Sea of Love

Friday. Another week has passed, and now it’s March. Heavy sigh. I have to drive out to Metairie this morning to get stronger contact lenses; I can’t read with the progressives they gave me to try out (computer is fine, books not so much) so I have to head out there and deal with it. I may go ahead and order my new glasses while I’m there. And then I am coming back into the city to do testing at the main office, and then I am free for the weekend. Huzzah! I have a lot of work to do this weekend, however, but at least I won’t have to leave the house for anything other than going to the gym.

I worked a bit on the Chanse short story yesterday, but realized the framework for it wasn’t necessary; I had him returning to his hometown in Texas for the 25 year anniversary of his high school football team’s state championship, and this was his first time back since he left for college. But it didn’t make sense to have that be the framework, given the crime he was going to wind up investigating; so I changed it to send him back to investigate the crime. So, I rewrote the opening, and it worked much better; the story flows better. I am hoping to get it finished in first draft this weekend, and revise the other stories I am working on. I also have to start putting the Bouchercon anthology stories in order (yes, the final ones have been selected; the announcement should be coming on Monday), and the Lost Apartment is, as always on Friday, a pigsty. If the weather’s nice (and it should be) I am going to do the kitchen windows as well. Lots of filing needs to be done, and I also would love to get my taxes finished and turned over to the accountant.

That’s me–living the dream.

I’ve also got to drop the beads off at the library.

I also started writing the sixth chapter of the Scotty book yesterday, which is a difficult chapter. I got 700 words into it. I want to get that one done this weekend as well; I hate putting Scotty through bad stuff, but I think it’s an important story to tell so I am going to tell it. As I have said before, this is probably the most ambitious Scotty story since Mardi Gras Mambo; we’ll see how it turns out in the end. I had wanted to have the entire first draft finished by March 1–I am on chapter 6 out of 20, so you see how that went–but I am pleased with the work that I’ve done and I also threw out what I had done and started over, so there’s that (also following the pattern of Mardi Gras Mambo–two abortive attempts to start it).

And now, back to the spice mines.

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The Glamorous Life

So… I spent three hours in the storage unit yesterday.

The case of Mardi Gras Mambo is still missing.

I did find a few copies, and a stack of ARC’s, but where the hell could the rest of them be? They aren’t in the attic, they aren’t in any of the boxes I use for tables (don’t judge me) in the living room…mysteries abound. Maybe I need to hire Scotty to find them?

And the storage unit is totally organized now.

So…that box is probably stored somewhere in the Lost Apartment. Paul is leaving to visit his family for a week on Thursday, so it looks like I will spend part of that time he is gone turning the Lost Apartment inside out looking for the box o’books.

Heavy heaving sigh.

But I did some other fun things in the storage unit.

I certainly didn’t think I had any copies remaining of FRATSEX or Full Body Contact, so those were nice to find, and so were some of the other copies of my books. I also have a couple of boxes filled with anthologies I contributed stories to–who knew there were so many? I also found the Spanish translation of my porn, and the German as well. I also found copies of Men for All Seasons, the anthology that I sold my first ever short story to.

And I found the rest of my journals!

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I used to buy those blank books and fill them up with journal entries, as well as writing down ideas, books I wanted to buy, notes to myself, my work schedules, important phone numbers; they literally were my personal assistant as well as my journals. I stopped using blank books right around the time my first novel was published; and of course now I blog instead. Just opening them at random, I am amazed at how many of my entries start with I am so fucking tired.

Apparently, I’ve always been really tired.

Ah, well. It’s weird having my work week start on a Tuesday; I have a long day at the office today which enables me to have a half-day on Thursday, and I always work half-days on Fridays, so I can really ease into the weekend in a lovely, easy way. Yay, weekend!

And on that note, that spice ain’t gonna mine itself.

 

Blank Space

It always feels good to finish a project. It’s not entirely in the books yet, of course–there’s another round of edits, and then page proofs to get through–but this stage is completed and it feels lovely.  Ironically, it didn’t take nearly as long as I thought it would; I’d started working on it Friday night, and had gotten much further along in it than I’d remembered. I then repaired to my easy chair and read some more of About the Author, which is terrific; a really great noir I can’t wait to finish. I did have to put it aside, though, because it reached that point I always call the “uh-oh” moment; the part where the character makes the really bad decision that will eventually bring him down. It’s an extremely well put-together novel, structurally speaking, which gives me some ideas about a noir I want to write–the long-thought about Muscles.

Reading is such a lovely gift to one’s self, really. I am so glad I learned to read very young, and fell in love with it. It’s a terrific pleasure.

Last night, TCM aired the old Lana Turner movie Imitation of Life, directed by Douglas Sirk, and I watched it for the first time, while paging through Sam Staggs’ gossipy book about it, Born to Be Hurt: The Untold Story of “Imitation of Life.” I love Staggs’ books; I’d already read both All About ‘All About Eve’, Close-up on Sunset Boulevard, and When Blanche Met Brando. They’re wonderful books about the stories behind the making of iconic films–including gossip, of course–and also wittily written and compulsively readable. I do want to read the others again; I recently bought a bunch of them in a lot on eBay  just for that purpose. This one also includes information around the notorious Johnny Stompanato murder–he was Lana’s abusive lover; one night he was threatening her and he was stabbed by her daughter, Cheryl Crane–and it was after this scandal that Lana was cast in Imitation of Life. The movie itself works on so many levels; it’s campy but self-aware, and everyone plays it straight, which makes it even better. Turner plays Lora, an aspiring actress with a young daughter, whose life becomes entwined with that of Annie and her daughter, Sarah Jane–Annie is black and the two come to live with Lora and her daughter Susie, who is about the same age. Lora of course becomes a huge star, and the drama surrounding her has to do with her own self-absorption and basically she allows Annie to raise Susie–but it’s the story of Annie and her light-skinned daughter–who hates being black and passes for white, abandoning her mother until of course, at the very end, Annie has died and Sarah Jane comes back too late, that is the real story here. The movie doesn’t face any of the racial issues, they just are–there’s one perfectly horrible scene where Sarah Jane’s boyfriend, who has found out she is black, beats her (played by Troy Donahue) which is about it, really. There’s a sort of sense, at least on my first viewing, that the terrible situation for people of color in the US at the time was taken for granted; but I can only imagine how controversial the movie was at the time of its release. It was an enormous hit, and Juanita Moore and Susan Kohlar, as Annie and Sarah Jane, both got Oscar nominations. The film is flawed, but Turner is actually pretty good in the role (she was always considered a beauty who couldn’t act), but I also couldn’t help thinking how amazing Joan Crawford could have made it–it was the kind of role she or Bette Davis or Olivia de Havilland could have played in the late 1940’s/early 1950’s.

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If you like books about Hollywood, you have to read Sam Staggs’ books. They’re terrific.

So, this week I am getting back to the WIP, and hope to get some good work done on the short stories I’m struggling with. Woo-hoo! But I’m actually looking forward to getting back to the work I had to put aside to work on the edits of this other manuscript. (Keeping up? Sometimes I can’t keep up with what all is going on with me, so I am often curious if people reading this can follow along.) I should make it clear that the manuscript I just revised from editorial notes is one that will be published under a pseudonym; and the one I am now getting back to is neither a Scotty nor a Chanse. I mentioned a few entries ago that I was looking through Mardi Gras Mambo, and I do think I do need to make the time to reread the entire Scotty series as written thus far before trying to get back into writing another one. It’s long overdue, frankly; I’ve not reread the pre-Katrina Scottys in years, and I think, for this next one, it’s kind of necessary. The nice thing is it’s not like I need to read them deeply, I can sort of skim-read, get a sense of the voice and the characters, and the story.

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

Sugar Sugar

So, I finally watched the season finale of Riverdale last night, and I have to say, well done! I went into Riverdale not sure what to expect–and worried I’d be disappointed–but the show really worked on many levels The writing was strong, if a bit uneven at times; the way it was shot–the production values, cinematography, use of color, etc–was always on point; but the biggest strength of the show was the cast. The young actors playing the Gang were appealing and imminently likable; and following the lead of Pretty Little Liars, the older members of the cast were former teen heartthrobs (Jason Gedrick, Luke Perry) or had become successful as young stars (Madchen Amick, Robin Givens). I am really looking forward to the second season.

Well done, Riverdale!

I slept really late this morning, which kind of felt good. I need to finish going over my editorial notes, and making those corrections–I intend to spend tomorrow polishing the book from beginning to end, and I also have to go into the office for a few hours today, as well as make groceries. I’d thought about doing the groceries this morning, but oversleeping took care of that, as well as wiping out my plan to finish the editorial notes. I’ll now have to do that when I get home from the office/making groceries. That’s fine, too; this morning before work I can organize/clean the kitchen and finish the laundry and do all those other lovely chores before running to get the mail and heading in to the office. Hurray! (There really needs to be a sarcasm font.)

I also started reading John Colapinto’s About the Author last night. It was recommended to me by a friend when I told them the basic premise behind my short story “Quiet Desperation”. I am only a few pages in but I am enjoying it so far. When I finish, I think I am going to read either The Sympathizer (won both Pulitzer Prize and Edgar) or Before the Fall by Noah Hawley (recently won the Edgar). Definitely some good reading in my future! Huzzah!

I also, for the first time in a while, looked at Mardi Gras Mambo, aka Scotty Three, and was more than a little startled by how much the tone, how much the character, had changed since then. People change, of course–things that happen affect who you are, affect how you react to things, change your perspective–but in just reading the introduction and the first three chapters, the change was so dramatic it was startling. Should I go back to Scotty–when I go back to Scotty–it only makes sense to read the series over again, from start to finish. Maybe it’s too late to get that sense of the earlier Scotty back now, I don’t know. But some things I’d been feeling make sense now; maybe in rereading the entire series I can figure out how to do the new one.

I have to say, I am starting to enjoy myself again with writing and editing. I think the break from deadlines was precisely what I needed.

And now, back to the spice mines.

Here’s a Saturday hunk for you:

 

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