Eyes of the World

Tuesday morning and feeling okay, I guess. Yesterday I had to do some incredibly tedious things at the office that literally made my eyes cross and completely exhausted me by the time I was finished, but the good news is that we got it done and praise the Lord and pass the ammunition, please. I cannot get over how tired I was yesterday afternoon, and I’d slept really well Sunday night, too. Go figure. My supervisor got me a cappuccino on her way back from going to the Office of Public Health to drop stuff off, which also could have been the reason I crashed so hard: the high from that caffeine rush was bound to wear off, and what better time than when going through endless forms looking for particular ones? Yeesh, that was exhausting. And of course after running errands on the way home, I was exhausted when I got home. I did some work on the book–very little–but my brain was essentially shut down and so I didn’t get very far, alas.

I was also too tired to read much when I repaired to my easy chair, so I read another chapter of ‘salem’s Lot, which also wasn’t easy given how tired my brain was. Paul worked at home yesterday, so he came down earlier than usual and we finished watching Diary of a Gigolo, which had a very interesting end. I think tonight we’ll probably move on to a A Friend of the Family, another series that shows how wretched the 1970’s kind of were.

I also had the great good fortune to be interviewed by Sisters in Crime Executive Director Julie Hennrikus for the Sisters podcast; it was a lot of fun but I don’t remember much of what we talked about, but you can certainly listen to it here, or wherever you download your podcasts! I’ve been doing the rounds of podcasts lately, which has been kind of fun and interesting–certainly more so than I usually do, which is practically never–and I’ve never quite grasped the whole podcast thing. I know people listen to them all the time (my supervisor listens to them on the way to work) but I don’t know if I will ever listen to one that I have been on–I really do hate the sound of my own voice, which is something else that should be unpacked in therapy–and maybe someday I’ll explore the world of podcasts more (it’s just one more version of technology I neither understand or comprehend and I really don’t want to learn more, you know what I mean?) but as always, when I have more time.

Constant Reader, I don’t think I will ever have more time…

But I did get some things done yesterday, which is a good thing–even if they were miniscule and not really helpful in the overall picture of how much I have to get done. But progress is progress, and getting rid of the little things can sometimes help in the overall context of getting everything done. The month continues to slip through my fingers and I keep hoping against hope I’ll have one of those great writing days where I write like a gazillion words so the book gets back on track. Ha ha ha ha, as if. But maybe today will be that day when it all clicks into place and the writing gets easier, as opposed to the tooth pulling it’s been like since I started writing this damned thing.

One thing I was noting when I was reading a chapter of ‘salem’s Lot was that this was one of the first times I remember reading about a main character who was a writer–I think this was before I read Youngblood Hawke–and I remember, as someone who didn’t know how to type properly, being amazed that Ben Mears not only was a writer but he wrote at his typewriter. This boggled my mind completely. My parents never let me take Typing in high school (even though I wanted to) because it was a class for, ahem, “girls” (yes, Virginia, I grew up in a time when high school classes other than Gym were gendered), like Home Ec, and it was also not seen as a “challenging” enough class that would help prepare me for college. (The irony that every paper I had to do in college needed to be typed did not escape me.) I tried writing at my typewriter a few times throughout the 1980’s, but it never really worked for me…it wasn’t until I started using a word processing program on the computer at one of my part time jobs that I actually started writing at a keyboard. I actually bought a word processor from Sears in 1991, and have used some sort of computer to write on ever since. It’s also interesting to me that authors used to write on typewriters and books used to be significantly longer. I already mentioned the expansive word count on this book–and imagining that King wrote the entire thing on a typewriter?

I really should stop complaining about writing, shouldn’t I? Or whenever I do, I should remind myself now imagine doing this on a typewriter and that would be the end of that.

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

I Know I’m Not Wrong

I posted a list of things–a thread, if you will–on Twitter yesterday of helpful hints to get prepared for a hurricane-related power loss; simple things I’ve picked up from other people over the years, and was more than a little surprised by the response that received from other users in the Twitter-world. But it’s all common-sense things you might not think about when you’re panicking and battening down the hatches, as it were. The refrigerator and food spoiling without electricity is one I will always wish I knew before Hurricane Katrina, frankly. It also looks as though Tampa is going to get a direct hit, and I don’t think it’s gotten one of those in a very long time–since the 1960’s, at least, if I am not incorrect, and that area is particularly vulnerable to storm surges and so forth. I’ve not lived there since 1995, but there are still people I care about who live there, and obviously, I’m sending them good thoughts and positive energy and hope everything will turn out okay for them and the power will be back soon and the storm will do little damage. (UPDATE: Tampa has not had a direct hit of this strength since 1921! Over a hundred years ago!)

