The Right Stuff

And Monday has rolled around again in this rollercoaster we call life; the question is whether this week will be a slow climb, or the rapid and insane downhill race leading into a loop-de-loop or a circular spin, both at ridiculous speeds.

The good news is that it was definitely a lovely weekend here at the Lost Apartment. I went to the gym yesterday and had a great workout and I worked on Chlorine. Not a lot, mind you–some revisions and corrections to the first chapter, before getting started on the second; i got about 1200 words down on it–but enough for me to be happy about it, you know? While allowing my creativity ADHD to have full run over my brain throughout most of June and July thus far was a good idea–man, I produced a lot of work–I worried a bit seeing how much was now in progress. I posted a picture of all the works currently in progress, gathered and separated by binder clips, only to realize those five WIP’s weren’t in fact, all of them; I was missing at least four more and possibly five, bringing the grand total to ten.

And even I can admit readily that ten WIP’s is too fucking much for anyone to sanely work on at the same time.

And that’s not even taking into consideration the short stories, of which there are many–and that particular list continues to grow and grow and grow and grow (although I did realize that “Vivit Dominus” is actually the perfect start for a story already in progress called “Gossip,” which is probably the right title for the story). I mean, I just started another one called “Wash Away Sins” over the course of the weekend, and had the for another essay at some point this weekend as well…because, of course, there are never too many things I can be writing on at the same time.

This, of course, is partly why I am never completely mentally stable.

Being so scattered creatively can often be a problem, and often is–which is why I try not to give my creativity free rein and control over what I am doing most of the time. I am very fortunate in that most of the time I can reign it in and keep it under control–pushing aside pesky new thoughts regularly, or taking a brief break to scribble something down in a journal–and now I am wondering if Spelllcaster needs to be expanded into a novel or not….it’s nearly 40k already; and yes, adding another 20-35 k might not be all that hard to do (as I mentioned yesterday, I do have an idea about how to continue the story, rather than simply padding out what I already have in place) but when, precisely, am I going to do this? This is the real problem with trying to reel it all in now–there are already so many things in progress that trying to schedule finishing them all becomes problematic, especially now that I am able to zero in on Chlorine.

Heavy heaving sigh.

But I do feel well rested this morning, and almost like I might be able to get things done and get back on track–the brief bit of organizing I did over the weekend (of the writing stuff, along with the filing) certainly helped tremendously’; now I need to get the filing a bit more under control. (I have four file boxes shoved under my desk, which is claustrophobic; they need to go elsewhere but I am not really sure where to put them in the meantime; if I put them in the attic they’re gone forever–let’s be honest–but I suppose I could put them on top of the kitchen cabinets–so accessible if not easily accessible.) But alphabetizing and cleaning out files I no longer need to have around isn’t a bad idea, and might help clear things out. (I also need to clean out the attic and donate a shit ton more books, don’t I? And maybe the Christmas stuff which we never use? I don’t know about that. Scooter isn’t going to live forever, and maybe our next cat won’t try to topple the tree all the time)

I also need to carve out some time this week to read Razorblade Tears, which I am enjoying.

And on that note, the spice mines are calling and I must follow their siren song. Have a lovely Monday, Constant Reader.

Lose My Breath

Well, I over slept this morning. As someone who regularly suffers from insomnia, you can imagine how weird it felt to wake up, look at the alarm, and see that it was after nine (yes, nine is what I consider oversleeping; on days when the alarm isn’t needed I generally rise sometime between seven and eight); yet at the same time it was kind of delightful. I feel very rested this morning, which is definitely a good thing, so even though my morning hours were cut back by sleeping, I can still spend some time reading S. A.Cosby’s delightful Razorblade Tears all while still being able to get the writing and organizing done today that I need to get done. Huzzah!

And I also need to get to the gym this afternoon as well, around one-ish/one thirty.

Yesterday was a bit odd, if I do say so myself. I intended to get some writing done, and do some cleaning and organizing. But writing yesterday’s blog entry put me into a weird state of mind, also partially triggered by starting to write “Wash Away Sins”, and I wound up getting down my Todd Gregory short story collection, Promises in Every Star and Other Stories to see if I had, indeed, included “Smalltown Boy” in it the way I had originally thought I had. The answer is I didn’t; I originally intended to but finally pulled it because, while there is a tiny bit of a sex scene in it, it wasn’t then and never has been considered an erotic short story (or porn, if you will) and so I did pull the story–even though I didn’t remember pulling it. This also reminded me that not only has one of my favorite short stories never been collected into either of my short story collections, but that it was available to go into my next one, This Town and Other Stories; it fits better into a crime story collection anyway, even though the crime isn’t the heart of the story, the aftermath of the crime does drive it–which also makes me want to write “Wash Away Sins” all the more. I do have another story that fits into the same universe, “Son of a Preacher Man,” which is definitely erotica (and is available in Promises in Every Star and Other Stories) but is also definitely in the voice of “Smalltown Boy” and “Wash Away Sins,” which is also the voice for “A Holler Full of Kudzu”, which had me wondering yesterday if I should actually put them all into a single book–a novella and short stories, all from the same voice and all set in an around Corinth, Alabama…which also sparked my imagination in a million different ways; such was the state of my mind yesterday.

This also made me remember, or think about, another story or two I had published way back in the day under a pseudonym, “The Troll in the Basement” and “The Snow Queen”; neither of which had ever been published in either of my collections. Both are more like horror than anything else (although “The Snow Queen” has some erotic elements to it), and I had used a pseudonym which I’d hoped to use as my “horror” brand, but it wasn’t a good pseudonym (it sounded like a soap opera character more than anything else) and I only used it twice….so those stories are just kind of amorphously out there. Needless to say, I then had to track down copies of all these stories, and reread them, just to see what needed to be done with them, and then of course I also tracked down the unpublished novella, Spellcaster, which I then spent some time rereading and trying to decide if it could be turned queer and how much work would that entail. I just didn’t really see how I could add 30k plus words to it as it stood, and then realized, maybe the ending isn’t really the ending, and maybe the story goes on from there? And my fevered brain started working and I thought, yes yes this will work and will be fucking clever so I started writing a gazillion notes and then the next thing I knew the evening had rolled around.

I find it both amusing and terrifying that I have work lying around that I have completely forgotten about.

Which is inevitably why it’s important for me to go back and reread my work. I kind of need to reread Dark Tide, if for no other reason is that it’s an offshoot of the Corinth Alabama stories (the main character is from Corinth, even if the book is set elsewhere), not to mention this is where Scotty’s sort of nephew Taylor hails from, which means now the Scotty books are connected to my y/a’s, and the y/a’s are all connected to each other in some way, and…yeah.

So that was where my day yesterday mostly went. I cleaned out my inbox, did a shit ton of filing–and there’s still a shit ton of organizing that remains needing to be done–and perhaps one day I will find the time to get it done, tedious chore that it is–but I have not really been organized since the Great Data Disaster of 2018, and three years is an incredibly long time to go without some sense of organization, which is undoubtedly the core symptom of the disconnect I’ve been feeling for several years (probably since the Great Data Disaster of 2018). I also took all the book-length projects (anything destined to be more than 20k, to be fair) and bound the print-outs into binder clips, which makes the organization of them in my “needs work” pile MUCH easier, but when I took a picture and posted it I realized I had not included the short story collection or the essay collection; and there’s another pseudonymous manuscript lying around here somewhere as well. WHICH IS WHY I AM BURIED IN PAPER, SERIOUSLY.

I do kind of wish I’d learned to write and edit after everything went electronic, to be honest. All the paper…JFC. I am undoubtedly responsible for the loss of hundreds of acres of the rain forest. I try to work electronically, but I spend so much time at a computer already that the idea of reading and editing entirely this way gives me hives.

And on that note, it’s time to head back into the spice mines. Have a lovely Sunday, Constant Reader, and may your day be terrific.

The Man

Yesterday was rather lovely, if I do say so myself.

I woke relatively early after a wonderful night of sleep, and drank my coffee while primarily doing some chores around the kitchen/office. Once I was sufficiently fortified with coffee, I sat down and edited/revised my story “The Snow Globe,” and Constant Reader, I have to tell you–I feel like an absolute idiot for putting off doing it for so long. There really are few things as satisfying as editing and revising something you’ve written, making the language better, making the story flow better, deepening the characters, and tying up the ending in a more satisfying bow than the one you originally used.

Why do I always forget how much I FUCKING love doing my job? WHY do I always have to force myself to do it?

One of the eternal mysteries of life, I suppose. I always have to force myself to do things I enjoy–like going to the gym and working out, which is what I did as soon as I finished the revision. I really need to put that on a sticky note for my computer: REMEMBER YOU LOVE TO WRITE.

I also spent some time plotting out my novella-in-progress “Never Kiss a Stranger,” which I hoping doesn’t turn into a novel. I like the story a lot; it actually began life as the idea that eventually became “A Streetcar Named Death”–that happens to me sometimes; I get an idea that could go off in two different directions, and they both wind up becoming stories of their own. I like–still do, in fact–the idea of “chance meeting on a streetcar”, which is such a lovely way to open a story, really, but it truly fit with “A Streetcar Named Death” better than with “Never Kiss a Stranger”–and it didn’t take me long before I realized that this particular story was too long to be a short story–I needed to go too in-depth with the main character as it was, and then other characters began talking to me more, insisting on being more important to the story, and I finally realized fuck it, it’s a novella, deal with it and just write it. I have several other novellas in progress at the moment (insanity, well aware)–“Fireflies,” “Once a Tiger,” “A Holler Full of Kudzu,” and “Spellcaster” being the others (I’m probably forgetting one–still on my first Monday morning cappuccino)–and feel fairly confident that at some point I’ll get them all finished and ready to be published.

My Internet is out this morning; fortunately I can turn my phone into a hotspot so functionality this morning isn’t lost completely. Yet it’s still annoying–as I muse every time we lose power, we’ve become so dependent on modern conveniences that even something so minor as a cable/Internet outage is teeth-grindingly annoying.

We watched another episode of both Mr. Mercedes and The Undoing last night–Donald Sutherland is extraordinary–and I’m not really sure where The Undoing is going; it’s an interesting mystery thus far, and I am not really sure if Hugh Grant is a killer or not. But there’s more going on in that family and marriage than we’ve already seen–or that they’ve shown us–and I am hopeful the show isn’t going to blow its premise. It is based on a novel–You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz, that I’d never heard of before. I also think I prefer the original title, frankly–and am also thinking that maybe David E. Kelley should adapt one of Alafair Burke’s novels, like The Ex or The Wife.

I slept really well last night–I even woke up before the alarm this morning at six–and am hopeful this will be a nice, productive week. I need to get back to work on Bury Me in Shadows, and I also need to work on getting a draft of “A Dirge in the Dark” completed; I have an amorphous idea of where I want to go with the story, and it isn’t going to be easy, frankly–which is part of the reason I’ve been delaying working on everything (nothing is going to be easy) and that’s just stupid, really; part of the reason I kept pushing the revision of “The Snow Globe” to the bottom of the to-do list was because I thought it was going to be difficult to do–and it wasn’t, really. I need to stop doubting my creativity and my ability to do my work–but that’s been something I’ve struggled with pretty much my entire life so far. It would be lovely if at age sixty I finally turned the corner there.

I also made it to the gym for a workout yesterday, which was lovely; I’ve managed three workouts a week for three consecutive weeks now, and if I keep my head down and keep plodding along, I’ll continue feeling better and sleeping better and getting shit done. The Saints also won yesterday–they’ve now won six straight, although they just as easily could have lost any number of those games–and so who knows? Perhaps they are going to turn out to be a contender this year after all.

And on that note, my dear Constant Reader, I am returning to the spice mines. Have a lovely Monday, everyone.

The Next Time I Fall

Wednesday has rolled around again and it’s Pay-the-Bills Day. Huzzah.

That’s the worst part of being an adult, methinks–being responsible financially.

hate it.

Ah, well, it’s an evil thing that must be done, alas, for there is no choice.

I was still extremely tired yesterday when I got home from work; it was a long day, of course, and I am probably still recovering from whatever that was I caught at Tiger Stadium Saturday night–my throat is still sore–and I slept like a stone last night. I was so relaxed and comfortable this morning I didn’t want to get out of bed, and in fact, stayed in bed much longer than I probably should have. What can I say? Sleep is essential, and necessary, and I clearly needed more. I probably should have stayed home again yesterday, to make sure I was completely rested and over everything, but…yeah. I felt well enough to go to work and so I did.

I am, as ever, behind on everything; I tried yesterday but just didn’t have the energy to focus and get things done. I’ll have to do better today, as the month of October is clearly slipping through my fingers. But I have to make groceries on the way home from work tonight, and I’m not sure how much energy I’ll have once I get home. I need to remember to conserve my energy, and not expend it all the time. This weekend I seriously need to get my shit together and get some work done on the Lost Apartment–it’s seriously filthy; the LSU-Mississippi State game is the marquee game on CBS Saturday, so it’ll be on smack dab in the middle of the day, at 2:30–which means I’ll be on the emotional rollercoaster until sometime after five. So, clearly Saturday is the day I need to run errands and focus on cleaning around here, so I can devote Sunday to writing.

I keep getting more ideas on how to make Bury Me in Shadows a better book than it currently is; so that’s going to be my primary focus for the rest of this month–getting that finished. I think part of the problem I’ve been having this month so far has been lack of focus; I’ve been far too scattered with my energies this month, which is always a problem with me–that and focus. Squirrel! See what I mean?

And let’s be serious, any ideas I get on how to make the current WIP better are welcomed. I groan and moan about the additional work its going to cause me, but I already knew the manuscript needed work, and there were holes and inconsistencies in the story–the ever popular oh why would they do this other than I need them to in order to advance the story keeps popping up, and that’s what, frankly, needs the work. There’s nothing worth than having contrivances in your story.

Last night the SEC Network rebroadcast the LSU-Florida game, and as I already mentioned, I was too tired to do much of anything last night–even read–so I just put the television on the game yet again–I rewatched it Sunday night, but was so ill and tired I kept falling asleep and it was primarily on for background noise, that’s how tired I was–and as I watched the  game again my mind started wandering again–back to the first LSU game Paul and I ever attended, back in 2010 against Ole Miss. That game was also a nail-biter, with LSU finally clinching the win with a touchdown in the final minute of the game. LSU has, as I’ve mentioned before, never lost when we are in the stadium. I then remembered that I promised to dedicate my next book to the Judge and his wife, Janet, if they gave us those tickets–which they did, and so I did, and that book was, I believe, Sleeping Angel. Janet and the Judge have gifted us with their game tickets at least once per season ever since–others have given us tickets over the years as well, and we’ve sometimes bought them on Stubhub–and as I was thinking about Sleeping Angel, I realized, wow, I haven’t thought about that book in YEARS.

I had written a foreword for the new edition of Jay B. Laws’ The Unfinished, which was brought back into print yesterday byReQueered Tales–this was the essay I was struggling with several months ago–and while I did get it finished (the publisher loved it, I might add, writing me back to tell me it was beautifully written), in the posts about the book’s release yesterday I was referred to as “legendary writer Greg Herren” and other such complimentary things. I am always, inevitably, taken aback by such pronouncements–I don’t see myself as legendary, or any of the other kind ways people refer to me these days; mainly because when I think of legendary queer crime writers I think about Michael Nava and John Morgan Wilson, among others. It isn’t fake humility, either–although I’ve been accused of that before. I generally don’t, as a rule, tend to think about myself in those kinds of terms; therein lies, I believe, the path to madness–which I really don’t need any help finding, thank you very much. Felice Picano told me once, a long time ago, that if you stick around long enough you’ll get respected for the longevity, if nothing else…and it’s also weird to me when I realized I’ve been doing this consistently for seventeen years.

I was also thinking, in my roundabout way last night, about the need to buckle down and focus. I was talking with another writer friend yesterday about short stories–we’d both written a story for the same anthology–and we exchanged our stories, which turned out to be vastly different. But I loved hers–it’s wickedly funny–and she loved mine, which was also very cool. I love writing short stories, even though I often struggle with them, and right now I have two out for submission, and about three that are pending publication. I have two collections I want to do–Monsters of New Orleans, which would be Gothic horror stories set here, and Once a Tiger and Other Stories, which would compile my crime short stories that have been written and/or published since Survivor’s Guilt and Other Stories was published. I was also thinking I need to rename Once a Tiger and Other Stories; maybe This Town and Other Stories, since people really seemed to like my story in Murder-a-Go-Go’s a lot. I was also thinking about doing the four novellas into one book thing, like Stephen King has done–which would most likely have  Never Kiss a Stranger anchoring the collection. I’d of course have to get permission from Kensington to reprint “The Nightwatchers” in this collection, and if they don’t give it to me, I’d have to write another, which wouldn’t be the end of the world, either. I’d always wanted to turn “The Nightwatchers” into a series; it’s loosely connected to both the vampire novella and novel I later wrote as Todd Gregory–“Blood on the Moon” and Need–but have never gotten back to them. (The next book I’d planned would have been Desire.)

I was also thinking I should dedicate another book to the Judge and Janet; the game experience was so amazing on Saturday night I should do something incredibly nice for the two of them again.

And maybe I should revisit Sleeping Angel. It, along with Sorceress, was set in the mountains of California, in the small city of Woodbridge; I’d intended to write several novels set there, and connect all my y/a fiction together in some way. Laura, the main character in Sorceress, was from the small rural area of Kansas where I also set Sara; and I keep forgetting that Dark Tide is also kind of connected to Bury Me in Shadows, which is also kind of connected to Lake Thirteen and Sara. 

I also have an unfinished manuscript, tentatively titled Spellcaster, which is also set in Woodbridge with some character overlap.

I was trying to do an R. L. Stine thing.

And on that note, the bills aren’t going to pay themselves, so I best put on my mining cap and head back into the spice mines.

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It Might Be You

It seems as though fall has finally come to New Orleans; I’m almost afraid to type that for fear of jinxing it and bringing the heat and humidity back. Yesterday was simply beautiful; it is so gorgeous here when the weather finally turns and we get our allotted weeks of autumn. I’ve been in the doldrums (had the doldrums? I don’t know) a bit this week; a malaise has set in, and I suspect it might be the post-Bouchercon malaise, which hits every year, the inevitable crash after the high joy of being amongst my friends for a long weekend, talking about books and joking and making wonderful new memories.

As I continue outlining Jackson Square Jazz, I am amazed at how intricately the story is plotted; how the personal story Scotty is experiencing is woven into the case he has stumbled into. I honestly don’t remember writing the book much; I didn’t really remember much of it, either–I’ve not had a copy in my hands to reread it. I am, from doing this, getting a strong sense of Scotty and who he is; and I did spend some time yesterday revising the first chapter of the current Scotty. It’s making more sense as I revise it; and I think I am also getting a sense of where this story is going to go. I feel the thing that’s been possibly missing from the last Scotty books has been the personal story; I’d have to go back and reread them to see if I am correct. But it has been lovely rereading this story, as it were; I always think of my earlier books as being perhaps not as mature as the later ones..but I am finding that I am not correct in that assumption. I am very fond of Jackson Square Jazz, and I’d forgotten a very key element to the story; the Cabildo fire, and how seeing a documentary on the local PBS station (WYES) about the fire inspired me to write the book several years later. I am very excited to finally be getting this book together and out there as an ebook; I hope to have both it and Bourbon Street Blues up for sale by the end of the year. The cover for Bourbon Street Blues is almost finalized, and I love it, can’t wait to share it with everyone.

I think the doldrums, the discontent or malcontent or whatever it may be, also is sort of stemming from knowing that I need to push myself harder as far as my career goes. I’ve found myself in a nice place without much effort and maybe it’s time to put some more effort back into the career, you know? The world is so different now; I haven’t done a book signing in a store since Murder by the Book several years ago, with Rebecca Chance sharing the stage with me. I think this current Scotty book is going to be terrific, quite frankly with all modesty pushed to the side; with the caveat, of course, that it will be terrific if I pull the story off. And if I do, it will be quite fun and quite funny.

I also outlined another manuscript that’s been sitting in a drawer for a long time; a y/a novella that’s slightly less than forty thousand words. It’s been sitting in the drawer because I didn’t like the ending and it needed to be about twenty thousand words longer, and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to make it longer or how to fix the ending. As I was outlining it this evening, it dawned on me precisely how I could do both those things; it requires an extensive revision, but it’s one that I can do relatively easily. I even figured out the new opening–and naturally, made notes. It’s called Spellcaster, and I don’t know if that title actually will work for it, but it’s a good working title, and perhaps something better will come to me when I revise it.

Christ, how many projects can I have going in my head at the same time? Maybe that’s why I am having the doldrums, and finding it hard to focus?

Ya think?

Oddly enough, after showering I feel much better, and I am going to get my act together.

ONWARD!

And here’s a Hump Day Hunk for you, Constant Reader.

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