Boogie Fever

Friday morning. Looks like we made it through another week, Constant Reader–and earlier this week it was kind of touch-and-go there for a moment. But we did, and here we are, and life is all the better for it.

I managed to get my tax stuff to my accountant this week and my taxes are filed, huzzah! I actually made less money this past year than I did in 2017, and yet my refund is half of what it was last year–which means my taxes went up.

Clearly, elections matter.

I went to bed early last night, knowing I had to get up extremely early this morning, and I actually feel rested and alive this morning, which is not my norm, you know? But I only have to work a half-day today, which is lovely, and this afternoon I plan to finish reading my Steph Cha novel while I launder the bed linens. I’ve got some other projects to work on as well as the WIP, but I really want to finish Steph’s book. I have definitely decided to read Alison Gaylin’s ARC for Never Look Back when I finish Steph’s, and, to keep the Diversity Project going, I decided that between books by diverse readers to read something by a woman author, with the occasional straight white male thrown in for good measure–I’ve got the new Harlan Coben, for example, and Jeff Abbott’s latest, and then there’s the Michael Koryta backlist to work through.

To be honest, the more I think about the Diversity Project the more uncomfortable it makes me–but that’s a good thing, you know? We have to examine our own biases and prejudices in order to correct them, and you can’t examine something if you aren’t aware that you have them. I may be fifty-seven going on fifty-eight, but there’s still room for personal growth on a lot of issues that I was raised to believe incorrect things about–and as much self-examination and self-education as I have gone through over the last thirty or so years, I still surprise myself when an errant thought pops up from nowhere in my head. It’s a constant process, and I will probably be re-educating myself on my death bed.

The Diversity Project, while good intentioned, is one of those things that when I think more about it, the worse it seems despite the good intentions. I shouldn’t have to make a point of reading marginalized authors, and doing so, and calling attention to the fact that I’m doing it, can read as…I don’t know, maybe virtue signaling? And signaling the fact that I am doing something that I should have already been doing is actually kind of…embarrassing? Sad? Tragic?

But on the other hand, it’s not like I went into this expecting praise for doing it–and I shouldn’t get any, other than for helping spread the word about diverse writers.

WHICH WE ALL SHOULD BE DOING.

*breathes*

And now, back to the spice mines.

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Don’t Go Breaking My Heart

Last night when I got home from work I was so tired I literally repaired to the easy chair almost immediately, while a purring cat in my lap. I kept dozing off while I waited for Paul to get home, and finally, once he did make it through the front door, I gave up any pretense of being awake still and went directly to bed. I didn’t want to get up this morning (no different than any morning, really, other than it’s dark and rudely early), and would be more than happy to go straight back to bed for another few hours.

I did manage to revise the first chapter of the WIP yesterday; first chapters are always the hardest to do, quite frankly, and so I always end up spending the most time on them. The trick is to introduce your main character without a lot of explanation and back story–the temptation to write an entire chapter of back story is always, always present, and must be resisted; there’s no easier way to lose a reader than explaining back story….but there has to be enough for the chapter to make logical sense to the reader as well. It’s a balancing act; one that I’m not quite sure I’ve managed, but at least today I get to move on to Chapter Two.

Tonight I have to not only pack for the weekend but also continue to move perishable things over to the carriage house. I think the last thing I’m going to do is move things to the back of the car–the cat food, etc.–and since I’m not taking the car to the Quarter for the weekend (the cost of parking down there is absolutely insane) that should work. It’s also going to be a struggle getting Scooter into his travel kennel to take him to the Kitty Spa Friday morning; it’s usually a two-person job, and since he’s a Daddy’s kitty, not having Daddy to help me is going to make it a battle royale, I fear. I also have a doctor’s appointment Friday afternoon that I couldn’t reschedule before July (!), so it looks like the most likely progression here will be drop off the cat, drive back over here, and call a Lyft to take me to the Quarter, then grab another Lyft to the doctor, and take the streetcar back from there.

