I Just Want to Celebrate

…because it’s finally fucking Friday!

Yesterday was…not a great day, really. I was physically tired, but not mentally tired, if that makes sense? The problem is that the physical tired makes it hard for the not-tired brain to focus on anything, and I get kind of punchy, which isn’t really the face I like to show to the world. But my day was okay for the most part. I think the tired primarily came about because of the early return of summer weather to New Orleans. Yes, I know to those of you who do not live here New Orleans always seems brutally hot all of the time, but there are degrees to New Orleans heat, and yes, it usually starts getting hotter in May and yes, the humidity usually is back in May. But it was ninety-five degrees on Wednesday; and even at the hottest part of the dog days of August it rarely gets to that. Usually it hovers somewhere between 88 and 93, but it’s the humidity that makes it so awful. Also, I’ve been more active this week than usual. I did Ellen’s book launch on Sunday evening, I had that ZOOM meeting on Wednesday night, and I had drinks with a friend in from out of town before the ZOOM meeting. So, that was a lot more of social interaction than I am accustomed to, and instead of going home from work Wednesday night (the way I usually do) and collapsing into my chair while going into a Youtube wormhole of some sort, I didn’t get to relax until after nine pm.

That is not my norm.

I stopped on the way home last night to get some things at the grocery store, and then spent some time doing some kitchen chores (since I had drinks with a friend before the ZOOM meeting, I had to move everything off the kitchen counters, shove it all in the laundry room, and then closed the doors so no one could see it; and the dishes in the sink had to be organized so nothing could be seen from the camera on the computer; I never realized having my work station in the kitchen would turn out to be so problematic, but I couldn’t have foreseen ZOOM in the summer of 2005 when we moved into the Lost Apartment, either) before collapsing into my easy chair to wait for Paul to get home.

So, there I was, minding my own business, watching first Superman and Lois before The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (I have tuned back in for this season, I have thoughts) and occasionally checking social media and my emails when…I got a notification on Twitter. I clicked to see this tweet from Katrina Niidas Holm:

GREG HERREN!!! You wrote a book so damn good, it got nominated twice! Congratulations, @scottynola! Hope you’ll remember us Pogues when…

(‘Pogues’ being an Outer Banks reference, a show she and her husband Chris–buy his Child Zero, available now and amazing–convinced me to watch with the result Paul and I fell in love with the show, too)

I literally had no idea what she was talking about and gave my usual intelligent response of wait what? at which point she linked to this year’s Anthony Award nominees. Bury Me in Shadows was nominated not only for Best Paperback/Ebook/Audio Original, but also for Best Children’s/Young Adult.

TWO NOMINATIONS FOR THE SAME BOOK IN DIFFERENT CATEGORIES.

I am still in shock this morning–a delighted shock, to be sure, but it’s still shock. It still hasn’t completely sunken in yet, either. It’s going to take me a hot minute to thank everyone who has tweeted or posted on Facebook their congratulations, as well as to congratulate the ridiculously amazing amount of friends that are also nominated in one of the categories–it really is, overall, a remarkable list with a lot of books nominated that I read and loved loved loved–but what a lovely chore to have, you know? And talk about turning your mood and your day around! So, this morning–needless to say I slept very well last night–I am sipping my coffee and riding the high a bit still. At some point I’ll need to make sure I thank everyone and congratulate everyone else nominated and get through my social media, but right now I am just sitting here at my desk feeling very proud and happy and content while I sip my coffee. Wow. I mean, wow.

I’ve not been in a very good place about my career lately, honestly–any number of things; the problems with getting myself to actually write, not feeling great about what I write when I do write, all the little doubts and insecurities that have built up over a lifetime of wanting to be a writer but getting little to no encouragement from anyone, really. It all kinds of builds up sometimes, and anything–no matter how small or inconsequential–will trigger it and send me spiraling down into the Pit of Despair. As I struggle with my schedule and all the things I need and want to get done, with a to-do list that seems to grow like the Hydra, with two new things to do replacing every single task that gets scratched off the list, this was precisely the right time to get this kind of reassurance from my community, my wonderful crime fiction world, and I’ll always be grateful for this. Bury Me in Shadows was a very hard book for me to write, emotionally; but digging deep into the issues I dealt with in the book–and that emotional difficulty–made it a better book, I think.

Wow. I mean, wow.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a wonderful Friday, Constant Reader.

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!

A Reason to Believe

Work at home Friday, and I actually slept in till seven! A whole extra hour! (Don’t think I didn’t wake up right at six in the morning, though…) It looks like a sunny April first out there–cannot believe it’s actually April already. It’s very strange to wake up on Friday morning and look at a normal weekend for the first time in a long time–one where there’s not a looming deadline hanging over my head, the Festivals are done for a year, and I can actually relax and try to get those odds-and-ends that have been hanging around that I never seem to be able to get around to taken care of–if I am lucky. We need to make a Costco run, and Scooter has to go in for bi-annual “senior kitty” check-up. I need to get my story worked on a bit too this weekend, and maybe I can shoehorn in some other writing as well. I also want to spend some time with that Chris Holm novel, knowing I will most likely be sucked into it and won’t get anything else done over the course of the weekend.

It happens.

Yesterday was a pretty good day. I was in a good mood and had energy most of the day–petering out as the day come to a close, as always–and left the office later than I usually do, resulting in the horror and frustration of being caught in rush hour CBD traffic on the way home. My office really is in probably one of the most inconvenient places in the city for me to get to; the old office on Frenchmen Street was only slightly easier to get to–but it still involved driving through both the CBD and the Quarter. Now that we’re further downtown, you’d think it would be easier–I live near an on-ramp to the highway system, and the office is right off the Claiborne exit on I-10 East; it can take me as little as five minutes to get there in the mornings (if I hit the lights properly, which never happens). But I can’t take the highway on the way home–because I have to use the I-10 interchange with Highway 90 to the West Bank (the twin spans) and the traffic is usually backed up almost all the way to the on-ramp at Claiborne Avenue), which is a nightmare all day every day, but is especially horrible in the later afternoon when everyone is getting off work. So I either take Claiborne Avenue all the way uptown to get the mail and make groceries on my way home, or I just take Claiborne to Orleans, head through Treme to the CBD on Loyola, turn onto Howard Avenue and that leads me to Tivoli Circle and St. Charles and BOOM I am home. Unfortunately, yesterday Loyola had a lane blocked by three streetcars that were just parked at the Poydras intersection (the absolute worst place, traffic wise) and as such, it was after five when I got home. I did some laundry, unpacked my backpack, and sank into my easy chair. Scooter climbed into my lap, cuddled and purred and fell asleep, and that was the end of that for all intents and purposes. I watched this week’s Superman and Lois–it really is a good show–and then switched over to Young Justice, which is incredibly well done; with each new episode I not only marvel at the storylines they’ve devised but the strong character building the writers manage, eventually going to bed around ten.

I am also hoping to return to the gym for the first time in a while. Yes, I will be heading out to Albuquerque next week, but I also can make it to the gym a few times before I do. I need to remember that I enjoy working out and that it feels good when I do. Plus, it’s lighter out later now, so I don’t have to walk there and back in the dark anymore. It’s not that I feel unsafe or anything, but walking around back streets in the neighborhood can sometimes be a bit on the creepy side; the problem of having a vivid imagination is that you can never really turn it off. Which is why I have files and files and files of book and novella and short story ideas…and keep having more every damned day. I had another great idea yesterday, in fact–well, I do like to believe all my ideas are brilliant, let’s be completely honest–which I dutifully made note of in my journal at work and expanded on it a bit for a couple of pages, but even as I closed the journal I thought, well, when precisely are you going to write this book, Gregalicious? Heavy heaving sigh. I do want to get a lot of writing done this year….and I need to stop beating myself up because my writing “muscles” are tired and need to rest for a bit.

It happens.

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

Oh Be My Love

Sunday morning and oh so much to do. I slept in this morning until eight thirty (oh dear! The vapors!), and feel a bit groggy but also rested and well, which is lovely. I think the panel yesterday went well–one never knows for sure, does one?–but I think the panelists were smart and entertaining and fun and informative; I certainly enjoyed listening to their answers to my borderline puerile questions. I also didn’t stick close to the topic–I never do, another reason I am a shitty moderator–but the most important thing is to stay out of the way of the panelists as they talk about their writing. Whether I succeeded or not remains to be seen; moderating isn’t my strength by any means, I loathe doing it, and it’s also not something I enjoy doing, for that matter.

Then again, that might just be more evidence of Imposter Syndrome. Who knows?

I also woke up to a cover reveal for the Magic is Murder anthology! Edited by the wonderful Donna Andrews, Barb Goffman, and Marcia Talley, this lovely anthology includes my story “The Snow Globe,” which is another example of Gregalicious never letting a story idea die. This story began life as a Halloween story (original opening line: Satan had a great six-pack), was converted to a Christmas story (opening line: Santa had a great six-pack–only had to move the n!) and finally found a home. Thanks to the Terrific Trio for all their help with my story, and I am, as always, excited to see another short story of mine in print. Huzzah!

I need to add a caveat to my earlier “well-rested” sentence: my legs and hip joints ache from walking to the Monteleone and back two days in a row. My legs feel terribly tired, and my hip joints are very achy this morning–as evidenced just not when I got up to make another cup of coffee. I am sure it has something to do with the new shoes and needing new shoe inserts; it usually does–but it’s still rather annoying at the same time. I guess I am grateful it’s not my knees or ankles, but nevertheless, pretty aggravating. I have a lot to do today–I’ve already made a list of what needs to be done today–and I am probably going to spare some more wake-up time to reading Alex Segura’s marvelous Secret Identity. I spent some time with it yesterday while taking breaks from everything I need to scratch off my to-do list, and I am really enjoying it. I am enjoying the feel and vibe of the comic book world and New York in the 1970’s; it would be really fun to see a Mad Men/The Deuce type show developed by Segura set in the comics world of this time. I spent some time last night unwinding over a couple of episodes of Young Justice, which I am also enjoying, and then watched two DC animated movies: Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox and Teen Titans: The Judas Contract, both of which I deeply enjoyed; the lovely thing about the animated movies is they can actually use the entire cast of DC heroes and aren’t as limited as the television shows or live-action films by casting. I love seeing the DC heroes of my comic fandom days in action–Red Tornado, Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern, Blue Beetle, etc.–turning up in the animation; I’ve missed them as the movies focus on the bigger names and the television shows are also slightly limited by casting as well–they aren’t using first tier, like the movies, but what I would call Tier 1A. (Although I will gladly argue that the CW’s Superman and Lois is the best take on the characters since the Christopher Reeve Superman films.)

