Babe

Saturday morning and no LSU game today–kind of a relief, really; I imagine watching us play Alabama this season would be kind of painful and awful, to be honest. I am going to go make groceries and pick up the mail later on–and then I am hopefully going to write and work the rest of the day. The Saints are playing tomorrow, so that’ll take up the late part of the afternoon, so I will be going to the gym in the morning and then heading home to write, read, and clean some before the Saints game starts.

Yesterday was nice. I can’t say why yet, but it started off very nicely and continued in that same vein for the rest of the day. It was a gorgeous day, and I took some time off in the early afternoon to go to the gym and go to Garden District Books to get my next journal–the current one isn’t finished yet, but I like to get the next one ahead of time–and it was just stunningly beautiful in New Orleans yesterday, stunningly beautiful; sunny and low 70’s and blue skies everywhere you looked when you looked up. I am still behind on everything–what else is new?–but am hopeful things will start turning around sooner than later. The Lost Apartment is starting to look much better–neater, cleaner, better organized–which is a lovely, absolutely lovely thing, and that is helping me to get better and more organized with everything else, which is also lovely.

It is a beginning, which is a very lovely place to start.

It looks to be another beautiful late fall day here in New Orleans–gorgeous sky and lots. of sunlight; I have my laptop turned to the side and my chair pulled over to the side of my desk, like I had to do yesterday–and while I do have to get the mail and make groceries at some point today, the lack of an LSU game today and the total lack of care about any other games being played today has opened up my entire day for me, which is absolutely lovely. I’m afraid to think that this year has begun to turn around somewhat–the pandemic’s second wave is still rising after all–but hope has returned.

We watched The Mandalorian last night, and yesterday I was kind of amused to see there was a backlash of sorts to last week’s episode, in which The Child was eating the eggs of the Frog Lady–the eggs she was hoping to get to her husband to fertilize else they would be the last of their line (there seems to be some confusion as to whether it was the end of their race or the end of her family line; I took what she said to mean family line, not race)–and honestly, people need to get a fucking life. It’s a fucking television show, for one thing, and it depicts things that happened “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.” Aren’t there enough genuine problems confronting us to be concerned about rather than what happens on a science fiction/western hybrid television program? We’re still enjoying the show, and apparently The Child became attached to the babies as they hatched, which was a nice coda to that story. But it also remains one of the best Star Wars universe tales, and as I said before, they should have ditched the Skywalker saga and moved on to other tales from the same universe.

We also watched another episode of Mr. Mercedes, which continues to enthrall and hold our attention. I didn’t give near enough credit to the actors playing the Hartsfields: Harry Treadaway (best known as Dr. Frankenstein from Penny Dreadful) as the psychotic killer known as Mr. Mercedes, and Kelly Lynch as his mother, with whom he has a disturbingly incestuously close relationship with–both are killing it, as is Jharrel Jerome as Jerome. This show is really well done–one of the best King adaptations I’ve seen–although I do wish Cynthia Erivo was playing Holly in this, as she did in The Outsider. Holly Gibney is one of my favorite King characters; and while she hasn’t appeared yet in this show, I am really looking forward to seeing Justine Lupe’s interpretation of the role. Brendan Gleeson is also perfect as Bill–I’m not sure why they decided to go with making him Irish, to fit the actor, but it’s working. I also couldn’t help but think what a great role this would have been for Ed Asner or Ernest Borgnine or Carroll O’Connor or Burl Ives. I also don’t know why this show didn’t really get much attention, unless it was because it was on a lesser streaming service. Here’s hoping it being on Peacock will help it find a bigger audience. It is so well done, and Dennis Lehane wrote last night’s episode!

Ironically, I’d been thinking about Stephen King a lot lately–the Halloween Horror thing, along with the rewatches of Carrie and Christine–and while I am probably not as rabid a fan of his as I was for a very long time (I no longer buy the book on release day and everything in my life comes to a screeching halt while I devour the book) I am still a fan. The Hodges trilogy is King in top form, and so was Joyland, his paperback original for Hard Case Crime. I’ve never finished The Dark Tower, primarily because so many years passed between The Waste Lands and Song of Susannah that I lost the thread of the story and realized I’d be better off rereading the entire thing; I thus decided to wait until the series was finished and then go back and read it all the way through. Surprise! I haven’t done that yet, and there are still some volumes of his that I have yet to read (Doctor Sleep, 11/22/63, The Outsider, The Institute, If It Bleeds) which would have never happened back in the day. I enjoyed all of King’s earlier work–I never reread Pet Sematary or Cujo, primarily because they were too disturbing, which I understand now; a recent reread of Pet Sematary made me very aware of how actually brilliant it is–and reread them constantly; The Stand is one of my all-time favorite novels, and of course so many of the others are equally brilliant. The Tommyknockers was the first book of his I actively disliked, and believed the entire first third of the book could have easily been cut out. And while the books that followed were either hit or miss for me–more hits than misses–I can honestly say that Dreamcatcher was one of the worst things I’ve ever read. I absolutely hated that book, hated everything about it, and even the characters—usually a major strength of his–weren’t memorable or overly likable. One thing King does that he doesn’t nearly get enough credit for is writing about working class people, and how the grind of poverty, or the fear of lapsing into it–drives and hardens people.

Ironically, I saw a thread yesterday on social media where some writers were taking a whack at King, since King has been on my mind so much lately these days. I am constantly amazed at how many pseudo-intellectual writers always smugly assert their own dismissive opinions of King–when I’ve never heard of them, probably will never hear of them again, and kind of don’t want to ever hear about them again. I strongly disapprove of writers trashing other writers (although hypocritically I am down with it if it’s Stephenie Meyer or E. L. James) and books–which is why I stopped being a paid reviewer years ago–and sure, it’s easy to take potshots at writers who’ve become brands, like King (and Anne Rice and John Grisham and Dean Koontz and numerous others), but I always like to remember that those brand name authors sell huge amounts of books, which keeps publishers in the black and enables them to take chances with other authors who might not be as marketable or salable.

I slept really well last night also, which was absolutely lovely. I feel very well rested, and looking forward to my fourth week of working out, which begins tomorrow morning. I really am hoping to get a lot done this weekend. Wish me luck as I head back into the spice mines!

Faded Love

I’ve always enjoyed romantic suspense, especially if it leaned really hard into the suspense aspect of the sub-genre. This sub-genre was enormously popular in the mid-to-late twentieth century; with authors like Dorothy Eden and Phyllis A. Whitney and Susan Howatch, among many others, scoring a number of successes with their books and even becoming international bestsellers. The sub-genre was so popular, in fact, that other female writers–who technically didn’t write romantic suspense–were often marketed as such, with the same styles of cover and fonts and cover design; often covers featuring a cover featuring a wind-swept beautiful young woman with long-flowing hair and a long gown, usually in the foreground with an enormous, spooky, brooding house/castle/mansion in the background with a solitary window lit up and the woman almost inevitably had a look of fear on her face. (I’ve always thought of them as girl running away from lighted window covers.)

But Victoria Holt was different from the others. Her books were varied, and while there were certainly tropes she followed, she often toyed with them in ways that were always clever and smart and original. Sometimes she followed the Jane Eyre style; in which the first third of the book is the main character’s history and how she wound up “running away from the lighted window”; sometimes she just inserted you right into the midst of the story as it developed….and once the mystery/suspense kicked into gear, it was impossible to stop reading.

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I met Gabriel and Friday on the same day, and strangely enough I lost them together; so that thereafter I was never able to think about one without the other. The fact that my life became a part of theirs is, in a way, an indication of my character, because they both began by arousing some protective instinct in me; all my life up to that time I had been protecting myself and I think I felt gratified to find others in need of protection. I had never before had a lover, never before had a dog; and, when these two appeared, it was natural enough that I should welcome them.

I remember the day perfectly. It was spring, and there was a fresh wind blowing over the moors. I had ridden away from Glen House after luncheon ad I could at this time leave the house without a feeling that I had escaped. This feeling had been with me since I returned home from my school in Dijon; perhaps it had always been there, but a young woman senses these emotions more readily than a child.

My home was a somber place. How could it be otherwise when it was dominated by someone who was no longer there. I decided during the first days of my return that I would never live in the past. No matter what happened to me, when it was over I should not look back. Early in life–I was nineteen at this time–I had learned an important lesson. I determined to live in the present–the past forgotten, the future left to unfold itself.

Kirkland Revels  was the second novel British writer Eleanor Hibbert wrote under the name Victoria Holt; she used, over the course of her incredibly prolific career (using a manual typewriter for most of it) many different pseudonyms, including Jean Plaidy (historical fiction focusing on royalty; fictionalizing the lives of kings and queens and the mistresses of kings) and Philippa Carr (historical romantic suspense novels, all linked by the concept that each novel featured the daughter of the main character in the preceding novel, beginning with The Miracle at St. Bruno’s). The first Holt novel, Mistress of Mellyn, launched the Victoria Holt name quite successfully; she wrote numerous bestsellers under that name for decades. The first Holt novel I read was The Secret Woman, a novel I still remember fondly because its plot was so complicated and the mystery essentially unsolvable–the twist at the end caught me completely by surprise. Holt often did this with the mystery/suspense side of her novels–tightly plotted, and just as many twists and turns as any other suspense novel. (Although one of my personal favorites, On the Night of the Seventh Moon, has about as original–and far-fetched–a plot as anyone could have ever dreamed up; I’m still surprised, all these years later, her agent and publisher went with it.)

Kirkland Revels was unique for its sub-genre in that the heroine, Catherine, spent the entire suspense part of the book pregnant. The first half of the book details Catherine’s background and sets up the suspense half of the novel; she’s come home from a boarding school in France, her home is empty and strange, haunted by the absence of a dead mother and an absent-minded, rarely present father when she meets Gabriel Rockwell on the moors and also finds a stray dog. She and Gabriel have a whirlwind romance, they wed, and he brings her home to meet his family in the brooding mansion, Kirkland Revels–which is located near the ruins of an old abbey, whose stones were used to build the mansion and is supposedly haunted by a monk. But her time in this strange house is limited when Gabriel falls from a balcony to his death and the dog also disappears; she returns to her home as a young widow…only to discover she is actually pregnant from her brief marriage, and returns to the Rockwell manse as her child, if a boy, will inherit everything.

And soon, things take a turn to the dark side:

One prospective master of the Revels had died violently; was something being plotted against another?

That was the beginning of my period of terror.

Catherine soon finds out that her mother isn’t actually dead, but completely insane and locked away in a mental hospital; her father tried to shield her from this knowledge, and Catherine herself isn’t so sure of her own sanity as weird things continue to happen to her at the Revels. Is she imagining things? Is she really seeing the ghostly monk or is her grip on sanity slipping, the same way her mother’s did? (It was widely believed in the past that madness, or insanity, was inherited; the prospect of inherited insanity drove the plots of several of Holt’s books set in the past.) Holt was really good at building suspense and tension; all of her books read quickly, despite the old-fashioned, formal style in which she wrote them.

Kirkland Revels was never one of my favorite Holt novels, and I rarely, if ever, reread it when I was younger–I used to reread favorites over and over again–but now, as an adult, I realize that the reason the book wasn’t a favorite was the notion of a pregnant heroine in danger, the danger growing as she grew closer to term, made me uncomfortable; much the way Pet Sematary by Stephen King disturbed me so much I never reread it until recently. I’m glad I gave Kirkland Revels a reread; it’s actually quite well done–and while later Holt heroines might have been mothers (hell, the heroine of The House of a Thousand Lanterns was not only a mother but was on her THIRD marriage in that book!), they were never again pregnant throughout the suspense portion of the book.

Definitely worth a look, Constant Reader.

Biggest Part of Me

WHO DAT! GEAUX SAINTS!

The temperature took a dramatic nosedive last night. It’s about forty degrees and gray in New Orleans this morning…but the city is full of nervous energy. The NFC Championship game is today, with our Saints taking on the Los Angeles Rams for a chance to go to the Super Bowl.

WHO DAT!

I slept well last night, which was absolutely lovely. I also allowed myself to go back to sleep after I woke up at just before seven; the bed felt comfortable and warm, and I managed to fall back to sleep for a bit before I finally got up.

I am glad I took the time to reread Pet Sematary, a book of Stephen King’s I didn’t care for on the first read, and had never reread. I understand the book a lot better, as I said, as a fifty-eight year old than I did when I was twenty-two. Mortality and death are difficult things to deal with, particularly when you’re younger; despite reading a lot of crime novels and horror I was clearly not emotionally equipped at that age to deal with these kinds of questions; this was one of those books where, almost every step along the way, I was pleading with Louis, the main character, don’t do this don’t do this are you crazy don’t do this you know this won’t end well. And Louis continued making those bad, wrong decisions…the book is an epic masterpiece, almost a Greek tragedy, about hubris, life, death, and loss. Incredibly well-constructed, and the characters are so perfectly delineated with so many little truths imbedded in them that you can’t help but care about them and what happens to them.

Now I’m wondering if I should reread other Kings I didn’t like on first read, like The Tommyknockers and Dreamcatcher. I still have others of his I haven’t read yet, like The Outsider, 11/22/63, Bronco Billy, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, Black House, and Doctor Sleep, so maybe I should just go on and finish reading the other Kings I have on hand.

But next up for my reading is something for The Diversity Project–a queer y/a by Caleb Roehrig–and after that, I think I’m going to move on to either Walter Mosley’s Devil in a Blue Dress or Kellye Garrett’s Hollywood Homicide or something by Chester Himes. I am also moderating a panel at the Tennessee Williams Festival and so will have some reading homework for that as well.

Before the game today I am going to do some straightening up around here and I am going to try to do some writing–put this nervous energy to good use. And of course, tomorrow I have the holiday off (yay for three day weekends!) and am hoping I’ll be able to get a lot of writing done then as well.

One can hope, at any rate.

We also started watching a new show last night on Netflix, Sex Education, which is actually quite charming. I think it’s a British show, and Gillian Anderson plays the main character’s mother, a sex and relationship therapist, which is rather challenging for her son, a sixteen year old virgin with his own sexual issues. But he makes a new friend, Maeve, the class bad girl from the wrong side of the tracks, and they start a business–where he gives relationship and sex advice to other students with issues. The relationships between the characters are refreshingly real and honest, the show also dabbles a bit in class and gender issues, and over all, it’s quite charming and funny. I do recommend it–we watched almost all of it last night, and will probably polish off the final two episodes tonight after the game.

