She’s Not Just Another Woman

Well, yesterday was actually quite lovely. I slept extremely well Thursday night and of course, the Anthony Award nominations turned my week around when the news broke that night (I still can’t believe Bury Me in Shadows is nominated TWICE), and I did spend a lot of yesterday trying to thank everyone for their congratulatory tweets, posts, comments and emails–I can’t think of anything lovelier than having to say thank you to people for their kindness–AND then Netflix renewed Heartstopper for an additional two seasons, which warmed the cockles of my cold, dark little heart. I wasn’t able to get as much done as I would have liked–but I did get some important thinking done, and today I am really going to start working on my edits. When I got home from work yesterday I did a lot of cleaning and organizing in order to get it out of the way before the weekend, precisely so I could focus on my edits. We spent the evening, once I’d made dinner (Swedish meatballs over egg noodles, if you were wondering) watching this week’s Under the Banner of Heaven and then one of the two new episodes of Hacks before we turned in early for the evening. I slept marvelously again last night, and feel very rested and a-rarin’ to go this morning. I do have some errands to run–nothing major that will take me away for long; I need to get the mail and put gas in the car–and then I can settle in for a day of editing and writing, which I am strangely looking forward to doing.

It was a rollercoaster of a week, ending withe incredibly pleasant high of having two Anthony Award nominations for the same book–still having trouble wrapping my mind around this, to be honest; I don’t know if it’s ever happened before–but I am not the only person with more than one nomination. Tracy Clark is nominated for Best Novel for Runner and for Best Short Story; S. A. Cosby is nominated for Best Novel (Razorblade Tears), Best Short Story, and Best Anthology for Under the Thumb. I feel confident no one’s ever been nominated for three Anthonys in the same year, as well; Shawn just keeps breaking down barriers with his extraordinary work. The nominations list is also one of the most diverse I’ve seen in all my years in this business, which certainly also bears remarking on.

As always, I still have a ridiculous amount of work to get done; but now that I am all rested this morning and feeling great about things, I am not so worried or stressed about it as I was yesterday or earlier in the week (being tired is so unpleasant, and just opens to the door to stress and anxiety and depression); we will see, of course, how long that will last very shortly, won’t we? I have hopes–although I know going out into the blisteringly hot and humid day to run errands will suck the energy right out of me, sending me quite literally to my easy chair; but I can work in the easy chair–if I make myself do it, which I feel like I can do today. I don’t think I am going to make the deadline for that short story–its fine, really; I was thinking about it last night and realized working on it has been a way of pushing off getting the edits on my book finished because I just can’t face working on it again, but I am over it already. I still don’t know the middle of the story, and I can always finish it some other time and get it done and try to sell it somewhere. It’s a pretty good story–I just need to figure out the middle of it.

Sigh. I hate the middle.

But looking around the desk this morning, there’s things I need to put away and filing that needs to be done; I also got down my Scotty books (with the pages marked with sticky notes for each character’s history and background; this was the initial step to creating a Scotty Bible to make continuity easier for me) and have them stacked neatly on the right corner of the desk underneath some others I’ll be using for Chlorine research (should I ever get around to that, I am beginning to sense the slippage of time through my hot little fingers). This is always the first step of writing a Scotty book; gathering the copies of the old for references. I have the prologue-opening spoof of a more famous book’s opening selected and even written somewhat (A START!) and I am doing some research–I am going to pay homage with the book to two Nancy Drew mysteries (The Ghost of Blackwood Hall and The Haunted Showboat) in this plot/story, so I actually had to sit down and reread both books (another blog post there, but you’ll have to be patient, Constant Reader) this past week–more of a skim, really; just to get some feel for them again since I didn’t really remember as much of them as I would have liked–and yes, I have thoughts (hence the blog post which I’ve already started).

But as I said, I have edits to dig into today, and some filing to do before I run the errands, so it’s perhaps best that I bring this to a close this morning and head into the spice mines. Have a lovely Saturday, Constant Reader, and I will chat with you again tomorrow morning.

