Do You Know

Tuesday and all is well again this morning–at least so far.

Yesterday was very productive. I got some day job things taken care of that needed taking care of, I worked on the book and wrote a chapter, and I managed to get some emails cleaned out of my inbox. I did start feeling a bit fatigued in the later afternoon, so decided to try to take it easy once I got home from the office but managed to plant my ass in my desk chair and get the fucking chapter written. I also managed to read three short stories by Paul Tremblay from his collection Growing Things over the weekend–he’s such a good writer, seriously, you should be reading him–which was nice, and perfect reading for Halloween times.

I had insomnia again last night–which I can’t help but wonder wasn’t tied to the cappuccino I made yesterday morning, but that’s nonsense; I’ve had cappuccinos in the morning and slept well that night, so I don’t know. I guess I was just due for another night of it at some point, and last night just happened to be the lucky night. I don’t feel physically or mentally fatigued this morning, but then again you never know. I have to work in clinic today, face to face with people, and that is usually draining on several levels. Hopefully when I get home tonight I’ll have the energy to write more on the book. But like I said, so far so good this morning. I feel physically rested, at any rate, or no more tired and fatigued than usual when I get up, at any rate.

I can’t believe it’s November already, and there are only two months left in 2022. I am going to Kentucky for Thanksgiving, so I have a lot to get done this month before I leave–I also have to have the heater in my car looked at, because it no longer blows warm air and I cannot drive up there without a working heater in the car because cold–and who knows how much that is going to cost me? Yay. You got to love these out of nowhere extra expenses–I just got a raise so of course now instead of paying down debt I’ll have to add some more, hurray. But it’s necessary, and of course the car is now at that age–almost six–where things might start to go a little wrong here and there. I’ve already had to replace the battery, and I also need a new windshield wiper for the back window.

The good news is I started solving some issues within the book last night after I gave in to Scooter’s demands for a lap to sleep in (he never stays there for longer than half an hour, which makes it even more frustrating to give in to him; he sleeps in my lap long enough to make me lethargic and remove the desire to do anything, which can be a problem. I also did some dishes and am trying to stay on top of the kitchen; I had to stop to make groceries last night on the way home (out of bread, among other things) and will have to again tonight–the store in the CBD didn’t have everything I needed, which was extremely irritating–but I have to go uptown and get the mail after work anyway. I’m still hoping my box o’books of A Streetcar Named Murder are going to arrive soon–I know it seems early since the pub date isn’t until 12/6, but they told me they’d come before the end of the month and….yesterday was the end of the month, and I am nothing if not a completely literal person.

So, anyway, as I was saying, I started solving some issues within the book last night as Scooter purred and slept in my lap and I let my playlist of music videos run on the television, and for the first time in a while I am starting to feel like this book will not be a complete disaster and may actually turn out to be fairly decent. One never knows, does one? And no matter how many books you’ve written in your career, you always fear that somehow the ability to do this is magically going to disappear from your brain overnight, and everything is going to blow up in your face. I literally was considering that very thing this past weekend, thinking that what I really needed to do was just tear up the contract and asked to be released from it and just hibernate in the apartment for a few months. But that was probably chemical–there are so many chemical issues in my brain–and an unconscious or subconscious reaction to Paul not being home, which probably depressed me and imbalanced the delicate balance of everything in my brain, which is why I wasn’t able to get very much done over the weekend the way I had hoped and planned to. Paul won’t get home until Saturday evening, and while yes, this Saturday is the double-header of Georgia-Tennessee followed by LSU-Alabama, I should be able to get up in the morning and get things done before it’s time to start watching the games–and of course, I can always just have the game on while I clean and so forth. Heavy heaving sigh.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines for the morning. Have a great day, Constant Reader and I will check in with you again tomorrow morning, as always.

Save Me

Sunday morning and I guess there’s probably a Saints game today? I am a terrible fan this year–I can’t seem to remember ever to check on the schedule to see when the games are, so maybe it’s my fault they’re having a really terrible year? (Yes, Greg, because that’s exactly how professional sports work…)

The sun is bright this morning–it was gloomy, overcast and humid yesterday; I also got rained on while running my errands. I am having my morning cappuccino, which is marvelous, and feel like I again slept extremely well again last night. Ironically, despite the same feeling yesterday morning, I succumbed to fatigue much earlier than I thought I would yesterday, which didn’t bode well for getting things done the way I had hoped and/or wanted to. So, no, I wound up not getting nearly as much done yesterday as I had originally hoped I would; but I am also still at the point where I think any progress is better than no progress so I am taking the day as a win. I did have the football games on in the background while I tried to get things done around here, and they kind of turned out the way I figured they would: Mississippi taking down Texas A&M; Tennessee embarrassing Kentucky; and Georgia made a fool out of Florida. Missouri surprised South Carolina, and Arkansas embarrassed Auburn at home. The big surprise of the day was the way Kansas State embarrassed top ten ranked Oklahoma State–no one, I think, saw that coming. But this weekend did a good job of setting up next weekend: the winner of LSU-Alabama takes control of the West, while whoever wins Georgia-Tennessee will do the same in the East. I try not to get involved in the whole “conspiracy theory” aspect of fandom, in which some controlling elite wants certain outcomes to drive their ratings, but I can’t help but think everyone at ESPN and all the college football reporters are hoping for an Alabama win, to make the Alabama-Mississippi game matter in two weeks as a “winner takes all” battle for supremacy in the West. I don’t expect LSU to win, honestly; that’s almost too much to hope for (although I do hope it happens), and all I am really hoping for is another great game, not a blow out.

