As Tears Go By

Tuesday morning up before the sun blog in which yes, I have to go back to the office. It kind of feels like I’ve not been into the office in like forever, but it’s a new year for an old Gregalicious.

Yesterday was a wild day. I finished the book yesterday morning and turned it in (yay!) and then repaired to my easy chair to watch the LSU bowl game. The game was something, with LSU prevailing 63-7 over Purdue; LSU made Purdue look like a lower division team, and was up 35-0 at half-time, so it wasn’t terribly exciting to watch…but it was also airing at the same time as the Cotton Bowl, where Tulane was playing USC. I didn’t have very high hopes for Tulane, but I was paying attention to the score. As the LSU game wound down, USC was up 45-30 with less than five minutes left to go in the game, so I just kept watching the LSU post-game commentary and trophy presentation and finally switched over to see the end of the Tulane game, only to see there was like 20 seconds left in the game, Tulane had just moved the ball to a first down inside the ten yard line, and the score was now 45-39. They were reviewing the previous play for targeting, which was not called, and the game started again. There was a missed pass on first down, a caught pass rule incomplete on second down…which was reviewed and called a touchdown. Tulane then kicked the extra point to win, 46-45, in a massive upset for the ages and probably the biggest win in almost eighty years for their football program. ROLL WAVE! I still can’t believe Tulane beat a team that just barely missed the play-offs and could have played for the national title. And with the Saints also winning on Sunday over the Eagles, it was quite a weekend for football fans in southeastern Louisiana.

We gave up on Treason because we just weren’t all that interested in watching, and started Sherwood, a Britbox show, which seems interesting but we both kept falling asleep–tired, more than anything else–which I wasn’t entirely sure I was following, mainly because I kept dozing off. But it did look good, and it has a great cast, and so we’re going to stick with it for a while, at any rate. Today is also the day where my clinic job changes a bit; where we’re taking appointments every half hour (like pre-pandemic times) instead of every hour. I am not entirely sure how that is going to work, but today’s the day where we find out. Ah, yes, the joys of trial and error and finding the bugs and flaws in the system. I also have to catch up on my emails, which I let completely slide over the last four or five days while I finished writing the book. I have to say email, while incredibly convenient in many ways, has also sort of become the bane of my existence. I spend so much time on email, and sometimes email causes me great anxiety and stress. I’ve not had my inbox emptied in at least three years (!) and I am hoping that by the end of January that won’t be the case anymore. A goal for the new year is to keep my emails under control. We’ll see how that goes, won’t we?

I am not having any issues using “2023” as the date, but on the other hand I didn’t with “2022” until about October when all of a sudden “2022” didn’t look right.

But I am most pleased to have turned the book in. It still needs work, of course, but I need some time away from it so I can see it more clearly. I am also aware already of things that need to be done to make it better–the pacing in the first half is very off, the second half reads insanely fast–and there needs to be other tweaks and touches done for it. Taking January away from it is a good thing–by the time I start reading it again to edit the final edition in February I won’t remember most of it and that distance is sometimes absolutely necessary; it certainly helped with other manuscripts in the past few years. The deadline thing continues to be problematic and stressful for me; maybe the key is to go back to completing a first draft before asking for a contract in the future as I don’t ever want to be as stressed out as I was this past December, but right around Christmas the stress and anxiety snapped in my head and this weird calm descended on me. I didn’t even have to make myself work on the book these last few weeks, either; I just sat down and wrote three thousand words a pop (six over this last weekend) and before I knew it, there it was; finished.

And on that note I am heading into the spice mines. We’re having heavy weather today–rain, humidity, potential flooding and tornadoes–so going home this afternoon should be a really good time. Have a lovely third day of the new year, Constant Reader, and I will check back in with you tomorrow.

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Oh, seriously, sometimes I wonder how I manage to still have a career. I did a list of great New Orleans crime novels–a place to get started, because there are a lot of them–for Crime Reads; you can click here to read it. It wasn’t easy narrowing it down to the few I selected, but I also wanted to be certain that the ones I chose were ones I absolutely, positively loved. (The one exception is Dinner at Antoine’s; I read that one as a teenager when I went through a Frances Parkinson Keyes phase–I the King is my absolute favorite) and of course, I didn’t mention James Lee Burke because really, does anyone really need to mention him when it comes to New Orleans and Louisiana crime novels? He’s the uncrowned king of Louisiana crime fiction, plus not picking him relieved me of the duty to figure out which book to choose. (Although I would have undoubtedly gone with The Tin Roof Blowdown, his post Katrina novel, which made me cry several times.)

After making groceries yesterday morning–yes, it’s always smart to go to the Rouses in the CBD on a Saints home-game day, seriously–I came home and relaxed a bit before digging back into the book. I didn’t get nearly as much done as I would have preferred; yesterday was one of those pulling hen’s teeth days. But the Saints managed to hang on to sweep Atlanta for the season, which is the highlight of their terrible season thus far (but we never lost to the Falcons this season), and then we finished watching Smiley (which is absolutely delightful) and then started Wednesday, which I’d been nervous about starting. I watched the original television version of The Addams Family, and Addams Family Values is one of my top three comedy movies of all time. I am still annoyed that Christina Ricci wasn’t nominated for an Oscar for either film; I’ve been a fan ever since and Wednesday, who didn’t really have much of a role on the original show, became my favorite character. I’d been putting it off, despite the great reviews, because I was worried I’d be disappointed. Constant Reader, I was not. Wednesday is terrific, and Jenna Ortega really nails the part. Catherine Zeta-Jones is fine as Morticia, but it’s hard to replace Anjelica Huston, who was sublime. We wound up bingeing almost the entire first season. Absolutely loving it.

It’s hard to believe this is it, the final countdown to Christmas. It’s this coming weekend, and while we still don’t have a refrigerator–out Christmas gift to ourselves this year–maybe we can get a great deal on one after Christmas. The ones with the freezer on the bottom are apparently all about an inch or two too tall to fit into the cubby where ours goes; it’s the damned unusable cabinets about it that are the problem. I don’t know if the cabinet needs to be torn out or if it can be raised a few inches and remounted on the wall; probably the easiest thing to do is just get the freezer-on-top size that fits and be done with it. It certainly would be the easiest thing to do, really. I just had my heart set on one with the freezer on the bottom–another disappointment I’ll need to learn to live with, apparently.

It’s cold again this morning, still sub-fifty degrees. The new heating system in the Lost Apartment works incredibly well–the only reason I even had the slightest clue that the it was cold outside was how cold the downstairs floor is beneath my socks. It’s supposed to freeze this weekend with a slight potential of snow–SNOW IN NEW ORLEANS (which I really need to write about sometime; the way the city reacts to snow always amuses me in a mean sort of way. Most people down here have no idea how to drive in snow or deal with it in any way, and why would they? It doesn’t snow enough for them to ever get used to driving in it. I don’t think it’s snowed here since before 2010? I don’t remember the last time it snowed here, but I remember the only really big snow we ever had; I just don’t remember what year it was. 2007? 2008? Something like that. But my goal for the holiday weekend is to get everything done that I need to get done on the way home from work on Thursday, so I don’t have to go outside for another four days in the cold. I’ll probably spend a lot of time working feverishly on finishing the book, of course, but will take Christmas day as a holiday from everything.

And on that note I am heading into the spice mines. Y’all have a great Monday, okay? I’ll be back in the dark tomorrow morning.

Not Fade Away

And here it is, Sunday morning already, and where did my weekend go? I am not sure, but somehow yesterday managed to get away from me somehow, and I didn’t get nearly what I had hoped done–or at least looked at, at any rate. I allowed myself to sleep in yesterday–today too–and it felt really nice. I got some things done around the house and then ran my errands. When I returned, I realized I had something to do that I’d forgotten about–I remembered right when I was leaving to run the errands (okay, I saw the reminder email before I left to run those errands)–and so I had to prepare something to eat. A friend had offered to let me guest blog at Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen, where you promote yourself and your new book by sharing a recipe. No problem, I thought, forgetting that I don’t really use recipes after the first or second time I make something, and then I never ever make it the same way twice again. I love cooking, I really do, and I think I’m good at it. I’m not a chef by any means–I cannot identify flavors by taste, and I am not familiar enough with tastes and textures to think of combinations that would work together into something delicious without a reference or a starting place. And truth be told, I subscribe very heavily to the notion that if you base your cooking in the basics of Louisiana-style food, it’s always going to be delicious. You can never go wrong with anything that starts with a roux as the base, let’s be honest. Many years ago I had a recipe in the Mystery Writers of America Cookbook, which was way fun; it was a recipe I’d been making for years and years and years and tinkered with a lot, going through many delicious and delightful variations–so I knew I had it written down somewhere. But after I got the reminder email I looked at what was required–and saw to my horror that I also needed pictures. I am not one of those people who regularly documents their food preparation, so I realized that I was going to have to actually make it so I could take the needed pictures; and there were things I would need from the market as I didn’t have them on hand. I also found the recipe and realized I’d improved on it quite a bit since I wrote it down for the cookbook, and I had to rewrite and revise it.

Constant Reader, those meatballs were goddamned delicious.

And I documented their making, as well as took a photo of the plated end product.

LSU got beaten yesterday, 50-30, in the SEC championship game. Georgia was better, as I expected, and none of the breaks really went LSU’s way; and for them to win, they needed all the breaks they could get, Georgia to not play well, and the Tigers needed to play out of their ass. Back-up quarterback Garrett Nussmeier looked amazing, frankly–the future of LSU football clearly on display; a little more control and better chemistry with his receivers and he could become Joey Burrow 2.0. Am I disappointed? Sure, a little, but mostly I am proud of this team and have far they have come since last January and that bowl game, or how far they’ve come since the start of the season. But they won the toughest division in college football, and did some things no one could have predicted. The future looks bright, and LSU is going to be elite again, very soon. (And a shout out to Tulane for winning their conference and winning a trip to the Cotton Bowl. No one saw that coming, either.) TCU lost, which, along with USC’s loss, will cause enough of the chaos I was hoping to see this weekend…although I do think Georgia and Michigan are without question the two best teams in the country, and there’s really no need for a third or fourth place seed. Now we just have to see which bowl game LSU ends up in, and the season is over–far better than anything I had any reason to expect back in August, so thanks again, Tigers. It was an interesting, up and down and exciting season, with some amazing games.

Today I have to go pick up the groceries I ordered; I think the meatballs will get me through the week for lunches, and so I don’t think I need to cook anything else today. I’ll probably have to stop at the market on the way home from work on Monday, after I get a better sense of what we need after putting everything away today (don’t ask, it makes sense in my fevered brain)–I may want to get a salad, or the produce necessary to make one.

As I have been writing my Blatant Self-Promotion posts for A Streetcar Named Murder I have also been realizing that a feeling I’ve been having for quite some time isn’t actually accurate. I have posted a few times over the last few years about feeling disconnected from New Orleans in some weird way, that something had changed and I wasn’t sure what it was, if it was the city itself–which has changed–or something in me or some combination of the two. But in writing these posts about New Orleans, I find myself smiling as I write them–I certainly was smiling when I was writing that guest post the other day for the Wickeds blog, “The Orange Cone” (which could also be the seeds of a longer comic essay about life in New Orleans)–that what has actually shifted is that I’ve kind of gone native. For years, I wrote about the wackiness and silliness and delicious little ironies of life in New Orleans, the eccentricities and oddities, because they stood out to me. They no longer do. I take that stuff for granted now, and it doesn’t even register with me anymore because I’ve become so accustomed to it. Writing about potholes and orange cones, and how they are easily not only in the Top 5 for conversation material between total strangers in the city made me laugh, made me shake my head at the wackiness and strangeness, and well–the whole New Orleans of it. That’s the thing. I never thought I would get to the point where the oddities of New Orleans life would become so commonplace as for me to pay it no mind, but here I proverbially am.

And I kind of love that for me. I love this city. I am by no means an expert on New Orleans; what I do not know about this city, its people, its history and its legends and lore could fill the Great Library at Alexandria. I continue to learn more every day, and with the more I learn the more I realize I don’t know and that I will never become expert, no matter how much I learn and read and absorb and experience. I always kind of smile to myself when people say that I am an expert on all things New Orleans because I am all too aware of how little I actually do know. I don’t know that I will ever stop writing about New Orleans. Writing that historical Sherlock Holmes story set here was so much fun to write and research–and I’ve also discovered an enormous flaw in my research and writing for that story since writing it, which serves as yet another example of the limits of my knowledge and how much deeper you have to go when researching a period of history here (one of the biggest hurricanes to ever hit New Orleans came through the year before the story’s setting; no commentary on rebuilding or about the disaster is a glaring omission). I want to write about Madame La Laurie; I want to write about the Sultan’s Palace and the trunk murders and the kidnapping of that little boy back in the late nineteenth century. I want to write about Storyville and musicians and Prohibition and bootleggers. I want to write about the Axeman, and the grinch, and other legends and lore; every time I find something new in a history or an a New Orleans history website, I immediately start thinking of ways to write about it. I will never run out of material to write about here, never.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines for the day. I am going to read for a little while as I drink coffee and wake up, and then I am going to write until it’s time to go get the groceries…and then come home to write some more. Have a lovely Sunday, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again later.

Come

I woke up this morning to a marvelous thunderstorm, complete with pyrotechnics and thunder so close and loud that the house shakes a little bit. These are the kinds of mornings where you want to turn off the alarm, curl back up and go back to sleep again, but alas and alack, I had to get up for work this morning. I think I slept pretty decently last night; I don’t feel tired this morning and I did wake up at five as has been my wont lately. I was a bit tired when I got home from work yesterday; Paul didn’t get home until later and so I worked on the book for a little while until my mind gave out. I tried to read but was tired, so I just watched some history documentaries about the French royal family until I decided to go to bed and be done with it all. It was a pretty decent day yesterday overall; I managed to get through the day and get all caught up on my day job duties without any issues. Which was nice, of course.

It’s hard to wrap my mind around the concept that today is the last day of November already and December is practically here. Christmas already? I’m not ready for it in the least. We don’t decorate anymore since Scooter came to live with us–he sees the tree and decorations as Disneyworld and Epcot–so it never really feels like Christmas completely to me. Maybe this year I should watch A Charlie Brown Christmas? That always used to put me in the Christmas feels. I need to do my Christmas cards this weekend, and I need to ship a box out, as well as try to figure out what to get my parents for the holiday. Paul and I have already discussed and decided our Christmas present will be a major appliance purchase, if our landlady signs off on it; we’ve needed a new refrigerator for quite some time now and I really want to get one with the freezer on the bottom; it makes more sense to have to bend down for the freezer–something you don’t do very often–rather than to get things from the bottom shelves of the refrigerator. Getting old is kind of a bitch. you know? My parents have two refrigerators with the freezer on the bottom, and it really is so much easier on my back and knees….

I did ask for and receive a month’s extension on the book, which is a huge relief and took away a lot of my stress. I still have a lot to do, but at least the pressure valve was turned on and the internal pressure in my brain sort of released a bit. Huzzah? Huzzah. I still want to finish reading Wanda Morris’ book–it’s so good and so well done that whenever I am sort of tired I put the book back down because I want to give it my full and not-tired attention so I can appreciate the writing the way it deserves (check her books out, if you haven’t already. Wanda is fantastic.); maybe this weekend, after errands and editing work on the book, I can curl up in my easy chair and while away a few hours with Wanda.

I was a bit amused to see some reactions to my questioning yesterday about whether I should continue to use pictures of men with amazing bodies or just pictures in general–no one said to stop using the hot men pictures, so I am going to continue to use them. I may start mixing in some other type pictures, of New Orleans or Louisiana; there are some fantastic local photographers who do amazing work that I would like to promote here, with buy links to websites and so forth, to help support local artists, but at the same time I am not certain if that would be a copyright violation or not? I think it’s okay as long as credit is given and I am not using the images to sell something? Of course, I have a gazillion pictures I’ve taken that I own the rights to, so maybe I could just use those. I don’t know. I’m not entirely certain why I am even worrying about the hot guy pictures now when it never bothered me or even occurred to me that I should change my ways before. I also don’t want to keep doing the same thing simply because it’s what I have always done, either; that kind of thinking has always annoyed me. Change isn’t always a bad thing and sometimes its necessary for growth. As someone who would like to keep growing in every way (except for weight) rather than atrophying in my sixties, I like to keep my options open at any rate. But at least for now, I will commit to using the hot-guy images through the end of the year; I do need to find my archive of Christmas themed hot men, though. Tis the season and all that. I also need to gather a list of Christmas song titles to use for the holiday posts. Heavy sigh, my work here in never done.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely Wednesday, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again tomorrow morning.

Only Over You

I do love researching Louisiana, even if and when it leads me down a rabbit hole as it always does. I’ve been trying–and it really isn’t necessary–to find out of you can actually leave the New Orleans metropolitan area without crossing a bridge; I-10 east and west require bridges (west is the wetlands/swamp alongside Lake Pontchartrain, going east you cross the lake) and of course the Causeway to the North Shore is also a bridge across the lake. Obviously you need a bridge to cross the river (there are two, the Crescent City Connection and the Huey P. Long Bridge), which leaves the old River Road, which for years was the only way into or out of New Orleans without crossing a bridge as it follows the levees up the river to Baton Rouge. I’ve never actually taken the River Road so I can’t swear that there are no bridges on its path alongside the river going north; I’ve been trying to get the answer by using Google Maps and Earth rather than taking the time to drive all the way out there and see for myself. The trick is, of course, the Bonne CarrĂ© Spillway; according to the maps the road is inside the spillway, so if the spillway is opened I believe New Orleans would have no dry land exits in any direction. I want to include this in my book, but…I also don’t want to have to take the drive to find out for sure, either.

And if I get it wrong, of course I’ll hear about it.

I am back into the office on a Monday for the first time in a very long time; I feel good this morning. I woke up long before the alarm and stayed in bed until the alarm went off, but I do feel remarkably rested all the same. We’ll see how this shift in work days feels later in the week, won’t we? But so far it feels good.

The Saints did win yesterday; for some reason I thought the game was last night instead of in the afternoon so I was reading in my chair when Paul came downstairs and mentioned that the game was on and it seemed like an exciting one–so I tuned in just in time to see the closing two minutes of the Saints’ second win on the season. I’m glad, though, I didn’t watch–from all reports it sounded like the kind of exciting and thrilling game that is inevitably an emotional rollercoaster, and after the disastrous LSU game on Saturday I don’t think I could have handled a close, exciting Saints game on top of it anyway, so it was just as well. I did get some writing done yesterday–nowhere near as much as was necessary and needed, so yay, still behind! Woo-hoo!–and then we watched our shows last evening. I enjoyed the new episodes of The Serpent Queen (now deviating from the actual historical story), House of the Dragon, Interview with the Vampire, and an episode of The Midnight Club (which, interestingly enough, is turning the stories the terminally ill teens tell each other into adaptations of other Christopher Pike stories, which is really clever) before retiring to bed relatively early last evening.

Ugh, just looking at my inbox is giving me the vapors. Hopefully I’ll make some good progress on that as well as my to-do list; which I made last week and nothing is crossed off of it, which doesn’t bode well for me or anyone or anything for that matter. But here’s hoping I can start making progress tonight or tomorrow.

Watching Interview with the Vampire, as well as rereading the book, has sent me down some mental wormholes as well. I actually wound up digging up copies of my vampire writings from the past (for teh record: the novellas “The Nightwatchers” and “Blood on the Moon,” and my novel Need), which aren’t terrible (I really need to stop defaulting to all my old work is terrible because it’s not); I had in fact forgotten a lot about them, to be honest. I just read the beginnings of all three to get some sort of idea of what I had done and was like, oh, wow, I didn’t remember this character or I’d forgotten this was set during Carnival and so on. So I am hoping that rereading them won’t be painful and will remind me of some other things that I wanted to work on; I was always disappointed that I never got to do a follow-up to Need–I’d created what I thought was an interesting paranormal mythology that I really wanted to explore more, but never got the chance.

Maybe when I retire?

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines.

Monday Morning

And here we are on another work-at-home Monday.

It has been quite a while since I managed the kind of word count that I did yesterday. I got up at seven yesterday morning, wrote my morning blog entry and then finished writing about how my novel Sorceress came to be (I am gradually working my way through all of my books), started another entry on Lake Thirteen (still to come), and then went to work on my Scotty book. I banged out Chapter Three, and then moved on to another project I am working on for a friend; I was writing a chapter of that book per week to send on to him but it went off-track and I knew it. So, I had to go back and reread those first four chapters that are already completed to see–and the fix was so much easier than I had been fearing, with the result that rather than actually fixing the problem, I simply made notes on how to fix it for the binder where I keep the printed pages (I do this with every book the last few years or so; it’s just easier to print it out, three-hole punch it and put it in a binder where I can access it easily and make notes whenever necessary). So I wrote Chapter Five of that project, bringing today’s word count to six thousand, not counting the blog entries. Whew, did my shoulder hurt once I was done for the day, but I actually felt like I earned the rest of the day off.

So, overall it was a pretty good weekend. I am working at home today with lots of data to get entered before I can take off my spice-mining helmet and head to the easy chair to relax. Labor Day is this weekend, which means it’s also Southern Decadence in New Orleans, and I haven’t really checked the schedule to see what I am going to have to do–if anything–for the day job this weekend. Next week we’re off to Bouchercon, which I am looking forward to; it’ll be lovely, even if smaller than it usually is. It’s the first in-person one since Dallas in 2019 (I still swear sometimes that LSU had the best football season of all time in 2019 and that broke the world) and there will be people I’ll get to see that I haven’t seen since St. Petersburg in 2018. My schedule is already filling up; I had to create a day by day schedule of where I have to be and what I have to do and dates I’ve made with people already (to avoid double booking as well as to keep track); it’s going to be hectic, and I also bet I am not going to get to sleep a lot because of my hotel room insomnia issues, which makes the trip even more tiring and draining. And then I get to come back and go to work at the office all week. Yay.

I’ve done a lot of thinking this summer in those rare moments when I have some time to sit and think about things–I really don’t get to do this as often as I should; I am thinking that maybe once every three months I just need to take a three day weekend and go stay in a hotel by myself somewhere–maybe do some exploring of Louisiana and the Gulf Coast, I don’t know–to take stock of my life, evaluate where I am at and where I want to go, and what do I need to do to make the things I want to happen for me actually, you know, happen. The nine-day bout of COVID, with its exhaustion, fatigue and continual brain fog, forced me to not work, to not do much of anything other than trying to just stay on top of my emails. The forced rest actually gave me time to deconstruct my life and everything I do and all of my commitments, and recognize some things about my life and what I want out of it. One of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result; I’ve been doing just that for quite some time now. I’ve missed a lot of opportunities over the years with my writing career–and while I am certainly of the mindset that everything happens for a reason and grabbing on to one of those opportunities might have changed my life in ways I cannot conceive, making it entirely possible that my life could be worse than it is now–one of the primary reasons I adopted the old “no regrets about the past” mantra–but I am getting old and many of those opportunities may never present themselves again. Now, I am at the point where my energies and abilities are growing more limited, yet the demands on my time, energy and ability don’t ever seem to ease up or abate in any meaningful way. I’ve made some decisions about my life and my future going forward; I also feel like they are the right ones to make and my mind is made up. (There are few things I find more annoying than making a decision and having that decision questioned, or having people try to talk you out of it. I rarely, if ever, change my mind once it’s definitively made up.)

I need to make writing a major priority again in my life. Yesterday it felt marvelous to get up in the morning, drink some coffee, and then sit down at the computer and start writing. I don’t know if my Scotty book is coming along well or not–it could be shit; and first drafts are usually pretty awful anyway–or if the other project is working or not, but it literally was so satisfying to sit at the computer and just create for hours. When I was finished for the day, too, I felt like I’d actually accomplished something and I liked the feeling. If I write a chapter of the other project every week while still managing to get two or three chapters of Scotty done every week, the Scotty will be finished on deadline and the other will have a completed first draft in another fifteen weeks. Juggling two completely different books and two entirely different styles is going to be a challenge, but I’ve always been about challenging myself when I write. (Even if it doesn’t seem like it.) I’ve also really been enjoying revisiting my books and remembering where the ideas came from, what I was trying to do with the book and story and characters; I hope those blog entries are entertaining. But…if they aren’t, you can always skip them, Constant Reader. I won’t mind. I’m also trying to write the book entries slowly, take my time with them, not write them all in one burst in one sitting the way I do the daily “this is what I am doing” entries.

I suppose I’ve always used this blog incorrectly. I probably should use it to do giveaways of copies of my books or engage with readers more, or turn it into a writing advice blog or something like that; develop a plan for it and stick to it rather than just pantsing it every morning. But that’s how I’ve always done it, and maybe when I’ve retired and don’t have to get ready for work every morning (the blog is part of my waking up to go to work process) I can take it another direction. Ah well, that’s about four years into the future, so I can worry about it then–if I even live that long.

We also binged Bad Vegan last night, which was insane but interesting, and of course episode 2 of House of the Dragon, which was markedly better than the first episode. (I did laugh at the opening credits of Episode 2, which weren’t included in episode one…reusing the Game of Thrones theme and using the same kind of “model” assembling itself was an interesting choice.)

And on THAT cheery note, I am heading into the spice mines.

Secret Love

Tuesday morning and it’s back to the office with me today. Hurray!

I really didn’t want to get up this morning–what else is new–but I could easily crawl back underneath the covers and go right back to sleep. But that isn’t possible, so I sit here and swill my coffee and try to wake up completely so I can get ready for work. Yesterday was a decent day of working at home duties and feeling rested; when I was finished for the day I did work on the new Scotty a little bit, and also did a little more research about Julia Brown, the witch of Manchac Swamp whose entire town was wiped out by the hurricane of 1915 (which has caused a bit of an issue for my Sherlock Holmes story, which was set in 1916 and never mentions the hurricane of the previous year; one would assume the city was still rebuilding at the time of that story, but I guess the lack of mention can be explained away easily enough if i put my mind to it–not that anyone will ever notice or say anything, naturally). After finishing work for the day entirely and moving to my easy chair, we watched the new episodes of The Anarchist and Loot, before starting season three of Who Killed Sara? I have a lot of errands to run after work tonight–prescriptions, the mail, and picking up library books–which is fine; there’s an easy pattern of driving I can follow to get it all done relatively easily and quickly, but the primary issue is that I probably won’t want to do any of those errands once I get off from work today.

Most likely not. But they need to be run, and I might as well get it all over with at once, don’t you think?

I concur.

My birthday is coming up, sooner than I would like–this month is just flying past, which is partly due to me trying to get through the work week as quickly as possible every week; as I’ve said before, doing this is wishing my life away, but what can I say? I vastly prefer the days when I don’t have to come to work than the ones where I do, sue me. Retirement–a mere four years in my future–looks to be more and more enticing all the time; however, I also don’t want the next four years to just blow by, either, so no more of this wishing my life away stuff; I need to focus on each day and squeezing as much worth and value out of every day that I can. I am very excited about working on the new Scotty book and whipping it into shape; making a story come together out of the amorphous nether regions is always kind of fun for me (no matter how much I bitch and/or complain about it) and of course, I find myself once again writing a book during football season–heavy heaving sigh, one day you’d think I would learn–but there’s also no telling what this season will be like for us LSU/Saints fans; both have new coaches and it’s kind of a new era for both teams; I find it highly unlikely, however, that LSU will have another season as bad as the last two, and of course last year’s Saints season was a total disaster. Can’t really complain though; Louisiana football fans have been terribly spoiled this entire century–LSU won three national titles, the Saints won the Super Bowl–so it was probably one of the best runs for Louisiana football in history, really.

The problem with this, of course, is that I really need to be doing some day trip exploring around the state for things I am writing. I really need to go into the river and bayou parishes and scope it out, get a sense of what it’s like there–the sights, sounds, smells, etc.–and if I am going to write about Julia Brown and the Manchac swamp, I kind of need to go have a look around there. I’ve written scenes in the Manchac Swamp before, but it’s been a hot minute since I explored around out there and I don’t trust my memory (which lies to me on a daily basis, the bastard)…and I also should drive around in the East a bit as well–taking pictures and so forth. But….if I can find the Saints on the radio, I can always listen to the game in the car as I drive around.

(I don’t care about missing the Saints games as much as I do the LSU games, honestly; I often will make groceries during the first half of a Saints game because the city turns into a ghost town.)

I also am really starting to like the Fresh Market on St. Charles. The fruit and vegetables are fresher than those at other markets; my blackberries, for example, don’t get moldy and fuzzy within two days when I get them from there. I also like the butcher counter–and in futzing around on their website yesterday I discovered that yes, I can indeed order for pick-up there as well. If I get this all under control relatively soon, I can get to the point where I never have to set foot inside a grocery store again…and I kind of like that idea.

And on that note I am going to head into the spice mines. It’s going to be a lengthy and hopefully productive day down here in the mines, and I will chat with you again tomorrow, Constant Reader.

Everybody Loves You

Monday morning, and the shopping days left till my birthday are slowly but surely getting crossed off my calendar. Yesterday was a lovely relaxing day at home; I did some on-line shopping (ordered a new pair of glasses from Zenni; we’ll see how they work out once they arrive; I may order a few other pairs to be more color-conscious; and yes, I know how weird that is for me–I didn’t get the fashion gene that most gay men seem to be born with, and so I’ve never really cared much about clothes other than their function–especially glasses

) and then spent some time doing the fun part of writing: thinking about the book(s).

I love that part. I actually realized yesterday that I was flying without a navigator (as usual), which is probably a mistake. I hadn’t spent any time really thinking about the story of Mississippi River Mischief and how it would impact the characters and how they interact with each other, etc. I had some basics down; I knew how I was going to start the story and open the book, and what I was going to include in it–I also recognized that another subplot is too big a story to be included in this book, and so I had to put it to the side for now, for use at a later date in a different book. But beyond that I hadn’t really thought much about it, and that was problematic for me and would inevitably cause problems for me down the line as I struggled to write a strong first draft. I also realized that a lot of what I was writing was going to take place outside of New Orleans, and yes, I know it’s anal of me, but my fictional Louisiana was far too amorphous. My work has always centered New Orleans and I’ve always been a stickler about getting that correct–I know I’ve made mistakes, I got Orleans and St. Louis Streets reversed in one book, or example– but over the course of forty-odd books, inevitably parts of some of them had to take place outside New Orleans. (I had, oddly enough, no qualms about completely fictionalizing the entire state of Louisiana for the most part outside of the metro area.) And being anal, I realized I had no real “map” or idea of what fictional parish or city or plantation was where and what names I’d used where and so on and so forth. And yes, I know it probably doesn’t matter–no reader would ever take the time to go through all of my books and try to piece Greg’s fictional Louisiana together and point out contradictions and errors, but it would bother me knowing that it was a mess outside Orleans and Jefferson parishes.

Something clearly had to be done.

So, I spent yesterday afternoon doing Scotty research–namely, checking every book I’ve ever written with scenes that take place outside of the metro area and try to assemble all of those places into a coherent and cogent “world” of Louisiana, strictly of my own making. I did allow myself to get sidetracked a few times with research into other projects, current or upcoming (the Great Hurricane of 1915, and the legend of Julia White were Internet wormholes I happily went down yesterday; I think a story I am going to write for an anthology call will be based in these two events), which is always a delight; Louisiana and New Orleans history are literal treasure troves for thoughts and ideas and so forth (another wormhole: the German Coast of the Mississippi River) and also humbling at the same time, because these wormholes always remind me how little I actually do know and understand about New Orleans and Louisiana.

Revisiting old books–especially Scotty ones–inevitably bring back memories of the time period in which the book was written, where the idea for it came from, what I was trying to do with it, and so on and so forth…not to mention how the character himself has changed and grown along with my writing styles and skills. It also reminds me of other things, too–plans I used to write the books, ideas and thought processes for the characters and their futures, and so on; things I had forgotten over the passage of time. I also sent the pdf of Jackson Square Jazz to my iPad; so I can slowly start copy-editing it so I can put up the ebook on Kindle at long last–there was also a part of that novel, part of Scotty’s long-forgotten past that only appears in this particular book that I want to circle around back to for this one. There are, I suspect, any number of sub-plots and character arcs that have been left hanging within the series over the years, and I don’t think it’s such a bad idea to reread the entire series again from start to finish since I am writing another book in the series. Obviously, I love Scotty and he is a part of me, and I don’t have a hard time slipping into his voice again (one of the things, I think, that makes writing a series a bit easier than writing a stand-alone–or starting a new series–is that ease of finding the character’s voice again. I’ve written eight Scotty books now, it should be easy to find his voice again), but there are a lot of other things I need to revisit and remember from the previous books in the series, so as to avoid continuity issues and things like that which plague me constantly.

For the record, the books I had to consult to map out my fictional Louisiana included not only Scotty books, but Murder in the Arts District (Chanse), The Orion Mask, a pseudonymous book or two, and some short stories. If A Streetcar Named Murder indeed becomes the launch of a new series for me, I’ll need that fictional map of Louisiana for that series as well–I’d already brought up one of my fictional parishes in the text of Streetcar, so…

I also reread the first four chapters of something else that is currently in progress to also kind of sort of make sense of it as well (and a good thing, too–I had two completely different sleazy gay dive hustler bars in the same neighborhood in two different chapters; easy enough to fix of course, and another continuity issue). This is going to sound weird–what else is new with one Gregalicious–but I am writing another book at the same time as this Scotty; I am sending a chapter a week to a friend, kind of like a serial novel, but I had not gone back and reread what I had already written on it (hence the two sleazy gay hustler bars in the same area of the fictional city) and so it went off the rails slightly (I suspected it was doing so and even remarked on it when I sent the email with the most recent chapter attached), and I am going to have to go back and clean that all up before proceeding–because it’s too big of a mistake to leave in the draft for correcting in another, later draft (plus, it will bother me to no end knowing those big mistakes are there), so I think I am going to have to make those fixes before I write Chapter 5–which is a good thing, because I am not really sure how to write chapter 5 or what to do in it; revisiting and fixing the first four chapters is always a good idea in these situations.

The problem with not outlining is because sometimes you get stuck.

We also binged a lot of The Sandman last night. What an extraordinary show–the visuals are absolutely stunning (I keep thinking how visually breathtaking it would be on the big screen), and the costumes, the art and set design, everything is just stunningly perfect, and the stories themselves (as well as the over-arcing storyline) are depicted and acted and written beautifully. This is the adaptation of the series I always wanted to see but never dared dream we would get; Paul and I are both just completely blown away by its brilliance (I also loved that Cain and Abel, from the old comics House of Mystery and House of Secrets, are a part of this universe; I loved those comics back when I was a kid–note to DC: make an anthology series of both of those comics, please.) We only have three episodes left, but by the time we finish this show–probably Wednesday, given how our weekday evenings seem to go–there should be some other amazing shows dropped for us to watch–I am particularly looking forward to The Serpent Queen; I’ve been asking for a Catherine de Medici series for years and now we are getting one that seems to embrace and encompass her manipulation and dedication to the acquisition of power, and of course House of the Dragon looks like it could be very fun, and other shows will be returning soon as well with new episodes.

So, overall it was a great weekend; I cannot complain. It was productive–perhaps not as productive as I would have liked, but I do feel like some seriously good work was done this weekend, and that’s all that matters. I have some work-at-home duties today–trying to decide whether to run errands today or on the way home from work tomorrow (on the way home is currently winning the debate in my head), and about the only real disappointment in the weekend was not being able to make time to read.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely Monday, Constant Reader, and I’ll check in with you again later or tomorrow; depends on when I finish writing these other blog posts that are more essay-driven than the norm.

In Your Dreams

Yesterday turned out to be relatively pleasant.

I ran my errands–got the mail (which had a check!), swung by the Latter Library (which will be the setting for one of my new series books if it takes off) and picked up my book about obscenity trials (Dirty Works: Obscenity on Trial in America’s First Sexual Revolution) and then swung by Fresh Market to pick up some fresh fruits and vegetables and some other odds and ends. I returned home, felt pretty decent, and then spent the rest of the day cleaning and organizing and redoing the kitchen cabinets to make them feel a bit less cramped and crowded. When Paul got home from work we watched some television, finishing The Most Hated Man on the Internet (recommended), watched Uncharted with Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg (not missing much if you skip this), and started The Sandman on Netflix, which is superb.

Today I am going to continue with some of the cleaning and organizing, but am hoping to squeeze out some time to write before sinking back into my easy chair to enjoy more of The Sandman, which is extraordinary. I read the comic series years and years ago–I have some of the hardcover collections, which I’ve always intended to go back to and reread–and loved it. I had also loved the Neil Gaiman’s books American Gods and Good Omens, but found the adaptations to leave something to be desired, so I was worried about The Sandman being well done and good. Rest assured, it is very well done; visually arresting and stunning, the story relatively easy to follow, and the casting is superb. I think I may have to take some time and go back and reread the collections I have on hand–I always like to read the source material while I am watching the adaptation–but I also want to spend some time with the Ippolito book, which I want to finish this week. I am definitely going to be working on my Scotty book this weekend; progress must be made on it sooner rather than later, else it’s going to turn into one of those nightmarish deadline scenarios and God knows I do not want to find myself in another one of those situations ever again, perish the thought. (I say that about every deadline, don’t I? I am nothing if not sort of self-aware…)

I’m also trying to decide what to cook. I’ve been wanting to make shrimp-fried rice, which requires making rice the day before (apparently it needs to be at least day-old in order to make it), and I’ve been thinking that it’s not a bad idea to cook some things today that Paul can just heat up at night for something to eat, primarily because I never feel like cooking (or rarely) on the days when I go into the office (I keep hoping that we’ll eventually go back to our old schedule so I can go back to my normal schedule, which will make my life ever so much easier to handle, mainly because insomnia won’t be such an existential threat to my well-being the way it is when I have to get up at six in the morning); it would also help to clear some things out of the refrigerator (which is something I have to deal with today–cleaning out the refrigerator) and that’s always a good thing, methinks.

I was trying to remember where I had sold stories to this year and what short stories I have coming out at some point in the near future last night, and of course, couldn’t remember some of the places I had sold stories–which is why I try to keep the spreadsheet of submissions and sales–and maybe today, if I have some time after working on the book (I really want to pull that first chapter together today and maybe even get started on the second, to be honest) I may work on one of my short stories in progress. I know I have promised two stories with paranormal elements in them to two specific calls, and there’s another one I want to submit to, but don’t mind if I don’t get into it. (Another thing to do this week if I have time; try to figure out what my next short story collection will look like) I am feeling rather ambitious this morning, am I not? I am going to try to get my writing, cleaning and organizing (and weekly cooking preparations) all taken care of before I sit down to try to read this afternoon, so I am going to try to stay focused this morning, which is never an easy process for me. I’m also writing an entry for here about the birth and growth of the Scotty series that I should probably work a little more on, as well as some of the other in-progress entries I have–that whole personal essay thing I was talking about the other day–and of course, I am in the process of inventing an entire parish in Louisiana for the new Scotty book. It’s not like it’s the first time; I think I invented one on the north shore for Baton Rouge Bingo that popped up again in Garden District Gothic, but I could also be remembering wrong. I know I am going to have to go back to an old Scotty book to dig out something from his past that he’s going to have to face up to in Mississippi River Mischief which is going to be a lot of fun for me to write, frankly.

Come to think of it, I’ve invented rural parishes outside of New Orleans for several books now; I should go back and reread through them to get a sense or semblance of what I’ve already done and pull it all together.

Hmmm.

And on that note I think I am going to head into the spice mines. I want to put the dishes away and get started on making this rice for tomorrow’s dinner (I also suspect it’s going to make way too much for both Paul and I to eat), and cleaning out the refrigerator while also doing some other chores until my brain is awake enough to start figuring out how to start this Scotty book and where it’s going to go. SO have a lovely Sunday, Constant Reader. I’ll check in with you again tomorrow.

Fall from Grace

Thursday, and one more day before the weekend. The weeks just seem to flit past these days–my birthday and Bouchercon will be upon us before we know it–and August is definitely here in New Orleans. It’s so weird, as though the weather somehow knows and thinks hey, it’s August–bet you thought it was ALREADY humid, didn’t you, New Orleans? WELL HOLD MY FUCKING BEER I WILL SHOW YOU HUMIDITY. My windshield kept fogging up all the way into work yesterday morning, and for some reason when I turned on the defroster to get rid of it, it never blew warm air, which is a concern. Sigh, that means another day off and another trip to the dealer on the West Bank (but the plus to that is either Sonic or Five Guys!), but I’ll figure all that out after Bouchercon in September. And who knows? It may have just been a quirk this morning or something, who knows? I really do wish my parents had let me take Auto Shop in high school.

I also wish I had a driveway so I could wash my car at home. But if wishes were horses….that would be a good title, methinks: If Wishes Were Horses.

Yesterday wasn’t so bad, really. I slept well on Tuesday night–at least far better than I had on Monday night, for sure–and so yesterday morning wasn’t the loss that Tuesday morning was. I hate those days after insomnia takes its inevitable toll on me physically and mentally; it’s the worst, frankly. I’ve also agreed to write another short story by the end of the year–if not two, but I am not sure about either, to be honest–and I think I probably already have things on hand that I can use for both, if I so chose. There’s also a submission call for stories based on Alice Cooper songs that sounds interesting–“Welcome to My Nightmare” is such an obvious choice for me, but I would imagine a lot of people would choose that one so if I am going to write something for this I want to be a bit more obscure with my song choice….although “School’s Out” could be really fun. Hmmmm.

I also finished the revision of “Solace in a Dying Hour.” I hope they like the changes I made, else I will soon find out otherwise. I am very pleased with the story–the editorial suggestions were absolutely 100% perfect; there’s nothing like editors who are worth their weight in gold, seriously–and now…I think I am all caught up and can focus solely on Mississippi River Mischief for the next few months. I do have some other stories to write over the course of writing the Scotty, as I mentioned above, but it’s always lovely when the things that are causing you stress–even if it’s only a small bit of stressful discomfort–are taken care of and out of the way. I really loved writing this story, though, and I hope people like it when the anthology is released. It’s my second-ever story about a Louisiana “urban legend”–the first was “Rougarou,” which was about a, well, a rougarou, aka a Cajun werewolf (“rougarou” is a Cajun bastardization of the French loup-garou)–and this time I wrote about le feu follet. Maybe someday that collection Monsters of Louisiana will actually come to fruition…

I did come straight home from work yesterday, and did a load of laundry and cleaned out the sink and ran the dishwasher. I also did some filing, but by the time I retired to my easy chair to relax, I was too tired to read and so I started watching things on Youtube before remembering there was a new episode of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, which I tuned into for awhile until Paul got home, and we switched over to Only Murders in the Building and Control Z before going to bed. I was dozing off in the chair during Control Z, which I am not really following–the plot has become incredibly insane, over the top, and hard to follow, let alone make sense of–before retiring for the evening. I think we have a fairly light clinic schedule today as well, which is always a lovely way to finish off my time in the clinic. Tomorrow morning I have a department meeting followed by the monkeypox training, which I am actually looking forward to–I did discover that I won’t be vaccinating anyone, but I am going to be trained on the virus and how it spreads and how to reduce risk for exposure and infection. (It was kind of a relief, frankly; I loathe needles and shots, and while I had come to accept that I needed to learn and it could help me get over my phobia of needles–like how doing finger-sticks every day got me over my squeamishness with blood–I am really glad, Constant Reader, that I won’t be doing it.)

I also seem to have slept really well last night, too, which is nice. I did wake up at three again–I’ve woken up at three every morning this week, which is peculiar–but was able to fall back asleep with ease and I feel pretty good this morning. Maybe not quite “I can conquer the world!” but something akin to that, methinks. I feel rested and alert, which is always a plus. I have a couple of errands to run today on the way home from work, and then I am hopefully going to be able to settle in for some Scotty writing.

One can hope, at any rate.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely Thursday, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again tomorrow, okay?