Italian Summer

Eight or so years ago at this time Paul and I were in Italy. Sigh, Italy. God, how I love that country. I would love to live there in a village in Tuscany–well, really, anywhere in Italy would work just fine, really. I do so hope we’ll be able to go back someday. I’d love to see Pompeii, Milan, and Rome. And both Corfu and Capri–especially after reading (listening) to Carol Goodman’s wonderful The Night Villa. (One of the real life incidents she mentioned in the book from Capri’s history fascinated me, and took me down a wormhole and now I want to write about that historical incident, of course.) I have since written a short novella (or long short story) set in Italy called “Don’t Look Down,” which was included in Survivor’s Guilt and Other Stories, and I have another novella-in-progress set in Venice called “Festival of the Redeemer,” which I hope to polish and edit at some point before the end of the year. Sigh, Italy. What a beautiful country, with lovely friendly people and the most amazing food and….so beautiful. You can see why the Renaissance flourished there.

I got the final edits on “Solace in a Dying Hour”–two questions (one in which I had made a mistake) and the rest was copy edits and the deletion of a paragraph. So that’s a wrap, methinks, and I am really fond of the story, too. It was my first venture into Louisiana urban legends and myth; well, really the second, because I did write “Rougarou” about a decade ago, but it’s been a while since I’ve turned to Louisiana legend and folklore to write a story, and writing about le feu follet was a lot of fun. I want to do more of these, of course; as Constant Reader may remember, I’ve become fascinated by the story of Julia Brown and the Great Hurricane of 1915, when her town, Freniere, was wiped off the map. Freniere was located on that narrow strip of land running between Lake Maurepas and Lake Pontchartrain; if you’re driving west out of New Orleans on I-10, and then take the Hammond exit north on I-55, that’s the land the bridge is built on (when you’re actually driving over dry land, that is). I’ve always called that swamp the Manchac Swamp, but I don’t think that’s it’s real name (and I’ve called it that in books, too. Yikes!). You cannot get to the location where either Freniere or Ruddock (the other town in that area that was wiped away by the Great Hurricane of 1915) any way except by boat; apparently some of the swamp tours will swing by the old location where the graveyards still are, but the wreckage and remains of the towns are long gone. Both towns were only reachable by train or boat when they actually existed; there were no roads in or out of town, which always makes me think why would anyone want to live in such a remote and isolated place? But yes, you can bet the witch Julia Brown will appear someday in something I write.

I also got a rejection for a story yesterday, but it was one that I expected so it didn’t sting. I knew it was a long shot to begin with, so that’s fine, and I can certainly send it to another market, which I will most likely do after reading it again to make sure it’s actually quite terrible and I was in a complete state of denial about it being publishable in the first place. Rejection is just part of the game, of course, and there are any number of reasons your story doesn’t get accepted that have nothing to do with the story’s quality itself. I like my story and I think it’s clever, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be looked over another time, you know?

I feel rested this morning. I was very tired when I got off work yesterday afternoon, which is fine; I’d rather be tired after work then during it, you know? I didn’t get much of anything done once I got home, either–I had to pick up the mail and a prescription on my way home; today I can just come straight home–and I have some things I need to get taken care of when I get home from work tonight. Which is cool, I think I can spend a bit of time preparing (I have to make a promotional video–which clearly I’ve been putting off as it is due to be turned in tomorrow) and of course, I have to make the kitchen in the background behind me look–well, not embarrassing for me, at the very least. (Although I don’t know how much more embarrassed I can get filming myself. I hate the sound of my voice and I hate the way I look on video recordings–mainly because the actuality of how I look does not come close to the way I see myself in my head–pictures, recordings and the mirror often provide deeply disturbing shocks for me.)

And on that note, I am going to head into the spice mines this morning. Y’all have a marvelous day, and I’ll be back tomorrow for another entry. See you then!

Fall from Grace

Thursday, and one more day before the weekend. The weeks just seem to flit past these days–my birthday and Bouchercon will be upon us before we know it–and August is definitely here in New Orleans. It’s so weird, as though the weather somehow knows and thinks hey, it’s August–bet you thought it was ALREADY humid, didn’t you, New Orleans? WELL HOLD MY FUCKING BEER I WILL SHOW YOU HUMIDITY. My windshield kept fogging up all the way into work yesterday morning, and for some reason when I turned on the defroster to get rid of it, it never blew warm air, which is a concern. Sigh, that means another day off and another trip to the dealer on the West Bank (but the plus to that is either Sonic or Five Guys!), but I’ll figure all that out after Bouchercon in September. And who knows? It may have just been a quirk this morning or something, who knows? I really do wish my parents had let me take Auto Shop in high school.

I also wish I had a driveway so I could wash my car at home. But if wishes were horses….that would be a good title, methinks: If Wishes Were Horses.

Yesterday wasn’t so bad, really. I slept well on Tuesday night–at least far better than I had on Monday night, for sure–and so yesterday morning wasn’t the loss that Tuesday morning was. I hate those days after insomnia takes its inevitable toll on me physically and mentally; it’s the worst, frankly. I’ve also agreed to write another short story by the end of the year–if not two, but I am not sure about either, to be honest–and I think I probably already have things on hand that I can use for both, if I so chose. There’s also a submission call for stories based on Alice Cooper songs that sounds interesting–“Welcome to My Nightmare” is such an obvious choice for me, but I would imagine a lot of people would choose that one so if I am going to write something for this I want to be a bit more obscure with my song choice….although “School’s Out” could be really fun. Hmmmm.

I also finished the revision of “Solace in a Dying Hour.” I hope they like the changes I made, else I will soon find out otherwise. I am very pleased with the story–the editorial suggestions were absolutely 100% perfect; there’s nothing like editors who are worth their weight in gold, seriously–and now…I think I am all caught up and can focus solely on Mississippi River Mischief for the next few months. I do have some other stories to write over the course of writing the Scotty, as I mentioned above, but it’s always lovely when the things that are causing you stress–even if it’s only a small bit of stressful discomfort–are taken care of and out of the way. I really loved writing this story, though, and I hope people like it when the anthology is released. It’s my second-ever story about a Louisiana “urban legend”–the first was “Rougarou,” which was about a, well, a rougarou, aka a Cajun werewolf (“rougarou” is a Cajun bastardization of the French loup-garou)–and this time I wrote about le feu follet. Maybe someday that collection Monsters of Louisiana will actually come to fruition…

I did come straight home from work yesterday, and did a load of laundry and cleaned out the sink and ran the dishwasher. I also did some filing, but by the time I retired to my easy chair to relax, I was too tired to read and so I started watching things on Youtube before remembering there was a new episode of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, which I tuned into for awhile until Paul got home, and we switched over to Only Murders in the Building and Control Z before going to bed. I was dozing off in the chair during Control Z, which I am not really following–the plot has become incredibly insane, over the top, and hard to follow, let alone make sense of–before retiring for the evening. I think we have a fairly light clinic schedule today as well, which is always a lovely way to finish off my time in the clinic. Tomorrow morning I have a department meeting followed by the monkeypox training, which I am actually looking forward to–I did discover that I won’t be vaccinating anyone, but I am going to be trained on the virus and how it spreads and how to reduce risk for exposure and infection. (It was kind of a relief, frankly; I loathe needles and shots, and while I had come to accept that I needed to learn and it could help me get over my phobia of needles–like how doing finger-sticks every day got me over my squeamishness with blood–I am really glad, Constant Reader, that I won’t be doing it.)

I also seem to have slept really well last night, too, which is nice. I did wake up at three again–I’ve woken up at three every morning this week, which is peculiar–but was able to fall back asleep with ease and I feel pretty good this morning. Maybe not quite “I can conquer the world!” but something akin to that, methinks. I feel rested and alert, which is always a plus. I have a couple of errands to run today on the way home from work, and then I am hopefully going to be able to settle in for some Scotty writing.

One can hope, at any rate.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely Thursday, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again tomorrow, okay?

Trouble in Shangri-La

Wednesday morning and out of nowhere, my insomnia returned last night. I am assuming it was an aberration of some sort; too much brain usage yesterday after a long respite or something like that. I don’t feel either sleepy or tired or mentally fatigued or anything this morning, so hopefully I can make it through the day without it being challenging. I also get to leave work early this afternoon because I have a doctor’s appointment. Nothing serious, just the semi-annual check-up/prescription refill once over, and that will get me home much earlier than usual. Maybe I can get some more work done tonight when I get home from work. Stranger things have happened. At the very least, I should be able to get back to reading my book, Sandra SG Wong’s marvelous In the Dark We Forget, which I am enjoying tremendously.

We finished watching Mind Over Murder last night–the final episode finally dropped–and it’s really such a sad story on every level. I don’t know, the more of these documentaries that are made and the more injustices they expose on a far-too-regular basis makes me wonder about the police and the job they are doing. I wouldn’t ever want to be a cop–under any circumstance–but at the same time, yikes. Big time yikes on every level. I mean, as I was watching this last night I was thinking about how in most countries everyone fears the police, who are agents of the state and often above the law…and how this is one of the few countries in the world that celebrates the police, embracing them, when the truth is the Constitution was written to define the rights of citizens to protect us from abuses from agents of the state. There’s some essay forming in my head about this, to be sure.

In other exciting news, I got some ARCS for A Streetcar Named Murder in yesterday’s mail, and the book looks fantastic. I absolutely love the cover, and I appreciate that they drew the cat to resemble Scooter–the cat in the book is also named Scooter, and now that I think about, I think Scotty has a cat named Scooter. That’s me, immortalizing my cat in literature for all time. I am trying to cap my excitement about the book (naturally, I am very excited about it, but trying to rein it in a bit)–and of course, have been having all kinds of Imposter Syndrome thoughts about it not selling and getting bad reviews and so forth–but I am going to just go on being happy right now that the book is finished, for all intents and purposes (still have to proof the pages this weekend) and going to focus on getting the Bouchercon anthology finished as well as getting underway with Mississippi River Mischief. I’m kind of excited to be writing about Scotty again–funny how writing him never feels old to me; I always get a bit happy about going to revisit his world and his circle of family and friends–and writing it also means having to do a bit of travel and research outside of New Orleans, since the book is going to be partially set in a fictitious river or bayou parish. (Which I have cleverly named St. Jeanne d’Arc–although that begs the question of why there isn’t actually a St. Jeanne d’Arc parish in Louisiana…)

A quick glance at my inbox also shows that the edits for my story “Solace in a Dying Hour” have also dropped, so that’s something else to go on the agenda/to-do list for this week. I am really proud of this story, to be honest, and I am really curious to see the edits (one of the co-editors is who I worked with on the Sherlock story “The Affair of the Purloined Rentboy,” and her edits were fucking AMAZING) and see how much more work is needed on the story. I also have until Sunday to decide whether to submit that story I am not sure about anymore to that anthology I wanted to submit it to–that was quite a sentence, wasn’t it?–but I don’t know about it, you know? Although I suppose if it is really horrifically tone deaf and offensive they won’t accept it…but I also don’t want anyone else to read it if it is offensive and tone deaf. Ah, well, I have until the weekend to decide one way or the other.

I also am about half-way finished with getting the copy edits to the contributors to the Bouchercon anthology. I probably won’t get much, if any, of that done today, but stranger things have happened. Maybe when I get home early tonight Scooter won’t be whiny and demanding a lap to fall asleep in…or not.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely Wednesday, Constant Reader, and I will talk to you again tomorrow morning.

Talk to Me

And now it’s Wednesday. I have to go to bed super-early tonight so I can get up for my flight tomorrow morning at the obscene departure time of 7:50. I need to rehearse my reading tonight, make sure that I have everything packed that needs to be packed, and perhaps even put everything in the car tonight–the suitcase in the hatch, at any rate; I don’t think I want my laptop in the car overnight in this heat and humidity. Probably not the wisest course to chart, no doubt. Yesterday was a weird one; the strangeness of the three day weekend morphing into a Tuesday that felt like a Monday (since Monday is usually my work-at-home day of the week, I felt like a holiday Monday shouldn’t have affected my perception of the start of the week, but nevertheless it did and there we were). The weather was also bad–gloomy and gray and thunderstorms all morning–it would have been an absolutely lovely day to stay in bed under the blankets with a good book, but alas, that was not to be.

Why couldn’t the thunderstorm have been MONDAY morning? When I could stay in bed all morning if I so chose? Heavy heaving sigh. Mother Nature clearly has it in for me, and I don’t like it one bit. DO BETTER.

Ugh, so much to do before I leave tomorrow morning. Heavy heaving sigh.

It doesn’t look like we’re going to get much rain today; if any at all. I have to run errands after work today, then come home and pack before going to bed early; I don’t feel as groggy this morning as I usually do on these mornings, which means maybe I slept well last night; I do feel like I did–I feel much more rested this morning than I did yesterday morning (low bar, to be fair) and that’s good. I was feeling tired most of yesterday, which is a feeling I really do not like much; it impairs my ability to get things done and I also feel like I don’t work as well with my clients when I am tired. That’s probably just me being hard on myself, but who would i be if I wasn’t hard on myself? Certainly not one Gregalicious, that’s for sure.

I sold my story “Solace in a Dying Hour” to that anthology that asked me to submit, which is, of course, absolutely a lovely thing. The story needs some more revision, which I am fine with–I trust editors, and I’ve always been lucky for the most part with the ones I’ve dealt with (I have had some horror stories, of course–who hasn’t?–but overall I cannot complain for the most part); I know this editor’s input made the last story I sold to her far better than what I originally sent in for the anthology. And this is a story of which I am inordinately proud; I really liked the idea behind it and what I did with it once I started writing it. (I am particularly pleased with the ending, he typed modestly.)

And it’s also Pay-the-Bills Day. But as I always rationalize to myself, at least I can pay the bills and buy groceries without worry, no matter how painful it is to pay the fucking bills. So, tonight when I get off work I get to run errands, do some laundry, clean up the kitchen, and pack so I am ready for the five AM alarm to go off in the morning so I can head to the airport. Heavy heaving sigh. I always have this dread of traveling before the whole thing gets underway. Here’s hoping that I will be able to sleep once I get there.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely Wednesday, Constant Reader, and I will talk to you again tomorrow–possibly from the airport itself.

Here Comes the Sun

Wednesday and yet another edition of Pay-the-Bills Day (woo-hoo?). Another fairly restful night of sleep, one more day to get up this early this week, and before I know it, it’s the weekend. Huzzah!

Yesterday wasn’t a bad day. I wasn’t tired until late in the afternoon, and I stopped at the grocery store on the way home from the office (Christ, the price of everything has so dramatically increased!) and then came home to do a load of dishes and finish the laundry I’d started the night before. Paul was home late from the office–we watched an episode of Why Are We Like This, which is a very weird show about three young people that are friends and kind of awful, but it had some funny moments. I think it’s an Australian show? It was short, and that was really the point–Paul got home too late for us to watch a show that lasted an hour, and I think we’re all caught up on hour-length shows anyway–and then it was off to bed with me. I did work on “Never Kiss a Stranger” again last night–I got the sinking suspicion I was making the story too long again, but I don’t care; the whole point of a novella is you have more room than you do in a short story. I also spent some time cleaning up my CV–it’s still not entirely up to date, but I really don’t want to get that box down from the attic with all my newspaper and magazine articles stored inside, so I can make it up to date–but at least now the short story section is accurate and in date order (I may still be missing some; you never know, and there are so many! I also discovered that I have at least two stories in print that I do not have electronic copies of; that’s not great).

I also got my schedule for Sleuthfest next month in Fort Lauderdale; which is great. I am looking forward to attending–even if it’s going to be ridiculously hot in Lauderdale when I am there–and there are going to be some great people there for me to see. I am hoping, as always, to get inspired while there by listening to great writers and fun people talking about books and writing.

It did occur to me last night that spending this week (and this week only!) working on “Never Kiss a Stranger” might not be the best use of this “in-between books” week, but I don’t really care. The fact that I finished significant edits on a book–edits that had me apparently so stressed that I felt tired all the time as well as defeated (more writer insanity, really)–and was able to write any fiction almost immediately thereafter is a miracle in and of itself; but I do know I need to get my shit together with short story submissions and writing for anthology calls. A task, perhaps, for this weekend. I am actually looking forward, though, to not having anything to work on or do–oh, crap, I forgot about my workshop on Saturday morning, so much for having a weekend free…but at least that doesn’t mean having to write anything much. And it won’t kill me to get up early on Saturday and drive out there.

Or will it?

According to my Fitbit, my sleep hasn’t been great the last two nights, yet I have felt rested and relaxed every morning when I get up. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, of course, but as long as I don’t feel fatigue–mentally, physically, emotionally–I call that a big win. I’m also waiting for the final approval (or more edits) for “Solace in a Dying Hour”–fingers crossed that it’s an acceptance; as a general rule anthology editors don’t ask for a revision unless they are planning on using the story (not always true; one anthology editor made me rewrite a story three times only to end up not using it–and I will never, under any circumstance, submit to that editor again; she also lied to me about the reason for not using the story–apparently she thought I was a rank amateur who has never published much; imagine telling someone who has won awards for editing anthologies–and certainly more awards for editing that this particular fucking editor–a bald-faced lie to excuse their thoroughly unprofessional conduct, and if it wasn’t a lie…well, you are a fucking shitty unprofessional editor. Then again, we’ve already ascertained that she’s an unprofessional piece of shit, haven’t we? Not even a ‘sorry I made you work so hard on this story I’m not going to use, here’s a token payment as an appreciation for what I put you through.’)

I guess my segment on Great Day Louisiana aired yesterday? It was supposed to at any rate; I never heard one way or the other; I just did a search of my name on their website and nothing came up, which is also fine. I always hate seeing and/or listening to recordings of me–I’ve always wanted to transcribe the character workshop I did for Sleuthfest ten or so years ago but it would also require me to listen to my voice as I transcribed–transcription also takes forever–for hours on repeat and I think I would rather drink bleach to wash down a salad of broken glass than listen to my own voice over and over again.

All right, that’s enough tedium for today. Sorry to be such a bore! And I am off to the spice mines.

Funky Nassau

Ah, I’ve always wanted to visit the Bahamas; today’s title reminds me of Black Sails and Nassau in the islands. (I wonder if I should revisit/rewatch that show? Yes, Greg, because you have so much free time.) Heavy heaving sigh. Tomorrow is the day I drive north, so today will be a frantic day of packing and getting ready for tomorrow’s journey. I’ll have to stop at the store on the way home to pick up a few things (today is also Pay the Bills Day) and then make a list of what to pack and try to get that all taken care of as quickly as possible so I can relax before going to bed. I am still making progress on the edits–Lord, it’s taking forever–so I want to be able to work on that some more tonight too, so I have less to work on while I am up there. The more I get done, the less I have to do.

And the less I have to do, the better.

I feel rested this morning but somewhat tired–kind of a drained feeling, really–but I am hoping the coffee and this morning’s shower will take care of that. It might not–you never know–but I am ever hopeful. I am sure I have a busy schedule of clients this morning and all day, which helps the day go by faster, frankly, and I am trying to get things taken care of before I leave, since I have no idea how much time I’ll be able to spend doing anything. It’s shitty to go visit my parents and then hole up in my room working the whole time I am there, especially since it’s only two full days before I have to drive back home again. I am also glad Monday is a holiday so I can spend the day getting ready for the work-week; getting groceries and so forth to prepare, etc.–and of course, I can spend Monday finishing the edits if need be (hopefully that won’t be the case, but….). My preference would be to spend Monday getting groceries and relaxing around the apartment, while getting things done–like laundry and so forth–while I rest and relax and read in my easy chair. I am also going to have to go to WWL’s studio on TUesday morning to tape an interview for Great Day Louisiana–this came about because I am teaching a workshop on writing sex scenes at the West Jefferson Parish Library next month and they got in touch with the library to see if I wanted to go on their show. As I hate the way I look on film and really hate the sound of my own voice, I doubt I’ll watch once it airs (I’d probably be at work anyway when it airs) but this is kind of a good promotional opportunity for me and it’s kind of cool. I’m enormously flattered to be asked.

I also had to spend some time yesterday answering interview questions to be the featured author on the Three Rooms Press website for June (Pride month); of course I went on at great length about everything and will inevitably not be surprised to see it edited it down because my answers were so damned long–please, ask me to talk about myself and my career and my writing! It’s very weird because I feel like for some reason I am in demand lately, after months of feeling like a loser here at my desk in the Lost Apartment that no one cared about, LOL. I did also get some editorial suggestions for my story “Solace in a Dying Hour” that will make the story stronger and better, so I of course am going to agree to them so they will accept the story, which is also kind of cool–I really liked that story, so am glad the editors did as well. Who knows, maybe I will actually start to develop some confidence in my writing–ha ha ha, just kidding, but I think you all knew that already. I will never have confidence in my writing–not so long as that little voice is there in the back of my head whispering poison.

I hate that little voice. I probably should get back into therapy.

The world continues to go insane a bit more every day. Yesterday’s massacre of children in Texas–along with the hypocritical “oh my heart breaks thoughts and prayers” tweets from the trash who make this sort of thing possible is, quite frankly, enraging. Gotta keep that Russian oligarch cash flowing through the NRA to our politicians, don’t we? I am so glad I chose never to be a parent. I don’t think I could face sending my kids to school every day knowing there was a possibility they’d got shot in their classroom. The true religion in this country isn’t Christianity–it’s the worship of guns and ammunition. There is nothing more holy in this country than the 11th Commandment, aka as the Second Amendment. Every other right enshrined in the Constitution has been defined, limited, questioned, you name it–but not the holiest of holies–which wasn’t important enough to be included in the first amendment, was it?

And on that angry note, I am heading into the spice mines.

Whatcha See is Whatcha Get

Good morning, Constant Reader, and a happy Thursday to you. I am a bit groggy this morning as I swill my first cup of coffee, but Scooter has already been fed and so at least the cat cries have stopped.

For now, at least.

I slept pretty well last night again, and maybe my body has readjusted to my work schedule already, which is nice and I was a bit concerned that it might take a while for that to happen. But I seem to have slipped right back into the routine I was in before I left for New York, and that is, of course, quite lovely. I stopped at the grocery store on my way home from the office yesterday and picked up a few things, then once I was home I retired to my easy chair to edit “Solace in a Dying Hour,” which actually is a much better story than I thought it was. In fairness to me, expecting the story to need a great deal of work really isn’t a case of Imposter Syndrome, as one might have expected (it so often is just that), but rather because it was so hard for me to write and took me so long to get into the story groove. It’s actually not bad at all, and just needs some tweaking here and there; which I should be able to do tonight and get turned in by the end of the day. This is actually rather nice, and I am most pleased about it, in all honesty. By the time I’d finished, Scooter was in my lap and I tuned in to get caught up on Superman and Lois; Paul came home while I was watching and we switched to the new Jane Seymour mystery series on Acorn, which is quite good. I’ve always appreciated Jane Seymour and thought she was more talented than she often received credit for; I suppose being a Mini-series Queen during the 1980s didn’t really help all that much–but I thought she was exceptional in the adaptation of East of Eden that was done in the 80’s, in which she played Steinbeck’s perhaps most evil creation, Cathy Ames. (She was also good as Natalie in War and Remembrance, having a remarkably long career for someone who started as a Bond girl in Live and Let Die.) The show is Harry Wild, and we quite enjoyed it; although it’s hard to think of a British crime series we haven’t enjoyed.

I also didn’t get an opportunity to read any more of my Carol Goodman novel, either, which didn’t please me. Perhaps tonight I can relax with my book and the Gothic story of what is going on at that boarding school on the lake. Really, y’all, if you’ve not read anything by Carol Goodman, you really should. But tonight I am coming straight home from the office–no detours, no stops to make–and so hopefully that means I can spend some good quality time reading tonight. Fingers crossed, at any rate, especially since Saturday I have an appointment in the late morning and a ZOOM appearance to make in the mid-afternoon, which means I won’t have a lot of time to do much of anything on Saturday other than making the kitchen background to my computer camera neat and tidy.

I was also delighted to see that the Saints signed former LSU and Kansas City Chiefs standout (and local high school star from St. Augustine’s) TYRANN MATHIEU. The Honey Badger is finally coming home to New Orleans (HUZZAH!) and I think this was an incredibly smart move by the Saints. Mathieu has already proven himself to be a leader who is interested in helping and giving back to the community (he helped fund the new state-of-the-art training center for the LSU football team, for example, despite the fact that he was kicked off the team and out of school for infractions after his sophomore year), and what better brand ambassador in the city of New Orleans for the Saints than a local kid who made good? I’ve never really understood why the Saints never signed anyone from LSU over the many years since Sean Payton took over–especially since so many of those stars were from either New Orleans or Louisiana–but maybe it was a “local hero ego” kind of thing. Who knows? (Paul and I dreamed that Joey Burrow would end up playing for the Saints, but that would have been too much to hope for, really.) I’ll be actually curious to see how LSU and the Saints will do this year; I remember the last time new coaches came in to both around the same time was 2005 at LSU (Les Miles) and 2006 with the Saints (Sean Payton)–both of those turned out well, so here’s hoping the new coaches at both for 2022 will also turn out well.

As always with football season, hope springs eternal.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely Thursday, Constant Reader!

I Love You For All Seasons

I really really love my life.

Sunday morning in the Lost Apartment, and my sleep schedule appears to have snapped back to normal. I slept decently last night–not as decently as I was sleeping in New York, for some reason, but at the same time I was worried that my sleep patterns were going to need to be reset once I got home and that would be problematic–and feel pretty decent this morning, although my coffee doesn’t taste right (which is concerning, obviously; loss of taste is a symptom of the dreaded COVID-19 but I decided to snack on something and I can taste it, so I’m not sure what the deal with the coffee is this morning; it tastes watery to me). I started doing laundry last night (unpacking the suitcases directly into the washing machine) so I have to get that finished today, and there are some other tedious chores I need to get done. I also need to make groceries and go to Costco at some point.

The flight home was uneventful, but you could see the differences between the red and blue parts of the country in evidence: LaGuardia Airport almost everyone was masked, no one was in Nashville. But everything was on time, our bags arrived, the shuttle to the parking lot came almost immediately, and we were able to get home within slightly more than an hour after our flight landed. I miss Scooter, of course; we can’t pick him up until tomorrow from the kitty spa so the Lost Apartment feels very strange not having him bitching at me for food or cuddles every so often. After the inevitable re-acclimatization to being home, we watched two episodes of Ozark, which is heading for its finale before retiring for the evening for bed. I am going to hate finishing Ozark, a show I’ve loved from the beginning for its intricate plotting and exceptional character development. Today I’ve got to dig through the emails and start making lists and getting shit done. I need to finish this short story, I need to make a lot of plans, and I need to get my life and career kickstarted. New York was lovely, as always, and it was probably one of the best trips I’ve had in a very long time. (Not much competition, I have to confess, but still.) Because I slept so well the entire time I was gone I didn’t come home exhausted, and all I am really experiencing this morning is “I flew yesterday” fatigue of a bit. But I am feeling just as motivated as I was feeling while I was up there, and it is lovely to be back staring at my enormous computer screen again (note to self: make eye appointment stat) with something other than dread and that horrible overwhelmed feeling. Sure, I have a lot to do, but let’s face it–I can do it.

I finished reading Mango, Mambo, and Murder on the flight from LaGuardia to Nashville (chef’s kiss, Raquel; more on that later) and then started reading Carol Goodman’s debut novel, The Lake of Dead Languages, originally published twenty years ago. I’ve become a big fan of Carol’s and need to read more of her canon; I’ve loved everything she’s written that I’ve read and this book is no exception. (If you’re not reading Carol Goodman, shame on you and correct that immediately) She is also as delightful in person as she is on the page–I met her at St. Petersburg Bouchercon at the HarperCollins cocktail party, and I fanboyed all over the place and I regret NOTHING. I’m also looking forward to digging into more of the TBR pile as well as some of the new additions I picked up off the book table after the banquet. I also read Hemingway’s To Have and Have Not while I was on this trip (more on that later), so my reading mojo seems to be back; I think I am going to try to have at least an hour set aside every day to read. I also have to read Ellen Byron’s Bayou Book Thief before our bookstore event in a few weeks. Such an odious chore! Anyway, the Goodman is fantastic, as I knew it would be, and am enjoying the hell out of it.

But as I reflected in my easy chair last night while watching Youtube videos about Heartstopper (more on that later; but I am obsessed with that show; and want to watch it again), I’ve been incredibly lucky with my life and last week was a very strong reminder of that. I think, in some ways, this past week in New York snapped me almost completely out of the pandemic funk I’ve been in since the beginning and as I said the other day, I feel like me again. This trip had a lot to do with it, for sure. It’s lovely when you can get some clarity, and it was lovely that I was able to travel and get some rest and not be tired all the fucking time while I was away. I am hopeful that will be an exciting new trend for me going forward: sleeping well while not at home. One can hope and dream, at any rate–but that’s not the right attitude to have, and I think that’s been a lot of the problem over the last few years; my attitude has been negative about everything and that’s not helpful or workable. Here’s hoping those days (well, years) of a poor attitude are in the rearview mirror.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. I have a lot on my plate and I need to start cleaning it so I can make another trip to the buffet of life and load ‘er up again. Have a lovely Sunday, Constant Reader.

Help Me Make It Through the Night

I actually slept last night here at my hotel, and slept late this morning, both of which are so unusual it does bear remarking on. I also walked a lot yesterday here in Manhattan; it’s about fourteen blocks from the hotel to the MWA office; a straight shot up Broadway. That’s a lot more walking than my tired old fat-ass is used to, so perhaps that had something to do with the deep sleep. I also met a friend for drinks with Paul last evening (here in the hotel bar), and then we came back up to the room and I read for a bit before I got cross-eyed with sleep (I am really enjoying this Raquel V. Reyes novel tremendously; although I probably won’t get much chance to finish it before the flight home Saturday, which should give me plenty of time to not only finish reading Mango Mambo and Murder but to read (or make good headway on reading) one of the other books I brought along for the ride. (There will also be giveaway books at the banquet tonight…)

It really is remarkable how much I dislike working on a laptop, thought. Mostly it’s because the screen is too small for my aging eyes (note to self: make an eye appointment stat, maybe new glasses will take care of this for me) but I have my wireless keyboard (I hate typing on a laptop most of all) and my wireless mouse with me, which makes it a bit easier for me to deal with.

I was also surprised that I slept so well last night mainly because, well, the banquet is tonight and I have to be up on stage to begin with to welcome everyone and do some thank you’s and introductions, which I have to be stone cold sober to do–which, given there’s an hour of cocktail reception before hand, isn’t going to be easy for one Gregalicious, who never likes passing up free wine or champagne–and of course being stone cold sober is going to make it a bit more stressful, although the days when I used to drink heavily to deal with the stage fright anxiety are long in the past and let’s face it, was never a particularly smart thing to do (ah, the wisdom that comes with age). The awards are going to be broadcast live on our Youtube channel (if I were better at my job as EVP I’d share a link, but I am not better at the job so oh well) which means it will also be recorded and always be up there for all eternity (the Internet is forever, after all) so the possibilities of me doing something stupid and going viral, therefore burning MWA to the ground, are much higher than say, my speaking for a few moments at the Lefty Banquet. But I am trying very hard to manage my anxiety and stress–I handled the travel here very well, after all–and so this new calm centering thing I am doing seems to be working. I feel remarkably relaxed and rested this morning, in fact, which is highly unusual.

After I finish this and do some more emails, I will probably work on my short story a bit more.

Oh! I also did a ZOOM thing yesterday for the Jefferson Performing Arts Society (JPAS) for their upcoming production of Deathtrap; which of course was a huge Broadway hit comedy/thriller written by one of my literary heroes, Ira Levin (who also wrote A Kiss Before Dying, This Perfect Day, Rosemary’s Baby, The Stepford Wives, and The Boys from Brazil, for a few highlights). It was actually quite fun–I love the opportunity to talk about other writers; talking myself up is an entirely different subject–and I am not sure when or where it will be available to view on-line, but I don’t think I made a fool of myself.

I’ve been wrong before.

And on that note, I am going to head into the spice mines and get to work on that story some more. You have a lovely day, Constant Reader, and I will recap the banquet for you tomorrow.

Sweet and Innocent

Well, that was a morning, was it not?

I took today off for appointments, and as is my usual wont, tried to cram in as many as possible on the same day to save paid time off. So far today I’ve been to the West Bank, the North Shore, and Metairie, but am now safely home and ready to kick it back and get to work on this massive to-do list I somehow have managed to avoid for most of the weekend. (I justified my utter and complete laziness this weekend on being home for the weekend and it being my first weekend at home after a trip; justification can always be found, frankly. I have a PhD in it, methinks, or at least should) But I feel relatively good, despite having to get up so early this morning for the trip to the West Bank (oil change at my dealership, before a trip out to the North Shore and…well, you already know the rest). I took along Eli Cranor’s stunning debut novel, Don’t Know Tough, to read in various waiting rooms, and it is actually a most marvelous read. I finished Marco Carocari’s Blackout over the weekend, which was also a lovely read, and we did a lot of binge-watching. We finished watching Why Didn’t They Ask Evans, which we rather enjoyed, and then moved on to get caught up on Servant, which is actually rather disturbing yet compulsively watchable.

I did manage to get some writing done this weekend–I really don’t know why it is like pulling teeth these days, but it is, and I guess I just have to learn how to live with that, really. I did have an easier time with the first draft of a first chapter that was more of a “let me try this, I’ve been thinking about this project for a really long time and since nothing else seems to be flowing, it can’t hurt…” but that’s not what I need to be worrying about at the moment, is it? I really need to get this short story finished, and I don’t know why I am having so much trouble with it here, to be honest. It’s got a great title, it’s an interesting idea, and I just have to get the tone and voice perfectly right for it to work…but I don’t know if I am having imposter syndrome symptoms or what, but this story has really been a struggle for me.

Who knows? Maybe now that I’ve admitted it publicly, maybe the story will start flowing when I get back to it today. One can certainly hope, at any rate…I’ve also been trying to write an entry about the fifth season of Elité, with little success. It is probably one of my favorite shows of all time–and after a disappointing fourth season, it was great seeing the writers and producers kick the show back into that high gear it operated under its first three seasons. Season 4, to give credit where it’s due, was not going to be an easy one to pull off; replacing the characters that left the show in the wake of Season 3 (Polo, Lu, Carla, and Nadia) wasn’t going to be easy, and the new characters were basically made the focal point of the show in season 4 when we didn’t really know much about them. I did give them a break–it’s hard to introduce so many new characters into a cast and integrate them into existing storylines while giving them their own–but it was still a bit disappointing. Season 5 spring-boarded off season 4, though, and much of the drama in the new season had its roots in the past season…but they did a much better job integrating the new characters–Ivan, Isadora, Cruz, and Balil–then they did the new characters in Season 4. (Okay, well, they kind of forgot about Balil in the final episodes–I don’t think we even saw him again after the body turned up in Episode 4, and Omar didn’t really have much of a story; so I am thinking he is one of those not returning for season 6)

But I will say this: episode 5 of season 5 of Elité has one of the most erotic and authentic gay sex scenes I’ve ever seen on television or in film; it’s almost borderline porn. It was so lovingly and beautifully shot; the soundtrack music was perfect; and it brought tears to my eyes. (Similar to the scene in It’s a Sin when the main character is about to bottom for the first time and his partner tells him he needs to wash up first–I laughed and got teary-eyed; both scenes will certainly be talked about should I ever teach another erotica writing class or workshop) I know, I know, I’ve been screaming to the clouds about Elité since we first started watching it way back in the Before Times.

Heavy heaving sigh.

And now I am going to head back into the spice mines and see if I can’t get a draft of that story finished today. Wish me luck, Constant Reader–I’ll let you know tomorrow how it went.