If I Were Your Woman

Today’s emergency weather situation in New Orleans is an air quality alert; per the email I received this morning, people with breathing issues are encouraged to not go outside unless absolutely necessary; our air quality is at an “orange” level–not sure what that means precisely, but suspect it has something to do with a color-coded charted that I kind of don’t want to go look up, just in case. There was a heat advisory yesterday (IN JUNE); it’s clearly going to be one of those summers here in New Orleans.

I wound up taking the entire weekend off for the most part–no writing, no emails, no stress or anxiety. I finished reading Tara Laskowski’s marvelous The Other Mother yesterday afternoon; I kept reading my 4th Crusade/sack of Constantinople book; and then last night we finished off Gaslit (Julia Roberts was amazing; and yes, Martha Mitchell was right from the very beginning) and started watching a new show (for us) on Acorn, The Victim, which is actually quite interesting and has a great concept and a truly terrific cast. We watched the first episode, and I am rather curious to see where this is going to go. One way in which British crime series are superior to the American counterparts is in that there are always so many layers to the British ones, and they often tackle complex situations that made you wonder, who is the good guy, who is the bad guy, or is the entire system bad and in need of overhauling?

I also have to decide what to read next, and there’s such a plethora of good things to read in my TBR pile I am not sure where to go next. I am torn right now between John Copenhaver’s The Savage Kind (which just won the Lammy for Best Mystery this weekend–go John go!), Curtis Ippolite’s Burying the Newspaper Man, Rob Osler’s The Devil’s Chewtoy, or another Carol Goodman. I’ve also been wanting to revisit some classics I’ve not reread in a while–anything by Mary Stewart, really; or du Maurier’s Rebecca or Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, or maybe one of the du Mauriers I’ve not already read before.

Taking the weekend off felt absolutely lovely, if I am going to be completely honest. I did do some minor chores around the Lost Apartment–laundry, dishes, etc.–but nothing major; the place is a bit of a mess this morning. I do have to run some errands later today–prescriptions, mostly, and I need to put air in a tire–and I am going to swing by Office Depot as well to get some file organizational items so I have place to put all these files that are piled up all over the place around my desk area. After I am done with the day’s data entry (always a happy chore for me) and am free for the evening, I will spend it doing some cleaning up/organizing around here. I had hoped to start going to the gym again today, but I suspect I am not going to wind up making it over there after all. I also need to start getting binders together for the new book projects; I think I will make one for the novellas as well as one for the other three books that are currently in progress (yes, I am a glutton for punishment) but I do find that the binders are helpful for also editing and making notes and so forth.

And of course as always I need to make a to-do list for the rest of the month.

Heavy heaving sigh.

But one thing that is true after this weekend is that I feel refreshed, rested and recharged. I don’t know how long that will actually last or not–it’s always a crap shoot, let’s be honest–but fingers crossed it lasts for a long enough time to make a serious dent in the weekend. We have a paid holiday coming up on Monday, which is lovely–three days weekends are always nice, and July 4th also falls on a Monday so that’s another lovely three day weekend coming up in a few weeks–and of course, later that week I am off to Fort Lauderdale. Woo-hoo? Woo-hoo!

Paul and I also booked our plane tickets for Bouchercon last week, so that’s a go for me as well. Woo-hoo!

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

I Am…I Said

Monday morning and I am working at home today; hurray! Data entry to be done, emails to check and answer, amongst various other things that must be done today. Later on, I am going to go over my manuscript one more time to make sure I caught everything and made every change that needed to be made, and then sending it off to my editor. Whew. I spent most of the weekend working on it, and I am pretty pleased with the work I’ve done. Is any of that work any good? Remains to be seen, but I think I managed to do what was asked of me. At least, I hope so.

