Long Distance Winner

Wednesday and I got the copy edits done! Woo-hoo!

I honestly don’t know why I am so weird about edits and so forth. Both my editorial letter and the copy edits this time around were practically nothing–incredibly easy fixes that literally required very little thought or effort– yet in each and every instance I put off doing them because I was just so goddamned sure that navigating them would be a nightmare. But now I can finally put A Streetcar Named Murder into the “finished” folder (I will still have to proof pages, of course, but for all intents and purposes this manuscript is pretty much finished; I won’t be working in Microsoft Word on it anymore and so I can close the file) and give all my attention to the things I am working on now. I need to get through the copy edits on the Bouchercon anthology and I need to edit/polish a short story this week before submitting it for an anthology call that is due this coming Friday.

I had to run an errand last night–which required me going into Mid-city during rush hour (the horror of it all!) before coming home. It actually didn’t turn out too badly; I took the highway and got there in no time at all, and it was shockingly easy to get home as well. There was some massive rain in uptown yesterday–it sprinkled at the office–and I could tell there had been flooding in my neighborhood. I suspect our street–which has only flooded once in the nineteen years we’ve lived there–is going to flood more in the future since the hideous condo building went up over two empty lots (where the water used to spread out; something I think is going to continue to be problematic for the entire city as our green spaces and empty lots disappear because there’s money to be made in real estate why should anyone be concerned about flooding in a city below sea level?) on my block…I really need to finish that story about killing a greedy real estate contractor, don’t I?

But in the wake of finishing the copy edits of my book (huzzah!) I am now trying to figure out what I need to get done next and how to best utilize my time. My new glasses have arrived, so I can go pick those up on Friday (I am taking the day off to do that and some other things that need doing) and I get to pick out a new, more current author photo. Sleuthfest gave us the option to pay to have new headshots done, and as little as I wanted to do this…I also recognized my black-and-white author photo is from 2008 and the one of me with the stacks of books is from 2014 or so. I mean, I look the same as I did then–if not as thin, at any rate–but some of these photos are good. and I’m also getting to the point in life where I just don’t care that much anymore. I spent so much of my life worrying about how I looked–the curse of vanity coupled with insecurity–and how my body appeared that it’s rather freeing to not really be so concerned about it anymore as I used to be. I don’t know if the insecurity was put to rest by getting older, or whether the vanity fell by the wayside, or some combination of the two, but now I want to get back to the gym not because of the cosmetic effect but to make my muscles and body feel better; I definitely need to get stretched out at some point. I just wish I had a dedicated open space in the Lost Apartment where I can sit on the floor and stretch everything.

Someday.

We continued watching Stranger Things last night, which we are really enjoying–but I could do without the Russian subplot, quite frankly. It’s weird seeing how much older the kids have gotten since that first season, but time waits for no one. I do enjoy my 1980’s nostalgia, even if it was a hellish decade and one that on a personal level I would love to completely forget like it never happened, but I still like a lot of the cultural stuff from that decade–music, books, movies, television shows, etc–but I don’t know that I would ever write anything set during that time period. I have lots of ideas for stuff set in the 1970’s–I gravitate toward that decade, methinks, because it was so formative and it was my adolescence for the most part–and “Never Kiss a Stranger” is even a 1990’s story…but it never crosses my mind to write anything about the 1980’s. The decade simply doesn’t inspire me, and I am sure a lot of that is me not wanting to revisit the personal angst I went through then. (I have been thinking a lot about my novella “A Holler Full of Kudzu,” which is a Corinth County story and is set in the 1970’s lately, as well as my 1970’s Chicago suburbs story Where the Boys Die, which is a great title but I don’t think I want to use it for this particular story, to be honest; but it’ll do as a working title because, as we all know, I cannot write anything if it’s not titled.)

But I am looking forward now to getting back in the saddle and writing again. Mississippi River Mischief is developing nicely in my head; another project I am working on is also starting to coalesce, and I need to plan out the next few chapters of Chlorine. Feeling pretty good about things–I assume that will last about another hour.

