I feel better this morning than I did yesterday. I didn’t sleep well last night but I rested, and I’ll frankly take that. I may be tired again later today, but it definitely beats yesterday. By the afternoon at work yesterday I was so tired I actually felt sick; I did run my errands after work (didn’t want to) and then came home to my easy chair and cat. I spent most of the evening sitting in my chair watching Youtube clips (and the Rihanna Super Bowl half-time show, which I think was fantastic) before finally tumbling into my bed around nine thirty. I did sleep some, but I was half-awake half-asleep most of the night, but…I feel rested and okay this morning, even getting out of bed before my alarm went off. I should have done laundry last night and emptied the dishwasher, but hey, it is what it is and i’d driven twelve hours the day before. I’ll have to do that tonight. Tonight is the final night of rest during parade season, and the madness all begins again tomorrow night, with Druids (the parade after is still trash and still being boycotted by New Orleans) rolling down the Avenue and me having to leave the office early so I can get home before they close the Avenue.
I was also so brain dead that I wasn’t able to make my to-do list, which is on my agenda for today. I did manage to muddle through the work day yesterday, but seriously, I was so tired I barely even remember being at work yesterday, let alone what all happened and what went on. I know I got all my work caught up–I was concerned, having left town so abruptly last week, about how behind I may have fallen but being competent really comes in handy sometimes. I need to write my review of The Stranger Behind You by Carol Goodman, which I loved, and need to get back to Abby Collette’s Body and Soul Food. I don’t even know where we are with our television shows that we were watching, but we’re also in crunch time for Paul at work so i don’t see him very often; he sometimes comes home after I’ve gone to bed and I of course leave before he gets up in the morning–long before he gets up in the morning–making me a Festival widow until it’s all over. He’s going to try to come home so we can have dinner together tonight for Valentine’s Day. but I’m not going to be holding my breath anytime soon.
Yesterday, a friend went public with something horrific that happened to her at Bouchercon in Dallas in 2019 (I didn’t go; I got an inner ear infection that week and as such couldn’t fly); you can read about here. I urge you to sign the Change.org petition on the page I linked to; I cannot state how much I admire Laurie for her courage and determination to make sure that what happened to her–a complete dismissal of her, no follow-up, and absolutely incredibly incompetent police work–never happens to another woman, at least in Dallas. It’s also no easy task to come forward about being drugged and possibly assaulted; we have in our culture and society a tendency to not believe women, and to dismiss them as being “overly-sensitive” and “well, it’s a he said/she said situation”. Part of the reason I wrote #shedeservedit was because I get so angry about how we treat women who are victims of predatory men. That book was of course inspired by the Steubensville/Marysville gang rape cases, but how many times do we have to go through and witness this same song-and-dance? The Stanford swimmer, Laurie in Dallas, Steubenville, Marysville…the list just goes on and on and on. (Which was why reading The Stranger Behind You was so serendipitous; it’s about #metoo) I’ve actually been thinking about writing another book about this, but wanting to do it from the perspective of say a woman like the Stanford swimmer’s mother; which was why the Goodman novel resonated so strongly with me.
Boys will be boys indeed.
I also need to get writing again. That will put me and everything in my life back into balance, methinks. But at least this morning I am awake and functioning and feeling rested; how long that will last remains to be seen. But on that note, I am going to head into the spice mines. Have a lovely Tuesday, Constant Reader, and I’ll check back in with you again tomorrow.
Well, I forgot my power cord in New Orleans, so have been trying to use this laptop as sparingly as possible so that I can at least get this posted before I head to Wetumpka this morning for Murder on the Menu. Today was nice; the Homewood Library always has a nice turnout for the panels, people bought my books and were very lovely to me–always a plus–and I got to spend some more time with friends I don’t get to see very often, like Dean James and Erica Spindler (name-dropping!) and I also got to spend time getting to know Debra Goldstein and Christopher Swann better, and I got to spend some time with Bobby Mathews, whom I met briefly at Bouchercon this last fall. He’s quite funny, and I picked up his Working the Gimmick, a pro wrestling noir! How fun is that? And since one of my in-progress projects is a pro-wrestling adjacent gay noir, I’m kind of looking forward to reading it! I am going to listen to Carol Goodman on the drive to Wetumpka (The Night Visitors), and when I finish it–probably about halfway between Wetumpka and New Orleans, I will switch over to Ruth Ware’s The Lying Game, which I am also looking forward to. I’ve also been writing lots of notes and ideas in my journal during yesterday’s panels. Alas, after mine today I am departing back to New Orleans because I do need to get home–parades start next weekend, so I really need to start preparing for the coming limitations on running errands that is the inevitable and unenviable result of parade season.
I did sleep really well Friday night–the key is that even if I am now in that partial sleep that is the bane of my existence, my body and mind are resting, which makes such a difference. My Fitbit does actually monitor my sleep; the goal is to always have a sleep score of 80 or higher; I think there’s only been one night since I came home from New York where the score wasn’t over eighty, and usually it’s averaging in the high eighties, which is great and not very common for me. I slept really well again last night–at least, rested well; not sure how deep the sleep actually was but the rest was lovely.
I did not manage to finish this entry this morning. The battery in my laptop did indeed die as I was typing (I’d managed to save it as I watched the battery very quickly evaporate once it got to 15% charge) and now I am home. Today I had a lovely drive to Wetumpka, and the panel and signings and stuff there went well. We managed to sell thirty (!) copies of A Streetcar Named Murder, which was very pleasant and a very pleasant surprise. I really love Wetumpka, and the folks there seem to really love me, too. They are absolutely lovely, they read my books and like them, what a pleasant surprise, you know? Small town Alabama–who knew that was my sweet spot?
I am home now and very tired. The drive home was smooth–and I did start Ruth Ware’s The Lying Game before I got to Mobile (the Goodman novel is fantastic; more on that later), and I am really enjoying the Ware as well. I really want to set a book in Wetumpka–I have a Ruth Ware kind of idea for a book to be set there, and I have a cozy idea that could easily work in a town like Wetumpka. Although the Wetumpkans may not like what I may do to their town….LOL. But the more I listen to/read Carol Goodman and Ruth Ware, the more I think I want to write something more along those lines, too. That’s me, the sponge; anything I read that I also enjoy I always wind up wanting to write something in that style. The 70’s book that I am thinking about–I almost have the title down–is also something entirely different than what I’ve written before or want to write in the future, which of course makes me want to write it all the more. But this week I need to start tearing manuscripts apart and stitching them back together, getting these other two books finished so I can get back to the others I want to write, so I can then write the 70s book. (I am resisting the urge to start writing it, you have no idea how hard it is to resist that urge, especially with that little voice in my head whispering you can always start editing the manuscripts next week why not take this week to get it started which is how this stuff always winds up getting out of hand. I also think that my creativity sometimes gets a bit over-stimulated when I do events like this.
But what a problem to have, right?
And on that note, I am going to go start digging out from under everything that has piled up since I left Friday afternoon. Have a lovely rest of your evening, Constant Reader!
Monday morning and all is quiet and dark in the Lost Apartment this morning. I slept well again last night–I’m getting rather spoiled by all this good sleep, really–and yet it’s weird to be up again when it’s so dark outside. Today is my first full week of work this entire year–not bad, really, since it’s the last week of the month–but it’s also going to be weird to be working every day. I have that event this Saturday at the Convention Center, but other than that my entire focus this entire week is going to be writing (just like always). Everything is going the way it’s supposed to –I’ve already started questioning my choices about the story, so we’re right on track–and I am not getting stressed about anything, so that’s also working for me this year. I’d love to have another day off, though.
And parade season is literally right around the corner.
I didn’t write as much this weekend as I would have liked to, unfortunately; that seems to be very much par for the course, sadly. I’ll have a lot to get done this weekend, of course–that’s how it always seems to work, doesn’t it? That last minute push–but it’s fine. I guess the Joey Burrow and the Bengals won again yesterday–I really only pay attention to the Bengals and the Saints; I pull for the Bengals because of Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase, of course. I wish the Saints could have gotten him, seriously, but we had a really good run as Saints fans and so I am not going to complain about their return to mediocrity.
We watched two more episodes of Mayfair Witches and there are some substantial changes to the story from the book, but it’s enjoyable watching and there was one point last night where I kind of had to laugh; one of the most vivid and poignant things in the book is how they always parked drugged out of her mind Deirdre on the side porch every day for everyone and anyone walking past the house to see–it wasn’t until last night that it dawned on me how uniquely New Orleans and Southern Gothic that actually is; of course they put her out on the side porch on display for the entire world to see rather than keeping her hidden away inside the decaying mansion. I’m enjoying the show, much like how I enjoyed Interview with the Vampire. I am not one of those people who inevitably are disappointed with adaptations of novels I enjoyed; I long ago sensed that you can’t compare a television series or movie to a novel as they are completely different media and differences are inevitable–they should be viewed and valued for what they are rather than what they should have been. Changes have to be made–just like how the house they used for filming and converted to look like the house at First and Chestnut isn’t exactly the same; Deirdre’s porch wasn’t the main gallery of the house but a completely separate and different side porch, coming off the living room windows. But you have to adapt to what you are working with, and since they couldn’t use the actual house–obviously there would be differences.
I also have a doctor’s appointment in the afternoon on Wednesday, which means having to leave early that day (so I guess it’s not really a full week of work after all), so I can finally get my arm looked at and possibly start the process of getting hearing aids. Yay for health insurance! I am tired a bit this morning–more like still sleepy more than anything else, it’s funny how the meaning of tired has changed over the years–and could easily climb back into bed and sleep for another two hours or so. I like that I am getting good sleep so that I feel rested; weekend after next will be the weekend in Alabama which means I won’t be sleeping again relatively soon, sigh. (It’s getting to the point where I don’t even want to travel at all anymore because the lack of sleep becomes debilitating.) But I won’t be traveling again after that weekend until San Diego and Bouchercon in August/September, unless I have to go to Kentucky for something in the meantime, and I am really looking forward to the build up of accrued time off. I really do think I may just take a week off in May or June just to stay home and work on things around the house–which will inevitably lead to me being lazy and doing nothing for most of that time, which is not good. I am hoping that the arm check-up will go well and will eventually lead to me being cleared to return to the gym, but I also fear I am being overly optimistic. Visually the arms look vastly different from each other now, which really has me concerned about something like a torn muscle or something like that–but you’d think that would be more painful and wouldn’t have stopped hurting as quickly as this did? It’s always something. I guess I should check into the yoga schedule at the gym and see if there’s any classes that work with my schedule. Stretching, riding the bike, walking on the treadmill…these are all things that don’t require me to actually use my arms much, so….no excuses.
And on that note I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely day, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again later.
Thursday! I survived Pay-the-Bills Day with little incident–by some mysterious quirk of the calendar and pay periods, I only had two bills to pay this time around (which means almost everything will fall due after the next Pay-the-Bills Day) and I also managed to get three thousand words written yesterday–yep, I got back on the horse and was able to dive headfirst into the writing of my next book again. I know it’s silly, but I always manage to do so despite all my worrying to the contrary yet that doesn’t ever stop me from worrying the next time around. I’ve also reached a point where I am no longer dreading having to do it; once I get started I just dig down into it and go for it, you know?
Which is kind of lovely, really.
I was exhausted after I finished writing yesterday, and even dozed off in my chair for a little while (having Scooter sleeping in my lap and purring in his sleep had a lot to do with it). Paul worked late again last night and wasn’t home before I went to bed so of course Scooter was super-needy and wanted to just be in my lap all night–even staying in the chair and waiting for me to come back every time I got up. I slept great again last night, too–I’ve been sleeping marvelously ever since my return home on Sunday (other than Sunday night which is odd), and hope the streak will continue again tonight for my work-at-home day tomorrow. It’s kind of weird that it’s the weekend again (almost) already; this week has kind of flown past, and that’s fine, I suppose. It’ll be February and Carnival before we know it again, which is wild. I’m not in good enough shape for standing at the corner this year, either, but we’ll see how it all goes, won’t we?
I’m still listening to the Hadestown cast recording and I am really enjoying it still. It’s perfect for the car on the ride to work–especially the song “Way Down Hadestown”, which seems particularly appropriate for the drive to work, you know? I also was reminded yesterday that I am appearing at the ALA event here in New Orleans a week from Saturday, and then the next weekend its off to Alabama for my twofer weekend, at the library in Birmingham and then again on Sunday in Wetumpka, which is becoming my favorite town in Alabama (I keep thinking it would be fun to write a cozy series based on Wetumpka), and then after that, of course, we’re in the midst of Carnival madness. Next thing you know it’s March and the Festivals are here…which is how time flies when you’re my age. Next thing you know it’s summer again, and then I’ll be sixty-two and then it’s football season again and so the cycle of time goes. My life generally is measured in terms of deadlines, which makes the time fly even faster. Heavy sigh.
I do think I am going to take a week vacation at some point this spring and not really go anywhere or do anything much other than clean and organize, maybe go see the World War II museum and the Chalmette battleground, or even just take a day to go exploring the river and bayou parishes. The only trips after Alabama at the end of this month I have planned currently are Bouchercon in San Diego and later Kentucky for the holidays again. I am thinking I may go to Boston to visit some friends I’ve not seen in a very long while–way overdue–and I am not sure how my vacation time got so whacked and out of control this last year, but I also traveled a hell of a lot more than I had in the two previous years.
And on that note, I am going to head into the spice mines. Have a happy Thursday, Constant Reader, and I’ll check back in with you again later.
I am soon to depart for the airport, where I am catching a flight to LaGuardia for a weekend in New York; I am flying back home on Sunday. It’s going to be a short but busy trip, where I will get to see all kinds of people i really like and run all over the island and do all sorts of things. I also need to carve out time to write while there as well–I have gotten really bad about writing when on trips over the years, but I really can’t go without writing the entire time. I made quota again yesterday–it was a little harder to get motivated and not quite as easy to get into a proper rhythm, but it was also a transitional chapter and my first goes at those are always stilted and awkward and people don’t really talk like that, do they? But I got through it, the transition was made, and the stage has been set. Now we move on to act 2, which is why it really cannot wait. Hopefully, if I am not too tired when I get to the hotel, I can spend a few hours working.
My flight is already delayed, I see–so I don’t have to leave quite as early for the airport as I had originally thought, which is fine. Our Internet was spotty last night, going in and out, so we ended up not finishing watching the Golden Globes and I went to bed early. It seems to be working fine this morning, so I am not going to worry about it–I’m the one who always has to deal with it, the Cox bill is in my name, etc. etc. etc. It would suck for Paul to have no Internet for the weekend, but I am going to assume that last night was an aberration. Our cable box is also so old they can’t even service it anymore, so I need to go get a new one at some point; the Cox office is near my office, so I can run by there during lunch someday when I get back. Sigh, it’s always something.
I am taking A Walk on the Wild Side with me to read on the plane and at the airport, along with a rather short book by Harry M. Benshoff, Dark Shadows, which is a kind of academic breakdown of the original show that I am kind of looking forward to reading. Dark Shadows probably had a much bigger impact on me than almost anything else–my preference for Gothics, supernatural stories, murders–and I should probably do an entire entry about Dark Shadows and its influences and impact on me creatively. I am also trying to decide what other books to take on the trip with me–I need at least one more for the flight home–and am kind of torn as to what to read next. I’ve got some great cozies stacked up in the TBR pile, but I also have some books by other favorite authors and some other books that have gotten some high praise from either reviewers or friends on social media. Maybe someday I can get the TBR pile under control but it won’t be anytime soon, I can promise you that. I am really looking forward to reading more this year than I have in past ones.
I’m also looking forward to writing a lot more this year, too. I can’t believe what a roll I’ve been on since Christmas (or just before); I’ve written at least three thousand words a day on average ever since (some days I skipped, others I did from four to six thousand words), which is quite a bit, really–somewhere between forty-five and fifty thousand words, which is kind of impressive, I must say. It’s also not been wearing me out, or making me very tired. I think some of that has to do with the lessening of outside pressures and stressors–I’ve been sleeping very well (well, last night was kind of spotty) for the most part, feeling rested, and not letting things get to me the way they always seem to have been doing for the last three or four years. I really hate stress and anxiety, and I really need to make sure I continue to focus on reducing those thing. Staying off social media more has done a good job of that, too–nothing can quite raise the blood pressure the way reading something racist or homophobic or misogynist or transphobic from people who should know better, and I’ve started unfollowing and/or blocking people who are, for wont of a better word, assholes. And it actually feels good to hit unfollow or block, knowing you never have to interact with that person or read their shitty screeds ever again.
And it’s not required that I follow every crime writer on social media, either.
I went to a lot of events last year, and will be scaling back dramatically on that this year. Probably Bouchercon in San Diego is all I am going to do involving air travel, and yes, I’ve been offering my short stories and books up for Lefty and Agatha consideration, but I won’t be attending either event so even were I to score a nod, not being present doesn’t help your odds of winning. (For me, being present isn’t enough, either.) It’s weird to think that after this weekend’s trip I probably won’t be flying anywhere again until Labor Day weekend for Bouchercon, and I’m actually feeling kind of iffy about that, to be honest. I hate the thought of traveling over Labor Day weekend, but at least if I fly home on Sunday I’ll have Monday off to recalibrate and recenter and recover from the conference.
I just hope I can sleep this weekend. Let’s focus on getting through that first, shall we? LOL.
And on that note, I am going to bring this to a close and start packing. I made a list of everything I need for the trip, and I got the big black suitcase out last night so everything is in place and ready to go. I may check in with you tonight from the hotel–stranger things have happened–but one never knows. I was actually thinking the other day that I’ve gotten into a bit of a rut with this; I always write it in the morning with coffee and maybe, just maybe, sometime during the day I may write another entry, usually about a book I’ve just finished reading or something–and there’s really no reason for that other than habit. Maybe the blog entries that require a more awake brain, for logic and reasoning and making a rational argument either for or against something, can be worked on during the day or in the early evening or around my writing for the day. I have any number of entries I’ve started over the years–dealing with things like racism and homophobia and all the other, irrational bigotries and prejudices that run rampant in our modern world, and it would be nice to finish them all, get them out there into the world to be read by the two or three people who actually check in with me every day and read these meanderings of my mind.
And here we are, on the final day of the year 2022. Happy New Year, I guess? It doesn’t feel like the year is turning, but everything has felt so totally out of whack since the 2020 Shutdown that it’s not a surprise, really. As I sit here bleary-eyed with my coffee trying to wake up for another thrilling day of writing and cleaning, it seems very weird to look back to a year ago at this time. I was on deadline then, too–and was way behind on that book, too (A Streetcar Named Murder, for the record), but other than that I don’t remember what my mood was like or what I was thinking about going into the new year. We were still in the midst of the pandemic (that hasn’t changed–what’s changed is it isn’t news anymore and everyone seems to be pretending it’s all over), and I know I wasn’t exactly going into 2022 thinking oh this is the year I’ll get the coronavirus! That did happen, and my ten-day experience with COVID-19 was bearable for the most part. I just had intense and severe exhaustion as well as the brain fog, which hasn’t entirely lifted. I still have no short term memory, and am struggling to remember things every day–which has made writing this book more difficult because I can’t remember small details and things that are kind of important. I also think being so scattered isn’t much help in that regard; I’ve never been able to handle getting a grip on things and have felt like I’ve been behind the eight-ball for the last three years, floundering and struggling to keep my head above water, and never confident that I had a handle on everything. It’s been unpleasant, really; I prefer to be better organized and to have things under some sort of manageable control, and this constant feeling that I am behind and will never catch up on everything has been overwhelming, depressing, and damaging.
I read a lot of great books this year–I was going to try to make a “favorite reads of the year” list, but as I went back through the blog for the last year looking at all the books I talked about on here, there’s no real way for me to quantify what were my avorite reads of the year. I managed to read both of Wanda M. Morris’ marvelous novels, All Her Little Secrets and Anywhere You Run; Marco Carocari’s marvelous Blackout; John Copenhaver’s The Savage Kind; Carol Goodman’s The Night Villa, The Lake of Dead Languages, and The Disinvited Guest; Ruth Ware’s The Death of Mrs. Westaway and The Woman in Cabin Ten; Raquel V. Reyes’ Mango, Mambo and Murder; Ellen Byron’s Bayou Book Thief; Rob Osler’s debut Devil’s Chew Toy; Mia P. Manansala’s Arsenic and Adobo; Kellye Garrett’s Like a Sister; Alex Segura Jr’s Secret Identity; Laurie R. King’s Back to the Garden; Tara Laskowski’s marvelous The Mother Next Door; James Kestrel’s Five Decembers (which would be a contender for favorite read of the year, if I did such things); and of course several Donna Andrews novels as well. I am forgetting some great reads I truly enjoyed this past year, I am sure–I will kick myself later for not remembering I Play One on TV by Alan Orloff, for one example–but it was a year of great reads for me. I know 2023 will also be a great year for reading.
I also watched a lot of great television this past year as well, and again, I won’t be remembering everything and will kick myself later. If nothing else, it was a year of some amazing queer representation on television; this was, after all, the year Netflix not only gave us the wonderful, amazing, adorable Heartstopper but the equally charming and adorable Smiley (which you should watch, absolutely). It was also the year where Elité continued, but the shine is starting to go off the show a bit. I was very vested in their Patrick/Ivan romance, which they ended in this last season with Manu Rios, who plays Patrick, leaving the show at the end of the season along with his two sisters (spoiler, sorry), which was dissatisfying. I am looking forward to seeing what else Manu Rios gets up to in the future…we also enjoyed 1899, Andor, Ted Lasso, Sex Lives of College Girls, Peacemaker, The Sandman, House of the Dragon, Ozark, and so many other shows I can’t possibly begin to remember them all this morning. But I have no problem saying that without question my favorite show of the year was Heartstopper. Even just looking at clips on Youtube, or those “Ten Cutest Moments on Heartstopper” videos, always makes me feel warm and fuzzy when I view them. The soundtrack for the show was also terrific, with some songs so firmly engrained in my head with scenes from the show (one in particular, Shura’s “What’s It Gonna Be” always makes me think of that scene where Charlie comes running after Nick in the rain to give him another kiss, which is what was playing in the background). Wednesday was another highlight, a surprising delight when I was prepared to have my hopes dashed, and The Serpent Queen was also a lot of fun. We also enjoyed The Bastard Son and the Devil Himself, but it was cancelled after its first season, which was disappointing.
Professionally, it was a pretty good year in which I had three book releases: #shedeservedit in January and A Streetcar Named Murder in December, with the anthology Land of 10000 Thrills, thrown in for good measure in the fall. I sold some short stories that haven’t come out yet, as well as some that did this last year: “The Rosary of Broken Promises,” “A Whisper from the Graveyard,””The Snow Globe,” and “This Thing of Darkness” all came out in anthologies this year, with “Solace in a Dying Hour” sold and probably coming out sometime in the spring. I also sold another story to another anthology that will probably come out in the new year as well, and I still have one out on submission. In what was probably the biggest surprise of the year, last year’s Bury Me in Shadows was nominated for not one, but TWO Anthony Awards (Best Paperback Original and Best Children’s/Young Adult) which was one of the biggest shocks of maybe not just the year, but definitely one of the highlights of my career thus far. I lost both to friends and enormously talented writers Jess Lourey and Alan Orloff respectively, which was kind of lovely. I had been nominated for Anthonys before (winning Best Anthology for Blood on the Bayou and “Cold Beer No Flies” was nominated for Best Short Story), but being nominated for one of my queer novels was such a thrill–and to have it nominated in two different categories was fucking lit, as the kids would say. The response to A Streetcar Named Murder was an incredibly pleasant surprise; people seemed to genuinely love the book, which was very exciting and cool.
I traveled quite a bit this year as well–going to Murder in the Magic City/Murder on the Menu, Left Coast Crime, the Edgars, Sleuthfest, and Bouchercon. I went to Kentucky twice to see my family, which further fueled my love of audiobooks for long drives–on both trips I listened to Ruth Ware on the way up and Carol Goodman on the way back–and also did some wonderful podcasts and panels on-line, which was nice. We didn’t go to any games this season in Baton Rouge, but in all honesty I don’t know if I can hang with a game day anymore–the drive there and back, the walk to and from the stadium, the game itself–I would probably need a week’s vacation afterwards!
College football was interesting this season, too. This season saw the reemergence of Tennessee, USC, and UCLA to some kind of relevance again; the slides of the programs at Texas A&M, Florida, Oklahoma, Auburn, and Texas continued; and LSU turned out to be the biggest surprise (for me) of the year. Going into the season I had hopes, as one always does, but after two years of consistent mediocrity (with some surprise wins both years) they weren’t very high. The opening loss to Florida State was a surprise and disappointment, but at least the Tigers came back and almost made it all the way to a win. The blowout loss to Tennessee at home was unpleasant, certainly, as was the loss at Texas A&M. But LSU beat Alabama this season! We also beat Mississippi, so LSU was 2-2 against Top Ten teams this season–and I would have thought it would be 0-4. And 9-4 is not a bad record for a transitional year, with a new coach rebuilding the program. And LSU beat Alabama. The Alabama game will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest Saturday night games in Tiger Stadium. It was incredibly exciting, and I still can’t quite wrap my mind around it or how it happened. It certainly shouldn’t have; LSU was simply not an elite-level team this past season, but what a job Brian Kelly did coaching in his first season in Baton Rouge. Did I mention that LSU beat Alabama this year? (And one really has to feel for Alabama, in a way; they lost two games by a total of four points on the last play of each game. Four. Points. That would probably be what I would call this season for Alabama: Four Points from Greatness. The LSU-Alabama game this year is definitely one of those that gets a nickname from the fan base, I am just not sure what it would be. The Double Earthquake Game? (The cheers when LSU scored in overtime and then made the two point conversion registered on the campus Richter scale) The Conversion Game? I don’t know what it will be named for all eternity, but it was an amazing game. I do think it also bodes well for the future for LSU. Will both LSU and Tennessee (which also beat Alabama for the first time in like fifteen years) be able to consistently compete with Alabama now? Has Georgia taken over as the SEC behemoth? Has the Alabama run ended? I don’t think so–they have an off year where they lose two or three games periodically (2010, 2019, 2022)–and they could bounce right back. next year and win it all again. You can never count them out, even in their off years.
As for the Saints, they swept Atlanta again this year, and that is enough for me.
I did write a lot this year, even though it didn’t seem like I actually did while the year was passing. I also worked on Chlorine and another project I am working on throughout the year, as well as the novellas, and of course, I was writing short stories and essays for much of the year. I also read a lot more New Orleans and Louisiana history, and I had tons of ideas for things to write all year long. I did make it to the gym on a fairly regular basis at the beginning of the year, but then it became more and more sporadic and after my COVID-19 experience, never again. I also injured my arm a few weeks ago–when I flex the bicep it feels like I have a Charley horse, so not good, but it doesn’t impact my day to day activities. I also had my colonoscopy at last this past year–the prep was horrific, and I am really dreading doing it again at sixty-five, should I make it that far.
Yesterday was a nice day. I was exhausted, and after my work-at-home duties were completed I did some chores–laundry, dishes–and I also spent some time both reading (A Walk on the Wild Side) and writing. I also watched the Clemson-Tennessee Orange Bowl last night before Paul got home from his dinner engagement and we watched a few more episodes of Sex Lives of College Girls. Today I am going to read a bit this morning with my coffee before getting cleaned up and diving headfirst back into the book. Paul has his trainer today and usually either goes to the gym to ride the bike or to his office to work for the rest of the afternoon, so I should be able to have some uninterrupted writing time, which will be lovely. And on that note I am heading into the spice mines. Have a happy and safe New Year’s Eve, Constant Reader, and I will check back in with you later.
Winter is here, and not the usual New Orleans winter, either. The floor here in the Lost Apartment is very, very cold; and the kitchen of course feels colder than the living room (it used to be the back porch at one time before being enclosed into a kitchen/laundry room. I didn’t sleep very well on Wednesday night, and started flagging at the office yesterday in the late afternoon. The cold didn’t help–but at least it was still pleasant. I had forgotten a few things at Rouses on Wednesday night, and while I was considering not leaving the house today, I decided it was a better idea to order things to be picked up today rather than stop on my way home when I was already tired. Work on the book was a bit of a slog yesterday–which is not a good thing at all–but I got some of the work done, and hope to get more done today. It’s a holiday, so I don’t have to do any dayjob stuff, which is lovely–I also have Monday off, which is also lovely. It’s twenty-six degrees here right now (just checked) but the sun is out and it doesn’t look terribly windy or anything out there. I was terribly tired when I got home from work yesterday–as the day went on I flagged even more. When Paul got home we watched some more Three Pines. I am not really sure if I am sold on the show or not; it’s solidly done, the acting is good and the writing is okay, but there just seems to be something missing for me. I don’t know what it is, but it’s just not hitting me the way I think it should. And ordering the groceries for today was smart–turns out Paul needs to run an errand today anyway, so there I go–I was going to have to leave the house anyway so stopping on the way home wouldn’t have made any difference as to me not leaving the house today.
I slept marvelously last night, though. Scooter woke me up this morning at five thirty-ish, hungry–he doesn’t care about what day it is–but I went back to bed and was able to sleep nicely for another few hours, which was marvelous, really. I felt very rested this morning, and like I might be able to power through all the writing I need to do today. The groceries aren’t scheduled for pick-up until around one, so I figure I can get a lot done this morning while I swill my coffee. There’s a load of laundry in the dryer and a load in the dishwasher, so yay for that chore, and I usually launder the bed linens on Fridays, so I could get a jump start on that as well. Yay for ambition!
And ugh, just looking around the kitchen–yes, I should spend some time this morning cleaning up in here. Yikes. I’ve really become a slipshod housekeeper. Maybe in the spring I could take a week off from work and just work on projects around the house. Hmmm. That’s actually not a bad idea. I’m not going to be traveling much in the future–I was thinking about it yesterday, as reports of delays and cancelled flights kept popping up everywhere and friends who actually were traveling were posting complaints about delayed flights and lost luggage and delays and I was like, ugh, I’ve really begun to hate traveling. I like being there once I get there, but I hate the process. I traveled a lot this past year, I guess to make up for the pandemic years where I went nowhere other than Kentucky? But the whole airport/airplane/other passengers process, parking at the airport and getting a cab on arrival, etc…I am getting to the point where just thinking about it makes my blood pressure rise and my head hurt and my anxiety to climb. I am going to New York in a few weeks (note to self: book airport shuttle service for LaGuardia), and after that I am probably not going to travel again other than Bouchercon in the late summer/fall, in San Diego. I’ll probably also have to go to Kentucky at some point as well. Heavy heaving sigh.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I am looking forward to these peaceful four days. It’s weird, isn’t it, how it simply being a holiday somehow makes a difference? I’m not precisely sure why that is, but somehow it has. I think it’s knowing that even if I wanted to go run an errand or something I wouldn’t be able to? I don’t know, maybe it’s one of the many quirks in my brain, but there you have it.
It’s funny, when I pulled up the draft for today’s post and saw the picture I’d selected already for it (I do that in advance) I realized it’s really a perfect illustration for my story “The Snow Globe.”
And as a little Christmas gift, here’s the story’s opening yet again.
Santa, Dylan thought, certainly has a great six-pack.
He smiled as he leaned against the bar, watching the so-called Santa with a slight smile. He definitely wasn’t your average department store Santa, that was for sure.
The guy’s body was thickly muscled and perfectly proportioned. His biceps and shoulders were thick, every muscle cord and fiber etched and carved beneath his smooth, tanned skin. The cleavage his big chest was deep, his nipples like purplish quarters. It didn’t seem possible for his waist to be so small, and the crevices between his abdominal muscles were deep enough for a finger to fit between up to the first knuckle. His legs were powerful and strong, ropy bulging veins pushing against the silky skin.
Like a traditional Santa his face was hidden behind the obligatory long white wig and the thick white beard and mustache—but that was his only bow to tradition. Rather than a red suit with white trim and a big black belt, he simply wore a tiny bikini of crushed red velvet with glittery red sequins trimmed around the waist and legs with green faux fur. Large brass rings exposing pale skin connected the front to the back. His red boots sparkled with red sequins and glitter, trimmed at the top with green velvet. Slung over his right shoulder was a red velvet bag, also trimmed with green faux fur. Every movement he made as he talked to a group of young twinks with poofy hair and obscenely slim hips caused muscles to bulge and flex somewhere.
It’s always amused me that Santa is an anagram for Satan.
They may even be the only anagrams possible for each word, too.
We’re in a severe weather alert, but mostly the fear is flooding and torrential rain–the massive area under tornado watch is north of here–and it’s dark outside this morning as I sip my coffee and write this. My sleep was spotty again last night–waking up occasionally before falling back asleep again–but I do feel rested, and that’s the most important thing. Progress was made on the book yesterday, which is terrific and ever-so-pleasing to me. I did my errands yesterday after work without issue, but of course once I was home and had worked on the book for awhile, was terribly tired. I cannot allow that to happen when I get home this evening, as there are dishes to be put away and another load to be put into the washer. I’d like to spend some more time with A Walk on the Wild Side this evening as well; I need to finish it if I want to read the new Donna Andrews on Christmas day.
