Here Comes the Sun

Wednesday and yet another edition of Pay-the-Bills Day (woo-hoo?). Another fairly restful night of sleep, one more day to get up this early this week, and before I know it, it’s the weekend. Huzzah!

Yesterday wasn’t a bad day. I wasn’t tired until late in the afternoon, and I stopped at the grocery store on the way home from the office (Christ, the price of everything has so dramatically increased!) and then came home to do a load of dishes and finish the laundry I’d started the night before. Paul was home late from the office–we watched an episode of Why Are We Like This, which is a very weird show about three young people that are friends and kind of awful, but it had some funny moments. I think it’s an Australian show? It was short, and that was really the point–Paul got home too late for us to watch a show that lasted an hour, and I think we’re all caught up on hour-length shows anyway–and then it was off to bed with me. I did work on “Never Kiss a Stranger” again last night–I got the sinking suspicion I was making the story too long again, but I don’t care; the whole point of a novella is you have more room than you do in a short story. I also spent some time cleaning up my CV–it’s still not entirely up to date, but I really don’t want to get that box down from the attic with all my newspaper and magazine articles stored inside, so I can make it up to date–but at least now the short story section is accurate and in date order (I may still be missing some; you never know, and there are so many! I also discovered that I have at least two stories in print that I do not have electronic copies of; that’s not great).

I also got my schedule for Sleuthfest next month in Fort Lauderdale; which is great. I am looking forward to attending–even if it’s going to be ridiculously hot in Lauderdale when I am there–and there are going to be some great people there for me to see. I am hoping, as always, to get inspired while there by listening to great writers and fun people talking about books and writing.

It did occur to me last night that spending this week (and this week only!) working on “Never Kiss a Stranger” might not be the best use of this “in-between books” week, but I don’t really care. The fact that I finished significant edits on a book–edits that had me apparently so stressed that I felt tired all the time as well as defeated (more writer insanity, really)–and was able to write any fiction almost immediately thereafter is a miracle in and of itself; but I do know I need to get my shit together with short story submissions and writing for anthology calls. A task, perhaps, for this weekend. I am actually looking forward, though, to not having anything to work on or do–oh, crap, I forgot about my workshop on Saturday morning, so much for having a weekend free…but at least that doesn’t mean having to write anything much. And it won’t kill me to get up early on Saturday and drive out there.

Or will it?

According to my Fitbit, my sleep hasn’t been great the last two nights, yet I have felt rested and relaxed every morning when I get up. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, of course, but as long as I don’t feel fatigue–mentally, physically, emotionally–I call that a big win. I’m also waiting for the final approval (or more edits) for “Solace in a Dying Hour”–fingers crossed that it’s an acceptance; as a general rule anthology editors don’t ask for a revision unless they are planning on using the story (not always true; one anthology editor made me rewrite a story three times only to end up not using it–and I will never, under any circumstance, submit to that editor again; she also lied to me about the reason for not using the story–apparently she thought I was a rank amateur who has never published much; imagine telling someone who has won awards for editing anthologies–and certainly more awards for editing that this particular fucking editor–a bald-faced lie to excuse their thoroughly unprofessional conduct, and if it wasn’t a lie…well, you are a fucking shitty unprofessional editor. Then again, we’ve already ascertained that she’s an unprofessional piece of shit, haven’t we? Not even a ‘sorry I made you work so hard on this story I’m not going to use, here’s a token payment as an appreciation for what I put you through.’)

I guess my segment on Great Day Louisiana aired yesterday? It was supposed to at any rate; I never heard one way or the other; I just did a search of my name on their website and nothing came up, which is also fine. I always hate seeing and/or listening to recordings of me–I’ve always wanted to transcribe the character workshop I did for Sleuthfest ten or so years ago but it would also require me to listen to my voice as I transcribed–transcription also takes forever–for hours on repeat and I think I would rather drink bleach to wash down a salad of broken glass than listen to my own voice over and over again.

All right, that’s enough tedium for today. Sorry to be such a bore! And I am off to the spice mines.

I Woke Up In Love This Morning

Well, I kind of do every morning, really. It’s kind of hard sometimes to wrap my mind around the fact that next month is our twenty-seventh anniversary. Twenty-seven years. That’s a long time for someone like me, whose prior relationships never lasted much longer than a couple of weeks at best. I was thinking about my past last night, after I got home and collapsed into my easy chair, and thinking again how I could never write a memoir because I really don’t remember what actually happened, and over the years I’ve rewritten things to make me look better in my own mind and memory. We all have, I think, a tendency to see ourselves as always being in the right, and everyone else being wrong…and as more time passes we continue to color those memories and slant them in our minds until the truth, what really happened, what was actually said, have changed completely in our minds and these biased revisions become our truth; which is just one of many reasons I use my past–if and when I do write about my past–I only use it for fiction–because my past as I remember it now is probably mostly fiction.

I had another good night’s sleep last night, which was marvelous and feels great this morning. My muscles feel rested and relaxed as opposed to tight and tired, and my mind feels a bit refreshed. I am not in world-conquering mode quite yet; but I am getting there slowly but surely. I have a lot of work to get done this week and over this weekend; I am going to have to buckle down and force myself to actually get the work done this weekend no matter how badly I want to goof off and relax and do little to nothing–it’s really not an option for me this time around. I have too much to do, and the trip to Kentucky, necessary as it was, really threw me off schedule (which I was already behind, to be fair; the trip made things worse). So I am hoping–with feeling rested and everything today–that I’ll be able to make some serious progress on things, and get to a place where I can unplug for the entire weekend (other than the blog, of course) and avoid everyone and everything until I am completely caught up the way I should be on everything. I doubt that will happen–if anything was proven to me this past weekend on the trip, it’s that I get way too much junk email every day, so not looking at it and not deleting things is really not an option for an entire weekend.

I am also the featured author at Three Rooms Press this month, which is very cool; many thanks to Peter Carlaftes (and Kat Georges) for always being incredibly supportive of me and my career over the years, ever since they published the Florida Happens anthology I edited for St. Petersburg Bouchercon. I was rereading it last night in my chair while I was waiting for Paul to come home (so we could watch another episode of The Little Drummer Girl), and I winced quite a bit, as I always do. The other morning, when I taped the segment for Great Day Louisiana (which, it occurred to me last night, might not air) I was having to talk about writing and again, I think back to the questions asked (Malik, the interviewer, was great–friendly and nice and very high energy) and my responses and wince a little bit. I always feel so pompous and pretentious when I talk about writing, but I try to be as honest as I can. I’m never sure how I come across (and let’s be honest, I am a huge critic of myself), and I want to be practical–I always roll my eyes when I read interviews about writers talking about writing and they turn into this mystical, mysterious thing with muses and Gods of Inspiration and “opening a vein and bleeding on the page” and all of that stuff. Yes, you want emotional honesty in your work, and yes, you want your characters to be realistic and fully developed and well rounded and to have interior lives, but ultimately, at least for me, writing is work. I think about it, I go over it in my head, I sit down and write it and print it and edit it and revise and rewrite it and maybe that can, I suppose, be seen as “bleeding on the page”…but then I remind myself I am not a literary writer and so therefore I don’t go through all the angst and agony they do–I don’t spend hours trying to structure and craft a sentence until it’s perfect and poetry, either.

Then again, I’ve never really fit the mold of what most people think authors are like and I’ve never written the way other people do. And that’s fine; there’s no “one way” to be an author. I always tell people the entire point of writing manuals is to show beginners there are any number of ways to write and be a writer; what works for someone else might not work for you, and the point of the manuals with helpful hints and techniques and methodologies for getting words on the page is for you to try things to see what works best for you, and it may wind up being a combination of Sue Grafton said this and this other writers does this and let me try this thing Michael Connelly does and so on…you have to come up with whatever works for you, and there’s nothing wrong with borrowing bits and pieces of other author’s techniques and honing them into something that works for you.

Which is also why I will never write a How to Be a Writer manual. I could, on the other hand, do something like Stephen King’s On Writing, which is a combination writing memoir/manual, and is the book I recommend to any and every person who wants to write. And then I think, like anyone wants to read your memoir about writing….and didn’t you just say you aren’t sure of your own memories of the past, what’s true and what’s been revised over the years by your ego?

Yes, that would be a problem.

At any rate, it’s time for me to head into the office for another exciting day of STI testing. You have a great day, Constant Reader, and think of me down here in the spice mines.

Trapped By A Thing Called Love

Yesterday wound up being a complete waste.

I had such high hopes yesterday morning as I swilled coffee and planned my day out. But after I finished the chores I had left to do (not many) I was exhausted, completely exhausted. I had no energy at all, I was physically tired, mentally fatigued and emotionally drained; I felt much like my batteries were almost dead. I don’t know, maybe I am getting to the point where these lengthy all-in-one-day drives a mere two days apart are no longer feasible for me. Hopefully, yesterday’s lack of anything productive (I did finish reading The Borgias, though, and I did do some research on-line with the iPad in my easy chair) enabled my batteries to recharge and I’ll be able to get through the rest of this week, playing catch-up every day.