I think the weather had something to do with the doldrums I was suffering from yesterday. I don’t have that same feeling this morning, but at the same time I think maybe not waking up three mornings in a row to an alarm helps make me feel more rested for some reason. It doesn’t make sense (little does, really, when it comes to my mind and my theories about my life and so forth), but I am hoping that once I get this done and the kitchen repaired a bit (the sink has dishes, things need to be put away) I can dive into working on the writing and some other things I want to get done. I’m going to take a break momentarily after finishing this to read a short story by Paul Tremblay, after which I’ll get cleaned up and get a move on with everything.

Or so I hope, at any rate.

I watched an episode of American Horror Stories before I went to bed last night–the one called “The Lake”–and it was much better than the earlier episodes I’d seen. Alicia Silverstone, Teddy Sears, and pretty young Bobby Hogan were an appealing cast, and while the story was terribly derivative (the curse of towns flooded by dams is an old trope; there’s a great German show with a similar premise–but it’s also a trope I’ve always wanted to use as well), the acting was fine and the ending–while a little like The Fog, it worked within the construct of the story and was really the only way for it to actually come to an end. It reminded me, in some ways, of another idea I had for a story a long time ago–about college kids camping out in ghost town in the Sierra mountains in California that I’ve always wanted to write–but who knows if I will ever get around to that or not? It was entertaining, though, and now of course it’s Sunday–several of the shows we watch drop episodes on Sundays, but I can’t watch any of them until Paul gets home. Heavy sigh. Although I think tonight I’ll rewatch Halloween–the original. It is, after all, the seminal slasher movie and the one that kicked off the slasher craze of the late 1970’s/early 1980’s (along with Friday the 13th).

On the other hand, one can never go wrong with Scream, for that matter.

Well, I can figure out what I am going to watch later, right? It’s not like it is of the utmost importance to figure this out right now, either.

Or maybe I’ll watch a horror movie I’ve never seen before–there were so many in their heyday that I’ve not seen them all, like Terror Train or Prom Night–then again, on the other hand, there are so many it’s entirely possible I’ve seen some of them and forgotten that I have, as well. My memory is no longer trustworthy, after all–as I am finding out while writing this book–which makes me wish I’d written more things down over the years or been more faithful to keeping a journal; I’ve never been as faithful to a journal as I have been to this blog, for example. Yet another reason why I don’t write a memoir or many personal essays; I don’t trust my memory, and I know I have most likely revised my own personal history to make myself more of the hero of the story than I should be–it’s something we all do, really; it’s also how we perceive things, through our own lenses with all of our foibles and miscues and flaws helping to interpret and record things in that great back-up hard drive inside our skulls. We are all the heroes of our own story, even if we are the villain in someone else’s.

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

The Nightwatchers

I never really thought much about writing vampire fiction.

I’ve been a Stephen King fan since I read a battered paperback copy of Carrie when I was fourteen, and ‘salem’s Lot continues to be a top 5 King novel for me, if not my favorite (it’s always a toss-up between this and The Stand, frankly) and despite my attempts to turn myself into a King clone in the 1980’s, I’ve never been very good at writing horror. I love to read it–there are some truly terrific horror writers publishing now (if you’ve not read Paul Tremblay, you really need to start), and they are, if you’ll pardon the incredibly cheap pun, killing it. I can do creepy. I can do Gothic. I can do atmosphere and all those marvelous things I love in horror fiction. But I cannot, for the life of me, scare people. I don’t know why I can’t write anything that gets under your skin and into your nervous system; the kind of thing that makes you leave a light burning after you go to bed. I wish I could write like that. I’ve certainly tried a few times…I still have an idea for a horror novel sitting in the back of my brain that I am really going to have to try to get around to writing at some point, because I really should give it a real try sometime.

I have always enjoyed reading vampire stories. “salem’s Lot has always been one of my top five Stephen King novels; I loved Dracula (oh to write an epistolary novel!) and numerous other such tales. It took me awhile to come around on Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles (a tale for another time), but I did eventually. Twilight never struck any chords with me. But the one thing I never thought I would do was write about vampires, despite loving them the way I do–going all the way back to my childhood and Dark Shadows. I don’t think I ever would have written about vampires, but my editor at Kensington thought I could; thought I would do a good job at it, and encouraged it, beginning with an offer to write an erotic vampire novella for a collection to be called Midnight Thirsts.

Go home, old man, Rachel thought, tapping her black fingernails on the counter.

It was a quarter till nine, fifteen minutes before she could lock the doors. Everything was clean and the cash register was already counted down. All she had really left to do was dump the remains of the day’s coffee down the sink, lock the cash drawer in the safe, and turn everything o. She’d be gone by ten minutes after at the latest.

She glanced out the big windows fronting the coffee shop. The streetlight just outside cast a yellowish glow in the thick mist pressing against the glass. She shivered and looked back at the old man. He was sitting at one of the tables in the far corner, with the same cup of coffee he’d ordered when he came in around seven thirty. He hadn’t touched it. It was still as full as when she’d filled the cup, only no steam was coming off the black surface now. He didn’t seem to be watching for anyone, or waiting. He never glanced at this watch, which she’d spotted as a platinum Tag Heuer, nor did he ever look out the window. Every once in a while. he would look up from his newspaper and catch her staring. He’d smile and nod, then go back to his reading.

Apparently, he was determined to read every word.

She stood up, bending backward so her back cracked. The night had been really slow. The Jazz Café, even on weeknights, usually was good for at least thirty to forty dollars in tips. Tonight, when she counted out the tip jar, it yielded less than seven dollars. Just enough to get her a pack a cigarettes and a twenty-ounce Diet Coke at Quartermaster Deli on her way back to her apartment. It wasn’t, she thought, wiping down the counter yet again, even worth coming in for.

Usually, on this kind of night, cold and damp and wet, Rachel was kept busy with orders for triple lattés. The tables would be full of people who would coming in shivering, bundled against the cold wetness in the air, which seemed to penetrate even the thickest coat. They’d hold their steaming cups of coffee with both reddened hands, talking and laughing. SOme would be doing their homework on laptops.

She liked busy nights, when the orders kept coming and the tip jar filled. Then, the time seemed to fly by, her closing shift passing in the blink of an eye. She hated the slow nights, when every passing minute seemed to take an eternity. She glanced back at the clock on the wall, then back at the old man. If you would just leave, she thought, I could go ahead and close early.

He’s kind of good-looking, she thought as she sipped her tepid cup of green tea, for an older guy.

At that moment he look up, and their eyes met. His were blue, a deep blue with some green in it. Once again, he nodded his head to her and smiled, but this time he didn’t go back to his newspaper. He held her eyes.

Not to worry, my child, I’ll be gone soon enough.

She turned away, shaking her head, the hair on the back of her neck standing up…

As is frequently the case with my work, The Nightwatchers began as a short story. Within a year of moving here, Paul had struck up a friendship with the director of the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival (which is where he now works), and as such he volunteered us both to help out with the 1997 Festival. I worked at the sign-in desk, where people picked up their badges and so forth, and it was in the lobby of Le Petite Theatre de Vieux Carre, a marvelous old theater on the corner of Chartres and St. Peter, right across the street from the Cabildo, and kitty-corner to Jackson Square. It was very old, and the main stage was named for Helen Hayes, who’d actually played there before. It was haunted, too–every building in New Orleans is–and I heard some of the stories. Being a volunteer, I had access to back stage, upstairs to the balcony, the prop attic; everywhere. (I eventually used some of this knowledge in Jackson Square Jazz.) At some point during the weekend I had an idea for a story–a horror story–about a theater company rehearsing in an old haunted theater in the French Quarter, where the person always cast in the lead female roles is also sleeping with the director. The young actress who deserved the part doesn’t listen to company gossip, but she does eventually find out that the rumors are true, and at some point made a deal with a devil who appeared to her in her dressing room, on and on and on. I called the story The Nightwatchers, because to me, that was what the devils/demons were called–they watch at night for souls to prey on. When I was asked to write this novella, I dug out the story and reread it, deciding it was perfect to adapt into something new.

I played with it a while, and couldn’t quite get it right in my head until I decided to abandon the theater idea; I’d tried turning the girl into a gay guy but it didn’t really work. I also couldn’t seem to get the atmosphere right, either, and I was convinced–still am, in fact–that the atmosphere had to be just right or the story wouldn’t work. Then one night I was walking through the lower Quarter in December–meeting Paul somewhere, I think–and it was one of those evenings when the fog is so insanely thick that you literally can’t see more than a foot or so in front of you at any time. As I walked along the sidewalk, with the old buildings pushing up against the sidewalk, when I heard the sound of hooves on the street–and realized, bemusedly, that in the fog and the only light from a gaslight–that I could have traveled back in time. Only in New Orleans can you feel like you’ve traveled back in time when it’s foggy, I thought, and wrote an entire scene around that feeling when I got back home. It was the perfect mood/atmosphere for the story, and it worked very well.

And as I wrote the novella, I got more and more into the characters and started imagining my own supernatural world, with vampires and witches and werewolves and everything else, including a ruling council over the paranormal world, the Council of Thirteen, and the old man Rachel sees in the coffee shop is a representative of the Council, in New Orleans to hunt a rogue vampire…a vampire who believes her young friend Philip Rutledge (now the center of the story) is the reincarnation of someone he loved hundreds of years earlier when he was human (shades of Dark Shadows!) and so wants to turn Philip into his eternal companion, and it’s up to Nigel and Rachel to rescue Philip.

It was a lot of fun to write, and I left the ending a bit open so I could write more about the characters if I ever chose to do so; I actually slotted a continuation novel into my writing schedule; it was supposed to be what I wrote next after finishing Mardi Gras Mambo…needless to say, life conspired to keep me from ever getting around to this book. I am still a bit disappointed I never carried on with the story; I used this same mythology when I returned to writing about vampires again several years later with Blood on the Moon.

So, that’s how The Nightwatchers came to be a story. Writing this now I see the parallels between what I wrote and some things I read and enjoyed (or watched, a la Dark Shadows); and is my “Nightwatcher” group that different from Anne Rice’s Talamasca? Probably not.

I did read and enjoy the other novellas back in the day; I’ve been meaning to revisit Michael Thomas Ford’s because it was particularly memorable.

When I See You Again

It’s a work at home Friday and Paul is getting ready to head out to the airport. Heavy heaving sigh. While alone time is something I can always appreciate, it doesn’t take more than a day or two before I start missing him. But I have a lot to keep me busy, so if I just focus and work my way down the to-do list, I should be able to keep busy enough to not miss him while at the same time getting a lot of things done–always a plus, especially given how behind I am on this book–but a Gregalicious at rest tends to stay at rest, so the big thing for me is going to be staying motivated.

Ugh, I hate when Paul goes away.

I was tired again yesterday when I got off work and came home, so spent some time organizing and doing mindless chores once I got home until Paul got home from work. By the time he’d gotten home I’d already finished the chores and given in to Scooter’s demands for a lap to sleep in, and was watching the latest iteration of ESPN’s show Saturdays Down South, which of course is a history of the Southeastern Conference. This episode was for the decade 2010-2019, and while it naturally focused on the Alabama supremacy, it was fun revisiting some of that football history from that decade: Auburn’s runs in 2010 and 2013 (the “Kick Six” win against Alabama included); the runs for both Mississippi and Mississippi State in 2014 that ended disappointingly but had them both ranked in the Top Three at the same time (until they lost to LSU and Alabama, respectively, on the same day), and of course ending with the incredible LSU season in 2019. Much as I would love to climb on board this year’s LSU hype train, I’m reserving that excitement until a week from tomorrow. Alabama is the stumbling block as it always is (only one national champion since 2006 was able to claim the title without having to beat Alabama–hence The Alabama Supremacy), and even the game being in Tiger Stadium means nothing. LSU has beaten Nick Saban exactly four times (2007, 2010, 2011, 2019) with three of those games being in Tuscaloosa. LSU hasn’t beaten Alabama in Baton Rouge since 2010–twelve years.

So, yes, I am a huge LSU fan but I am also realistic. I’ll be cheering for the Tigers, you bet, and I want them to win…but I am not expecting them to win. I am hoping for it to be a great game.

After Paul got home we caught up on American Horror Story: NYC, which weren’t as interesting to me as the first two episodes. In other words, as we get deeper into the season the plot is beginning to derail a little as so often happened with seasons of the show. However, since the story is set so strongly in the gay community of the early 1980’s, I’ll keep watching. I somehow always manage to keep watching this show (Double Feature we bailed out of during the aliens second feature; we also gave up on Hotel but somehow managed to watch both Roanoke and Apocalypse all the way to the bitter end) despite how far off the rails some of these seasons inevitably wind up going–it’s the completist in me, I think–although I feel pretty confident we’ve also given up on A Friend of the Family as well. (Paul: “This could have been a two-hour movie; it didn’t need to be an ongoing series.”) I am now at a loss for what to watch with Paul gone–I can’t watch anything we’re watching together, or something we’d watch together–but I think I am going to revisit the latest Nancy Drew series; I watched the debut episode and kind of was intrigued by it, but Paul wasn’t interested so never went back to it. I checked yesterday and was stunned to see three seasons have aired, which is cool. I hope The Hardy Boys also gets another season, in all honesty; I enjoyed the show. Having grown up on the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, I am always interested to see how the characters/stories get adapted for a modern audience (and belonging to several fan groups on social media for the books is equally interesting, particularly in how imprisoning and limiting so many people can make of nostalgia for something from their childhoods), just as I was interested in seeing Riverdale’s approach to the Archie characters.

I wound up going to be relatively early as I started falling asleep in my chair while watching AHS: NYC last night (I will probably have to rewatch the latest one because I kept dozing off; I also rewatched Andor last night for the same reason before Paul got home). I also got a new espresso maker yesterday which I am dying to try out this morning. I also want to finish my reread of The Haunting of Hill House before moving on to something by Paul Tremblay. I didn’t do well with my “October horror reading month”–I didn’t read very much this month at all, which is shameful, especially since I got Wanda Morris’ new book this week as well–can’t wait to dig into that.

Sigh. Am I being overly ambitious with my plans to get things caught up while Paul is out of town? It’s entirely possible, and I could possibly be setting myself up for a terrible disappointment, but there it is.

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

Empire State

Friday has arrived, Constant Reader, and it’s glorious (although I keep thinking it’s Saturday because I’d gotten used to going into the office on Fridays). After all the week’s insomnia, I slept gloriously last night–when I first went to bed Scooter joined me, cuddled up to me and started the purr machine, which draws sleep like a moth to a flame. Paul got home later than expected, so we watched Andor and an episode of Chucky, which we are about to give up on. It’s campy and funny, but it literally makes so little sense–which is admittedly also a part of its charm, and I do love that two of the three main characters are a young teen gay couple–we might be giving it up fairly soon. I also have some errands to run today–I have to get my flu shot and pick up a prescription–and I am also debating whether to make a Five Guys run while I’m out there. It’s been a while since I’ve experienced the glory that is Five Guys…but on the other hand, I could look at it as look how well I’ve done not eating any fast food for so long and not go, too. Decisions, decisions.

Then again it is Halloween season–we’ll probably stream Halloween Ends tonight–so it doesn’t seem right to not be watching horror, you know? I hope to finish my revisit of Interview with the Vampire today and move on to a reread of salem’s Lot; I also have Paul Tremblay’s short story collection and Joe Hill’s so perhaps I should consider diving into some short stories for a while as well. I think I only got one story into each–and I also want to read Shirley Jackson’s Edgar Award-winning short story at some point as well as part of another long term project I am working on (because how many things can I be working on at the same time? Let’s find out!), and I also got both the new Donna Andrews and the new Raquel V. Reyes novels (Dashing Through the Snowbirds and Calypso, Cooking and Corpses, respectively). Lots of good reading in my future, really–but there always is; my TBR stack is a who’s who of brilliant writers, really.

And when I am finished with my work for the day, I think I am going to start planning out the rest of the Scotty book (after finishing the chapter I am currently struggling with). It certainly can’t make writing it any harder, right?

A few weekends ago I talked to Ricky Grove, the host of The Paperback Show podcast about Daphne du Maurier and My Cousin Rachel (you can listen here if you’d like), which was a lot of fun–any excuse, really, to talk about Daphne du Maurier will be leapt at here in the Lost Apartment, for future reference–and Ricky is always fun to talk to; I can’t believe how long I’ve known Ricky now, where does the goddamned time go, anyway?

It has been quite a long time since I got into this business–as I said the other day, I’ve been doing this a third of my life now, which is simply insane, really, to think about–and it’s been quite a ride, to be certain. I’m a totally different person than I was twenty years ago, and there’s no way in hell twenty years ago I could have foreseen what those two decades held in store, just waiting for the time to be right to pounce on me. But it’s cool, you know; I’m pretty happy with the life I have and the direction it’s heading, even if I am more aware of the ticking down of the clock than I was before, to be sure. I’m behind on everything as always but progress was made this past week, and now that I have the schedule back that I prefer for the day job, I am hoping I will adapt to it rather quickly again and so I won’t have the insomnia or the “tired all day” feel that brings with it. There’s a short story deadline tomorrow that I wanted to make, so I thought last night about potential stories I have on hand that I could possibly polish tomorrow and try to get turned in–if they say no, they say no, and you can’t be accepted if you don’t turn anything in at all–so that’s a potential thing for me to do tomorrow. I also want to drop some books off at the library sale, and maybe wash and clean out the car. LSU plays a night game tomorrow, so I have the entire day free (I’ll probably have the Alabama-Tennessee game on in the background, ROLL TIDE!) to get things done and write and read and clean and…I guess we’ll just have to see how it all goes, won’t we?

And on that note, I am. heading into the spice mines before i head over to the office to get my flu shot. Have a happy and productive day, Constant Reader.

Never Make Me Cry

I slept really well last night, which I inevitably usually do on Thursday nights because I can sleep an hour later those mornings, which naturally makes for a better evening of sleep. I also stay up an hour later (I really have this thing about going to be before eleven that always feels wrong and like I am being cheated out of the evening or something). I was very tired after work last evening, but I did get a load of dishes finished and another started (which I will have to finish this evening). I didn’t write, but I did reread the chapters already in place and think (hope) that tonight I will get that revision finished and can finally, at long last, move on to the next.

And today is the last day of September, October Eve, if you will, which of course leaves me shaking me head in bewilderment about where September could have gone, and why did it go so quickly? Why did I get so little done? I don’t know those answers, of course, but I do know we have been having some lovely weather this week–and it’s not because of the hurricane so we can enjoy it in peace (the cold front we are having, however, is what pushed Ian east and kept him there). It was sixty-three degrees yesterday morning when I went in to the office, so chilly that it even startled me a bit as I went outside. It was still cool when I got off work as well–there was a lot of wind, too, as there has been most of the week–but I am sure we’re going to have at least another couple of really warm weeks yet before the summer finally releases its chokehold on New Orleans.

My plan is only to read horror in the month of October, but since I’ve not had the bandwidth to finish reading my Donna Andrews novel that is one of the things I am going to work on getting through this weekend. It’s not a chore, mind you–Donna’s books are always entertaining and always great reads, and I love the world she’s created in these books–but I also want to be able to focus on the book and actually, you know, read it when my mind is not so worn out and tired, so it can really enjoy the book for the volume of sheer entertainment it inevitably will turn out to be. And then I am going to move on to horror. I have some more Paul Tremblay and Christopher Golden novels on hand to read, and of course I am years behind on Stephen King–might not be a bad idea to revisit some of the classics as well as start reading through the newer works, and of course I should reread ‘salem’s Lot, and I haven’t done a reread of The Stand in quite a while, or Christine or The Dead Zone for that matter. I also need to get back to reading short stories, and I have some lovely volumes of horror short stories on hand I can read as well.

LSU plays Auburn Saturday night at Auburn, so I have most of tomorrow free to clean and read and so forth. Paul is also planning a trip to visit his mother, probably around Halloween, so I am going to have a long and lonely week to look ahead to–thinking that I’ll be able to get a lot done while he’s gone which of course will end up not being the case–and right now I don’t know what other games are on this weekend, so I am hoping I won’t actually blow all of Saturday sitting in my chair, reclined, with a purring cat in my lap while I mindlessly watch teams play games I don’t care about. I need to get back on top of all of my projects and snap out of this weird blasé place I’ve been in since Bouchercon where I just can’t seem to have the energy or strength or will to work through being tired. But the weekend looms, and if I can manage to get a good night’s sleep tonight hopefully tomorrow morning I will wake up with lots of motivation and energy–and the strength of will to ignore Scooter’s plaintive cries to provide a lap for him to sleep in.

We started watching Reboot last night on Hulu, and it’s hilarious. The core of the story is actually kind of genius; an old family-friendly comedy from twenty or thirty years ago, similar to the kind of show Diff’rent Strokes and Full House were (heartwarming fare with cute kids with corny jokes and broad humor and–ugh, you know what I mean) is being rebooted…with the original cast…only as a more modern, darker, and more realistic show. It’s hilarious, and the entire cast is terrific (Johnny Knoxville being a surprising standout). We loved it, and can’t wait to watch more. I am also getting kind of excited to watch the new adaptations of Anne Rice’s series, The Vampire Chronicles and The Mayfair Witches (although I think the vampire series may be called Interview with the Vampire? I’ve not followed stories about either show closely, figuring I’d watch once they started airing and then would check into what the plans for the shows are). Elité is also coming back, as are some other favorites. Huzzah!

And on that note, I am going to head into the spice mines. Have a lovely, lovely day, Constant Reader, and hope everyone in Florida is doing okay this morning. Check in with you again tomorrow!

Second Hand News

Labor Day Monday and I have a nice relaxing day ahead of me of writing and reading and who knows what else? We also leave for Minneapolis the day after tomorrow, which is also kind of exciting. I did make a small run to make groceries yesterday and had a small Costco order delivered. I also watched some tennis (Coco Grauff) and then we watched the LSU Game. Jury’s still out; they played very lackadaisically to me, it seemed; not quite gelled as a team yet, but lots of talented players with some kinks to work out yet. They ended up losing 24-23, could have tied and/or won the game at the end, and rallied from 24-10 down in the closing minutes, so that was promising. I am of course disappointed the comeback failed, but at one point it literally looked like we were going to lose 31-17, and that final drive went ninety-nine yards in sixty-five seconds. So, they could continue to improve and get better, which is a good sign. I impatiently was hoping this could be turned around in one year, but….it even took Saban an off-year before turning Alabama into what it is today. It was a fun weekend of football, to be sure, and I am always happier when it’s football season.

I mean, take away the two fumbled punts, the blocked extra point, and the blocked field goal, and LSU would be 1-0 right now.

I am curious to see how the rest of the season shakes out.

I skim-reread Jackson Square Jazz yesterday, and again, I was very pleasantly surprised at how well the book still reads, roughly nineteen years after release, and again–I really did do a great job with the characters. I am writing an entry about it, of course, and then started skim-rereading Mardi Gras Mambo, too. I really wish I could remember what the plot was in the first two failed attempts to write the book, but maybe it’ll come to me while I skim reread, but I rather doubt it; I forgot those original plots years ago. I am glad that reader asked me about the Scotty books, though. I had figured I’d talked about them often enough that Constant Reader didn’t really need me to write the backstories behind the books in this series, but I am having the most wonderful time revisiting the books and remembering the process that produced each one. And these first three are so far back in my distant past that it’s almost like reading new-to-me books; I always wondered if my own work would ever get to that point, and clearly, they have done so. I’m not sure how to feel about it, but I imagine Philip Roth didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about his first couple of books, nor did Agatha Christie, Ellery Queen, or Erle Stanley Gardner. (Not that I put myself up there with those greats of crime fiction, but you know what I mean.) We write books and we move on from them to write other books, and the farther in the past those old titles get, the more distance I feel from them and the less I remember about them, which makes them much easier to read (at least for me).

And it’s really helping me get back inside Scotty’s brain and his voice, too. Always a bonus, you know?

Today I am going to take it easy but still get things done. I need to write–which I’ve done woefully little of this weekend–and I also need to overhaul the first three chapters of this book before I can move on with it, which should be taken care of today. (I started to do it yesterday but…Coco Grauff was playing!) I also have some other things to get done today–maybe I should make a list of what all I want to get done today; can’t hurt–including making my packing list for the trip (I checked the weather; I think I can get away with taking a sweat jacket with me rather than a coat; every night it’s supposed to dip into the 60’s, which, as we all know, is the dead of winter to me) and some other loose odds and ends. And the skim-rereading of my books is at least getting me to read again–just wait till Wednesday afternoon at the airport though; I’ll be tearing through that Gabino Iglesias novel like it’s going out of style. I don’t think I’ll finish reading the Iglesias, the King, and the Andrews on the trip, but I am taking a book in reserve just in case–A Walk on the Wild Side by Nelson Algren. I also need to prep myself for reading only horror in October, the way I do every year; I know there are some Paul Tremblay and Stephen King and Christopher Golden and some other great horror novels sitting there waiting in my TBR Piles. There’s also some great short stories I should read, too. I am sitting on a Daphne du Maurier novella–“A Border-line Case”–and maybe I should spend some time today reading that?

I do love me some du Maurier (reminder to self: reread My Cousin Rachel).

So, we’re basically sitting on today and tomorrow as interim days. I think the house is in good enough shape as is for us to leave without doing some more cleaning, but I always do some cleaning while I am writing. There’s a load of dishes that need doing, and some other picking up and things needing to be put away, but that’s always the case, isn’t it?

And on that note, I am going to make a to-do list, finish those dishes, and head into the spice mines. Have a lovely Labor Day, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again later.

7

Breath of Life

I cannot imagine what it must be like to be a parent.

I’ve never wanted kids; even when I was a kid I never wanted to have any. I grew up kind of thinking that at some point I was going to have to have some–my parents still are enormously disappointed that I chose not to parent; just another note at the end of the long list of disappointments I’ve provided for them. It’s not that I don’t like kids; I generally do, and kids like me. It’s the enormous responsibility that always terrified me–the loss of sleep, the endless worrying about money, and so forth. As I’ve gotten older, and have been looking at life from the perspective more of the older parent rather than that of a child…if anything, I’ve become even more certain I shouldn’t be a parent. I am not the best parent in the world to the cats we’ve had, and there’s the matter of that temper I try to keep under control but frustration and irritation–particularly when I am tired–tend to always bring it out in me.

I would be a terrible parent, and have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for anyone who takes on that incredible journey and all of its responsibility.

The weird thing is that I get very emotionally invested in books where parents have a child in danger.

Disappearance at Devil’s Rock is a child-in-danger narrative, and it’s a really good one.

Elizabeth is not dreaming. There’s a ringing sound coming from far away, from somewhere else in the house, not the ringing of actual bells but the digital trill of the landline phone. The phone is cordless, cheap, neglected, often left uncharged and to be found, more times than not, wedged beneath the couch cushions alongside pistachio shells, pens, and hair elastics. Elizabeth actively despises the landline;s inefficiency in regard to their everyday lives. The only calls the phone receives are credit card offers, scam vacation prizes, charities and fringe political groups looking for money, and the occasional mass recorded message from the town of Ames broadcasting the closing of school during snowstorms.

When the kids were little, Elizabeth wanted to keep the landline so that they’d be able to dial 911 should “anything bad happen.” That was the phrase she used with her moon-eyed munchkins as she flailed at describing the nebulous and exciting emergency protocol of the Sanderson household. Fast-forward past those early years, which were harder than she would ever admit, and all three Sandersons have smartphones. There’s really no need for the landline anymore. It survives because it is inexplicably cheaper for her to keep hthe phone bundled with her cable and Internet. It’s maddening.

There’s a ringing sound coming from far away, from elsewhere in the house, and not from the cell phone under her pillow. Elizabeth fell asleep waiting for the Star Trek phaser tone that announces a text from her thirteen-going-on-fourteen-year-old son Tommy. A simple text is a nonnegotiable part of the deal when sleeping over at someone else’s house, even Josh’s. She has already seen an evolution, or devolution, of communication from Tommy over the course of the summer reflected in his sleepover texts: In mid-June ut was I’m going to bed now mom, which a few weeks later became night mom, then became night, and then gn, and if Tommy could’ve texted an irritated grunt (his subverbal communication method of the moment, particularly whenever Elizabeth or his eleven-going-on-twelve-year-old sister, Kate, asked him to do something), he would’ve. And now in mid-August, the exact date having changed to August 16 only a collection of minutes ago, there’s no text at all.

(She’s not wrong. We have the same situation with the landline–it’s cheaper to have it bundled with Internet, which makes no sense to me, but I solved the issue by simply throwing the cheap phone away. I may have to have it to get cheaper Internet, but a phone hasn’t been plugged into the landline jack since, oh, around 2014.)

It’s not a spoiler, for the record, to let you know Tommy is missing.

Spending the night over at his best friend Josh’s with the third part of their trio, Luis, the boys sneak some beer and slip into the state park that abuts their town. While hanging out at Split Rock (which the boys call Devil’s Rock), Tommy runs off into the woods and disappears. Josh and Luis frantically search for him, finally give up, and come home….which is when Elizabeth’s nightmare begins.

Later, when she goes to her bedroom, Elizabeth sees a shadow between her armchair and the side table in her bedroom–a shadow that looks like Tommy, but not quite just like Tommy. She then gets a sense that Tommy won’t be coming home, that he is actually dead; much as she doesn’t want to believe it…but strange things are happening all over the town. People are reporting weird shadows peeping into their windows or sneaking through their yards late at night; a satanic panic is starting, and through it all Elizabeth has to hold it together, not just for her own sake, but for her daughter Kate’s….

…and then pages from Tommy’s diary mysteriously start appearing on the carpet in their living room overnight.

The suspense in the book is almost unbearable; I couldn’t put it down once the engine started chugging, but the true strength of the book lies in Tremblay’s gift for creating fully realized characters; all of them, even those who only appear in a scene or two, are completely believable, like people you actually know, and his gift for language usage, sentence and paragraph construction, is exceptional. And as the diary pages slowly begin to reveal the truth about what happened to Tommy…it’s impossible to stop reading, Impossible.

I cannot wait to read another one of his books. I’ve loved the three I’ve read, and now need to read the entire backlist.

Run to the Sun

Monday morning, huzzah.

It was a good weekend, really, overall; I’m just inevitably always sad when Monday morning rolls around and that horrible six am alarm goes off, ripping me out of the comfortably deep sleep I generally finally achieve shortly before it’s time to get up. I don’t think I will ever live long enough to reach the point where the alarm won’t annoy the fuck out of me every morning, or that I won’t resent having to get up to one. Alarms are my bête noire, I suppose, and always will be.

I did manage to get through the edits of the first two-thirds of #shedeservedit this weekend; I’m still waiting for the final third to look over, and then next step will be the page proofs. As I reread the book, it’s much better than I remembered it being–in all honesty, I know I am my own harshest critic, and all I see whenever I go over something I’ve written is all the flaws rather than what is good about it; I really wish I hadn’t been trained from earliest childhood to be so hyper-critical of myself and everything I do because it is incredibly difficult to shake that training as an adult, you know? But Bury Me in Shadows is getting a pretty decent reception, as best I can tell, and that makes me really happy. I think both books actually might be my best work to date, which isn’t (ah, the joys of self-loathing!) saying an awful lot. But it’s nice to have a book out in the world that I am actually proud of, and another one coming along shortly thereafter that, when I am going over the edits, I think to myself this is actually really good.

We spent most of yesterday watching Skate America, followed up by the world men’s gymnastics finals for the all around and then event finals; we eventually gave up to watch the most recent episode of The Morning Show, whose story this season has really taken a turn we didn’t see coming. I also like how they chose to time this season–in the time leading up to the pandemic, so even watching as the pandemic begins and starts spreading throughout the world slowly (and isn’t really seen as anything to be concerned about) as well as everything else that was going on at that time…my God, 2020 was a chaotic year, wasn’t it? 2021 doesn’t seem to be a whole lot better, in all honesty; it’s kind of been a shit show of a year, too, really; every year of the last decade was kind of a shit show, to be honest, and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to turn around any time soon (Paul and I often grimly joke to each other after watching the news, “well, at least we’re old and don’t have children”–grim to be sure, but also 100% accurate.

I finished reading Paul Tremblay’s marvelous Disappearance at Devil’s Rock yesterday; after a slow start, it took off like a train afire and I couldn’t really put it down. I do think Mr. Tremblay (this is the third novel of his I’ve read) may be one of our best writers currently publishing; I’ve loved everything I’ve read that he’s written. I think I only have one more of his books, and it’s an ebook edition at that, of Survivor Song; and I think before he switched over into paranormal stuff he wrote crime fiction; I could be wrong, but I am definitely going to be going back and rereading his back list when I can. I am going to read Scott Carson’s The Chill next, for one last shot at Halloween Horror; I cannot believe Halloween is this coming Sunday, and suddenly it’s November, you know? Crazy ass shit, the way this year has flown by (2020 seemed to last decades; this year seems to be flying past…but then again, January seems like a million years ago, doesn’t it? So it looks like I will only have two horror novels read for the Halloween season, which is enormously disappointing, but seriously, isn’t almost everything these days? Anyway, the book was fantastic and will get its own entry at some point this week.

I have a lot to get done this week, as always, but at least I am not feeling tired this morning. I also think the procedure last week might have actually lost some more weight for me? It’s not surprising, really, giving the “purging” aspects of the preparatory stuff I had to do. (I just checked and yes, I lost about seven pounds–not a recommendation for that as a weight-loss option, however) I’ve not been to the gym in over a week now–I didn’t go the weekend before the procedure, and I certainly didn’t go this past week or weekend–so I need to be getting my ass back in there. I’ll be traveling a bit in November–the New York/Boston trip, with a later drive to Kentucky for Thanksgiving)–which is going to make keeping up with the training harder, but I will get back on track, goddamnit. I am not going to go months without working out again, unless something terrible happens to prevent me from doing so.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. I will check in with you again tomorrow, Constant Reader.

Stop!

It’s Sunday morning in the Lost Apartment and slept relatively well again, if a bit late; my body clock is now all messed up and tomorrow morning’s waking up at the crack of dawn is going to be harder than usual.

Not that it’s ever easy, frankly.

LSU played terribly yesterday and lost, as expected, to Mississippi 31-17 (first loss to them after five straight wins) but I managed to finish reading Not All Diamonds and Rosé while it was on, and also read some more in Disappearance at Devil’s Rock, which is, as all books by Paul Tremblay, very well done–but I am not deep enough into it to have an idea of what’s going on. It focuses on the disappearance of a thirteen-year-old from a state park outside of Boston; it opens with his family–along with everyone else in the community–finding out he is missing and dealing with the emotions and fears that come along with a kid gone missing; but something out of the ordinary has already happened (no spoilers, sorry) which means there’s more to this than just your average child gone missing story.

Which, given it’s written by Paul Tremblay, was always going to be the case in the first place.

After the LSU game, we spent the rest of the evening watching Skate America; we used to be (still are) big figure skating fans, but the Internet and so forth has kind of ruined figure skating, really–when you know what the results are before the competition airs, it’s not nearly as exciting or suspenseful; so the only way to recapture the way it used to feel to watch something pre-recorded is now to watch live, which Peacock (NBC’s streaming service) does now provide. (I also think the new scoring system has a lot to do with it as well. Sure, the old 6.0 system had serious flaws and corruption in its judging, but I am not convinced that corruption still isn’t there and now the scoring system is so mysterious and complicated that it’s almost impossible to tell anymore if anything untoward is going on. The great irony is the scoring change, claiming to be more fair and to rule out bias, simply made it harder for viewers to see it for themselves.) There’s also tension brewing in the ISU this year as well, as a Russian judge and coach has made horrifically homophobic comments about French ice dancer Guillaume Cizeron (who came out last year) and his partner Gabrielle Papadakis. They have a silver Olympic medal (it would have been gold had Papadakis not suffered a costume malfunction in the original dance) and are three time world champions. It was an obvious attempt to smear them in an Olympic year and potentially influence future judging pools at upcoming events, only making it all the more disgusting….particularly since Russia couldn’t even officially compete at the last summer Olympics because of widespread doping and cheating. This piece of shit Russian essentially said that since Cizeron is gay they cannot “convincingly portray romance” the way the top Russian team can; to that I say, “hey, you homophobic needle-dicked piece of shit, if you want to see a gay man convincingly play a romantic lead, watch Pillow Talk some time and tell me Rock Hudson didn’t deserve an Oscar. And by the way, go fuck yourself and drink bleach.”

I am so fucking sick of this shit. Seriously.

I did manage to get some things done yesterday, but I am still looking for my old journals. I cannot for the life of me remember where I stored them; I know sometime over the past few years I found them in a box, but now I don’t remember what I did with them. It seems unlikely I would have simply shoved them into another box and stored them somewhere; but I can’t seem to locate them anywhere inside the apartment, which makes it appear that must be what I did with them. Generally I don’t go back and read my old journals very often–I don’t really like to see how much of a mess I used to be, written down plainly in ink on paper–but I kind of need to because I am writing a novella set in the summer of 1994 and I kind of need to go back and see what I recorded back then about music and pop culture and so forth. One of the hardest things about doing research on gay life in the past is so much of it is hidden, or wasn’t recorded anywhere, really–like there’s no listings anywhere on the Internet of “what dance songs were popular in gay dance clubs in 1994?” and my memory banks simply are not substantial enough anymore for me to summon those answers up out of the muck and mush my brain is slowly turning into as I age. That summer I went out dancing a lot, but I honestly don’t remember anything much about the music other than there were a couple of Pet Shop Boys songs that were really popular that summer–“Go West” and “I Wouldn’t Normally Do This Kind of Thing”, and Erasure had a great remix of their song “Always”, but beyond that I have no memory of much.

Today I am debating as to whether I actually want to go run errands; making groceries is kind of necessary but I really have no desire to leave the house and go out in public. There’s not a Saints game today–they’re on Monday Night Football this week–and next weekend is LSU’s bye week, so I don’t really need to spend Saturday watching football (despite it being the weekend of Georgia-Florida and Auburn-Mississippi), so here’s hoping I can get some serious writing done today and this coming weekend. Stranger things have happened..and I am definitely running out of time to get this book written, which is incredibly stressful for me, as always. Heavy heaving sigh.

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