believed would wind up not being good. We were already looking back; American Graffiti had struck gold with a nostalgia craze driven by the memory of “how much simpler (better) things had been back then” (despite the fact American Graffiti is actually a really bleak, dark movie) that was only further amplified by a resurfacing of the Beach Boys and the airing of Happy Days. My high school had “sock hops” (of all things) and my sister played the double album of the Beach Boys’ Endless Summer endlessly. It was easy, of course, to look at the sanitized world of television shows like Happy Days and repeats of Leave it to Beaver and wistfully wish for a simpler time…particularly when impressions we were getting of New York City wasn’t the pristine, clean city of Doris Day movies like Pillow Talk and Lover Come Back but the dirty, gritty noir sensibilities of movies like The French Connection, Shaft, and Serpico. I was already a reader, reading fiction for adults but still occasionally grabbing a comic book or two from the spinner rack at the Jewel Osco, or Mad from the magazine rck at the 7/11 on Briarcliff Road in Bolingbrook, the extremely white suburb my family had escaped to from Chicago and its desegregated schools.

It was also a weird time for comics, to be honest.

So, revisiting that time in Alex Segura’s new novel, Secret Identity, was interesting.

Alex’ book focuses on Carmen Valdez, a young Cuban-American woman living in New York and working as secretary to the publisher at Triumph Comics, a company much lower on the food chain than either Marvel or DC–the ones everyone knows–and hoping to get her own break into the business as a writer. She learned to speak English reading comics (mostly Archie and Betty and Veronica), but eventually moved on to caped crusaders. She gets an opportunity when another writer at Triumph asks for her help in putting together a new hero, the Legendary Lynx–even as a more experienced person in the business tells her not to trust Harvey Stern, the writer. But with all the hope and idealism that a hardscrabble life in New York with a dead-end job in a dying comics company has somehow not stomped out of her yet (ah, to be in my twenties again…), she takes the plunge and collaborates with Harvey–who winds up dead, shot in the forehead. No one knows the new comic Harvey had delivered six scripts for (under only his name) had any input from Carmen–who did the yeoman’s share of the work. Now she has to figure out how to reclaim her character and her work. To do so, she has to find out more about who Harvey was…and that means getting mixed up in a police investigation and eventually into the crosshairs of the killer.

I also appreciated the fact that “stolen work/characters” was the driving force in this book; comic book history is riddled with these kinds of situations, and it was fun seeing it from an insider’s point of view.

The story’s greatest strength is the character of Carmen. Within a few chapters of the story I felt like she was someone I actually knew, had talked to, maybe even had wine or drinks with; she felt like a friend…definitely someone I’d want to know in the real world. Another strength is Segura’s knowledge of the world behind the scenes of a comic book company and the industry itself. (I couldn’t help but grin periodically whenever someone referred to comics as a dying form; the 70’s slump was followed by a renaissance no one could have seen coming, and they are still going strong today.) Carmen’s relationships with the people in her orbit are also realistic and strongly drawn.

An added bonus inside the book are actual pages of art from The Legendary Lynx–which are strong enough to make a good comic book on their own (something we might be looking for in the future, Alex?).

Quickly paced with strong, believable characters, this was a terrific read. Thanks, Alex!

How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?

We’re supposed to get hurricane strength wind tomorrow and potential tornadoes. Southeastern Louisiana won’t be getting the worst of this storm–that will be further north, but New Orleans and Baton Rouge will still get some shit flung at us. Hurray. The high today is going to be eighty-one; it’s currently sixty-six degrees. I guess it’s sweatshirt under a T-shirt weather for the office again? Most likely.

Paul returned home yesterday morning, and again, it never ceases to amaze me how different it is when he’s home as opposed to when he’s not; it’s not like he’s this enormous person or anything, but the apartment always feels empty and quiet when he’s not home. Scooter, of course, was absolutely delighted to have both daddies home last night, going back and forth between my lap and Paul on the couch–and he was also a lot more quiet than he’s been in quite some time. Of course, Paul’s been missing a lot over the last few months anyway; me only seeing him when he got home and I woke up, groggily, for a moment before going back to sleep and then seeing him sleeping while I dressed for work the next morning. I regret not being able to spend more time down in the Quarter at Saints and Sinners; maybe next year I can plan my life events better so it won’t be a problem for me to spend time seeing people and going to panels. It is a pain in the ass to get down there and come back home every day, of course, but for fuck’s sake–these are my people: queer writers. And the opportunities to see them are rare and we are all getting older and yes, I definitely need to plan better for next year.