You Gotta Have Love in Your Heart

A gray Monday morning and I am up early, which is terrific, serving as further confirmation that my body clock has definitely reset. Back in the olden days, before going back to work full time, I used to get up by seven every morning. It was a nice routine; I would write my blog while drinking coffee, read the news, and then start going through my email inbox. Usually by ten I would have all of that under control, and would start working around that time–writing or editing or whatever I had on the agenda at the time. Working full-time meant late nights testing in bars; the earliest I ever would get off work was eight. I kept getting up at seven despite getting home so late–I usually didn’t have to be at the office until eleven–and my mornings have always been the time I work on emails and my blog. I’m not sure exactly when that changed and i started sleeping later–but I am actually kind of glad that my body clock has reset itself again. I don’t mind going to bed at ten, or even earlier if I am falling asleep in my chair (which is what happened last night; I fell asleep in my chair around nine-ish, woke up at almost ten and moved upstairs). I worked on editing yesterday (as well as laundry, cleaning, and making groceries–and still forgot some things, despite trips to two different stores), which wore me out some, so I was trying to decide what movie to watch last night–there were several options, but none of them really appealed, and my brain was too fried from the editing to focus on reading anything, so instead I played around reading social media (the ever popular doom scroll) while I had the news on the television. (And yes, I am watching the news more than I have in quite some time. I don’t think I need to explain why, do I?)

But it’s another work-at-home Monday and I have condoms to pack and data to enter. I will be taking on the SIsyphean task of my emails as soon as I post this and have some more coffee; then I have some dishes to wash and some laundry to fold before getting into my work-at-home duties. It looks like it’s going to be gorgeous today–the temps lately have been sunny and in the high 70’s to low 80’s, which has been truly lovely–and I hope to get back to the gym this evening as well. Then I have my three in-the-office days, and I have to say getting up has been a lot easier on those days as well…which is nice. I still somehow don’t feel like I am as fully functional on those days as I could be; but that has probably more to do with having to leave the house instead of slowly rolling out the day the way I can when I am working at home. I do like my job, for the record–always have; I like helping people–even if sometimes it can be emotionally and mentally draining.

That doesn’t mean I am not looking forward to retiring, though.

The editing is going well, if a little slower than I would ordinarily prefer. I got through some chapters yesterday–ugh, the bad writing and sentence structure!–and plan to get some more done tonight. I’ve come up with a plan with how to juggle everything and still get it all done this week; it depends on how easily I am distracted by other things this week and how lazy I feel, really. It’s the lazy part that always gets me. My natural tendency is towards lazy; one of the things I always loved about John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee character was that he took his retirement “a piece at a time”–in other words, he’d take a job to make enough money so he wouldn’t need to work again for awhile. I always thought that was a smart way to approach life; why not take the time when you’re young enough to still enjoy it? I was thinking the other day–last night, actually–that if I was going to have trouble diving into another book, I should do what I did to get back into reading when the pandemic started: the Reread Project, and why not reread Travis McGee? I read the series back in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, and I would be curious to read the books with a modern eye toward gender and sexuality. McGee was such a male-romantic idealization of the perfect life, really–no wife, no kids, no job, no career, no responsibility, lots of pretty young things to seduce/sleep with, living on a houseboat in a marina in Fort Lauderdale (and now that I am thinking about it, isn’t it interesting that there were never any hurricanes in any of the McGee books? MacDonald certainly took on hurricanes in Condominium); the straight male fantasy life. MacDonald and McGee were a heavy influence on the Chanse MacLeod series; I’ve also read quite a bit of his stand-alones and really enjoyed them, even if they were a tad dated. MacDonald didn’t influence the Scotty books at all; I’m not sure what influenced those books in their creation of the series. I’d have to go back and look–and yes, part of the plan for writing the next Scotty book involves revisiting the series from start to finish, and possibly even creating the Scotty Bible I should have created back when I started writing the series.

Coulda woulda shoulda.

It doesn’t get you very far, does it?

LOL. Now that I’ve folded the clothes and now have some emails I need to get taken care of before starting day-job responsibilities–so yes, it’s time for the spice mines. Have a lovely Monday, Constant Reader, and will see you tomorrow morning.

Believe

And now it’s the day after, and you know what? I feel no older, wiser, nor smarter than I do on any given morning. I don’t think I will ever completely grasp why everyone makes such a big deal of birthdays.

