Brother Louie

I’m feeling a little better.

I think part of the problem was just exhaustion, in addition to some stomach upset. I spent most of the day yesterday (other than doing the laundry) pretty much curled up in my easy chair with Scooter sleeping in my lap while I read. What did I read? Nothing I loved enough to talk about publicly, frankly; my rule is to never post about a book that I didn’t absolutely love, or at the very least truly enjoy. I slip up with this from time to time, and have taken potshots at authors from time to time; it’s not something I’m terribly proud of, but reading is, after all, subjective; something I hate may be more to someone else’s taste, and I’ll never denigrate a book or author publicly because I know how much work it is to produce a novel.

At the very least, I like to show respect for a colleague’s hard work. And make no mistake about it, producing a novel is very hard work–hell, just typing  a novel is hard work.

After finishing the disappointing novel, I turned to Anne Somerset’s Unnatural Murder, which is about the notorious murder of Sir Thomas Overbury in the Tower of London during the reign of King James I of England; the murder was masterminded by the wife of one of the King’s notorious favorites. It was one of the most scandalous trials involving the royal court in English history, and the resolution, the revelations in the trial, and the later pardons from the King to both the favorite (Robert Carr, Earl of Somerset) and his beautiful wife Frances Howard, began an undermining of the monarchy, which inevitably led to the English Civil War, the downfall of the Stuart monarchy for a time, and the execution of King Charles I.

King James I, the man who brought the crowns of England and Scotland together in the same monarch, had male favorites rather than female; beautiful men he showered titles and honors on throughout his life. Whether James ever acted physically on his attractions and love for beautiful men is not known; he himself vehemently denied any kind of physicality with other men; but he certainly preferred the company of beautiful men to that of beautiful women. Robert Carr was only one of the many male favorites the King loved during his lifetime; Carr was followed by George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, who was also close to James’ son, King Charles I. Whether the favorites themselves were gay–they also, like James, always had wives and children–or even bisexual is unknown; certainly in the case of Buckingham the King was the only male he was ever linked with. I do think it’s possible that James never had a physical relationship with any of his favorites; it may have been a “look and love, but never touch” sort of thing for him. He was deeply religious and his desires were, of course, anathema to the church, and he also had a very real fear of being murdered and/or deposed; his mother was deposed and later beheaded (Mary Queen of Scots was his mother), and his father was murdered (Lord Darnley), most likely in a plot masterminded by his mother’s lover. He was less than a year old when he became King of Scotland; he was nearly forty when he followed his mother’s bitter rival Elizabeth I to the English throne.

It is interesting (at least to me) that in this Elizabethan/Jacobean period (and shortly thereafter) produced many royals with same sex attractions; Henri III of France ruled during this time and his affections for male favorites was quite well known; Louis XIV’s brother Philippe Duc d’Orleans was also infamous for the same reason. There have been other sexually suspect kings and royals throughout history; James’ own granddaughter Queen Anne was, if not one in fact, a lesbian by inclination. (See The Favourite.)

This morning I feel much better; my stomach seems settled and I slept well, after resting and relaxing for most of the day yesterday. Today I need to venture out into the stifling heat and humidity, and I also need to write. Oh! Yes, I did spend some time in my easy chair with my MacBook Air going over the copy edits of Royal Street Reveillon, which is inching closer and closer to publication date, which is lovely. It’s been a while since the last Scotty book–Garden District Gothic, which I think was released in 2016? Has it really been three years since the last Scotty book? Then again, it’s also hard to wrap my mind around the idea that my first book was released seventeen years ago.

I also think taking a day away from the pressure of trying to get caught up on the WIP was a smart thing to do. I may try to write a chapter later today. I don’t know. I am wondering if I should just keep plowing through this until the first draft is finished before seeing if i can get the other manuscript revised in what time is left before August 1, when I have to dive into something else entirely for two months. There’s also short stories to write, revise, edit, and so on, and so forth. It truly never ends for me, you know. And there’s still yet another unfinished manuscript in a drawer that needs to be worked on as well. Heavy heaving sigh.

And let’s not forget, I also started writing another Chanse book this past weekend.

Heavy heaving sigh.

Focus, Gregalicious, focus.

I also need to figure out what I’m going to read next, quite frankly. I may take a break from the Diversity Project and read one of the many books in the dusty TBR pile…I don’t know. I’ll just, after getting everything done that needs to be done to day, just look through the bookcases and the piles of books and see what’s there to read.

And there’s always non-fiction, of course. It’s not like I don’t have a massive pile of books on Louisiana and New Orleans history and folklore I could get lost inside.

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

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Ride Like the Wind

Yesterday I felt fantastic. Yes, I overslept, not getting out of bed until a disgraceful almost ten am, had a couple of cups of coffee while checking social media and writing yesterday’s blog entry, and then buckled down to clean, organize and write. I got about 2400 words down on Chapter Ten of the WIP–which I originally thought was Chapter Nine but I had already written that chapter so this was ten, which means the first draft is over halfway done. How marvelous is that?

Pretty mother-fucking marvelous, if I do say so myself.

I slept well again last night, but set the alarm so I wouldn’t stay in bed as late. As it is, I set it for eight and hit snooze repeatedly, not to sleep more, but rather because I felt so relaxed and comfortable in the bed I didn’t want to get up. But I still have some laundry to do, a grocery store run to make (KING CAKE!), and I want to spend the day cleaning and editing a hard copy of the Scotty book. (Yes, I do my original edits on a paper copy. SUE ME.) I also want to finish rereading The Shining so I can move on to Pet Sematary. I am not reading as quickly as I used to, which is aggravating. Once I finish these two rereads, I am going to dive into reading for the Diversity Project, and I also want to get back into the Short Story Project. I also need to clean the apartment more thoroughly–I spent most of the day yesterday organizing and filing, as well as purging books. But I need to get the floors done today, and finish the laundry. This is my first full week of work since before Christmas, and I am hoping if I can focus on getting to bed at a decent hour on the nights before I have to get up early, I can get things done and not wear myself out too terribly along the way. I am not going to try the gym this week, as I need to get a handle on my work schedule and see how I can make that work, with plans to make it back to the gym this coming Friday or Saturday. There’s also no Saints game today, which makes today easier. One of the things that was amazing to me yesterday was how much time I had…it’s amazing how that works. No LSU or college football, and the day is suddenly wild and free. Go figure.

And yesterday was Twelfth Night, so it’s now officially Carnival. Hurray! The city will soon be festooned in purple, gold and green; the bleachers will be going up on Lee Circle and St. Charles Avenue on the downtown side of the circle; King cakes will have their own enormous display table at the grocery store; and that sense of anticipation of the coming madness can be felt in the air. It’s going to be weird not going to work on Parade Days, but it will also make life a little bit more interesting. I’m obviously hoping to get a lot done on those days, but we shall see how that all works out, shan’t we?

I also need to do some cooking today; trying to get food for the week ready and for our lunches. Which means making a mess in the kitchen and something else to do for the day; cleaning the mess. But I don’t like going into the week with a messy apartment; it gets messy enough during the work week when I don’t have the time or energy to keep up with it (or the filing, for that matter). So, there’s some touching up I need to do on my office space, and I can vacuum and so forth while I am editing.

Last night we started watching Homecoming on Prime. What an amazing cast–Julia Roberts, Bobby Canavale, Sissy Spacek, and Dermot Mulroney, just for starters. The plot is also interesting–we’re about half-way through. and will probably finish this evening. We may go see The Favourite  next weekend, which is kind of exciting. I can’t remember the last time we saw a non-popcorn movie in the theater. I’m sure the film is rife with historical inaccuracies–what historical films aren’t–but my knowledge of Queen Anne is fairly limited; I’ve not even read the Jean Plaidy historical fiction about her, so perhaps that won’t be too much of issue to keep me from enjoying it (I’ll watch the new Mary Queen of Scots movie when I can stream it for free; every film biography of Mary Stuart is rife with license and inaccuracy; but it’s always a great opportunity for two great actresses to chew the scenery. The 1971 version with Vanessa Redgrave and Glenda Jackson is probably, in my opinion, the best; I always picture Glenda Jackson whenever I think of Queen Elizabeth). I did know that Queen Anne had seventeen children that all died; she didn’t particularly want to be queen, and she had female ‘favorites’–it wasn’t common, but several English kings and queens had same-sex favorites, including Edward II, James I, and Queen Anne. Histories and biographies and encyclopedia entries would mention this, but gloss it over….it wasn’t until my late teens that I began putting together the coding and realized these monarchs were queer.

Yup, queers have been systematically erased from history, glossed over and forgotten, for centuries. Yay.

Part of the research/reading I am doing into New Orleans history is precisely to try to uncover the city’s queer past; trying to find the clues and coded language in books as we are glossed over and hidden from incurious minds. Every once in a while I’d find a glimmer of a hint in Gary Krist’s Empire of Sin, for example, that there were gay male prostitutes working in Storyville, and I kind of want to write about that. As I’ve said a million times before, New Orleans history is rife with terrific stories that would make for great fictions. One of the reasons I am so bitter about the Great Data Disaster of 2018 is not only because of the time spent reconstructing things but because it so completely broke my momentum and totally derailed me. I’m not sure how to get back on that streetcar (see what I did there?) but I’m going to have to relatively soon. But i’ve also been so focused on the Scotty and the new WIP that I’ve gotten away from it. I think diving back into The French Quarter by Herbert Asbury will help.

I also bought some cheap ebooks on sale yesterday, including Sophie’s Choice by Williamt Styron and Fear of Flying by Erica Jong. When I was checking the Kindle app on my iPad to make sure they downloaded properly, much to my horror I discovered that I have almost 400 books in that app–which doesn’t include the ones I have in iBooks or the Barnes & Noble app. YIKES. Clearly, I don’t need to take any books with me when I travel, because there are plenty in my iPad. I also have a ridiculous amount of anthologies and single author short story collections loaded in there…so yes, the Short Story Project will be continuing for quite some time, I suspect. There are also some terrific books in there I’d like to read, or reread, as the case may be…I have almost all of Mary Stewart’s novels on Kindle, for example, and a lot of Phyllis Whitney’s. I also have a Charlotte Armstrong I’ve not read, The Seventeen Widows of San Souci, and on and on and on….I really am a book hoarder, aren’t I?

Ah, well, life does go on.

And on that note, tis back to the spice mines with me.

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