I do feel more rested this morning–my legs don’t feel tired the way they did yesterday morning–and I think I slept much better last night than I did the night before, which is a good sign. I have to go to WWL this morning to tape a segment of Great Day Louisiana–which is weird, as I’ve never really done many television appearances before (I did a spot to promote Saints and Sinners a long time ago, and of course, I did a news spot after Paul was attacked, which was a weird experience)–and then I am going into the office, with errands to run on my way home (note to self: do not forget to make a grocery list) and then my life is back to (what passes for) normal again. I also have to assess where I am at with everything I am working on and need to dive back into everything. The trip was necessary, and I am not sorry I went in the least, but I really couldn’t afford to lose the time working. Ah, well, when am I not behind on everything and dashing about trying to keep all the plates spinning?

But right now I am just focusing on the fact that I am not exhausted and feel much better than I did yesterday–at one point I was just so exhausted I felt sick–but that’s okay. I guess when I make these trips henceforth that I shall always have to remind myself that I need a recovery day–which is the case when I fly anywhere also–and I just have to accept that as a part of getting older and having to adapt to that. I hope to start getting back to the gym now–I’d hoped to go yesterday, but there was no way I could walk there, let alone do any weightlifting and then walking back home–and would like to focus on getting into better physical condition by Bouchercon.

I did finish listening to Carol Goodman’s marvelous The Night Villa yesterday morning while I did dishes and folded clothes and did some general clean-up around here–more on that later; Goodman is a marvelous writer and I am very excited to start digging into her backlist; I have several more of her novels in the TBR pile–and so I am now ready to pluck something new to read from the stack, although I am leaning towards Tara Laskowski’s The Mother Next Door, which I am in “competition” against for an Anthony. (I don’t think I’ll win either award I am nominated for, but it is so lovely to have the nominations, really. Anything more than that is too much to hope for, really.) Ah, this coffee is quite good this morning, which is delightful.

And on that note, I am going to finish this and head into the spice mines and start figuring out what I need to get done and where I am at with everything before I head to the television studio. (That sounds glamorous, doesn’t it?) Have a lovely Tuesday, everyone.

Wild World

In a little while I’ll be loading up the car and heading north. Ruth Ware’s The Death of Mrs. Westaway Is cued up on my phone to start streaming as soon as I start the car and head out on the highway. It’s around twelve hours, give or take, to get up there, and of course I lose an hour to time zones when I cross the state line from Alabama to Georgia. I’m not taking a lot–I am only going to be there for two days–but here’s hoping I’ll be able to sleep while I am there and get some rest. I am going to hopefully finish reading James Kestrel’s Five Decembers while I am there, which will be lovely, and I do have some things that I’ll need to work on while I am there as always–I never can go anywhere without having things to do while I am gone–but hopefully leaving this early will help me avoid traffic in Chattanooga, which is always a nightmare at rush hour (I’ve never driven through Chattanooga when traffic wasn’t a nightmare, frankly, but here’s hoping). I think I will be passing through Knoxville during rush hour, and that could be ugly as well. If I am making some decent time I want to stop and take pictures in the Smoky Mountains–a rest stop or a lookout or something–because that could help with my story “Smoky Mountain Rest Stop”–but we’ll have to see how that all goes.

It’s rained all night here–I woke up to a thunderstorm and a downpour–which will, of course, make loading up the car and driving out of New Orleans amazingly fun this morning, but that’s okay. I love rain–another reason I love living here is the amazing rain and thunderstorms we get here (the flash floods, on the other hand, are not nearly as lovable)–and I actually don’t mind driving in it as long as it isn’t a monsoon; there’s something oddly comforting about being inside the car, snug and dry and warm, while it rains outside. (Similar to being in bed during such a storm.) I didn’t sleep all that great last night, to be honest; I kept waking up every hour or so before falling back asleep again only to wake up again about an hour later. Quite strange, actually, particularly since I feel rather well rested this morning now that I am awake and swilling coffee before hitting the road. I packed last night–there’s a few things left that need to go into the suitcase before I leave–and I think I have everything I need already organized and packed, except for a few things. It’s also getting light outside now, which is also a plus. I am leaving behind a messy kitchen–I’d thought about doing the last load of dishes in the sink before leaving, but it doesn’t look like I’ll have the time after all; I’ll probably just fill the stock pot with water and leave everything in it to soak while I am gone.

It’s so weird, yesterday I got contacted by a local news station (WWL, to be exact) about appearing on their Great Day Louisiana segment. If you will recall, I had to step in to teach an erotica writing workshop at Saints and Sinners this year. It went well, I think (despite my paralyzing stage fright), and one of the attendees was the programs manager at East Jefferson Parish Library, out in Metairie just off Clearview Parkway. He said to me afterwards, “I need to have you do this at the library,” and of course I said “sure.” It’s been scheduled now for June, but when the library newsletter went out, WWL contacted him to see if I would come on their show, and of course–despite the fact that I hate the sound of my voice and I don’t like seeing myself on film–I said yes. So yesterday I had to fill out an insane amount of paperwork, but I am, indeed, going to be filming that appearance on the Tuesday morning after Memorial Day.

Yay?

Kind of cool, though. I have to say it’s been weird feeling like I am in demand lately. Weird, and cool at the same time. Certainly not something I am really used to, but when I was doing the interview the other day for Three Rooms Press’ website, it did occur to me–which it does sometimes, always catching me off guard–that I’ve been publishing fiction for twenty-two years now. Twenty-two years. My first book came out twenty years ago; the second nineteen. So Chanse is twenty and Scotty is nineteen. How wild and weird is that? Obviously, when I started I certainly hoped I’d still be doing this all these years later, but it’s so fucking weird when I actually think about it–and cool, let’s not forget that it’s also pretty cool–that it’s sometimes hard for me to wrap my mind around it, you know?

I guess I am an elder in the queer crime community now? YIKES.

And on that note, Constant Reader, I am going to get ready and hit the road. I may not post for the next few days, but don’t worry–at the very least I shall return for Memorial Day. Have a lovely day!

Funky Nassau

Ah, I’ve always wanted to visit the Bahamas; today’s title reminds me of Black Sails and Nassau in the islands. (I wonder if I should revisit/rewatch that show? Yes, Greg, because you have so much free time.) Heavy heaving sigh. Tomorrow is the day I drive north, so today will be a frantic day of packing and getting ready for tomorrow’s journey. I’ll have to stop at the store on the way home to pick up a few things (today is also Pay the Bills Day) and then make a list of what to pack and try to get that all taken care of as quickly as possible so I can relax before going to bed. I am still making progress on the edits–Lord, it’s taking forever–so I want to be able to work on that some more tonight too, so I have less to work on while I am up there. The more I get done, the less I have to do.

And the less I have to do, the better.

I feel rested this morning but somewhat tired–kind of a drained feeling, really–but I am hoping the coffee and this morning’s shower will take care of that. It might not–you never know–but I am ever hopeful. I am sure I have a busy schedule of clients this morning and all day, which helps the day go by faster, frankly, and I am trying to get things taken care of before I leave, since I have no idea how much time I’ll be able to spend doing anything. It’s shitty to go visit my parents and then hole up in my room working the whole time I am there, especially since it’s only two full days before I have to drive back home again. I am also glad Monday is a holiday so I can spend the day getting ready for the work-week; getting groceries and so forth to prepare, etc.–and of course, I can spend Monday finishing the edits if need be (hopefully that won’t be the case, but….). My preference would be to spend Monday getting groceries and relaxing around the apartment, while getting things done–like laundry and so forth–while I rest and relax and read in my easy chair. I am also going to have to go to WWL’s studio on TUesday morning to tape an interview for Great Day Louisiana–this came about because I am teaching a workshop on writing sex scenes at the West Jefferson Parish Library next month and they got in touch with the library to see if I wanted to go on their show. As I hate the way I look on film and really hate the sound of my own voice, I doubt I’ll watch once it airs (I’d probably be at work anyway when it airs) but this is kind of a good promotional opportunity for me and it’s kind of cool. I’m enormously flattered to be asked.

I also had to spend some time yesterday answering interview questions to be the featured author on the Three Rooms Press website for June (Pride month); of course I went on at great length about everything and will inevitably not be surprised to see it edited it down because my answers were so damned long–please, ask me to talk about myself and my career and my writing! It’s very weird because I feel like for some reason I am in demand lately, after months of feeling like a loser here at my desk in the Lost Apartment that no one cared about, LOL. I did also get some editorial suggestions for my story “Solace in a Dying Hour” that will make the story stronger and better, so I of course am going to agree to them so they will accept the story, which is also kind of cool–I really liked that story, so am glad the editors did as well. Who knows, maybe I will actually start to develop some confidence in my writing–ha ha ha, just kidding, but I think you all knew that already. I will never have confidence in my writing–not so long as that little voice is there in the back of my head whispering poison.

I hate that little voice. I probably should get back into therapy.

The world continues to go insane a bit more every day. Yesterday’s massacre of children in Texas–along with the hypocritical “oh my heart breaks thoughts and prayers” tweets from the trash who make this sort of thing possible is, quite frankly, enraging. Gotta keep that Russian oligarch cash flowing through the NRA to our politicians, don’t we? I am so glad I chose never to be a parent. I don’t think I could face sending my kids to school every day knowing there was a possibility they’d got shot in their classroom. The true religion in this country isn’t Christianity–it’s the worship of guns and ammunition. There is nothing more holy in this country than the 11th Commandment, aka as the Second Amendment. Every other right enshrined in the Constitution has been defined, limited, questioned, you name it–but not the holiest of holies–which wasn’t important enough to be included in the first amendment, was it?

And on that angry note, I am heading into the spice mines.