And now back to the spice mines.

GEAUX SAINTS!

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This Is It

I slept rather late this morning, did I not? It was a very good night’s sleep and I feel terrifically rested now. Which is a good thing, as I am braving the wilds of Costco later this morning (AIEEEE!). The objective is to get as many errands as possible done today, and to remain focused on my goals. The house is pretty well cleaned and organized; I just need to do the floors today and it’ll be good to go. The weather is also supposed to be peculiar today; from a high of seventy around noon to be followed by a nasty storm with high winds, after which the temperature is going to take a severe forty degree drop. #madness

You have to love the bipolar weather of January in New Orleans.

I watched another episode of Titans last night, the one in which we meet the Doom Patrol, and I have to say the show is really well done. The pacing is excellent; the hour (or forty-two minutes, or however long it is) flies past and the credits roll before you know it. The cast is young and attractive, and has the charisma or acting skills or a combination of the two to pull off their roles convincingly. As I said the other day, introducing a show about a team is never easy, as you have so many characters with back story that has to be told and/or explained. It’s incredibly easy to get bogged down in back story, but the writing of the show integrates the character back stories into the current story seamlessly. I am very impressed. I also watched another episode of Riverdale, and apparently missed one along the way somehow–or just didn’t remember it, but how would I not remember the appearance of Gina Gershon?–but it was fine. The show is kind of a train wreck, to be honestand yet I find myself being pulled back to it like a moth to a flame.

I also read a bit more of Pet Sematary last night; and now that the reader knows where the story is going–yes, Louis is crazed with grief and anger, not in his right mind, surely he isn’t going to dig up Gage and take him to the Micmac Burying Ground, is he? Oh yes he certainly is!–it seems as though the train wreck of the Creed family tragedy King is writing is well on its way down the tracks. The book’s pacing also picks up dramatically along the way; the more I reread the more I am convinced that the book is actually an under-appreciated masterpiece (at least one that I didn’t fully appreciate), and I am glad I am rereading it. As much as the book disturbs me, I cannot imagine what it would be like to read as a parent. I hope to finish reading it today, and move on to the first book of the Diversity Project.

I also spent some time reorganizing and cleaning out some of my kitchen cupboards yesterday; throwing away things that have been stored in there uselessly for years; there was even a bottle of salad dressing with a 2017 sell-by date on it, and now there’s more room in the cupboards. I also need to go through the cupboards with the dishes and so forth; I’ve just been cramming stuff in there when taking them out of the dishwasher and not really trying to organize the mess very much. I am also going to do another round of purging with the book cases.

A very ambitious plan for the first day of this three-day weekend, is it not?

I also need to run by Office Depot at some point this weekend, too.

And on that note, it’s time for me to dive back into the spice mines. Keep your fingers crossed for me, Constant Reader, that I’ll have the energy and motivation to get everything done that I need to get done today.

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With You I’m Born Again

Thursday night of one of my half-days, and I am waiting for Paul to get home. I am in the process of making dinner. I have already done a load of laundry, there’s another in the dryer right now with another in the washer just waiting its turn to tumble dry. There’s a clean load of dishes in the dishwasher. I am also preparing a lot of things I need to mail out when I go to the post office on Saturday. I’ve cleaned the kitchen counters off and done some things in the living room.

I reread the first five chapters of the Scotty today, and I’ve not been able to stop thinking about them–and by further extension, the rest of the manuscript as I’ve read it this week. I really hate these five opening chapters, hate them. They drag, they don’t make sense, and while there are certainly other moments later in the manuscript where my tendency to have the characters sit around and talk through what’s going on (or have Scotty walking/driving/doing something and trying to think things through), which quite naturally brings the story, pacing and narrative to a complete and utter screeching halt, there are a lot more of those things in the first five chapters (and the prologue) than there are in the entire rest of the manuscript.  SO much explaining.  A lot of trimming and revision; and I was absolutely correct that the opening scene of Chapter One had to be trashed and completely redone. But at the same time, I am feeling quite up to this task, and am kind of excited about it, to be honest.

I also had an epiphany about my reread of Pet Sematary today. I realized that the reason the book was so hard for me when I read it that first time when I was twenty three was because I didn’t really understand grief at the time; I was well acquainted with misery and despair and hopelessness at that age, but I didn’t even have a passing acquaintance with grief yet. At almost fifty-eight, my perspective is a lot different. Being confronted with such an incredibly powerful depiction of almost unknowable grief made me deeply uncomfortable, made me squirm. The Creed grief is so profound, so powerful, so overwhelming–what pain could be greater than the death of your child, particularly as toddler?–that I recoiled away from it, turned my back on it as if to say no, I don’t want to know this and will never know this. 

But that’s absurd, of course.

Rereading the book now, I can see that it’s actually a masterpiece, a tour-de-force. King makes us take a long, hard look at death itself, the greatest fear we all collectively share. Death, as he says in the pages of this exceptional book, is the one thing we never talk about, that we don’t learn how to react to, that we can’t learn how to react to, how to behave, what is the right thing to say to someone who is  grieving so deeply, so strongly, so powerfully? We shake our heads and click our tongues to each other and murmur sympathetic things that are just trite words in the face of the monumental grief. There are few books–at least that I’ve read–that deal so starkly with death and what it means, how we all feel about it, what we think about it, and how we deal with it.

The section of the book called “The Micmac Burial Ground” opens with one of the most astonishing emotional gut-punches I’ve ever read in a book; so horrific and shocking is the death of two-year-old Gage Creed that King foreshadowed it in the closing pages of the previous section, openly telling us that Gage is going to die in six weeks…but he doesn’t tell us how.

How Gage dies, how it happens, is so terrible that not knowing going into this section that Gage is going to die would make it too awful. I would have probably stopped reading the book thirty-five years ago had that been the case. That his entire family saw it happen, tried to stop it from happening, and all failed…my God in heaven. The guilt and the grief!

Crippling.

I mean, wow.

It’s now Friday morning, and I am up early to head over to the West Bank to my car dealer for some routine maintenance on the car. I slept pretty well last night, all things considered, and now am on the cusp of a three day weekend, during which I want to get a lot of writing and editing done; and possibly put the finishing touches on some other projects I am working on in the meantime. It would be lovely going into next week with all of these things completed; we shall see how it goes, shan’t we?

Heavy heaving sigh.

And on that note, I should get back to the spice mines.

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Shining Star

Well, good morning, Thursday, how do you do? I’m a bit giddy, as I always am after working thirty-two hours in three days. I am in the home stretch of the week with my short days, and a three day weekend! Huzzah! Huzzah!

I can’t wait to sleep in. I also love days when I don’t have to go outside at all, other than perhaps walking to the gym or Walgreens or taking out the garbage. And as the Scotty work is going so well–I have only chapters one through five left to go over again, and then I can start inputting the changes and making the necessary corrections, and I need to finish rewriting the opening and I need to write the afterward–it also serves as a boon to my mood. I am really itching to be done with this, and I am so glad I took my time with this manuscript. I think it’s going to be one of the better Scottys, if I pull off everything I’m trying to do, and I have to say, it’s lovely to feel ambitious with a Scotty book. I think that was why the Chanse series felt like it was running down to me; I didn’t really feel particularly ambitious for the series and the character anymore. It’s been nice writing short stories about Chanse; “My Brother’s Keeper” in Survivor’s Guilt and Other Stories is my first Chanse short story and it’s also my first-ever private eye short story. I’m feeling kind of excited about writing private eye stories–I wrote one for another anthology (not a Chanse, alas) and I really want to get back to the other Chanse story I started, “Once a Tiger.” I never thought I’d be able to write private eye stories, and now I feel confident enough to try writing them. I am feeling ambitious with my short story writing, and that’s also a really good feeling. I think I am getting better at it, and am starting to understand them better, if that makes any sense. I also spent some time over the last few days rereading some of my stories critically–“The Problem with Autofill” and “The Snow Globe”–and I think I know how to fix them. I am going to do the same with “Moves in the Field” and “Burning Crosses” over the next couple of days.

I’ve reached the point in my reread of Pet Sematary where the book starts to take off with its story; Louis is home alone at Thanksgiving while the family visits Rachel’s wealthy parents in Chicago (some back story of the bad blood between Louis and her parents is also established here), and of course, Ellie’s beloved cat Church is killed by a passing car on the road. Naturally, Louis doesn’t know how he’s going to deal with both Rachel (who has a very well-established death phobia) and his daughter, who is sure to be devastated and heartbroken. Father figure from across the road Jud, however, comes to his rescue, and later that evening, takes Louis and Church beyond the deadfall (which the ghost of Victor Pascow already warned him against crossing) and the pet sematary and into the woods and the swamp beyond, to the Micmac burying ground…and of course, Church comes back. Different, but back.

As I read this section of the book (of course, Ellie comes home and knows Church is different–so different she really doesn’t want anything to do with him; echoing Jud’s comment “sometimes dead is better”) I began to remember some of the issues I had with the book on first read. Namely, almost every step of the way the book and story has the problem that is probably best encapsulated as why would you do this? Like in horror movies, the group being hunted by the killer always splits up, or the girls always wear heels before running in the forest, etc. Louis is incredibly passive when it comes to the Micmac burying ground visit with the cat’s corpse; never once does he ever stop to question what he’s doing or to ask Jud why they are going so deep in the forest, or why he isn’t simply burying the cat in the regular pet cemetery. And when Church comes back…I don’t know; he seems to take the resurrection of the cat much easier than you’d think a doctor would. And of course when he asks Jud, after Church returns, if anyone’s ever buried a human up there…well, you just know at that point that someone is inevitably going to be buried up there; it’s simply a matter of who, and what’s going to happen when that person returns. I know if, for example, my own cat returned from the dead I’d freak out a whole lot more than he did.