I also spent some time watching the World Figure Skating championships, which was delightful. Two American ice dance teams medaled (a rare occurrence), and I think this may be the first time in history that the US has gotten a medal in every discipline? I know we’ve not had a pairs champion since 1979 with Randy Gardner and Tai Babilonia, and it’s been a while since we had a pairs medal of any kind. And our future looks bright with two up-and-comers in Men’s.

So, I had probably best gird my loins and venture into today’s spice mines. Paul will be home tomorrow (yay!) and I need to not only get the apartment not only under control, but everything else in my life, and I am feeling better about everything, really. I don’t know why I allow myself to get so wrapped up in despair and overwhelmed by everything I have to do; everyone has things to do and everyone has their own pace, and well, it just is what it is, you know?

And on that note, tis off to the spice mines with me. Y’all have a great Sunday, okay?

Let’s Make Love Now

I have always hated the cutesy phrase “make love.”

It’s always been used to get around censors, back in the days of the Hays Code for movies and of course, the ones who kept network television squeaky clean and almost infantile; a unique term for fucking required by puritanical Americans because, you know, the f word is just too nasty to say. Fornicate sounds like sin (usually it’s only used by preachers and ministers), and of course, there’s “having sex”–which sounds completely clinical and sterile and about as un-erotic as a colonoscopy. The other words for it–balling, screwing, fucking, humping, riding–are considered too vulgar for polite society. So someone, somewhere, came up with the innocuous phrase “making love.” (This also is yet another societal effort–whether intentional or not–to equate sex with love; one of the biggest mistakes in modern culture and society) And this doesn’t even begin to touch on “going to bed with” or “sleeping with.”

I don’t know when “making love” began to irritate me, but it was very prevalent for a very long time on soap operas, and every time someone would say it, I would flinch or internally recoil. (Although it’s fun to go back and replace it in movie and song and television show titles: Making Love becomes Fucking; Let’s Make Love becomes Let’s Fuck or Let’s Have Sex–which completely changes the tone, doesn’t it?)

I guess this is on my mind because I am preparing for my workshop today on sex in fiction–that, of course, and then today’s title popped up on my title list and I reflexively rolled my eyes. My workshop is:

Friday, March 25

2:30 – 3:45 PM—SAS Master Class

GREG HEREN: WRITING THE EROTIC

Writing about sex is more challenging than it appears. This master class will help writers produce erotic writing grounded in character, setting, and voice, with an eye on how erotica can contribute to, build, and/or resolve story conflict. We’ll explore how the implicit is often more effective than the explicit, and how to make explicit scenes compelling and authentic. With a focus on finding fresh imagery and an original approach, we’ll also look at how humor, bad sex, or even problematic sex lend themselves to a fuller—and more erotic—interaction between two characters. Questions addressed include: How can we make use of the erotic to create more exciting fiction that better reflects the real life and aspects of a character? How can the erotic be the center of a story without being explicitly so? What do we do about hyperbole and how do we grapple with the often hyperbolic feelings around the erotic? How is erotica different from sex writing or porn? And, how can we ultimately make the erotic fit naturally, as an integral part, into the flow of a good story. This workshop will encourage participants to take chances and experiment with building eroticism into their work mindfully and seamlessly, and/or give them the tools for creating a story that is primarily driven by the erotic, but that has a freshness and originality often lacking in the genre.

Hotel Monteleone, Lobby Level, Royal C

I didn’t write that description–I am filling in for Trebor Healey, the original instructor, who broke his leg or his foot or something. It happened in time for the program to be corrected before it went to the printer, and you know me–I am the seat filler for all last minute cancellations at Saints and Sinners. I don’t mind; it eases Paul’s mind to know he can count on me to fill in if necessary; it’s why I usually am not programmed into it to begin with because I’m the wild card that can be played on any hand. I’ve taught erotic writing workshops before–I used to write a column for the Erotica Writers’ Association, which I don’t think exists anymore? I could be wrong–but there’s always pressure to do a good job and say smart things that the audience will be able to use to improve their own writing. Add that in with my stage fright and absolute soul-wrenching terror at having to stand up and talk in front of people, intensified by the fact I haven’t done it in over two years maybe even three, and yeah, you get where I am at this morning.

AIEEE!

Ah, well, I need to get over it.

Last night I watched the latest Superman and Lois, another couple of episodes of Young Justice, and the latest two episodes of Minx, which is really growing on me. I like the show–even though I am a bit concerned about some aspects of it–and of course, shows set in that time period–the 1970’s–are ore than a little nostalgic for me. I am almost finished inputting the edits into the manuscript–I am hoping to get that finished when I get home after my class today–and so am feeling pretty productive. Once I have this manuscript finished and returned to the author, I can focus on getting back into my own writing again. YAY! I am hoping to do that very thing on Sunday. Fingers crossed.

