Riders on the Storm

Sunday morning the Gregalicious slept late.

Yes, that’s right–I didn’t get out of bed until the sinfully late hour of eight thirty. (It’s kind of sad that I now consider that to be late, isn’t it?) But I have eaten two pieces of chocolate-marble swirl coffee cake (my GOD, it’s good) and am about to have the first of my morning coffee. Yum, marvelous. There really isn’t anything quite like the first cup of coffee in the morning, is there?

Yesterday morning’s workshop went okay–there was a light turnout, which I had kind of worried about–so rather than going with the whole presentation I’d prepared (I remembered the correct notes to take this time) I tailored it down to fit a smaller audience and made it more intimate conversation. I don’t know if it was any good or the attendees got anything out of it, but I guess it went well. They did have questions, and there were answers I didn’t have for them–but I also didn’t pretend to know them, either, which I think is worse than not having an answer. I did stop at That’s Amore on the way back home and got us a deep-dish Chicago style pizza, which was absolutely lovely, but other than that I really didn’t do a whole lot yesterday. We finished watching Queer as Folk, which I have thoughts about–am curious to see what other people think about it–but regardless of anything else, the show certainly made New Orleans look beautiful, or rather, really did a great job of capturing how beautiful New Orleans actually is. (One of the only reasons I kept watched Real World New Orleans: Homecoming beyond the first episode was specifically to see my city and how beautiful it looks on television…I am not entirely sure I am going to continue watching it because I don’t really care about any of these people.) We also watched the new episode of The Boys, which we enjoyed, and then I toddled off to bed for the evening. I am going to spend this morning swilling coffee and reading Tara Laskowski’s The Mother Next Door, and then maybe this afternoon I’ll do some cleaning and writing on “Never Kiss a Stranger.” I realized that last week at this time I was scrambling to finish the edits, so this is really my first free weekend in quite a while…and so I think, after taking yesterday off after getting home, I may just take all of today off as well.

How fun is that?

And yes, the kitchen is a mess, but I’ll get around to it at some point today–there’s also a load of laundry that needs folding–but for right now, the entire concept of being lazy and slothful for the rest of the day, to completely recharge my batteries (or finish recharging them) sounds entirely too good to pass up, and so I don’t think I will. AND NO GUILT ABOUT IT EITHER IF THAT IS THE PATH I CHOOSE.

I did spend some time yesterday reading some history in the form of Ernie Bradford’s The Great Betrayal: The Great Siege of Constantinople, which has to do with the Fourth Crusade–and if Constant Reader has been around long enough, they would know that I am fascinated by this historical event, which was of a far greater import than Western historians ever give it–there are reasons for that, too–and has always seemed to me to be the starting point for a great treasure hunt/adventure story, and one that I have always wanted to spin Colin off into. (I’ve always wanted to spin Colin off into his own Indiana Jones/Clive Cussler/Steve Berry type series, where he goes around the world in his role as an operative for the Blackwood Agency…but I’m not really great at writing action/adventure, and of course whenever you write something like what I see as the first Colin adventure, you kind of have to be good at it–I also don’t see how you can tell a story like that making it up as you go along, either.) So, in some ways it’s research that may prove useful someday–which is how I always read non-fiction; with an eye to it being useful to me in some way in the future–and I am learning about the crusade and the fall of the city, which is always a good thing, at least in my mind–I always think learning new things at any age is crucial and vitally important.

it’s also Father’s Day and I forgot to mail my dad his card–which I will put in tomorrow’s mail–as usual. I really am a terrible child.

The one thing I am going to do today is figure out what all I have to get done and make appropriate lists.

And on that note, I am heading to the easy chair with my morning coffee and The Mother Next Door. Talk to you tomorrow, Constant Reader, and have a great Father’s Day.


And so now it’s Sunday.

I won’t lie; I’ve lost my sense of time and date and day already this weekend and I’m perfectly fine with it. I hope everyone who has the good fortune to have the weekend off–I know there are many who do not–are in the same state of what day is this that I found myself in most of yesterday and when i woke up this morning–I overslept again, which was amazingly lovely, but i really need to stop indulging myself this way–and am now awake, on my first cup of coffee, and ready to get shit done today. I did get shit done yesterday–I cleaned and organized quite a bit (not enough, it’s never enough) and while I do have some little bit of cleaning and a lot of organizing left to get done, at least I made a start on it yesterday. My desk, for example, this morning is clean and clear; which will make writing later much easier.

