Devil Woman

Oddly enough, I wound up not working on the book yesterday.

I did reread Chapter Eight, and it’s actually not bad at all. But it’s good enough for me to have to think about how to revise it and make it stronger; this is one of those situations when writing that I am afraid trying to improve something will actually ruin it–and even the fact that it’s only dreadful possibility–after all, the possibility that I actually will improve it is much more likely, and statistically more probable– is still paralyzingly terrifying. So it bears more thought than simply diving right in–and then, of course, I question that judgment–is this simply a stall tactic?–and yes, here is yet another example of why writers drink.

At least this one, anyway.

I had intended to get up early this morning, rather than allowing myself to wallow in bed until I finally got tired of lying there the way I usually do every Wednesday. The alarm went off, I hit snooze a couple of times, and finally turned it off….and yes, wallowed in bed for longer than I should have simply because I was so relaxed and comfortable. I’m not sorry that I did this, now that I am awake–this no regrets thing I am trying out; part of which is listening to myself and listening to my body; my body needed the rest else I would have been wide awake and willing to hop out of bed at the first sounding of the alarm this morning. My body must have needed to rest, so I rested it. When I was a personal trainer I used to advocate this all the time; listen to your body. The problem of course, for me, is that I’ve been told so often throughout my life that I’m lazy that whenever I’ve taken time to rest (my body or my brain) I’m so conditioned and so convinced that I am lazy that it’s my default: you’re just being lazy and making excuses for yourself to be lazy. This is so ingrained into my subconscious that it’s my immediate default; but be told “you’re lazy” enough times…well, you start to believe it. And then have to spend far too many years trying to unlearn that.

But, as I said above, Chapter Eight was in much better shape than I thought it was, and so I am going to reread it again today (along with Chapter Nine) and start working on it again. I don’t regret not working on the book yesterday–not at all. It wasn’t one of those what’s the point days, or I just don’t feel like it; it was more along the lines of I don’t really know what to do, and the chapter wasn’t terrible, so there was no urgency to fix it, if that makes sense? Had the chapter been horrible from start to finish, it would have triggered me to want to fix it, the need to fix it would have been overwhelming. But it was actually kind of good and complete and creepy and the mood and feeling were exactly what I was going for, and trying to force the revision/rewrite was…as I said above, I was more worried about messing it up more than anything else. But perhaps today–as the caffeine from my first cup of coffee begins to flow through my system and my body comes awake, I am beginning to see a way to revise this chapter…and in fact, at the moment I feel as though I will actually have the energy to not only do it but the next chapter as well.

We shall see how that goes, shan’t we?

But I am now on my second cup of coffee, and I also have to recognize that the weather is also changing again; which always has something to do with my energy levels and how I feel. The heat and humidity are coming back–we’re supposedly getting our first major heat wave next week (it’s only MAY)–and of course, the termites are swarming again. May brings the termite swarms; a plague of Egypt that descends on the city every year  around Mother’s Day.

I continue to read Jamie Mason’s wonderful The Hidden Things, and I am marveling at the way she plays her cards; the slow reveal of information that adds to the story. It opens wonderfully; a young girl coming home from school is victim of a home invasion, defends herself, and the attacker runs away, all captured on security cameras within the house. The police post the video on their social media page, hoping to get community help to identify the attacker; the video goes viral. But there’s an issue here–why did the husband/stepfather not tell his wife and stepdaughter there were security cameras inside the house? Why was the alarm pad not connected to the security company in order for help to come? And why is the father so nervous about the footage going viral? It’s fascinating, as a reader, to become so intrigued and curious, wanting to keep reading; as a fellow writer it’s even more interesting to see how she is constructing her story and creating her characters. Her debut novel, Three Graves Full, was quite marvelous, and this one is quite good as well. We have so many amazing women crime writers these days…

I also need to get to work on that article. Heavy heaving sigh.

So, I suppose it’s time to get back to the spice mines.

169138_490629207077_648027077_6093815_878639_o

Lowdown

I woke up to a major thunderstorm around seven this morning, and quite frankly, curled up under my blankets even more and went back to sleep. I didn’t wind up getting out of bed until after nine, which felt lovely and now I feel wide awake while well rested at the same time, which is actually quite nice. I need to run to the UPS Store today, pick up the mail and a prescription, stop by the bank, and make groceries at some point, but ugh, how horrible to do this in the rain. It’s supposed to rain here all day, alas. But that will certainly encourage me to get them done as quickly as possible so I can get home.

Today I need to also do some more cleaning around the house, and at some point I am going to close the browsers so I can focus on writing. I want to push through these revisions of these chapters of the WIP, and I’d also like to push through and get a strong revision of “And the Walls Came Down” done, so I can submit it to some markets this week. My short story for next week will be the “The Problem with Autofill,” which is a strong story but the ending needs to be altered and changed somewhat. I still like the concept of the story–it’s kind of a Sorry Wrong Number thing, only with email–but I’m still not sure how to make it work completely.  But I still persist in trying to make it work. I also would like to work some more on “Please Die Soon,” which I think is a terrific idea for a story, and I’ve done the requisite research to make it work, methinks. I really want to stick to this goal of either revising a short story or finishing an incomplete first draft of one every week.

Goals. Must stick to goals.

I survived Costco yesterday, my checking account less scathed than usual–although it easily could have become Sherman’s March to the Sea. Yet I was able to resist, and came very close to staying within the budget I set for the trip–and had I not bought two books off the book table (Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, and The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea by Jack E. Davis; the Owens was nominated for an Edgar while the Davis won the Pulitzer Prize) I would have stayed under budget.

The book table is always my downfall.

And while I didn’t accomplish near as much as I probably should have yesterday, I did manage to get some chores done, some of them loathsome, so that’s a win for the end of the week, methinks. The key is what I can get done today and tomorrow…and my primary focus has to be on writing. Once I get the writing gears dusted off and oiled, I am hoping I will be able to get the first draft of the WIP finished by the end of May (there’s a three day holiday this month as well, which I am really looking forward to enjoying).

The Gulf itself looks interesting. Most American histories, of course, focus on the Atlantic colonies and the spread westward from there; there really isn’t anything taught about the history of the Gulf of Mexico–which, once Florida, Louisiana and Texas passed into American hands, basically became an enormous American lake–and I am very interested in becoming better acquainted with this history. It can, after all, only help, since most of my fiction work is focused on the Gulf states. The more Louisiana history I know, and read, the better I feel my fiction will become.

I think once I finish Jamie Mason’s The Hidden Things my next book will be either Rachel Howzell Hall’s All the Way Down or Joseph Olshan’s Lambda nominated mystery, Black Diamond Fall. I’m greatly enjoying the Mason novel, and perhaps at some point today, once I’ve run the errands and done the cleaning and written all I need to write today, I might curl up in the easy chair with The Hidden Things and make some serious headway on it. I also have an article to write and another column to start planning for. And yes, it does all seem a bit overwhelming, but what I need to do is make a list and just start checking off boxes.

And on that note, tis back to the spice mines. Have a lovely Saturday, Constant Reader.

163625_157246524326686_100001240186267_324128_4959884_n

That’s the Way (I Like It)

Friday and we have made it to the end of the week, Constant Reader!

I am most pleased, and am even more pleased that I woke up before my alarm this morning. This, as you can imagine, doesn’t happen as often as I would like, and I was not only awake but functional, so I went ahead and got up. The kitchen is a mess this morning, primarily because I made dinner last night after cleaning when I got home yesterday afternoon, so I should probably do something about that before I leave for my half-day this morning. I am hoping to run to Costco after work today, and then come home to my usual Friday chores–primarily washing the bed linens–and perhaps getting back on track with writing. I really need to get back into the habit of writing some fiction every day. I do have other errands to run this weekend–making groceries being the most important of those–and I absolutely have to clean the Lost Apartment. I’ve not done the floors in forever, and the kitchen windows are filthy, absolutely filthy.

I also would love to finish reading Jamie Mason’s quite marvelous The Hidden Things this weekend. This is Jamie’s third novel; her first, Three Graves Full, was quite a stunning and brilliant debut, but I’ve been holding on to her second until she’d published another so I would always have one of her books that I’ve not read on deck. It really is quite odd that I do this; but I never want to run out of authors I enjoy’s books. (I’m still holding back on some Mary Stewarts, Daphne du Mauriers, and Charlotte Armstrongs)

I’ve also had a strong breakthrough on my short story “And the Walls Came Down,” which I reread this week, and think I can fashion with another revision into something quite marvelous. So, that’s also on the agenda for the weekend–and I’ve decided that each week I am picking one of my short stories for a reread and a final revise. At one story per week, it’s going to probably take me the rest of the  year to get them all done–I had no idea precisely how many short stories I have that are in some sort of progress–but at some point I am also going to have to finish the ones I’ve started and never finished the initial draft for–I also need to go through my journals and start digging out the short story ideas I’ve jotted down over the last year, because there were quite a few of those as well.

Paul and I watched the first season–there were only seven episodes–of a Netflix show called Bonding–which was actually quite funny at times and rather clever. The premise of the show is two former close friends from high school run into each other as adults; she is now a dominatrix and he’s an aspiring stand-up comedian who has too much stage fright to ever actually get up and do his act. He winds up working as her assistant, and they begin to bond and learn from each other while negotiating their own hang-ups and possible new relationships. I’m not entirely certain this is an accurate depiction of the BDSM community, or even of what a dom is like; but it was clever and cute and funny; and up till the last episode, we greatly enjoyed it. (The last episode got kind of weird.)

I also got some new books in the mail yesterday: They All Fall Down by Rachel Howzell Hall; Miracle Creek by Angie Kim; A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab; and Upon a Burning Throne by Ashok Banker. I’ve bumped Rachel’s book to the “on-deck” position on my TBR pile; so I am hopeful I can get Jamie’s book finished this weekend so I can dig into Rachel’s.

I am also bound and determined to get caught up on the WIP this weekend, so I can start writing new chapters next week.

Or…I might just be a slug and lay around and not do a goddamned thing all weekend. It happens.

And on that note, tis back to the spice mines with me. Have a lovely Friday, everyone.

132690_10150115526071427_157011751426_8057788_2561006_o

A Little Bit More

Thursday morning and I have errands to run before I head into the office. Prescription pick-ups and the mail, which means a voyage uptown and then taking Highway 90 all the way back across town until I can get on I-10. I’ve started taking I-10 to and from work, which has dramatically cut back on my travel time. My office is literally a block from the on/off ramps, and I only live six or seven blocks or so from the highway. It only recently occurred to me to take the highway, and was stunned when I got from the office parking lot to my house in about six or seven minutes; if I hit the lights correctly on St. Charles I can do it in almost under five.

Driving through the city instead? Anywhere from fifteen minutes to half an hour. #madness

I woke up tired and a bit out of it this morning; not so much tired as more not rested enough. I’m not sure what that’s all about or why, but it’s annoying and it needs to stop happening. It was that way yesterday as well; I couldn’t really focus because I felt like I was still drowsy all day. Tomorrow I have to get up ridiculously early again (sigh) but I am also going to Costco tomorrow after work, which means girding my loins and sucking it up. The tiredness yesterday also precluded me from actually doing any writing–I did reread Chapter Six, and that was part of it; the chapter as written is a mess and is going to require brain power and work to sort and I just kind of sighed and surrendered in defeat to  it yesterday–and I also reread my story “And The Walls Came Down,” which I want to rewrite and revise and possibly send out to some markets over the course of the weekend. (There’s also more than a slight fear that the early part of the week will render me useless on the weekend, but I do think a good night’s sleep on Friday night will resolve that problem.)

And, of course I am really looking forward to seeing this weekend’s episode of Game of Thrones, to see how the show is going to move through these last three episodes now that the threat of the dead from the north is over. I just have some errands to run and some house to clean–since I get off from work early tomorrow that should do the trick; I am hoping to go to Costco and then come home and perhaps go to the gym (!!!!) before coming back home and cleaning the Lost Apartment. If I can manage to get it cleaned up on Friday, I shall have the weekend to write.

And continue reading Jamie Mason’s The Hidden Things, which I started reading this week and am really enjoying thus far.

And that’s kind of the goal for now, at least.

And now back to the spice mines.

132698_158425730875466_100001241206696_349234_4603993_o

Do You Know Where You’re Going To?

Hello, Tuesday! How you doing?

I managed another not-quite-a-thousand words yesterday on the WIP; which was lovely. I am still not writing as quickly as I used to–I think I am still a bit on the rusty side, naturally–but I am getting back into the swing of it. Today is the last day of April, and I’d intended to have the entire first draft finished by tomorrow. Instead, I am halfway through a rewrite of the first ten chapters, with fifteen more to write. Epic fail, perhaps? Or just the usual Greg can’t make a deadline to save his life nonsense?

TBF, I was sick twice in this last month, and that certainly didn’t help in the least.

I did finish reading Kellye Garrett’s Hollywood Homicide, and today I am moving on to Jamie Mason’s The Hidden Things. Such a plethora of riches in my TBR pile, y’all. And I still have two Donna Andrews novels in there, too! I was also tired most of yesterday; not so much physically as mentally. I managed to get through the entire workday without feeling either sleepy or exhausted, and while I slept fairly decently last night, I did wake up a lot–usually an indication that I am going to be somewhat tired today. It’s another long day, but stranger things have happened, you know?

We got caught up on Veep as well last night, which is killing it in its final season. The show has always been funny, but this season is a bit more topical than usual…to the point I said, several times during the episode, “I can’t believe they’re doing this.”

Tomorrow is payday, and i really should start working on getting the bills paid. Yay. These are a few of my favorite things. *snark*

Okay, I paid some of the bills but also got a pleasant surprise: an electronic payment for the talk I did with Jean Redmann at the Jefferson Parish library a few Saturdays ago. I’d forgotten we were getting paid for that, so that was an incredibly pleasant surprise. Another pleasant surprise was checking Twitter (I know, right? A PLEASANT SURPRISE ON TWITTER are words I never thought I’d type.) and seeing, in a longer discussion about an article in The Writer about men writing strong women (don’t get me started) some love for my story “This Town” in Murder-a-Go-Go’s, and some love for me personally.

Aw. That’s always nice.

And now, back to the spice mines.

57950_157253970968314_100000511364453_445161_6926678_n

Love to Love You Baby

Paul’s flight was delayed a bit, but he got home last night just after nine pm and all is right in the Lost Apartment. I have ceased to exist to Scooter except as a conduit for treats, food or water–he hasn’t even gotten out of bed yet this morning to demand food! I also woke up this morning feeling much much better than I have in days, which means I think I should be able to return to work tomorrow. Huzzah!

I’m sure it’s an utter coincidence that Paul’s return home cured me.

Yesterday I ran some errands over to the West Bank that simply couldn’t be put off until next weekend–and, I figured, it was better to try to get it over and done with while still feeling slightly unwell than wait until today when I might have relapsed–and so I have Paul’s birthday present ready to give to him when he wakes up, for yes, today is Paul’s birthday. He was honored with the Leadership Award from the Publishing Triangle on Thursday and today is his birthday, so he’s had quite a lovely long weekend of it. I also spent some time reading Kellye Garrett’s delightfully fun Hollywood Homicide yesterday, while I also did some odds and ends cleaning up around here. I still have some cleaning to do today, and I want to get that pesky chapter written once and for all today so I can move on to the next and try to get this entire pesky thing finished soon enough. I am behind, of course, as I always seem to be, but I am hoping/hopeful that I can get this first draft finished by the 15th of May. That’s basically two weeks, and there’s absolutely no reason I cannot be finished by then other than sheer, utter laziness.

Everyone who thinks I won’t be done by the 15th, raise your hand.

Bitches.

And so I shall spend this morning cleaning and working on the WIP. I suspect Paul, who was exhausted when he got home last night, will sleep till about noon–if not longer, which gives me a free morning to get all of this done. I am planning on going to the gym (I know, right?) around noonish/one, to get started again with my regular workouts and getting my body back into shape. We’ll see how it goes, but that is my plan at this moment–although there’s also a stray thought that I should go now, this morning, to get it over with and get my day kick-started, but no, I think I’ll spend the morning doing precisely what I said I was going to spend the morning doing. I need to get that fucking chapter finished, and maybe even get started on Chapter Five while I have Word open.

I also want to start doing something with all these short stories I have just lying around here in one form or another. Maybe after the gym I can read some of them, or something. They aren’t doing me any good sitting in my computer as files, that’s for certain.