I slept really well last night–I am definitely on a “good sleep” roll now–and actually woke up before six this morning, but stayed in bed until seven. I feel rested–this entire past week, once I got over the exhaustion from the trip, has been a miracle of feeling rested and good sleep–which is a lovely change from the norm around here. We watched the latest episode of Gaslit last night–I am not sure what the point of all the “Liddy being insane in prison” was about other than just filler; but the tragedy of Martha Mitchell is hard to watch play out fictionally, since I watched it play out in real life. I was an early teen at the time of Watergate; I turned thirteen in 1974, and even though I was apolitical at the time and paid very little attention to politics, just going along with what my parents believed until I got a little bit older and started paying more attention, Watergate was ubiquitous; it was everywhere. The hearings aired on every network every day, preempting everything I usually watched when I was home from school on vacation; it was on the news, in the was in the newspapers, Mad and Cracked magazines talked about it endlessly…I can only imagine how viral Watergate would be in today’s world, but on the other hand, it would have been a lot uglier in this current political climate.

And whatever else can be said about Nixon, when it was obvious how bad it was going to get for him, he did what was best for the country and stepped down–even if it was really what was best for him.

We also watched another episode of MerlĂ­, but while it was very well done, it’s beginning to drag a little bit. The cast is very appealing, but there’s really no melodrama (or much of it, anyway); it’s really about a bunch of college kids learning about themselves and learning about the world, and there’s not even a lot of relationship drama. We’ll probably finish it off–they are all appealing, after all–but it’s not a must-watch must-finish kind of thing for us. We also started watching the new season of The Boys last night, which is interesting–I am really waiting for the arrival of Jensen Ackles, whose character has been teased since almost the opening of the season–and so we’ll probably stick with that. We also watched the first episode of Obi-wan Kenobi, which was better than I would have thought, and we’ll definitely go on watching that. I’m really in the mood for a good crime show, to be honest, and will probably go digging around on Acorn and Britbox to find something.

I was too burned out from the book yesterday to read anything last night, so The Mother Next Door continues to rest on my side table next to my easy chair. Maybe tonight, maybe tonight.

The kitchen is also in a bit of a mess this morning. I still have things that need to be filed and things that need to be put away–there’s also stuff in the refrigerator that needs to be tossed–but that’s cool. I can take care of that when my eyes get bleary from entering data and I need to take a break away from the computer. And my eyes will definitely get bleary; they always do when I’m doing this kind of work, which is why I am glad I don’t have to do it every day.

I also have to start preparing for my class this Saturday. I do have my notes I was going to use for the Saints and Sinners workshop (that I wound up not bringing with me when I went to the Monteleone to teach it, so had to wing it) but this is also going to be slightly longer than the S&S workshop, so I need to be better prepared, and I definitely don’t want to try to wing it at nine thirty in the morning. So, that’s the next big thing when I get this manuscript sent off later today. As I was also saying the other day, I am thinking it might be smart to go ahead and try to write a first draft of Mississippi River Mischief before trying to do anything else, so it can sit for awhile before I get back to it with fresh eyes–it really does help to divorce yourself from the work for a period of time. I think that really worked well with Royal Street Reveillon, and it’s probably the best and smartest way for me to get going on this new Scotty. I also am thinking I should go back and reread the entire series–not thoroughly, just a skimming–so I can get a handle on his voice again, maybe figure out some things, find some things from his past that might need to be circled around back to again. I’m thinking maybe a villain from the past might need to come back into his life at this time again…and of course, there’s the personal story that was left hanging at the end of RSR…I really need to stop doing that, don’t I?

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

Amazing Grace

Well, I am home and I am drained–exhausted on every level: emotional, physical, mental. I got home before six last night–I left Kentucky at seven a.m. my time–and of course, the entire time I was there I never slept much or well, so while I did sleep well last night (oh, the comfort and joy of my own bed at last) I am still bone-tired physically this morning as I swill my coffee and wait for clarity of mind to develop. I am glad I took this essentially last minute trip, though. I hate that my family lives so far away from me. Or I live so far away from them? I don’t know which is the proper way to put that. I guess it doesn’t matter.