And now I need to start preparing for the workshop. Wish me luck, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again tomorrow.

Automatically Sunshine

Monday, and my body clock–which had finally adjusted to me getting up early for work–is now all messed up again. Thanks, Daylight Savings Time, thanks a lot.

I woke up yesterday determined to get things done but that eventually didn’t happen, sadly. I started off the morning thinking, ah, I’ll read for a little while and then I’ll get going on my day but instead I got sucked into the book I was reading, and by the time I finished The Twelve Jays of Christmas, it was around three in the afternoon and I was… not fatigued or tired, but the malaise kind of set back into my day and it was rather unpleasant. I wound up getting sucked into war coverage, and finally caught up on Superman and Lois before eventually going to bed. I slept deeply and well and woke up this morning reluctant to get out of bed and get my day started. My body’s natural tendency–Greg’s natural tendency–it to default to laziness and doing nothing; a body at rest and all that, and my body and mind definitely wanted to stay at rest this morning. In fact, even as I sit here drinking my coffee and listening to the washing machine run, the bed is calling for me to return and burrow back beneath the covers and close my eyes, even though I am awake. But I have work-at-home duties to do, and later on I have to finish this final edit on my manuscript and start working on editing another one for someone else. I am getting closer to being caught up and getting big projects out of the way, which is lovely on the one hand, but on the other hand it is still incredibly daunting to have so many other things still hanging over my head.

I don’t know what it would feel like to not have something hanging over my head, though, so I am not sure how I would feel were that to ever happen. Knowing me, it would cause me stress and make me worried that no one is interested in any work from me anymore.

The weather has gotten cold here again, which isn’t conducive for me wanting to get out of bed in the mornings, either. It’s not as bad, obviously, as it is other places–we didn’t have a snowpocalypse, at least, for which I will be eternally grateful–but I do love how we always get sucked into thinking winter is over because we have a really warm week of sun and high temperatures, only to get it right between the eyes. March is indeed a cruel month–wasn’t March the month they used to say “in like a lion out like a lamb” about? (I’ve not heard that phrase since I was a child) That reminds me–speaking of odious chores hanging over my head–I need to get my taxes together. Ugh, indeed an odious chore, and once again, like an idiot, rather than keeping track of my deductible expenses all year I need to compile them now. *head desk*

I never learn, do I?

I guess that is the one constant in my life.

So, this morning I need to make this week’s to-do list. I have the weekend’s sitting here in front of me, and I managed to get three of the seven tasks crossed off; I never ran the errands, which is why nothing else got crossed off. I should have done them when I finished reading my book yesterday but I was, as I said earlier, very apathetic once I finished reading the book. Then I need to get my work-at-home duties taken care of, and then I will run those errands to get them out of the way once and for all. I think I am going to read Robert Jones’ The Prophets next; that or Wanda Morris’ All Her Little Secrets. I also have the new Lisa Lutz sitting on my coffee table, which I am sure I will enjoy a lot as well–she’s never disappointed me yet. (I also found out over the weekend that the story I thought was due in early April isn’t actually due until April 30th; a bit of a respite that might help me simply spin the story out rather than try to write the damned thing in a massive rush the week it’s due…at least in theory, right?)

Heavy heaving sigh. And on that note, I am putting my miner’s helmet on and heading down into the spice mines. Have a happy Monday, Constant Reader.

Touch

Ugh, I must confess I am one of those people who despise the time change. I forgot to reset my alarm clock last night when I went to bed, so of course this morning I didn’t remember that I’d forgotten (yes, well aware of what I just wrote)

Sunday and I am debating as to whether or not to run the errands today I’d originally wanted to run yesterday but didn’t because of the St. Patrick’s Day parade. Yes, we pretty much will throw a parade for any reason here in New Orleans, and for those of you who are unfamiliar with the New Orleans St. Patrick’s Day parade, they do indeed throw things from the floats. Just like Carnival, they throw beads and cups and plush toys. They also throw potatoes, cabbages and carrots; the idea being you could catch the ingredients to make dinner at the parade. As for me, I’d rather not stand beside the street while parade riders hurl hard objects at me that could bruise or injure; given that my heel was bruised because my shoe insert fucking slipped the other day, imagine what would happen to me at a parade throwing hard objects at me. But now that I’ve gotten up and realized the impact of the loss of the hour…I’m debating whether or not the errands can actually wait until tomorrow after my work-at-home duties. I mean, I can’t get the mail today anyway, right, so I am going to have to go uptown tomorrow or after work on Tuesday. I do need to finish the final two chapters of the book revision today–I made some great progress yesterday, did I not?–and worry that running those errands could wear me out and put me out of the mood to work on it. Of course, there’s also no rule that says when I should run the errands; I could run them late this afternoon after I get the things I need to get done today completed.

Ooooh, doing something different. How not like me, right?

Yesterday was relatively pleasant. I worked on the book after I got up, did some stuff around the house, started reading Donna Andrews’ The Twelve Jays of Christmas (one can never go wrong with Donna Andrews), and then last night settled in for a rewatch of 2010, the sequel to Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, which I rewatched during the pandemic (I’d also already seen 2010; we rented it one night in the 1980’s but got incredibly high so I really didn’t remember much of it other than it made 2001 make a lot more sense; just as the book cleared up a lot of the stuff in the original that didn’t make a lot of sense). One of the things that I always enjoy about watching old science fiction movies is to see what they were able to predict right about the future and what they got wrong; just like in 2001, in 2010 Pan Am is still around, as is the Soviet Union. Part of the plot’s premise is that the US and USSR are on the brink of war over Honduras; at the time the book was written and the film made it was inconceivable to Americans–anyone of the time, really–that the USSR was actually on the brink of collapse and wouldn’t survive in that form for another decade. I also had to wonder, wouldn’t Jupiter becoming a second sun in our system dramatically alter our orbit around the sun and our climate? Even though we are much further away from Jupiter than we are from our actual star?

It’s kind of hard to imagine Earth going from a one-star system to a two-star without any other impact.

Then again, I am not an astronomer, so what do I know? I did enjoy the film the second time around; I’d forgotten that young John Lithgow was in it, as was Helen Mirren as the leader of the Soviet space team.

I also read a marvelous two-issue crossover between two comics, Nightwing and Superman: Son of Kal-el, featuring the bisexual new son of Superman, Jonathan Kent (which reminds me, I am way behind on Superman and Lois). Nightwing/Dick Grayson remains my favorite DC Universe character; I hope HBO MAX will drop a new season of Titans soon.

And on that note, I think I’m going to read some more Donna before I get back to my own manuscript. Have a lovely Daylight Savings Time Sunday, Constant Reader.

Baby Love

Thursday and I have a lot of work to get done today. I was exhausted yesterday and very low energy for most of the day; the coffee never kicked into high gear (I assumed that all it managed in the face of yesterday’s exhaustion was keeping me awake, alas and alack) but it’s fine. Sometimes you need those low energy, low production days to recharge your batteries, and mine certainly feel charged this morning. I am hoping against hope that this means a highly productive day here in the Lost Apartment; one can certainly hope so at any rate. I did start some things yesterday that I never finished, so that’s up first while I am still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (which has always struck me as an odd thing to say) and then I am going to dive back into the book headfirst.

Under normal circumstances, I would have woken up at the Marriott Marquis at Times Square this morning and would be writing this on my laptop in my room while swilling coffee from the Starbucks on the eighth floor (with which I became very well acquainted during my stay there back in November). But thanks to the latest variant, the trip was cancelled and no New York for me in January for the second year in a row. It’s just as well, I suppose–I’m not certain I would have been able to finish the book while on the road, and that’s kind of important; although knowing the trip was still happening would have made me push harder last weekend and this week before leaving to try to get as much handled as possible.

I was very tired last evening after the day’s business was concluded, so I basically went down some Youtube wormholes while waiting for Paul to come home so we could get back into Stay Close, the new Harlan Coben show on Netflix, which is quite intriguing seeing how all the disparate stories are connected together as the show progresses. Ozark is coming back soon, which is exciting, and I am looking forward to seeing the new John Cena super-anti-hero show when it finally drops. Superman and Lois has also returned, and I watched the first episode of its second season last night while waiting for Paul to get home–it’s the best interpretation of the Superman mythos since Christopher Reeve; if you’re a Superman fan you really should be watching it–and it looks like the second season will be just as good as the first.

It’s chilly again this morning in New Orleans; not as bad as yesterday (I did wonder if the cold had something to do with my low energy day yesterday) but chilly enough to be noticeable. The sun is out though, which is always a plus, and the sunshine certainly helps my mood dramatically. I am just fascinating this morning, aren’t I? Heavy sigh. But this is working to warm me up and get my brain going while I swill down my coffee, and that’s always what the purpose of this has been–to get my brain and creativity going in the mornings so I can get things done. I just realized I didn’t mark the anniversary of the blog, started on Livejournal back in the day; right around Christmas 2004, to be exact, which means this blog has been going now for well over seventeen years over two different servers. That is a ridiculous amount of blogging, really; it’s something I should probably be better about archiving. (Which reminds me: I still need to find my old journals, don’t I?)

I also want to start reading the new Alafair Burke; maybe I’ll carve some time out today between the writing and the watching of television to come tonight to spend some time with it. I am choosing not to read the jacket copy; I want to be completely surprised by the story when I read it. I also want to start reading some more of Laura Lippman’s short stories in her collection Seasonal Work, and of course my TBR pile is completely out of control. Heavy sigh. But I think I can get some pruning and organizing done around the writing today; sometimes you have to get up and walk away from the computer, and that’s going to help me get some other things done over the next few days (oh, the shelves in the laundry room stress me out every time I walk in there) and of course, there’s always some laundry to do, and the floors, and the dishes…heavy sigh. It never ends, does it?

And on that note, I am going to head into the spice mines. Have a lovely Thursday, Constant Reader, and I’ll catch you tomorrow morning.

My Favorite Things

And so we have reached the last day of 2021 at last (it’s still hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that it has been 2021 for a year; 2022 is going to seem even stranger, methinks). I’m on a holiday, so there’s no work for the day-job to be done today, but there’s plenty of other things that need to be done. I need to work on the book some more, I need to clean, I need to run some errands, and I’d also like to do some reading. It’s a lot, I know, and who knows how much I can or will actually get done around here? Yesterday I did data entry, made condom packs and rewatched the original Clash of the Titans (starring a very young Harry Hamlin and his nipples; seeing this in the theater made me a Harry Hamlin fan for life) while I did so. I also was able to pick up two boxes of home COVID-19 tests (the day-job procured you them for the staff as a preventive measure, which are apparently like gold these days.

It was a very challenging year in many ways. I suspect that if I looked back at a list of my goals for the year, two of the most key things–getting an agent and finishing Chlorine–would not be able to be checked off the list. My faulty memory–I keep, for one thing, conflating the last two years as one and the same mentally–has something to do with it. I know I wanted to write more short stories in 2021, and I don’t know that I succeeded at that. I know I had a couple of stories of which I am very proud come out this past year (my first ever attempt at writing a Sherlock Holmes story for one), and of course I finished writing two books while trying to finish yet a third under contract, and trying to get Chlorine done.

I always feel sort of weird at the end of the year when I compile my favorite things (books, movies, television) because I never limit myself to things that were new to the year, but rather new to me during the year; I am always so woefully behind on everything I read and watch that it doesn’t seem fair to leave off things that didn’t debut in 2021. Besides, it’s always kind of fun, I think, to remind people of things they themselves might have missed and forgotten about. But when I started thinking about all the books I read this past year, I would have sworn that I hadn’t read this much, or that I couldn’t have possibly read this many books–and I know I am also forgetting some, and these are the ones that stand out enough to be remembered. My favorite reads of the year were, in no particular order, The Turnout by Megan Abbott; The Collective by Alison Gaylin; Dream Girl by Laura Lippman; The Gift of the Magpie by Donna Andrews (I read three or four Andrews novels this past year, and loved them all, frankly); Velvet was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia; Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier; Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby; A Beautiful Crime by Christopher YBollen; Yes Daddy by Jonathan Page-Ramage; The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris; These Toxic Things by Rachel Howzell Hall; Invisible City by Julia Dahl; and By Way of Sorrow by Robyn Gigl. I also read a lot more cozies than I generally do, which were quite fun–I highly recommend checking out Leslie Budewitz, Vivien Chien, Sherry Harris, Ali Brandon, Miranda Harris, and Carolyn Haines, among many others–my TBR pile is nothing if not a treasure trove of terrific reading–and I am hoping to get even more reading done in the new year as well.

As for movies, I also watched a lot of movies. I saw a lot of classic cinema of the past I’d never seen before–my Cynical 70’s Film Festival had some marvelous entries this past year–as well as revisited some favorites. I greatly enjoyed Dune, which I thought was incredibly well done, and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was a great super-hero film, with just the right amount of spectacle, humor, and humanity to ground it in enough reality that an audience could relate to it. I don’t remember any other new films that we saw in this past year, but I am sure there were some–the direct-to-streaming/limited theatrical release model for the pandemic ensured that I saw some things much sooner than I probably would have otherwise–but give me a break, I am still on my first cup of coffee after a lovely and deep night’s sleep.

Television again is something a bit blurry for me; the lines between 2020 and 2021 also blurring a bit here. I know we loved Mare of Easttown, Ted Lasso (a true gem of a show), The Mandalorian, Elité, Superman and Lois (probably the best version of Superman since the first two Christopher Reeve films), the original Gossip Girl (which is winding down now with a last season that is rather disappointing, alas), Hacks, One of Us is Lying, Cruel Summer, and Only Murders in the Building, which was also a jewel. But maybe my favorite show of the year was HBO’s It’s a Sin, which was not only well done, but powerful and thought-provoking. I had debated whether I wanted to see it or not; entertainment about HIV/AIDS, particularly about the height of the plague, has never sat well with me–either pandering nonsense or heavy-handed. The gold standard for me has always been Longtime Companion, but after watching I had to say It’s a Sin belongs up there. It was hard to watch at times–and I realized that the reason was the characters were all the same age that I was when it all started, which was a big part of it–but it also made me acknowledge and understand any number of things about myself and my past; namely that I had never grieved, just going numb at one point and deciding to keep moving forward and not think about anything. Watching the show brought back a lot of memories which, while painful at times, was necessary and needed.

I also spent time writing and working on two novellas, “Festival of the Redeemer” and “Never Kiss a Stranger”; one thing I really want to be able to do in the new year is get the novella collection together as well as another collection of short stories. Lots of plans for the new year, including a new Scotty novel I’ve been itching to get to, and another stand alone, in addition to Chlorine. I was able to visit my parents twice this past year, and I was also about to make it to New York and then Boston for Crime Bake, which was simply marvelous. I have lots of travel plans for the new year that I am hoping new pandemic variants aren’t going to jettison–I really do want to be around writers again, seriously–and over all, the year wasn’t as terrible as it easily could have been (2022, do not take this as a challenge). I got a new computer, paid off a lot of debt, and over all, I have to say, all things considered, 2021 wasn’t altogether terrible. I wish I had been more productive, but I also wish that every year.

And on that note, this next chapter isn’t going to write itself, is it? Have a lovely New Year’s Eve, Constant Reader, and I’ll talk to you next year!

Superman

So, on National Coming Out Day this past week, October 11th, the current Superman—Jonathon Kent, son of Lois and Clark—came out as bisexual. When I saw the New York Times piece I literally gasped out loud. This wasn’t some minor character in a team comic; this wasn’t even a second-tier lead of a less-popular title. This was fucking SUPERMAN, the Big Blue Boy Scout, the tentpole character on whom all of DC Comics, and the DC television and film franchises, are built around.

I literally had tears come up in my eyes. This was So. Fucking. HUGE.

I cannot even begin to tell you how much that would have meant to me as a deeply closeted and terrified gay teenager in the Chicago suburbs and later, small town rural Kansas. I really don’t know how best to explain what this meant to me as a sixty-year-old gay man, but here goes.

Oh, Superman. You are the ubiquitous comic book character; since your debut back before the second world war you have become the default; the super-hero every other super-hero is judged against. It’s even right there in your generic name: you are the super man, hence you are Superman.

Superman is kind of the Bill Jones or Joe Smith of comic book heroes: basic, simply named, and the best of them all.

I was a kid when I first started reading comic books about super-heroes. Before I bought my first Action Comics (all I remember is that Lex Luthor was the issue’s villain), I read Archie in all of its iterations; I also read Millie the Model, Dot, Little Lotta, and some others that have faded from memory. The Jewel Osco where my mom used to buy groceries when we lived in Chicago had a comic book vending machine near the entrance, right next to a soda machine dispensing cans of Pepsi and its variants. You put in a dime and two pennies into the appropriate slots, and pushed the appropriate buttons for the comic you wanted; the metal spiral thing holding the comics would spin and drop your comic down, so you could reach in through the door and pick it up. That particular day I wanted a Betty and Veronica, which was A5 but I was in a hurry and accidentally pressed B5 instead; voila, I got an Action Comics instead, much to my bitter disappointment. One of the local independent stations, Channel 32 (which also showed repeats of The Munsters, among other black-and-white classics) aired reruns of the old Superman television show; which I thought, even for my unsophisticated childish palate, was cheesy and silly. I remember grousing about it to my mother—whose response, “Boys read super hero comics anyway” was the kind of thing that usually would guarantee that I would never read a super hero comic book, but I picked it up after we got home and I started reading, certain that I would hate it.

It probably should go without saying that I didn’t hate it.

And it opened an entirely new world for me. Sure, it got a little frustrating from time to time for me (Superman was such a goody two-shoes, but that was kind of his job) and Lois being so desperate (and jealous) to either marry and/or expose his secret identity was annoying; especially because Lois otherwise was such a kick ass woman. There were any number of Superman or Superman-adjacent titles, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen had their own titles; Superman often appeared in (and was definitely a charter member of) Justice League of America; there was also Superboy (“Superman as a teenager!”) and Supergirl…it was like the comics readers couldn’t get enough of Superman and his world. I eventually moved on to other DC Comics titles, too—everything Batman (Detective Comics was always my favorite, because there was a mystery to solve) and Flash and Green Arrow and Green Lantern and…yes, my dollar allowance every week for a long time went to comic books (Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys were $1.50 and my allowance was $1 per week; and no, I couldn’t wait until I had two dollars to get one; I always needed to spend my money as soon I got it on Thursday—Mom’s payday—at either Jewel Osco or at Woolworth’s…because I could always talk Mom into buying me a book if there were Hardy Boys or Three Investigators to be had). When we moved to the suburbs the Zayre’s didn’t carry comics, nor did the grocery store in town; the 7/11 only carried Marvel (I tried with The Mighty Thor, but the continuing story aspect Marvel used irritated me because I would inevitably miss an issue), and when Zayre’s finally started carrying comics, things had… changed. Wonder Woman was no longer an Amazon, and was just an every day modern woman running a boutique (somehow she’d given up her powers). Supergirl had been poisoned, which meant her powers came and went without warning; one moment she’d be super, the next she wouldn’t. It was an attempt to modernize the books, of course, make them appeal to the newer, more sophisticated modern audience of the 1970’s; some of them started addressing social issues and became a lot more adult in theme. (Green Arrow actually became my favorite book during this time; he was drawn naturally—had curly chest hair AND nipples—and he had no powers other than being an expert archer and skill at hand-to-hand fighting). I eventually moved away from comics because I started spending my money on novels—Agatha Christie, Ellery Queen, etc.—and comics were, I thought, really for kids.