I did finish reading Alex Segura’s Secret Identity last evening, and it’s quite wonderful. I enjoyed and savored every page. There will be more to come on that score later. I think now I am going to move on next to Chris Holm’s Child Zero. I also got some older books yesterday in the mail that I ordered on eBay; The Lute Player and The Claw by Norah Lofts (an unjustly forgotten writer of the mid-twentieth century) and one of those Literature Classics leather bound editions of Daphne du Maurier’s Echoes from the Macabre, which is probably my all-time favorite short story collection. It’s a lovely edition in pristine condition, and I am very happy to have a very good copy of it on my bookshelves. The Lute Player is Lofts’ novel about Richard the Lion-hearted, his sad queen Berengaria, and Blondel the minstrel–and was also the first time I realized (when I read it as a freshman in high school) that the great Richard, hero of legend and fiction, was actually….for wont of a better term, not into the ladies so much. I’ve always wanted, since then, to write my own story of Blondel–but then Gore Vidal beat me to it with his A Search for the King, which I read and enjoyed twenty or so years ago. I don’t remember anything about it other than that I enjoyed it; I do like Vidal, and the older I get the more I appreciate his work. I just got a wild hair and thought it would be fun to revisit The Lute Player, and The Claw is her attempt at writing a novel about a serial rapist; heady stuff for 1981. (I’d never read it, but it sounded interesting. I also enjoyed her collection of ghost stories that I read a few years ago; Lofts is terribly underrated and underappreciated as a novelist.)

I do feel a bit disoriented this morning; like I’ve not been into the office in weeks. Literary event over the weekend, sandwiched around work at home hours, undoubtedly has something to do with that. I don’t feel like I know what I am doing or what I need to get done. I do need to make a new to-do list; when I checked the list yesterday morning I had done a terrific job of getting things crossed off (the things I hadn’t crossed off had to do with writing, natch).

I was also thinking last night, after finishing Alex’ superb novel, that I need to figure out my writing schedule for the rest of the year. I had originally planned to try to get a working first draft of Chlorine finished in April, and then get a working first draft of Mississippi River Mischief done in May, then alternate revisions for the rest of the summer while also writing short stories and finishing novellas. I don’t know if that is going to work; I do have a story to write already for April (and haven’t really gotten far into the physical writing of it; I already know how the story is going to work–it’s mapped out in my head) so that’s why I was thinking April–since it also includes trips to Albuquerque and New York–might be better to do short stories and novellas while pushing everything back a month.

Decisions, decisions.

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

Bad Weather

Monday morning and I am awake. Scooter has taken to sleeping with me, as I’ve noted, since Paul moved into the hotel and now I understand why it’s so difficult for him to get up every day when Scooter is cuddling with him. It’s interesting to me how pet-owners are always so reluctant to disturb their pets when they are sleeping–like they won’t go back to sleep or don’t spend most of their time sleeping–and that is exactly what happened to me this morning. I woke up to find him curled up next to my shoulder, his little head resting on my arm, and not only dead asleep but purring. I smiled and went back to sleep. I was finally able to get up when I woke again and he was no longer purring. I shifted a bit, he woke up and moved to the laundry basket, thus freeing me to get up. Insane, isn’t it? All he would have done was get up and go to sleep in the laundry basket, and yet…well, it’s also nice to be cuddled with him, too.

I stayed off social media for the most part yesterday, and I think that my plan from now on is to do precisely that on the weekends. Did I feel a bit remote and isolated and disconnected? Sure, I did–but at the same time, it was also kind of fucking lovely, if I am going to be completely honest. It really was. And not checking in on social media or doing the repeated doom-scroll we all seem to do in order to pass time was actually quite lovely. I didn’t really feel like I was missing anything, and I managed to get a lot accomplished yesterday–a lot more than I usually do on a Sunday, and I feel like that says quite a bit about social media and its toxic influence on our lives. I had already started cutting back on it–only checking in here and there throughout the day, rather than obsessively–and it’s helped me focus a lot more on getting things done that need to get done. I think when historians write about this time in our history–provided the world doesn’t end in the meantime–they are going to be very curious and fascinated by our obsession with social media, as well as the damage it’s done to civility and personal relationships…

I finished editing the manuscript yesterday (huzzah!) so will be sending that off to the author this morning. I also did a lot of cleaning yesterday, and did a lot of brainstorming about the story I am working on and the next Scotty book. I also spend some time with Alex Segura’s Secret Identity, resisting the urge to ignore everything else and tear through it as quickly as possible and instead taking my time with it, so I can savor the reading experience. I am greatly enjoying this visit to the 1970’s comic book world, and seeing a look at New York during that same time period; when the city was grimier and grittier. (I was actually thinking about how differently New York looks in older movies–like Pillow Talk–as opposed to 70’s movies like The French Connection, Taxi Driver, and Midnight Cowboy. Granted, the old movie code inevitably had something to do with that, but the evolution of depictions of New York on film would make for an interesting essay for someone with more knowledge of film to write; I know I would love to read something like that.) But I am, as I said, loving every minute of Secret Identity, and am glad I decided to go slow and enjoy the story and what Alex has done here in the book. Bravo, Alex!

I have some errands to do today, data to enter and work at home duties galore; I also would like to spend some time getting my emails handled and under control–I’ve let them slide during the focus on finishing editing the manuscript–and of course, still some odds and ends of cleaning to get done here in the Lost Apartment as always. (I do feel better about some of the progress made this weekend, however; I’m starting to feel like the apartment is finally getting under some kind of control. Not that there still isn’t a lot to do, but headway has been made at last.)

Pretty cool, actually.

And on that note, I am going to dive into the spice mines. Have a lovely Monday, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again tomorrow.

Oh Be My Love

Sunday morning and oh so much to do. I slept in this morning until eight thirty (oh dear! The vapors!), and feel a bit groggy but also rested and well, which is lovely. I think the panel yesterday went well–one never knows for sure, does one?–but I think the panelists were smart and entertaining and fun and informative; I certainly enjoyed listening to their answers to my borderline puerile questions. I also didn’t stick close to the topic–I never do, another reason I am a shitty moderator–but the most important thing is to stay out of the way of the panelists as they talk about their writing. Whether I succeeded or not remains to be seen; moderating isn’t my strength by any means, I loathe doing it, and it’s also not something I enjoy doing, for that matter.

Then again, that might just be more evidence of Imposter Syndrome. Who knows?

I also woke up to a cover reveal for the Magic is Murder anthology! Edited by the wonderful Donna Andrews, Barb Goffman, and Marcia Talley, this lovely anthology includes my story “The Snow Globe,” which is another example of Gregalicious never letting a story idea die. This story began life as a Halloween story (original opening line: Satan had a great six-pack), was converted to a Christmas story (opening line: Santa had a great six-pack–only had to move the n!) and finally found a home. Thanks to the Terrific Trio for all their help with my story, and I am, as always, excited to see another short story of mine in print. Huzzah!

I need to add a caveat to my earlier “well-rested” sentence: my legs and hip joints ache from walking to the Monteleone and back two days in a row. My legs feel terribly tired, and my hip joints are very achy this morning–as evidenced just not when I got up to make another cup of coffee. I am sure it has something to do with the new shoes and needing new shoe inserts; it usually does–but it’s still rather annoying at the same time. I guess I am grateful it’s not my knees or ankles, but nevertheless, pretty aggravating. I have a lot to do today–I’ve already made a list of what needs to be done today–and I am probably going to spare some more wake-up time to reading Alex Segura’s marvelous Secret Identity. I spent some time with it yesterday while taking breaks from everything I need to scratch off my to-do list, and I am really enjoying it. I am enjoying the feel and vibe of the comic book world and New York in the 1970’s; it would be really fun to see a Mad Men/The Deuce type show developed by Segura set in the comics world of this time. I spent some time last night unwinding over a couple of episodes of Young Justice, which I am also enjoying, and then watched two DC animated movies: Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox and Teen Titans: The Judas Contract, both of which I deeply enjoyed; the lovely thing about the animated movies is they can actually use the entire cast of DC heroes and aren’t as limited as the television shows or live-action films by casting. I love seeing the DC heroes of my comic fandom days in action–Red Tornado, Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern, Blue Beetle, etc.–turning up in the animation; I’ve missed them as the movies focus on the bigger names and the television shows are also slightly limited by casting as well–they aren’t using first tier, like the movies, but what I would call Tier 1A. (Although I will gladly argue that the CW’s Superman and Lois is the best take on the characters since the Christopher Reeve Superman films.)

I also spent some time watching the World Figure Skating championships, which was delightful. Two American ice dance teams medaled (a rare occurrence), and I think this may be the first time in history that the US has gotten a medal in every discipline? I know we’ve not had a pairs champion since 1979 with Randy Gardner and Tai Babilonia, and it’s been a while since we had a pairs medal of any kind. And our future looks bright with two up-and-comers in Men’s.

So, I had probably best gird my loins and venture into today’s spice mines. Paul will be home tomorrow (yay!) and I need to not only get the apartment not only under control, but everything else in my life, and I am feeling better about everything, really. I don’t know why I allow myself to get so wrapped up in despair and overwhelmed by everything I have to do; everyone has things to do and everyone has their own pace, and well, it just is what it is, you know?

And on that note, tis off to the spice mines with me. Y’all have a great Sunday, okay?

Give Out, But Don’t Give Up

Saturday morning. I slept really well last night, which was lovely. I was on a big emotional/adrenaline meltdown from teaching a workshop (more like lecturing) about sex writing. There was a nice sized crowd; I don’t think I’ve ever done a Saints and Sinners workshop with that many people there before and so naturally, had a massive case of Imposter Syndrome and then started talking. Nerves took over and I forgot a lot of things I wanted to say but somehow managed to stay on topic. Everyone listened politely and took notes–which was enormously flattering–so I hope I didn’t waste everyone’s time for an hour and fifteen minutes. But everyone was really lovely and kind and nice, some good questions were asked, and I may have snarked about some highly successful authors (cough E. L. James cough), but I think it went well overall. Afterwards, I walked home–it was a lovely sunny warm spring day, chilly in the shade but lovely in the sun–and will probably walk down there and back today for the panel I am moderating. Moderating panels, while also stressful, aren’t as bad as a workshop for me because there are other people there, and once I start asking writers questions about writing and books, well, the conversation tends to take flight from there which is all one can ask for, really.

I was very tired when I got home. I did some chores around here, settled in to input more edits (which I will hopefully finish once I get this done and posted), and then watched the World Championships for figure skating on Peacock, since you can replay broadcasts there. (I already knew the results, checking them on my phone, but it’s still nice to watch even though you know who’s going to win; the Internet destroyed spoiler-free figure skating broadcasts, alas) I then went to bed relatively early, and as I said, slept very well, which was nice. I’m a bit spacy and foggy still this morning, but that probably has more to do with me not eating much yesterday–adrenaline, public speaking, etc. tend to take away my appetite. (I often forget to eat at conferences and festivals, which is always a problem inevitably.) So I need to make sure I eat something this morning before I walk down because who knows if I’ll remember to eat later? I ate something yesterday morning, but when I got home I wasn’t hungry and thus didn’t eat anything the rest of the day…and I think all I had yesterday morning was a bagel with cream cheese.

Hopefully, when I am done with the panel today, I can walk back home and work on that short story (assuming I finish inputting edits this morning) that I need to get written and spend some more time with Alex Segura’s Secret Identity. I’m really enjoying the book, and several others have been added to my TBR pile that I really would like to sink my teeth into–and that’s not even taking into consideration the rest of the massive TBR pile. Heavy heaving sigh. And of course, going to Left Coast in a few weeks in Albuquerque will result in the accumulation of even more books for the TBR pile. Heavy heaving sigh. Maybe I’ll spend some time tomorrow pruning more books out of the apartment.

I also ran into Paul yesterday, and he didn’t seem to be the bundle of stress he usually is; but then again he’s always more relaxed once everything has started. I think he’s going to need about a week’s worth of sleep to recover from everything, but the suite they gave him at the Monteleone this year (usually it’s the Tennesee Williams Suite; this year he got the J. W. Monteleone Suite, which is even better than the usual) is amazing. An enormous living room, an enormous flat screen television, one and a half bathrooms (with a Jacuzzi tub in the full) and an enormous bedroom. It even has an office workspace. It also has a fantastic view of the river (I took some pictures). I kind of regretted not going down there to stay this year after seeing the room, but Scooter has been so lonely and needy with Paul gone that I’m kind of glad I come home so he’s not lonely. I do love my kitty.

So, on that note, I have about another three hours before I have to head down there for my panel, so I am going to sign out of here, get cleaned up, and dive headlong back into the edits. Have a lovely Saturday, Constant Reader, and I will talk to you tomorrow.

I Guess I’ll Miss The Man

Thursday morning and the last in-the-office day of the week; next month we are going back to four days required in the office; not sure when that is, but I’ve already chatted with my supervisor about it and what I’ll be doing in the office that extra day and frankly, am fine with it. Obviously, it will be an adjustment, but I’ve never really gotten used to not coming in on Mondays and I am glad that will be over with before I actually get used to it. Tuesday-Thursday in the office has actually been a bit disorienting since it started, and that fourth day I won’t have to get up at six to come in, either. I am thinking nine to five thirty, or some variation of that, actually.

Paul is staying at the Monteleone, so I am on my own with a needy kitty here in the Lost Apartment for the next few days. I must confess that when I got home from work last night, I was a bit tired and kind of felt like Tom Cruise in Risky Business: I had the house to myself, and knew Paul wasn’t coming home, so didn’t have to worry about making anything to eat or you know, anything. Instead of reading or doing anything truly productive, I’m afraid all I did was watch episodes of Young Justice while playing around on social media and eventually went to bed early. I did do the dishes and a load of laundry and worked on inputting the edits into the manuscript I am working on, but for the most part, I totally blew off last night. I do need to figure out the structure of my workshop tomorrow; I already have a lot of amorphous ideas about what to talk about, but I need to order them into something coherent and cohesive by tomorrow afternoon. Of course I am going to be terribly stressed and in a mode of high anxiety at the same time, which means I will probably walk home from the Quarter afterwards and collapse in mental and emotional and physical exhaustion immediately afterward….all so I can moderate a panel on Saturday. This is a lot for someone whose natural tendency is toward introversion and agoraphobia, especially after two years of no public appearances and no crowds. Will he survive? It remains to be seen. But I am also kind of looking forward to it. My plan is to just go do my stuff and head home, but…we’ll see how that plays out. I know I don’t want to go to any of the opening receptions or anything tomorrow afternoon…my, how things change! I used to love getting over-served at those receptions…but of course now I need recovery time from drinking alcohol and I just don’t have a whole lot of that to spare these days.

Plus, there’s no joy in feeling like shit for a day or two, either.

Obviously, I used to drink regularly but I also never used to get hangovers, either. Hangovers were quite literally the deal breaker for me. I would have stopped drinking years ago if I’d suffered through hangovers at a younger age, seriously.

So, tonight I hope to finish inputting the edits to get back to the author, do some more laundry, read some more of Alex Segura’s marvelous Secret Identity, and prepare for my workshop. Scooter will be needy–my God, he was like my shadow last night, following me around and jumping into my lap and going to sleep every time I turned around. He’d also started going to bed with me lately–or getting into bed and cuddling with me after I’ve already gone to bed; there’s nothing like almost dropping off completely to sleep only to be awakened by purrs and claws kneading your bare skin–but as soon as I got under the covers last night there he was–and he was still there this morning when the alarm went off (I wish my phone had been handy, because the side-eye Scooter gave that alarm was EPIC).

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 morning.

Tossin’ And Turnin’

I’ve been sleeping well lately, which I suppose means I’ve not been wicked for awhile? Isn’t it “no rest for the wicked?” (I’ve also always considered Ways to Be Wicked one of my potential memoir titles; one of many, to be true, but maybe when I retire I’ll write a memoir every year! Mwah-ha-ha-ha!

If that didn’t send a chill down your spine…well, it should have.

Shudder. I can’t imagine anything more terrifying.

I had appointments and things yesterday, so I took a personal day from the day job and decided–once I was home, having been poked and prodded and all those lovely, distasteful things that are chalked up as “routine maintenance” on an sixty-year-old car–to take a Gregalicious day yesterday; no emails, no day job duties (I had taken the day off, after all) and little to no Internet for most of the day. I wanted to focus on me and my own work for the rest of the day, without any distractions or interference from other places (and yes, that kind of has put me a bit behind on the to-do list, but that’s okay; I also remember and realize that stress and pressure are mindkillers; they induce paralysis and keep me from moving ahead by allowing me to become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things I have to get done. And once I kicked it into gear, I got a lot done yesterday. I reread the most recent drafts of six short stories that are stalled and I’ve been unable to unlock to secret to solving the problems to make them publishable; for whatever reason yesterday I was able to divorce myself from those creations and edit/review them with a very cold and distant eye. The result? I solved those problems, was able to write extensive notes on how to make them stronger and better stories for the next round of revisions, and even came up with notes on one that is in progress and needs to be turned in by the end of April. Huzzah!

Today I am back in the office, and while the return to the gym I’ve been wanting to make hasn’t happened quite yet (as I said, I really went into the world of self-editing yesterday and by the time I’d gotten through everything I was working on, it was too late to go to the gym), I am hopeful it will be soon enough (maybe this weekend; we shall see). I also continued watching Young Justice last night, which I am really enjoying. It’s sort of another take (with a different title) on Teen Titans, a comic I loved when I was younger (kind of like how Super Friends was the Saturday morning version of Justice League, but don’t get me started on how stupid that show was and how it undermined canon characters who were actually cool in the comics but bad on the show–cough cough, Aquaman, cough cough–but Young Justice, while geared clearly for a younger audience, doesn’t talk down to them the way Super Friends did. The show kicks off with the sidekicks being brought to the Hall of Justice–all of them expecting to become members of the Justice League now, only to discover it’s just step one of the journey and they actually aren’t going to be involved in any cases/adventures for the League. Speedy walks out, and the remaining three sidekicks (Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad) decide to answer an emergency call about a fire a Cadmus Labs, which leads them to the clone of Superman; whom they release. Lots of action and adventure end with Cadmus Labs being taken down and the clone becoming Superboy; the older heroes decide to give them an abandoned League facility for their own headquarters and add another young hero to the group: Miss Martian (a really stupid name), who is the niece of the Martian Manhunter.

(One thing I really like about this show is that it doesn’t just show the big names in the League but the lesser ones–Martian Manhunter, Red Tornado, etc.–as being active and vital members of the League. Well done, adapters!)

I am also hoping that when I get home from the office tonight I can spend some more time withAlex Segura’s marvelous Secret Identity. Next up will be Chris Holm’s Child Zero, and then I am not sure which treasure to pluck from the TBR pile. But I have a lot to get done this week and I need to get ready for work, so I am going to bring this to a close. Have a happy Tuesday, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again tomorrow.

The Wisdom of Time

Hello, Monday morning, how are you?

It was cold when I woke up this morning–but its warming up; definitely springtime in New Orleans where the differential between night and day can range from about ten degrees to as much as thirty. Yay?

Well, that there was an interruption, wasn’ it?

I took today off because I had appointments this morning–hello, Metairie!–and thus wasn’t able to get this finished before leaving the house. Sorry about that, y’all; I know how important it is to you all to get your started with Gregalicious and coffee, and I have failed you miserably, and on a Monday, too. There’s simply no excuse for this, is there? I am hanging my head in shame as I type.

But yesterday was a good one. I started reading Alex Segura’s marvelous Secret Identity, read some issues of the Nightwing Rebirth run, finished editing that manuscript I was working on (now I have to get the edits into the electronic version; I work on hard copies because I find electronic edits make it hard for me to see the overall story and its arc–which is one of the reasons I don’t edit much anymore. y old-fashioned methodology for working shouldn’t cost us the rain forest when it’s easier for me to stop doing that kind of work. I then started watching the Young Justice series on HBO MAX–which I really am enjoying as well; looks like Alex has dragged me back into the world of comics and super-heroes again for another round. I also went down some Nightwing Internet wormholes.

I really love Nightwing, if you couldn’t tell.

So today, now that my appointments are over and I am home, I think I’m going to take the rest of the day off. Yes, there’s always work I could be doing–always, but that doesn’t mean I can’t take some time away from the world every now and then. I need to get ready for the workshop I am teaching on Friday–it’s been soooooo long since I’ve taught; I definitely will need to do some rehearsing at home–and I also need to prepare for my panel on Saturday (why I hate moderating; if you’re on the panel you can just show up), but I have so much to do I am not going to get much chance to enjoy either the Tennessee Williams Festival or Saints & Sinners this year. Sunday I probably won’t even head down at all; I’ll need to get over two consecutive days of public speaking for one thing (just thinking about it wears me out) and then I have about two weeks to get ready for the trip to Albuquerque for Left Coast Crime (my first time ever).

I also stopped in the Barnes & Noble on Veterans’ while i was out there, between appointments, and picked up Rob Hart’s The Paradox Hotel and Mia P. Manansala’s two Tita Rosie’s Kitchen mysteries, Arsenic and Adobo and Homicide and Halo-Halo. I also got The New Orleans Voodoo Handbook by Kenaz Filan because, well, why not? I don’t know an awful lot about actual New Orleans Vodoun, and since I’ve been doing all these New Orleans and/or Louisiana deep dives over the last few years, I thought it time to get something to supplement Robert Tallant’s Voodoo in New Orleans, which I don’t think I trust entirely. That pretty much is the case with a lot of the old New Orleans histories–the trinity of Tallant, Lyle Saxon and Harnett T. Kane are suspect, and that’s a generous assessment–but they are interesting to look through and read to get a better grasp of the legends and stories.

And legends and stories can make an excellent starting place for my own fictions.

And on that note, I am heading back into the spice mines. Y’all have a good Monday, okay?

Floy Joy

Thursday and my last office day of the week. Man, I was tired yesterday. I’d planned on doing some editing and things when I got home from the office but by the end of my workday I was fried, deep fried, battered and put in a basket and dropped into a vat of grease heated to about 350 degrees. (I haven’t worked in fast food for almost forty years, but I still remember the temperature for French fries.) I was exhausted, and went to be an hour early and slept very well (I did wake up a few times, but both times fell back to sleep almost immediately. Example: the first time I woke up it was because Scooter had curled up next to me and his purring woke me up. I put my arm around him and went back to sleep. The next time I woke up–several hours later–Paul was next to me instead of Scooter, and I slept through it.) I know my sleep troubles/fascination are probably not as interesting to you as they are to me, Constant Reader, but there you have it. I feel very well rested this morning, if a trifle groggy, but hopefully the coffee will do the trick to free my mind from the cobwebs.

One can hope, at any rate.

Well, the first cup seems to be kicking into gear, so that’s a good thing. I was bummed that I was so tired last night–I really wanted to get more things done than I did, but I did get a load of laundry finished (still in the dryer, though, will need to fold and put away tonight) and another load of dishes done as well. So, when I get home from work tonight I’ll do those things and some other chores before sitting down in my easy chair with the manuscript and working my way through the next third. The goal is to get it back to the author by Saturday so I can spend the weekend working on some other things, odds and ends: I want to really get the plot for Chlorine worked out; I want to get some better idea of what Mississippi River Mischief will be about; and of course there are short stories I need to get edited/revised/written. The house is of course a mess as always–not as bad as usual when I reach the end of my in-the-office days, as I’ve been trying somewhat to keep up as I go, but still not where I want it to be, for sure, so hopefully I can stay motivated long enough to get all these things done, clean, AND start reading the new Alex Segura (with the new Chris Holm on deck). I also hope we can watch the latest Scream movie this weekend, now that it’s streaming. I might even be willing to pay to rent Spiderman: No Way Home before it’s streaming for free somewhere. (Never mind, you can’t rent it yet, you can only buy it, and much as I love Tom Holland–there’s too many new movies/shows coming out all the time as well as old ones to catch up on that there’s really no need to ever buy a film to keep again…and soon enough they’ll be streaming for free anyway.)

So, so far those are MY big plans for the weekend. What about you? I guess with the Festivals being next weekend I probably won’t be seeing much of Paul for the next week or so, but afterwards hopefully things will get back to normal (or what passes for it around here anyway). I also want to get back to reading short stories. I’ve really allowed the Short Story Project AND the Cynical 70’s Film Festival to languish. I think when I get back to the film festival I may do some Blaxploitation films. I did watch Shaft, and its sequels are also streaming on HBO MAX, as are some classic Pam Grier movies.

And on that note, I am off to the spice mines. May your Thursday be happy and full–and remember it’s FRIDAY EVE.