I did do a lot of reading–I listened to Ruth Ware’s The Death of Mrs. Westaway on the way up and Carol Goodman’s The Night Villa on the way home (I got home so fast that I wasn’t able to finish the latter; I am going to finish listening to it this morning while I get the Lost Apartment back under control), and I also read Alan Orloff’s delightful I Play One on TV and James Kestrel’s Five Decembers, which was amazing. My dad also gifted me two books by Paul Strathern, The Medici and The Borgias. After I finished reading Alan’s book I started reading The Borgias, which is really interesting. (My dad bought them because I talked so much about loving Italy, so he decided to read some Italian history; he really enjoyed them and thought I would as well, and I am like gimme gimme gimme.) He had also cleaned out an area in the basement, purging books (I come by my hoarding tendencies genetically) and found some that were mine when I was a kid so he put them aside for me, if I wanted them. I took them, even though I am trying to purge books myself; ironically, one of the books he gave me was The Rape of the A*P*E*: A History of the Sexual Revolution by Allan Sherman, which I talked about in my erotica writing workshop at Saints and Sinners, and since I have to teach it again at the West Jefferson Parish Library a week from Saturday, I am glad to have it in my hot little hands. I really have to be more prepared this time around.

As I sit here and the coffee works its wiles on me, I am trying to figure out and remember where I am with everything and what needs doing. I am terrified to look at my inbox; I mostly deleted spam the last four days, so that it didn’t get completely out of control. I need to finish the edits on my book and I need to revise a short story, that much I do know, so when I get through this morning I’ll be buckling down here at the work station and trying to get through them. I’ve also got to get the workspace under control, and the Lost Apartment isn’t exactly in great shape either (I didn’t get the chance to clean as thoroughly as I would have liked before I left; I also left a sink full of dishes, which I started working on last night but didn’t quite finish; Paul and I decided a few hours after I got home to relax and watch our shows-in-progress: Under the Banner of Heaven, Hacks, and Gaslit (what they did to Martha Mitchell was so disgraceful–and Julia Roberts is killing the role) because exhaustion was starting to seep in for me and I really was out of steam. My easy chair felt amazing–I really felt like I was one with the chair last night–and there is definitely nothing like my own bed. I woke up at six this morning–my body not knowing it was a holiday and I didn’t need to go to work this morning–but I stayed in bed for another hour before getting up. I really don’t want to figure out what all I have to get done and where I am with everything just yet–and I absolutely should go to the grocery store today, but I don’t have the energy to deal with that today so I’ll probably make a short list and stop on the way home from work tomorrow. I have to go uptown to get the mail anyway.

Yeah, that sounds like a better plan than going today. (Although hilariously last night I said to Paul at one point, “I probably should at least do the dishes and stop putting things off until tomorrow, which is becoming a habit and I don’t like it” and here I am, pushing something off till tomorrow again.)

Some things never change.

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

Ruby Tuesday

Tuesday and back into the office, which means I am awake waaaaaaay too early for my liking.

Sleep wasn’t great last night–yesterday was a very trying day, to say the least–and so I didn’t expect to sleep particularly well to begin with, and well, I was correct. I don’t feel groggy or tired right now, but I am sure will hit a wall big time later this afternoon. I’m not entirely sure it was that bad of a night’s sleep; I just know I woke up several times during the night and each time had trouble falling back asleep. But the coffee this morning is going down well, and I feel awake in a way, if a little physically tired still. But I shall make it through this day, I am going to power through and get things done. Yesterday I did manage to get work done–even if it wasn’t the greatest–but it was something.

I also got some bad news that I had to process–still processing, really–but life goes on, you know? The world doesn’t stop turning and you still have to go to work, pay your bills, and so forth. Scooter needs to be fed, and his litter box needs to be cleaned, and wallowing in bad news doesn’t get the dishes cleaned or the mail picked up or my clients seen. Or my stories written and edited and so on and so forth. The news did kind of derail me from finishing that short story that was due yesterday, but that’s life and it’s not the first deadline I’ve missed for an anthology or short story call. And at least I got more of the story written–and it could, if I can figure out the middle, be a really good one should I ever finish it.

So that’s something, at any rate.

Last night we caught up on Gaslit (Julia Roberts is really killing the role of Martha Mitchell, and I’m not a big fan of hers, either) and The Baby (a truly bizarre show) and started watching another show whose name I cannot recall right now–which is probably an indication of my brain fog from lack of sleep last night. (Although according to my fitbit I had a much better than average sleep last night, go figure.) Oh, yes, Tokyo Vice, starring Ansel Elgort. The first episode didn’t do much for me, but the story began picking up in the second episode and so we’re probably going to continue watching. The thing about Gaslit –asides from being yet another 1970s set television program–is that as we watched Paul kept saying, “were they really this stupid?” and I had to keep replying, “yes, they actually were this stupid, which is why they got caught. And it was all completely unnecessary–if I’m not mistaken, he won at least 48 states.” Idiot. And really, the country has never completely recovered from Watergate, either; the damage to public trust in our institutions has never been restored, which is part of the reason the country is in the shape it’s in now. Ironically, it was the Republican party responsible for Watergate–and then later they became the “you can’t trust the government” party. Coincidence? Or a pattern?

Definitely pattern.

I’ve not decided what I am going to read next, either. I am having to head up to Kentucky for Memorial Day weekend, so I will be trying to decide what to listen to on the drive up and back, and I also should be able to get some reading in while I am up there. I have a lot of great books on deck–my TBR stack(s) are literally to die for, seriously–which makes the deciding that much harder for me to deal with and make final decisions. But I need to start clearing books out again–an endless struggle–and—and—and–yeah, I have a lot to do. Tonight I am going to turn in the Bouchercon anthology and start diving into my edits on my book, which is going to make it a lot stronger than it currently is; obviously my preference would be to have that finished before I drive up there a week from Thursday (it’s incredibly difficult for me to get much writing work done while I am on a trip) but we’ll see. (Ironically, I still had the submission call for that short story open on my browser tabs and they’ve pushed it back a week so in theory at least I could get that story done as there is more time now…we’ll see how it goes. I am in such a dark space this morning I can’t really picture getting anything done here or in time. Heavy heaving sigh.

And on that cheery note, I am heading into the spice mines. Talk to you tomorrow, Constant Reader, and I hope your Tuesday is as lovely as you are.

Easy Loving

Monday morning and I really didn’t want to get out of bed this morning. I have so much to get done this week it’s kind of overwhelming, to be honest; and the temptation to just stay in bed for the rest of my life and avoid the world was kind of really powerful this morning. Yet the world stops turning for no man, let alone a Gregalicious, so there was naught for me to do other than arise, do my morning ablutions, and start drinking coffee. I did sleep fairly well, despite the enormous stress of a to-do list with incredibly lengthy chores and projects to work on, and feel pretty well rested this morning–if not quite up to dealing with the world at large.

Ellen Byron’s book launch last night was marvelous. I was delighted to see she had a very good turnout and sold a lot of books–and she is the QUEEN of swag. I for once didn’t have stage fright–I knew Ellen would be warm and witty and wise and funny; all I had to do was lob some questions at her and she was off and running (she did try to deflect attention back to me a couple of times, but I was ready to turn the spotlight right back on her after a brief answer and succeeded each time). The book itself is lovely, too; you want to get a copy of Bayou Book Thief, especially if you’re a fan of traditional mysteries. The cover is gorgeous, and it’s a fun story with a likable main character and a likable supporting cast, and Ellen’s adoration of New Orleans spills over on every page–and what more can a New Orleanophile ask for? I also picked up a copy of The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (I saw it and remembered someone recommending it to me a while back, so I grabbed it immediately) and a copy of Albert Camus’ The Stranger, which I’ve been meaning to read for quite some time now (since Camus was inspired by The Postman Always Rings Twice for his own novel, I thought it only made sense for me to finally read the Camus)–I can never walk into a bookstore and not walk out with more than I intended to buy when I walked in (I had only intended to get a copy of Ellen’s finished book; I read a pdf) but that was fine–I wanted both books and let’s face it, I am always going to buy books at every opportunity, but it is time for me to start donating books to the library again.

I am not familiar with the part of New Orleans where the bookstore is located; Blue Cypress Books is on Oak Street past Carrollton, not far from where Carrollton and Claiborne intersect (and yes, the two streets actually run parallel to each other in my neighborhood; welcome to the wonderful and terribly confusing world of New Orleans’ bizarre geography). I would have, as per my usual, simply driven all the way to Riverbend on St. Charles then turned left on Carrollton…but I decided not to do my usual “this is how I know to get there” thing and used Google maps. Interestingly enough, Google maps took me on to Highway 90 then I-10 before getting off at the Carrollton exit in front of Costco and going that way…and it was faster–a lot faster, which I still kind of can’t wrap my mind around, but then again that’s New Orleans geography for you; my mind always thinks in terms of grids where everything runs north and south or east and west, and that isn’t New Orleans. The only actual grid design to anywhere in this city is the French Quarter–and only the French Quarter, at that. I have lived here twenty-six years and still get confused and mystified by how geography works here…which is one of the reasons I think people believe New Orleans is magical and mystical. Where else does geography make no sense other than here?

