My Heart

Ah, the Thursday before Labor Day weekend and all is quiet in the Lost Apartment…at least until Scooter realizes I’ve gotten out of bed and comes galloping down the steps to demand, rather loudly, that I fetch his breakfast.

Wow, one week from today I’ll be waking up at Bouchercon and getting ready for my first panel. I’m not getting excited about the trip just yet, but I suspect that will get started over this weekend. I was realizing yesterday that I have Labor Day off, work Tuesday, and then am off the rest of next week…why didn’t I take Tuesday off as well? Seems kind of silly to work one day, but I was trying to conserve my vacation time, I think, because I didn’t know if I would have enough earned by the time of my November trips. And of course now it’s too late. Ah, well, there are worse things than having to work on that Tuesday, really, and it won’t kill me, and why not save the vacation time for use at another time?

I see that WordPress has yet again changed the way it looks when you’re drafting an entry, and I don’t like it. I will never understand the need to continually change things that are simply cosmetic for no other reason than to make a change, you know? It’s already irritating enough they don’t have a font that I like–would it really kill them to have Times New Roman? I know my personal favorite Janson is too much to ever hope for, really–that’s never standard anywhere. Ah, well, this is what happens when you get older and get sick and tired of things changing. Excuse me while I go outside at scream at the clouds.

I worked on the book some when I got home from work last night, and it’s astonishing how bad my first drafts can be. I think this is where some of the Imposter Syndrome comes from–writing such phenomenally shitty first drafts–and to be completely honest about it, it’s always, for some reason, the series books that turn out so bad for me every time in the first draft. The stand alone books, for some reason, have much better first drafts than the Scotty books. But it’s getting there, and eventually I’ll have a first draft done that I can agonize over and change and revise and fix and make stronger.

I also watched the incredibly exciting second round match of Serena Williams at the US Open last night, in which she took out the Number 2 player in the world in three sets. She played fantastic–and so did her opponent, for whom I felt a bit sorry, given the way she completely collapsed in her final service game of the match, in which she didn’t win a single point (I think). Serena looked like the Serena of old; the level of play was astonishing. I don’t know how far into the draw she is going to make it on this last US Open of her storied and legendary career, but as I said to Paul, “this kind of reminds me of that final run Jimmy Connors made at the Open, which got the whole country excited and watching. I think the entire world is going to pay attention if she gets further into this, but winning the whole thing is probably too Disney-ending to happen, although it would be incredibly satisfying.”

And we get our first look at the 2022 LSU football team this Sunday night, when they take on Florida State. I don’t know what to expect from LSU this year–new coach, almost a complete rebuilding of the coaching staff and the team–so while of course I always want them to win everything, I won’t get down on them this year because of that, but Brian Kelly is a decent coach (I know people say he “can’t win the big game” but he DID win some big games at Notre Dame, and he was enormously successful at Cincinnati before that and at Grand Valley State before that, so who knows?) and LSU always gets top talent when it comes to players, so you never know. I don’t know if we’ll get to go to any games this season–since we finally saw them lose for the first time in person at Tiger Stadium last year, now I no longer have that same confidence that LSU will somehow find a way to win because we’re there, which of course is completely absurd. (And let’s be honest–they should not have lost that Auburn game last year.)

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. have a lovely Thursday, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again tomorrow, as usual.

If You Were My Love

Wednesday, and Pay the Bills Day has rolled around yet again. Huzzah?

Yesterday actually turned out to be rather pleasant, or at least not terrible, you know? The workday went well; some things are changing around at the day job–to be expected, as we’ve transitioned to a new department director and some other management staffing changes have occurred–but it’s not nearly as intrusive or annoying as I had feared it could be (the curse of a highly overactive imagination strikes again) and while that’s not to say there haven’t been some bumps, it hasn’t been as rough as I had worried it would be. I think I am starting to adjust at long last to this sleep schedule–I actually forgot to set the alarm last night but woke up at the right time–which is good, I suppose; I still don’t like going to bed early or getting up this early, but it’s become less and less painful the longer it goes on.

I was also highly productive when I got home from the office. I did the dishes and got laundry started (I’ll have to finish it tonight), and then I sat down and wrote around two thousand (incredibly shitty but nonetheless actual) words on the new Scotty. I am really enjoying writing this new book, even if the writing is thus far pretty horrible; the first drafts of Scottys are usually pretty fucking horrendous (I suspect I’ve never really made any moves about storing my papers anywhere is because I don’t want anyone to ever see how shitty my first drafts actually are, or to put my incredibly self-absorbed journals into circulation of any kind, even if it is ‘by request.’) but it feels good to be working on him again. Even as bad as the draft is, for some reason I never experience Imposter Syndrome when I work on the Scotty books, and maybe that’s yet another reason why I never let him go….writing him feels so natural, and there’s an easy comfort to entrenching myself in his world again.