Later on, when we moved to Kansas, I got back into comics again, and things had changed yet again. Some of the Legion of Super-Heroes’ costumes made them look like strippers (male and female); the drawing of the characters had become more natural and realistic (Superman, for example, went from being barrel-shaped to having a narrow little waist and abs showing through his skintight costume), and Wonder Woman was an Amazon again. This was my Howard the Duck period, when I also started delving into Marvel a bit more. Comics always remained of interest to me throughout my life, with me going through periods of collecting and reading in large volumes at different times…before moving on from them again. I am not an expert on comics by any means; I know the names of some artists and some writers, but for the most part, I always paid more attention to story and character (go figure). But I’ve always maintained a love for the characters; and yes, the original Christopher Reeve Superman movie (which I rewatched recently for the Cynical 70’s Film Festival) indeed made me believe a man could fly.

I’ve always had, and always will have, a soft spot for Superman.

To me, Christopher Reeve was Superman–the prior versions of the character, including the popular television show (which I watched religiously) always seemed, to me, to be an actor playing the part; Reeve somehow just was the character. He was so insanely and ridiculously handsome; the body was just right, and he had the right mix of charm and charisma the part demanded. Reeve’s Superman could never be seen as a threat–and he also made it completely believable that no one could tell Clark was him, with different hair, glasses, and street clothes; he physically changed how he stood, his posture, everything about him that was Superman, when he was playing Clark.

Reeve never got enough credit as an actor, frankly.

And while my memories of Margot Kidder as Lois Lane aren’t fond ones–I thought she was a fine actress, but miscast–overall, the first two Reeve films were good ones. They could have stopped there, but didn’t–and the last two weren’t good. I enjoyed Lois and Clark (despite what Dean Cain turned into) and Paul and I eventually succumbed to the simple pleasure that was Smallville…but I wanted to see Superman back up on the big screen, where he belonged. I was very excited when they cast Henry Cavill in the part (I’ve been crushing hard on Cavill since first noticing him on The Tudors)….and then came the movies. I enjoyed them for what they were, and I did think some of the changes made to update and modernize the story (how would Americans today react to the discovery of a super being from another planet?)–and you can never go wrong with Amy Adams, either.

But…they forgot the most important thing about Superman: his kindness and genuine concern for people. In the quest to make the DC Film Universe of all that is dark and angsty like the Batman movies–the direction Batman has gone in since the comic mini-series The Dark Knight Returns–was a bad one. Patty Jenkins got Wonder Woman so fucking right–and it was the same basic formula as Superman. Superman used to be derisively called “the world’s oldest Boy Scout”, but that can work with the character, and with the right actor. I think Cavill has the charisma and the charm–and the extraordinarily gorgeous smile–to pull that off; I just wish they would have let him have the chance.

The new show on CW, Superman and Lois, is also excellent; I absolutely love it, and I do think that Tyler Hoechlin is one of the best Supermans of all time, frankly. (The entire cast is stellar, frankly.)

So, as I said earlier, I was pretty fucking jazzed the other day to see the piece in the New York Times earlier this week about Superman “coming out”–on National Coming Out Day, no less–and even if it turned out to not be Clark Kent, but Lois and Clark’s son Jonathan (in the comics they have the one son; on Superman and Lois they have twin sons, one of whom is named Jonathan), and while I, in my white gay male privilege assumed this meant that he was gay–he’s actually bisexual. But he is attracted to other men, and even has a boyfriend.

There was one particularly noxious piece posted on Medium, which the homophobic piece of trash who wrote it proudly posted on Facebook (I reported his post on Facebook as well as the piece on Medium as hate speech; the Medium piece came down, but the last time I looked, of course Facebook had done nothing about it). I read the whole thing–poorly worded, not grammatical, would have given a C- grade on the construction basics level alone–but the part that I couldn’t get past, the part I can’t forget, was him saying this: But why take one of the few heroes left for the “Straight World” and make him abnormally offensive to us?

Abnormally. Offensive.

I guess I missed the massive closet exodus for the DC and Marvel Universes? Let me see–right off the top of my head, at DC aren’t Batman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Nightwing, Cyborg, Aquaman, the Flash, the Martian Manhunter, the Question, Beast Boy, the Elongated Man, and Shazam, all straight? (And that is just off the top of my head., and only DC.) But you know those people who are so afraid of the queers–you know, like the piece of shit who wrote the Medium piece–they just can’t help themselves or keep their fucking mouths shut. Oh, no, Mr. I’ve Never Brought a Woman to Orgasm just can’t let us have anything without letting us know how much it offends their delicate, needle-dicked sensibilities. You know, the same kind of guy who undoubtedly always complains about “cancel culture” and “social justice warriors” and “wokeness” and I don’t have a problem with gay people but why do you have to exist? Those kinds–sad, bitter little men with so little joy in their lives they have to spend their precious time on this planet letting everyone else in the world know how much they object to our existence.

But he has a right to his opinion and we are oppressing him if we call it out for the hateful trash it is…and him for the piece of shit he is.

As my editor at Kensington wrote on a note he included with a copy of a bad review of one of my books, this just reeks with the stench of failed author.

This guy claims to be a crime writer, and claims to work for a publisher (I’ve never heard of it or him before this moment)…but after reading this piece and another one he published on Medium, the real crime is his actual writing.

Fuck off, dude. And know that bisexual Superman is going to have way better sex than you could ever pay for, no matter how long you live.

God knows I have.