Walking Down Your Street

Thursday!

I didn’t post yesterday because it was yet another morning I didn’t particularly want to get out of bed. Tuesday was a late night of bar testing , but I slept well. I woke up a couple of times but was able to fall back asleep again. I was so tired when I got home last night I could barely stay awake thru this week’s Animal Kingdom and another episode of Claws, but somehow it was one of those awful half-sleep half of the night; I am not so groggy this morning as I was yesterday, but still. I suspect I will be very tired tonight, and since I have to get up early tomorrow, that could be ugly.

It’s lovely having Paul home again–the Lost Apartment always seems so empty and quiet when he’s not here; not quite like home, you know, rather like some Air BnB I am renting for a week–and while I was able to get quite a bit done with him gone, I’d rather have him home, overall.

I was also too tired yesterday morning to work on my as yet-untitled new short story, but I’ve done some work on it today, and may do some more before I have to head into the office. It really is nagging at me that I’ve not got a title for the story as of yet; it really is hard for me to write something without a title. I almost just had one, but it slipped away almost as quickly as it popped in. Sigh.

And there it is again! “A Holler Full of Kudzu.” I kind of like that; I might change it at some point, but that’s going to be my working title for it.

Okay, back to work on the story. Here’s a Throwback Thursday hunk for you, Constant Reader: former soap stud Michael Corbett.

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Be With You

Tuesday morning, and I am not fully awake. I didn’t want to get up this morning–not that I ever do–but this morning was one of those whining, complaining and I just want to keep sleeping mornings. I never spring from the bed fully awake and revved up and ready to go; those days are long past, alas, but this morning was a bit harder than usual. Even coffee doesn’t seem to taste right this morning. It’s going to be, I fear, one of those days.

It was like pulling teeth, but I did finish my first (really bad) draft of “For All Tomorrow’s Lies” yesterday. That’s something, I think. It’s a mess, frankly, scattershot and all over the place, and clocked in at slightly less than four thousand words. Ideally, I think it needs to be between five and six, with me leaning more towards the longer end; but now I have a framework down to fix, so that’s something. I have another idea that I started working on over the weekend–the opening came to me out of nowhere; it’s one of those Alabama stories I like to write from time to time, and I suspect reading Tomato Red and the Faulkner short story “Smoke” had something to do with getting my mind into that particular gear. Unusually enough, it doesn’t have a title; I rarely write anything that doesn’t start with the title, and I haven’t the slightest idea of what the title would be, which puts me way outside of my comfort zone. The story itself is amorphous, a fog in my mind I need to take form, but I am going to start working on the rest of the story this morning. It’s grim–so much of what I’ve been doing lately has been grim–and I have to figure out what I am trying to say with the story. I think I know; it’s a tired old theme, but the beauty of writing is you can make tired old themes new and fresh again. We shall see. I probably have a title somewhere scribbled down that would be perfect for the story.

Uncharted territory! Writing something that has no title! Madness.

We got caught up on Season 2 of Animal Kingdom last night, and this show is very addictive. I don’t understand why it’s not better known, or generating more buzz. Ellen Barkin is fantastic, the young men who play her sons are terrific (and hot) as well, and the writing is pretty crisp. I think we’ll get caught up on Claws next, and then Orphan Black. We can’t decide if we want to give Will  a shot or not. We may be going to see Spiderman Homecoming this weekend, as well.

All right, I think it’s time to get back to my story. Here’s a hunk for your Tuesday:

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Time for Me to Fly

I took today off from work; I am starting to wear a little around the edges (it happens more frequently the older I get, alas) and so two long weekends in a row, I felt, might be necessary in order for me to recharge my batteries. I’m not sure why–other than I’m older, which is something I refuse to either accept or accede to–but there it is. I started rewriting a story yesterday–this is the sixth draft, but I think I’ve finally figured out how to make it really work, and last night we watched another episode of Claws, which is really terrific; it’s so nice to see Neicy Nash finally in a complex role and she is tearing it up. We’re also going to start watching the Ellen Barkin series, Animal Kingdom, probably this evening. I can’t seem to find The Mist anywhere, though; but its reviews aren’t good, so maybe that’s a good thing? Pity, because it’s one of my favorite King novellas.

I also finished reading Lisa Unger’s Ink and Bone last night.

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Daddy was on the phone, talking soft and low, dropping behind them on the path. Nothing new. He was always on the phone–or on the computer. Penny knew that her daddy loved her, but she also knew that he was almost never paying attention. He was “busy, sweetie,” or “with a client,” or “just a minute, honey, Daddy’s talking to someone.” He was a good story-teller, a bear-hugger, always opened his arms to her, lifted her high, or took her onto his lap while he worked at his desk. Mommy couldn’t lift her anymore, but Daddy still could. She loved the feel of him, the smell of him. He was never angry, always funny. But sometimes she had to say his name like one hundred times before he heard her, even when she was right next to him.

Dad. Dad? Daddy!

Honey, you don’t have to yell.

How could you not hear someone who was right next to you?

