Tuesday and we survived Monday, Constant Reader–that has to count for something, doesn’t it? Actually, it wasn’t that bad, to be honest. I slept decently and woke up without problem with the alarm, and didn’t feel tired for most of the day. I had a highly productive day at the office, and then I came home and worked some more on the manuscript, which I am really starting to feel good about, believe it or not. I like my characters and I like the story, and I like that it isn’t set in either Uptown or the French Quarter or–where I always go–the Lower Garden District is always the default for me. This time out I set the book in the 7th Ward, on what we used to say was the “wrong side” of St. Claude (this is also the neighborhood where my office building is now, on Elysian Fields); even now people say this neighborhood is “unsafe”; and yes, we’ve had some instances where there was gunfire outside and we went into a code and locked down the office. Maybe I just have a false sense of security–which won’t change until something bad happens to me, as usual–but I never feel all that unsafe either going to or from my car before and after work. (I also love that realtors are trying to rebrand the neighborhood as ‘the new Marigny.” Um, no, it’s not and there’s no such thing as the ‘new Marigny.’)
I also slept well last night, which is great. I feel rested and relaxed this morning, but I also have to see clients today. I’ll probably be a bit tired when I get home tonight; seeing clients can drain you a bit, which is why I don’t see clients four days a week instead of three. I got some more work on the book done yesterday, and hope to get further along today as well–no relaxing until I get my work done tonight. I had a ZOOM meeting last night so I wasn’t able to get as much work done as i would have liked–still behind, of course, as always–but I am pretty happy with the work I am doing and how the manuscript is coming together, which is always lovely. I’m not hating the manuscript as I work on it, which is kind of a nice change, overall. Maybe I have finally gotten less self-loathing about my own work, after twenty-odd years? Nah, that can’t be it! Maybe I just feel centered for the first time in a long time? That is more likely.
It’s been a time, there’s no question about that. Mom’s health had been declining for years, so that was always weighing on the back of my mind, no matter how hard I tried to not think about it or even consider the possibilities inherent in recognizing that her health was failing; there was a pandemic and a dramatic shift/change in my day job; and of course I was doing a lot of volunteering around writing and trying to keep my authorial career going at the same time. I’m surprised I didn’t have more mental breakdowns over the last few years, in all honesty. It’s no wonder I was low energy, depressed, and tired all the time. There were paradigm shifts happening everywhere in my life, and I was completely unprepared for any of them, either physically or emotionally or intellectually. I don’t remember writing the books I wrote since the shutdown three years ago; Bury Me in Shadows, A Streetcar Named Murder, #shedeservedit–I remember the young adults because I’ve been working on them for years before I sold them; but the revision process? The editing? I don’t remember a fucking thing. I do worry some about how my brain works now; one thing that has definitely happened over the last three years is a complete loss of remembering how to deal with the ADHD, so focusing is a lot harder than it used to be. I don’t know if that’s related to the ten-day COVID I had last summer, or if it’s because of all the changes and shifts, or maybe it’s even a combination of all those things. I don’t know, but I know I haven’t been functioning at full brain capacity for quite some time now, and I am starting to feel normal (or what passes for that around here) for the first time in a long time. More like myself, I should say, rather than normal; I’ve always taken great pride in not being normal–once I accepted it.
But I also don’t remember much of my life post-Katrina, either; there are years after Katrina that are foggy memories, if that. It shouldn’t come as a surprise (or a shock) that things that occur during times of trauma and stress don’t go into the permanent memory bank (which isn’t as big and powerful as it used to be). I should be used to it by now, right? But I don’t think you ever get used to traumatic events, and your brain just figures out the easiest way to get through it all without causing more trauma, and if that means not remembering things that happen, well, who am I to question how my twisted brain works and functions?
I’m just glad it’s still functioning, really, even if it is all over the place.
And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely day, Constant Reader, and I’ll check in with you again later.
Sunday morning in the Lost Apartment and I slept well–I wanted to stay in bed for another few hours, but got up anyway and am now sitting in my kitchen remembering that there was a time change and it’s actually later than I thought. Sigh. So I didn’t get up early after all, did I? I hate Daylight Savings Time and wish we could do away with it once and for all; didn’t Congress take this up last year or something, and didn’t it look like this pointless time change was going to be a thing of the past, or was that merely a fever dream brought on by the pandemic or something?
Yesterday wound up being a wasted day for me. I had some things to do yesterday morning that had to be done–some emails I’d been putting off because I knew they would be triggering, and I was right. I’m still not certain the most important one was worded correctly or the right thing to say at all, but when I finally finished it–it took me several hours to compose it and myself–I was emotionally drained and in a grief spiral, so I decided to spend some time with Scooter sleeping in my lap to make me feel better. I wound up actually drained and exhausted and fatigued, so I simply stayed there. Paul didn’t go into the office yesterday (he is going today) and we finally spent some time together last night, getting caught up on Servant (which is really phenomenal; Lauren Ambrose doesn’t get near the credit as an actress that she should; there’s a scene in the second to last episode–the series finale is this Friday–that can be Ms. Ambrose’s Emmy reel; the scene where her husband and brother finally come clean with the secret they’ve been keeping from her since the first episode is a master class in acting, and it’s all done with her facial expressions, and it’s a tour-de-force), and then the first episode of Outer Banks. We were both getting sleepy, so we put on a true crime documentary series (Two Shallow Graves, which is quite interesting; we figured if we fell asleep it would be okay because we could rewatch it if necessary without necessarily spoiling anything) and finally repaired to bed (later) than I thought it was (stupid time change), which is already throwing me off this morning.
I am still digesting Cheryl A. Head’s marvelous Time’s Undoing, which I finished yesterday morning and greatly enjoyed. I was hoping to spend some time with my next read this morning….but I’ve already lost an hour. Maybe instead of reading this morning, I’ll finish this and get cleaned up and write for a few hours before curling up with a good book later on this afternoon. Paul is going to see his trainer this morning and then to the office, so he’ll be out of my hair for most of the day so I should be able to get a lot of editing and so forth done, as well as some planning for future writing. There’s also always cleaning and filing to get done; yesterday after the depression set in was pretty much a wasted day. But I’m not going to beat myself up over the lost day; it is what it is and nothing I can do now can ever change that, so I am going to be kind to myself and recognize that, while still disappointing, there’s a significant difference between deciding to be lazy and blow off the entire day as opposed to being so overwhelmed that you can’t do anything. (This being kind to myself thing I am trying this year is such an outlook change that it’s not reflexive and I always have to process myself into it; maybe at some point it will become reflexive and…yeah, I don’t see it becoming reflexive any time soon)
Oh, yes, and the Oscars are on tonight. My interest in awards shows has declined as I’ve gotten older; sometimes I wonder if my gradual growing antipathy for awards shows I used to look forward to when I was younger has anything to do with my own eligibility for awards since getting published? Don’t get me wrong; I don’t object to awards by any means, but they also aren’t why I do what I do. It’s always nice to be recognized, especially by your peers and especially when you’ve always felt like an outsider rather than a peer. But while winning an Oscar (or even being nominated) can change a film industry member’s career for the better, do book awards make a difference to someone’s career if they aren’t the National Book Award or the Pulitzer Prize? I do think it’s important to recognize excellence in the field, but awards are just as subjective as anything else, and when an award is decided by a panel of judges..well, a different panel of judges might not come up with the exact same shortlist and winner, either. It isn’t like you can campaign to win an Edgar–but there are awards for mystery novels that you can campaign for, and the campaigning always makes me uncomfortable. In the beginning, I hated asking people for votes and wouldn’t do it. Then I started adding my eligible stuff to Gabriel Valjan’s awards-eligibility lists, which he compiles every year for every award as their nominations period open up.
Last year was the first time I actually made a little announcement on social media that hey, Bury Me in Shadows is eligible for the Anthony for Best PBO because there wasn’t a children’s/young adult category on the ballot. A second ballot was sent out at the almost last-minute because they’d inadvertently left that category off the ballot, so…figuring I didn’t have a prayer at a Best PBO nomination, I asked people to write me in on their ballot for y/a. IMAGINE my shock to wind up nominated in both categories (I lost both, PBO to Jess Lourey and Y/A to Alan Orloff; it’s lovely to lose to friends because you can be happy for them rather than disappointed at losing–losing to someone you don’t like or respect is an entirely different situation); so this year I figured I had nothing to lose by asking for votes–and wound up nominated for a Lefty for A Streetcar Named Murder and an Agatha for #shedeservedit, so go figure, you know?
Another reason I stopped caring or watching the Oscars is because they’ve become so predictable in every category in every year that there are no fun surprises, or if there are any, they are so few and far-between that watching become tedious (although one delightful surprise was Olivia Colman’s win for The Favourite a few years ago); but there doesn’t seem to be a clear cut winner in every category this year, even though I will go out on a limb and predict Oscars for Brendan Fraser (everyone loves a comeback story), Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan (another comeback story), and Jamie Lee Curtis. The two actresses will not only be rewarded for their work in the film but also for lengthy, glorious careers that have never been recognized before; while the two men are feel-good comeback stories. I’ve not seen Everything Everywhere All At Once, but I do think it’s trending to win everything. (If I had to chose, Barry Keoghan probably deserves an award for The Banshees of Inisherin; to me his was the strongest performance in a film I really disliked.)
And on that note, I am going to get another cup of coffee and head into the spice mines. Have a lovely day, Constant Reader, and I’ll check back in with you later.
I feel better this morning than I did yesterday. I didn’t sleep well last night but I rested, and I’ll frankly take that. I may be tired again later today, but it definitely beats yesterday. By the afternoon at work yesterday I was so tired I actually felt sick; I did run my errands after work (didn’t want to) and then came home to my easy chair and cat. I spent most of the evening sitting in my chair watching Youtube clips (and the Rihanna Super Bowl half-time show, which I think was fantastic) before finally tumbling into my bed around nine thirty. I did sleep some, but I was half-awake half-asleep most of the night, but…I feel rested and okay this morning, even getting out of bed before my alarm went off. I should have done laundry last night and emptied the dishwasher, but hey, it is what it is and i’d driven twelve hours the day before. I’ll have to do that tonight. Tonight is the final night of rest during parade season, and the madness all begins again tomorrow night, with Druids (the parade after is still trash and still being boycotted by New Orleans) rolling down the Avenue and me having to leave the office early so I can get home before they close the Avenue.
I was also so brain dead that I wasn’t able to make my to-do list, which is on my agenda for today. I did manage to muddle through the work day yesterday, but seriously, I was so tired I barely even remember being at work yesterday, let alone what all happened and what went on. I know I got all my work caught up–I was concerned, having left town so abruptly last week, about how behind I may have fallen but being competent really comes in handy sometimes. I need to write my review of The Stranger Behind You by Carol Goodman, which I loved, and need to get back to Abby Collette’s Body and Soul Food. I don’t even know where we are with our television shows that we were watching, but we’re also in crunch time for Paul at work so i don’t see him very often; he sometimes comes home after I’ve gone to bed and I of course leave before he gets up in the morning–long before he gets up in the morning–making me a Festival widow until it’s all over. He’s going to try to come home so we can have dinner together tonight for Valentine’s Day. but I’m not going to be holding my breath anytime soon.
Yesterday, a friend went public with something horrific that happened to her at Bouchercon in Dallas in 2019 (I didn’t go; I got an inner ear infection that week and as such couldn’t fly); you can read about here. I urge you to sign the Change.org petition on the page I linked to; I cannot state how much I admire Laurie for her courage and determination to make sure that what happened to her–a complete dismissal of her, no follow-up, and absolutely incredibly incompetent police work–never happens to another woman, at least in Dallas. It’s also no easy task to come forward about being drugged and possibly assaulted; we have in our culture and society a tendency to not believe women, and to dismiss them as being “overly-sensitive” and “well, it’s a he said/she said situation”. Part of the reason I wrote #shedeservedit was because I get so angry about how we treat women who are victims of predatory men. That book was of course inspired by the Steubensville/Marysville gang rape cases, but how many times do we have to go through and witness this same song-and-dance? The Stanford swimmer, Laurie in Dallas, Steubenville, Marysville…the list just goes on and on and on. (Which was why reading The Stranger Behind You was so serendipitous; it’s about #metoo) I’ve actually been thinking about writing another book about this, but wanting to do it from the perspective of say a woman like the Stanford swimmer’s mother; which was why the Goodman novel resonated so strongly with me.
Boys will be boys indeed.
I also need to get writing again. That will put me and everything in my life back into balance, methinks. But at least this morning I am awake and functioning and feeling rested; how long that will last remains to be seen. But on that note, I am going to head into the spice mines. Have a lovely Tuesday, Constant Reader, and I’ll check back in with you again tomorrow.
Masculinity is something I’ve always felt I viewed from the outside.
It’s very strange; for someone who doesn’t look back very often and has a rather healthy disdain for nostalgia, for some reason since the pandemic started, I’ve been revisiting my past a lot. I don’t know, perhaps it was triggered by having dinner with an old friend from high school a while back (which also inspired me to write a horribly dark short story); or perhaps it’s because of short stories or novel ideas I’ve been toying with, but lately, I’ve been thinking about my past much more so than I usually do, and what it was like for me growing up. I wrote a Sisters in Crime quarterly column several years ago about the first time I realized, once and for all, that I was indeed different from everyone else–it centered the first time I heard the word fairy used towards me as a pejorative, as well as the first time I was called a faggot. I’ve also been examining and turning over issues of masculinity inside my head for quite some time (most of my life). #shedeservedit was itself an examination of toxic masculinity and how it reverberates through a small community when it’s allowed to run rampant and unchecked: boys will be boys. Some short stories I’ve published have also examined the same subject.
What can I say? My not being the American masculine ideal has played a very major part in shaping my life and who I am; how could it not? I used to, when I was a kid, pray that I’d wake up the next morning and magically be turned into the kind of boy I was supposed to be, the kind that every other boy I knew–from classmates to cousins to everything I watched on television and at the movies.
Society and culture have changed in many ways since I was a little boy who didn’t fit so easily into the conformist role for little boys; roles for male and female were very narrowly defined when I was a child, and children were forced into conforming to those roles almost from birth. Boys were supposed to be rough and tumble and play sports and get dirty and like bugs and frogs and so forth; girls were supposed to be feminine and play with dolls or play house, wear dresses and mother their baby dolls. Boys weren’t supposed to read or enjoy reading (but I was also supposed to get good grades and be smart), and that was all I wanted to do when I was a kid. I used to love Saturdays, when my mother would go to the grocery store and drop me off at the library on her way. I loved looking at the books on the shelves, looking at the cover art and reading the descriptions on the back. I loved getting the Scholastic Book Club catalog and picking out a few books; the excitement of the day when the books I’d ordered arrived and I could go out on the back porch when I got home and read them cover to cover. I was constantly, endlessly, pushed to do more “boyish” things; I played Pee-wee baseball (very much against my will), and later was pushed into playing football in high school–which I hated at first but eventually came to love…which just goes to show, don’t automatically hate something without trying it. But yeah, I never loved playing baseball. I was enormously happy when we moved to Kansas and I discovered, to my great joy, that my new high school didn’t have a team.
One less traditionally masculine thing for me to participate in was always a bonus.
The things that I really wanted to do weren’t considered masculine pursuits, and as a general rule I was denied them as much as possible. My parents forbade me from reading books about girls–Nancy Drew, the Dana Girls, Trixie Belden–which, quite naturally, made me want them more (my entire life the best way to get me to do something is to tell me either not to do it or tell me I can’t do it…either always makes me want to do it). Oddly enough, when my reading tastes became more adult–when I moved from children’s books to reading fiction for adults–they didn’t seem to care that I was reading books by women about women quite so much as they did when I was younger; either that, or they gave up trying as they finally saw me as a lost cause–one or the other; I don’t know which was the actual case. Maybe my embrace of football in high school overrode everything else suspect about me. It’s possible. My family has always worshipped at the goalposts…and I kind of still do. GEAUX TIGERS!
I spent a lot of my early life trying to understand masculinity and how it worked; what it was and why it was something I should aspire to–and never could quite wrap my mind around it. The role models for men always pointed out to me–John Wayne, etc.–never resonated with me; I always thought they were kind of dicks, to be honest. The whole “boys don’t cry, men never show emotions, men make the money and the entire household revolves around their wants and needs” shtick never took with me, and of course, as I never had any real sexual interest in women…the whole “locker room talk” thing was always kind of revolting to me, because I always saw girls as people. It probably had something to do with the fact that I was more likely to be able to trust girls than boys; I had so many boys decide they couldn’t be friends with me anymore because at some point other kids calling me a fairy began having an negative impact on their own lives all through junior and senior high school (to this day, I’ve never understood this; why were we friends before, and what changed? It wasn’t me…I didn’t suddenly switch gears from butch boy to effeminate overnight) it’s little wonder I have difficulty ever trusting straight men…but in fairness, I have trouble trusting everyone. But I never quite understood the entire “boys are studs girls are sluts” thing, but I also never truly understood the dynamics of male/female attraction. Yes, I dated in high school; I dated women in college before I finally stopped entirely. And yes, I also have had sex with women, back then–but never really enjoyed it much.
In all honesty, I still don’t understand masculinity, at least not as it was defined in my earlier decades of life. I’ve never understood the cavemen-like mentality of responding with violence (no matter how angry I get, I never get violent); I’ve never understood the refusal to recognize that women are human beings rather than life support systems for vaginas and wombs and breasts; I’ve never understood the mentality that a man’s desires should trump (see what I did there?) bodily autonomy for women. No man has a right to a woman’s body, nor does any man have a right to tell a woman what she can or cannot do with her body. Maybe always being an outsider looking in and observing has something to do with my mindset, maybe my difference and always having mostly female friends most of my life is what shaped me into understanding these things.
I also mostly only read women’s books, to be honest. There are some straight male writers I read and admire (Ace Atkins, Bill Loefhelm, Michael Koryta, Harlan Coben, Chris Holm, Stephen King, Jeff Abbott and Paul Tremblay, just to name a few) but I really have no desire to read straight male fantasies that reduce women to caricatures and gay men, if they do appear, as stereotypes; but after I recently read I the Jury by Mickey Spillane, a comment someone left on my post gave me a whole new perspective on how to read such books from the 40’s 50’s, and 60’s; the perspective of reading these books as examples of post-war PTSD…and that opened my eyes to all kinds of questions and potential critical analyses; that the horrors of World War II and what the veterans saw and experienced shaped the development of the culture of toxic masculinity that arose after the war (not that toxic masculinity didn’t exist before the war, of course, but the war experience certainly didn’t help any and it most definitely reshaped what “being a man” meant). I was thinking about doing a lengthier critical piece, on I the Jury, along with the first Travis McGee novel, and possibly including Ross Macdonald, Richard Stark and possibly Alistair MacLean. There’s certainly a wealth of material there to take a look at, evaluate, and deconstruct–and that’s not even getting into Ian Fleming and James Bond.
I’ve also always found it rather interesting that Mickey Spillane was Ayn Rand’s favorite writer. Make of that what you will.And on that note, I am off to bed. The last two days have been long ones, and tomorrow and Sunday will also be long days. I’m planning on driving back to New Orleans on Sunday–timing it so I get back after the parades are over so I can actually get home–regardless of what happens here. It’s not been an easy time here, and I am very tired.
It’s a rainy gray morning here in New Orleans–which explains a little further why I didn’t want to get out of bed this morning, as there is nothing more comfortable than being buried in blankets in a warm bed while it rains outside. Scooter was even snoring when I finally decided I couldn’t be a lag-a-bed much longer. I have writing to do–so much writing to do–and of course, the kitchen is an utter disaster area this morning. I’ve also been so focused on getting the writing done that I didn’t order groceries for pick-up today; which I may do once I am finished with this entry. I am going to Alabama on Friday for Murder in the Magic City as well as Murder on the Menu in Wetumpka on Sunday, so no groceries will be made this coming weekend. I could just order something for pick-up either Thursday night or Friday morning before I leave; but I will make those decisions after I’ve had more coffee and my brain is a little less bleary. I also need to make the decision as to whether I am going to go to Malice Domestic or not. I mean–how many times am I actually ever going to be an Agatha finalist? I won’t win, but it was very kind of the attendees to nominate me–and I did have a great time the last time I went. Decisions, decisions. It’s going to boil down to money, but I think I can take the money out of savings safely without concern for disaster later. And of course, I have lots of points on Southwest to take care of the airfare.
The ALA event I went to yesterday was smaller than the ALA’s I am used to; I’ve been twice before when it was here in New Orleans. Once was after Hurricane Katrina (I was thinking 2006, but it may have been 2007) and I actually read at their Friday night event that time; the other was years later when I signed in the booth for Sisters in Crime. I didn’t get rid of many books–I don’t even remember which book it was I was signing and giving away–but I know there was so little interest in the gay New Orleans writer’s books that I basically was helping out in the booth, breaking down boxes and setting out more books, and helping the other authors by opening books for them to sign–they started calling me Booth Boy, and it was quite fun. But yesterday I signed fifty copies of A Streetcar Named Murder to give away (along with a bookmark with a download code for the audiobook) and got rid of every last copy in fifteen minutes. It really does make a difference when you aren’t giving away a queer book, which deep down in my heart of hearts I already knew, but it also made me kind of sad at the same time to see that I was right. (It was one of the rare occasions when being proved right gave me no pleasure or satisfaction.)
I have a lot of writing to do today. I didn’t make quota yesterday, which means the quota is even higher now for today and even more unlikely for me to make. It’s fine, actually; I am going to make the deadline of Wednesday. It’s a mess, of course, as they always are at this stage, but I already know what I need to do to fix it, which is making the finishing even harder than usual because I am itching to go back and revise and fix it before finishing it, but that’s simply not going to work. Instead, I am going to write this and then worry about getting it revised. (Which isn’t easy, I might add.) I did spend some time with Abby Collette’s book, which I am really enjoying, and also watched some of the US Figure Skating Championships yesterday–the men’s short program and the ice dance final. The men’s final is this afternoon, but I’ll record it to watch later this evening. All of the current shows we are watching have new episodes available (Servant, Mayfair Witches) as well, but I would imagine once Monday rolls around we’ll be back to Paul not getting home from the office until after I’ve gone to bed or am starting to get ready for bed.
I feel good about everything this morning, to be honest, and it’s remarkable how calm I am about this pending deadline particularly given how far behind I am right now. I still haven’t completely adapted to the freedom from volunteering yet–I still have that subconscious unsettling feeling that there’s more I should be doing before I remember oh yeah there’s nothing besides the book that you need be worried about right now which is always kind of lovely and nice–and relaxing. I know I’ve said it before but I am really really happy that I am still able to write in the amounts that I’ve always been used to when writing–I now remember that I wrote the 98,000 or so words of the first draft of #shedeservedit in thirty days one hot July summer month; and I am still capable of doing that, clearly. I need to focus once I get both of these current manuscripts revised and I can get an incredible amount of writing done this year, which is always fun.
And on that note, I am going to clean up some of this mess before curling up with Abby’s book for a while before I start my writing journey for the day. Have a great Sunday, Constant Reader.
2022 Best Contemporary Novel Bayou Book Thief, Ellen Byron (Berkley Prime Crime) Death By Bubble Tea, Jennifer J. Chow (Berkley) Fatal Reunion, Annette Dashofy (Level Best Books) Dead Man’s Leap, Tina de Bellegarde (Level Best Books) A World of Curiosities, Louise Penny (Minotaur)
Best Historical Novel The Counterfeit Wife, Mally Becker (Level Best Books) Because I Could Not Stop for Death, Amanda Flower (Berkley) The Lindbergh Nanny, Mariah Fredericks (Minotaur) In Place of Fear, Catriona McPherson (Mobius) Under a Veiled Moon, Karen Odden (Crooked Lane Books)
Best First Novel Cheddar Off Dead, Korina Moss (St. Martin’s) Death in the Aegean, M. A. Monnin (Level Best Books) The Bangalore Detectives Club, Harini Nagendra (Constable) Devil’s Chew Toy, Rob Osler (Crooked Lane Books) The Finalist, Joan Long (Level Best Books) The Gallery of Beauties, Nina Wachsman (Level Best Books)
Best Short Story “Beauty and the Beyotch,” Barb Goffman (Sherlock Holmes Magazine, Feb. 2022) “There Comes a Time,” Cynthia Kuhn, Malice Domestic Murder Most Diabolical (Wildside Press) “Fly Me to the Morgue,” Lisa Q Mathews, Malice Domestic Mystery Most Diabolical (Wildside Press) “The Minnesota Twins Meet Bigfoot,” Richie Narvaez, Land of 10,000 Thrills, Bouchercon Anthology (Down & Out Books) “The Invisible Band,” Art Taylor, Edgar & Shamus Go Golden (Down & Out Books)
Best Non-Fiction The Life of Crime: Detecting the History of Mysteries and Their Creators, Martin Edwards (HarperCollins) The Handbook to Agatha Christie: The Bloomsbury Handbook to Agatha Christie, Mary Anna Evans and J. C. Bernthal (Bloomsbury Academic) The Science of Murder: The Forensics of Agatha Christie, Carla Valentine (Sourcebooks) Promophobia: Taking the Mystery Out of Promoting Crime Fiction, Diane Vallere Ed. (Sisters in Crime) Agatha Christie: An Elusive Woman, Lucy Worsley (Pegasus Crime)
Best Children’s/YA Mystery Daybreak on Raven Island, Fleur Bradley (Viking Books for Young People) In Myrtle Peril, Elizabeth C. Bunce (Algonquin Young Readers) #shedeservedit, Greg Herren (Bold Strokes Books) Sid Johnson and the Phantom Slave Stealer, Frances Schoonmaker (Auctus Publishers) Enola Holmes and the Elegant Escapade, Nancy Springer (Wednesday Books)
SO many friends here! Congratulations to everyone!
Well, well, well. This morning I woke up to the announcement of this year’s Malice Domestic Agatha Award finalists, and mych to my pleasant surprise, our very own Gregalicious’ #shedeservedit is a finalist for Best Children’s/Young Adult novel. It was a very pleasant surprise, as I figured the Agatha short-list wasn’t in my future for A Streetcar Named Murder (which was only eligible for Best Novel, and there is WAY too much competition for that category to even consider the possibility) and honestly, I didn’t think #shedeservedit, my only other release for 2022, had a prayer of getting enough votes (if any at all), but hey. I put up a couple of “for your consideration” posts on social media, figuring it certainly wouldn’t hurt anything to at least try, and here we are. Wow. Thanks to everyone who voted for me. It’s very exciting to start out the year with what hopefully won’t be my last Lefty and Agatha nominations. The nominations are a very lovely pat on the back, and will make even nicer additions to my author bio and CV. Added to the two Anthony nominations last year for Bury Me in Shadows, and it would appear that I am having a rather lovely period in my career, am I not? Perhaps a Gregnaissance?
Okay, yeah, I hate when people do that and make up words. Forget I ever said that.
It’s work at home Friday and I have data to enter. I also had to roll out of bed and head down to Quest Labs this morning for a blood draw for my bi-annual physical, so now I have a bruise on both arms since I had my PrEP labs drawn on Wednesday. I had a good day yesterday–I managed to get back into the book, but fell 500 words short of quota, so I need to do that today as well as today’s writing so I am back on schedule. I’ve been having some moments of doubts and imposter-syndrome lately, but that always happens at this stage in a book so I dismissed it and put it right back out of my head. I was very tired when I finished yesterday’s writing, and Paul went to the gym last evening, so I went down a Youtube wormhole of research (yes, yes, justify wasting your evening, Gregalicious) until Paul got back and we watched some of the US Figure Skating Championships, particularly the Rhythm Dance. (If someone would have told me back when I moved in with Paul in 1996 that my eventual favorite discipline in figure skating would be the ice dancing, I’d probably still be laughing…) I also was remarkably hungry yesterday, which really never happens. I was so hungry yesterday afternoon when I left the office that I actually came home and ate a piece of King cake, which kept me through the night, but it was still odd. I rarely ever get hungry–which is why I often will forget to eat, especially when I am on a trip (unless you go to New York with That Bitch Ford–I think I ate more that weekend in New York than I have on every trip I’ve taken in the last ten years combined)–so it bears noting when I actually realize that I am hungry. My weird relationship with food and my body is something I should probably write about sometime.
One of the problems I face when I think about writing personal essays (did you enjoy that segue, Constant Reader? I usually struggle with transitions) is, of course, Imposter Syndrome. Whenever I sit and think about writing a personal essay, I immediately start to doubt myself. What insights and perceptions and conclusions can you possibly draw about this that hasn’t already been said, probably better and more eloquently, by many others already? I can be pretty oblivious, too–something that is patently obvious to everyone else is something that startles me when I recognize it, mainly because I never think about it; it’s just something that already is, so I don’t think about it. Like one day when I was visiting my parents in Houston a news promo ran on the television calling Houston the “space city,” which was something I clearly was aware of since my parents lived two exits from NASA, and “Houston we have a problem.” But when I heard it that day, it connected in my head, oh, Houston the space city, that’s why the baseball team is the Astros and the basketball team is the Rockets. I said this out loud and my mother looked at me like I was insane (a look I am quite used to, so no worries on that score) and started laughing. I guess my obliviousness was amusing, but I just had literally never thought about it–they were the Rockets and the Astros, and that was that; didn’t matter why they were called that. But this is the kind of thing that makes me worried about trying to write personal essays–that, of course, and my faulty and failing memory, which is yet another reason why I don’t write a memoir…although I could write a really good one. But the problem–even if I trusted my memory–is that everyone remembers everything differently, so I could write about something the way I remember it but the other people involved could remember it completely another way. Who is right, and what is the truth? That hurdle is something I’m going to have to clear–after all, “I Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet” is a terrific personal essay, and a piece of work of which I am particularly proud; so I know I can do it. I suppose the true fear is that I won’t strip naked and show myself to the world, and will color and/or distort things to make me not look quite as bad as I actually was in the moment. That’s one of the reasons why I love writing fiction; I can take personal experiences and twist them into something that can fit into a good story, or make them better in some ways.
And believe me, there was a lot of bad behavior in my past.
You learn to live with it.
Sigh. I do have a lot to get done over the course of this weekend–cannot forget the ALA event tomorrow morning–and of course, there’s a lot of writing to be done and the US Figure Skating Championships to watch. I’ll need to make groceries at some point, too, and I have prescriptions to pick up at CVS and of course, next weekend I am off to Alabama (yay!) for two of my favorite events of every year, Murder in the Magic City and Murder on the Menu, which will take me to Birmingham and Wetumpka. Yay!
So, I am feeling a little more confidence this morning about my writing and everything in my life. I’m enjoying my day job and my new responsibilities, my writing career is doing okay, and I can’t really complain about too much. I’m going to return to the gym in April and start working on that part of my physical self. I am getting the hearings aids process started, and at some point I am going to need to have another eye exam later this spring. I have a lead on a dentist to get my teeth fixed so I can stop looking like a hillbilly, and start getting things figured out with a plan for my writing future.
And on that note, this data ain’t gonna enter itself. Have a lovely Friday, Constant Reader.
And here we are, on the final day of the year 2022. Happy New Year, I guess? It doesn’t feel like the year is turning, but everything has felt so totally out of whack since the 2020 Shutdown that it’s not a surprise, really. As I sit here bleary-eyed with my coffee trying to wake up for another thrilling day of writing and cleaning, it seems very weird to look back to a year ago at this time. I was on deadline then, too–and was way behind on that book, too (A Streetcar Named Murder, for the record), but other than that I don’t remember what my mood was like or what I was thinking about going into the new year. We were still in the midst of the pandemic (that hasn’t changed–what’s changed is it isn’t news anymore and everyone seems to be pretending it’s all over), and I know I wasn’t exactly going into 2022 thinking oh this is the year I’ll get the coronavirus! That did happen, and my ten-day experience with COVID-19 was bearable for the most part. I just had intense and severe exhaustion as well as the brain fog, which hasn’t entirely lifted. I still have no short term memory, and am struggling to remember things every day–which has made writing this book more difficult because I can’t remember small details and things that are kind of important. I also think being so scattered isn’t much help in that regard; I’ve never been able to handle getting a grip on things and have felt like I’ve been behind the eight-ball for the last three years, floundering and struggling to keep my head above water, and never confident that I had a handle on everything. It’s been unpleasant, really; I prefer to be better organized and to have things under some sort of manageable control, and this constant feeling that I am behind and will never catch up on everything has been overwhelming, depressing, and damaging.
I read a lot of great books this year–I was going to try to make a “favorite reads of the year” list, but as I went back through the blog for the last year looking at all the books I talked about on here, there’s no real way for me to quantify what were my avorite reads of the year. I managed to read both of Wanda M. Morris’ marvelous novels, All Her Little Secrets and Anywhere You Run; Marco Carocari’s marvelous Blackout; John Copenhaver’s The Savage Kind; Carol Goodman’s The Night Villa, The Lake of Dead Languages, and The Disinvited Guest; Ruth Ware’s The Death of Mrs. Westaway and The Woman in Cabin Ten; Raquel V. Reyes’ Mango, Mambo and Murder; Ellen Byron’s Bayou Book Thief; Rob Osler’s debut Devil’s Chew Toy; Mia P. Manansala’s Arsenic and Adobo; Kellye Garrett’s Like a Sister; Alex Segura Jr’s Secret Identity; Laurie R. King’s Back to the Garden; Tara Laskowski’s marvelous The Mother Next Door; James Kestrel’s Five Decembers (which would be a contender for favorite read of the year, if I did such things); and of course several Donna Andrews novels as well. I am forgetting some great reads I truly enjoyed this past year, I am sure–I will kick myself later for not remembering I Play One on TV by Alan Orloff, for one example–but it was a year of great reads for me. I know 2023 will also be a great year for reading.
I also watched a lot of great television this past year as well, and again, I won’t be remembering everything and will kick myself later. If nothing else, it was a year of some amazing queer representation on television; this was, after all, the year Netflix not only gave us the wonderful, amazing, adorable Heartstopper but the equally charming and adorable Smiley (which you should watch, absolutely). It was also the year where Elité continued, but the shine is starting to go off the show a bit. I was very vested in their Patrick/Ivan romance, which they ended in this last season with Manu Rios, who plays Patrick, leaving the show at the end of the season along with his two sisters (spoiler, sorry), which was dissatisfying. I am looking forward to seeing what else Manu Rios gets up to in the future…we also enjoyed 1899, Andor, Ted Lasso, Sex Lives of College Girls, Peacemaker, The Sandman, House of the Dragon, Ozark, and so many other shows I can’t possibly begin to remember them all this morning. But I have no problem saying that without question my favorite show of the year was Heartstopper. Even just looking at clips on Youtube, or those “Ten Cutest Moments on Heartstopper” videos, always makes me feel warm and fuzzy when I view them. The soundtrack for the show was also terrific, with some songs so firmly engrained in my head with scenes from the show (one in particular, Shura’s “What’s It Gonna Be” always makes me think of that scene where Charlie comes running after Nick in the rain to give him another kiss, which is what was playing in the background). Wednesday was another highlight, a surprising delight when I was prepared to have my hopes dashed, and The Serpent Queen was also a lot of fun. We also enjoyed The Bastard Son and the Devil Himself, but it was cancelled after its first season, which was disappointing.
Professionally, it was a pretty good year in which I had three book releases: #shedeservedit in January and A Streetcar Named Murder in December, with the anthology Land of 10000 Thrills, thrown in for good measure in the fall. I sold some short stories that haven’t come out yet, as well as some that did this last year: “The Rosary of Broken Promises,” “A Whisper from the Graveyard,””The Snow Globe,” and “This Thing of Darkness” all came out in anthologies this year, with “Solace in a Dying Hour” sold and probably coming out sometime in the spring. I also sold another story to another anthology that will probably come out in the new year as well, and I still have one out on submission. In what was probably the biggest surprise of the year, last year’s Bury Me in Shadows was nominated for not one, but TWO Anthony Awards (Best Paperback Original and Best Children’s/Young Adult) which was one of the biggest shocks of maybe not just the year, but definitely one of the highlights of my career thus far. I lost both to friends and enormously talented writers Jess Lourey and Alan Orloff respectively, which was kind of lovely. I had been nominated for Anthonys before (winning Best Anthology for Blood on the Bayou and “Cold Beer No Flies” was nominated for Best Short Story), but being nominated for one of my queer novels was such a thrill–and to have it nominated in two different categories was fucking lit, as the kids would say. The response to A Streetcar Named Murder was an incredibly pleasant surprise; people seemed to genuinely love the book, which was very exciting and cool.
I traveled quite a bit this year as well–going to Murder in the Magic City/Murder on the Menu, Left Coast Crime, the Edgars, Sleuthfest, and Bouchercon. I went to Kentucky twice to see my family, which further fueled my love of audiobooks for long drives–on both trips I listened to Ruth Ware on the way up and Carol Goodman on the way back–and also did some wonderful podcasts and panels on-line, which was nice. We didn’t go to any games this season in Baton Rouge, but in all honesty I don’t know if I can hang with a game day anymore–the drive there and back, the walk to and from the stadium, the game itself–I would probably need a week’s vacation afterwards!
College football was interesting this season, too. This season saw the reemergence of Tennessee, USC, and UCLA to some kind of relevance again; the slides of the programs at Texas A&M, Florida, Oklahoma, Auburn, and Texas continued; and LSU turned out to be the biggest surprise (for me) of the year. Going into the season I had hopes, as one always does, but after two years of consistent mediocrity (with some surprise wins both years) they weren’t very high. The opening loss to Florida State was a surprise and disappointment, but at least the Tigers came back and almost made it all the way to a win. The blowout loss to Tennessee at home was unpleasant, certainly, as was the loss at Texas A&M. But LSU beat Alabama this season! We also beat Mississippi, so LSU was 2-2 against Top Ten teams this season–and I would have thought it would be 0-4. And 9-4 is not a bad record for a transitional year, with a new coach rebuilding the program. And LSU beat Alabama. The Alabama game will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest Saturday night games in Tiger Stadium. It was incredibly exciting, and I still can’t quite wrap my mind around it or how it happened. It certainly shouldn’t have; LSU was simply not an elite-level team this past season, but what a job Brian Kelly did coaching in his first season in Baton Rouge. Did I mention that LSU beat Alabama this year? (And one really has to feel for Alabama, in a way; they lost two games by a total of four points on the last play of each game. Four. Points. That would probably be what I would call this season for Alabama: Four Points from Greatness. The LSU-Alabama game this year is definitely one of those that gets a nickname from the fan base, I am just not sure what it would be. The Double Earthquake Game? (The cheers when LSU scored in overtime and then made the two point conversion registered on the campus Richter scale) The Conversion Game? I don’t know what it will be named for all eternity, but it was an amazing game. I do think it also bodes well for the future for LSU. Will both LSU and Tennessee (which also beat Alabama for the first time in like fifteen years) be able to consistently compete with Alabama now? Has Georgia taken over as the SEC behemoth? Has the Alabama run ended? I don’t think so–they have an off year where they lose two or three games periodically (2010, 2019, 2022)–and they could bounce right back. next year and win it all again. You can never count them out, even in their off years.
As for the Saints, they swept Atlanta again this year, and that is enough for me.
I did write a lot this year, even though it didn’t seem like I actually did while the year was passing. I also worked on Chlorine and another project I am working on throughout the year, as well as the novellas, and of course, I was writing short stories and essays for much of the year. I also read a lot more New Orleans and Louisiana history, and I had tons of ideas for things to write all year long. I did make it to the gym on a fairly regular basis at the beginning of the year, but then it became more and more sporadic and after my COVID-19 experience, never again. I also injured my arm a few weeks ago–when I flex the bicep it feels like I have a Charley horse, so not good, but it doesn’t impact my day to day activities. I also had my colonoscopy at last this past year–the prep was horrific, and I am really dreading doing it again at sixty-five, should I make it that far.
Yesterday was a nice day. I was exhausted, and after my work-at-home duties were completed I did some chores–laundry, dishes–and I also spent some time both reading (A Walk on the Wild Side) and writing. I also watched the Clemson-Tennessee Orange Bowl last night before Paul got home from his dinner engagement and we watched a few more episodes of Sex Lives of College Girls. Today I am going to read a bit this morning with my coffee before getting cleaned up and diving headfirst back into the book. Paul has his trainer today and usually either goes to the gym to ride the bike or to his office to work for the rest of the afternoon, so I should be able to have some uninterrupted writing time, which will be lovely. And on that note I am heading into the spice mines. Have a happy and safe New Year’s Eve, Constant Reader, and I will check back in with you later.
Well, I met quota again last night which was marvelous. It’s still a bit chilly this morning. By the weekend it should be back into the seventies (it was yesterday as I ran my errands after work; it’s sixty-one this morning but it does feel colder outside of my bed and blankets), as the Alabama and Kansas State fans start arriving for the Sugar Bowl. LSU is also playing on New Years’ Day in the Citrus Bowl against Purdue, which will probably be the only game I actually watch that day.
There’s been a conversation going on over at Book Twitter lately that doesn’t really impact me in any way, but it’s been kind of interesting to follow. The conversation has to do with concerns about what is and isn’t considered y/a fiction as well as what is, or should be, considered age-appropriate reading material for teenagers and pre-teens. It doesn’t impact me because no one considers me a young adult writer, for one thing; despite having written numerous books with younger and/or teenaged characters (Sorceress, Sleeping Angel, Sara, Lake Thirteen, Dark Tide, Bury Me in Shadows, #shedeservedit), most people think of me as a gay mystery writer. Everything published under my own name is a mystery novel of some sort, whether it’s one of the series books or one of the stand-alones. I’ve never really marketed myself as a writer of young adult fiction, really; I shy away from that, I think, because of The Virginia Incident and the subconscious fear that one day that controversy might resurrect itself (which is ludicrous, and I know that; it certainly would have by now and it hasn’t, which further proves my belief that The Incident had nothing to do with me or my writing or my career and everything to do with systemic homophobia and othering used for political gain). It just seems weird to me that in less than five years after that happened–when I was deemed a menace to America’s youth–I could publish books for teenagers without a single whiff of complaint or scandal or even the raise of a single eyebrow.
Interesting, isn’t it? Almost like the whole thing was just more smoke and mirrors whose sole intent was to rile the homophobic base.
I just love that my existence is considered by some as a constant and continued threat to children.
One of the things that has always mystified me over the years is what is and isn’t considered age-appropriate. Intellectually I was far more advanced that most of my classmates (my emotional and personal maturity being an entire other subject–I’d say I am still behind on that score) and I started reading early. The library and the Scholastic Book Fairs were my best friends as a child, and I read everything I could get my hands on. I loved history, from which grew an appreciation and love for historical fiction (which I really don’t read much of anymore, which is odd. I really want to read Hilary Mantel’s Cromwell books…) and of course, my grandmother got me interested in “scary” movies and mysteries.
You’d think I’d be a huge fan of historical mysteries, but I actually don’t read many of them. I did love Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series, and I’ve become a huge fan of Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell series…I think exploring historical mysteries might be a project for 2023.
But the point was I was reading books far too advanced for most people my age when I was young. I freely will admit that in my first read of Gone with the Wind at age ten I didn’t know Rhett raped Scarlett the night of Ashley’s surprise birthday party–it wasn’t until a reread in my late teens where I thought oh, this isn’t right–let alone that she enjoyed being overpowered and forced. I also read The Godfather when I was ten, and there was no mistaking anything about Sonny Corleone and Lucy Mancini. He had a cock the size of a horse’s and her vagina was apparently the Lincoln Tunnel. (Although the she felt something burning pass between her thighs still mystifies me to this day.) I also read The Exorcist when I was ten and I was also very well aware of what was going on in the crucifix masturbation scene. As a kid, I was fascinated by these sex scenes (aka “the dirty parts”), and it wasn’t until I was older than I began to question the entire Sonny-Lucy thing (and why it was even in the book in the first place); and while the crucifix scene was gross, shocking and basically icky to me at ten–when I reread the book sometime in the past decade it seemed prurient, to be honest–used primarily for shock value and to get people to talk about it.
So, yes, I started reading books for adults when I was around ten. I also read Antonia Fraser’s Mary Queen of Scots and Robert K. Massie’s Nicholas and Alexandra that same year–I remember doing a book report on Mary Queen of Scots and my teacher not believing that I had read the thick volume; he started opening the book at random and asking me questions–which I was able to answer, so he grudgingly accepted the book report and gave me an A. (Teachers have doubted me all of my life; can’t imagine why I am insecure about my intelligence…)
Over the course of my teens I also read books by Harold Robbins, Sidney Sheldon, Jackie Collins, Jacqueline Susann and Gordon Merrick-every last one of them crammed to the gills with racy sex scenes. I was also reading Stephen King, Irving Wallace, Herman Wouk, Agatha Christie, Ellery Queen, Jean Plaidy, Victoria Holt, Phyllis A. Whitney and any number of authors who wrote for adult audiences not teens. Were there things in the books I didn’t understand? Sure there were. Were there things in those books that were probably inappropriate for teenagers? Undoubtedly. (I’ve also never forgotten the scene in Joyce Haber’s The Users where a Liza Minnelli-based character fucked herself with her own Oscar; some images are simply too vivid to forget methinks.)
This is one reason I shy away from calling some of my books with teenagers “young adult” novels. Megan Abbott’s Dare Me centered teenagers, but I would never consider Dare Me a young adult novel. I was thinking about this the other night while watching Sex Lives of College Girls (it’s hilarious, you really should be watching); can I authentically write about teenagers anymore? Have I ever been able to? I don’t speak their language anymore, and I haven’t been one in over forty years (!!!!); I don’t know the technology they use or their slang or what they watch or listen to. I don’t know what today’s teens think about virginity and sexuality these days; do the tired old tropes still exist? Does that whole “good girl/bad girl” dynamic still exist, or are today’s teenaged girls a bit more sophisticated than they were when I was in high school when it comes to sex and sexuality? (Contrasting two high school shows with queer content makes you wonder–there’s the jaded cynicism of the rich kids in Elite vs the wholesome purity and innocence and sweetness of Heartstopper, which also had me wondering–although I feel certain Heartstopper might be closer to reality than Elite…or that’s just my hope?) Of course I have other ideas for more books about young people–I have another in-progress one that’s been sitting around for a very long time that I need to repurpose–and I’d kind of like to write more at some point, but I don’t know. My suburban 70’s serial killer preying on teenaged boys book would be told from the perspective of a twelve year old, but it would definitely not be a young adult novel–but will probably be marketed and sold as one.
And on that note I am heading into the spice mines on my last day in the office for 2022. Check back in with you later, Constant Reader.
It’s always amused me that Santa is an anagram for Satan.
They may even be the only anagrams possible for each word, too.
We’re in a severe weather alert, but mostly the fear is flooding and torrential rain–the massive area under tornado watch is north of here–and it’s dark outside this morning as I sip my coffee and write this. My sleep was spotty again last night–waking up occasionally before falling back asleep again–but I do feel rested, and that’s the most important thing. Progress was made on the book yesterday, which is terrific and ever-so-pleasing to me. I did my errands yesterday after work without issue, but of course once I was home and had worked on the book for awhile, was terribly tired. I cannot allow that to happen when I get home this evening, as there are dishes to be put away and another load to be put into the washer. I’d like to spend some more time with A Walk on the Wild Side this evening as well; I need to finish it if I want to read the new Donna Andrews on Christmas day.
It’s hard to believe that Christmas is next weekend already. It doesn’t seem like it, but what would be really lovely–if it’s not a downpour when I get home from work tonight–would be to take a walk around the neighborhood and through the Garden District documenting decorations. I should make a point of this every year during Christmas and Carnival, frankly. I’ve never seen a city before that loved to decorate as much as New Orleans does–or does it even remotely as well.
But the coffee is good this morning and it’s getting light outside–grayish, really–and hopefully I won’t get rained on while driving to work. (Note to self: if it isn’t raining, bring umbrella inside from the car in case it’s raining when I leave.) I think we’re going to buy our new refrigerator this weekend, which is good since the one we currently have is absolutely on its last legs. I wanted to gt one with the freezer on the bottom, but for some reason those are a lot more expensive–by an absurd amount. So, it looks like we’ll probably get the normal kind with the freezer on the top–or maybe we can spring for a bit more and get one with side by side doors, which would be almost as effective (it’s the bending down that’s starting to get to me), but we’ll see. I think we’re just going to go to Costco and see what they have.
Yesterday a friend posted a list of all the things she accomplished in 2022–which she compiled after feeling like she really hadn’t done much during the year, and was pleasantly surprised to see how much she had, in fact, managed to do. I was thinking about this myself the other night–not that I hadn’t done much throughout the year, but rather that I’d had a rather bad year, but once I sat down and started thinking about it, it’s actually been a good year for me; actually a very good year indeed when all is said and done. Oddly enough, when I sit and look back emotionally, without going into much more depth, it was a year in which my primary memories are tired and miserable. And yet…productivity wise it may not have been my strongest year, but it was still a good year. Bury Me in Shadows was nominated for two Anthony Awards at Bouchercon this year; it’s not the first time one person was nominated multiple times in the same year (hell, S. A. Cosby was nominated for three awards, and I think Tracy Clark was also up for two this year alone) but it’s a select group to be sure and one to which I am proud to belong. I have no way of verifying it either, but I am pretty certain it was the first time the same book was nominated in two different categories. Those were also my third and fourth Anthony nominations, which I think may also make me the most nominated queer author? It’s hard to say because they don’t have full lists of the finalists from every year anywhere, so you can’t really look it up and verify anything, so I hate to make claims that may not be true. But I think they’re true, and even if they aren’t, I am certainly one of the most nominated queer authors. The positive reception Bury Me in Shadows got on its release continued into the early part of this year as well, just as #shedeservedit came out. That one didn’t get near the attention as its predecessor, but it’s a book I am really proud of and am happy to have not only finished but published. I also finished writing A Streetcar Named Murder earlier this year, and I couldn’t be more pleased with its reception, either. I worked on other things throughout the year–short stories, some novellas, and two other novels (Chlorine and Muscles, to be precise)–and while I didn’t get a lot of stories out there and sold this year, I did sell a couple of which I am proud–one I can’t mention as it isn’t public yet, and the other being “Solace in a Dying Hour,” which I sold to an Austalian anthology and it’s a pretty damned good story. I also sold “The Rosary of Broken Promises” to an Anne Rice tribute anthology, and I still have one out on submission. “This Thing of Darkness” was in Cupid Shot Me, an anthology that was released on Valentine’s Day last year–so yeah, that’s at least four stories, and there’s another anthology that’s supposed to come out sometime this month which has my story “A Whisper from the Graveyard” in it.
I also edited the Bouchercon anthology, which took up a lot of my time between January and June. Land of 10000 Thrills is a great anthology, with some absolutely amazing contributors and great stories, and the contributors themselves were not only amazing talents but delights to work with. The anthology caused me a lot more stress than editing an anthology used to–primarily because there were so many demands on my time this past year, which I think is part of the reason I felt miserable for most of the year; my massive to-do list never seemed to get finished and always seemed to keep growing. It satisfies my OCD and need for completion to finish to-do lists, and it also subconsciously makes me think I’ve accomplished things. When tasks don’t get done because I simply don’t have the time or the energy to get to them, that makes me feel like I am failing. I also have to adjust my expectations downward, because I am older and don’t have the energy I used to have–and I really don’t want or need to start taking any kind of stimulant. I probably should cut back on the coffee, frankly.
And on that note, I am going to head into the spice mines. Have a lovely day, Constant Reader, and I’ll check in with you again tomorrow.