Making Love Out of Nothing At All

Ah, where has the week gone? Tis now Friday morning, yet another week has somehow slipped through my fingers, and yet my to-do list is a long and large as it has ever been.  Sigh. But I did finish Eric Ambler’s Background to Danger last night; another one of those “hey, I’m just on the train minding my own business and now I’m involved in international intrigue” style stories, and it was done rather well. It was written before the second World War, and the two opposing sides were the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, trying to control who runs Romania and an evil international oil conglomerate was also involved; which was kind of interesting. Even in the 1930’s the capitalist insistence on profit before politics was known; the world has changed, apparently, very little. Were Ambler an American rather than British, making the Soviets the good side (even though the Nazis were the villains) would have made him suspect after the war; the lovely days of virulent anti-Communism, McCarthyism, and hysterical patriotism weren’t that long ago, and the after-effects are still being felt today.

I revised “For All Tomorrow’s Lies” yesterday, and I am not truly certain that the ending works. This is the problem I generally have with short stories (and novels, for that matter): ending them. I’m never completely convinced that my endings work; that they aren’t rushed and sudden. I think, over all, it’s a good story; I am going to reread a hard copy of it and make notes on it today. I like the concept of the story, but I am not sure I’ve pulled off the ending. It may need another thousand words; perhaps in the next version I’ll go ahead and tack on a longer ending, see if it can work. I also worked on “The Brady Kid” a bit yesterday, and I think it, too, is coming along well; I just am not certain that I know how to properly end it either. I think I’ve come up with the proper answer to make “Fireflies” work in it’s next edition; we shall see. I’d like to get them all out into the markets soon; rejections are, of course, to be expected and fine. (I am struggling with Scotty, so am following my own advice and working on something else while I ponder the issues I am having with the Scotty book; I may try to write my way out of those issues this weekend.)

And now, even though October doesn’t really begin until Sunday, I am going to start working through my Halloween Horror reading.  I’m going to start rereading It today; knowing I am most likely going to put it aside from time to time to read other things. I’d like to get through my entire stack of Halloween Horror reading; there is, of course, no guarantee that I will, but I am going to give it the old college try (there’s also the trip to Toronto, which means time in airports which also means more time to read).

And on that note, tis time to get  back to the spice mines.

Here’s a Friday hunk to slide you into the weekend:


Promises, Promises

Hello, Wednesday! I’ve  been sleeping incredibly well since having to get up so early for the NO/AIDS Walk on Sunday; I’ve also added some more vitamins to my daily regimen that are supposed to help with creating melatonin naturally in my body, and have started drinking tart cherry juice, which is also supposed to assist in that. Has this change in routine had something to do with it? Perhaps. I am also trying to not look at any kind of electronic screen (other than the television) for half an hour before bed. I do feel very relaxed and rested this morning; which is lovely, since I have a very long day on deck.

I meant to take the Ambler novel with me last night to read between clients, but forgot it like a moron. I did work some more on Chapter Six yesterday, and even finished the draft of it, but it’s really terrible. But the framework is there to make it better; and that’s what rewrites are for. I also got started on Chapter Seven, so I may be on track to get this next Scotty book finished by the end of October, which was my hope (the draft, that is). I am, as always, behind on everything–I was so close to being ahead….but then the sleep issues started again last week and BAM! My energy and creativity were knocked flat and here I am, behind on everything again. Hurray.

I need to finish reading the Ambler by this weekend, since I’ve decided to  make October a horror-only reading month. I am going to start my reread of It this weekend, and I am also going to start reading The Elementals by Michael MacDowell, because I promised Katrina Holm I’d read it before Toronto Bouchercon. I also want to get my reread and re-evaluation of The Haunting of Hill House done before Toronto; and I have an enormous stack of horror that I want to get read this month. November I’m going to get back to my eclectic reading patterns, and then, of course, January is going to be Short Story Month again, where I read a short story every day for discussion. I’ve found even more short story collections scattered throughout my book collection, which is incredibly exciting.

All right, I am heading back into the spice mines. Here’s a Hump Day Hunk for your viewing pleasure:


Affair of the Heart

Wednesday. It’s also Pay Day, or rather, Pay the Bills Day. Hurray. Although none of them are actually do until next week, so I may wait to pay them so I can savor the feeling of having actual money in my checking account for a couple of days.

Apparently we’re in a boil water advisory this morning in New Orleans. Fortunately I have an entire shelf full of bottled water in my refrigerator that have been through the Brita filter–I don’t trust that our water pipes aren’t lead–and showering isn’t an issue in this particular advisory, but this seems to happen more regularly than it really should, you know? I love this city, but our old infrastructure leaves so much to be desired. And no matter how many luxury condo buildings go up over parking lots, this is still an old, fragile, crumbling city.

I continue to work my way through Lisa Unger’s In the Blood, and I got rolling on Chapter Six of Scotty yesterday (I know, I meant to outline the next five chapters but I had an idea for how to get it started and then it just kind of started going), but last night was bar testing and so I am a little frazzled/tired this morning. My mind is certainly all over the place. I had some terrific book mail yesterday–including the ARC for the fabulous new Alison Gaylin coming out in March, If I Die Tonight, which I am itching to get into. (I may have picked out a stack of horror novels to read for Halloween/October, but it’s still September, don’t you know). I think I’ll be able to get the Unger finished this weekend and then move onto the Gaylin. I also have an electronic ARC of Laura Lippman’s Sunburn I keep forgetting I have–the curse of pesky ebooks is that I don’t think about “oh, I should check the iPad and see what I have to read in there” very often, if at all.

Here’s my rather ambitious stack of books to read for October/Halloween:


It is a bit overwhelming in its length, but the lovely thing is it’s a reread; so I don’t have to gobble it all down at one time. I can read it here and there, slip another in for a break, and then go back. I am very curious as to how well it holds up, and as I’ve previously mentioned, I’ve not reread It since I read it the first time. I do want to see the movie, but may end up waiting to see it once it’s streaming. I am excited, though, for it–as most people whose opinion I respect have greatly enjoyed it. There are so few King adaptations that are good–Carrie, Misery, Dolores Claiborne, Christine–that when a good one comes along, it must be embraced.

All right, it’s off to the spice mines with me.

Is There Something I Should Know?

It rained last night; it was kind of a shock as there was no thunder and/or lightning, and the sun was actually shining. I only knew it was raining when I took out the trash; and it was pouring. Quietly. It was eerie; there wasn’t any wind so the rain was coming straight down, slowly–the way it does in the jungle. And then I remember, as I seem to forget at times, oh, yes, we live in the tropics. It’s easy to forget that when you live in a city that should be a tropical swamp.

I am working both days this weekend; both Saturday for testing and Sunday for the NO/AIDS Walk. I get to take next Monday off, and then go in late on Tuesday, which will be lovely. But ugh, staring down seven consecutive days of work is horrific. But, you know, it happens. And it’s not like it’s every week, you know?

The new Scotty is taking shape, which is lovely. It’s so vastly different than it’s source material, even if it using the same framework, and I am actually enjoying myself as the plot broadens, expands and takes shape. I am hopeful to have a first draft finished around mid-October, if all goes well and the creek don’t rise; November 1 if I get distracted, as I am wont to do.

Lisa Unger’s In the Blood continues to enthrall me; if you haven’t read her work, Constant Reader, you really need to. She defies classification as well; there are crimes in her novels, but there’s also a touch of the paranormal–but you’re never really sure if the paranormal stuff is real or not; she dances a fine line, but the writing is so incredibly strong she never falls off the beam. In that way, she is kind of Shirley Jackson-ish–thematically and plotting and character-wise; she doesn’t write in Jackson’s style, which would be incredibly difficult to master. She’s just bloody fantastic.

September is drawing to a close, and I am already lining up my reading for Halloween Horror: the annual reread of The Haunting of Hill House,  a reread of It, and I have some horror anthologies and other horror novels in my TBR stack that I’ll be pulling out and diving into.

And on that note, it’s back to the spice mines.

Here’s a hunk to get you through your Monday!


Too Shy


I worked late last night, but also pulled within four or five chapters of being finished with inputting the line edit. Hip hip hurray! HUZZAH indeed! So, so close, and I know exactly how to finish polishing it; I know what needs to be added.

That’s such a lovely feeling, you have no idea.

The rest of this month is going to be a bit challenging; I have to do a lot of bar testing, going to the office on Saturdays, the NO/AIDS Walk is an upcoming Sunday, and just thinking about any and all of it makes me tired. But I will persist. I will persevere. Because I am Gregalicious!

I’m enjoying Louise Penny’s Still Life, which is a really charming read, to be honest, and I can’t think the last time I read a book about which I could use the word charming as a descriptor. Granted, I tend to read darker stuff, but I am enjoying this. I will keep you posted, Constant Reader, as I make my way through the rest of the book. I think I have copies of other Louise Penny novels scattered about the house in TBR piles; but I do think when I finish this I am going to tackle the reread of It. It’s so daunting though, I look at how enormous the trade paperback I recently bought on impulse is, and want to weep. How did I ever read a novel that large in such a short period of time? Will it still hold up after all this time? The suspense! Older Stephen King novels I’ve loved have stood the test of time; and I do think that perhaps I also might give The Shining a reread in October, when I am going to primarily focus on horror, as I always do in the month of Halloween.

I am going to pick up a prescription (I meant to do this yesterday and forgot) and some other errands–since I worked late last night I don’t have to be in until one. I am also going to do some other chores around the house before I leave for the office etc. I am hoping to get some more of the edits input this morning as well.

And here’s a Throwback Thursday hunk for you, Constant Reader, actor Doug McClure:



Tuesday! I made it through Monday. I also managed to get a big hunk of edits input into the manuscript, which means I am on the downward slope to getting that finished. I am most likely going to put aside working on Scotty until the edits are finished, now that I’m in a groove, and am very pleased, I must say. I would love to have this done by the weekend, so I can let it sit for another week while I work on Scotty; but I don’t know; that’s going to depend on two things: motivation and energy.

We’ll see how that turns out, won’t we?

Heavy sigh.

I am debating on whether I want to reread It. I bought it the day it was released, back in 1986 (as I have done with everything Stephen King has published since Different Seasons,  and I read it over the course of two days. (I binge-read King’s novels back then; each as they came out, on the day they were released; a habit I have sadly fallen out of.) I also used to reread King novels many times; I can’t count how many times I’ve reread, for example, The Stand, The Dead Zone, ‘salem’s Lot, etc. I still will reread one of those earlier novels on occasion; but I’ve never reread It, though, and I’m not sure why. I think I got out of the habit of rereading King sometime in the mid-1990’s; and what I wouldn’t give for the time to sit down and reread them all, beginning with Carrie and working my way through the most recent. But now that a new film version of It is out, and breaking records, and getting much critical acclaim; it may be time to reread the Big Novel. I loved It the first time, cherishing the characters more so than the story, which did terrify me; but I vaguely remember not liking the ending; which was a first for me with King.

I do love Stephen King, both as a person and as a writer; granted, what I know of him as a person is confined to news reports of things he does, and his Twitter account; plus, I did get to meet him at the Edgars several years ago, which was one of the biggest thrills of my life. It’s hard to describe what King’s work has meant to me; how it’s inspired me as a writer, and pushed me to not only find my own voice as a writer but made me want to figure out how to create characters that, no matter how bad they might be or how awful the things they do, the reader can find some sympathy for. His On Writing is the book I always recommend to beginning writers as a place to start learning to write, and ‘salem’s Lot (with Needful Things running right behind it) is one of the best novels about a small town, and small town life, I’ve ever read. “The Body” is one of my favorite novellas, if not the favorite; and of course the film version, Stand by Me, is one of my favorite films. His uncanny eye for human behavior, his insights into character that are so honest and real and true, are what make the books so damned brilliant for me.

We watched the first episode of American Horror Story: Cult last night as well; it was an excellent start to the season. But that doesn’t mean the show won’t go off the rails as it continues to unfold; it seems like it almost always does. And without the anchor of Jessica Lange giving a balls-out performance at the center, the post-Jessica seasons tend to lose my interest along the way. We never finished watching Hotel, but we did finish the mess that was Roanoke. As Halloween approaches–it’s certainly has felt more like fall around here since Labor Day, with temperatures in the low seventies and no humidity–my mind is turning more and more to reading horror; it’s almost time for my annual Halloween reread of The Haunting of Hill House, and I do have some other horror in my TBR pile I’d like to get through. I promised Katrina Holm I’d read Michael MacDowell’s The Elementals before Bouchercon so we could drink martinis and discuss it; I’ve got some unread Nick Cutter on my shelves, as well as some other things from ChiZine Press (which never disappoints), and there are some Stephen King novels in my collection I’ve yet to read. I also want to reread Peter Straub’s Ghost Story and Floating Dragon; as I said the other day, a horror novel I’ve been thinking about for about thirty years has been percolating in my frontal lobes the last week or so–I finally realized where I could set it, where it would make sense, as opposed to where I’d stubbornly been wanting to set it, where it wouldn’t work so I’ve never been able to write it–and I may start sketching some ideas for it.

And on that note, these edits aren’t going to input themselves.

Here’s a hunk for you, Constant Reader, Eddie Cibrian, in his underwear: