Sisters of the Moon

Thursday morning and the last day I have to get up this early this week. Huzzah! I slept well again last night–after the weird sleep of the previous night–and feel rested this morning. Not sure how that will play out through the rest of the day, but we’ll see, I guess. I know I have a full schedule at work today, so I am hoping to have the energy this evening after work to get home and do some writing. I started doing the dishes last night but didn’t finish; Paul was home early last night so I spent the evening hanging with him and Scooter and watching television. We started watching this new high school show on Netflix–Heartbreak High–but it was just okay (no Elite or Sex Education, that’s for sure); we’ll probably give it another episode or so before abandoning it, since shows sometimes need an episode or two to hit their grove and become more fun to watch.

Ugh.

I really don’t want to look at the news about the hurricane; as someone with some firsthand experience to hurricane aftermaths, I also know that no matter how bad it looks on television or on the newspaper, the reality is about a thousand times worse because pictures and video–no matter how well done–can never quite capture the scope of disaster in a way your brain can process the same way bearing eyewitness can. I saw a lot of awful posts on social media–people seeking help for family and/or friends trapped; trapped people looking for help–and I had to put my phone down because at some point it feels like it almost becomes a kind of macabre fascination, like you’re not doing out of empathy but out of some far darker, almost primordial need to see destruction you can enjoy because it doesn’t affect you. Human misery always bothers me on a very deep level, at the core of my being; there are very few people whose misery I can actually revel in (looking at you, Putin!).

But a hurricane threatening the Tampa Bay area has sent me down a rabbit hole into my own history, and memories of living in that area–which is when I worked for Continental Airlines–and my word, how my life has changed since I lived there. I was still pretty immature and under-developed socially and emotionally; I was originally transferred there from Houston in 1991, after I’d been with the company for about a year or so; I think my hire date was April 1990? (You can tell it’s been a long time; your hire date/seniority is everything when you work at an airline.) I’d originally moved to Houston after blowing up my life in California–lost my job, drug problem, drinking too much–but that was also probably the self-destruction brought on by the horror that was my life in the 1980’s, and after living there for two years was ready to start over again somewhere new; Houston was a nice way station but I’d never intended to stay there for very long–I do like Houston but I really don’t want to live in a place where you literally have to get on at least one highway every day and it seemed kind of exciting to start over in Florida.

Tampa turned out to be another transitional location for me; it was where I was able to come into myself, work on myself, and figure out who I am, what I wanted from life–and how to make a plan to get what I wanted from life. I was hardly perfect (still am quite a distance from being the ideal Greg I would like to be), but I was on well on my way to becoming the Greg I wanted to be when I loaded up my car with everything that could fit and left for Minneapolis shortly before Christmas of 1995. When I moved to Tampa I didn’t really have any idea of what I wanted or who I was or the life I wanted to lead; when I left I had those answers figured out and was well on my way to becoming who I wanted to be as a person. Obviously, I am still a work in progress, and while my memories of Tampa may not all be terrific ones, I am very happy I made the decision to transfer there–because I probably would have never become an active participant in my life rather than a passive one to whom things happened; I wanted to make things happen.

Obviously, you only can ever have so much control over your life; a lot depends on other people, of course, and things that are beyond your control (hello, natural disasters!), but it really feels good to have a purpose; I had always wanted to be a writer but it was while I was living in Tampa that I finally realized I needed to get past my fears of failure and really put the effort into making it happen, and it eventually did…who knows how my life would have turned out had I never made the decision to transfer to Tampa and reboot my life once more?

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

Songbird

Thursday!

My back, while still a little tight, is more irritating than painful; it’s at that stage where it is so close to not hurting at all anymore that it’s annoying that it hasn’t stopped, if that makes sense at all? I ran errands on my way home from work yesterday–mail and a prescription–and then came home, did a load of dishes, and then collapsed into my chair with the heating pad. I am taking it to work again with me this morning–more heat can’t hurt, after all, and the office is cold–and hopefully will wake up tomorrow morning feeling ever so much better. We got caught up on House of the Dragon last night–it’s getting better, but man was it ever getting off to a slow start–and it’s not as big and epic as Game of Thrones was; it’s more contained, with fewer characters and fewer story-lines, for one thing–and then we watched Archer (it really misses Jessica Walter; Mallory Archer was too great of a character for the show to do without) before calling it a night and heading for bed. I slept well again last night–only woke up a few times–and my back felt better when I got up…but it is slowly starting to make itself known, so yes, definitely bringing the heating pad to the office with me this morning.

I was thinking, last night as I waited for Paul to finish working (whenever he comes home earlier than usual, he inevitably spends a few hours making calls and sending emails once he’s home), about something that has been sticking in my mind for quite a while–and last night it hit me between the eyes.

People talk a lot about crime in New Orleans–it’s usually code for people to be racist without being outright racist; I always laugh at people in the comments section of the local news stations or newspapers, talking about crime in New Orleans and ‘that’s why they left New Orleans’ for the suburbs/West Bank/North Shore, etc. I laugh at this because they will always claim to other people Not From Here that they are, indeed, from New Orleans (bitch, you’re from Metairie) and I always want to ask them, “was it really crime in New Orleans that drove you out of the city, or was it the desegregation of the schools, hmmm?” Every neighborhood in New Orleans, you see, is mixed; the Garden District neighborhood at one time also included the St. Thomas Housing Projects. And sure, crime has been on the rise here lately. But I have lived in New Orleans since 1996, and white people are always talking about crime here and shaking their heads about how the city “has gone downhill.” Um, if you study the history of New Orleans, the city has always been filled with crime; IT’S A GODDAMNED PORT CITY.

Anyway, as I was standing in line waiting to board my flight out of Minneapolis, the woman in front of me turned out to also be from New Orleans (River Ridge). She was absolutely lovely, and we chatted the entire time we waited and as we went down the jetway to the plane–which, for someone whose default is always social awkwardness, was something–and ironically, she was the person in front of me in line for the flight from Chicago to New Orleans. She began talking to me about the crime and I did my usual shrug “there’s always been crime in New Orleans” and when she asked me if I wasn’t afraid, I just shook my head and said “no–no more than usual.”

That, of course, started a thread in my head about why are you not afraid of the rising crime in New Orleans and I realized, as I had also said to the nice lady, “I’m just always hyper-aware of my surroundings and what’s going on around me.” And then last night it hit me: as opposed to the nice straight white people of New Orleans, the rising crime rate doesn’t really bother me because I have never felt completely safe anywhere or anytime in my life–that’s what life is like for queers in this country.

I had to train myself as a kid to always keep my eyes moving and always be aware of what’s going on around me–I look ahead, I look behind, I always am looking from one side to the other and am always on hyper-alert because you never know when the gay bashers are going to come for you. I’m no more afraid now than I have ever been throughout the course of my life, and I had decided a long time ago that I would not live my life in fear anymore–but to always be vigilant.

Straight white people aren’t used to not feeling safe and they don’t like it when they don’t.

Welcome to what it feels like to be a minority in this country–and let’s face it, I still have white male privilege; I can’t imagine what it’s like to navigate this world as a black lesbian or transwoman.

But straight white people? This is their world and it is the world they made. While straight white women are oppressed terribly by straight white men, many of them have been gaslit into thinking they are less than straight white men and it is simply their lot in life, and they accept that in exchange for protection by the patriarchy. So while it is true that for women, car-jackings and muggings are just one more thing to add to their backpack of oppressive fears–usually sexual assaults (physical or verbal) or harassment. Interesting, right?

But for those Stockholm Syndrome suffering straight white women, crime is outrageous and horrifying to them because the system is theoretically set up to protect them from crime.

And what’s a little sexual harassment if it means you won’t get mugged or carjacked by that scary Black man? Boys will be boys, after all; they’re just wired that way.

I’ve always wanted to write from the perspective of someone like Brock Turner, the Stanford swimming rapist–but I don’t think I can. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be so blind about your own child, especially since I don’t (and never wanted) any of my own.

And yes, this is yet another subject for an essay.

But the fog of exhaustion seems to finally be lifting from my head–hallelujah–and so I think–if I am not too tired when I get home tonight, that is–I am going to be able to get back to work on my writing either today or tomorrow. I also want to start reading my new Donna Andrews novel, and I want to read Nelson Algren’s A Walk on the Wild Side before October, when I have to turn my attention to the horror genre again for Halloween.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely Thursday, Constant Reader.

Don’t Stop

Back to life, back to reality…

I am sooooo tired.

But what an incredible trip that was.

Someone–I wish I could remember who, so I could give them credit–said that Bouchercon was like going to Crime Writer’s Camp, and it was actually so spot on that I decided to go ahead and say it without being able to give the proper credit where it’s due (whomever that was, my apologies). I slept extremely well last night (there’s nothing like your own bed), yet despite that I feel achy, sore and exhausted still this morning. My voice has recovered somewhat–it still is raspy and hoarse, but nevertheless yesterday it hurt to talk–and my ribs and abs still hurt from laughing so much and so long and so hard (in some ways, it felt like I’d forgotten how to enjoy myself and only started remembering this past weekend). I had some great meals, some great drinks, reconnected and tightened bonds with old friends; got to know acquaintances better; and met some marvelous new people! All of my books that the bookseller had in stock on Thursday (and quite a few copies of each of my last three books–usually I count myself lucky if they have more than one copy of one book) were gone by noon on Friday, which was an incredible shock.

A pleasant one, to be sure, but still a shock.

My panels went really well, too. The only real hiccup was my bag got lost on the way up there. Our connecting flight out of Midway was a half hour delayed, yet…my bag didn’t get on the plane in New Orleans and didn’t arrive at the airport until after one. It was delivered the following morning…right at the end of my panel. Yes, I had to borrow clothes from Paul. Yes, he is smaller than me. No, it wasn’t the first time I went out in public in clothes that were two sizes too small. Yes, I talked about it on the panel. And yes, people asked me about whether my bag arrived or not all weekend, which I thought was incredibly thoughtful and nice…and then yesterday on the way home Paul reminded me that–to save myself time–I’d packed five identical black T-shirts and of course, three pairs of jeans that all look the same. I wore the pants I wore on the flight to the panel that morning, and Paul had loaned me–yes, you guessed it–a dark T-shirt.

PAUL: People didn’t think your bag arrived all weekend because you were always wearing a black T-shirt and a pair of jeans! They didn’t know it was your Bouchercon Uniform and thought you had to keep wearing the same clothes!

It still makes me laugh to think about it.

I also read Gabino Iglesias’ extraordinary The Devil Takes You Home on the way up (more on that later) and read most of Laurie R. King’s new, stellar novel Back to the Garden, which is just marvelous. Our flight coming back was also delayed out Midway–two hours rather than a half this time–but reading Laurie’s book made the time fly. We also arrived at Midway just in time to see the final minute of the Saints-Falcons game (marvelous). (I have to say, I am a little bummed I wasn’t home to watch college football on Saturday, and now am REALLY looking forward to seeing how this college football season goes!)

AND SO MANY QUEER WRITERS!

But, oh, if nothing else, the one thing I learned from this trip is I am waaaaaaaaay out of shape and far too old not to be going to the gym regularly. All the walking, all the standing, not sleeping in my own bed–my back hurts, my hips and ankles are sore, my shoulders are tight, and my quads are tighter than piano wire. I need to start going back to the gym even if not to lift weights so much as to get a good stretch every now and again. That was actually the best parts of my all-too-brief patches of regular gym attendance since the start of the pandemic–how great it felt to stretch two to three times a week. I am literally running on accessory today, and am dreading tomorrow morning’s alarm going off at six to drag me out of the clutches of Morpheus. I will undoubtedly be tired all week (and oh dear God my emails) but as long as I can limp along till Friday, I should be okay.

Should.

I don’t even want to think about how behind I am.

But for now, I am going to sit in my easy chair and finish Laurie’s brilliant book while Scooter purrs in my lap and just have a nice relaxing evening at home. Until tomorrow, Constant Reader!

Never Going Back Again

Well, today’s title isn’t entirely correct, as I am actually returning to Minneapolis for the first time since late July, 1996, when Paul and I loaded a moving van and drove my red 1991 Chevrolet Cavalier onto one of those towing trailers and headed south from the twin cities. And here we are, some twenty-six years later, boarding a Southwest jet and changing planes in Chicago on our way up there again. It’s going to be exhausting–Bouchercon always is, and then add in that I never seem to be able to sleep when I travel, and there it is, you know: a recipe for tired old Greg.

I am mostly packed, and we don’t really have to leave for the airport until elevenish; we have to take Scooter to the Kitty Spa for his vacation while we are gone first, and there are some odds and ends I have to take care of this morning before we leave. I’ve already started getting my carry-ons packed; really, all that’s left is to throw my phone and my charger in the backpack–and I need to take out the trash, maybe clean the dishes in the sink, wipe things down, shave and shower–and then we’ll be ready to hit the road for the airport.

I ran some last minute errands last night to pick up prescriptions and the mail–so much mail–and it’s going to be kind of nice to turn my brain off a bit for a few days. I am really itching to get back to work on Mississippi River Mischief–now that I’ve figured it out a bit more, I really want to start getting into the weeds with this draft and see how far I can get before I run out of steam yet again–and I am kind of excited about writing again, which is a lovely feeling and one that I am sure has something to do with coming to Bouchercon for the first time in four years today. I feel rested this morning, and I think that’s a good thing. I don’t feel stressed or anything this morning either. I am comfortable, relaxed, and in a good mood, given I have about eight hours of travel ahead of me (not just the flight times but getting to and from airports, waiting, etc.) but I will have Gabino Iglesias’ marvelous The Devil Takes You Home to read, with the new Laurie R. King (Back to the Garden) on deck. I also feel relatively certain that I’ll be picking up even more books while I am up there, too.

Because I can never have too big of a TBR pile.

It will be weird coming home from this weekend, I think. I will certainly be exhausted, there’s no question of that. Fingers crossed that one Gregalicious will be able to get some sleep on this trip–ugh, I have a panel tomorrow morning at nine, which means getting up at seven so I can get cleaned up and showered and forage for coffee so I can be (slightly) coherent on this panel, which has some really big names on it. I’m not sure why I am on this panel with these incredibly important writers, but I can certainly listen and learn and hopefully, leech some talent and creativity out of these marvelous writers.

Sorry, not particularly bright or insightful this morning as I try to get ready!

Not sure how much I’ll be around over the next few days–early panels! Oh my! But we’ll see how it goes.

Warm Ways

Saturday morning in the Lost Apartment and all is well in the world. Southern Decadence is raging in the French Quarter–if someone would have told me as recently as ten years ago I would have ever reached the point where I didn’t care about going down there and diving into the sea of mostly undressed gay men from all over the country I would have laughed at the absurdity, but one gets older and things and priorities change. Do I have fond memories of years of going and having an amazing time? Absolutely. Do I miss those times? Somewhat, but I am also aware that I am older and that kind of wild-ass partying is too much for my old body to handle anymore.

I slept really well last night, which was a delightful and pleasant surprise. When I got home from the office yesterday–running errands on the way home–I was tired, of course, but still managed to do all the bed linens, get the rest of the laundry done, and did two loads of dishes in the dishwasher. There are still some odds and ends around here that need to be taken care of, but other than that, the Lost Apartment is sort of under control. For now, at any rate.

College football is also back this weekend (GEAUX TIGERS!) with LSU playing tomorrow night in the Super Dome. Monday of course is Labor Day, Tuesday I have to go into the office, and then Wednesday it’s off to Minneapolis. Huzzah! As such I will probably get no writing done at all while I am gone–I’ll be too busy running around everywhere–so it would be nice to make some good progress on everything I am working on this weekend. Of course, the temptation to be lazy and simply spend the weekend relaxing is, of course, always going to be there–will probably win out more often than not–but that’s okay. I am done beating myself up for not working every minute of every day every week of every month of every year. Everyone needs down time, and it’s absurd to think otherwise.

My reading is all picked out for the flights/airport time: Laurie R. King’s Back to the Garden, Donna Andrews’ Round Up The Usual Peacocks, and Gabino Iglesias’ The Devil Takes You Home, if I don’t finish it this weekend, with Nelson Algren’s A Walk on the Wild Side on deck. I’ll probably get some books while I’m at Bouchercon, too–the book room is always too big of a temptation for me to avoid completely–and I am pretty overall excited about the trip, and neither flight requires getting up at the break of dawn, either, which is lovely. We also got caught up on Bad Sisters last night, a fun show on Apple Plus–but the one I am really looking forward to is The Serpent Queen, as I love me some Catherine de Medici, and I have long wondered why this fascinating, complex and extremely intelligent woman has never been deemed worthy of a film or a television series (it would have been a great role for Bette Davis back in the 1940s; she would have chewed the scenery like nobody’s business and gotten another Oscar nomination).

This morning’s coffee, by the way, is da bomb. Delicious and hitting the spot, which tells me yet again that I slept incredibly well.

I am feeling particularly good this morning, which is also nice. It’s always nice when you feel rested. Oh! I’ve also been invited to speak on a podcast about Daphne du Maurier’s My Cousin Rachel, which gives me an excellent excuse to reread it!

Alert Constant Readers will have noticed by now that I’ve been making posts about my stand alone novels over the last month or so (maybe just the last couple of weeks? I am not sure of anything anymore and I certainly don’t trust my memories); I am currently working on Timothy and The Orion Mask, after which I will most likely move on to some of the pseudonymous work I’ve done–the Todd Gregory novels, for example–but I should also, in honor of Southern Decadence, talk about Bourbon Street Blues this weekend; but I’ve already done plenty of writing and talking about Scotty and how he came to be, and how I came to write the book and where the idea for it came from, so I’m not entirely sure there’s anything left to say about Scotty and Bourbon Street Blues that I haven’t already said; I’m sure I just don’t remember everything I’ve written on my blog about that book. But it won’t hurt to revisit the book; I know there are some things about the books I’ve never talked about before. but we shall have to see.

And then should I do the short stories? The novellas? Why not? It is my blog, after all, and I can do whatever I please with it, can’t I?

And on that note, I am going to make another cup of coffee before heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely Saturday, Constant Reader, and I will check in again later.

Landslide

Friday and a three-day weekend looms. Huzzah? Huzzah! There’s football games to watch this weekend (GEAUX TIGERS!) as well as a lot of work I need to get done before I leave for Bouchercon next Wednesday. Which is fine, of course. I just have to buckle down and get my head back in the game, is all. I’ve been tired this week after work–part of that is getting up at six in the mornings, certainly–but it’s irksome to not be able to get as much writing (and good writing, not the horrible shit I’ve actually been writing) and reading in every night as I would like before I turn my brain to relax mode. Ideally, I will be able to get some things taken care of this weekend; writing and reading and cleaning and getting ready for the trip. We have a two o’clock flight out in the afternoon, and we have two hours (!) at Midway Airport–but there’s also a Home Run Inn pizza place at that airport (I noticed it when I had to change planes there last spring when I flew to Kentucky–a mistake I shall never made again) and so perhaps we could have some wonderful Chicago-style pizza for dinner on our way to Minneapolis. I think by the time we get to the hotel and check-in and all settled it might be too late in the evening to do much of anything other than unpack; I also have a very early panel on Thursday morning which means I will have to get up around seven.

I hope there’s lots and lots of coffee to be had in the hotel, else it won’t be pretty.

Yesterday was a tired day for sure. I didn’t sleep deeply Wednesday night–not restless per se, but I was in a shallow sleep for most of the evening, if that makes sense? Not that horrible if I open my eyes I will be awake but that half-sleep where you know you’re asleep but you’re also aware of everything? I hate that. So by lunchtime I was already running out of steam and trying to just hang on until I got off work. I was going to run errands on my way home but was too tired and just came straight home (I can stop by the mail and the Fresh Market tonight or go tomorrow). Once again I was too brain-dead to either read or write, but I did make progress on some chores before collapsing into my easy chair to be a Scooter pillow. I watched Venus and Serena play doubles–Paul was out having dinner with a friend–and then we watched Five Days at Memorial and Archer, and finally were able to watch last week’s episode of American Horror Stories–Hulu kept fucking up when we tried before; we’d get halfway into the episode than it would reboot back to the beginning; finally last night it worked–the weird Judith Light gets a facelift episode–and really, it wasn’t worth all that trouble. These stand-alone horror stories are really hit-and-miss, just as they were in the first season; sometimes they are interesting and clever, other times as satisfying as eating something with no flavor. And then it was bedtime.

I slept fairly decently last night and feel a bit of a sleep hangover this morning, which is fine–I’m assuming the coffee will wipe the dust off everything and remove the cobwebs from the corners of my brain–but today is a short day in the office, which is always nice before a three day weekend–and of course, I intend to run those errands tonight (so I don’t have to tomorrow) and I also need to start making a list of the things I need to pack. I know I am going to take Gabino’s book with me to read on the trip, along with the new Donna Andrews (Round Up The Usual Peacocks) and Laurie R. King (Back to the Garden) to read when I have time or at the airport and on the planes; I imagine I’ll finish Gabino on the way up and get started on the Andrews; which I’ll finish in Minneapolis in order to read the King on the flight home. I also have a copy of Nelson Algren’s A Walk on the Wild Side–a friend had posted on social media that they were going to watch the campy film adaptation with Jane Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck, and I thought wasn’t that a book first? It was, and since it’s a New Orleans novel–set in the French Quarter in the 1930’s–I thought perhaps I should read this? So I ordered a copy, and it’s rather well written–I’ve glanced through it a couple of times, always finding some sentence that makes me think wow this is either really amazing or incredibly overwrought and overwritten–which is a very fine line to walk. It’ll be interesting to see whether or not I think it’s amazing when I read it.

I had promised myself I wasn’t going to go down any Internet wormholes again for a while, the other day one of the New Orleans and/or Louisiana history pages posted about the murder of a Storyville madam (which I’ve always thought could be an interesting basis for a book) by her long-time live-in lover to whom she’s always been rather abusive, and it mentioned that her killer, although a common-law spouse, was only able to inherit a very small portion of her estate due to “Louisiana’s concubinage law” and well, how could I not go looking that up? Louisiana has some very bizarre laws, particularly when it comes to inheritance; but you also have to understand that up until the Civil War ended, Louisiana had some very bizarre customs. The “concubinage law” was actually passed to protect the dead person’s “legal” family as well as his “extra-legal” family from each other if there was no will, or even if the will cut out one family to the benefit of the other. It’s from pla├žage, of course; that dreadful custom where a wealthy white man had a white wife and children, but also had a Black mistress and children with her.

The “concubinage law”, for the record, was on the books until it was repealed in 1987.

1987.

Jesus.

And on that note, I am going to head into the spice mines. Have a lovely Friday, Constant Reader, and I’ll check in with you again tomorrow.

Blue Water

Monday rolls around, and it’s a work-at-home Monday. I’m not sure how many work-at-home days we still have left to us in the future; it’s going to feel very odd going in five days a week after all these years of limited in-the-office time. Ah, well, the more things change and all that. Life is always about change, really; which does make you wonder about people who inevitably fall into ruts. I can rarely get into a rut (can’t spell routine without r-u-t) because everything is always different. When I worked for Continental, they used to always tell us “the only constant in this business is change”, and I realized that also applies to life. Things are changing around us all the time. No two days are really the same–certainly not at my day job–and therefore the only rut I ever feel like I’ve ever gotten myself into is just the actual work week; but the tasks and duties are never the same even if the schedule is the same. Every client is different, every testing/counseling session is not the same as the one before or after, every book or story I write is different and the process of writing each is always different.

It rained pretty much all weekend, which gave the outside air a feeling of oppressive heavy dampness whenever I stepped outside of the apartment all weekend. It was a lovely and relaxing weekend, too. I am not pressed, nor did I press myself to get things done, which was also kind of nice, quite frankly. We watched House of the Dragon last night–I kept thinking, “ah, this story is based on the Pragmatic Sanction which led to the War of the Austrian Succession”–and it wasn’t bad. You could tell they don’t have that Games of Thrones sky’s-the-limit budget; some of the CGI wasn’t great and you could tell they didn’t really have crowds or lots of extras in some scenes that required them. We’ll keep watching, of course (the entire time I was thinking, why doesn’t the uncle marry the niece? The Targaryens weren’t above incest–and in fact, many royal marriages in European history were uncle/niece; looking at you, Hapsburg family) but I don’t think it’s going to have the same “must-watch” feel to it the way Game of Thrones did–which was “must watch as soon as its available.” It’s not bad, by any means. It’s just on a smaller scale than Game of Thrones was, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

I read some more of Gabino Iglesias’ The Devil Takes You Home, which is incredibly well-written and powerful as an exposed nerve, with an intense depiction of suffering and pain and agony, and how that changes a person. It’s very emotionally heavy and packs a very powerful punch in those first few chapters. I’m looking forward to reading more of it, but it’s also not something you can gulp down in a few sittings. The language is too lyrical and beautiful yet stark; I feel it needs to be read slowly, so you can enjoy all the beauty and power of the language being used to tell this very dark story. I doubt seriously that the book is going to leave me feeling uplifted and happy–I don’t see how it could; but it may be a story about redemption and coming back from a very dark place…yet somehow I don’t think that’s where Gabino is coming from with this exceptional work. Getting inside that level of grief is difficult. I can’t imagine how hard it was, as a writer, to go to such a horrifyingly dark place–and that’s the FIRST FEW CHAPTERS. Sheesh.

I do have to take time from my workday today to run some errands–I ordered groceries, need to get the mail, need to drop off library books–so I am hoping it’s not going to be horrifically miserable outside today the way it was the weekend. There’s a tropical system in the Atlantic off the Cape Verde Islands heading this way–well, west at any rate–to keep an eye on. The Katrina anniversary looms, and we’ve had several storm systems around the same time numerous times in the years since 2005. I certainly hope that isn’t the case, as it could affect our trip to Bouchercon, but I think we were back home last year from Ida around the same time we would need to be leaving for Minneapolis (I could go back and look it up on the blog, I suppose, but Ida wasn’t a good time and it’s still a bit raw for me to want to actually do that just yet); any way, it’s not something I want to deal with again this year.

And on that note, I am going to head into the spice mines. Have a lovely Monday, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again tomorrow.

Hard Advice

And now it’s Thursday, my last day in the office until Tuesday (I scheduled my work at home days to bracket my birthday weekend, so I don’t have to shower or get dressed if I don’t want to). Yes, probably more information than you ever wanted or needed from me, but live with it–it’s my birthday this week!

Which is funny, really; I really don’t care that much about my birthdays. My parents never made a big deal out of birthdays and while it was always nice to get presents, I never really thought of it as “my day” or “MY DAY” (as some people insist). It’s the anniversary of the day I was born, and an arbitrary marker of my age. I inevitably add a year to my age once the first of the year rolls around, anyway, and I generally don’t run around reminding co-workers or hinting to Paul for gifts or what I want to do or anything like that. I prefer there not to be a fuss–Facebook and other social media will be lovely on my birthday, of course, as lots of people will wish my a happy day and all of those lovely thoughts–and will probably spend the day at home, trying not to do anything. That, to me, is the perfect birthday–no stress, no emails, no writing, no pressure on myself, and no need to do anything other than what I want to do, which is get up in the morning and swill coffee while writing my blog entry for the day (I’ve actually already started the entry, for the record; I do that sometimes) and then retiring to my easy chair to finish reading my book and maybe even move on to the next in the TBR pile.

I might clean, though. I actually enjoy that, especially if I have nothing else to do–and as I said, I am taking my birthday off completely.

I finished the second chapter of the new Scotty last night. It’s terrible–oh, Lord, how terrible is it? It’s kind of scary how bad it actually is, and how bad I can write when I am trying to start something new–and last night, as I sat in my easy chair while we finished watching I Just Killed My Dad–what a sad, strange case; it was interesting to watch, and such a strange case; how do you decide in such a case what is justice?–I started thinking about tweaking those first two chapters before I can move on to the next one. On the one hand, there are sloppy messes, but on the other hand, isn’t that what the next drat is for, or the one after that? I’m not entirely certain, though, how to start Chapter Three, so maybe it’s not the worst idea in the world to go ahead and revise them, get them into better shape, and maybe that will help me roll into the next chapter. I am excited to be writing another Scotty book–excited to be writing another book of any kind, really–and for the first time since probably the start of the pandemic, I am sort of feeling like myself for the first time in a very very long time, which is kind of cool. I wasn’t tired again when I got home from work last night, and I feel like I slept pretty decently again last night, too. Could I have stayed in bed for another hour or two? Of course I could have, but I am conscious, not feeling groggy or physically tired, and my coffee is definitely hitting the spot this morning. I don’t know if that means I have finally gotten used to this schedule or not, but I am not going to question it and am going to roll with it.

Tomorrow of course is a work-at-home day and I have an enormous stack of work that I’ve brought home for me to get through tomorrow and Monday. At some point, I suppose we are going to lose our one day at home per week, and it’s going to feel really strange for me to have to actually head into the office again Monday through Friday, which will require even more adjustments for me. Heavy sigh. As soon as I get used to something…never fails, right?

It’s also hard to believe that Bouchercon is actually coming up–it’s only a couple of weeks now before Paul and I will be heading for the airport, changing planes at Chicago Midway, and arriving in Minneapolis for a short stay where I will be on the run almost from the very beginning. I started putting together my schedule for the weekend–I have four panels (!) and a signing; a publisher party to attend and several meetings and happy hours and so forth with other groups–so needless to say, I will most likely be extremely exhausted when we fly home that Sunday. But I will also hopefully feel invigorated and recharged and like a writer again, a member of the publishing community, which is always absolutely lovely. I’m really not happy when I don’t feel like a writer; it’s so much a part of my identity that not being around other writers or talking about writing or getting feedback on my work helps trigger Imposter Syndrome, which is something I utterly loathe and despise because it leads to depression and imbalances my mind. I am very excited to be going back to Bouchercon; I’ve not been since 2018 because I had to cancel Dallas the week of because I got sick–inner ear infection prohibiting flying–but had I known it would be another three years before I’d get to go again, I would have driven to Dallas.

Ah, hindsight.

And on that note, I am going to swill down some more coffee and head into the spice mines. Have a lovely Thursday everyone, and I will check in with you again tomorrow morning.

Mama’s Pearl

Saturday morning in the Lost Apartment, and I have a rather lengthy weekend of work staring me down. Yesterday wasn’t a bad day, per se; I’ve certainly had much worse ones over the years. I didn’t have to be at the office at the usual time–Fridays I can go in later, which is so lovely–and I had slept really deeply and well the night before so the morning started off in a much better manner than usual. I ran some errands on the way home from the office, including making groceries (so I wouldn’t have to do it this weekend), and came home to a nice, lovely and sort of quiet-ish evening. The heat has been miserable here–and there’s already tropical systems forming in the Atlantic and in the Gulf, whee!–and I am already a bit concerned about the power bills to come this summer. It was ninety-five degrees yesterday when I left the office–which is high, even for June, if I recall correctly.

It’s usually the humidity that makes it so miserable here…it feels like August already, so i can only imagine how miserable August itself will actually be.

But I will worry about that when I have to. For now, I am just going to enjoy the cool loveliness of the climate controlled Lost Apartment and pretend I have money to (quite literally) burn.

I slept well last night. We finished watching The Little Drummer Girl and Beneath the Banner of Heaven–both of which I recommend–and I started reading Tara Laskowski’s Anthony nominated The Mother Next Door, and it’s excellent, y’all. I only read the first chapter, but I was immediately sucked in–which is a very good thing; that means I can use the book as a reward for working this weekend, aka if I get this far, I can spend two hours reading Tara’s book. I can see why it was so acclaimed and has gotten so much award recognition–it’s currently nominated for the Anthony for Best Paperbook/Ebook/Audiobook Original–and I am very excited that it’s finally worked its way up to the top of the TBR pile. I keep talking about the golden age of crime fiction we are currently living through–seriously, reading the first chapter of Tara’s book served as further confirmation of that theory.

Today is going to be spent mostly working on the edits, of course. Once I’ve swilled enough coffee for my mind to function–I am also getting the hang of Wordle, I’ve been getting it in two or three tries this past week–and some of this mess organized and cleaned up and put away–I will probably dive headlong into the edits. They went really well last night–I was very pleased with the progress I’ve made and how much better the book is becoming (an editor is really worth their weight in gold, and I am very privileged to be working with Terri Bischoff on this one) as I go. I hope to get really deep into it today, so I can finish it tomorrow and then have Monday to go over it one more time before turning it in, once and for all. I’ve also been seeing a lot of submission calls I find interesting and that I may have something for–there was one in particular that I’d like to submit for, since it was for novellas and those are indeed rare, rainbow and glitter unicorns, and since I have like four or five of them in progress…I should be able to get something together for it, don’t you think? And at the very least, it means I would have one of them finished.

My writing schedule has been so off and so fucked up this year. What a strange year this has been thus far: I am discovering that I am so unused to traveling now that whenever I do it, it takes a few days to recover, which I usually don’t have; the binge-writing thing hasn’t changed, but it’s getting harder and harder to do it now–and much more tiring; I’ve been off my gym/workout schedule for months now, and my body doesn’t like it even one little bit; and my goal to broaden my cooking skills has failed miserably. I have, in fact, traveled only three times thus far this year–Left Coast Crime, the Edgars, Kentucky–and I have only two more trips planned for this year, Fort Lauderdale in July for Sleuthfest and Minneapolis for Bouchercon. I’ll probably wind up going to Kentucky a few more times this year, but I will worry about that when the time comes. I will most likely take the rest of this coming week off from writing anything after I turn the edits in on Monday, and then try to dive back into the short stories and various other projects next weekend–although I do have to teach that workshop at the library on Saturday, which also means I will go to That’s Amore and order us a deep dish Chicago style pizza on my way home–as well as start working on cleaning out the attic preparatory to cleaning out my storage unit (I’d like to get that emptied out by the end of the month so I can close the account and stop spending that money every month; it’s ridiculous I’ve been paying that every month now for so many years), but if not, maybe by August 1 at least. I need to start pruning the books out of the apartment again, too. The only thing I really need to keep is research materials, if that–most of that can be found on-line or as ebooks–and it would really be nice to get rid of some of this stuff, you know?

Clean like you’re moving, Gregalicious.

And of course, I need to get started on Mississippi River Mischief at some point. The story is starting to coalesce in my head, as more and more ideas and things to include come along…I’m actually kind of excited about it, to be honest, and even more excited to have to make some field trips to some of the bayou parishes to get a look around and take some pictures and get some background color for the book. It’s going to be a little bit weird to write more about a fictional parish outside of New Orleans than about New Orleans itself; and yes, I am inventing a fictional parish to go along with the other fictional parish I use for some of my paranormal stuff–St. Jeanne d’Arc and Redemption parishes–just as I have invented some things for the current project in edits. I never used to do that, but if people want to ding me for making some shit up so be it. I find myself not quite as tied to “can’t invent something that isn’t there in the city because I want to” as I used to be–but I will never write about basements or subterranean caverns beneath the city (although I do suppose there are underground drainage tunnels down there).

And on that note, I am heading back into the spice mines. Have a happy Saturday wherever you are, Constant Reader, and I’ll let you know tomorrow how things are going with the edits. I know–the suspense, right?