It’s hard to believe that Christmas is next weekend already. It doesn’t seem like it, but what would be really lovely–if it’s not a downpour when I get home from work tonight–would be to take a walk around the neighborhood and through the Garden District documenting decorations. I should make a point of this every year during Christmas and Carnival, frankly. I’ve never seen a city before that loved to decorate as much as New Orleans does–or does it even remotely as well.
But the coffee is good this morning and it’s getting light outside–grayish, really–and hopefully I won’t get rained on while driving to work. (Note to self: if it isn’t raining, bring umbrella inside from the car in case it’s raining when I leave.) I think we’re going to buy our new refrigerator this weekend, which is good since the one we currently have is absolutely on its last legs. I wanted to gt one with the freezer on the bottom, but for some reason those are a lot more expensive–by an absurd amount. So, it looks like we’ll probably get the normal kind with the freezer on the top–or maybe we can spring for a bit more and get one with side by side doors, which would be almost as effective (it’s the bending down that’s starting to get to me), but we’ll see. I think we’re just going to go to Costco and see what they have.
Yesterday a friend posted a list of all the things she accomplished in 2022–which she compiled after feeling like she really hadn’t done much during the year, and was pleasantly surprised to see how much she had, in fact, managed to do. I was thinking about this myself the other night–not that I hadn’t done much throughout the year, but rather that I’d had a rather bad year, but once I sat down and started thinking about it, it’s actually been a good year for me; actually a very good year indeed when all is said and done. Oddly enough, when I sit and look back emotionally, without going into much more depth, it was a year in which my primary memories are tired and miserable. And yet…productivity wise it may not have been my strongest year, but it was still a good year. Bury Me in Shadows was nominated for two Anthony Awards at Bouchercon this year; it’s not the first time one person was nominated multiple times in the same year (hell, S. A. Cosby was nominated for three awards, and I think Tracy Clark was also up for two this year alone) but it’s a select group to be sure and one to which I am proud to belong. I have no way of verifying it either, but I am pretty certain it was the first time the same book was nominated in two different categories. Those were also my third and fourth Anthony nominations, which I think may also make me the most nominated queer author? It’s hard to say because they don’t have full lists of the finalists from every year anywhere, so you can’t really look it up and verify anything, so I hate to make claims that may not be true. But I think they’re true, and even if they aren’t, I am certainly one of the most nominated queer authors. The positive reception Bury Me in Shadows got on its release continued into the early part of this year as well, just as #shedeservedit came out. That one didn’t get near the attention as its predecessor, but it’s a book I am really proud of and am happy to have not only finished but published. I also finished writing A Streetcar Named Murder earlier this year, and I couldn’t be more pleased with its reception, either. I worked on other things throughout the year–short stories, some novellas, and two other novels (Chlorine and Muscles, to be precise)–and while I didn’t get a lot of stories out there and sold this year, I did sell a couple of which I am proud–one I can’t mention as it isn’t public yet, and the other being “Solace in a Dying Hour,” which I sold to an Austalian anthology and it’s a pretty damned good story. I also sold “The Rosary of Broken Promises” to an Anne Rice tribute anthology, and I still have one out on submission. “This Thing of Darkness” was in Cupid Shot Me, an anthology that was released on Valentine’s Day last year–so yeah, that’s at least four stories, and there’s another anthology that’s supposed to come out sometime this month which has my story “A Whisper from the Graveyard” in it.
I also edited the Bouchercon anthology, which took up a lot of my time between January and June. Land of 10000 Thrills is a great anthology, with some absolutely amazing contributors and great stories, and the contributors themselves were not only amazing talents but delights to work with. The anthology caused me a lot more stress than editing an anthology used to–primarily because there were so many demands on my time this past year, which I think is part of the reason I felt miserable for most of the year; my massive to-do list never seemed to get finished and always seemed to keep growing. It satisfies my OCD and need for completion to finish to-do lists, and it also subconsciously makes me think I’ve accomplished things. When tasks don’t get done because I simply don’t have the time or the energy to get to them, that makes me feel like I am failing. I also have to adjust my expectations downward, because I am older and don’t have the energy I used to have–and I really don’t want or need to start taking any kind of stimulant. I probably should cut back on the coffee, frankly.
And on that note, I am going to head into the spice mines. Have a lovely day, Constant Reader, and I’ll check in with you again tomorrow.
I have some self-care scheduled for today which will be lovely, and I am actually hoping to be able to make it to the gym tomorrow to start my working out again. I slept really well last night–I don’t know what it is about waking up on your own without the alarm that makes such a significant difference mentally and physically, but it does–and woke up a little while ago. I am swilling coffee as I type, the dryer is re-fluffing a load preparatory to being reloaded and run again with the load waiting in the washing machine, and I also have to empty and refill the dishwasher. I have a new cable modem to install–pray for me, seriously–and I am going to do some reading this morning before my self-care appointment. That’s the plan, at any rate. But it’s very nice to feel rested and with my day stretching out in front of me the way that it currently does. LSU’s game is tonight and is an away game–Auburn at Auburn–and I am not sure what games are on today during the day, but I will undoubtedly have them on the television in the background as I do things today. Paul has his trainer and then is going into the office to work on a grant so I have the whole day at home to myself, which is kind of nice, too.
I’ve also been debating getting a new microwave and, I don’t know, actually reading the manual so I know how to operate it properly? Ha ha ha, read the manual, as if.
But most importantly, today I need to get back to work on the Scotty book and the other project I am working on. I am going to read Donna Andrews for a few hours this morning before moving on to rereading the Scotty chapters again so I can fix the mess that is Chapter Three so I can write chapters four and five this weekend. It would be amazing to write a chapter a day for a couple of weeks, but I am shooting to have the first real draft of this finished by Halloween, so I can fix it in November and turn it in on time in December, which would be amazing. I have another project in the works to follow that one, and I also have to finish the other project I am working on, but I am trying to get that done by doing a single chapter of it per week. I’ve fallen off my writing schedule since Bouchercon and the back injury considerably, and I really need to get back on that horse.
I also have a book coming out in December, so I also need to spend some time figuring out how to do promo in November. Heavy heaving sigh.
Last night was nice. I wound up staying at the office far later than I’d intended to–things happen–and so I came straight home. Paul came home and left for the gym, so I futzed around and moved things and can’t really remember a whole lot of what I did other than scrolling through social media on my iPad while videos streamed on autoplay from the Youtube app on my television. When Paul came home we watched the next two episodes of Reboot, which concludes everything that has already aired so we have to wait for the next episode to drop (which is disappointing) but it just keeps getting better and better. I am actually enjoying Paul Reiser, whom I’ve never been able to enjoy in anything since his masterful turn as the corporate villain in Aliens–I hated that character so much that it has colored everything Reiser has done ever since, but he is terrific in this; definitely Emmy-worthy for sure–and the writing is just so smart and funny and clever; and Johnny Knoxville is also amazing. The entire cast is amazingly perfect. I cannot recommend this show highly enough. I am curious to see where it is going to go–the premise is so clever, and so many shows never manage to develop much beyond “clever premise”–but hope it remains as light and fresh and funny as it started.
Ah, the morning continues to slip through my fingers, so I am going to bring this to a close and head into the spice mines. Have a lovely Saturday, Constant Reader.
I slept really well last night, which I inevitably usually do on Thursday nights because I can sleep an hour later those mornings, which naturally makes for a better evening of sleep. I also stay up an hour later (I really have this thing about going to be before eleven that always feels wrong and like I am being cheated out of the evening or something). I was very tired after work last evening, but I did get a load of dishes finished and another started (which I will have to finish this evening). I didn’t write, but I did reread the chapters already in place and think (hope) that tonight I will get that revision finished and can finally, at long last, move on to the next.
And today is the last day of September, October Eve, if you will, which of course leaves me shaking me head in bewilderment about where September could have gone, and why did it go so quickly? Why did I get so little done? I don’t know those answers, of course, but I do know we have been having some lovely weather this week–and it’s not because of the hurricane so we can enjoy it in peace (the cold front we are having, however, is what pushed Ian east and kept him there). It was sixty-three degrees yesterday morning when I went in to the office, so chilly that it even startled me a bit as I went outside. It was still cool when I got off work as well–there was a lot of wind, too, as there has been most of the week–but I am sure we’re going to have at least another couple of really warm weeks yet before the summer finally releases its chokehold on New Orleans.
My plan is only to read horror in the month of October, but since I’ve not had the bandwidth to finish reading my Donna Andrews novel that is one of the things I am going to work on getting through this weekend. It’s not a chore, mind you–Donna’s books are always entertaining and always great reads, and I love the world she’s created in these books–but I also want to be able to focus on the book and actually, you know, read it when my mind is not so worn out and tired, so it can really enjoy the book for the volume of sheer entertainment it inevitably will turn out to be. And then I am going to move on to horror. I have some more Paul Tremblay and Christopher Golden novels on hand to read, and of course I am years behind on Stephen King–might not be a bad idea to revisit some of the classics as well as start reading through the newer works, and of course I should reread ‘salem’s Lot, and I haven’t done a reread of The Stand in quite a while, or Christine or The Dead Zone for that matter. I also need to get back to reading short stories, and I have some lovely volumes of horror short stories on hand I can read as well.
LSU plays Auburn Saturday night at Auburn, so I have most of tomorrow free to clean and read and so forth. Paul is also planning a trip to visit his mother, probably around Halloween, so I am going to have a long and lonely week to look ahead to–thinking that I’ll be able to get a lot done while he’s gone which of course will end up not being the case–and right now I don’t know what other games are on this weekend, so I am hoping I won’t actually blow all of Saturday sitting in my chair, reclined, with a purring cat in my lap while I mindlessly watch teams play games I don’t care about. I need to get back on top of all of my projects and snap out of this weird blasé place I’ve been in since Bouchercon where I just can’t seem to have the energy or strength or will to work through being tired. But the weekend looms, and if I can manage to get a good night’s sleep tonight hopefully tomorrow morning I will wake up with lots of motivation and energy–and the strength of will to ignore Scooter’s plaintive cries to provide a lap for him to sleep in.
We started watching Reboot last night on Hulu, and it’s hilarious. The core of the story is actually kind of genius; an old family-friendly comedy from twenty or thirty years ago, similar to the kind of show Diff’rent Strokes and Full House were (heartwarming fare with cute kids with corny jokes and broad humor and–ugh, you know what I mean) is being rebooted…with the original cast…only as a more modern, darker, and more realistic show. It’s hilarious, and the entire cast is terrific (Johnny Knoxville being a surprising standout). We loved it, and can’t wait to watch more. I am also getting kind of excited to watch the new adaptations of Anne Rice’s series, The Vampire Chronicles and The Mayfair Witches (although I think the vampire series may be called Interview with the Vampire? I’ve not followed stories about either show closely, figuring I’d watch once they started airing and then would check into what the plans for the shows are). Elité is also coming back, as are some other favorites. Huzzah!
And on that note, I am going to head into the spice mines. Have a lovely, lovely day, Constant Reader, and hope everyone in Florida is doing okay this morning. Check in with you again tomorrow!