It’s also kind of interesting because one of my in-progress projects (one of too many) involves my Tampa stand-in city while under hurricane threat. YIKES. (In that self-absorbed reflex I suspect all of us have but manage to successfully filter before those thoughts come out of our mouths, there’s a part of me that thinks maybe if your idea for Scotty IV hadn’t been about a hurricane…and so of course in the back of my head I can’t help but wonder if writing about such a thing didn’t wish it into being…because of course that’s how things work and my mind has that kind of power mwa-ha ha ha ha! I mean, come on.)

I feel rested this morning but felt like a burnt out husk for most of the weekend. I got all of my day job duties completed yesterday and yes, my eyes were crossing from the data entry by the time it was finished right around quitting time for the day, which was helpful; I don’t think I could have faced another form yesterday but now I am all caught up, which is great and puts me in great shape ahead for the coming weekend. Last night we got caught up on Bad Sisters and watched two stand-up comedy shows, the new one from Patton Oswalt and one from a non-binary comedian from Australia, Rhys Nicholson, and both were highly entertaining and quite funny. After that I repaired to the bed for my night’s rest, which seems to have gone well. Today I need to start working my way through my to-do list, and need to add some things to it. I need to work on the book this evening after work, so here’s hoping today won’t be a emotionally and physically taxing one at the office. I am trying not to get worked up or stressed out about how far behind on this damned thing I actually am–if I get back to work, albeit slowly, I’ll be able to get the damned thing finished on time and one great stressor will be lifted out off my shoulders.

One fun thing I got to do this past weekend was listen to voices–not the ones inside my head, of course–but rather voice actors auditioning to do the audiobook for A Streetcar Named Murder, which also triggered me to do the pronunciation key for whoever the final voice actor is. All four were fine, but there was something about the way this one of them spoke that just seemed right to me, and so I picked her (I think the fact that she was also the only one to say New Orleans correctly played a part in it as well as the fact that she didn’t try to do an accent of some sort; people never really get that the natives here don’t have Southern accents–one of the biggest mistakes made in movies and television shows set here; the actual New Orleans accent, if the area could be said to have one, is very similar to the Brooklyn one–“dese” and “dose” and “the kitchen zink” and so forth; it’s a working class accent known as yat, and it gets its name from saying “where yat?”), and I am actually looking forward to listening to my book at some point. How exciting is that?

It’s also kind of hard to fathom that September is ending and October is nigh; 2022 has gone by very quickly–although January also at this point seems like it was a million years ago in the past. It’s been quite a year and I’ve traveled more this year than I have in many years prior to the pandemic, frankly. I started off the year with the Birmingham/Wetumpka weekend, moved on to Left Coast Crime, the Edgars, Sleuthfest, and Bouchercon, with a trip to Boston for Crime Bake coming up too, and I also went to Kentucky for a long weekend, and will be heading back up for Thanksgiving this year (which means listening to Ruth Ware on the way up and Carol Goodman on the way home, woo-hoo!) but next year my traveling will be severely curtailed; probably Bouchercon in San Diego will be my only travel in 2023 other than Kentucky. I am getting too old to travel well, alas–Bouchercon knocked me out for an entire week, but that was also partly due to the back injury I sustained while I was there–and it also put me into a hole of being behind that I don’t really want to think about too much, you know? I despair of ever clearing out my email inbox, and as for all the writing I need to get done…well, somehow it will happen or it won’t. Heavy heaving sigh.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. May your Tuesday be all you hope it can be, Constant Reader, and I’ll be back tomorrow.

World Turning

Wednesday and Pay the Bills Day yet again. Huzzah?

Whatever, bill BASTARDS!

I also woke up this morning to a lovely review of A Streetcar Named Murder in Library Journal; what a lovely way to start the morning even before I’ve had my first sip of coffee. I can’t remember the last time I was reviewed there, if at all; I think my Scotty books with Kensington (the first three, in other words) were reviewed by LIbrary Journal, but it’s also been a hot minute since the release of Mardi Gras Mambo–Fat Tuesday, 2006, to be exact–so I don’t think it’s too beyond if I don’t remember.

Yesterday was a very busy day at the office; we were short-staffed during walk-in testing to I had to pitch in and help out, which put me behind with my appointments and got me out of there later than I usually get out of the office. I’d planned to run uptown to get the mail, but I was pretty worn down by the end of my shift (oh, yes, everyone showed up for their appointments as well, which never happens; there’s always at least one no-show every day) and so decided simply to drive straight home, especially since there was inclement weather; the air felt like with maybe one more degree of humidity the air would turn to mist or water or something–which is par for the course in late August in New Orleans. I always forget, from year to year, how dreadful late August can be and that the heat/humidity generally doesn’t break until about a week after Labor Day. It’s been so miserably hot for so long already this year that it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the summer heat lasted all the way until October this year. I didn’t write at all yesterday either, because when I got home I was drained, as I said. I didn’t even have the energy to do the dishes or anything around the house–which of course made Scooter enormously happy, since i just collapsed into my easy chair and made a kitty lap-bed for him almost as soon as I changed out of my work clothes. I’d slept well Monday night–I did again last night–but like I said, sometimes my clients require a lot of assistance and yesterday was one of those days, so I was tired by the time I got out, and it was later than usual, too.