And I also need to steel myself for tonight’s Game of Thrones. It’s certainly going to be a bloodbath, with characters whose lives I’ve been following since the very first season an eon ago certain to die tonight. Perhaps I should take a Xanax before watching? I also want to read some more of Kellye’s book, so I can move on to Jamie Mason’s The Hidden Things, which is up next in queue….although I am very tempted by Marlon James’ latest, an epic fantasy set in Africa which is being called “an African Game of Thrones“, although I am certain that’s simply a marketing gimmick to try to appeal to George R. R. Martin’s fans, and fans of the show. Marlon is a terrific writer, and he won the Mann Booker a few years ago for his A Brief History of Seven Killings, which I’ve not read, but have wanted to for quite some time. My TBR queue is quite something, I have to say, and I am really looking forward to reading all the books in it at some point.

At some point.

There will never be enough time, will there, to read everything I want to read and write everything I want to write. I think that’s why I get so caught up in falling behind and the sense of time slipping through my fingers, which gets more intense the more I age, which is, of course, every fucking day.

And now back to the spice mines, my friends. It’s already ten and I’ve gotten nothing done other than writing this.

And that shall not stand.

37364_1489177224789_1094708889_31398146_2958273_n

All By Myself

Friday morning sliding into the weekend…and woke up still sick. The throat is still sore and my voice is a Kathleen Turner-like whiskey-soaked rasp; my eyes still ache and so do all my joints, and the fever is still upon me. I just swigged some DayQuil, so am hoping for some relief; this knot of phlegm lodged into the top of my lungs has to loosen and come out at some point, right?

Ye Gods, how I hate being sick. And the older I get, the more susceptible to these things I seem to be.

The weather was horrible yesterday afternoon, but for once, it was lovely to be covered in blankets while the storm raged outside, with a constant downpour of rain and the occasional blast of lightning and thunder. It is, really, the best time to curl up with a good book, and so yesterday I finished reading Alison Gaylin’s next novel, of which I am fortunate enough to have an advance copy. Never Look Back is probably her best book to date, and given she won an Edgar last night, that’s saying something. I then proceeded to start reading Kellye Garrett’s award-winning debut Hollywood Homicide, which I am also greatly enjoying. I really like her main character, and her voice.

And now that the Edgars are over and the program has been printed and distributed, I can now out myself as a judge for Best Paperback Original. That was the book award I was reading for all of last year–and I do mean reading for all of last year. Once again, the Lost Apartment was buried in an avalanche of books, and since electronic editions of books could also be entered, my Kindle is also incredibly full. Led by our distinguished panel chair Alex Segura, my fellow judges (the always delightful and talented Susanna Calkins and Gwen Florio) read and discussed, read some more and discussed some more, and finally narrowed our choices down to our top five and the winner. I do believe our category this past year just might have been the only (if not the only, but one of the few) times in Edgar history where all the finalists in a category were women; that wasn’t our intent, either; it just played out that way, but it was still amazing and cool. Last night’s batch of Edgar winners was also perhaps the most diverse in Edgar history; with Walter Mosley taking home the statue for Best Novel and Robert Feiseler taking home the award for Fact Crime for his Tinderbox, which is about the Upstairs Fire lounge fire in New Orleans back in 1973; the biggest mass murder of gay men until the Pulse shootings in 2016. I wrote about the Upstairs Fire in Murder in the Rue Chartres, and am really looking forward to reading Robert’s book. Sujata Massey also won the Mary Higgins Clark Award, and I feel that Sara Paretsky’s winning the first Sue Grafton Memorial Award would definitely have Sue’s approval.

And huzzah for the wonderful Art Taylor’s Edgar win for Best Short Story! Art is one of the best short story writers around; I keep hoping he’s going to put out a short story collection–I think he’s won every conceivable mystery award for short story now, which is an indication of just how good he is. He’s also one of the nicest people I’ve ever met–in general, not just the mystery community.

Needless to say, the illness has kept me from doing any writing or pretty much anything, really. Yesterday I spent most of the day swilling chicken soup and sitting in my chair under blankets and reading. I watched the live-stream of the Edgar Awards on my television through the Youtube app on my  Apple TV, which was very cool and surreal at the same time. I felt sorry for the young man with the long hair at the front table who was on camera almost the entire night and probably had no idea! Today I am going to probably swill some more soup while again retiring to my chair with Kellye’s book, and then I have an ARC of Jamie Mason’s The Hidden Things which I will tackle next.

And I did have two ideas for stories yesterday, through the DayQuil and fever induced fogginess of my brain. So that’s something, at any rate.

And now back to my blankets.

33718_1637106693818_1421271844_1638566_8166918_n