I finished Little Fires Everywhere yesterday–I blogged about it already, so I won’t repeat anything other than that it’s a fantastic book I encourage you all to read–and started reading The Coyotes of Carthage, which was originally recommended to me by my friend Laura, who was lucky enough to receive an advance copy. It, too, is fantastic and unlike anything I’ve ever read before, and I am really looking forward to getting more into it–I will undoubtedly take a reading break or two at some point today. It seems to be a political thriller about dark money and political consultants in a very rural county in South Carolina, with a Black male protagonist, so I am sure it’s going to be quite interesting to read.

But I really also need to write today; I’ve not looked at the manuscript since last weekend, and this “only writing on the weekends for one day” simply cannot continue to stand, really. I have too much to write, and I need to stop giving into the laziness or the tiredness or self-destructive patterns or whatever the hell it is that keeps me from finishing this damned book. Heavy sigh. I also have any number of short stories I need to wade through to pick out some to work on for submission calls.

Again, I think there’s something to that I am so overwhelmed believing I’ll never get everything done so why bother doing any of it thing.

Repeat after me: SELF-DEFEATING.

While I waited for Paul to finish working on a grant last night I watched, or rather, rewatched (although I didn’t really remember watching it before, and I figured, meh, if I’ve already seen it I can do stuff on my iPad while it’s on in the background) a documentary called Master of Dark Shadows, about Dan Curtis and how the show came about, and its legacy (I’m sure most people don’t remember Curtis also produced and directed the mini-series based on Herman Wouk’s novels The Winds of War and War and Remembrance). I was one of those kids who watched Dark Shadows only in the summertime, because my elementary school didn’t get out until 3:15; even though we lived only a block away from the school I couldn’t ever get home fast enough to watch even the end. I did love Dark Shadows–our sitter/caregiver, Mrs. Harris, also watched One Life to Live and General Hospital, which were my first exposures to soaps–and it always stuck in my mind; I always give it credit for my interest in horror and the supernatural. I enjoyed watching the documentary (and for the record, I loved the NBC reboot of the series in prime time in the early 1990’s, and was crushed when it was canceled; I rewatched it with Paul and he too was disappointed it ended on its cliff-hanger) and then we started watching a documentary about a double murder in India called Behind Closed Doors, in which the investigation was so incredibly fucked up–I mean, if the primary take-away from all the other true crime documentaries we’ve been watching has been man is our system seriously fucked up, the takeaway from this one is yeah, but ours is clearly better than others.

Which is kind of scary, really.

While I was also bored yesterday waiting for Paul–and only really sort of watching Master of Dark Shadows–I was right, I’d seen it before–I started looking things up on-line; which was an absolutely lovely example of how one can fall into a wormhole on the Internet. As you know, I’ve been having this Cynical 70’s Film Festival, and thinking about the rise, and proliferation of, conspiracy theories in that suspicious, paranoid decade, and one that I hadn’t remembered until yesterday sprang up into my min, completely unbidden, while I was reading about the Bermuda Triangle: Chariots of the Gods? by Erich von Daniken. Does anyone else remember von Daniken and his theories, which were based in nothing scientific or archaeological? Von Daniken believed that ancient texts–the Bible, the Code of Hammurabi, etc.–all contained evidence that in Ancient Times the Earth was visited by space aliens–Alien Astronauts, as he called them–who brought knowledge and information with them to the primitive creatures of our planet at the time, and also assisted them in the massive building projects that modern man cannot conceive of them building back then–the pyramids, for one thing, and the lines on the plains of Nazca (which I first read about in the Nancy Drew volume The Clue in the Crossword Cipher)–and those aliens with their vastly superior technology, were seen as gods by the primitives and those visits have come down to us in the form of mythology. It’s an interesting idea for sure–but it was all conjecture, with no proof. I read all of von Daniken’s books back in the day; others included The Gold of the Gods, and were simply further conjectures, but he developed quite a following, and set the stage for what is called the pseudo-science of Graham Hancock, his modern day successor. (I’ve also read some of Hancock’s work; his theory that the Sphinx is far older than we suspect based on water wear on its base is interesting, as is his other theory that the Ark of the Covenant’s final resting place is in Ethiopia; before reading that book I had no idea that Christianity was so firmly entrenched there) So, I spent some time looking up von Daniken’s theories yesterday, as well as some other conspiracy theories of the time–I also did a deep dive into the entire Holy Grail Holy Blood thing which provided the basis for The Da Vinci Code and Dan Brown’s entire career; and of course we certainly cannot forget the apocryphal writings of Hal Lindsay and The Late Great Planet Earth–which, really, is where The Omen came from; we forget how “end times” theory truly began flourishing in the 1970’s.

