Love Hangover

Tuesday morning and I am up before dark. Today I return to the day job after the Weekend o’Festivals and TERMITE ARMAGEDDON. I didn’t get nearly as much done yesterday as I would have liked; but I retrieved Scooter from the spa, made groceries, picked up prescriptions and the mail. I continued putting the house back together–didn’t get nearly as much done as I would have liked, but there is now stuff for me to do this weekend as far as that is concerned.

Digging back into the WIP is my top priority for this month (well, that and getting my taxes filed by the 15th, if possible), and I see no reason why I shouldn’t have a strong first draft finished by the end of the month. I also need to start my return to the gym this month. At my check-up on Friday I’d lost another three-to-four pounds to weigh 208; which is another milestone for me. I’ve broken the 210 barrier–although the last time I weighed myself it was 211, and three pounds is probably a fairly accurate weight fluctuation–but I like the idea that 208 is now the low end of the fluctuation. The lower the low end goes, the better I like it–the more progress it shows. But going back to the gym is a vital part of this struggle–because, you see, the Tennessee Williams Suite we stayed in at the Monteleone has a massive, gorgeous, wonderful bathroom….that is almist entirely mirrored. So, every time I showered or shaved or anything, I could see my entire body reflected back at me in the mirrors, from every side and every angle.

And no, I do not see the appeal of a room full of mirrors.

In other exciting news, the three books I’d thought I’d lost turned up! Yes, I must have been really tired, because they were in the front pocket of my backpack, which is absolutely delightful news. I am also going to try to finish my library book this week–it’s due on Friday–and it’s part of the Diversity Project. Now that my TWFest homework is over, I can get back to the Diversity Project and the Short Story Project. Which is good, because I have my own short story collection dropping officially on April 10th this month. I also have to figure out Paul’s birthday present–his birthday is at the tail end of the month–and hopefully, now that the festivals are over, our lives can get back to what passes for a semblance of normal around here.

And Scooter–who is always a sweet cat–was so loving and affectionate after I got him home yesterday. It took him a few hours to forgive me for taking him to the spa, but once he was over it, he just kept crawling into my lap (no matter where I was sitting), curling up and going to sleep while purring his head off.  And yes, it is completely adorable.

So glad we got lucky and found Scooter eight (!) years ago.

And now, I have to get ready for work. It’s only been four days, but it feels like I haven’t been there in forever. There’s also basic stuff I have to get done as well–paying bills, the checkbook, etc.

Heavy heaving sigh.

Guess it’s time to dive back into the spice mines.

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December 1963 (Oh What a Night)

Friday morning, and TERMITE ARMAGEDDON is nigh. I am up before dawn because they are coming to tent the house and commit genocide around eight, so I have to wrestle Scooter into his carrier before then so I can get him to the spa when they open at eight. Then I am going to drive back and leave the car at the house, and Lyft down to the hotel for the Weekend o’Festivals. I also have to go to my doctor at 1:30 in the afternoon; I think I’ll leave early and take the streetcar, so i can sightsee and read on my way. And then…it’s just about the festivals for the weekend until we are cleared to come back to the house. I’ll probably do that on Sunday after my panel, if I can, so I can start laundering things and washing dishes and moving the perishables back over from the carriage house, so I can go get Scooter first thing Monday morning and then go make groceries.

Heavy heaving sigh. I keep finding things that might get contaminated. Well, when I take Scooter to the kitty spa I guess I’ll be loading more things into the hatch of the car than I’d thought I would have to.

Now that the morning of Termite Armageddon is here, I am much calmer than I thought I’d be. My suitcases are packed, the majority of the cabinets have been emptied, and all I have to do is wrestle Scooter into his carrier. I think I can manage it on my own, although it’s usually a two-person job. I think I’m also just going to grab the streetcar and come back here to get the car; that way I can go pick up the mail as well…or should I just take the streetcar all the way so I can keep reading? Decisions, decisions. One of the things I hate the most about anything is having to rush. Rushing causes me stress–almost to the breaking point–so I always try, when I have mornings like this, to get things done and try to give myself enough time so I don’t have to get stressed and rush and freak out–which, of course, is how I always wind up forgetting things along the way.

But tonight I get to have dinner with Alafair Burke and Sarah Weinman!

ENVY ME.

