All Night Long

Friday afternoon–gloomy and rainy and damp and chilly outside; the high for today was a mere sixty degrees. I went to work this morning, put in my half-day, got in the car and ran errands. Alas, all I wore today was a black V-neck T-shirt over jeans because, you know, it’s been like in the high seventies and eighties all week. Sure it’s cold now, I thought as I walked to the car this morning, but it’ll warm up later.

No, it just got colder with intermittent rain.

Heavy heaving sigh.

But I was home around two, am currently laundering the bed linens, and have already cleaned out a storage tub and put everything that was in it into this really cool wicker trunk the lovely couple who lived in our old carriage house apartment gave us when they moved out a few weeks ago (and yes, if you are thinking the enormous trunk has been sitting in our living room until today, you would be correct). I’m about to head upstairs and put away the load of laundry I did last night before bed, and then I’m coming back downstairs to do some more cleaning and organizing. At some point once this cleaning frenzy has worn itself out, I intend to retire to my easy chair with a glass of Chardonnay and Alafair Burke’s divine The Better Sister, possibly taking the occasional break to watch another episode of Netflix’ The Order. Is anyone else watching? I watched the first episode and was really intrigued by it; I wasn’t expecting it to be funny, for one thing, and it seems self-aware of itself to mock some traditional horror tropes–kind of similar to True Blood, but rather than being set in a small town in Louisiana, it’s set in a town dominated by an elite private university. I’m definitely intrigued enough to watch further, just as I am with Now Apocalypse.

And just now I learned there’s a true crime documentary series on Netflix about the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

A veritable plethora of riches to be explored, verily.

So, when I tire of this haphazard method of wandering around the apartment from place to place, accomplishing a cleaning task which leads into yet another (and not necessarily in the same room; it occurs to me that my cleaning methodology is remarkably similar to my imagination–wandering, easily distracted, bouncing from one idea to another as I kind of go from putting something away in a cupboard or a drawer, frowning at the scattered mess contained, and start organizing it–forgetting about the books stacked on the coffee table that I was re-shelving, but if you come here regularly you’re probably aware of how scattered my mind is), I shall sit down and let the cat come curl up in my lap and have a nice relaxing evening. Paul is an absentee husband during the weeks leading up to the festivals; I am usually asleep by the time he gets home and I really only see him on the mornings I don’t have to go in early.

It’s my annual period of Festival Widowhood.

Usually I am working on something–a manuscript I am writing, or preparing, or in some sort of progress; I don’t think I can remember a Festival widowhood when I didn’t have some writing to do. Last year I was immersed in the short story project, which eventually turned into Survivor’s Guilt and Other Stories–available for pre-order now!–and so, I find myself reading, watching television by myself, and my mind wandering a bit even if I am entertained and enjoying whatever I am watching. I am making lots of notes in my journal, so that’s something, but being home early like today and knowing the evening is stretching out in front of me for hours…yeah, I’m kind of all over the place.

And once this last load of bedding is finished, I can make the bed–and then I will undoubtedly get distracted by something that needs straightening upstairs.

It literally never ends.

Later!

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I Wanna Be Your Lover

So, Facebook was apparently wonky yesterday, and so was Instagram. I rarely go to Instagram–I’m not really sure what the point of it is, and I mostly follow male fitness models because I like to look at pictures of pretty men, feel free to judge me for this–but I did have some things I wanted to post on Facebook yesterday which kept failing on me. But the wonkiness kept me off of there for most of the day, and I have to say it was kind of lovely.

I am loving Alafair Burke’s The Better Sister, as I knew I would. This weekend I am going to have to spend most of my free time reading, because I still have two more books to read to prepare for my panel and time is running out.

Yesterday the box o’books for Survivor’s Guilt and Other Stories arrived, and it looks fantastic. I can’t tell you, Constant Reader, how pleased I am with what Bold Strokes has been doing with the packaging of my books. Great covers, the interior with Janson (my favorite font); they look terrific, and I couldn’t be more pleased. It’s been a while since I got a box o’books; the last Todd Gregory novel came out in January of 2018, and this is the first fiction I’ve published since then (I don’t count anthologies, even though my name is on the spine). Yeah, I know that’s just over a year, but for me that’s a long time.

And no, the feeling of opening up a box o’books with my name on the cover still hasn’t gotten old.

I am really looking forward to getting the box o’books for Royal Street Reveillon.

I had hoped to have the first draft of the WIP finished by the end of this month, but I don’t really see how I can do that while getting the reading done that I need to do for my panel…which means, I suppose, that I’ll have to rejuggle my calendar for the year. Ha ha ha, like I actually have taken the time to make a to-do calendar for the year. I’ve not even been making to-do lists. Maybe this is why I’ve felt so at-sea this year; I should get back on that and get back to normal.

I started watching The Order on Netflix last night, per the recommendation of some of my co-workers, and I kind of enjoyed the first episode. It is a paranormal show of some sort, but it, like True Blood (and the grandmother of all these shows, Dark Shadows), doesn’t take itself seriously and there are some seriously funny moments on the show. I also watched the first episode of Gregg Araki’s new show on Starz, Now Apocalypse, and also am intrigued enough to watch more. American Gods is also apparently back for its second season, which is something else I can watch during these last few weeks pre-Festival while Paul is working around the clock.

My new computer was delivered yesterday–I did wind up ordering a new MacBook Air on-line on Monday (not that there’s anything wrong with the HP Stream; there’s not, but it’s a long story I won’t bore you with and it doesn’t hurt to use it as a back-up in case of other issues AND this way when we travel we won’t have to share a laptop which is always aggravating), and it did arrive and I am picking it up this morning on my way to the office. Today and tomorrow are, of course, my half-days, which is lovely, and so I can come home tonight and get things started on cleaning around here as well as reading, and then tomorrow I can make groceries on the way home and be in for the weekend. This weekend is St. Patrick’s Day, which means parades and day-drunks roaming around the neighborhood, so not leaving the house is optimal.

And on that note, I should return to the spice mines. Happy Thursday, Constant Reader,

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Coward of the County

Thursday! Didn’t think we’d make it this far, did you, Constant Reader?

Yesterday was cold–not as cold as it is pretty much everywhere north of I-10–but today’s not so bad. Forecast to be in the fifties with a high of 61, the sun is out and the sky is blue and full of puffy white clouds. I only have to work a half-day today and tomorrow, so I’ll be sliding into the weekend relatively casually.

I finished proofing Survivor’s Guilt and Other Stories last night, and now just have to fill out the corrections form to turn in. I also watched another episode of Titans, which introduced us to Jason Todd, aka Robin 2.0, and the show has done an excellent job of casting and writing this character. The young actor who plays him–I didn’t take the time to look up who he is–is pitch-perfect; even more so than the actor playing Dick Grayson. Titans is so well-done that DC Universe really needs to use it as a guide for any other super-hero team shows it might do; so much better than Legends of Tomorrow, which I was very excited about but lost interest in very quickly; I think I only watched two episodes.

I really do miss Agent Carter.

I also read more of The Klansman yesterday, and while it is still wince-inducing, it’s actually really good–or so I think. The horror of the racism and sexism of 1965 Alabama is incredibly difficult to read, but it is in-your-face, pull-no-punches honest….a lot more honest, frankly, than To Kill a Mockingbird, which I also read for the first time the same summer I read The Klansman. One of the things the author, William Bradford Huie (who was from Alabama and lived there) does really well is pull aside the pleasant mask most racists were and expose the ugliness underneath, while also showing their humanity; a humanity that exists despite their malignant beliefs and values.

Take, for example, this paragraph:

The Atoka Hospital was the most visited institution in Atoka County. This was because the people of the county were friendly. Each day the local radio station broadcast the names of the patients admitted the previous day, so whenever a person remained in the hospital for several days he could count on being visited by most of his relatives, many of his friends, even a few of his casual acquaintances. But this visiting was not interracial. Whites visited whites; Negroes visited Negroes. In the first twenty years of the hospital’s existence, from 1945 to 1965, no white man, unless he was a doctor or a policeman, visited a Negro patient. A few white women visited their Negro cooks. But certainly no white man ever visited a Negro girl. So when Breck Stancill, after hearing Dr. Parker’s report, visited the private room occupied by Loretta Sykes at 11:20 pm, he gained invidious distinction and caused ugly talk.

(aside: I am really glad the word negro has passed out of usage; as you can see from the above paragraph, it was commonly accepted in the 1960’s and was preferred to the n word and colored. Huie also used the n word liberally throughout the book, but it’s always used in dialogue by racist characters and never in the prose, unless the prose is going inside the character’s head.)

This is the kind of world that racists want us to return to; one where ‘whites’ are superior and separated (above) from other ‘races.’ This book is set in 1965 Alabama; and I was four years old at the time. This was the world I was born into, this existed and changed during the course of my lifetime. Huie perhaps does one of the best jobs I’ve ever read of writing about the reality of racism and segregation; and by humanizing his racists he makes them all the more horrible to contemplate; the three-dimensional monster is always more frightening than the one-dimensional.

I’ll probably finish reading the book tonight, since I get off work early, and I am taking voluminous notes…but probably won’t review the book until this weekend.

