Destiny

Sunday morning and my last day in Fort Lauderdale for Sleuthfest. I am about to go forage for coffee, come back up here, get cleaned up and packed. I am heading to the airport early–I have lots to read with me, and of course, I can always pull the laptop out and write if I want to while I wait for my flight. I struggled writing yesterday, to be completely honest; I was trying to write every morning over my coffee before heading down for the afternoon slate of panels (nobody needs to see me here before noon, seriously) and tomorrow I will be at my own home after sleeping in my own bed, and will probably do a final wrap up of Sleuthfest and the marvelous time I’ve had here. I am always nervous about public speaking on panels and so forth, and it’s lovely when it always goes well.

I was on two marvelous panels yesterday; the first was about how does one decide between an amateur or a professional detective, moderated astutely by Marco Carocari, and then the How to Write a Mystery panel, moderated by the always marvelous Oline Cogdill. I sat in between Jeffrey Deaver and Elaine Viets; so pretty much my head was spinning the entire time–I’m sitting next to Jeffrey Deaver and Elaine Viets!!!–and somehow managed to not make a complete fool of myself…or everyone was simply being very kind. Both panels I thought went really well, thanks to expert moderation and marvelous people on the panel, and I also discovered some marvelous new-to-me writers this weekend, including Yasmin Angoe (whose debut Her Name Is Knight is neatly packed into my bag to take home, and Genevieve Essig, who actually lives in the French Quarter! (I am buying her book today when I go downstairs.) Yes, I bought too many books while here–just what I needed, more books, right?–but you can never have too many books.

I also discovered yesterday morning when I wanted to work on the first chapter of Mississippi River Mischief that I started this part week (in a very lame and ineffective attempt to get the book started) that I actually already had started writing the first chapter a few months ago–I told you my memory is a sieve–and I then found some notes that I had made on ideas for the book and realized dumbass, you had already plotted almost the entire thing out already; it just needs tweaking. Needless to say, I was incredibly thrilled and delighted to discover that I was not, in fact, needing to start completely from scratch but had already made some great progress; so now I am going to finish the first chapter while figuring out the story, plot, and structure of the novel–there’s a lot I need to fit into it; more than I had thought, which makes the book even more ambitious than I was recently thinking it would be. Gulp. But I always say I like a challenge…

But on the other hand, as lovely as it is to immerse myself into the world of writing and publishing, that always has to come to an end and I get to return to the mundanity of the Lost Apartment and my every day life in New Orleans. Tuesday morning I return to the office (Monday is my work at home day, and I have a massive stack of data entry to do), and now that I won’t be traveling again until after Labor Day, it may be time to start going to the gym (despite having to walk in the miserable heat of the summer over there) again. I want to get in better condition–I don’t care, for the first time, about the marvelous side effect of changes to my body–because i am getting older, and need to start worrying about things like muscle loss and bone density and things like that, and a regular weight routine will help with that. I should also probably try to eat healthier as well–I know, who am I and what have I done with Gregalicious–because of genetic things, like high cholesterol and heart disease on both sides and eating better will help with that as well. I also need to stay focused and stop feeling so defeated by the enormous amounts of things I have to do all the time; I’ve simply got to get the organizing of my life under control so I can get things done and not feel so oppressed and defeated all the time.

And on that note, I need to get cleaned up and packed and going on my day. Have a marvelous Sunday, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you tomorrow morning from my desk in the Lost Apartment.

Has Anyone Ever Written Anything for You?

I really hate working on my MacBook Air. I mean, I guess it’s okay but it’s really difficult for me to get used to, you know? I really love the bigger screen of my desktop computer–but then, maybe that will change when my new glasses come in–if they ever come in; they were due to come in this week, in fact. Heavy heaving sigh. I’ll end up having to go out to Metairie to pick them up next Saturday, most likely. Yay. It’s always such a joy for me to head to Metairie for any reason.

Heavy heaving sigh.

Well, it’s Friday and I’m in Florida (not as lyrically magical as “Friday I’m in Love,” but this is why I am not a songwriter). I did my reading at Noir at the Bar last night, and yes, I did read from Chlorine, and it went over very well, I think. People seemed to be appreciative of it, or at least very kind, at any rate. The other readers were all fantastic–JD Allen, Tracy Clark, John Copenhaver, Jeffrey Deaver (!!!!), Tori Eldridge, and Alan Orloff. I was quite intimidated when. I got up there as everyone was killing it, but I surprisingly didn’t have my usual stage fright and nerves beforehand, and much to my surprise as I was reading, my hands weren’t shaking and I couldn’t hear my voice shaking either. I did have the big adrenaline crash afterwards, of course–that will never change, methinks–but it was kind of lovely not having my usual stage fright jitters before hand; I think that may have been because I was sitting and chatting with friends before hand? Anyway, it turned out to be a much more pleasant experience than usual, and I can check “Noir at the Bar” off my bucket list.

I have a panel later on today, which should be fun, about point of view; and then I have two back to back tomorrow afternoon. I slept okay last night–more restful physically than actual deep rest, which was odd, given how long I had been up but then again, strange bed and a lot of stimulation during the day. It happens, I suppose. I just figured I would zonk out after getting up so damned early yesterday and flying and everything. Ah, well. Maybe tonight? One can hope.

So I am going to just take it easy this morning, methinks. I will have to go foraging for coffee at some point–they have some in the room, but…yeah, not the greatest and only one cup so a-foraging I will go. I know they had free coffee in the bookshop this morning but I missed that by lounging in bed much too long and now writing this, but I want to be able to be chill and witty on my panel later this afternoon. It’s really nice to come to these kinds of things; it’s always lovely being around people who love books as well as people who also write; we all have that struggle in common–that weird love/hate thing, not to mention the total insanity of publishing and how the business works which we are all trying to figure out somehow even though there really is no way to figure it all out. It’s also nice being inside a conference bubble for a weekend, where I can pretend that nothing is going on in the world outside and everything else is great and hunky dory and I can put off dealing with reality until I go home Sunday.

Ugh, reality. Not my favorite.

Okay, Constant Reader, it’s time for me to go forage for coffee. I’ll probably come back up here and write for a while before it’s time for my panel. Have a lovely Friday, Constant Reader–I’ll be back to annoy you again tomorrow.

Everything She Wants

I am ill.

It’s been threatening since last Thursday morning, when I woke up with a nasty, periodic cough that hurt at the base of my throat; I hoped it was sinus-related since the weather went through one of its typical New Orleans bipolar moments and went from cold and damp to warm and humid overnight; but this morning I woke up with a croaking voice, a slight headache and a mild fever. I chose to stay home from the office today and nurse it, hoping to head off something even worse. I am going to be drinking hot tea with lemon and honey, and chicken noodle soup. I do not wish to be sick in any way, shape or form. I cannot be sicker. I have too much to do.

The odd thing is I felt good enough yesterday to go to the gym for the first time in weeks, and even felt fantastic the rest of the day. Oh, I still had the periodic cough that hurt, but my body felt terrific. I didn’t even wake up feeling sore this morning. But my throat hurts, and coughing feels like gargling acid. And then there’s the damned fever. Sigh.

Although now I wonder if the energy I used at the gym is what opened the door for the illness to take over? BASTARDS.

All right, I am going to go dose myself and try to feel better. Ugh, I hate being sick. And this is twice in less than three months.

So, here are today’s short story offerings.

First, we have “The Shoeshine Man Regrets” by Laura Lippman, from Hardly Knew Her.

“Bruno Magli?”

“Uh-uh. Bally.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“Some kids get flash cards of farm animals when they’re little. I think my mom showed me pictures of footwear cut from magazines. After all, she couldn’t have her only daughter bringing home someone who wore white patent loafers, even in the official season between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Speaking of which–there’s a full Towson.”

This is a Tess Monaghan story, which opens with Tess and her old friend Whitney bored while waiting for their car from the valet service, so they start playing a game: identifying the shoes of the other people waiting for their cars. A laundry truck has the parking lot blocked so everyone has to wait. The ‘full Towson’ is approached by an elderly man of color, who points out his shoes have a spot of mayonnaise on them and asks if he wants a shine. The ‘full Towson’ is a typical asswipe, an altercation eventually ensues, and the old man is arrested–and confesses to a forty-year-old murder….and this is when Tess gets involved. Very satistfying, and a most excellent denouement.

Next, I pulled out the MWA anthology Ice Cold: Tales of Intrigue from the Cold War, edited by Jeffrey Deaver and Raymond Benson, and read the first story, Deaver’s own “Comrade 35.”

To be summoned to the highest floor of GRU headquarters in Moscow made you immediately question your future.

Several fates might await.

One was that you had been identified as a counter-revolutionary or a lackey of the bourgeoisie imperialists. In which case your next address would likely be a gulag, which were still highly fashionable, even now, in the early 1960s, despite First Secretary and Premier Krushchev’s enthusiastic denunciation of Comrade Stalin.

Another possibility was that you had been identified as a double agent, a mole within the GRU–not proven to be one, mind you, simply suspected of being one. Your fate in that situation was far simpler and quicker than a transcontinental train ride: a bullet in the back of the head, a means of execution the GRU had originated as a preferred means of execution, though the rival KGB had co-opted and taken credit for the technique.

As I read along, the story seemed familiar, and yet at the same time I couldn’t remember much about it. When I finally reached the end, I realized I had read the story before, but it’s a good story and I enjoyed it very much. Deaver is of course a bestselling author; and I’ve read many of his Lincoln Rhymes novels–years behind on him, of course. I actually submitted a story to this anthology, and was rejected. I still haven’t placed that story anywhere, either–but I think I finally know how to fix what’s wrong with it.

And now, to my reclining chair and some soup.

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