Yesterday I’m not going to lie; I was stressed as all hell, so feeling so calm this morning is quite lovely. I don’t know if I am actually calm or if it’s because I’m actually not quite awake yet, but in either case, there it is, you know? It is what it is, and whatever I didn’t get out of the Lost Apartment are things that will have to be thrown away at some point when we come back home, which I’m more than fine with. Moving the perishables to the carriage house made me realize something–not only do I hoard books, I hoard food. I think it comes from being poor, being hungry, and not having anything to eat in the house (my mom’s house is practically bulging with food; now i wonder if the poverty from her early married days, when my sister and I were kids, has something to do with that as well) and I  am realizing that there’s really no reason for there to be so much food in the house. So, in some ways, the Termite Armageddon is a good thing, because it’s forcing me to clean out my refrigerator, freezer, and kitchen cabinets.

In a way, I am having spring cleaning forced on me, because definitely Monday I am going to have to spend the majority of the day cleaning the house.

Again, not a bad thing.

But it is what it is.

So, I am hoping this weekend will give me the boost I need, the kick in the part, as it were, to get me writing and thinking about my writing, again. I am having a lovely time–albeit going rather slowly–revising the WIP, and I am already thinking ahead to the next thing. I’d like to see April spent writing up a storm, and revising short stories, making another push to get some stories into print. I also need to get caught up on all sorts of other things–I still haven’t gotten the damned brake tag–and I have taxes and things to sort. I am hoping that the weekend in the suite at the hotel will do the trick; give me some time to relax, read, and get caught up on things that I have been seriously lagging on. I feel like I’ve been in a bit of a malaise thus far this year; since finishing Royal Street Reveillon, if I am going to be completely honest, and going back to the Great Data Disaster of 2018. But the Weekend o’Festivals has always given me the kick in the pants I need to get there.

And now, I need to go load the car and sneak the kitty carrier down out of the storage without Scooter seeing it, else I’ll never get him out from under the bed.

Oh, spice mines….how I wish I could resist your siren song.

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Don’t Go Breaking My Heart

Last night when I got home from work I was so tired I literally repaired to the easy chair almost immediately, while a purring cat in my lap. I kept dozing off while I waited for Paul to get home, and finally, once he did make it through the front door, I gave up any pretense of being awake still and went directly to bed. I didn’t want to get up this morning (no different than any morning, really, other than it’s dark and rudely early), and would be more than happy to go straight back to bed for another few hours.

I did manage to revise the first chapter of the WIP yesterday; first chapters are always the hardest to do, quite frankly, and so I always end up spending the most time on them. The trick is to introduce your main character without a lot of explanation and back story–the temptation to write an entire chapter of back story is always, always present, and must be resisted; there’s no easier way to lose a reader than explaining back story….but there has to be enough for the chapter to make logical sense to the reader as well. It’s a balancing act; one that I’m not quite sure I’ve managed, but at least today I get to move on to Chapter Two.

Tonight I have to not only pack for the weekend but also continue to move perishable things over to the carriage house. I think the last thing I’m going to do is move things to the back of the car–the cat food, etc.–and since I’m not taking the car to the Quarter for the weekend (the cost of parking down there is absolutely insane) that should work. It’s also going to be a struggle getting Scooter into his travel kennel to take him to the Kitty Spa Friday morning; it’s usually a two-person job, and since he’s a Daddy’s kitty, not having Daddy to help me is going to make it a battle royale, I fear. I also have a doctor’s appointment Friday afternoon that I couldn’t reschedule before July (!), so it looks like the most likely progression here will be drop off the cat, drive back over here, and call a Lyft to take me to the Quarter, then grab another Lyft to the doctor, and take the streetcar back from there.

Madness; a weekend’s worth of utter and complete madness.

But I am feeling better about things; the lovely comments from people about my story in Murder-a-Go-Go’s plus getting some good revision done yesterday has me feeling better about my career and my ability to write again; it’s been a hot minute since I felt good about anything having to do with my writing, so it’s kind of lovely to have some confidence again. Or rather, restore the low confidence I’ve had most of my career. Writing is insane in that way; maybe the big names like Harlan Coben and Jeff Abbott and Lisa Scottoline and Karin Slaughter don’t ever suffer from Imposter Syndrome, but it’s really an integral part of my personality. I’ve had it about everything–not just writing. I constantly question, and have my entire life, whether I am good at my job (whatever it may have been at the time) or whether I am a hard worker or how clean my house is or whether I actually can write or if I am just somehow managing to cost by somehow, being read by non-discerning readers who can’t tell that I’m not a good writer.

And around and around and around it goes.

I started reading Samantha Downing’s wonderful My Lovely Wife yesterday on my lunch break, and it’s really really good. I am looking forward to moderating our “whodunit” panel this Saturday; hope to see you there.

And now back to the spice mines–because if I know anything, it’s that spice won’t mine itself.

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Jojo

Sunday morning and another lovely night’s sleep. It should surprise no one that I wound up getting very little done yesterday. Blame it on the World Figure Skating championships/SEC women’s gymnastics tournament one-two punch, if you will. After watching the LSU ladies win their third title in a row (GEAUX TIGERS!) Paul and I settled in to watch an episode of Shrill and a few episodes of The Order, which is just good campy, Teen Wolf-ish fun. And it doesn’t take itself seriously, which I love; it is funny, and it also takes time to laugh at itself.

But I did box up all of the open perishables in my kitchen cabinet, and now have just a few more boxes to load up–the bathroom stuff, etc.–and then we are as ready for the termite tenting as we can be. I still have to clean out the freezer–our friend Jean has graciously agreed to allow us to keep it in hers–and coordinate how all of this is going to go down–Scooter to the kitty spa; my suitcases and so forth to the hotel; the freezer stuff to Jean’s; how to coordinate getting everything back into the house on Monday–but it’s just too much and I don’t really want to think about it. This week is going to be completely insane, and I am not here for it.

I think that’s part of the reason I got so little done yesterday–in addition to the laziness default and the stuff on television–is that I am more than a little overwhelmed with everything I have to do–without taking the tenting into consideration. I literally am half-way through a first draft of a novel, have at least twenty to thirty short stories in some stage of writing, another manuscript that needs to be revised, am editing another novel as a paid gig, and that’s not even taking into consideration the volunteer work I am doing with Bouchercon and other organizations–and the Weekend o’Festivals is looming on the horizon. I still have to finish reading The Woman Who Fed the Dogs and My Lovely Wife, I have to get prepared for my panel and come up with some interesting questions for my panelists, and….seriously, all I want to do is sit in my easy chair and watch highlights of old LSU games on Youtube.

But I need to buckle up and get to work. There are things that need to be done, and they need to be done today. I need to get my email inbox cleaned out, as well as answer insane amounts of messages on Facebook and other places that I’ve simply allowed to pile up, and I still have a lot of filing and organizing to do. I’m not beating myself up over not getting all the things done yesterday that I had originally intended to get done yesterday; that’s just self-defeating, after all, and I am not a believer in wasting time on regrets. So, when I finish this, I am going to go fold the laundry, load up another box of stuff from the kitchen and perhaps from the bathroom, and organize/file the stuff that’s piled up on the kitchen counter. I am going to make a to-do list for the week, some playlists for the car on my phone because I am sick to death of the ones I already have and have listened to for quite some time now, and possibly finish revising the first chapter of the WIP. I am not going to push myself too hard about getting the WIP worked on this week; my original plan had been to finish it this month, but that’s not going to happen now so I am going to push it off until April. I also need to get my taxes sorted and to my accountant, and I also need to back up my desktop computer.

And the books always need to be reorganized.

And then, of course, there’s the Scotty Bible, and I also need to make a list of things to do for the next Scotty, aka Hollywood South Hustle.

And on that note, those emails aren’t going to answer themselves now, are they?

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Heartache Tonight

Well, Constant Reader, it is mid-afternoon on Friday and I am home. I worked this morning, ran errands, put the groceries away, and am currently in the midst of laundering the bed linens. Scooter periodically howls at me because I clearly need to be sitting in my easy chair so he can nap on me, but I keep denying him…so he goes away for about ten minutes before returning to express his displeasure with me yet again. At some point–probably after emptying the dishwasher and washing the dishes currently in the sink, I will take a break. I will go into the living room with Devil in a Blue Dress, sit in my chair, and read for a little bit–giving Scooter what he wants. Then, after a chapter or two, I will get up again to do something–perhaps switching laundry loads from one appliance to another and to the empty basket–and he will curl up on the couch and sleep, sated, and forget that I’m even home.

Unless, of course, I vacuum. But I did that yesterday, so he’s in luck on that score.

Well, actually it was a noise outside that got Scooter up and out of my lap, and I am now back. I out-waited him; I heard the washer stop but continued reading. He has his glare face on now, but he won’t howl at me again since he was the one who got up.

I am really enjoying the book, though, and while I am deeply ashamed it’s taken me this long to read one of Mosley’s novels, I am enjoying it so much I won’t allow the shame to ruin it for me. And there’s such a backlist! I can savor his work for years to come without fear of running out of one I haven’t read–there’s nothing worse than having finished reading all the books an author has written and having to wait for a new one…unless of course they are no longer amongst the living. I keep putting off reading more of Shirley Jackson and Daphne du Maurier and Patricia Highsmith for that very reason. It’s insane, I know, but it makes perfect logical sense to me.

I stand corrected! I am being howled at from the doorway by a cat that wants me right NOW. Back in a bit.

Well, now it’s Saturday morning. I slept in this morning–I only woke up a couple of times during the night, which was lovely–and now I sit at my computer. Paul’s still sleeping so I have no battle of wills with the cat this morning; although Paul is planning on going into the office today, which means Scooter will slip into needy mode the minute the front door closes behind him. Heavy heaving sigh. But I read a lot more of Devil in a Blue Dress last night, which is really picking up steam. It’s really the origin story of how Easy Rawlins became a private eye, and I am really loving the way Mosley writes and tells the story…it also kind of reminds me of what I had in mind when I started writing Murder in the Rue Dauphine back in 1997. (Not that I would ever classify my work as being in the same league as Mosley’s; I just wish I’d read this before I started writing mine, as it would have been enormously helpful.)

I also got very tired last night–having the purring cat sleeping in my lap always makes me sleepy, even when I’m not really tired–so when I’m tired, watch out. I ended up watching a documentary about George V and Mary of Teck, and how they modernized the British monarchy to adapt to the first world war, and their issues with their children (who knew the current Queen had a gay/bisexual uncle? I did not), and then managed to stagger upstairs and make the bed before falling into a fabulous deep sleep. And here I am this morning, having accomplished nothing much last night, wondering how I am going to get everything finished this day that I want to finish.

Heavy heaving sigh. Same song, different day. Like always. But I am also going to repeat my last weekend methodology of closing my browser and staying off the Internet for as much of the day as possible, with a goal of only looking at it from time to time on either the phone or the iPad until tomorrow morning.

It really worked last weekend, didn’t it?

So, I think after I work on my emails this morning I am going to go read for a bit, before getting cleaned up and working on the revision and my writing. I also brought the Air home from the office, so I can also write in my easy chair if Scooter becomes too insistent with his neediness (and I think we can all reasonably assume he’s going to be a howling bitch until he gets his way this afternoon). That’s the plan, at any rate. I may watch a movie at some point this evening; Paul claims that when he gets home from the office he doesn’t want to do any more work this weekend and just wants to hang out. We shall see if that is indeed the case, won’t we?

And now, back to the spice mines.

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The Coventry Carol

New Year’s Eve Eve, and all is quiet in the Lost Apartment this morning. Scooter has been fed and given treats, so  he’s gone back to bed; Paul is curled up with him upstairs. I overslept again this morning, not as late as yesterday but still–I woke up just before ten. Obviously, I need the rest, but at the same time it becomes a little frustrating because I generally do my best work in the mornings.

I did some work yesterday but not much. I got sucked into the college football vortex after going to the grocery store and picking up the mail, and wound up mostly just reading The Shining most of the time. I finished reading the first part, which is all set-up; we meet the Torrances (Jack, Wendy, Danny) who are point-of-view characters and learn about their background–Jack’s drinking and violent temper; how he broke Danny’s arm in a rage and almost destroyed the marriage; Wendy, who still loves him but isn’t sure she should be staying with him, and young Danny, with his unusual talent and desperate love for both his parents and wanting them to stay married. This is also the tale of how they came to stay at the Overlook Hotel over the long, remote, brutal winter; one of the things that has always been a flaw to me with this book is the idea of a luxury hotel in the Rocky Mountains that is so high up in the mountains that it has to close for winter sports season. But King presents it as a fact; it is a necessary one for the story to work–the Torrances have to be completely cut off from civilization, and that again makes The Shining a novel of its time; even today there would be wi-fi service all winter up there; Jack would be able, undoubtedly, to look up all kinds of information about the hotel on-line (probably would have before taking the job) rather than having to dig through the stuff in the basement. But I am enjoying this reread, and I am also enjoying recognizing why some of the issues and problems I had with this book come from a personal place; I don’t like, for example, stories where children are in danger–whether from supernatural forces or from their parents or from anyone or anything, really. And that is also an interesting thing to unpack: why do these stories bother me so much, get under my skin, make me recoil from them?

I am really looking forward to my reread of Pet Sematary.

So this morning I need to finish cleaning and organizing. I may write today after the Saints game–none of the main players will be in the game, as they’ve already clinched the Number One seed and home-field advantage during the play-offs, so why risk your stars getting injured in a game that doesn’t matter (and games that don’t matter is another thing I dislike about the NFL; all games should matter) so I don’t know how intense the game will be or how wound-up in it I will get. But probably not very; since the game doesn’t matter.

We had a deep-dish Chicago style pizza from That’s Amore last night and it was everything. Everything. It is seriously my favorite pizza in New Orleans, but it’s so thick and heavy you can’t have it regularly; it’s perfect as an occasional treat. We hadn’t had one in months, so having one for dinner (and the second half of it today for today’s dinner) is probably the smart way to go. We are having our annual lunch at Commander’s Palace tomorrow–which will be wonderful–and I am going to simply make baked potatoes for our evening meal tomorrow night; Tuesday I’m going to make Shrimp Creole in the slow-cooker for dinner, and we’ll probably cook out for lunch for the LSU game (GEAUX TIGERS!).

Tomorrow morning’s blog will be my year recap; it’ll be curious to go back to my New Year’s Day blog from last year and see what the 2018 goals were, and if I made any progress on any of them (unlikely). It was an interesting year, to say the least, and one that I’m not in the least bit sorry to see ending. One of my year-end goals is to clean out my various email inboxes, as well, and to henceforth try to stay on top of these things.

We shall see how that plays out, won’t we?

I took some awesome pictures with my phone last night on the walk to pick up the pizza at That’s Amore. I’ll post them on Facebook at some time today.

And now, I am going to dive headlong back into the spice mines. I want to revise another chapter of the WIP and I am going to reread those last five chapters of the Scotty during the Saints game.

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Do That to Me One More Time

New Orleans bipolar weather has sadly struck again. And while it certainly hasn’t gotten as cold as it was a few weeks ago, when the sun is down it’s been in the forties only heating up to the high fifties and low sixties in the sunshine; but in the mornings it hasn’t warmed up enough yet as I sit at my computer, shivering in horror. But the coffee is definitely warming me up. I have a short day at work today and a short day tomorrow; I am hoping I can get most of the errands done on these two days so I can spend the weekend (other than a Christmas party on Saturday night) with my nose in my manuscripts.

Must. Get. Them. Done.

In other exciting news, the cover for Murder-a-Go-Go’s, an anthology edited by Holly West, has dropped this morning! You can view it here at BOLO Books. My story is called “This Town,” and is probably one of the most deliciously wicked tales I’ve ever written; probably deeply inspired by the work of the amazing Megan Abbott (read her books, if you haven’t; her Give Me Your Hand is making all the Best of 2018 lists).

Work on the book has slowed to an incredibly passive crawl; I did have a big burst Tuesday night, as I already mentioned, but yesterday was one of those can’t seem to get started days. When I got home from work last night I was both cold and tired; Scooter was incredibly needy, and for lack of anything better to do, I just got into bed and reread an old Barbara Michaels favorite until I got sleepy. I did sleep incredibly well last night, which was lovely, with Scooter curled up with me, purring non-stop. I hated getting out of bed this morning; after he got up and I fed him, he nagged me to come back to bed and finally gave up about twenty minutes ago. But I am being incredibly productive this morning since awakening; already finished folding a load of laundry and a second is in the dryer; once I finish this I will put the dishes away and do the ones in the sink.

Huzzah!

I am also hopeful that I’ll get the next chapter of Bury Me in Satin finished today. One can hope, can’t one?

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

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