And now back to the spice mines.

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Ladies’ Night

Good morning, Wednesday, how are you doing?

I sort of finished a project (which I can’t discuss) yesterday–at least the first part of it, and am damned happy about that. I also did another 100 pages of proofing of Survivor’s Guilt and Other Stories, and hope to finish that today so I can send those corrections off this week as well. Huzzah! I’ve not been doing a lot of writing, but I’ve been doing a lot of brainstorming and thinking and note-taking, and am very excited about where to take everything that I’ve been working on.

I was so tired last night. I slept really well on Monday night, even waking before my alarm in the morning. And when I did get out of bed (after the obligatory daily ritual of hitting the snooze button twice, even though I was awake) I felt energetic and awake and alive and ready to go. I actually got things done before I left the house yesterday morning. Right? Who am I, and what did I do with Gregalicious? And the day went well, for the most part. It was the second of my two twelve hour days, and I was surprised to make it through the day as well as I was doing…until about seven o’clock, with less than an hour left to go, I hit the wall. I was so tired, so so tired, so tired that I felt it in my hips and knees and ankles. My mind was alert but my entire body felt like it just wanted to melt into a couch. I was tired as I drove home and picked up Paul; too tired to cook when I got home.

All I had the energy for was sitting in my easy chair and proofing. And at that, sometimes I had to reread to make sure I’d checked it and my mind hadn’t wandered off, as it is wont to do when I am tired.

I was too tired to read.

So, I went to bed early and slept the sleep of the righteous. I am awake this morning and feel terrific, despite the fact that it’s thirty degrees outside and only slightly warmer than that here in my kitchen, but I turned on the heat and the awesome space heater I got at Costco last winter, and feel pretty good here in my little office nook. Huzzah! And today, I hope to get a lot of things taken care of–I should finish the page proofs today; maybe even get back to work on writing (I’ve been horribly lazy about that lately); positively shameful, to be honest.

So, this morning before I run my errands and head to the office, my goal is to clean out the email inbox, get the kitchen straightened up some, and possibly get the proofing done. I somehow managed to start some laundry last night so I need to finish that up this morning as well. I do feel terrific, and like I can conquer the world today; we’ll see how long that lasts, though.

Probably until about three o’clock this afternoon, if history teaches us anything.

And now, back to the spice mines.

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Too Hot

Tuesday and the world has gone mad.

Polar vortexes and wind chills around fifty below! New Orleans in a freeze warning with the possibility of snow! Madness, sheer madness.

Yesterday was a pretty good day, over all. It was so lovely, and I’m so happy, that Susanna Calkins was nominated for the Agatha Award for Best Short Story for her contribution to Florida Happens, “A Postcard for the Dead.” It’s an absolutely wonderful story, too, an I couldn’t be happier for Susanna, who was an absolute delight to work with and whom I finally met at Bouchercon in St. Petersburg this past year. One of the things I love about being a part of the mystery or crime writing community is how many truly wonderful people are also a part of it, which always makes Bouchercon a wonderful experience for me. I always see old friends, meet new people and make new friends, and I always have the best time. For someone who is used to hiding out in his apartment most of the time being antisocial, Bouchercon and the Tennessee Williams Festival/Saints and Sinners weekend are seriously over-stimulating; I have a blast but when it’s all over I am drained and exhausted. Happy and still aglow, usually inspired to write, but drained and exhausted nonetheless. All of the Agatha nominees are terrific writers I admire; congrats to everyone.

I managed to proof read the first fifty pages of Survivor’s Guilt and Other Stories; remember talking the other day about much I hate reading my own work? What’s interesting–let’s face it, I find myself fascinating–is that I often find myself using the same phrase, or turn of phrase, in more than one short story; which is something I wouldn’t be aware of writing them at different times over the years, and I would never sit down and reread all my short stories all at once. I know that I have a tendency to write about men with black hair, tanned olive skin, and green eyes; dimples also show up often in male characters in my work (Colin in the Scotty series hits all that criteria, and so did Paul in the first two Chanse novels). I also write about my neighborhood, the Lower Garden District, a lot in my short stories (in the novels, Chanse and Paige live in this neighborhood; Scotty lives in the Quarter); in fact, two of the first five stories are set less than three blocks apart. I also tend to use similar names a lot–David is a particular favorite of mine to call my characters; I also use Gary and Tony a lot.

I probably should pay more attention to this than I do.