If Mommy was out and Daddy was in charge, then she and her brother could: eat whatever they wanted (all you had to do was go into the kitchen and take it; he wouldn’t even notice); play on the iPad forever (he would never suggest that they read a book or play a game together); ride their plasma cars up and down the long hallway from the foyer to the living room. And it was only when they got too loud that he might appear in the doorway to his office and say: “Hey, guys? Keep it down, okay?”

I can’t remember who it was that insisted I read Lisa Unger, but I owe that person a tremendous debt of gratitude.

Ink and Bone is the second Unger novel I’ve read (the first was Crazy Love You, which I read last year and loved), and I enjoyed this one even more than the first one I read, and I loved that one.  Unger is an extraordinary writer; with an uncanny ability to tell her readers who a character is with a few brushstrokes that are so honest and real and true that the reader immediately knows exactly who that person is; and her ‘villains’ are all the more terrifying for being so absolutely real.

Both books I’ve read of hers were set in (or around) a small town in upstate New York known as The Hollows as well as in Manhattan. The Hollows is one of those towns; like Stephen King’s Castle Rock, a town where paranormal things happen: people can see ghosts, commune with the dead, or hear The Whispers in the woods; the dead trying to tell their stories. There is also human evil in The Hollows; whether these people are drawn there by the paranormal force (one character in Ink and Bone calls the town a ‘hellmouth’) that is active there, or if that force draws the evil out from their hearts.

The story at the heart of Ink and Bone is missing children: the Gleason family rented a woodsy cabin in The Hollows for the summer; the marriage between Wolf and Merri is teetering because of his adultery and her Vicodin addiction. Merri is too zonked out on Vicodin to go for a walk in the woods with her family; on that walk both her husband and son are shot, and her daughter Abbey taken. This disappearance, and the fact that both parents are considered suspects by the police, has further shattered the marriage, perhaps beyond repair, and Merri is convinced her daughter is still alive. She goes back up to the Hollows and hires a local private eye, Jones Cooper, to look for her daughter. Jones works with Eloise Montgomery, an elderly local psychic–but in this case, Eloise passes the case along to her granddaughter, Finley.

Finley is a the crowning achievement of this narrative; a young heroine with complicated emotions and a gift she doesn’t quite understand, doesn’t know how to control, and isn’t sure she wants. She is heavily tattooed; the ghosts she sees she has transformed into tattoos on her body. She is sort of involved with a tattoo artist, Rainer, who loves her and followed her to the Hollows from Seattle, setting up shop in the small town. She isn’t sure how she feels about him, or whether she can get more serious with him thanks to her gift/curse. She has a close relationship with her (sometimes maddening) grandmother, who sort of Yodas her about the gift; never really explaining anything and often responding to her questions with ambiguous non-answers. She has a difficult relationship with her own mother, who is estranged from Eloise and has rejected fervently the gift. Finley, though, is seeing things now; things that may lead her to Abbey.

The book is extraordinary, and while Finley is the primary point-of-view character, we get to see things from several others as well; secondary point-of-view characters who not only advance the story but also enhance our understanding of what is going on, who they are, and Unger makes us care about them, warts and all. She is an incredibly gifted storyteller, and I defy anyone to put the book down during the last hundred pages or so.

Unger has written many novels about the Hollows, and about Jones Cooper; having not read them all nor having read them in order, I can’t say whether reading them in order enhances and enriches the reader’s experience or knowledge; maybe reading them in order is a more satisfying experience. But I can say that not reading them in order isn’t a hindrance, like so many other series or interconnected books.

You need to be reading Lisa Unger, Constant Reader.

And I think next I shall read Carson McCullers’ Reflections in a Golden Eye.

And now back to the spice mines.

Time for Me to Fly

Thursday. I guess the storm has passed, as all is calm and sunshiney outside this morning. It actually was last night as well; I wound up with the entire day off because all of our testing events were cancelled, so I got to watch Real Housewives of New York in real time, and then Paul and I started watching Claws, which we really like. I’d forgotten I have the TNT app on our AppleTV, so we can also watch Ellen Barkin’s new series, Animal Kingdom,  as well. Now if I could only find that Nick Jonas playing gay show, Kingdom, we’d be all set for a couple of weeks.

I wound up not working on the WIP yesterday; I needed a day off from it after working so hard to get caught up on it, and I’ll be diving into it again tonight after I get home from work. I am very excited about it–trying not to get that way; one cannot allow oneself to get TOO excited about anything in this business; that is the quickest way to madness–but I am happier with this manuscript than I have been with any other I’ve written in a very long time.

I also spent some time yesterday in my easy chair with a purring kitty sleeping in my lap while I read more of Lisa Unger’s stunning Ink and Bone, which is simply extraordinary. The great thing about discovering Lisa Unger last year with Crazy Love You is there is an extensive backlist; I have a lot of great  reading in my future thanks to Ms. Unger’s talents and work ethic. Huzzah!

And on that note, I am heading back into the spice mines. Here’s a Throwback Thursday for you, Peter Barton from his The Powers of Matthew Star days.

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