And on that note, tis back to the spice mines with me. Have a lovely day, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again tomorrow.

I Guess I’ll Always Love You

Sunday, Sunday.

Yesterday morning my all-in-one printer/scanner/copier bit the dust. It was fine, really; it was cheap and a stopgap when my last nice one died; and it was hard to find the ink for it. So, I went to Office Depot before starting my errands and bought a new one–fancier, to be sure–and it took me a while to get it set up and functioning properly–and then I had issues with my computer for a bit; which was particularly annoying because I was also working on my book–and Microsoft Word kept crashing; at one point my computer restarted all on its own because the crash was so bad. But it eventually worked itself out somehow, and I was able to get the work done that I needed to get done. Tomorrow will be trickier; I have one chapter to revise and another one to write from scratch and then edit/revise…and I think there’s going to have to be at least one more chapter after that as well. I should still be able to get it turned in on time, but it’s going to be a slog and a lot of work.

I also got a contract for a story for an anthology–the Anne Rice tribute thing, and my story is called “The Rosary of Broken Promises,” which was actually a better title for the story I was actually originally using it for, to be honest; but I think I came up with a good replacement title for the story I stole the title from, which is now called “When Wrens Make Prey”–which is part of the Shakespearean quote that includes the title Alistair MacLean made famous, Where Eagles Dare (it’s from Richard III, by the way, he typed pedantically, and no, I can’t quote Shakespeare from memory; I even had to look this up to see where I got it from just now). I also spent some time moving files around from the cloud to my back-up hard drive, so I have back-ups–it’s astounding how many duplicate files there are when I look for a file. I was looking for another file yesterday, my figure skating noir story, and it wasn’t on the back-up anywhere. (It is now, in case you were wondering.) I may have a home for that story, which was started a long time ago, and I also know what it wrong with it–and maybe, just maybe, how to fix it.

We’ve started watching Archive 81, which is really creepy, well done, and interesting. I’m not really sure where the story is going–we’re only three episodes in–but so far it’s really not looking all that great for our hero. Our hero is hired to go live on a creepy estate and restore video recordings that have been damaged in a fire, which he is an expert at doing, and as he watches the videos after he repairs them–they follow a young documentarian who moved into an apartment building with the idea of making an oral history film of the building; but the truth is, she is looking for the mother who abandoned her as a child and whose last known residence was this building–from where she disappeared entirely. It’s a terrific premise, and the way it is filmed is quite excellent; very high production values, and the mystery is also somehow tied to the main character’s father in some way; the missing woman who made the tapes was also a patient of his father.

I did manage to get a lot done yesterday, but today’s work is going to be ever so much harder than yesterday’s, frankly. I have one more chapter to revise, and as I mentioned before, I have to write at least two new ones to end the book before turning it in. I don’t know that I’ll be able to get both written today; I have some other chores and tasks to do today and tomorrow as well, and at some point I need to run to the grocery store. Heavy heaving sigh. It never ends around here, does it? But there’s nothing to do but buckle down and get to it, I suppose. It’s certainly not going to do itself–the bastards never do it themselves–and realistically, I do think I can get it all done over the course of the next few days. I slept deeply and well again last night–the bed was so warm and cozy and comfortable this morning that I didn’t want to get out from under the blankets. (Plus, I knew I had a lot to get done today on my plate, and therefore…yeah, didn’t really want to get up and start working.) But now I am up and swilling coffee, and I actually feel awake and energetic, so hopefully as long as I don’t lose any steam along the way I should be able to dive into everything and get some stuff done.

And on that note, tis time to head into the spice mines for the day. Have a lovely Sunday wherever you are, Constant Reader, and I hope you aren’t too cold or too buried in snow to enjoy your day. Talk to you tomorrow!

Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree

So it’s Christmas Eve. May you all who celebrate have a lovely day, and those of you who don’t, may you also have a lovely day! I’m not really sure what’s on the agenda for today around the Lost Apartment, to be honest. I know I want to do some writing and reading and possibly some editing–I don’t think the old but it’s a holiday is going to kick in for me today after all. I had a terrific day yesterday; I cleaned and organized, the Saints won (although why they always want me to have a heart attack before the conclusion of every game is beyond me) and now have clinched the Number One seed and home games throughout the play-offs thru the Super Bowl, and I actually wrote yesterday. I wrote about another thousand words of Bury Me in Satin, finishing that bear of a Chapter Eight finally, and now I think I can move forward. I think, though, I need to go back and do some revising on the earlier chapters while writing Chapter Nine.

I also discovered something incredibly convenient–yes, I know, I am nothing if not mostly oblivious most of the time and it’s insane when something so obvious smacks in the side of the head. My computer is still acting wonky–mostly when I have Word open–and so yesterday, incredibly irritated with the Apple Spinning Wheel of Death and the concurrent Microsoft Word Not Responding message, I closed my Internet browser and Word continued to operate–still not as fast as I would prefer, but faster, at any rate–and not having the distraction of getting push alerts from Twitter and Facebook and every time I got a new email enabled me to tear right through that chapter yesterday. I had my phone with me at my desk, and so whenever I was bored or needed to look something up on-line I was able to use that. I left the browser closed, in fact, for the rest of the day, just checking in on things periodically with the phone or my iPad. This was smart, and I am probably going to do the same thing today.

I started rereading The Shining yesterday, and while I am only a few chapters in, I have to say those initial chapters are remarkable, as King sets up the Torrance family–Jack, Wendy, Danny–as initial point-of-view characters, and we get to know the three of them very well. I remember when The Shining first came out in paperback–remember, this when I was living in Kansas and there was no place to buy hardcover books because the only local bookstore (the News Depot on Commercial Street in Emporia) only carried paperbacks, so I always had to wait for the paperback editions of everything–I started reading it after I bought it and didn’t care for Jack Torrance at all, so I stopped reading before I got to the chapters from Wendy and Danny’s points of view, and put it aside. It was about a year or so before I picked it back up again–it was the shiny all silver cover, with the faceless head of the boy blending into the silver–and then read it all the way through. I didn’t reread it as much as other King novels of the period, and it’s never really been a favorite of mine, preferring ‘salem’s Lot, The Dead Zone, The Stand, and Christine by far and away; but it’s considered by many to be one of his best books and certainly one of the most terrifying books of the late twentieth century. This was also the second consecutive novel of King’s to have a writer as the main character; but Jack is a failed writer, and maybe that was one of the reasons the book never quite found a place in my heart the way other Kings of the same period did; perhaps I could relate to Jack’s failure far too much for me? I will continue reporting back as the reread progresses further.

I also managed to get some cleaning done.

Paul went out last evening after the Saints game (GEAUX SAINTS!), and so I stayed home, reading The Shining and watching A Clockwork Orange on Amazon Prime for the first time. I’ve always wanted to see the movie; I have the book somewhere in my TBR pile or on one of the TBR shelves, and when I saw yesterday that it was free for streaming on Amazon I thought what the hell and decided to watch it. It is…interesting, for wont of a better word. Kubrick was a great director; there’s no question about that, but I also felt, from the few films of his that I’ve seen, he was very cold as a director; his movies always come across as kind of emotionless and cold. That style works incredibly well with the subject matter of this film and its theme. It’s also visually stunning, and despite the cold distance afforded by the camera lens, it’s portrait of a future desensitized to all kinds of violence–both sexual and physical–and the equally horrific answer the government comes up with to it, cannot help but keep your attention but also will make one think. I suspect I will be thinking about A Clockwork Orange for some time…and now I really would like to read Anthony Burgess’ novel.

So many books I need to read. Heavy heaving sigh.

But as I said earlier, I think I am going to continue with the Short Story Project going into the new year, and I am going to also have my own Diversity Project, where I am going to try to read everything in my TBR piles that were written by minority writers of some sort. It’s called leading by example, people, and I hope some of you will join me.

And on that note, this work isn’t going to do itself, unfortunately, so yes, even on Christmas Eve, I must spend some time mining spice.

Have a lovely day, everyone!

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