I slept very late this morning–past nine, which may be a new record–and I feel very calm, very rested, and very relaxed; an auspicious start to this my sixty-first voyage around the sun. My birthday was actually very chill, and very relaxing. We got up and went to Costco to pick up Paul’s glasses and a few other things (I got a new LSU cap for my birthday–GEAUX TIGERS!!!–and then we went out to Metairie to pick up my amazing deep dish Chicago-style pizza from That’s Amore–jalapeños, hamburger, mushroom, and pepperoni, for those who are wondering–and then came home to have a most relaxing day. I put on last year’s LSU-Florida game for background noise (the Shoe Game, which will never get old or ever stop being funny) and curled up in my chair to finish reading The Other Black Girl, which was amazing–it will be getting its own entry, no worries on that score–and also started reading The Turnout, which of course is the new Megan Abbott. I also watched the season finale of Superman and Lois–seriously, Superman fans, this is the show we’ve been waiting for since Christopher Reeve took off the cape–and then we got caught up on other things, like Ted Lasso, Animal Kingdom, and Titans. We also started watching Nine Perfect Strangers on Hulu; which we’re enjoying, but are there really only three episodes, or did Hulu only drop three to begin with? (A quick google search assures me they only dropped three of eight thus far.)

Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a more delightful birthday. It was exactly what the doctor ordered–no emails, very little social media (trying to like all the happy birthday wishes on Facebook; I’m not sure I succeeded), and no stress at all. It was marvelous, really, and then a wonderful night’s sleep capped off the end of the day. If this is indicative of what my sixties are going to be like, well, then I am ALL about them. Today I am going to run a single errand–picking up the mail–and then I am going to come hide back inside the cool of the Lost Apartment, read more of The Turnout, and then I am going to start working on the edits for #shedeservedit. I also at some point–possibly during the reconfigured Bouchercon vacation–need to do the copy edits on Jackson Square Jazz so I can finally get its ebook up for sale (as well as a print edition, and the print edition of Bourbon Street Blues as well), not to mention work on Chlorine. I also have a contract for an exciting new project to go over before signing and returning it; so my weekend is going to be fairly full this weekend. We’ll probably start on The White Lotus tonight, as well as maybe something else; I’m not sure what, really. I also know there are some absolute classic noirs that have been airing lately I would love to rewatch–I’m looking at you, In a Lonely Place and The Strange Love of Martha Ivers–and as always, there is so little time to get everything finished that one wants to get finished.

But I also have to do some organizing around here as well. I put that off for far too long far too often, and I often, even when I do filing and organizing, inevitably always have some odds and ends I am not quite what to do with; today is the day I am going to do something with those things–or throwing them the fuck out. I also have to figure out what I am going to do with all those boxes of files I moved out from under my desk and scattered discreetly (ha ha ha as if) around the living room; a lot of those files are New Orleans and Louisiana research I may never get to use, or get around to using–and the more you learn about local history here, the more you realize you’ll never really know. That can be daunting, of course, but for me–it just fuels my desire to know, and learn, more.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to make a research trip out to the old guardian forts along the mouths of the Mississippi and near the openings of the lakes–I suspect at some point Scotty is going to wind up left to die in one of those old forts, or something; it’s simply too good of material to just continue to let sit there, mouldering and crumbling in our swamp climate without ever writing about them; just like one of these days I need to write a Scotty book that somehow involves Jean Lafitte and pirate treasure. The next Scotty, Mississippi River Mischief, is very amorphous right now and is going to need some more gelling and planning and pulling together; but I think it’s going to be one of the better Scotty books, I really do.

When I get to it. I do also think I want to get the Scotty Bible written and pulled together–at long last; only in process to write the ninth book in the series, so finally? I also want to catch things from older books that have been left hanging. It’s also occurred to me that I could go back in time and write Scotty adventures–there’s time, after all, between books for other cases to drop into the boys’ laps; and it might be fun to go back and revisit Scotty in the early days of his relationships and his detecting career, such as it is.

I am also thinking about a stand alone book with my true-crime writer, who’s crossed over between both series now, and whose name I cannot think of right now–oh, yes. JERRY. I could write an interesting story about him as well, methinks, although he would be the perfect main character for a novella I am planning to do for Chanse…in fact, I thought about using him as the POV character before realizing it works better as a Chanse novella than as a Jerry story.

And on that note, I am going to go curl up with Megan Abbott for a bit before I can run my errands, while swilling more coffee. Have a lovely Saturday, Constant Reader.

Don’t Do It

And now it’s Thursday, a work-at-home-make-condom-packs-while-watching-movies-or-bingeing-something-on-television kind of day. I also get to. take Paul in for his second vaccination today (huzzah!) and then this evening will undoubtedly work on the book some more–and possibly squeeze in a trip to the gym. Last night’s weather was horrible–it was windy all day, and then around seven o’clock last night all hell broke loose: high winds, extreme thunder and lightning, and a downpour that had me worried about the street flooding. But the sky is clear of clouds this morning and the sun is shining–I haven’t checked the temperature yet, but it looks pleasant outside, if not outright gorgeous.

I finished the first final run through of the book last night, and as I did, I knew exactly how to end it all and tie all the loose strings together and so forth. It’s going to mean more writing–but I knew that going into it–but the primary problem was the structure of the book, really, and last night I figured it out. A mere two weeks before the final deadline, but better late than never, and I am kind of excited again to whip it all together and into shape. I got rid of most of the repetitions–some of which were actually rather good, so I am going to have to decide this weekend whether to leave things as they are or switch in some of the repetitive stuff for the stuff I left in. I think it’s going to actually turn out to be what I had envisioned from the very beginning….which is very cool. The nice thing is that I have about ninety thousand words already; will probably have to add about five thousand more, while trimming and revising some of the rest out. The book kind of goes off the rails somewhere around chapter seventeen, which is where the reworking is going to really have to start, and there are also going to be some brief inserts from a podcast that goes between some of the chapters, to give the backstory and also keep the overall narrative moving. I’ve never written anything like #shedeservedit before, either subject matter or structurally, so this is a big leap for me….and why not take a big experimental leap before working on Chlorine?

I am taking my library sale copy of John LeCarré’s The Russia House with me to Paul’s vaccination appointment; I am rather excited about reading another LeCarré, to be honest. I thought The Spy Who Came In From The Cold was exceptional and extraordinary, and from looking at the first page of The Russia House, it looks like this one will be as well. I’ve not really been doing much reading lately; when I am in the weeds with a book it’s not easy for me to read anything else as my mind is too distracted to focus much on someone else’s narrative, and so when I get this novel wrapped up and finish The Russia House I expect to be doing a lot of reading in April–and I have some short stories I want to get worked on while prepping to write Chlorine in April. I also need to call the library to make an appointment to drop off this first batch of donated books to them–so I can start boxing up the next batch of them as well. I also want to start making the long-overdue Scotty Bible in April–I can work on that while I am prepping Chlorine and working on these short stories (I really want to get some more things out on submission, the sooner the better)–so that I will really be prepared to start working on Twelfth Night Knavery once I have the first draft of Chlorine banged out.

I’m actually kind of excited about all this writing to come, if a little daunted. I will inevitably, of course, have lazy moments where I will simply blow everything off, but again…that’s kind of inevitable. I slept so well last night I didn’t want to get up out of bed this morning, but I have simply too much to do to be a lag-a-bed this morning. I’m going to be a Festival widow for the rest of this week and all of next, and then I’ll have to get back into a routine of making dinner every night and watching something with Paul–and there’s plenty for us to watch. I have to get caught up on Superman and Lois, which I am really enjoying, and of course Paul and I started the third season of Mr. Mercedes–but are only able to catch an episode here and there whenever he gets home early enough since I have to be in bed by ten on Sunday thru Tuesday nights. I am also thinking about treating myself to phô from the Vietnamese café next door to the Cat Practice at some point over this weekend as well–it’s been a hot minute since I’ve had some good phô, and I just say that my favorite place to get it in Midcity–Namese–has closed permanently, which is a shame. (note to self: you need to write about the Vietnamese community of New Orleans at some point) But I am really really looking forward to a big bowl of phô; I love me some noodles. I’m also thinking about making Swedish meatballs again this weekend. We shall see, I suppose. I may put off the Costco run until next weekend; while there are definitely some things I need from there, there’s nothing really pressing. (I was also thinking last night that I need to stop thinking about going to Costco in terms of periodic visits where I spend a shit ton of money; there’s no reason I can’t, for example, make a short trip to get a few things on weeknights after I get off work, for example; I-10 makes it insanely easy to get there from the office. Rethink things, Greg, rather than remaining in stasis and doing things a certain way simply because you’ve always done them that way.)

And on that note, tis best for me to head back into the spice mines. Them condoms aren’t going to pack themselves, for example, and much as I want everything to simply take care of itself without my assistance, that’s not terribly likely. Catch you tomorrow, Constant Reader, and have a lovely Thursday.

Just to See Her

And we have made it to Friday yet again, Constant Reader. Isn’t it lovely? I slept well again last night, which was, as always, a lovely and wonderful experience. I have a short day at the office today–data entry, which is always a joy–to ease me into the weekend. I’ll need to stop at Rouse’s on my way home again so I won’t have to leave the house over the course of the weekend. I am trying not to get too hyped or worked up about the LSU-Georgia SEC title game Saturday afternoon; we’ve enjoyed an absolutely glorious season, filled with enormous highs that just kept getting better as the season progressed; everything now is undoubtedly gravy. It should be a good game, and one can never completely rule Georgia out.

This whole season, for both LSU and the Saints, has seemed like a fever dream at times.

I also hate to see the season winding down. I love football, and I love football season, and am always a little sad to see it end. The season opener we attended, the Georgia Southern game, seems like it was an eternity ago, and yet the season has also seemed to fly by. And here it is Christmas season, with the conference championship games this weekend and then the bowls and the play-offs for college; there’s another month or so of the regular season for the Saints before the play-offs as well…and then it’s Carnival.

The end of the year/beginning of the year is always jam-packed around New Orleans.

I didn’t really get that across, I think, in Royal Street Reveillon; the way the holidays and football season’s climax all crowd in around each other and then suddenly it’s time for the parades and Carnival–but in fairness, theres a lot of plot and a lot going on in that book, and Scotty was a little too-distracted by all the goings-on to think about the holidays or football season too much.

It’s hard to believe sometimes that I’ve been writing Scotty since 2001; that his first adventure was published sixteen years ago, and I’m still writing about him. I never dreamed Scotty would stick around this long; I never dreamed readers and reviewers would embrace him so much. The advance for Bourbon Street Blues enabled Paul and I to move back to New Orleans in 2001 after That Horrible Year Away; so for that reason alone Scotty would alway have a special place in my heart. I was interviewed last weekend for a radio show (“The Adam Sank Show”); and getting asked questions about Scotty–and the book–kind of put me into a sort of reflective mood about the character and series. I never imagined I’d still be writing and publishing and talking about Scotty in 2019; then again, I never look that far ahead. But had someone told me back then that my happy-go-lucky go-go boy would still be around seventeen years later, going strong and with the possibility of yet another adventure hanging around on the horizon, I would have most likely laughed really hard in that person’s face.

Scotty and the boys have aged gracefully and well.

But if I do decide to write Hollywood South Hustle, there are a number of things I’ve been putting off that need to eventually be addressed at some point; Frank really should retire from professional wrestling–but there’s a professional wrestling murder mystery/adventure for the boys I’d want to write before that happens (Redneck Riviera Rhumba). The collapse of the Hard Rock Hotel construction site also provided a bit of inspiration for my Scotty gentrification novel, Bywater Bohemia Bougie (or Boogie, I can’t decide which one works better. I like the idea of addressing gentrification as well as the whole “bougie” thing; but boogie also works as a really good, fun word and as long as the title is alliterative, I don’t really care which word I use. (For the record, I sometimes sit around and think up Scotty titles, because I enjoy alliteration; others I’ve come up with include West Bank Waltz, Lake Shore Limbo, North Shore Novelty, Swamp Edge Swing, etc.; just on titles alone I could probably wind up writing Scotty books until I’m in my seventies). I still need to pull together the Scotty Bible, which would make writing any future Scotty books much easier, and strengthen continuity while eliminating mistakes.

As long as I can keep it fresh and new….which basically means as long as I don’t bore myself, really.

And on that note, tis time to head into the spice mines. Happy Friday, Constant Reader!

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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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Dance Hall Days

Sunday! I have a panel and a signing at Comic Con today; the Saints have a play-off game, and the Golden Globes are tonight…and sometime today the Olympic ice dancing finals are also airing. Madness! Usually my Sundays are a lot more mellow than this. I did manage to get a lot done yesterday; cleaning and organizing and laundry and filing and even some brainstorming. I am definitely going to be hitting the ground running this week; it’s so lovely to finally feel 100% me again, stupid flu or whatever it was I had.

So, this morning I need to do some more cleaning, am going to do some more brainstorming and perhaps an edit on a story, work on the new Scotty outline, and do some other editing before it’s time to get ready to head down to the Convention Center. Damn it, I also have to copy edit that damn file of Bourbon Street Blues, too, don’t I? Sigh. My work is never done.

And the Scotty Bible. Heavy heaving sigh.

I also read another short story yesterday, Angel Luis Colon’s “My Heart Died on Blackrock Avenue.”

meat city on fire

I’ll never forget my first fight.

And I mean a real fight, not the random tussles with my brothers or cousins. I’m talking a knuckle-busting, lip-splitting, eye-swelling fight. The kind of fight where you go savage and the world’s pure fire, where there’s no concern about whether your punches connect or if they’re going to do permanent damage. A real street fight–drawn blood, scrapes and cuts you find later, and that taste at the back of your throat, as if you’d been chowing on pennies all day long. The kind of fight a person with more brains than heart knows to avoid.

Obviously, my first fight was over a girl–surprise, surprise.

I met Angel in Toronto at this year’s Bouchercon; as is usual with the business, we have a lot of mutual friends. And then he wrote this brilliant piece for Medium, and I thought to myself, I need to read this guy, so I ordered his collection Meat City on Fire and Other Assorted Debacles.

Wow.

I said when I posted about Sue Grafton that she was the writer who brought me back to the crime genre; the stuff that was getting published in the 1970’s and early 1980’s that I was reading held no interest for me; I hadn’t heard the term toxic masculinity yet, but that was primarily what turned me off to crime fiction at the time. To this day, I still have trouble reading some male authors for that very reason; I’m just not interested in reading any more books about the tough, tragic, closed-off man who drinks himself into oblivion because the love of his life is dead, or he’s obsessed with some dead, beautiful woman that makes him reflect on life and the harsh, cold, cruel world in which we live. No thank you. This trope also pops up in what’s called ‘literary fiction’ as well; it’s hard for me to identify with, or care about, these kinds of characters; the plight of the straight white man simply doesn’t interest me that much. Does that mean I’m prejudiced? Maybe.

It’s something I can live with.

So, as I started reading Angel’s first story in this collection, I winced a little bit inwardly. Great, I thought, here we go again with the tough-guy stuff. But the story–which isn’t a crime story at all, I might add–isn’t that; it’s actually fantastic, to be honest. There are so many truths, and so much honesty, in this story that it’s almost painful to read, to digest, to think about. I didn’t grow up in Brooklyn, as the main character in this story did, but I grew up in the working class neighborhoods on the south side of Chicago, where casual racism not only existed but simmered; where prejudice wasn’t just about the color of one’s skin but also about religion and your ethnicity; if you were a Pole or a Slav, etc. Violence was always just there under the surface, and this story took me back to that neighborhood, the innocence of childhood and learning about the cold, cruel world out there. It’s a truly terrific story, and I encourage everyone to read Angel’s collection, or one of his novels.

I’m really looking forward to reading more of his work myself.

Sunglasses at Night

Sunday morning. Last evening I went to a Christmas party and had an absolutely lovely time; but stayed much longer than was probably warranted and got home much later than I should have. But there were lots of laughter, and I got to hang out with friends that I don’t see nearly enough, and so overall, I would classify it as a win. I also slept beautifully and deeply and restfully after getting home, so that, too, was absolutely lovely.

Today I have to do a lot of writing; I finished a project yesterday, which was also lovely, and managed to get the cleaning of the downstairs finished. Today I will move to the upstairs, doing cleaning and organizing when I take breaks from the writing/editing I have to do. I also will read some more of Donna Andrews’ How the Finch Stole Christmas when I can; hopefully wrapping up reading it this evening as well. I’m not sure what I am going to read next; I am rather torn between a reread of George Baxt’s A Queer Kind of Death, Joan Didion’s Miami, Dashiell Hammett’s The Dain Curse (also a reread), or something else in the pile. I also haven’t done my annual reread of Rebecca, but I think I am going to save that for actual Christmas. There are also some other duMauriers lying around the apartment I haven’t read that I need to (The House on the Strand, The Progress of Julius, The Scapegoat), some Ross MacDonalds, many Margaret Millars, and so many other books by writers I adore and am way behind on–I still have Stephen Kings that are languishing on my shelves, unread–and of course, come January it’s going to be Short Story Month again.

I also have another short story to write that I keep forgetting about, which, of course, is insane. (Note to self: put post-it note up on computer.)

But the good news is I am finally feeling motivated again about writing; this past year hasn’t been, for me, a good one as far as writing is concerned. I had a long conversation with my friend Susan last night about the current Scotty and the problems I’m having with it–and of course, while talking about the problems out loud with her I solved the problem. (It really is amazing, isn’t it, how saying things out loud can make a difference and make you see what’s been missing? The same thing happened with the WIP when I was chatting about it with my friend Wendy in Toronto–as I spoke I could see in my head what I needed to add, and then she put her finger right on the problem and pointed it out just as I was coming to the realization, which confirmed that it was the correct one. Again, it’s all a matter of having the time to make these fixes, but now that I know whatI need to fix, well, that makes it all a lot easier.

I also finished post-it-noting Garden District Gothic yesterday while watching the first half of the SEC championship game, so the Scotty Bible also proceeds apace, which is also lovely.

So much I need to get done this month!

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

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Break My Stride

The regular season came to an end for LSU last night with a 45-21 win over Texas A&M, and I am going to miss the seniors and the guys the team will lose to the NFL draft. It’s been a pleasure watching you all play for the last few years. I also want to shout out to Danny Etling, who has never really gotten the kind of respect he earned over the last two seasons. He’s not Eli Manning, but he was a cool, competent quarterback who made some big plays and only threw two interceptions this entire season. That’s pretty amazing. And considering where the team was at one point, it’s no disgrace to take pride in how they closed out the season, winning six of their last seven games–including a win over Auburn, who went on to win the West division spot in the conference championship game by beating Alabama yesterday–the second CFS Number One team they defeated in three weeks.

GEAUX TIGERS!

I also continued working on the Scotty Bible yesterday–found some discrepancies that may not be able to be corrected, at least maybe not right away–but the ones I can’t correct are easily explained away; and I can correct things like the fact that Storm apparently had children in the first two books that completely vanished from the series later. Oops. (I’m not sure if they disappeared or just were never mentioned again; I don’t think I ever said Storm didn’t have children; I just never mentioned them, and that is kind of weird, really; why wouldn’t Scotty or his parents ever talk about his nieces and nephews? Although it might be kind of fun to bring them into the story at some point….hmmmm. Also, I mentioned in one book that Frank’s parents lived in Chicago and then in a later one that they were dead. I think I can correct that in the earlier book; let’s hope.

Obviously, I should have done this years ago.

But I have only one more book to go through–Garden District Gothic–which is incredibly exciting, and then I can create the Scotty Bible, which….is not so incredibly exciting. Ah, well. I have a lot to do today, so it’s probably best to get to it.

Here’s how it looks so far:

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I Just Called To Say I Love You

How was your Thanksgiving? Ours was rather lovely; we had our deep dish pizza and a lovely visit with our friend Lisa; then Paul and I watched three movies on Netflix: Fourth Man Out, Closet Monster, and Handsome Devil. We also watched another episode of a Hulu original series, Future Man; which we had given one more episode to get better. And the fourth episode definitely delivered. We laughed a lot all the way through it; and it finally started delivering on its premise.

The three movies were all gay films, which we generally don’t watch very often. I know I should be supportive of gay films, but so often they’re aren’t very good–or at least that used to be the case. When a major studio makes one (Philadelphia, In and Out, To Wong Foo, etc.) they’re awful; indies always mean well but don’t have the budget to really do them well or cast good actors, so we stopped watching them a long time ago. Every so often, a film like Beautiful Thing or Latter Days will come along, but still, fairly rare. My incredibly cynical self is very pleased to say that the three films we watched yesterday were enjoyable in varying degrees, which also makes me tend to think that perhaps we should watch more gay cinema. And really, isn’t mainstream film always a crapshoot, too?

Fourth Man Out was the first movie we watched; its about a group of four guys who’ve been best friends since they were kids and then one of them comes out to the others. It was a comedy, so the coming out was handled in a comedic fashion; the friends were a little taken aback, and then there was some awkwardness about what you can or can’t say around your gay friend which was sweet and kind of cute. The gay character was a mechanic, so there was a sense to me of ‘see, a gay guy can be just a regular guy’ about the movie which was well-intentioned but…the really charming part of the movie was watching the friends try to help him navigate the gay dating world, and there was a really charming scene where they take him to his first gay bar. And the ‘meeting someone from on-line’ trope was treated as comedy (and who hasn’t met someone whose picture wasn’t them?) and there were some moments that I thought might have been in questionable taste–but overall the film was charming. The lead, gay Adam, was played by Evan Todd, who’s very good-looking:

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His best friend, Chris–and their relationship/chemistry was quite charming, was played by the impossibly good-looking Parker Young:

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Another one of the guys was played by Glee’s Chord Overstreet, almost recognizable in a heavy beard. But the movie’s true charm was the relationship between Adam and Chris; how they learn from each other and grow and finally find their perfect matches because of their friendship.