I’ve always been interested in stories about lost books of the Bible, or lost Biblical theory, along with the end-times prophecies Lindsay wrote about; Irving Wallace’s The Word, which was built around the rediscovery of a lost testament of Jesus which would revolutionize and make-over the Christian theology was one of the first novels of this type I read; it was also made into a mini-series, which made me aware of it in the first place (Irving Wallace isn’t really remembered much today, but he was a huge bestseller back in the day, and he wrote incredibly thick novels, mostly about international conspiracies or legal issues–The Seven Minutes, for example, was about censorship and “blue laws”; The Second Lady was about a Soviet conspiracy to replace the First Lady with a lookalike imposter who was a Soviet spy; The Prize was about the machinations around how the Nobel Prize was given out; etc etc etc). The Da Vinci Code fits clearly into this category, as does The Gemini Contenders by Robert Ludlum and The Fourth Secret by Steve Berry (which is about the fourth secret Our Lady of Lourdes–or was it Fatima?–revealed to either Bernadette or the peasant children; Irving Wallace also covered this in The Miracle); Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade also kind of fit here, as both films are about the search for Biblical relics. I’ve always, always, wanted to write one of these. Years ago I had the idea for one, in which there was a secret document or testament hidden in the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople for years, and that part of the reason the 4th Crusade sacked the city was the Pope’s desire to get his hands on those documents, which were thus smuggled out of the city by the Patriarch and lost forever…this is the idea I always come around to for a Colin stand-alone (I also realize I could do Colin stand-alones set at various times throughout the last twenty years or so of Scotty books, as he is gone a lot of the time on missions), and the working title for it always is Star of Irene, because the Byzantine Empress Irene–contemporary of Charlemagne–has always fascinated me.

But I will never write a Colin stand-alone, or series, unless I get this fucking book finished, so I suppose it’s time for me to head back into the spice mines.

Have a lovely Sunday, Constant Reader.


Thursday morning, and it seems kind of gloomy out there outside the windows. The new dryer arrived–there was some drama involved, as always, but it was resolved in time for me to make it to my testing shift last night at the main office, and I have a working dryer again, so that all counts as a win. I did finish reading the Steve Berry yesterday; and am going to probably dive into either the new Laura Lippman (I am putting it off because then I’ll have to wait forever for the next one), one of the Rebecca Chances I’ve held back in reserve (Bad Sisters, Killer Queens, Killer Diamonds) or may just choose something random out of Mount TBR. I was thinking I may put off my reread of The Haunting of Hill House until October to celebrate Halloween; I do so enjoy doing a horror them for the entries that month.

I do have some thoughts about the Berry, but I need some more time to process them before I blog about the book. It was fun, but I had some issues with the actual story…

We also booked our tickets for Bouchercon in Toronto; and managed to get a decent price on the solitary non-stop from New Orleans to Toronto in each direction, which is absolutely lovely.  The older I get the less I enjoy air travel, plus I’ve learned to really despise changing planes. My antipathy for airports is undoubtedly based in having worked in one; I shudder every time I get near one. But that’s another thing to tick off the to-do list (huzzah!) and every little bit of progress helps. I didn’t work on either the line edit or the new book yesterday because of the dryer situation, but hopefully will be able to get back going again today. God, how I hate transition chapters.

I also hope everyone in Texas, and especially Houston, are getting ready for Tropical Storm possibly Hurricane Harvey. We’re supposed to get a lot of rain here in New Orleans from this system–yay–so I am planning on staying inside and safe from the storm.

And on that note, here’s a Throwback Thursday hunk for you, Constant Reader, the always delightful Marc Singer, about whom I had many prurient thoughts in the 1980’s:


She Blinded Me with Science

Wednesday morning, and I’m groggy, but my new dryer was just installed so it was worth getting up early. I am doing a load of laundry as I type this; trying desperately to get caught up; the laundry never seems to end, does it? It is ridiculous, though, how happy it makes me to have a working dryer again. So bougie.

Yesterday was just plain weird on every level. I am blaming it on the aftermath of the eclipse and Mercury being in retrograde; everything was just whack yesterday. It seemed like every time I turned around something else crazy was happening; just batshit crazy. One lovely thing, though–my co-workers brought in cupcakes for my birthday, which was incredibly sweet. I was touched, and my blackened little heart was warmed.

I am still  chugging away at Steve Berry’s The Lincoln Myth, although the plot is making me uneasy; which I am more than willing to discuss once I’ve finished reading the book. I think I’m into the home stretch; the last quarter or so of the book. It really does move quickly; Berry certainly knows how to pace a thriller.

(I am definitely reading the new Lippman next; can’t wait!) I got started on Chapter Four of Scotty yesterday; a dreaded transition chapter, and God knows how much I hate writing those. The key is to just get it fucking done and move on to the next chapter, where the action will start picking up once again. Crescent City Charade is turning out to be vastly different than I thought it would be when I started writing it–quelle surprise, that happens with every Scotty, doesn’t it?

Heavy heaving sigh.

I also didn’t get nearly as much done yesterday as I had wanted to; primarily because I kept get sidetracked. I originally, for example, had asked for my dryer to be delivered yesterday morning; I got up early only to discover that despite my request it had been scheduled for this morning. You know, when I am supposed to be at work at eleven thirty. The only other option was to reschedule it for Saturday, but on Saturday the delivery window is anytime between eight and five, and cannot be narrowed. So, rather than spending my entire day at home on Saturday waiting, I decided to take the chance that it would come this morning in time for me to make it to work on time. What, I ask are the odds?

Not good, would be my answer.

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



Electric Avenue

Tuesday, and tomorrow I get my new dryer. Heavy heaving sigh. The laundry is piling up.

But I did manage to write another chapter of the new Scotty yesterday, and got to bring up/set up the moral dilemma he’s going to experience through this book, which was kind of fun. It’s also a massive change-up from the opening of the book, which is also way fun to do. If I can manage a chapter a day, this book’s first draft will be finished in about three more weeks. How cool is that? I also managed to get the second half of the WIP line edited. Don’t get excited; I did the second half first, and now am going to do the first half–but am doing the second quarter first, and the first quarter last. Capisce? It makes sense (to me). I am trying not to get distracted by the story and focus more on the language more than anything else. Once I input all these cuts, I will go through it one last time. I also have one more scene to write, for the end. (No, I haven’t gotten the end right yet. It’s another reason I think I keep futzing with it. But it’s going to be much better now than it was.)

Ah, self-confidence. I wonder what that would be like, to have some?

I started reading Steve Berry’s The Lincoln Myth, which appears to be about the Mormons, the Civil War, and Abraham Lincoln; I am only about seventy pages in. I wanted to read Laura Lippman’s Sunburn next, but I only have an electronic copy and I forgot to charge my iPad, and that battery was deader than Lizzie Borden’s parents. I literally went over to the book case which is filled with books I’ve not read yet, closed my eyes, and reached for one. Hardly scientific, but there you have it. Sometimes you just have to let chance take you by the hand. It’s kind of interesting to read a book by Steve Berry with the Civil War as a plot point–given the latest bad publicity Berry is getting, about a memo he wrote when he was a prosecutor in Georgia, before he turned his attention to writing thrillers with a base in history–but as all Berry novels, it’s a quick read with lots of action. Berry also cross cuts between several different points of view, and you can never be absolutely certain who are the bad guys and who are the good. I am curious as to what the secret hidden away for almost two hundred years in the Utah desert is, what it has to do with the Civil War, and how it can affect the present (which is the basic plot structure of every Berry novel; some long hidden secret could have dangerous ramifications in the present unless Our Hero gets to it first before the Bad Guy), but I do enjoy the suspension of belief and getting on board that train. And he does research the books; there is always some semblance of historical truth buried in the books. (The Columbus Affair taught me a lot about Jamaica that I didn’t know, for example, and The King’s Deception likewise taught me some Tudor lore I hadn’t been aware of previously) So, we shall see. His series character (not all of the books belong to the series) Cotton Malone is kind of a James Bond/Jason Bourne/Jack Ryan hybrid, but like I said, I enjoy suspending my belief and going along for the ride. What can I say? It’s fun.

I don’t have to go to work until later today–bar testing–so I am hoping to get some cleaning done, serious work on the book(s), and maybe even take some time to read a bit more.

And so, it’s back to the spice mines with me. Have a lovely Tuesday, all. And here’s a Tuesday hottie for you: