Working My Way Back to You

So now it’s Thursday and I have a mere half-day to work today and tomorrow before I slide into the weekend. This is quite lovely, even if I am wishing my life away.

I started the reread of Pet Sematary this week; and I am enjoying it. I know how it ends, of course, so I can read it and look at the writing and structure, rather than reading to find out what happens. It’s been over thirty years since I read it, way back in 1983 when it first came out, and as I said before, it’s one of my least favorite King works, and one of the few from this period I never reread. It’s my least favorite because it disturbed me so much, to be honest; I was only twenty-two at the time I read it and…yeah, I never had any desire to go back and reread it. It disturbed me on some seriously deep levels…so I am rereading it now, of course, to see if I can get to the bottom of why it disturbed me so deeply. Analyzing it as I go, I am certain no small part of it was because of the dead pet thing…I still get teary-eyed remembering my dog when I was a kid, or having to put Skittle to sleep seven years ago (and Scooter, just so you know, is going to live forever and I don’t want to hear anything else!). The book is quite good thus far; even though I’m not very far into it. The Creed family is your normal, every day American nuclear family (mom, dad, daughter, son and a cat) moving to Maine from Chicago because Louis, the dad, has gotten a job being running a college campus student infirmary. They are all realistic and eminently likable; soon they meet the aged man who lives on the other side of the road, Jud Crandall, and they take to him immediately.

I hope to get another five chapters of the Scotty read, edited, and notes taken today; hopefully at this pace I’ll be ready to start putting corrections and edits into the manuscript text next week, and by the next weekend be finished with it totally, other than the copy edits, proofing, and so forth. I’ve been a little bit off this week, do to sleep issues, but I feel fairly rested this morning. I slept deeply last night for about four hours, waking up around three and then drifting in and out of sleep the rest of the night. I woke up again before seven, but napped until the alarm went off at eight. I can handle this; I don’t feel like I was awake for the entire night the way I usually do on the mornings after nights like that, but who knows? I do have, as I said, an early day today; so hopefully I can get home and get some things done before Paul gets home from work tonight–there’s dishes and laundry, and the kitchen of course is in significant disarray. But as long as I remain focused thus afternoon when I get home, I should be able to get everything I want to get done today done today. (That was some awkward phrasing, wasn’t it?)

I still feel a little unsettled and discombobulated; I am such a creature of routine and relentless sameness that any variation throws me off. Working in a new building with a new work schedule is taking some getting used to; rearranging and rescheduling my writing and reading time is taking even more time to get used to–and of course, once I get into a routine, parade season will be here and it’ll all go to shit again.

Heavy heaving sigh.

Ah, well. I need to get back to the spice mines now, Constant Reader. Have a lovely Thursday!

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It’s Still Rock and Roll To Me

Hello, Tuesday! We survived Monday, didn’t we? And that counts as an accomplishment. Don’t be a hater, dear. Considering how little sleep I’d had, making it through the first day of the week in one piece was in question. I slept better last night, so this morning I’m not quite as tired as I was yesterday, so there’s hope for this, my second long day of the week.

I made some progress yesterday with Scotty; I’m not sure why I am always so resistant to working on this book–oh, wait, yes I am: I am such a harsh critic of my own work that I think it’s not very good and the revising is going to take a lot of hard work to make it readable. Well, in reading the last five chapters last night and making notes on what needs to be fixed, I realized it’s not that bad. Yes, there’s some things that need to be added and some things that need to be removed, and there are sentences and paragraphs that are a little rough, but over all, it’s not as bad as I was thinking; it never is, and I never learn. So, I am very hopeful about getting it done now, which is also always a relief.