It’s also lovely to get up to a relatively clean kitchen, too. There’s still some more cleaning to do in here–I’d like to spend some time every evening getting the apartment under control so I don’t have to spend much time on my weekends doing that sort of thing. As always, I am going to be trying to write a book during football season, which is always a nightmare for me. But let’s face the facts, shall we? There’s always something else going on that will distract me from the book–in the spring it’s the festivals and the Edgars, in the summer it’s the heat, in the fall it’s football season, and in the winter it’s Christmas and Carnival, so when IS a good time for me to write a book?

I’d also like to get some reading done this weekend. I am behind as always on my reading, but the focus reading properly requires hasn’t been there for a few weeks; I suspect it’s because my head is filled with Scotty–it really is–and so I can’t really make room for anything else at the moment. I am hoping once I get a few more chapters into the story I’ll be able to get back to my reading, as the great reads continue to pile up all around my TBR stacks in the living room. Heavy heaving sigh. But while I may have had a bit of mental fatigue around reading lately, it was really nice to not be super tired when I got home from the office for a change. I have to stop at the store on the way home tonight, so here’s hoping I’ll still have the same kind of “off-work now I’m home” energy I had yesterday so I can finish the cleaning–my birthday is Saturday, so I’d kind of like to not have to do much of anything that day other than relax and chill…and maybe spend the day reading.

Once Paul came home, we watched Only Murders in the Building and a new documentary series on Netflix; a true crime in Baton Rouge! And a recent one at that, 2019–and this is the first I’m hearing of it. It’s not too surprising, I guess–I really don’t pay much attention to the Baton Rouge news a whole lot, other than when they had that serial killer a couple of decades ago–but if it’s a weird enough case to get a documentary series, you’d think I would have heard of it, wouldn’t you? Called I Just Killed My Dad, it’s about a seventeen-year-old who shoots and kills his father, calls 9-1-1, admits it…and then it starts getting more complicated. It’s a very interesting case, and I am kind of looking forward to watching the rest of it.

And on that note, I have some bills to pay before I head into the spice mines for today. Have a lovely Wednesday, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again tomorrow.

Wide Sargasso Sea

Thursday! Somehow we have managed to make it to Thursday, Constant Reader, which is definitely something to cheer about. Huzzah! This week has been a bit challenging, but I feel pretty good today (yesterday was one of those I slept well but never seemed to completely wake up days, which are getting harder and harder to deal with); I slept decently and I feel like I’m awake this morning, which is better than yesterday at any rate. I ran some errands on my way home from work last night, and then was tired. Paul was working on a grant so I just sat in my easy chair with my journal, trying to outline some projects that are currently in progress and get a stronger idea on where to go with the stories.

I’m not going to try to write that story whose deadline is the end of this month. As deep a wormhole as I’ve gotten into for the lost town of Freniere in the Manchac Swamp and Julia Brown the witch–which I am definitely going to write about at some time–I still don’t have an idea for a story, and I have another anthology I want to write something for by the end of the year that’s going to need some serious thought and consideration. The other contributors are very impressive names–it’s going to be another one of those one of these things is not like the other or why am I up here with these people? I was thinking about this same thing last night as I was telling Paul about my Bouchercon panels–in almost every case, I was thinking, what am I doing on these panels with these incredibly smart and talented people? Oh, well, the audience will be there for the other people and I’ll just be sitting up there, afraid to say anything for fear of proving that I don’t belong up there.

Ah, Imposter Syndrome. Such a delight at all times. Woo-hoo!

But as this month continues to slip through my fingers and everything I have to do continues to pile up with more and more things for me that I need to do–triage triage triage–and I am making a to-do list to try to make sure nothing gets overlooked or slips through the cracks. That’s always my fear; not that I won’t get everything done in a timely manner, but that I’ll forget something if I don’t write it down. That terrifies me. But I am pretty happy that I got a rough start to the Scotty book, have gotten some other things done, and am really hopeful that I’ll get to finish reading my book this weekend.

I continue to be endlessly fascinated by the Great Hurricane of 1915–in no small part because I wrote a New Orleans story set in 1916 (“The Affair of the Purloined Rentboy”) that makes no mention of it at all. This is one of the pitfalls of writing historical fiction–I am not an expert on New Orleans history and it never occurred to me to check to see what the hurricane situation in the preceding years was. On the other hand, I have read some New Orleans history for that period and NO ONE mentions the Great Hurricane of 1915. NO ONE. And considering it wiped some towns off the map (Ruddock and Freniere, in the Manchac Swamp), you’d think it would have merited a mention in some of these Storyville/French Quarter histories? It was a Category 3 or 4, so it had to have done some serious damage in New Orleans, and in the fall of 1916 the city would have still been rebuilding, one would think. Anyway, I picked a book on the hurricane from the library yesterday which I will also peruse this weekend to try to figure out how I want to write my story “When We Die” (yes, I already have a title for the story, I just don’t know how it’s going to go or what it’s going to be about or if it will even ever turn into anything…but now I also want to write a Sherlock Holmes story involving a hurricane….this is why, in case you were wondering, it’s so hard for me to get shit done because other ideas are always crowding their way into the front of my brain which is really annoying….)

