Hold On

Good morning, Wednesday, how are you?

It’s very cold again this morning; I am swathed in a blanket and I also dug out the space heater. According to the weather, it is a mere 48 degrees this morning–warmer than yesterday, certainly, but still not exactly balmy as the sky begins to lighten and I sip my cappuccino and blearily try to withdraw from the arms of Morpheus. I was exhausted last night, and even went to bed before ten. No insomnia, I am pleased to report, last night. I slept deeply and well and–once the cobwebs clear–I will feel pretty well rested, which is kind of lovely.

I got another chapter of the book finished as well, which was also nice. It’s beginning to come together, and hopefully I can get another chapter done today. I need to go to the gym when I get off work today, so here’s hoping the weather gets warmer. The high is supposed to be in the low 60’s today–which is cold for a long walk, but I can hopefully hang with it. It depends, I suppose, on how tired I feel tonight when I get off work.

But the blanket and the space heater are working very well together this morning, and I am starting to feel warm now, which is lovely. I really don’t like cold weather. But why don’t you turn on the heat? you may well be asking yourselves. Because it’s an old New Orleans house, for one, and for another all the heat winds up on the second floor–so the first floor remains cold while the upstairs turns into a sauna. And so, those lovely windows around my desk with the sweet view and the wonderful natural light? Yeah, when it’s cold they are like cold conduits. The surface of my desk is very cold, my keyboard colder and, as Ali Valli commented on a Facebook post of mine the other day about the cold, “there’s nothing like a bathroom in an old south Louisiana house on a cold day.”

I was too tired last night to read, so The Bad Seed remains on my end table, beseeching me to pick it up and keep reading, alas. We did watch another episode of A Teacher on Hulu last night, and I’m not really sure what I think about this show, to be honest, other than it’s not particularly good? We’re kind of hate-watching it at this point…if you’re not aware of it, it’s another one of those “high school teacher has an affair with one of her students” stories. I know it’s probably misogynist of me, but I hate stories where someone behaves self-destructively; the entire time you’re watching you’re saying to yourself, “I just can’t be sympathetic to someone who is really that stupid.” I’m not really sure why there is such a fascination with these stories–I also know they are a lot more common in real life than we might want to think or believe; it seems like every few months or so some young female teacher in one of the more rural parishes around New Orleans is busted for sleeping with a student–there was one case, I think, maybe in Destrehan?–where two female teachers were having sex with the same student, and maybe they were having three ways? I don’t remember. But there have been several rather famous cases–maybe Mary Kay LeTourneau being the most notorious, since she allegedly got her lover-student and some of his friends to kill her husband–which is the case the book and movie To Die For were based on. It has led to some interesting conversations between Paul and myself about teacher-student relationships–in particular, the incredible difference between when it’s a male teacher and when it’s a female, as well as how they are reported on and discussed–and how the women always seems to fall in love with/become obsessed with their young male student lovers, whereas the men are inevitably just predators. (The women are also predators, don’t get me wrong–but the men move from target to target whereas the women become, usually, fixated on one particular student.) The show’s not done particularly well, really; I really don’t understand why this particular teacher fixated on her student, and I’m not really certain I understand the male student (who is played by the same kid who played the gay male lead in the atrocious Love, Simon) either.

Yesterday saw the official end of a publishing tradition: BookExpo is dead, never to be revived or rescheduled or anything. The event was expiring already–digital books, publishing mergers, etc. kind of did it in completely; and the event was already starting to die off when I first started going, back in 2000. The last time I went–I think–was either 2006 or 2007, and I could already see a significant difference from previous years–not as many events, not as many authors, not as many publishers–and it was so expensive. For me, it was fun to go, if a bit overwhelming–and I always took every book that was offered to me, because I always felt bad for people offering–but it’s definitely the end of an era. It makes you stop and think, really; what else is never going to come back after the pandemic? Things aren’t going to ever go back to the way they were–too much has already changed, and some work-arounds are turning out to be, actually, better in the long run than the way things were done before.

And on that note, tis back to the spice mines with me. Hope you have a lovely and warm Wednesday!

Paninaro

Apparently, this old dog can learn some new tricks.

Yesterday morning, after the relapses of the previous weekend, I decided that I was going to have to give up caffeine again, as well as call my doctor’s office to see if I could get in sooner rather than later. After all, this has been going on for far longer than I would like, and perhaps more drastic measures were called for then just drinking Gatorade and water while cutting caffeine out. A friend suggested that I drink some PediaLyte, so on my way into the office I stopped at CVS, bought some–and suddenly, I felt like Gregalicious again. I just had always assumed, I guess, that Gatorade had whatever you needed in it to get over dehydration, and was apparently wrong. I drank water the rest of my shift, and was feeling a little dry-mouthed when I got home so I had another Pedialyte. Electrolytes were what were called for, and I am going to continue to drink one of these a day (at least) until this dehydration issue is taken care of. It was never something I ever really had to concern myself with–even after dancing all night on Ecstasy–but now, alas, yet another sign that my body is decaying.

But at least I know what to do now, even if it took me two weeks to figure it out.

I do learn, even if it takes me awhile.

It was lovely, though, last night to just feel tired and now it was from not sleeping well, rather than that horrible physical exhaustion.

Of course, I’m also on night four of insomnia.

But I am getting by. I’m still way behind on everything, and keep hoping that today–maybe–I’ll start to dig out from under. One can dream at any rate, can’t one? I need to get the Sherlock story worked on this week–in my fever state the other day I realized something could be cut and something should be added–and of course, last night as I was thinking about it, I started thinking about how much more could be done with the story; how much more could be done around Sherlock in New Orleans in the 1910’s; and how rich and layered and textured such a period piece could be…so of course I started wondering if I should think about possibly doing a Sherlock pastiche in this time period.

Because of course.

I read some more of the Woolrich last night; the pacing has picked up dramatically, although I’m still not sure where it’s going or how it could possibly end; and after Paul got home we tried to find a new show to watch, without much luck. Love Victor lasted about fifteen minutes–I wasn’t a big fan of Love Simon–and we tried a few other things before finally landing on another Agatha Christie adaptation, Ordeal by Innocence, which isn’t quite as I remembered the book either, but it’s an intriguing story and very well filmed and acted–and there are only three one hour episodes, so it’s not much of a commitment.

And let’s face it, Elite is a very tough act to follow.

I am tired again this morning, but this is entirely due to the insomnia as opposed to anything else; I am trying a cup of coffee this morning (after which I am going to have some Pedialyte) and it’s not sitting well with me; it’s kind of stuffy and sticky in the Lost Apartment this morning, and that’s certainly not helping any. I have to run errands after I get off work this afternoon–I have packages waiting at the postal service, and I need to stop at the grocery store for a few things as well–and so I am hoping today will be a productive one. There’s a million emails to sort and answer–and I really need to find my to-do list from before I relapsed into whatever this was the last two weeks and make a new one.

Every day I’m juggling.

And now back to the spice mines. Have a lovely day, Constant Reader.

All I Want for Christmas Is You

It is December 25th, the morning, and I managed to again sleep until almost nine; which I’ve done every day since this fabulous four day weekend began. Getting used to getting up early again is going to be a bitch; I will find out for certain this Thursday morning, heavy heaving sigh.

We opened our Christmas presents last night; a tradition that began early in my family when my sister and I were too old to believe in Santa anymore and my parents were still young enough to want to sleep late on Christmas day. Paul, as always, has spoiled me terribly; he got me everything I wanted 2 twelve-watt iPhone chargers, a contraption called Yogatoes-more on that later, new LSU house slippers, and some things I didn’t ask for–three sessions with a trainer (one of those gifts that can be taken as back-handed, if you choose to think that way), a package of Turtle candies, caramel M&M’s, some really cool post-it notes, pens, and a can of cashews. I also got my annual Hog Days T-shirt (his hometown is famous for Hog Days, and he gets me one of the plethora of options for a T-shirt every year), and some other knick knacks, shoved into a Christmas stocking. It was quite lovely, actually. He’s so much more thoughtful than I am (surprise!).

We also watched, or rather tried to watch, Call Me By Your Name last night, streaming it from Amazon Prime. We stopped with only half an hour to go; Paul wanted to have a cigarette and I wanted to use the bathroom, and when we reassembled in the living room we weren’t all that interested in continuing. It’s a very pretty movie to look at (ITALY!), and the acting was fine…but it just didn’t connect with either of us. Love Simon didn’t either; and I have some thoughts on that, but I will save that for another time. After shelving Call Me By Your Name, we started watching a really interesting Australian series on Netflix, Wanted, which has a great concept and I am curious to see how it will play out.

I spent most of yesterday cleaning out computer files. This is long overdue, and I’ve talked about doing it extensively, but yesterday afternoon while Paul was at the gym I plopped my ass down in my chair and started getting rid of duplicate files and combining many different files about the same thing into one (who knew I had five completely different folders for my story “This Thing of Darkness” with completely different contents? NO MORE), and while there is still a lot of work to be done, I am quite pleased to have gotten all I got accomplished yesterday done. I also am going to try to take the time to make sure duplications don’t occur again in the future, and make sure things don’t simply get put into folders marked SORT or MISCELLANEOUS in the future.

Hmmm. Sounds like a goal for the new year, doesn’t it?

Today, once I finish this, I am going to start Christmas dinner–time to put the turkey in the slow cooker, etc.–and try to revise early chapters of Bury Me in Satin. I don’t intend to spend the entire day working; it is a holiday, after all, and I’d like to spend some time rereading The Shining as well as making some plans for the rest of the week and the weekend. I also just realized that Georgia and Texas fans will be descending on us for the Sugar Bowl over the course of the weekend.

It also looks like a beautiful day out there.

Okay, yoga toes. 

I realized in early December that Paul and I’s methodology of Christmas shopping was predicated on passive-aggression: I don’t know what I want. This rang home to me as I sat at my computer, ready to order iPhone chargers and LSU slippers and the yoga toes, so I closed the shopping carts and instead sent the links to Paul. But I discovered the yoga toes thanks to Jamie Mason, who posted about them on Facebook along with a link to the website. I have fallen arches/flat/very wide feet, and most of my life I have not taken proper care of them; including many jobs which required me to stand on them for hours on end, day in and day out. In one of those oh you are SO fucking smart aren’t you moments I realized about ten years ago I’d been buying my shoes too small for years; I went up from 10 1/2 to 11’s, which was marvelous and made an enormous difference. My doctor recommended shoe inserts as well, which was also life-changing and guaranteed that I no longer needed to buy new shoes every six weeks or so. I also discovered you can buy shoes wider than normal; so my shoes now fit properly and my feet/ankles/knees/calves/hips no longer start aching as quickly as they used to. But years of shoes, and shoes that were too small and not wide enough, compressed my toes (kind of like how the Chinese used to bind girls’ feet) to the point where I couldn’t splay them without reaching down and doing it with my fingers. The yoga toes device is a geloid thing you put on your toes which forces them apart; you leave it on each foot for ten to fifteen minutes to begin with, working your way up to an hour and you do it every day. And let me tell you, Constant Reader, already, after only doing it once for fifteen minutes, that the yoga toes have already made a difference. My toes and feet feel better, and the pressure on my ankles and calves has somewhat lessened. It also makes walking and balancing easier–because your toes aren’t supposed to be compressed together. 

Highly recommended.

And now back to the spice mines.

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I Can’t Make You Love Me

GEAUX SAINTS!

So, it’s another chilly Sunday here in the Lost Apartment. It’s sixty degrees now outside, but it dipped into the forties overnight, so it’s going to take awhile for the Lost Apartment to recover–if it ever does. Today I need to pack up for the trip tomorrow morning. I’m not taking the MacBook Air with me, so I am not entirely sure how I’ll be able to crosspost the blog–should I write any entries–to Facebook and other social media because cutting and pasting on the iPad confuses me.

Don’t judge me.

The LSU game last night was a romp; never in doubt from the first snap, and ending with a 42-10 score. It was 28-3 at half-time and was never in doubt. As such, there was very little-to-no tension on my part, so I was able to sit in my easy chair like a millennial, scrolling through apps on my phone while also taking some time to read. I stopped by the Latter Library yesterday to pick up another book I’d reserved (Chariots of the Gods? by Erich von Daniken–more about that later) and also renewed Bibliomysteries Volume 2 for another week. I am taking both books with me to Kentucky, and am also taking A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin; I think it’s time I got started writing A Song of Ice and Fire, now that the end of the television series is in sight with this past week’s announcement that the final season will begin airing in April.

I took yesterday as my day off for the weekend; I didn’t clean anything, nor did I organize or file or edit or write. I was basically just a lazy slug, sitting in my easy chair and flipping between football games while reading. I’m still rereading ‘salem’s Lot but have now reached the end game, the final section of the book called “The Empty Village,” and the tracking down of the vampires concluding with Ben and Mark running away to Mexico while Ben writes his book isn’t as interesting to me as the opening of the book; as I said when I discussed the reread initially, I am more interested in how King depicts the town more than anything else, which was the impetus for the reread. And how much do I love this sentence, which opens section 2, “The Emperor of Ice Cream”:

The town knew darkness.

It’s very Shirley Jackson-esque, and the passage that follows is perhaps my favorite part of the entire book.

I also think I am going to give The Shining  a reread; The Shining is, for most fans, critics and readers, King’s best work. I couldn’t get into it when I first bought the paperback, with the boy’s head with a blank face drawn on a shiny silver cover. I picked it up again a few years later and tore through it in one sitting; but as creepy and horrifying as it was, and how nasty the Overlook Hotel was…it was one of the few I never reread completely. I’ve picked it up and started it again, flipped through it and read sections, but I’ve never read it from beginning to end. I think the complexity of Jack Torrance as a character cut a little too close to home for me, but now that I have over fifty books out there with my name (or a pseudonym) on the spine…I don’t have to be too stressed about the failed author character being too close to home for me anymore.

At least one can hope so.

Tomorrow is the dreaded twelve hour car ride through Mississippi, Alabama, a bit of Georgia, and the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. I need to go get the mail before I leave town and possibly stop by the bank, so I am going to be getting a later start than I would have perhaps wished, but a twelve-hour drive is a twelve-hour drive no matter when you get started, and I am most likely going to shower and go straight to bed when I arrive in Kentucky. I am still trying to figure out what digital book to download and listen to in the car–who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?–but none of A Song of Fire and Ice are available as audiobooks from the library, and the library’s app isn’t as intuitive as I would like (translated: I’m too old to figure out the easiest way to use it). I wanted to start Charles Todd’s brilliant series set during the end of the first world war, but the first book isn’t available from my library (BASTARDS!!!!) and so I have to choose something else. I’ll spend some time on there today–maybe on the library’s website, which is easier for a Luddite like me–and perhaps the second Louise Penny Inspector Gamache novel might do the trick.

Or maybe The Shining. Ooooooh.

Most of today is also going to be spent on odds and ends. I may get some writing work done, or I may not. I think after the Saints game we are going to watch either Love, Simon or Call Me By Your Name; both are available for free streaming on one or another services I pay for now. I also am assuming I’ll finish watching Knightfall while I am in Kentucky, as my parents both go to bed early every night.

And yesterday I also managed to read “The Gospel of Sheba” by Lyndsay Faye, from Bibliomysteries Volume Two, edited by Otto Penzler:

Letter sent from Mrs. Colette Lomax to Mr. A. Davenport Lomax, September 3rd, 1902.

My only darling,

You cannot comprehend the level of incompetence to which I was subjected today.

You know full well I never demand a private dressing room when stationary, as the very notion implies a callous disrespect for the sensitivities of other artists. However, it cannot pass my notice when I am engaged in a second class chamber en route from Reims to Strasbourg. The porter assured me that private cars were simply not available on so small a railway line as our company was forced to book–and yet, I feel justified in suspecting the managers have hoaxed their “rising star” once again. The reek of soup from the dining car’s proximity alone would depress my spirits, even were my ankles not confined one atop the other in a padlock-like fashion.

I do so loathe krautsuppe. Hell, I assure you, my love, simmers with the aroma of softening cabbage.

Lyndsay Faye has twice been nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel (for The Gods of Gotham, which I adored, and for Jane Steele, which is still in my ever-growing and enormous TBR pile), and she is also a delight to know in addition to her enormous gift for writing. Lyndsay is an enormous Sherlock Holmes fan (Sherlockian?), and even her first novel, Dust and Shadow, was a Holmes tale; she recently published an entire collection of Holmes short stories. “The Gospel of Sheba” is sort of a Holmes story; both he and Watson do appear in the story, but it’s primarily told from the point of view of a sub-librarian, Mr. Lomax; he is married to a professional singer who at the time of the story is currently on a tour–her presence in the story is either through her husband’s point of view or epistolary; we get to see occasional letters from her. Her husband’s point of view is seen through diary entries where he talks about the mystery of the Gospel of Sheba, a grimoire a member of a private men’s club with an interest in the supernatural has discovered and that makes anyone who reads it ill. One of the things I love the most about Faye is she writes in the formal style of the nineteenth century, but it always reads as organic and never forced. There’s never a sense from the reader of Oh I see what you’re doing here or from her as the author of see how clever I am? She’s somehow modernized that formal style, breathed fresh life into it, and uses it to help set the mood and the time and the setting. You can almost hear the hiss of gas in the lamps, and see the flickering gaslight. This is a terrific story, and reminds me of why I loved The Gods of Gotham so much, and also reminded me I need to dive back into her backlist.

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

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What Have You Done For Me Lately

I managed to tear through Chapter 18 Thursday, so now I am on Chapter 19. I cannot reiterate enough times how sloppy and messy this manuscript is, but I am getting a first draft done and I don’t care how bad it looks now; revisions and rewrites will clean that the fuck up.

I also decided it was time to get my agent-search organized; which meant creating a spreadsheet and entering all the names of agents, their agencies, etc. that I’ve been collecting on scraps of paper or scribbling down in my journal into it. This weekend I am going to go over and revise the first four chapters of the WIP–this time for cohesion and to copy edit, revise, make the language prettier–and see where that’s at. I also retitled “The Feast of St. Expedite”–it is now called “A Whisper from the Graveyard”–and worked on it a little bit before bed. But the one I really need to focus on is “Children of the Stone Circle,” which is the story I am hoping to edit and revise and have ready to submit to Cemetery Dance. It’s a longshot–they are probably going to get thousands of stories–but it’s also a bucket-list item, so I am going to go for it.

I have a lot of errands to do today–pick up prescriptions, post office, make groceries–and I’ve promised to make a co-worker a red velvet cheesecake for his birthday (today, but I’ll bring it into the office on Tuesday); I’ll probably make the cheesecake tomorrow but still need to get all the things for it today. I most likely won’t get much written today–all that running around in the obnoxious New Orleans heat and humidity will wear me out, as it always does–and so the rest of today will most likely be spent cleaning and organizing and getting ready to do some writing tomorrow; although I will most likely continue to work on the Bourbon Street Blues copy edit.

I started reading Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, which is the book Love Simon was based on. I’m very curious about it–having not seen the movie, which we’ll probably rent sometime–and since I write gay y/a, I kind of feel like I need to see what all the fuss is about (I also want to work on the WIP this weekend; we’ll see. I am well aware that time is limited and I am trying to cram too much into a single weekend. I also am taking a long weekend around the 4th of July; another mental health break, which I think I need to do every couple of months or so just to maintain my sanity, stay on top of things in the apartment, and get back in touch with my writing.

And on that note, I have to make a grocery list as well as figure out what else needs to get done this weekend, so perhaps it’s best if I return to the spice mines.

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