The Heat Is On

Ash Wednesday, and Valentine’s Day, to boot.

Another Carnival is in the books, and a good time was had by all. We didn’t do as much parading as we usually do; me being in Alabama for the first weekend had a lot to do with that, and I was a lot more tired, physically, than I usually am during parade season. I suspect I am getting to that sad place in life where I am too old to handle the walk to and from the office all of those days in a row. I am, however, going to continue with my new workout routine and hopefully that will make a difference the next time Carnival rolls around.

Fingers crossed, at any rate.

Today an anthology I contributed a story to drops; The Trouble with Cupid. I was very happy and thrilled to be asked to contribute a story–I always am thrilled and happy when I’m asked to contribute to anything, frankly–but therein lay a conundrum for me: what would I write about? I still struggle to write crime short stories, and this call was for romantic suspense, or some combination of romance and crime, possibly; and I was frankly absolutely clueless what to write or how to go about writing something.

So, I decided instead to write a sequel to my story “Everyone Says I’ll Forget In Time,” which I wrote a long time for the Fool for Love anthology, edited by R. D. Cochrane and Timothy J. Lambert. In that story, Terry, my main character, was still coming to terms with the death of his partner; his best friends have decided it’s time for him to move on and set him up with a sort-of-blind-date thing; and the blind date turns out to be a guy he had a crush on before; that he met when he and his partner had briefly separated during a rough patch. I’d always wanted to do a sequel to the story, and even had the title picked out: “Passin’ Time,” which is a phrase we here in New Orleans use to describe waiting when you have no other choice; it’s most frequently used to talk about waiting for a parade during Carnival; what we do on the street while waiting for a parade to show up is passin’ time.

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I OPENED THE front door and Trouble wasn’t there.

The food bowl I’d set out for him was empty. The water bowl was upside down next to the cement step. He had a habit of doing that, I’d noticed. I wasn’t sure why, but it was just one of his quirks. I picked it up and walked it over to the sink and refilled it. I set it down and sat down on the step, looking around. This was the first morning since he’d shown up that he wasn’t out there, waiting for me with his eager eyes and twitching black tail.

And it made me sad.

You need a pet of your own, I said to myself, looking up at the blue sky. It was a gorgeous morning, not even ten yet, and already warm. The ladies of Iris and the gentlemen of Tucks had lucked out this fine Saturday before Fat Tuesday. Fat Tuesday was early this year, so I’d worried my favorite parade day might be cold—or worse, rainy. There had been a downpour on Iris Saturday a few years earlier, but the parades still rolled—the floats speeding past at breakneck speed, the marching bands and dance groups sitting out the parades—and I’d stood out there, soaked through and having the best time, even if my glasses were covered with beads of water and it was also cold out there. It had taken me a while to warm up again after that, curled up on my loveseat under woolen blankets and drinking hot chocolate spiked with peppermint Schnapps while I watched Endymion roll through mid-city on television.

Endymion.

I hadn’t been to Endymion since Paul died.

Trouble is a crime-solving black cat, I should probably add; Carolyn Haines has gathered an extraordinary group of writers together to write a series of books about Trouble; I hung out with the Mad Catters in Alabama at Murder in the Magic City and Murder on the Menu, and even agreed to try my hand at writing a Trouble book, when I have the time. Every story in the anthology had to include Trouble (hence the title The Trouble with Cupid), and all proceeds from the book are going to the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary; if you know Carolyn, you also know she’s all about helping the animals, and I can certainly get behind that–given that we have somehow wound up with five outdoor cats and one indoor rescue.

I hope you’ll check out the anthology, Constant Reader, and I also hope you like my story.

 

Eyes Without a Face

Monday morning, and I’m not really too bummed about the end of a weekend and the start of a new work week. I had a relatively nice weekend; I did a lot of cleaning and did some writing and editing; I went to a wonderful Christmas party on Saturday night and got to spend time with people whose company I always enjoy; and I slept really well all weekend. I am not sluggish or tired this morning, either–although the morning is slipping through my fingers much faster than I would like it to. I have almost finished reading Donna Andrews’ How The Finch Stole Christmas,which is terrific (I’ve laughed out loud a couple of times), and I also started slowly reading Joan Didion’s Miami, which is also pretty amazing. As I may have mentioned the other day, I watched the documentary about her, The Center Will Not Hold, the other night, and it had some pretty interesting things to say about writing. And the way she uses language is most impressive; in Miami she used a great John James Audubon quote that I’m going to use to open Sunny Places Shady People, the Bouchercon anthology for St. Petersburg.

Which is cool.

I finished a short story this weekend–“Passin’ Time”–and writing that story (which the editor loved, which was a wonderful confidence booster for the weekend) also, along with a conversation I had with a friend about the Scotty book at the party Saturday night seems to have blew out the rust in my head and kicked me back into gear. I got some writing done this weekend, and it wasn’t hard, I didn’t have to make myself do it, and it didn’t feel like pulling teeth or ripping out hair, strand by strand. That doesn’t mean that other things are now going to be easier to write, or that I’ve jump-started my writing mode, but I can’t help but think things are going to go a lot more smoothly now than they have been. But…I feel  a lot more confident about it, and isn’t that really the most important thing? And when the writing finally starts flowing…it’s such a great feeling.

It’s hard to explain, but writing is so integral to who I am that when I am not writing it does affect my moods, and even my sleep (I slept so well last night!). I am looking forward to getting some more writing done tonight; I have a short story due by the end of December, have some stuff that needs to be edited, and of course, there’s always Scotty and the WIP, and the Scotty Bible to get done…so much work to do, but for the first time in a long time I’m not looking at it as a Sisyphean task but rather a challenge.

It’s interesting, but I think talking to my friends at the Christmas party on Saturday night, talking about books and writing and so forth–and New Orleans, how it has changed over the years since I first moved here–had something to do with that as well. It was while I was talking to my friend Susan that I realized this is what is wrong with the Scotty book and why it isn’t working; why you can’t get to serious work on it. You knew there was a big hole in the story and it didn’t make sense; you’ve basically just said so out loud….knowing that, you now need to either fix the hole in the plot or start over with a new one.

And frankly, that isn’t too frightening.

And so, back to the spice mines. Here’s today’s Calvin Klein ad:

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Roll With The Changes

Ah, Tuesday.

There’s a potential hurricane out there in the Gulf; yesterday the Gulf parishes and those adjacent went into hurricane watch status, with flash flood warnings and all that entails. Hurray! Only nineteen days into hurricane season…and we’re off to a good start. But I am very happy that this hurricane season I have a new car; which I still am in love with, I might add. I am still not used to the easy maneuverability; it catches me off guard sometimes with how easy it is to turn, or park, or get out of  parking spaces. All of which, of course, is lovely, as is the smooth ride.

Anyway, tropical storm conditions should be here sometimes this afternoon, which should make the drive home from work pleasant. It’s already gloomy and gray out there this morning; they’re saying this one might be named Cindy, and while I haven’t read everything on Weather.com thus far, it looks like Bret’s coming into the Caribbean Sea as well; although he looks to be more of a danger to South and Central America, Heavy heaving sigh. Looks like we’re going to have a highly active hurricane season this year.

Yay.

It looks like we might be giving up on Between; the third episode, which we watched last night, passed the campy enjoyability of overacting and bad writing to just bad. We may give it another episode–primarily because we don’t have anything else to watch as of yet, although we might go back to Turn, which we lost interest in during its second season (primarily because of a bad storyline that they seemed determined to drag out as much as possible) but was otherwise quite enjoyable; plus Jamie Bell, who plays the lead, was Billy in Billy Elliott when he was younger, so I am rather partial to him. I also love the time period, having a lifelong fascination with the Revolutionary War/colonial period (well, I love American history, and all history, really) but it was my fascination with the colonial period/Revolutionary War that initially triggered my interest in history.

I managed to rip through two chapters of the revision yesterday, and if I keep this pace going, I should be able to get the revision completely finished going into my long weekend of the 4th of July, which is when I intend to do all the polishing I need to get done. Paul will be off seeing his mother, which means I will get a lot of cleaning and reading done, and will probably be looking for old movies to watch–I’ll probably watch the live-action Beauty and the Beast while he’s gone, and of course there are a couple of shows we started watching that I can go back and finish–like MTV’s Scream–in order to keep myself entertained while he’s gone.

I also started writing a short story yesterday for a romance anthology I want to submit to; “Passin’ Time.” This is a story I’ve wanted to write for a long time; it’s kind of a sequel to “Everyone Says I’ll Forget in Time”, which was, I think, in the Foolish Hearts anthology (or was it Fool for Love?) about ten years or so ago. I’ve always wanted to write the sequel story, revisiting the burgeoning romance set up in the original story. (I very rarely want to revisit short story characters, so actually thinking about a sequel to a story I’ve written is in and of itself a curious enough occasion to make me want to do it.)

It’s now dark and raining outside; so I guess the outer, initial bands of  this storm i are starting to come ashore, or a storm front coming in ahead of the storm is here. (The bands weren’t supposed to be here until later this afternoon.)

So, I should probably head back into the spice mines before work.

Here’s your Tuesday morning hunk:

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