Madness; a weekend’s worth of utter and complete madness.

But I am feeling better about things; the lovely comments from people about my story in Murder-a-Go-Go’s plus getting some good revision done yesterday has me feeling better about my career and my ability to write again; it’s been a hot minute since I felt good about anything having to do with my writing, so it’s kind of lovely to have some confidence again. Or rather, restore the low confidence I’ve had most of my career. Writing is insane in that way; maybe the big names like Harlan Coben and Jeff Abbott and Lisa Scottoline and Karin Slaughter don’t ever suffer from Imposter Syndrome, but it’s really an integral part of my personality. I’ve had it about everything–not just writing. I constantly question, and have my entire life, whether I am good at my job (whatever it may have been at the time) or whether I am a hard worker or how clean my house is or whether I actually can write or if I am just somehow managing to cost by somehow, being read by non-discerning readers who can’t tell that I’m not a good writer.

And around and around and around it goes.

I started reading Samantha Downing’s wonderful My Lovely Wife yesterday on my lunch break, and it’s really really good. I am looking forward to moderating our “whodunit” panel this Saturday; hope to see you there.

And now back to the spice mines–because if I know anything, it’s that spice won’t mine itself.

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(They Long To Be) Close to You

Correction to yesterday’s new books announcement: I forgot to mention I also got a copy of Jeff Abbott’s The Three Beths.

My bad! Looking forward to it, Jeff!

If I ever get a chance to read again. Heavy heaving sigh.

My flashdrive has disappeared again; I’m hoping it’s either in my car or I left it at the office. It isn’t a big deal–some things, yes, but not as much as one might think. I’ve been trying to use the Cloud to move things around, and back things up to as I work on them, and it seems to be working. So, this wouldn’t be a complete and total and utter disaster–although I do believe the entire Scotty book is on it, and may not necessarily have backed up (but I already turned it in, so my publisher has an electronic version I can simply ask for; and for that matter its probably in my sent mail), but as parenthetically explained, I’m not overly concerned. Bury Me in Satin is safe, and I think I’ve backed up almost everything else at some point or another in the last month or so. Finding things might be a challenge, but they should be there somewhere.

Sigh.

I did work on Bury Me in Satin a little yesterday, around running errands and doing things around the house (I washed the bed linens, made white bean chicken chili in the slow cooker, re-organized some cabinets and drawers, did some filing, paid some bills) and then watched the Georgia-Alabama game, which was quite intense, and then Paul and I watched some more episodes of Schitt’s Creek, which is amazing.

Today, I have to make a grocery run and make a birthday cake for a co-worker, and I hope to do some more cleaning in the living room area. Of course, Paul is also leaving for a week on Wednesday, and so I’ll also be doing a lot of cleaning around that time as well. I need to buy his Christmas presents, so they’re here and wrapped by the time he gets back.

That would be smart. Maybe I’ll even get the holiday cards done while he’s gone.

A boy can dream, can’t he? Especially a fifty-seven year old one.

All right, perhaps I should get back to the spice mines. This stuff isn’t going to get done on its own, after all.

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Mr. Roboto

I finished the line edit yesterday, thanks be to the baby Jesus. Now I have to input it into the document, but the worst part–the actual line by line edit–is done done done. Huzzah! Huzzah!

I lived in Houston for two years, and of course, my parents lived there over ten. So, I feel connected to that city as well–not to mention all the friends I have there, and my favorite specialty bookstore, Murder by the Book, so my heart breaks every time I see the flooding pictures, videos, and the posts. Keep Houston in your hearts, everyone, and know they are going to need help. Twelve years ago it was New Orleans, and Houston opened its heart to us. Never forget. Rebuilding Houston is going to be a long and incredibly challenging process. We need to be there for our fellow Americans.

I spent the rest of Sunday–pre-Game of Thrones epic season finale, reading Jeff Abbott’s extraordinary Blame.