I also finished my reread of The Shining, and have some thoughts on it percolating in my head. I am looking forward to my reread of Pet Sematary, which will lead into my Diversity Project as well as a revival of the Short Story Project. Overall, The Shining is an enjoyable and terrifying read–the last one hundred pages are particularly spectacular; a veritable master class in how to build suspense, tension, and fear in the reader–but I have some problems with the book overall. Structurally, it’s very sound, and perhaps the most impressive thing about it is how internal the book is; how incredibly claustrophobic within the context of an enormous space King made it. I also have identified why I didn’t like it as much during that first read all those years ago; I do not, will not, and probably never will enjoy reading about small children in jeopardy. Given my general apathy towards children, this is a surprise; but it truly was a terrific book. Particularly insidious is the way King makes it seem perfectly understandable and normal as to why a wife would stay with an abuser, which actually makes the book very far ahead of its time. It’s hard to imagine but in the 1970’s, spousal/child abuse in families was just beginning to be seen as problematic; King wrote about this dysfunction long before the societal shift truly began, and made this complex psychological issue abundantly understandable–imagine how few options an abused wife had then as opposed to now (when there still aren’t many options and resources available). Both Jack and Wendy were damaged in their own ways by their parents–King also understood the cycle of abuse and how it works long before anyone else was talking about it in the public sphere. The Shining not only works as a novel of supernatural terror, but as one of domestic terror as well; the Overlook Hotel may be a bad place, but it only sped up the disintegration of the Torrance marriage–which was already on the ropes.

My kitchen is a disaster area at the moment; I was too tired yesterday to do anything about it, and I suppose I should take care of it this morning before I head into the office so I can come home to a clean home. Today I hope to get another five chapters of the Scotty read and notes taken and outlined; this weekend we are planning to go see The Favourite on Saturday before settling in for the Saints game on Sunday (GeAUX SAINTS!!!). I am curious to see the film; as I have said, I am not terribly knowledgeable about Queen Anne beyond the basics, but I am a huge fan of Olivia Colman, and I do like Emma Stone.

So, on that note ’tis back to the spice mines. Have a terrific Tuesday, Constant Reader, because I certainly plan to!

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O Holy Night

The last day of 2018. I can hear the garbage trucks outside getting the trash, which means I’ve actually woken up at a relatively decent hour. Today is our annual lunch at Commander’s Palace with Jean and Gillian, which means very inexpensive martinis and all that entails. I also registered for Dallas Bouchercon yesterday and booked my hotel room. So much getting things done! I also worked on my technology issues yesterday–yes, they continue, Mojave is the stupidest thing Apple has ever done as an operating system–and have also been trying to update my phone, which doesn’t seem to be working. I really don’t want to have to get a new phone, but it seems as though this is what Apple is pushing me to do, which is infuriating.

But the desktop seems to be working the way it’s supposed to. Hmmm.

I read a lot of books last year, but I also judged for an award so I really can’t talk much  about any books that were actually released in 2018; which is unfortunate. I really enjoyed The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young (for a book not published in 2018). I also read a lot of short stories. The Short Story Project was originally inspired, and intended, for me to read a lot of short stories and work as kind of a master class for me as far as writing short stories are concerned. As a project, I originally began it in 2017, but didn’t get very far with it. As a result, I decided to give it another try in 2018 and was much more successful with the project. Not only was I reading short stories, I wrote a lot of them. Some of those stories were actually sold; “This Town” to Murder-a-Go-Go’s, “The Silky Veils of Ardor” to The Beating of Black Wings, “Neighborhood Alert” to Mystery Tribune, “Cold Beer No Flies” to Florida Happens, and “A Whisper from the Graveyard” to another anthology whose name is escaping me at the moment. I also pulled together a collection of previously published and new stories, which will be released in April of 2019 but will be available for Saints and Sinners/Tennessee Williams Festival, Survivor’s Guilt and Other Stories. I also wrote another Scotty (I really need to finish revising it), which will also be out in the new year I think but I don’t have a release date yet. That was pretty productive, and I also managed eight chapters of a young adult novel, the current WIP.

Not bad, coming from someone who wrote practically nothing in 2017. So, on that score, I am taking 2018 as a writing win.

I also edited the Bouchercon anthology for the second time, Florida Happens, and read a shit ton of short stories for that as well. I was very pleased with how that book turned out, in all honesty, and it looks absolutely gorgeous.

I also published my first ever Kindle Single, “Quiet Desperation,” and also finally got the ebook for Bourbon Street Blues up for Kindle. At some point I do hope to have a print edition for sale as well, but I am happy to have the ebook available. I also have to finish proofing Jackson Square Jazz so I can get that ebook up as well.

So, writing and publishing wise, 2018 was a good comeback of sorts; I managed to get back into the swing of writing again, and started producing publishable work, which was absolutely lovely. I started to say I got my confidence back, but that wouldn’t be true; I’ve never had much self-confidence when it comes to  my writing. I also started writing in journals again in 2017, which was enormously helpful in 2018. (I actually went through my most recent one last night–the one I am currently using–and found a lot of stuff that I thought I’d lost in the Great Data Disaster of 2018; things I shall simply need to retype and of course will back-up immediately.

Yesterday, while electronic equipment repaired itself and made itself usable again–we’ll see how usable it is as the days go by–I watched two movies–The Omega Man and Cabaret on Prime, as well as the documentary Gods of Football (I highly recommend this one for eye candy potential; it’s about the shooting of a calendar in Australia to raise money for breast cancer charities, starring professional rugby players in the nude, and yes, the eye candy is delectable). I watched a lot of good movies and television shows over the course of the year–The Haunting of Hill House and Schitt’s Creek probably the best television shows–so it was a very good year for that. (I have some thoughts on both The Omega Man and Cabaret, but will save those for another post at another time.)

I also got my first New Orleans Public Library card this past year, and began reading New Orleans histories, which were endlessly fascinating, which led me into another project, Monsters of New Orleans, which is another short story collection about what the title says, crime stories based on real cases in New Orleans but fictionalized. And there are an incredible amount of them. I read the introduction to Robert Tallant’s Ready to Hang: Seven Famous Murder Cases in New Orleans, and while I am aware that Tallant’s scholarship is questionable (I figured that out reading Voodoo in New Orleans), his books are always gossipy, which makes them perfect for New Orleans reading. What is real, what is true, and what is not is always something one has to wonder when reading anything about New Orleans history; some of it is legend, which is to be expected, and unprovable; some of it is very real and can be verified. Some of the stories in this collection, which I am going to work on, off and on, around other projects, will inevitably be complete fictions; but others will be based on true stories and/or legends of the city, like the Sultan’s Palace and Madame LaLaurie and Marie Laveau. It’s an exciting project, and the more I read of New Orleans history the more inspiration I get, not only for this project but for other Scotty books as well…which is a good thing, I was leaning towards ending the series with Royal Street Reveillon, but now that I’m finding stories that will work and keep the series fresh…there just may be a few more Scotty novels left in me yet.

My goal of losing weight and getting into better physical condition lasted for only a few months, and didn’t survive Carnival season–it was too hard to get to the gym during the parades, and between all the walking, passing out condoms, and standing at the corner, I was simply too exhausted to make it to the gym, and thus never made it back to the gym. I began 2018 weighing 228 pounds, the heaviest I’ve ever been, and have managed, through diet and portion control, to slim down to a consistent plateau of 213. This is actually pretty decent progress; not what I would have wanted to report at the end of 2018, but I am going to take it and put it into the win column, and we’ll see how 2019 turns out.

The day job also had some enormous changes; we moved out of the Frenchmen Street office, after being there since 2000 (I started working there in 2005) and into a new building on Elysian Fields. This also caused some upheaval and change in my life–I’m not fond of change–and it wasn’t perhaps the smoothest transition. But I’m getting used to it, and making the necessary adjustments in my life.

Now we are on the cusp to a new year. Tomorrow, I’ll talk about new goals for the new year. It is, of course, silly; it’s just another day and in the overall scheme of things, a new year really doesn’t mean anything is actually new; but we use this as a measure of marking time, and new beginnings. I’ve always thought that was rather silly; any day is a new day and a new beginning; why be controlled by the tyranny of the calendar and the societally created fiction of the new year?

But it is also convenient. If you set new goals every new year, you then have a way of measuring success and failure as it pertains to those goals. I am not as black-and-white as I used to be with goals–which is why I use goals instead of resolutions, as there is also a societal expectation that resolutions are made in order to not succeed–and a goal is merely that, a goal, and not something that is fixed in stone. The endgame we all are playing with these goals and resolutions is to effect change in our lives and make them, in theory at least, better. So, any progress on a goal is a way of making your life better.

I didn’t get an agent this year; that was on my list of goals yet again. I am not certain what my own endgame with the agent hunt is; I need to come up with a book idea that is commercially viable for an agent to want to represent, and that isn’t easy. Most of my book-writing decisions were made, not with an eye toward the commercial, but with an eye toward I want to see if I can write this story. Was that the smartest path to take as a writer? Perhaps not. I don’t know what’s commercial. The manuscript I was using to try to get an agent never worked as a cohesive story for me, and in this past year I finally realized why; I was trying to make a story into something it wasn’t. If I ever write what I was calling the WIP but is in reality ‘the Kansas book’, I have to write it as I originally intended it, not as what I am trying to make it into. And that’s something that is going to have to go onto the goal list for 2019.

On that note, I am heading back into the spice mines. Have a happy New Year, everyone.

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Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

I despise snow.

Oh, sure, it’s pretty and all, but there’s nothing worse in my opinion than being wet and cold–and that’s a definite result of snow. Although some of my favorite horror novels/films/TV shows are set in the cold and snow (Ghost Story, Stranded, The Terror) and I do have that Christopher Golden novel about the cold and snow in my TBR pile (Snowblind, I think is its name?).

I woke up late this morning with a definite sore throat, as opposed to the tickle I’ve been fighting all week, which isn’t a good thing. I shall liberally dose myself with NyQuil this day as I write and edit and do things around the house. Yesterday I accomplished little to nothing, quite frankly. I did start inputting the edits in “Don’t Look Down,” but stopped after a couple of pages. It was terribly easy for me to get distracted yesterday, partly because I felt so tired all day. We went to a Christmas party last night, which was quite lovely, actually–I drank too much champagne (which has nothing to do with my sore throat, thank you very much) and we took Lyft there and back. It was a very fun evening, with lots of laughter–my sides and abs ache a bit this morning from laughing so hard last night–but today I simply must get things done. I have a stack of paper sitting on my desk to the right of me, and I absolutely must work my way through that entire stack of edits today, or else.

I also have some laundry to do–two loads I started yet didn’t finish yesterday–and the kitchen is still a mess (I told you, I didn’t do much of anything yesterday), and I’d also like to get some reading done today. I am making shrimp and grits for dinner (first time in a very long time I’ve done this) and I also am going to try to make some food for the week, to make things easier on me (broiling chicken breasts, for example). This is, of course, the last full work week I have before the holidays, which reminded me that I actually need to put in a full eight hour day this Friday, as well as next Thursday and Friday. (Note to self: remember that or you’re going to get screwed with your hours)

I also need to make sure I am on track with everything I need to be on track with; which means administrative work–which as I am sure you can imagine how much I love doing that. It’s a heavy plate for a Sunday, but what can I do? It all has to be done, and I need to get this all done before the holiday weekends. I kind of just want to get some writing on Bury Me in Satin done, as well as these edits, then start tackling the Royal Street Reveillon problems over the two four-day weekends.

And then, of course, Carnival begins. Heavy heaving sigh. It’s just non-stop around here.

And now tis back to the spice mines.

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Winter Wonderland

I overslept this morning–which I don’t mind, I was extremely tired last night, as well as completely over it–and it’s dismal and gray and cold outside the windows. I didn’t get as much done as I had wanted last night because I was dealing with yet another Mac problem; my computer wanted to update it’s operating system so stupidly I agreed and clicked yes….and when the computer restarted it again didn’t recognize my phone, so I had to go through that entire nonsensical process yet again. Fortunately I had just backed the damned thing up again, so the “restore from most recent back-up” was at least current this time. But once the phone was finished “restoring” my computer started acting wonky again; the desktop icons never showed up and I tried restarting it again, only to come back and find it was still acting wonky. I restarted again, then collapsed into my easy chair, where I watched a BBC series, The Plantagenets. There wasn’t anything really new in it, other than the idea that the deposition of Richard II “cursed” the family–that deposition/usurpation led to the Wars of the Roses, and also made the sacred person of the King no longer so sacred–which meant deposing kings and crowning new ones was now an established precedent, and this mentality eventually led England down the path of constitutional monarchy. Which is true, and not something I’d read or thought about before, which is always fun when reading or watching history.

Although I probably should have read a book instead.

Today I have some errands to run, and I also need to get the revisions/edits in those stories I did this week entered into the documents so I can also get that finished manuscript turned over to my editor. I should also do some cleaning (there’s never an end to it, really) and work on revising the Scotty. And there’s other stories to write and finish, and I also want to work a bit on Bury Me in Satin this weekend. I’d also like to get to read The Shining again; I’ve been thinking about rereading it for quite some time now and it’s been a very long time. I think I am going to close out this year by rereading some Stephen King novels and reading short stories for the Short Story Project. Next weekend I have a four day weekend–two weeks in a row, woo-hoo!–and I have a lot of cleaning up/tying up of loose ends to get done before the end of the year.

And while I’ve written a lot this year, I’ve also started a shit ton of projects and short stories that I’ve not finished; which is quite despairing to think about. I’m also really annoyed at how out of it the Great Data Disaster of 2018 has made me; I am trying hard to recover the momentum I had before it happened. I am still feeling excited and positive about writing, but discombobulated about where I am and what I am doing and what I should be doing and what the next step should be.

Heavy heaving sigh.

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

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Drummer Boy

And just like that, it’s Friday again. It’s supposed to rain all day today–hurray–but again, I have a very short day at the office, and then it’s back home to get started on cleaning and organizing. I like being able to get the stuff done on Friday that I used to have to do on Saturday; I’m hoping to get the edits on the stories I’ve done this week input today, so I can start polishing the new Scotty, and maybe even get a few chapters worth of work done on Bury Me in Satin. I have two four day weekends coming up after this one, and so I should be able to get everything finished by January 1 that I want to get done.

As long as I don’t get another case of the lazies, which is always possible.

I think I am finished with Christmas shopping for Paul; one gift won’t arrive until after Christmas, but it’s just a fun little gift to make him laugh, rather than anything major that will be missed.

The kitchen is also a terrible mess this morning, as always on Fridays. I just can’t seem to find the energy on weeknights to keep up with this stuff, so it always falls to the weekend for me to get back on top of this stuff. I slept fairly well last night–not great, but not bad; I woke up fairly regularly but was always able to go back into a nice deep sleep, and so I am not tired this morning as much as one might think one would be. But I also don’t have the drive to get anything done before I leave for work…other than maybe folding the clothes currently running in the dryer and maybe moving the stuff from the washer to the dryer to run while I am at work. I also have to swing by and get the mail this morning on my way to the office. I have one more gift for Paul to order, and then I have to order my parents’ presents, and that will wrap up Christmas once and for all with a lovely little bow and maybe some tinsel.

Yay!

We have a Christmas/birthday party to attend on Saturday evening, and I think Paul has plans for the evening, so I am going to be home alone tonight with a needy kitty and lots to do; no real excuse for not getting a lot done tonight other than, of course, the need for attention from Scooter and the tired old mentality well I can always get everything done tomorrow which so frequently seems to affect me on Fridays. But the cleaning is important to get out of the way. And I have to leave the house tomorrow to grocery shop, get the mail and pick up prescriptions, then the party is tomorrow night, so I can be fairly certain that I am going to blow off doing anything tomorrow. And I need to get back into the swing of doing my reading of New Orleans history. It’s amazing how off the Great Data Disaster of 2018 has thrown me.

Ah, well. Tis back to the spice mines with me.

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Do You Hear What I Hear

Wednesday. Paul made it home late last night, and is sleeping away this chilly morning in the Lost Apartment. I started feeling a bit under the weather yesterday–scratchy throat, usually not a good sign–but am hoping I can power through today and hopefully will feel better tomorrow. I hate to call in sick, but at the same time I don’t particularly want to get any of our clients sick, either.

I finished editing “Don’t Look Down” and “This Thing of Darkness” last night; I am hoping to get through “The Snow Globe” and “Moves in the Field” this morning, and have my fingers crossed that I can get back to work on Bury Me in Satin tonight. One can hope, at any rate. I also want to get some work done on the revision of Royal Street Reveillon, and I also have to get the afterward to that one written as well. So, I am hopeful by the end of the weekend I’ll have Survivor’s Guilt and Other Stories completely banged out and ready for the copy edit, so I can get RSR finished over the Christmas weekend, and maybe–just maybe–get Bury Me in Satin finished by the end of December–a reach, but something I am going to still try to accomplish.

I’d also like to have a strong first draft of “Never Kiss a Stranger” done, but let’s not get crazy.

I can’t believe Christmas is less than two weeks away. I think I’ve done all my shopping for Paul; all I need to do now is buy something for my parents and it’s over. (I know what to get them, so not an issue.) This has been a kind of weird holiday season. Thanksgiving was early, and that built up a false sense of security that there was plenty of time before Christmas…then BLAM, it snuck up on me.

But…I have four day weekends for Christmas and New Year’s, and our annual trip to Commander’s Palace for lunch on New Year’s Eve with Jean and Gillian to look forward to, which is lovely, and LSU is playing in a New Year’s Day bowl, so there’s that. The Saints won their division and are going to the play-offs, hopefully with a bye the first week and maybe even home field advantage the whole series…so maybe, just maybe, we could end up in the Super Bowl again this year. (I probably shouldn’t have said that…because I truly believe that my fandom has enough power to jinx the teams I root for, because it’s all about me.)

But I am thrilled to have made it through the roughest part of the week. Monday and Tuesday’s twelve hour days are rough; yesterday it felt like I was coming down with something–I had a scratch at the base of my throat–and I wondered if I was really getting sick or if it was just from being tired. I slept really well last night–even slept in later than I wanted or planned–and this morning I still feel a bit off…but much better than yesterday. I don”t feel quite the same way today–the little tickle is still there, but not as bad as yesterday–and I may have to stop and buy some teabags so I can just drink tea with honey and lemon all day. I’ve also been really dehydrated lately, so have been drinking Gatorade a lot.

I hate being sick, so here’s hoping it can be warded off.

Last night before I retired to bed early, I also managed to revive the next and final draft of Royal Street Reveillon. I work by chapters, which I know is probably weird to most other writers; they write usually in terms of pages, i.e. “I wrote ten pages today”. I don’t. I go by word counts and chapters; I always try to write a chapter every day, and in early draft form those are anywhere from 2200-3000 words; sometimes less, sometimes more. The Great Data Loss of 2018 took all the final chapter drafts of the manuscript as it was turned in, including the version where I pulled it all together and sent it in to Bold Strokes as one document. This, as you can imagine, was a disaster almost unimaginable; trying to recreate to copy edit and tweak a manuscript you no longer have the final version of is the worst nightmare any writer could have (at least in my opinion). However, the manuscript was in my “sent mail” file; so I was able to download that copy and last night I started breaking it down into chapters again for me to work on. I am also trying something different this time–I am going to work backwards. So I created new draft chapters for the last five chapters, and hopefully will be able to get to work on them this weekend as the end draws near.

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

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