But I am enjoying the book a lot more this time around; it reads very quickly and easily, and the Creed family are immensely likable.

I didn’t watch another episode of Titans last night, instead getting sucked into the Australian Open, which will undoubtedly happen more and more as the tournament goes on. (But I am looking forward to watching one when I get home; it’s an early day for me and I do have some cleaning to do, but I am definitely penciling in both more reading time and time to watch another episode.)

Tomorrow morning i have to get up early to take my car in for routine servicing, and then in to work. It’s also another early day for me–only four hours–and hopefully tomorrow evening when I get home I can finish the cleaning for the weekend so I can work on writing and editing all weekend as well as finishing my reread of Pet Sematary. My next read is going to be a Diversity Project read; I’m going to read my library book, Caleb Roerig’s Last Seen Leaving,  a queer y/a title, and after that, probably something by an author of color. I’m also going to work on rereading Stephen King novels this year, methinks–that’s a lot of reading projects, isn’t it–and I also have some Stephen Kings on hand that I’ve not read…which is something I intend to take care of this year as well.

And on that note, I am heading back into the spice mines for the rest of the morning. Have a lovely Thursday, Constant Reader.

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Yes, I’m Ready

Wednesday morning, and the week is well on its way to being over. Huzzah! And I remembered yesterday that this coming weekend is a three day weekend because of the Martin Luther King Jr holiday!

It’s actually kind of shocking that I forgot in the first place, to be perfectly honest. Usually, I am counting down the days to three day weekends (I do NOT mean to give the impression that I don’t like my job because I do; it’s a terrific job and I enjoy it tremendously and am very glad I was lucky enough to find a job doing work I can believe in…I just am lazy and prefer to spend time at home being incredibly lazy.) But now that I know I have a three-day weekend to look forward to–well, if I buckle down and get the rest of the Scotty chapters read and notes taken, I can start the final polish this weekend and maybe–just maybe–have it finished by the end of this three day weekend, and then can go back and focus on finishing the WIP by the end of February and I will be back on the schedule I set for myself!

How exciting is that? Pretty fucking exciting.

Yeah, well, I’ll take it, thank you very much.

I watched another episode of Titans last night, and am really enjoying the show. As I said the other day, it’s not easy introducing a team of new characters to launch a show–Heroes did this very well; and it’s one of the reasons why Legends of Tomorrow never really took hold with Paul and I, because it didn’t do that well–but they are doing a really good job. My primary concern is that the actor playing Dick Grayson/Robin-soon-to-be-Nightwing is he looks too young. Handsome, but too young-looking. The Teen Titans–which lost the designation “teen” sometime in the 1970’s, I believe–was always one of my favorite comic books, because it was mostly the sidekicks of the major heroes, who for some reason weren’t allowed into the Justice League (which doesn’t make sense, really) and so formed their own team. I do wonder how they’re going to handle the Kid Flash situation; if the young actor who played Wally on The Flash will come on board Titans, or if they will recast, or if he just won’t ever be a member of the team. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out, of course.

So today I need to get through chapters 10-14 of the Scotty to stay on schedule. I am very excited about the prospect of getting this finished sooner rather than later; and I am sure this polish/revision probably won’t go as smoothly as I am hoping/thinking it will, but I am also very ready to be done with this book once and for all. I really am looking forward to getting back to the WIP and getting it finished as well. I also need to finish my reread of Pet Sematary so I can get started on the Diversity Project as well as getting back to the Short Story Project.

I also need to get back to writing my short stories. I reread two of them for revising purposes last night–one needs a major overhaul; I had a great title for it which then became the hook on which I hung the story, but it doesn’t really work. I can salvage the title but i have to go back and redo the story because that particular hook doesn’t work, which is undoubtedly why I haven’t been able to sell it anywhere. It’s a good story, and it’s written well, but the hook….just doesn’t work, and I need to figure out how to make it work rather than stubbornly holding on to the hook.

Heavy heaving sigh. My stubbornness is undoubtedly often my undoing when it comes to my writing.

And on that note, tis back to the spice mines.

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Upside Down

Tuesday morning, and the week is progressing relatively nicely.

I read those five chapters I’d been putting off yesterday–and there are sloppy messes–but that’s a hurdle cleared. Now on to chapters 10-14. I also started rewriting the beginning of the book, because I was never really happy with the beginning of the book and Sunday night, as I mentioned the other day, I finally thought of the perfect way to open it. Took me awhile, but I am finally there.

One nice thing about this manuscript–as it sits now, it’s over a hundred thousand words. I could, in theory, cut at least twenty thousand and still have a longer book than Garden District Gothic. I’m not quite as hung up on the length of the book as I once was; and who knows? Maybe once I start paring it down and making the sentences and paragraphs flow better, and work out the kinks in the plot and tie everything up and close the gaping holes you could drive a semi-tractor-trailer through, it might even end up that long again.

The great thing about writing is you just never know how it’s all going to turn out.

I am getting further into Pet Sematary, and I’d completely forgotten about Victor Pascow, the university student/jogger who is hit by a car and dies in the student medical center in front of Louis–and before he dies, when they are alone, warns him about going to the pet cemetery, and then his ghost appears to him again that night, and walks him out there to warn him again. It’s a terrific scene, scary and creepy yet not totally terrifying; tightly written and so suspenseful you can’t look away. The foreshadowing is strong, of course; the title of the book, the problems his wife has with death, etc. and the nearby availability of said pet cemetery makes it fairly obvious some bad things are going to have to be faced, and Louis might be making some very wrong decisions when the time comes. I mean, it is a Stephen King novel, after all. I’m enjoying the book ever so much more this time around. I don’t remember if I enjoyed reading it the first time–the actual reading of it. I just remember being so uncomfortable and disturbed by the subject matter that I was never driven to read it again; which makes me wonder if the subject of death was too much for me in my early twenties? Perhaps.

I also watched another episode of Titans last night. It’s starting to pick up steam; I also realized last night that building a television show around a team of heroes makes getting started difficult, as you have to introduce most of the characters as well as get a bit of their back story. Episode Two brought in Hawk and Dove, two lesser known DC Universe heroes I’ve alway liked who never had the marquee appeal of say Superman or Wonder Woman, which is a shame. I also noted last night while watching that all the Titans introduced thus far (with the exception of Starfire) have bird names: Robin, Raven, Hawk and Dove. The actors playing Dick Grayson and Hawk are very attractive; and of course the women are beautiful. I’m looking forward to watching another episode tonight when I get home from work.

Today is the second of my two long days of work; I slept well last night and don’t feel tired this morning. Tomorrow I’ll get to sleep a little later, which will be lovely. It’s always lovely once I get through Monday and Tuesday each week.

And on that note back to the spice mines

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Lost in Love

Good morning, weekend.

I worked my usual half-day Friday yesterday and came home full of energy and ready to clean and straighten. I got the living room done and did a bit of a book purge. I did numerous loads of laundry, put clothes away, and worked on the kitchen a little bit, but didn’t finish. I’ll do that this morning before reading those pesky five chapters I’ve been avoiding all fucking week. Later on I am going to run errands, and then we’re going to go see The Favourite at the AMC Palace in Elmwood. I am looking forward to it; I love Olivia Colman, and I do like Emma Stone. I also enjoy seeing the sets and costumes and make-up from other periods, and this is a period I am not as familiar with as others in British history. I know about Queen Anne, of course; she was dull and lazy and indolent, the last Stuart to reign over the burgeoning British empire, and had seventeen pregnancies. She was never supposed to be queen; she was the second daughter of the second son of Charles I, and her mother was a commoner, Anne Hyde. But as the years passed and her uncle Charles II continued to have no legitimate heir, her importance–and that of her older sister, Mary, rose. After her mother died, her father the Duke of York married a Catholic princess, Mary-Beatrice of Modena, and converted himself. This, naturally, was not well-received by the very anti-Catholic English, and when his second wife gave him a son three years into his reign, Parliament said bitch please and invited his eldest daughter, Mary, and her husband to take the throne. James II went into exile, and William III and Mary II took the crown. Mary died about six years later, but William remained king until he died in 1702, when Anne took the throne. Anne actually wanted her half-brother to succeed her as James III; instead Parliament invited a very distant cousin to reign as George I. The current royals are his direct descendants, tracing their Stuart heritage back to James I. Anne was queen during the War of the Spanish Succession, pitting all Europe against France and Spain; it was called Queen Anne’s War in North America.

I’ve read no biographies of Queen Anne, and fiction about her is also relatively scarce. I know Jean Plaidy wrote a novel about her, but it’s one of the few Plaidy novels I’ve not read. So, I doubt I’ll know enough of the story to spot glaring historical inaccuracies, but those are to be expected in films of this sort. Her reign was pretty unremarkable other than the war; and her longest-running “favourite”, Sarah Churchill, was married to one of her most able generals and became Duke of Marlborough–Winston Churchill is one of their descendants.

Oh, that went on for quite a bit, did it not? My apologies, Constant Reader! But my initial awareness of Queen Anne was, of course, because of Queen Anne’s War.

I feel pretty good this morning; well-rested and all that. I’ve been sleeping pretty well these last few days, which gives me hope. Tomorrow of course is the Saints’ first play-off game, which will make things pretty tense around here; I am going to have to run to the grocery store in the morning, methinks, in order to get what I need for the week and be done with things. I was hoping to go to the gym to start over with exercise this year. I’ve lost another few pounds–the other morning I was shaving and noticed in the mirror that, without flexing, I could see the faint outline of my abs again–and when flexed they were very apparent. So another eleven pounds to my goal weight of 200 should do the trick, and regular exercise focused on weight-loss should do the trick. I also want to start stretching regularly; I did the other day and it felt so good…I also would like to get a massage at some point as well. I want the theme of this year to be self-care. This is more important the older I get, and let’s face it, exercise–while always a challenge and sometimes quite tedious–is the best way for me to stay strong and healthy and feel good.

I read some more of Pet Sematary yesterday, and will probably read more of it tonight after the movie. I am greatly enjoying this book this time around; I suppose maybe because I know what’s going to happen so it isn’t quite as disturbing this time around as it was the first. Now, I can instead focus on the marriage and the family dynamic/relationships, how well this is all crafted and constructed…it really is quite a marvelous gem of a novel.

And maybe, just maybe, if I get what I want to get done on the Scotty I can work on the WIP a little bit this weekend, too. Maybe.

And I am thinking it’s time to get back to the Short Story Project. I also think I am going to probably start the Diversity Project when I finish the King. I am most likely going to alternate–a diverse book, then a crime novel, etc. I also want to read outside the crime genre this year–more nonfiction, more of other genres–and in some cases they will overlap. I also want to reread some other Stephen Kings I’ve not reread in a while–The Dead Zone, Christine, Firestarter, The Eyes of the Dragon–as well as read the Kings I have on hand that I’ve not read. As I said before, I can’t just push for diversity in books and publishing and so forth if I myself aren’t diversifying my reading. I have always read and been supportive of women writers, and I am going to keep going with that as well this year–I really do think women are writing some of the best crime fiction of our time–but I need to read outside of my own experience and outside of my own genre more….and I need to expand my horror reading to include more authors than Stephen King. I’d like to reread Peter Straub’s Ghost Story (there’s actually a really good essay to write about frozen horror, since The Shining and Ghost Story were of a time) and Floating Dragon; maybe give some of my favorite Dean Koontz’ another twirl to see if they still hold up, and of course there are any number of horror novels in my TBR pile. I also need to read the next book in A Song of Fire and Ice, and there are any number of others books I would like to read and get out of the TBR pile.

Heavy heaving sigh. There’s so much to read, and so little time to read.

And on that note, back to the spice mines.

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Cruisin

FRIDAY.

It was an interesting week, as I try to readjust to the new realities of my life. The older I get the longer it seems to take to make those necessary adjustments, but I eventually do make them. Change is good, for the most part; I often find myself in a comfortable rut that makes things seem easier–but ultimately hinders creativity and adaptability. And for a writer, things that hinder creativity and adaptability are not good things.

It’s funny,  my career has gone on so long now that I can barely remember the time before I was a published author, and my memories of those pre-Katrina years as a new author are hazy and scant. For some reason, last night I was thinking about those days for some reason–I think it had to do with the Saints being the number one seed in the play-offs, and the first game coming up this weekend; I started reading old blog entries from the season the Saints won the Super Bowl, and I started remembering back then…like how we watched the Return to the Dome Game on Monday night football while we were living back in the carriage house on a tiny little black and white television while the Lost Apartment was under construction, and how I used to always say Life is material for your writing.

It’s kind of crazy. This month–January 20th, to be exact–is the anniversary of the publication of my first novel, Murder in the Rue Dauphine, and it’s been sixteen years since it came out. It is no longer in physical print, but sixteen years later the ebook still sells. It was a completely different world back then…my first book will be eligible for a driver’s license in nine days! Madness.

I am hoping to somehow be productive this weekend, around going to see a movie tomorrow and the Saints game on Sunday. Regardless of whether the Saints win or not, it’s been a great football season for us here in the Lost Apartment; LSU was only projected to win six games at most yet wound up 10-3 and in a New Year’s 6 Bowl game, and ended up ranked Number 6 in the final polls. The Saints are currently 13-3 and had some absolutely amazing, heart-stopping wins (kind of like the season when they won the Super Bowl); and, as I said, hold the Number One seed so all their play-off games will be in the Dome. We also need to finish watching Homecoming, and I want to start watching Titans on DC Universe.

The reread of Pet Sematary is coming along nicely; it’s really a well-written book, and there are some amazingly keen insights into relationships and marriage in these first 100 pages. I remember hazily that the book’s primary theme is about death and how to face it, how to deal with it; one of the reasons it bothered me on so many levels. I know, I know, I always hold that mystery and horror fiction are two sides of the same coin; that both genres are about death, but Pet Sematary deals with it on such a micro-level, worming its way into the reader’s thoughts and memories. The death of a pet, the death of a sibling, the death of a child; King takes on all of these horribly human experiences, confronts them, and puts an all-too-very-human face on all of them. I am glad to reread it, because I am really appreciating the genius of it this time through.

And now, back to the spice mines. Today is only a half-day for me, as was yesterday, and while yesterday I’d intended to get a lot done last night, I procrastinated and didn’t get anything done; I cannot allow that to be the story of this day.

Have a great Friday!

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