After I got home, we finished watching The Outlaws, which we really enjoyed, and started watching Gaslit. Julia Roberts is killing it as Martha Mitchell–I’d really forgotten a lot about her, but she was kind of a celebrity at the time, more so than the wife of Attorney General could ever hope to be, frankly–and she was enormously popular; everyone liked Martha Mitchell, because you never really knew what she was going to say next, which naturally didn’t sit well with the president of the time, Richard Nixon. (And again with a show set in the 1970s; sensing a theme–Minx, Candy, Gaslit–all set in the 1970s as a reminder to us all just how awful the 1970s actually were…pay attention, everyone. There’s a reason you never want to turn the clock back, or bring an era back.) I’d actually forgotten about Martha Mitchell–she’s often left out of books I’ve read about Watergate–and she was actually kind of an important cultural figure of the time. If the Nixon idea was to erase her from history, it kind of worked. The 1970s was definitely an odd decade.

As I was lying in bed dreading getting up and facing the world today, I thought, I would really love to have a vacation, you know. A week where I didn’t have a deadline to meet, or go into the office, or really do anything at all other than relax and read and watch movies or television shows I’ve not had a chance to see. It’s been a hot minute, and most of the traveling I actually do tends to be writing related in some way, which means it’s not really a vacation but a work trip. I don’t think I’ve actually had a vacation-vacation since we went to Italy, and that was eight long years ago. We’re talking about possibly going to Puerto Rico or some place in Central America (Costa Rica, if anywhere), but I think it’s past time…although I could also use some time off to stay home and get the Lost Apartment into some semblance of order, a Sisyphean task if there ever was one.

I didn’t finish my short story–the deadline was today and I know there’s no way I can get it finished in time to email off by midnight tonight, particularly since there would be little to no time to revise and/or edit it. It’s a shame, but at least the story is further along at about just over a thousand words than it was at less than two hundred; it’s a great idea but I’m basically stuck in the middle. I know how it ends, I just don’t know how to get it there, so letting it sit for a while is definitely in order. I did start writing the new Scotty yesterday–don’t get excited, I literally wrote maybe 175 words of the prologue; I found the book opening I wanted to spoof (Pride and Prejudice) and since I didn’t want to forget, I started writing it and it flowed along for another hundred words or so before I ran out of steam. The Scotty prologues are always the hardest part of the book for me to write; they are basically a recap of Scotty’s life thus far to get a new reader caught up without having to go back and read the first eight (!) books in the series as well as not spoiling the first eight books in the series should the reader decide to go back and actually read the first eight books in the series. (Something I actually need to do before I really dig in and start writing this thing…I really need to do the Scotty Series Bible and get that done so I have an easy reference without having to page through the books or do a search in the ebooks) I also did some research over the weekend for the book, which entailed rereading two Nancy Drew mysteries, The Ghost of Blackwood Hall and The Haunted Showboat (both books bring Nancy and her friends to New Orleans/Louisiana) and oh, yes, that bit of research definitely triggered a blog post which I started writing yesterday after I got ready for the event and was waiting for it to be the right time to leave. I kind of slam Nancy Drew in the post–but the truth is, despite my obsessive collecting of Nancy Drew books (trying to get the entire original series, with the yellow spines) I never actually liked the books all that much. (Same with the Hardy Boys.) While I appreciate the two series for their popularity and for getting kids to read (and to read mysteries) neither series was ever my favorite–but once I started reading and collecting, I had to keep reading and collecting because I am obsessive–and that obsession with collecting the books, while slightly tempered as I’ve gotten much older (and don’t have a place to display the collection), still exists. (Periodically I do think about emptying a bookcase and refilling it with my kids’ series books; it’s always satisfying for me to see them on the shelves. And yes, I know how weird that sounds.)

And now back into the spice mines with me. Y’all have a lovely Monday, okay?