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Happy Friday Eve, Constant Reader!

I Miss You

And here we are on a lovely humid Saturday morning in the Lost Apartment. I overslept this morning, or rather, slept later than I had intended or wanted to, but seriously, I’m learning to accept these things as messages from my body that I need more rest. I felt weirdly tired most of yesterday, despite the good night’s sleep; it kind of felt like my body never completely woke up, although my fevered brain was working properly. My body just felt like it would have preferred to stay in bed for the rest of the day. On the way home from work I stopped and made some groceries; today I’ll run uptown and get the mail, making a stop at the Fresh Market for fruit, vegetables and berries on my way home. I may order a Costco delivery for this afternoon (or tomorrow) as well; I haven’t really decided. I started doing some shopping on their website yesterday, but we really didn’t need as much stuff as I would have thought we needed going into their website. (Some of the stuff I wanted wasn’t available, either; which was annoying to say the least–but that would probably also be the case were I to actually go there in person, as well) I also have a library book to pick up today while I am out and about in the humid air of an August Saturday. Huzzah?

I hope I can stay motivated today and get to everything I want to get to this weekend; the jury, of course, remains out at this point.

But if I don’t, I don’t. The world won’t stop turning, after all.

We watched They/Them last night, and it was interesting. It was billed as a horror film, but I really didn’t feel like it was a horror movie rather than social commentary using horror tropes, if that makes sense? The young queer actors playing the kids at the conversion therapy camp were terrific–so were the older cast (Kevin Bacon, Anna Chlumsky, Carrie Preston)–but the movie never quite gelled as being anything more than a clever idea. A “slasher” movie with “they slash them” in the title I bet made the people around the creative table very excited. And maybe I went in expecting a little too much from it, I don’t know. But it really says something about us as a society that this is the first time we’ve ever seen a horror film rooted in the real-life horror of a reparative therapy camp; they are such real horrors that it’s hard to clear your mind to watch the film objectively; obviously, everyone involved with running the camp are the real monsters, etc. and Paul figured out very early on who the killer was–I didn’t bother trying to figure it out, because the identity of the killer (or killers) in these movies, Scream series notwithstanding, really isn’t a big Scooby-Doo reveal or the point of the films. Ultimately, while the film was actually well done, if you want to see a better send-up of slasher flicks, much as I hate to say it, the latest season of American Horror Story was probably better than They/Them, but at least They/Them is mercifully shorter than any season of AHS. Watch it for yourselves and make up your mind; it does bring up some interesting things to think about.

We then watched the first two episodes of a Netflix true crime series The Most Hated Man on the Internet, about Hunter Moore and his horrific revenge-porn site IsAnyoneUp.com. It’s a horrible story–we stopped before the third and final episode, in which Moore is finally arrested and charged–but riveting and hard to stop watching. The story is primarily told through the eyes of his victims–women whose intimate photos were posted on his website–and its yet another compelling example of how women can so easily be dehumanized and devalued by men and society as a whole. It’s a pretty disgusting story, as these kinds of stories so often are, but I think people do need to watch it. It’s pretty frightening how successful a sociopath can become in this country, and a stinging indictment of our society as a whole. Tonight I am excited to start watching The Sandman–one of the greatest comic book series ever done; I hope it translates well to the new medium (I really didn’t care for other Neil Gaiman adaptations, American Gods and Good Omens, even though I loved the books they were based on). There’s a lot of good stuff dropping this month, too–yes, I will watch House of the Dragons because I’ve missed Westeros since Game of Thrones ended, and I am not ashamed to admit it, either.

Just glancing around my home office as I swill coffee and swim up from the depths of Morpheus (see what I did there?) induced sleep, I can also see that there are a lot of odds and ends that need doing around here as well. I am hoping to get some writing done today–I want to really start digging into the Scotty book this weekend, and of course I need to work on some short stories and so forth. I went ahead and bit the bullet and submitted a story yesterday. I don’t think they’re going to accept it, to be honest, but that’s okay. They certainly can never accept it if I never send it to them for consideration, can they? It never gets any easier, either, the longer I do this: the minutes-long debate with myself before I hit the submit button. I hate that I still have so little confidence in my skill as a writer and I am this far into it, which means that confidence will probably never come along; it’s not like one day I will wake up with an entire new mindset and brain…plus, I think the insecurity is a driver in keeping me writing, frankly, which is in and itself probably more than just a little bit neurotic.

Nothing ever really changes around here, does it? I suspect that this blog–going back now seventeen years or so–is nothing more than an endless log of neuroses and insecurity and self-loathing. (A little voice in my head just shouted, and that will be your legacy!) I was also looking at the saved drafts in my folder–entries that I wanted to write but decided I needed more time to think about before posting, and in many cases they are unfinished–and thinking I should spend some more time actually finishing and posting them. While the blog has always been intended primarily for me–it’s a warm-up writing session at best, at worst it’s some writing I do every day to keep my hand in–there’s no reason I can’t use the blog for other purposes; like publishing an essay about something that I care about, or a personal essay built around something that happened to me. I don’t trust my memories, as I’ve often mentioned here (I sometimes think that if I were ever to start writing memoirs, it would have to be called False Memories or Memory Lies), and so writing about personal experiences is something I have always been highly reluctant to do. There are any number of things I could write personal essays about, but everything is entirely subjectively MY opinion, which makes it a bit harder for me to think anyone would even care to read them. I am not known as a great thinker or as an intellectual; far from it, in fact, and there’s quite literally nothing I can think of to say about anything that would be clever or insightful or meaningful.

Then again, that could just be the Imposter Syndrome speaking again, too.

Heavy heaving sigh.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely Saturday, Constant Reader, and I’ll check in with you again tomorrow, okay?

Trouble in Shangri-La

Wednesday morning and out of nowhere, my insomnia returned last night. I am assuming it was an aberration of some sort; too much brain usage yesterday after a long respite or something like that. I don’t feel either sleepy or tired or mentally fatigued or anything this morning, so hopefully I can make it through the day without it being challenging. I also get to leave work early this afternoon because I have a doctor’s appointment. Nothing serious, just the semi-annual check-up/prescription refill once over, and that will get me home much earlier than usual. Maybe I can get some more work done tonight when I get home from work. Stranger things have happened. At the very least, I should be able to get back to reading my book, Sandra SG Wong’s marvelous In the Dark We Forget, which I am enjoying tremendously.

We finished watching Mind Over Murder last night–the final episode finally dropped–and it’s really such a sad story on every level. I don’t know, the more of these documentaries that are made and the more injustices they expose on a far-too-regular basis makes me wonder about the police and the job they are doing. I wouldn’t ever want to be a cop–under any circumstance–but at the same time, yikes. Big time yikes on every level. I mean, as I was watching this last night I was thinking about how in most countries everyone fears the police, who are agents of the state and often above the law…and how this is one of the few countries in the world that celebrates the police, embracing them, when the truth is the Constitution was written to define the rights of citizens to protect us from abuses from agents of the state. There’s some essay forming in my head about this, to be sure.

In other exciting news, I got some ARCS for A Streetcar Named Murder in yesterday’s mail, and the book looks fantastic. I absolutely love the cover, and I appreciate that they drew the cat to resemble Scooter–the cat in the book is also named Scooter, and now that I think about, I think Scotty has a cat named Scooter. That’s me, immortalizing my cat in literature for all time. I am trying to cap my excitement about the book (naturally, I am very excited about it, but trying to rein it in a bit)–and of course, have been having all kinds of Imposter Syndrome thoughts about it not selling and getting bad reviews and so forth–but I am going to just go on being happy right now that the book is finished, for all intents and purposes (still have to proof the pages this weekend) and going to focus on getting the Bouchercon anthology finished as well as getting underway with Mississippi River Mischief. I’m kind of excited to be writing about Scotty again–funny how writing him never feels old to me; I always get a bit happy about going to revisit his world and his circle of family and friends–and writing it also means having to do a bit of travel and research outside of New Orleans, since the book is going to be partially set in a fictitious river or bayou parish. (Which I have cleverly named St. Jeanne d’Arc–although that begs the question of why there isn’t actually a St. Jeanne d’Arc parish in Louisiana…)

A quick glance at my inbox also shows that the edits for my story “Solace in a Dying Hour” have also dropped, so that’s something else to go on the agenda/to-do list for this week. I am really proud of this story, to be honest, and I am really curious to see the edits (one of the co-editors is who I worked with on the Sherlock story “The Affair of the Purloined Rentboy,” and her edits were fucking AMAZING) and see how much more work is needed on the story. I also have until Sunday to decide whether to submit that story I am not sure about anymore to that anthology I wanted to submit it to–that was quite a sentence, wasn’t it?–but I don’t know about it, you know? Although I suppose if it is really horrifically tone deaf and offensive they won’t accept it…but I also don’t want anyone else to read it if it is offensive and tone deaf. Ah, well, I have until the weekend to decide one way or the other.

I also am about half-way finished with getting the copy edits to the contributors to the Bouchercon anthology. I probably won’t get much, if any, of that done today, but stranger things have happened. Maybe when I get home early tonight Scooter won’t be whiny and demanding a lap to fall asleep in…or not.

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

Thousand Days

Last night was definitely the best night’s sleep I’ve had since I left for Florida last week, which was really nice. I still didn’t want to get up this morning, of course, but the weird thing is I feel very rested; I actually have every morning this week, which should say something about how well i’ve been sleeping, right?

Yesterday after work I had to head uptown to run an errand before heading home to the Lost Apartment, where I cleaned the kitchen and did a load of laundry before settling in with a grilled cheese sandwich (with bacon, guacamole, and two slices of Creole tomato–marvelous, simply marvelous) to watch some more episodes of Stranger Things, and I think we should finish it tonight. We also caught up on Only Murders in the Building, which I am enjoying–but not so sure how I feel about the latest plot twist in the story, but I am enjoying the show this season; the cast is top-notch, of course, and the writing is still strong, but the plot does seem to be dragging a bit this season. Not a complaint, merely an observation. We also have some episodes of Becoming Elizabeth to get caught up on; I love me some Tudor drama, and it’s funny how we very rarely see the incredibly turbulent times between the death of Henry VIII and the coronation of Elizabeth I on film or in novels (one exception: Anya Seton’s marvelous Green Darkness), so it’s nice seeing the years of Edward VI being dramatized; I’ve always felt the younger years of Elizabeth before she became Queen were just as interesting as those of her reign, particularly since the lessons she learned during those years held her in good stead when she did mount the throne…I wonder, now that I think about it, whether Sansa Stark on Game of Thrones was sort of based on Elizabeth Tudor?

I am starting to feel sort of back to normal again, so I am recovered fully from the trip this past weekend; and since I am not going anywhere again until September for Bouchercon (provided any of our current pandemics don’t suddenly worsen between now and then) I can get settled into a routine and hopefully–hopefully–start making it back to the gym again as well as settling into a routine of writing and editing. It’s not with the slightest hesitation that I can happily state that I am pretty much finished with all editing for A Streetcar Named Murder (all that is left is the page proofing), and all Imposter Syndrome aside, it’s actually not a bad book. After going through the copy edits and doing some slight tweaking, it actually holds together pretty well; I think my main character is likable enough; and I think I may have actually done a good job with the New Orleans stuff. Suffice it to say, I am pleased with it and hope that everyone who does read it will be as well.

Huzzah!

I have one other major chore on my list to get done by Monday, and then once it’s completed I can go ahead and get down to work on the new Scotty and everything else I am working on. Everything is a process, of course; but once I get the errands I need to run done tomorrow (which I am taking off) I should be able to sit around and focus on everything I need to get done in the meantime. I am excited about getting my new glasses tomorrow (the ability to see clearly is vastly underrated) and at some point I need to run by Costco as well as make a significant grocery run–there’s literally so little food in the house we would be hard-pressed to get through an entire weekend, quite frankly–and perhaps part of my “straight home from work” night chores should include a thorough cleaning out of the refrigerator (I may make grilled cheese again tonight; Creole tomato season doesn’t last forever after all) as well as reorganizing things in there to utilize the space better. I have a load of clothes in the dryer that will need fluffing and folding once I am home, as well, and I have a short story to edit before turning it in tomorrow for a submission call I’d like to make it past the cut–but on the other hand, I won’t be terribly upset if I don’t. I am not sure my story actually fits within the perimeters of the actual call, so it’s already a long shot before taking into consideration whether the writing or anything is any good.

I also need to figure out where I am with a lot of other things. This weekend will be good, methinks, for centering myself. I also want to finish reading Devil’s Chew Toy this weekend, and I also have a blog post or two about some things I’ve read I need to finish and post. It’s always something….

Until tomorrow, Constant Reader!

She’s a Lady

Saturday morning and I have errands to run today and chores to do; writing to get done and emails to write. I also want to spend some time today reading as well. I was a lolly-gag this morning, leisurely remaining in bed far longer than is my norm. It felt lovely, frankly, and I think it was exactly what I needed to get my body and my mind back in the order it needs to be in for me to function properly.

In other words, I think I have finally recovered from my trip to Left Coast Crime, which is marvelous.

Last evening I finished reading Catriona McPherson’s A Gingerbread House (more on that later), I actually wrote for a bit (more on that later) and then once Paul got home we binged through the rest of season 2 of Bridgerton, which I think I enjoyed much more than the first (despite the absence of gorgeous charismatic RegĂ©-Jean Page, whom I stopped missing once the story really began going). I think I actually preferred the plot of season two more than the one for season one, and it was absolutely lovely seeing an openly gay actor (Jonathan Bailey) so brilliant and convincing in a traditional male romantic leading role. Is that homophobic of me, or a commentary on show business’ homophobia and fear of casting openly gay male actors in those types of roles? I am not sure.

So last evening was quite an accomplished one, and I was most pleased to see that going into work on Friday was actually helpful. I did manage to get a lot done in the office yesterday as well, which was lovely, and that carried over into my evening here at the Lost Apartment. Today, as I mentioned, I have errands to run (prescriptions, mail, groceries) and chores to do (dishes, floors, organizing) and I would love nothing more than to get some writing and reading done today as well. One can dream, can’t one? I want to get through the first draft of my story this afternoon, and I’d like to work some more on something else I started working on yesterday; nothing of import, really, simply a novel idea I’ve had for a very long time that, for some reason yesterday I couldn’t get out of my head, so I just went ahead, found the existing files, and started writing my way through the first chapter. It actually flowed pretty well, and before I knew it–and it was time to call it quits for the evening–I’d written well over a thousand words, which was marvelous, and had also done no less than a thousand or so on my story. This was pleasing, as Constant Reader is no doubt aware of how I always worry that the ability to write is a skill that I might lose at some point in my life, and it always, always, terrifies me.

I am absolutely delighted to let you know that my story “The Silky Veils of Ardor”, originally published in The Beat of Black Wings, edited by the incomparable Josh Pachter, has been selected as this week’s “Barb Goffman Presents” by Wildside Press in this week’s Black Cat Weekly. I am not the most secure short story writer in the world (many thanks to both Josh and Barb for their keen editorial eye that helped improve the story dramatically from the terrible first draft I wrote years ago), so these little victories help a lot with my Imposter Syndrome issues–which inevitably raise their ugly Cerberus-like heads all the time but especially when I am in the malaise period after finishing a novel manuscript, and especially if I am trying to work on something else and it simply isn’t coming. I am confident now that I will not only finish an initial draft of my story this weekend but perhaps even finish that first chapter I started writing last night and maybe even an outline/synopsis of said book project, which has been languishing in my head for at least a dozen years now, if not more. I mean, it’s not Chlorine, obviously; but that book is becoming even more complicated for me the more I research it–not a bad thing, but indicative of how much work the book is going to be. I was paging through William J. Mann’s Behind the Screen the other night, and I once again was amazed at how tunnel-like my vision was in my initial conception of the book and who the characters needed to be; but I also think the more research I do and the more fears I have of writing it making it all the more necessary for me to actually go ahead and do so.

I really need to work on my focus. I don’t know what it’s actually like to be able to simply write a book and block everything else out of my life in order to solely focus on the writing; my ADHD certainly makes it more difficult and I am inevitably always juggling a million things at once. What must it be like to be able to laser focus all of my attention and energy on a book? It will be interesting to see how retirement, should I ever reach that place, will change and/or make a difference in my writing, won’t it?

I imagine I won’t know what to do with all the extra time. I’ve gotten so used to being scattered in my approach to everything I write that I don’t know what being singularly focused that way would be like, or if it’s even possible for me.

On that somber note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely day, Constant Reader!

Oh Be My Love

Sunday morning and oh so much to do. I slept in this morning until eight thirty (oh dear! The vapors!), and feel a bit groggy but also rested and well, which is lovely. I think the panel yesterday went well–one never knows for sure, does one?–but I think the panelists were smart and entertaining and fun and informative; I certainly enjoyed listening to their answers to my borderline puerile questions. I also didn’t stick close to the topic–I never do, another reason I am a shitty moderator–but the most important thing is to stay out of the way of the panelists as they talk about their writing. Whether I succeeded or not remains to be seen; moderating isn’t my strength by any means, I loathe doing it, and it’s also not something I enjoy doing, for that matter.

Then again, that might just be more evidence of Imposter Syndrome. Who knows?

I also woke up to a cover reveal for the Magic is Murder anthology! Edited by the wonderful Donna Andrews, Barb Goffman, and Marcia Talley, this lovely anthology includes my story “The Snow Globe,” which is another example of Gregalicious never letting a story idea die. This story began life as a Halloween story (original opening line: Satan had a great six-pack), was converted to a Christmas story (opening line: Santa had a great six-pack–only had to move the n!) and finally found a home. Thanks to the Terrific Trio for all their help with my story, and I am, as always, excited to see another short story of mine in print. Huzzah!

I need to add a caveat to my earlier “well-rested” sentence: my legs and hip joints ache from walking to the Monteleone and back two days in a row. My legs feel terribly tired, and my hip joints are very achy this morning–as evidenced just not when I got up to make another cup of coffee. I am sure it has something to do with the new shoes and needing new shoe inserts; it usually does–but it’s still rather annoying at the same time. I guess I am grateful it’s not my knees or ankles, but nevertheless, pretty aggravating. I have a lot to do today–I’ve already made a list of what needs to be done today–and I am probably going to spare some more wake-up time to reading Alex Segura’s marvelous Secret Identity. I spent some time with it yesterday while taking breaks from everything I need to scratch off my to-do list, and I am really enjoying it. I am enjoying the feel and vibe of the comic book world and New York in the 1970’s; it would be really fun to see a Mad Men/The Deuce type show developed by Segura set in the comics world of this time. I spent some time last night unwinding over a couple of episodes of Young Justice, which I am also enjoying, and then watched two DC animated movies: Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox and Teen Titans: The Judas Contract, both of which I deeply enjoyed; the lovely thing about the animated movies is they can actually use the entire cast of DC heroes and aren’t as limited as the television shows or live-action films by casting. I love seeing the DC heroes of my comic fandom days in action–Red Tornado, Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern, Blue Beetle, etc.–turning up in the animation; I’ve missed them as the movies focus on the bigger names and the television shows are also slightly limited by casting as well–they aren’t using first tier, like the movies, but what I would call Tier 1A. (Although I will gladly argue that the CW’s Superman and Lois is the best take on the characters since the Christopher Reeve Superman films.)

I also spent some time watching the World Figure Skating championships, which was delightful. Two American ice dance teams medaled (a rare occurrence), and I think this may be the first time in history that the US has gotten a medal in every discipline? I know we’ve not had a pairs champion since 1979 with Randy Gardner and Tai Babilonia, and it’s been a while since we had a pairs medal of any kind. And our future looks bright with two up-and-comers in Men’s.

So, I had probably best gird my loins and venture into today’s spice mines. Paul will be home tomorrow (yay!) and I need to not only get the apartment not only under control, but everything else in my life, and I am feeling better about everything, really. I don’t know why I allow myself to get so wrapped up in despair and overwhelmed by everything I have to do; everyone has things to do and everyone has their own pace, and well, it just is what it is, you know?

And on that note, tis off to the spice mines with me. Y’all have a great Sunday, okay?

Why (Must We Fall in Love)

Muses Thursday! Will our streak of getting at least one shoe per year continue? Watch this space!

I signed a contract for Scotty IX yesterday; Mississippi River Mischief, to be due on December 1st. Within two minutes of signing said contract I began doubting myself and the Imposter Syndrome kicked in–not really a big surprise, it always happens and is lurking in the back of my mind somewhere. What will I write this about? Another homophobe who is a closet case? AGAIN? But the story I want to write is based on something that actually did happen here; only I am moving it from the New Orleans suburbs to my stand-by fictional parish, Redemption Parish, out on the bayou lower river area. I do need to come up with some other plots–there’s some Colin stuff left over from the last one that I kind of need to delve into this time around–and no, this is not a pandemic book. There will be a pandemic book at some point–I think the shutdown/home quarantining times makes for an interesting situation for a murder mystery; kind of a locked room kind of thing–but I am not there yet. There are at least two more books for Scotty I want to write before Quarter Quarantine Quadrille–and of course, the story of the death of the Krewe of Nyx is simply too good of one to pass up. (Their “parade” was last night.)

Naturally, I didn’t attend the White Supremacy Lady Klan parade last night, and apparently neither did many other people. It was fun following NOLA Twitter as the entire city dragged the racist skanks and their joke of a parade for filth last night. When I got home from work last night, there were hardly any people out on the route–which was unusual, and I was able to find a parking place right in front of my house–a half block off the parade route, without a problem less than two hours before the streets closed. (Tonight is Muses, and I will probably be able to park no closer to my house than Coliseum Square if I am lucky) If you are unaware of the KKKrewe of Nyx, two years ago after George Floyd’s murder their captain posted “All Lives Matter” bullshit on their social media. (She’s also a grifter, and the creation of the krewe–which was created because the waiting list to get into Muses is years–was really a way for her to make money; there are any number of lawsuits and embezzlement investigations going on too) Some of their riders proudly threw Confederate flag beads in 2020; and there was a push for them to throw “Forever Lee Circle” beads with medallions featuring the image of the Traitor Lee on them this year to protest the removal of the statue that never should have been put up in the first place, and despite the fact that the only people supporting them (“the majority,” as they regularly claimed) were racist garbage, refused to apologize, refused to back down, and then screwed over the women who left the KKKrewe in droves after the racism scandal, literally going from 3400 members to 240; a loss of over 90%.

Yes, you fucking bitches, you also suck at math because if over 90% of your krewe quits then you can be relatively certain your opinion isn’t the majority. Imagine, in this day and time, being that unrepentantly racist and thinking you can parade in New Orleans and people will turn out. (Not that there isn’t racism here–there is–but the city is also majority progressive, and majority Black.)

Just the thought of them polluting St. Charles Avenue with their presence makes me angry.

But that shit is over, and we can go back to enjoying Carnival while hopefully, those bitches are spending today thinking about how an entire city turned their backs on them and their hateful messages. I rather doubt it, but I’d love to hear how they rationalize an abandoned parade route somehow meant they represent the majority opinion. And for the record, that statue is gone for fucking good and is never fucking coming back, bitches–because it’s our city and we don’t want to keep honoring treason. Especially after 1/6/21.

So, yes, lots of material there for French Quarter Flambeaux, isn’t there?

And on that note, probably time for me to go into the spice mines. Fingers crossed we get a shoe tonight!

Let Me Go The Right Way

A question I’ve been hearing a lot lately, when it comes to my new book. is why do you question whether you are the right person to tell this story?

It may entirely be a side effect of the long psychological disorder (one of many!) I possess that is more commonly known as Imposter Syndrome; but over the last decade or so there have been so many questions about who can tell what story that I don’t really think it’s so surprising that I would be concerned about my right to the tell the story of #shedeservedit that I chose to tell. It’s a book about toxic masculinity in a small town that manifests itself in a rape culture that devalues women, especially the girls, at the local high school; that toxic masculinity culture was created by the town’s worshipful devotion of the high school football team. Fans derives from fanatics, after all, and living in the South (and being Southern) has exposed me to the ‘football fan mob mentality’ that I was trying to recreate in my story. I’ve seen, for example, LSU fans rise up in righteous fury and indignation at the questioning of whether it’s animal cruelty for them to have a live tiger mascot with an amazing habitat on the campus; I’ve seen them rise up in defense of the administration and the players when players have been credibly accused of any number of crimes (not the least of which sexual harassment/assault of female students); and there are any other number of examples here I could cite–and that’s just LSU.

But in a story about toxic masculinity in a small town, I also centered a teenaged boy in the story; we see it all through his eyes, not that of any of the girls. That’s really the primary concern I had about how this book would be received: how could you put a boy at the center of a story about rape culture?

And I guess my response should be why wouldn’t I?

Because, as I read the articles and books that served as background research (there’s a chilling amount of research out there for anyone who is interested), all I could keep thinking was what is wrong with these boys? And from there I began to extrapolate further in my never-ending mental gymnastics. What do the kids who are not football players think about the privilege the players enjoy? High school is, after all, wanting/trying to fit in, not wanting to attract bad attention from people, not standing out from the crowd with an unpopular view or opinion. As I continued to read and research–and in the beginning, you have to remember, I started looking into all of this to begin with not because I wanted to write about it, but because the Steubenville/Marysville cases stoked my curiosity.

It was actually during the reading on Marysville that it hit me right between the eyes: the Marysville victim, Daisy Coleman, had not only been a cheerleader but her older brother was on the football team; the guys that got her drunk and assaulted her were not only guys she knew but felt safe with but were her brother’s teammates and friends.

And that was when I realized, you need to change the Kansas book to be about this, and write about the brother of a past victim when there is a new victim.

And then the other day, in an irony of ironies, I got my copy of Laura Lippman’s new collection, Seasonal Work, in the mail–and there it was, in the table of contents; her own story inspired by the Marysville incident, “Five Fires”; which I read when it was initially published; a story Laura and I had, in one of our infrequent but marvelous alcohol-fueled conversations, talked about (I’d forgotten what an integral part of shaping my own story that conversation with Laura all those years ago played).

“Five Fires” is quite marvelous.

“There was another fire last night.” That’s the first woman. Tennis skirt, Lacoste polo, gold chain with a diamond on it, like a drop of water.

The other woman–I don’t know either of them, you can’t, even in a town as small as ours, know everybody–says: “That makes three this month, doesn’t it?”

“Two. The one at the vacant–you know that place. And now behind Langley’s.”

And the playhouse, I want to say. The first one was that playhouse. But I don’t say it, because, again, I don’t know them. But three is right. There have been three since August 1, and it’s only August 10.

Whereas my story is told from the point of view of a victim’s brother–who is also on the football team–Laura’s story was inspired (if I remember correctly) by a newspaper article on Marysville, when the victim’s house was burned to the ground in a nasty work of arson–as if the family hadn’t been through enough already–and I don’t remember whether it was a photograph or a video she’d seen, of a vigil supporting the accused; there was a young woman in the picture that caught her attention and made her think, now why would that girl not support another young woman in a horrible situation? Why is it so easy for her to not believe the victim? And she thus wrote the story, to try to get into the mindset of a young teenaged girl who found it easy to believe an accused rapist and blame the victim.

It’s really quite an extraordinary story, and rereading it now, after all these years, I am even more impressed with how well done–touching, sad, and poignant–it is. It would be easy to make a villain of this girl, but Lippman approaches her with a strong sense of empathy, and while the character’s views and behavior can be quite repellant, the fact that Lippman gets so deep into her head and point of view makes character all the more compelling, and heartbreakingly sad at the same time–all the while never ever losing sight of who the real victim in the story is. It’s a terrific story, incredibly well done, and I strongly recommend getting this collection of stories; it’s worth it for “Five Fires” alone.

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