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What she would never remember: their broken screams starting with I love…and I hate…, the sudden wrenching pull, the oh-no-this-is happening-this-can’t be-happening feeling of falling as the SUV rocketed off the road, the horrifying downward slope of the hillside in the headlights, his hand tight over hers on the steering wheel, the smashing thunder of impact, the driver’s-side airbag exploding in her face, the rolling, the lights dying, the unforgiving rock, and then the blow to her head that undid her and wiped her clean and made her new.

The old Jane died; every version of David died. The new Jane, product of a dark night’s fury and tragedy, knew nothing more until she woke up four days later, remembering nothing, not her name, not her mother’s face, the crash, what had happened to her in that hospital bed, or any of her past seventeen years. Slowly the memories began to seep back: her birthdays when she was a child, cake sweet and soft on her lips; the smoky, rich aroma of her grandfather’s pipe matched with the woolly smell of his tweed jacket with leather elbow patches; her mother’s favorite lavender soap; the notebook she’d filled with short, dark adventure stories one summer and proudly read to her dad; the faces of her teachers; the smile of the librarian who’d give her stickers during the summer reading program; the feel of her hand in her father’s palm; the faces and the laughter of her friends when they were kids.

Sometimes the memories felt immediate; sometimes they felt like something she’d seen in a film, present but distant, nothing to do with the person she was now.

Except for the past three years.

Jane was seventeen, but as the memories surged back, she was stuck at fourteen. Those last three years were gone, all the joy and drama of her high school life, lost in the damage and the trauma. Including those mysterious, unexplained last few hours, when she was with a boy she wasn’t supposed to be with, when she was out doing God knows what. The girl lived and eventually limped back into the bright sunshine, and the boy died and went into the cold ground, a secret sleeping with him.

And so the world she knew turned against her.

Except someone watched, and waited, and wondered how much of that night Jane Norton really remembered.

Amnesia. While not nearly as common as soap operas make it seem, it’s an actual thing. I did a lot of research on amnesia when I was writing Sleeping Angel–most of which I’ve actually forgotten–but if done right, amnesia is an excellent foundation for a crime novel/thriller.

Jeff Abbott has done it right with Blame.

Two years have passed since the terrible accident that took Jane’s memory and killed her neighbor, David–one of the most popular boys in their high school in an affluent section of Houston. Jane’s early memories have come back, but she doesn’t remember high school before the accident, or the tragic accident that killed her father when she was a freshman. Hated and resented by many of her classmates, she’s now homeless, sometimes crashing in one of her few friend’s dorm rooms in a local college. Her mother is too much for her to handle–think Mildred Pierce on steroids–and of course, David’s parents also still live next door; his mother hates her and makes no bones about hating her. Her mother refuses to sell the house, and David’s parents are splitting up. On the anniversary of the accident Jane unfortunately encounters David’s mother Perri at David’s grave, which turns into an incredibly ugly altercation when Perri attacks her; Jane’s Uber driver records it all–and it goes viral.

At the same time, someone named “Liv Danger” is going after Perri on social media–Jane as well–and soon other people involved somehow, even peripherally, the night of the accident are under attack. Slowly but surely, Jane has to slowly start piecing together what happened that day as the Liv Danger’s behavior becomes more and more menacing and dangerous…and other dangerous characters are getting involved.

This book was, quite simply, an extraordinary read. The tension begins on Page One, and not only does it not let up, it builds. I literally took the book into the kitchen with me, reading while I was making dinner because I couldn’t stop, didn’t even want to take twenty minutes away from it because I had to know what happened that night! 

I cannot recommend this book highly enough, but along with that recommendation comes this warning: set aside a weekend to read it because you won’t want to put it down.

Easily one of my top reads of this year.