Closet Monster starred Connor Jessup from American Crime, who is an appealing and talented young actor I would pretty much watch in anything.

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This movie was apparently very popular on the indie art film festival circuit and won lots of awards; for me, it was the weakest of the three and were it not for Connor Jessup, we would have probably stopped watching. As a little boy, around the time his parents broke up in a very nasty and volatile break-up, young Oscar witnessed a violent hate crime against a gay teenager–and that, plus the divorce, have been deeply internalized and traumatized him as he comes of age as a gay teenager with an interest in horror movies and a desire to become a make-up artist for horror films. He’s applied to the best school for this in New York, and cannot wait to get away from this awful town he lives in. He’s desperately unhappy–who can’t relate to that–with big dreams, and is developing a crush on another boy he works with at a Home Depot type store. Wilder, played by Aliocha Schneider, is coolly confident in himself and tries to draw Oscar out of his own shell, with some success.

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The point of the movie is ultimately that Oscar needs to stop spinning his wheels and move in a positive direction in his life; and it does eventually get there after a bizarre costume party where he has his first sexual experience with a stranger and comes to terms with his feelings for his mother; his relationship with his father remains unresolved. But it was an arty film; Oscar’s hamster speaks to him in Isabella Rossellini’s voice–he got the hamster originally the day his mother left his father so it symbolizes the last time he was happy; and there’s a lot of moments where the director slaps the viewer in the face with his symbolism and hidden depths. There are some gorgeous shots, particularly at the end, but there are also some serious plot holes. But as I said, Connor Jessup is a very talented and appealing young actor, and he carries the entire movie.

The last film we watched, Handsome Devil, was by far and away the best of the three. Set in an Irish boarding school obsessed with its rugby team, it’s from the point of view of young Ned, who is bullied by his schoolmates in no small part because he doesn’t care about rugby and doesn’t fit in; he is played charmingly by Fionn O’Shea. He comes back to school against his will–his father and stepmother live in Dubai and for some reason he can’t live with them there; it’s kind of implied that he’s an inconvenience for them. He’s delighted when he gets to school to find out he’s got a single room and won’t be sharing. There’s also a really funny sequence where he talks about his English teacher; he simply turns in the lyrics to old songs for papers and get’s A’s; the song that is handed back to him with an A written on it to illustrate this voice over is Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Walk Side,” which is hilarious if you know the words.

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But he winds up with a roommate after all, Connor. Connor can’t go back to his old school–he was kicked out for ‘fighting’–AND it turns out Connor is a great rugby player; the long-missing piece for the school’s team which will make them champions. Ned reacts by moving all of their furniture to the center of the room, kind of forming a Berlin wall. They also have a new English teacher this term, Mr. Sherry, who is played by Sherlock’s Andrew Scott. Mr. Sherry, and his class, reminded me of Dead Poets’ Society, and I don’t think that was accidental. But Ned and Connor slowly become friends–Connor is Ned’s first friend, really–and of course there’s the requisite homophobia (they all treat Ned like he’s gay, but we never really know for sure) and obstacles for the boys to face before the film’s end. This movie is really charming, and is about friendship, and has some absolutely lovely moments. O’Shea is fantastic as Ned, and you can’t help but root for him as he learns who he is and what being a friend really means; Nicholas Galitzine plays Connor and does a fine job with a less complex part; but the chemistry between the two boys is terrific. I highly recommend this movie.

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It was also highly educational to watch these films, and it also made me realize that I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to gay-themed films; I should probably watch more of them in the future–and I think I’m going to. Watching these movies reminded me of the kinds of novels Kensington used to publish after the turn of the century; particularly the novels of Timothy James Beck. I miss those novels, and Kensington did a great job of finding and publishing fun gay-themed novels in those days. I was one of Kensington’s authors; Kensington was where the first three Scotty books were published, and pulling together the Scotty Bible has also put me in mind of those days again. Kensington first published Rob Byrnes,  and also those wonderful novels by Michael Thomas Ford. Kensington was also home to William J. Mann’s fiction, from The Biograph Girl to The Men from the Boys, All-American Boy, and several others; Kensington also published Andrew Beierle’s The Winter of Our Discotheque, which remains to this day one of my favorite gay novels.

Sigh.

And now back to the spice mines.