I like it when my clients require assistance from me. I mean, it’s my job, and I like knowing when the appointment is over that I’ve helped them in some way–whether it’s easing their mind, helping them strategize how to reduce their risk of infections, and giving them a plan for what to do if they think they’ve put themselves at risk. It was also a pleasant reminder of how and why I love my day job. Maybe one of these days I’ll talk about my day job; maybe on my next work anniversary, this coming January when it will mark eighteen (!!!) years of my employment there.

I did watch Rafa play his US Open match last night; having Serena retire after this tournament made me also recognize that soon he, Roger Federer, and probably Novak Djokovic as well as Andy Murray will all be retiring from the sport. It’s the end of an era–an era of giants in tennis. Will we ever have a span like this, with so many great top-tier players in the sport ever again? Between them all–Serena, Venus, Roger, Rafa, Djoker, and Andy–they account for over 100 grand slam titles since 1999. That’s fucking incredible, especially when you figure there have only been about 172 titles awarded in that same time period. That’s pretty fucking impressive.

But I slept very well last night, and feel rested this morning. I don’t want to jinx anything but I’ve been consistently getting good sleep pretty regularly now, and I think it’s changing my perspective. I know having COVID changed something in my brain–I know when I came out of it I felt more rested than I had in I don’t know how long, and my brain had kind of reset. My memory is still shot–I asked a co-worker a question yesterday that I already knew the answer to but had completely forgotten which resulted in a very weird look and you knew that already and of course, once I’d heard the answer I was like d’oh, you’re right, I did know that, sorry. But I feel better emotionally, if that makes any sense, and I feel like whatever malaise/funk or whatever you want to call it that I’ve been in since the pandemic shutdown was finally lifted after I actually had the goddamned plague.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Happy Wednesday, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again later.

Blue Lamp

Friday and day seven. I am sick of being sick, and even more tired of talking about it–I can hear you cheering in the distance, Constant Reader, so my apologies for the tedium of my posts ever since the test came back positive last Friday. But–as a public service–I will mention that the newer strains of the virus last longer; since I continued testing positive more than five days after the initial positive test, it is most likely I have one of the new strains which can last up to ten days. My tenth day will be this coming Monday; our medical compliance officer at work has told me to continue isolating and test again on Monday. But yesterday was one of the best days I’ve had since the first positive test, so I think I may actually be in the home stretch. The fatigue and brain fog didn’t kick in again until after three yesterday, so the morning wasn’t so bad, and of course once it had set in I retired to my chair and drifted in and out of sleep for the rest of the evening while watching more episodes of Condor, which is really a pretty good, and under-appreciated, show; I only became aware of it because Apple TV suggested it to me since we’d watched The Little Drummer Girl.

So those “since you watched you might like” suggestions sometimes actually are good suggestions.

I’m hoping that today won’t be a wash–as I have every morning since this all began–so that I can sort of start making progress again. It feels like I’ve been home isolating for much longer than the week it has actually been, and I feel like I’ve lost the reins of my life somewhat. I have managed to start getting some work around the Lost Apartment taken care of–laundry, dishes, some light cleaning–in bits and pieces and spurts of energy here and there. I am hoping to, at some point today, be able to take stock of where I am and what needs to be done and get moving again on everything. I know I am way behind–this couldn’t have come at a much worse time for me, really–as I have to do the copy edits on the Bouchercon anthology and I’ve got to proof the galleys for A Streetcar Named Murder at some point, at the very leas–and when you add in the fact that it’s almost August–yeah, that deadline for the new Scotty is going to be here before I know it, and then I’ll start freaking out about that deadline before you know it. Time seems to simply slip through my fingers…but as always, that’s really nothing new.

I also have to say I highly approve of this new “curbside pick-up/delivery” option everyone has these days. I am going to pick up my grocery order tomorrow without any contact, which will be lovely, and of course I had Costco delivered over the weekend. Gosh, if I could just end up getting everything delivered or picked-up, this could be completely life changing (and yes, I am well aware these options existed before COVID, but I kind of have always thought that it was–stupidly, I know–more for people who had issues with going inside the store and so forth, and never wanted to interfere with services for those who need them when I am capable of going inside. Well, FUCK that from now on. It’s delivery or curbside pick-up from now on). It frees up time, and if it’s less exhausting for me–going to grocery shop has always worn me out, especially in the brutal heat of a New Orleans summer–then this is definitely the way to go from now on.

And on that note, methinks I am going to go sit in my chair for a moment or two–I just had a bit of a dizzy spell as I was typing, and so I think I also need to eat something. I will check in with you tomorrow, Constant Reader–stay safe and healthy out there.

Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey

Friday morning and the first Friday I actually have to go into the office in quite some time. We’re back to four days a week in the office, and since I worked at home on Wednesday, that means I have to go in today. I have work to do that can, of course, be done just as easily in the office as it was at home. I also don’t have to be there as early as I have to go in on the clinic days, so I didn’t have to get up at six this morning–which was lovely–but I also could have easily stayed in bed much longer than I did this morning. I will probably not be able to find a place to park when I finally do go in, which is a pain–I hate trying to find a place to park–but I can hang with it all, I suppose. I was, again, too tired to read when I got home from work last night; hopefully that will not be the case this evening.

I actually worked on my story yesterday, and yes, it was like pulling teeth writing a thousand words yesterday. I don’t think those words are any good, mind you; but at least they are written and can be fixed at some point. I know what the point of the story is, but yes, sometimes you have to force the words out and make progress. I kept hoping the hole in the page would open and the words would just start flowing the way one would hope they would, but perhaps that will be the occurrence this weekend, when I don’t have any day job responsibilities or anything else to deal with along the way. Tomorrow errands will need to be run–mail, groceries, prescriptions–all of which are fine, really; it just seems to wear me out whenever I do those things, and the mood for writing forever lost at that point. But I have hopes that I haven’t burned out my writing engine, despite the lack of any real writing since I turned in the manuscript for A Streetcar Named Murder.

I suppose I did write that other short story, “The Rosary of Broken Promises,” since then, so it’s not entirely a lost cause. Maybe there are other factors at work at my inability to write anything lately or be as “prolific” as I usually am (I am often accused of being prolific, which always amuses me; how can one be prolific when one has to force one’s self to actually write all the time, and will take any excuse not to write?), but it is concerning and a bit disturbing to have these fallow times. I had wanted to get a lot done this month, but as the month is gradually slipping through my fingers, I see that plans will have to be pushed off again and my schedule disrupted and changed again. We are leaving for New York a week from this coming Tuesday, which seems kind of insane since I just recently returned from a trip. COVID caution to the winds, I suppose…but after that I am not going anywhere until June. I also have a July trip and a September trip planned (look at me, turning into a frequent flyer!)…crazy, am I right?

We also started watching the new season of Bridgerton, which we are rather enjoying. It’s weird, the first season dropped with so much fanfare and everyone was talking about it, yet this season–whose plot seems a lot more interesting than that of the first season–has no one talking about it. Sure, the loss of RegĂ©-Jean Page is keenly felt, to be certain; but I like that the two main female leads of the season as south Asian and the male lead is played by a gay man. We watched three episodes last night, and look forward to diving back into it this evening, once my writing chores for the day are finished.

I am kind of looking forward to this weekend, to be honest. I wasn’t home last weekend, and of course, sleeping late is always a joy (despite the resetting of my internal body clock). I could have slept really late today had I not had to rise to go into the office, which is also fine, you know. I’m just grateful to be sleeping well again, after the horrible sleep of the weekend trip to Left Coast Crime.

And on that note, I am going to head into the spice mines for the day. I have to get ready to go into the office, and pack my bag, and my lunch, and…have a lovely Friday, Constant Reader.

Signs

It feels very weird this morning to be getting up so early after having a work-at-home day yesterday. I slept really well last night–I did have a martini with a friend late afternoon yesterday, which was absolutely marvelous. Paul got home late last night–another grant, as always–and so after I got home after my martini (which are really quite marvelous drinks, frankly) I collapsed into my easy chair and started watching Young Justice again, after getting caught up on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, which has replaced The Daily Show as my source of news served up with a touch of humor. His piece on the buying and selling of our online data was superb–scary, yet superb.

But I entered data yesterday and made condom packs while watching some gay cultural history videos on Youtube, which I am enjoying. I’ve also been thinking a lot about writing and what I need to get done–thinking about it counts as writing, by the way, and if you don’t think so, don’t make me come for you BECAUSE OH FUCKING HELL YES IT DOES. I need to get to work on that story when I have time this week–it has to be finished before Edgar Week, which is coming up pretty quickly in the sideview mirror–and I want to start writing a first draft of a manuscript. I think I am going to push Chlorine back another month–sorry, Nikki–and try to get the first draft of another gay noir thriller written; whether or not I will remains to be seen, but I’d really like to get a first draft of the three books done over the next three months. Is it potentially overly ambitious? Of course it is, we’re talking writing, at minimum, at least one hundred and twenty thousand words in three months, but it’s also eminently do-able, as long as I stay focused and don’t allow other things to interfere or distract me; which is always an issue for me. (Look! a squirrel!) But I am starting to feel rested again… which is really nice. I have to go into the office again tomorrow–four days a week now–but at least I don’t have to get up at six to go in tomorrow. Yay? And I do think I am going to stay at home Monday of next week–decisions, decisions; which is the best day of the week for me to work from home, Monday or Friday? Heavy heaving sigh.