I also started reading  The Klansman on Sunday night; and it’s not an easy thing to read. I only read a single chapter, and it took me a while. I kept getting memories, memories of the time period the book is set in as well as the summer I read it; a hot, damp Alabama summer with no air conditioning. It’s interesting because that is the setting for the WIP, and so I kept putting the book down so I could scribble down some memories in my journal, things to use for the WIP should I ever get to the point where I can work on it again. What the book is about you can pretty much guess given the title, and it’s hard to read. I don’t remember much of the book; I remember reading it, and I do remember it making me think about the things the book talked about; thinking about them in a different way than I had before. I’ve remembered the book my entire life, but have never gone back and reread it; the copy I read wasn’t mine and I never thought to look for a copy whenever I haunted any bookstore. I’m interested in the period, and I am interested in the pop culture of the period; a short story I am currently working on, “Burning Crosses,” made me think of this book again–and of course, the Internet makes everything easy. I got a first edition hardcover from Ebay for less than five dollars, and my decision to read it again now, as part of the Diversity Project, is because I want to know if the book will make me think as much as it did when I was nine or ten….or if my own values and morality have changed enough from then that I won’t view it in the same way.

But…it’s difficult to read. Not that it isn’t well written; it’s too well-written, if you get what I mean.

And now, back to the spice mines. Stay warm, Constant Reader!

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Steal Away

Perhaps the most interesting thing I’ve noticed while proofing the galley pages for Survivor’s Guilt and Other Stories is how often I use the same names over and over again: Phillip, Billy, Joey, etc. That is definitely something I need to watch out for in the future.

Also, while I was printing out the page proofs, much to my surprise I discovered that my printer actually has a way of catching the pages as they spit out from the printer…in the three years I’ve had my printer I’ve always hated that it just spits the paper out and they go flying for me to pick up and organize. So you can imagine my surprise and embarrassment on noticing that the little pull out thing that catches the paper has a piece that flips up–so the paper doesn’t go flying into the air. Heavy sigh. Yes, I have had my printer for just over three years, why do you ask?

I didn’t get a lot done yesterday, mainly because 1) I was feeling lazy 2) it was still cold and 3) I was still bitter about the corrupt abomination that was the Saints game. I also found out that a project was pushed back a few months; my page proofs aren’t due until February 5th; and my tentative pub date for the Scotty is this coming September which means the revision isn’t due for a while yet–part of my stress was not knowing precisely when that was due so I was forcing myself to get it done. Knowing when it’s due means I can take my time with it and not rush and make sure that it’s as good as it possibly can be; if I feel like it’s not I have no one to blame but myself. So, I am going to distance myself both from it and the WIP this week and focus on some short stories before returning to both projects this coming weekend. I am also thinking–too soon, I know–about what I am going to write next. I had a really good idea Sunday night while watching Dirty John that I’m seriously contemplating, but it’s going to need some research first.

We’ll see, I suppose.

A short work week this week because of the three day weekend, so that’s also quite nice. I am hoping to make some progress on my reading this week as well. It’s really about staying rested–which means good sleep, and enough of it every night–and the mantra for this year: self-care. And this also means this weekend I need to go to the gym and get back into that routine. Stretching, cardio, weights, the occasional massage to work the kinks in my back out.

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

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Sexy Eyes

And it’s Monday, a holiday.

Which apparently my computer felt like it, too, deserved a holiday this morning. It only took forty-five minutes for it to successfully boot up; and while that was incredibly frustrating, it now is working just fine. Maybe it was the cold spell last night. Who knows? All know is that before the latest iOS update (Mojave sucks) my computer worked fine. Go figure.

I am not discussing the abomination that was the Saints game yesterday. All I will say is certain officiating teams shouldn’t be allowed to officiate flag football for an elementary school. You can’t tell me that they all missed that call. Bullshit, and fuck off.

My page proofs for Survivor’s Guilt and Other Stories arrived in my inbox overnight, so I guess I’ll be spending some time proofing those tonight. I am going to work on Scotty some today–Paul is going into the office, no holiday for him, alas–so I have the whole day to myself here at home. I do have some cleaning and organizing left to do, but I am certain I can get everything on the agenda finished today. Huzzah!

We also finished watching Sex Education last night, and I do recommend it. It’s very cute and sweet, if extremely graphic, show about the sex lives of teenagers. After we finished that, we started watching Dirty John, which started slow but began to pick up in the second episode. We’ll keep watching Dirty John, I think…at least for another episode. It’s also terrific to see the young actress from Ozark, who deserves an Emmy for her role as Ruthie. And you can really never go wrong with Eric Bana or Connie Britten.

I also started reading Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig, and am enjoying it thus far. Hope to carve out some time from my to-do list in order to finish it today.

And now I suppose I should read the page proofs. So tis back to the spice mines with me.

Have a great day!

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