 

Let’s Dance

I managed, yesterday, to polish off Chapter Two; I wrote 1700 words or so in about an hour and fifteen minutes and voila! The pesky chapter was finished. I also started Chapter Three this morning; alas, maybe about a paragraph was all I was able to get done, but it was a start, and a start is always lovely. This weekend is my birthday; I will officially be fifty-six; but I’ve been saying I’m fifty-six for quite a while now. (I usually add the year after New Year’s; it’s just easier and I don’t really think of my birthday as a big deal, quite frankly). Paul and I are going to go see Dunkirk tomorrow night, and then out for dinner afterwards. I’ve taken Monday off, and I am working a late night on Tuesday, so I won’t have to be in to work until around three, which means I basically have a three and a half day weekend, which is lovely. I am hoping to be able to get a lot done this weekend; I want to finish reading the Ambler, which I am loving, then I am going to reread Dorothy B. Hughes’ In a Lonely Place, and then I am going to reread The Haunting of Hill House. After that, it’s either Jeff Abbott’s Blame or my advance copy of Laura Lippman’s newest, Sunburn.

One of the best perks of being a writer is that I get advance copies of books, or know people who do that can pass them along to me. My dear friend Lisa recently gave me an advance copy of this:

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I don’t consider myself to be a horror writer (SHUT UP BACK THERE! I said horror, not horrible), but I do consider myself to be a big fan of the genre. I read a lot of these books–not all, who knew there were so many? But I was a voracious reader, and I loved to read horror. The first horror novel I read was The Other–I still have the hardcover copy I originally read in junior high; I’m not sure I remember how I got a hardcover copy of it, maybe it was my grandmother’s–and I also read The Exorcist in junior high; everyone was reading it, and as all tweens (although we weren’t called that then) are wont to do, all we talked about was the crucifix masturbation scene. I always liked horror–I remember watching old black and white scary movies with my grandmother (she also likes mysteries) when I was a kid, but I never thought I could write it. I certainly never tried until the 1980’s, when my fandom of Stephen King made me give it a try. I still love reading horror, and there are certainly some amazing horror writers being published today whose books I greatly enjoy.

My inability to get any of it published is an indicator that crime was a better fit for my talents.

But what a wonderful resource this is! And a lovely trip down memory lane. To be honest, I thought I hadn’t read much horror throughout my life outside of the usual suspects (Stephen King, Peter Straub, Poppy Z. Brite) and some others that have come along more recently, but in going through this, I saw many titles I’d forgotten I’d read, and authors I’d forgotten.

This is a must for all horror fans; even those who are too young to remember the glory days of the mass market paperback boom of the 70’s and 80’s.

And now, back to the spice mines.

 

Beat It

Throwback Thursday!

Exhausted this morning after a lengthy day yesterday of office testing and then bar testing last night. I slept really well; my back is still a bit sore as are my hips; I may have to preemptively cancel Wacky Russian this week because I don’t think it’s wise to push my muscles when they are still recovering from whatever it was I did to them in the first place. I only managed to get started on another short story yesterday, “The Brady Kid,” and maybe got about eight hundred words of it done; I was too sore and too tired to do anything else. I hate losing work days like that, but at least this morning I don’t have to be into the office until later, and I feel rested and not quite as sore this morning. SO maybe, just maybe, I’ll get to be productive.

A boy can dream, right?

It’s raining right now; a thunderstorm rolled in sometime around five this morning. Thunder woke me into a half-awake state, and I was able to fall back asleep for a few more hours–another sign I was really tired and in need, desperately, of rest. I am awake now, on my first cup of coffee, and could easily slip back beneath the covers and return to sleep; it is truly amazing to me how crucial sleep–something I never really even paid much attention to when I was younger–has become to me as I’ve gotten older.

I’m hoping that I’ll be able to finish The Gods of Gotham by the end of the week. I haven’t decided on my next book–Blame by Jeff Abbott, or something by Eric Ambler (whom I’ve never read), or the new Donna Andrews, Gone Gull, are the most likely picks; I’ve also got an advance copy of Laura Lippman’s Sunburn; so many choices! My TBR pile is a veritable smorgasbord of good reading options.

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

Today’s Throwback Thursday hunk, male supermodel of the 90s Marcus Schenkenberg:

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