I hope to finish Catriona McPherson’s A Gingerbread House this evening; so I can be prepared to move on to the next one. Please don’t think I’m not enjoying this book–I am–simply because I’ve not finished it yet. It’s quite good, and you really should be reading Catriona’s work if you aren’t already, Constant Reader, and if you ever get the opportunity to listen to her speak, jump at it. She’s quite amusing, and her Scots accent is something I could listen to all day. Her Guest of Honor speech at the Lefty Awards banquet was quite epic and enjoyable; and she’s also a very talented (and hard working) writer. I’ve certainly enjoyed everything of hers that I’ve read….the good news is also that she’s incredibly prolific; at least two books a year. I hope I live long enough to retire because I hope that once I do, I can get caught up on all of the books I am so far behind on reading.

Oh my GOD, that TBR stack is terrifying.

I’m trying to decide what time to come into the office for my final in-the-office day of the week, There is something to be said for getting up early, coming in and getting it over with–as well as beating traffic on the way home, and coming in early means it’s easier to find a place to park, always a plus, you know. (There are few things I despise more than trying to find a place to park.) I am really looking forward to this weekend, to be honest; I keep finding more chores around the house and there’s also this strange mentality I have that I will actually write this weekend around everything else I have to do. Is it possible? Anything is possible, really. Is it likely? That remains to be seen.

It rained last night–heavily; we had some massive thunderstorms sometime during the night after I went to bed,. The thunder woke me up very briefly, and then I just went back to sleep. I don’t think there were any tornadoes or anything–my phone’s warning system certainly didn’t go off, or I slept through it, one or the other. But I am not seeing any doom-and-gloom on local news websites this morning, so I guess we dodged another one last night. It was humid AF yesterday–it’s amazing to me how every year, like clockwork, the humidity returns and every single time it catches me off guard. (To be fair, the real humidity doesn’t really clock in until late May, but the heat starts much sooner, and it’s already getting there.) I am not looking forward to the higher power bills of the dog days of summer (and why are they called that? Dog days? I mean, I know three dog night is an old Aussie saying for nights so cold you need three dogs in the bed to keep you warm, but where did ‘dog days of summer’ come from?) and the steaming humidity, but there are, indeed worse things. And I think our new system kept the bills down pretty well last summer, which was quite nice indeed. So, here’s to a sort of bearable summer if I don’t spend much time outside? Huzzah?

And on that note, it is off to the spice mines for me. Have a lovely Thursday, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again tomorrow.

This is Todd Sanfield, former fitness model who now has his own underwear/swimwear business! Check it out at https://www.toddsanfield.com/–he’s also the model for his website.

You Can’t Hurry Love

No, you’ll just have to wait.

Friday morning and working at home. My new in-office schedule, if you haven’t been paying attention, has been shifted to Tuesdays thru Thursdays, so now I work at home on the bookends of the weekend, Fridays and Mondays. I have data to enter and condoms to pack, ZOOM work meetings (no offense, day job, but ZOOM is the bane of my existence and has been since March 2020)–technically it’s Microsoft Teams, which is kind of the same thing, and then later, chapters to write and clothes to launder and filing to do. It’s non-stop glamour around here at the Lost Apartment, right?

I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday–just routine maintenance to get my prescriptions refilled–and then came home to work on the book. I am very pleased with how it’s shaping up so far (of course, as always, I go back and forth constantly between this isn’t terrible and this is going to ruin my career, which is essentially what I do with every manuscript, so everything is normal. Realizing that I am going through my usual emotional journey with this one eased my mind significantly). We watched the first episode of the new season of Resident Alien last night, which was rather fun, and then the new Peacemaker, which I am glad we stuck with. The first episode was okay, but we weren’t sold completely on the show; I love John Cena, so obviously we were going to keep going but I didn’t have high hopes; the show seems to be hitting its stride and this week’s episode was probably one of the best. I went to bed early and then slept deeply and beautifully; so whatever it was that was bothering me earlier in the week and keeping me from sleeping apparently eased off yesterday, which is always a plus.

I also got a copy of Lisa Lutz’ The Apprentice this week; I can’t wait to dig into it. One of the primary reasons I am looking forward to finishing this manuscript is because, as always when I am going into the final stretch, I am too nervous to read another writer’s work, particularly Lutz’, because I will inevitably feel like why do I bother when there are authors like this putting work out into the world? How can I possibly compete with these incredibly smart and literate writers? Then I have to stop feeling sorry for myself and sulking to get back into the right mindset for writing my new book; which is a process and I can’t spare the time for that right now, so the books continue to pile up (this is exactly what happened when I took a break for “just an hour” to indulge myself in Alafair Burke’s Find Me and then couldn’t put the book down until next thing I knew the book was done, and I’d (I can’t say wasted; reading Alafair is never a waste of time) lost an entire day of work. I know the new Lutz will have the same effect on me; so I need to not give into temptation and even crack the book open. (I may allow myself a Laura Lippman short story later on today, as a reward after the writing is done and before I crack open the wine.)

I also have a lot of other work to do over the course of the weekend; I have emails to answer as well as some writing to do for my friend’s website, which should be a lovely distraction from all of the other things I am (always) doing. I can’t wait for you all to see the cover for A Streetcar Named Murder; it’s absolutely gorgeous (I may have to get it made into a poster). It looks like I will be doing a “cover reveal” with a book blogger, which is a new thing for me. But this is actually a mainstream book (which is an offensive term on its face; but more on that later); my main character is a straight woman who lives in the Irish Channel, is widowed, and her twin sons have just gone away to college (LSU, of course) and suddenly finds herself (and the twins) as the beneficiary of a bequest from a relative of her husband’s that she didn’t know existed; and this is the heart of a mystery she (Valerie) finds herself in the middle of trying to figure out…and of course, it eventually leads to murder. I am doing something different here–I don’t think I’ve ever done something that could be called a cozy before; although in some ways the Scotty series is precisely that (but that can be a topic for another time)–and so am not sure if I am following the established rules for the sub-genre; but I also have to tell the story that I want to tell within that framework. It was a challenge to me as a writer; and one of the things I had been feeling as a writer over the last few years was that I was getting stale; that my work was in a state of stasis and I wasn’t growing within my work. In 2015 I felt that way, too, and so I took some time away from the writing and the grindstone I’d been pushing my nose against steadily for the preceding five or six years. This was when I wrote the first draft of #shedeservedit; this was when I decided to start taking more risks with the Scotty series, and when I decided to not continue the Chanse series. I am kind of looking at 2022 through that same lens; I decided to write this novel (possible first in a series) as a challenge to push myself to do something different, take a chance, and force myself to stretch my abilities and skills.

I think Chlorine is another step forward for me as a writer; writing a historical novel set in the recent past (although I suppose the 1950’s isn’t that recent past, really–which really makes me feel horrifically old) is going to push my talents and ability as a writer, and will require a lot more focus and research (which, while I love really history and reading it, the problem is that I can never really focus my interests in solely reading and researching what I actually need to look into for what I am working on–that ADHD problem) as well as writing in a different style than what I usually do; that rat-a-tat-tat pacing and use of language that keeps the story moving and says something about the times, the culture, and the characters themselves and how systemic homophobia can affect the lives of those with same-sex attractions; in addition to the toxic culture of sexual harassment and assault that was so prevalent in old Hollywood; the 1950’s were a transitional period for Hollywood as the old studio system began to crumble in the face of a new, changed society and the challenge of television.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely Friday, Constant Reader.

It Doesn’t Have To Be

Friday, Friday, gotta get down it’s Friday.

I find myself now in the post-launch haze; it’s been awhile since I’ve actually promoted a book–and usually so much else is going on the launch date might get some social media posts from me and not much else (it really is a wonder I still have any career to speak of)–but I actually feel a bit hungover from what little I did. (I admire other writers who hit it so hard; how do they do it? I sure as hell can’t.) I have nothing but the utmost respect for authors who can do the public appearance/promotion stuff and make it look easy and make it seem like they’re enjoying themselves; because that is not my experience with such things. I am always incredibly self-conscious, and inevitably my fallback response to being nervous and feeling uncomfortable is to try to be funny–which is, of course, completely subjective, and amps up the anxiety: what if no one thinks you’re funny? And with these on-line appearance (as opposed to in-person ones) I do not know if anyone laughs and that makes me even more anxious to the point that when it’s over I am a completely nervous wreck, emotionally, physically and emotionally exhausted; and the hangover from that carries over into the next day. I felt very drained and hollowed out yesterday. Today I feel better–I don’t think I slept that great, to be honest, but this morning I feel fairly well rested. Not I can conquer the world rested, but rested. This is a good thing. I don’t have to do anything outside of the apartment today other than go to the gym after I am finished working at home, and I am going to relish that. I have some data entry to do, condom packs to make, and there are also some other on-line trainings for the day job coming due–annual things we are required as a health clinic to take, like HIPAA, blood borne pathogens, biohazard, etc. (In all honesty, my favorite is the emergency training one–what do you do if there’s an electrical fire? What do you do if there’s a regular fire? What do you do if a patient collapses? I don’t know why that’s my favorite, but for some reason it is.)

Yesterday was spent mostly with on-line trainings for the day job; there was time, however, for some condom packing duties before LEG DAY at the gym (and yes, my legs are tired today. But good tired, not bad sore). I decided to keep going with my attempts at a Halloween Horror Film Festival, moving on to Friday the 13th, Part III. (turned out I must have watched the second part last October and completely forgot; my memory has now moved from sieve to a garbage disposal that clearly eats and grinds up each memory before spitting it out, forgotten) What. A. Shitty. Movie. The first one had a kind of “so-cheaply-made-it’s-kind-of-charming” feel to it, but each film cost more money…but the quality didn’t improve. The acting and writing is so incredibly bad, it’s easy to see why audiences started rooting for Jason as a kind of anti-hero; those who are about to die are such shitty, one-dimensional characters, played by actors who’d be lucky to get a supporting role in a bad dinner theater in Sarasota, Florida, you kind of enjoy watching them die horribly. I don’t know that I have the stomach to handle yet another entry in that endless series of sequels; maybe I’ll switch to the Halloween movies. Those, while equally small budget at first, are at least better acted, written, produced, and directed than their counterparts about Jason Voorhees. Paul came home rather late and had some work to do, so we watched the latest episode of Titans, which I really enjoy but this season, while interesting, is dragging a bit.

It also makes me terribly sad that this is a Friday without a new Ted Lasso.

I also need to get back to work on my writing; I got distracted with all the book promo stuff and so forth and well, now I am behind yet again. What else is new, right? When am I not behind on everything? Yes, it makes me crazy, which is partly why I am alway teetering on the edge of a complete breakdown, without question. I’ve been feeling very good about myself lately–which always makes me suspicious. My piece on Gothics for Crime Reads was well received, so was my piece on Superman posted here the other day, and Bury Me in Shadows also appears to be getting a good reception. My royalty statement came the other day and was significantly higher than I was expecting, which is always welcome news…and of course, I need to make a new to-do list. I also have some filing that needs to be done, and the apartment always needs cleaning. I do think our mouse is gone, though. Last week he was very noisy one night–Paul thought it sounded like death throes–and we haven’t heard him since. Scooter also doesn’t stare at the cabinet under the sink and the dishwasher anymore, either, which is the more likely sign that the mouse is gone at last. It’ll take me a while before I am comfortable turning the dishwasher on without putting a towel across the floor in front of it, though–the little bastard chewing through the hose is going to take me a while to get past.

I may also prune the books a little bit this weekend; the books can always be pruned, and I may even get a box of them down from the storage crawlspace today to go through–I really do need to clean out the crawlspace–and the night time lows this weekend may even dip in the high fifties; it’s definitely October in New Orleans. I think next weekend I may drive around taking pictures of Halloween decorations. One of the many things I love about this city is how so many people go all out decorating for holidays–I love the mansion on St. Charles with the annual skeleton theme–plus, A Streetcar Named Murder is set in early October. LSU plays Florida tomorrow at eleven in the morning (!), and I’ll have the game on but I doubt I will watch it from beginning to end. This has been a horribly disappointing season for LSU football–people are calling for the coach to be fired, as it looks like they’ll have their first losing season this century (!)–the last time that happened was 1999, which led to the firing of then coach DiNardo and the hiring of Nick Saban, which rescued and turned the program around to the point they won the SEC in his second season and a national title in his fourth. LSU fans have become very spoiled this century, but it’s been a very good run these last twenty or so years: four SEC titles and three national championships; only Alabama has done better during this run, and that’s a pretty high standard.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Data ain’t gonna enter itself and the condoms won’t pack themselves, either. Have a lovely Friday, everyone, and I will check in with you again tomorrow.

Brown Eyes

Well, there’s something forming in the Bay of Campeche that doesn’t bode well for the Gulf Coast; yay for hurricane season? Heavy heaving sigh. So far, the path of this potential storm seems to have western Louisiana in its sights; a part of the state that still hasn’t completely recovered from the hits it took last year. Ah, well, it’s certainly never dull around here these days.

I am up early for the first time in a while because I am actually heading into the office today! Huzzah for some sense of normality, such as it is…of course, there’s no telling what I am walking into when I go there today–but I think some people have been into the office in the meantime, so it most likely won’t be a complete and total disaster area…or so we shall see at any rate.

I took this weekend to recalibrate and rest and try to get my head back together; I’ve been in a weird state since the power went out and am hoping to get my sense of normal–either what is or isn’t–back. I also know from experience from these sorts of things that there will be good days and there will be bad days, and that to remember, keep remembering, that while I and everyone else have been through a traumatic experience again, it could have been much much worse than it actually was, even for those who lost everything–the recovery won’t take as long as the post-Katrina one because the levees didn’t actually fail this time. Sure, many of us are going to be dealing with some frustrations and irritations–the last I checked the trash still hadn’t been picked up, and the debris out on our street is still there–but normality of a sort is beginning to return, but the last thing we needed is for Nicholas to form and come to part of Louisiana. I think it’s supposed to come ashore around the state line with Texas, or so it was the last time I checked yesterday, sometime tomorrow.

I should go check, shouldn’t I?

So, yes, the threat from this storm is currently Houston and the Texas gulf coast; and of course Lake Charles and the state line. We’ll undoubtedly get some weather effects from it–it’s only 78 degrees outside this morning, and weirdly gray and grim looking–but we shall be spared the brunt of it. While this is a relief, I cannot say it pleases me–again, wishing a storm away inevitably means wishing destruction and disaster on other people, so it never feels right or good or appropriate.

And the season doesn’t end until December 1.

The Saints won yesterday, rather easily at that, which was both a pleasant surprise and a lovely one. It’s going to take me a good long while to get used to the Saints playing without Drew Brees; the man had become an institution around here, and it was so fucking weird not even seeing him on the sideline. It really sunk in yesterday that the Brees era–undoubtedly the best era of the franchises’s history, without question–is officially over, and it made me more than a little sad. I was of course absolutely delighted to see the new phase of the team win convincingly over Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers, but at the same time it was a little bittersweet. The shadow of Drew Brees loomed large over the city since he was signed after the disastrous 2005 Katrina season, and how strange the new era begins right after the city took a direct or almost-direct hit from a category 4 hurricane.

We also watched the pressure of winning a Grand Slam and becoming the player with the most Slam wins of all time overtake and overwhelm Novak Djokovic, who lost all of his chances at history decisively, in three straight sets, to Daniil Medvedev, who won his first major tournament, and good for him. After the US Open and the Saints game, we moved on to get caught up on Animal Kingdom, which just isn’t the same without Ellen Barkin–whom they killed off at the end of the fourth season (SPOILER), and then watched the first episode of Only Murders in the Building, which we greatly enjoyed…although I couldn’t help but wonder what those apartments in present day New York would be valued at. I also like the premise–one that has interested me for a while since we moved to New Orleans–how well do you know your neighbors after all? I’ve addressed this, with New Orleans, in some of my short fiction–the novels tend towards how well do we know anyone, really?–but this was the premise of “The Carriage House,” just off the top of my head, and I am sure I’ve explored it in other stories but my frail, fragile mind cannot summon up the titles of any others that do this as well. At any rate, I am looking forward to watching more of it, and to be honest, it’s nice to see Steve Martin working again. I also like Martin Short, who rarely gets the credit he deserves for acting (he was stunningly brilliant in his season of Damages), and while Selena Gomez hasn’t really impressed me much on the show, I am sure she will get a chance to shine before it’s over.

And on that note, I need to get in the shower and get ready to return to the office since before–well, since around August 24th, which was my last day before my vacation started…talk to you later, Constant Reader.

Lay It On The Line

I woke up this morning and knew immediately it was Thursday, which is progress of a sort, isn’t it? I may not know the actual DATE, but I know the day of the week, which is a step in the right direction.

I made it to the gym yesterday after work for a very brief, one 15 rep set of everything upper body related–it had been well over a week since my last workout, so I was worried about overdoing it and straining the muscles too much, but it felt so amazing, and I felt so good afterwards–I woke up this morning feeling good, too–that I think a lot of the stress, tension and tightness I was feeling in my neck, shoulders and back could have been from not working out in addition to being stressed on top of everything else. I also slept incredibly well last night without taking anything chemical–I was sleepy when I went to bed, and decided to see if I was tired enough to sleep without medical assistance, and apparently I was. I may try to sleep without assistance tonight again myself, just to see–I do worry about becoming chemically dependent; the last thing I need at my age is rehab–so we will see how it all goes this evening.

I feel normal this morning for the first time since the power went out. I can’t really say why–I honestly don’t know–unless going to the gym yesterday kicked my brain back into some sort of normality or present reality or something. It’s nice to feel normal again, though–the trouble with these paradigm shifting disruptions is you’re never sure what normal feels like in the new reality, but this morning I kind of feel normal, which is really lovely. I have more work at home duties to get through today–more on the horizon tomorrow–and am curious to see what is in store for work for next week. Will we be seeing clients again? Will the building be open? There’s an all-staff call on Tuesday again–which makes me tend to think the office may or may not be open by then, but then again, I used to always miss these calls because they were during the time I was seeing clients, so I don’t really remember if this was a weekly thing or not. I am hopeful–always–that somehow, getting through this as another off-week and through the weekend will continue with this feeling of normality. We shall see–I guess the next test is to see whether I can write or not.

I spent some time yesterday evening watching documentaries on Youtube–there was a particularly good one on Eleanor of Aquitaine, one of my all time favorite historical women. I’ve also discovered a channel on Youtube that focuses primarily on biographies, short for the most part, no longer than fifteen minutes at the longest, that focuses on the French House of Bourbon. I love seventeenth century France (always have, hence my obsession with The Three Musketeers), have always wanted to write about it, and maybe someday I will. (To be fair, I am also obsessed with the sixteenth century history of all Europe, not just France…and perhaps someday I will write my history about the powerful women of the sixteenth century. Catherine de Medici and her life remain absolutely fascinating to me; I’ve always wanted to write about that turbulent period of French history–the Religious Wars of the latter part of the century–and de Medici’s Flying Squadron–women trained in the art of seduction in order to spy on potential enemies of the throne. Maybe someday, when I’ve retired.)

And since we returned, I find myself unable to read. I am probably going to get caught up on my Real Housewives watching while stripping condom packs today–yes, it’s a big and exciting day of work-at-home duties for Gregalicious today, but I don’t know if I can face the tedium of the data entry; maybe I can get my shows watched and perhaps a movie, and then move back into the data entry, I don’t know; I will play it all by ear today methinks. And I need to make a new to-do list….

And on that note, tis time to head into the spice mines. Have a lovely day, Constant Reader.