Everything About You

Saturday morning. A good night’s sleep had me up earlier than I would have thought this morning, but I feel rested and good; I was exhausted last night for some reason; Friday, perhaps? I don’t know. But I feel good this morning, I only have one errand to run–which is the grocery store, and I’ll try to get that out of the way momentarily–and some cleaning and organizing needs to be done. I also need to do some writing and editing today; yesterday I was too tired to work on the Scotty revision when I got home, so I need to get caught up on that today.

GEAUX TIGERS!

LSU plays their fifth ranked opponent today, Mississippi State. The Bulldogs roll into Tiger Stadium tonight ranked 22nd in the country. They have some nice wins under their belt, and some losses to quality teams–last week they surprised Auburn–and so this is by no means going to be an easy game for LSU. There could be a let down after last week’s huge, physical win over Georgia; Mississippi State is going to come in hungry; and LSU has to be careful not to be over-confident, must stay focused, and try not to look ahead to the big Alabama game in two weeks–which won’t be as important should LSU lose to Mississippi State. I will undoubtedly be extremely tense during the game, but am going to try my best not to get overwrought and overly involved in the game. It’s supposed to be fun to watch for Christ’s sake.

I also have some reading to do, and some editing that needs to get done, and an author interview I need to get started. My intent is to clean out my email inbox before leaving for the grocery store, as well as get some morning cleaning done here in the kitchen/office. My day job is moving at the end of this month, and I will no longer, in the new building, have my own office; I shall be in a cubicle like everyone else–and so have had to empty the bookcases in my office as well as take down all the pictures from my walls. I do not have the wall-space here in the Lost Apartment to adorn my walls with these pictures–mostly of our trip to Italy–and I’ve been trying to squeeze the books in wherever I can, which for obvious reasons has not been easy to do.

I’m still reading Empire of Sin, and am hoping to get further along in that this weekend as well; it may be in my lap during the game tonight. My reading has slowed down dramatically; and I still haven’t done a blog entry about Alice Bolin’s Dead Girls. Maybe later today.

I finished watching season three of The Man in the High Castle last night, and by far and away, this third season is the best of the show so far. It is interesting to me how well they’ve done with the character of John Smith, an American who fought against the Axis during the lost war and has switched sides, climbing the ladder in the American nazi hierarchy and also being groomed for leadership by Himmler himself. Underplayed beautifully by Rufus Sewell, the personal journey of this monster has sort of humanized him–which is, in and of itself, terrifying; this man is a monster and the antithesis of a patriotic American; everything a true American patriot would despise–and yet, those personal problems and tragedies and little heartbreaks in his family life make him almost win the audience’s sympathies…then he does something monstrous and you remember, there are no good Nazis. This show, and its message, are particularly real and powerful and important, given these times in which we live.

In the early 1990’s, I has an idea for a dystopian series of novels, built around the collapse of the American republic and the rise of a totalitarian state in its place; which I was going to call There Comes a Tide. I have all my notes and ideas in a folder somewhere, which means I might take a look at them sometime soon and see if it’s something I want to write in the next year or so. I have a y/a on deck to write after I finish the Scotty revision, and I am also going to be working on the WIP in the meantime as well; I kind of wanted to try writing a cozy after the first of the year and I also have a noir I want to write, in addition to a paranormal suspense thriller I’ve been toying with the last few months. There’s simply never enough time to write everything I want to write, and all the procrastination doesn’t help.

Heavy heaving sigh.

I’ve also decided to pull a long story from my collection and replace it with two shorter stories; the longer story will probably go up as a Kindle single at some point, and I also am in the midst of another long story that will probably turn into a Kindle single as well: “Never Kiss a Stranger.” I’ve recognized that story needs to be longer but it’s not enough of a story to be a novel…and there’s always Kindle single.

And now, back to the spice mines. I need to wash the bed linens, put some dishes away, get these floors cleaned, organize and file….and stop procrastinating.

Have a lovely Saturday, Constant Reader!

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Friday I’m in Love

Well, Constant Reader, we did it. We’ve made it through yet another week of work, and the weekend looms, with big games on deck for both the Saints and LSU.

The weather change has come at long last; with cooler temperatures, and now when I wake up early in the morning, it’s still dark outside. I dislike immensely rising when it’s still dark–or at least murky–outside; it feels like I am getting up in the middle of the night, and rightly or wrongly, my body rebels against that. One has to hate that.

Last night I finished revising Chapter 15, which puts me at three-fifths of the way finished with the revision. Once you’re over that midway hump, it always seems to go much faster. I do think I’ll be able to get this finished by the end of the month and turned in, which is lovely, after which I can focus on Bury Me in Satin as well as deconstructing the WIP. I am itching to get back to that as well as get started on the new y/a, so that makes the revising of Royal Street Reveillon even more tedious for me. I’m also gathering all kinds of research materials I’m going to need to get through relatively soon, so I can get started on those projects as soon as I finish with Scotty.

I am really liking the idea of putting together a collection called Monsters of New Orleans. I’ve done very little horror; and a lot of what I do write probably wouldn’t be considered true horror, but like mystery there are many shades of horror. I do have some stories already that would fit into this collection, but the point is also to fictionalize true stories as well–and there are many murderers and ghosts and horrible people in the city’s history to write about…and putting a modern, fictional spin on them would be all kinds of awesome.

So much to write, so much to read, so little time.

I’m still working my way through Empire of Sin, which is really terrific.  I am now at the part of the book where jazz is being born in New Orleans; and in all honesty, it’s really interesting to me. This surprises me. I like jazz, but I don’t love jazz; and I’ve never written about the New Orleans music scene primarily because I don’t know much about it and it’s a kind of music–jazz–that’s never resonated with me. I also fully accept that this probably makes me seem like a barbarian or a philistine to some; this is also perfectly fine with me. But if I am going to write about a gay prostitute in the days of Storyville, this is stuff I need to know…and I should probably start listening to the music, so I can get a grasp of how it sounds and how it makes people feel.

I am also almost finished with The Man in the High Castle; I’ll probably finish watching Season 3 tonight. It brings up a lot of interesting questions.

And now, back to the spice mines.

Have a lovely Friday.

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When a Man Loves a Woman

I am still basking in the afterglow of last night’s breakthrough on the WIP.

I also managed to get another couple of chapters of the Scotty revised; I may even be back on schedule by this weekend at this pace. Huzzah!

When the writing goes well, when things fall into place, writing is probably the most wonderful and magical thing. This is, frankly, when I remember why I love doing this, why I identify so strongly as a writer more so than anything else. I get so much pleasure out of writing, out of creating characters and telling stories that I can’t imagine why anyone would want to do anything else. I can’t imagine not writing; even if my publishing career should crash and burn and come to a complete halt, I would always keep writing.

Always.

I continue to watch The Man in the High Castle, which kind of drags in places but overall is extremely well done. The murky and messy second season–which I may need to rewatch, if I ever have the time—notwithstanding, this third season is quite excellent…although I suddenly saw, as I watched last night, striking similarities between this season and Dean Koontz’ novel Lightning, which is one of my favorites of his.

I’m also finding, as I write and read and research, that I am going to probably have two other books that I can slowly piece together–collections of personal essays for one; Monsters of New Orleans being the other.

And now, back to the spice mines.

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One

GEAUX TIGERS!

Yes, second ranked Georgia rolls into Tiger Stadium today to take on the twelfth-ranked Tigers, reeling from the first loss last week at Florida. I’m trying not to get to invested in the stakes of the game; I just want the Tigers to play better than they did last week and be competitive. I want them to win, I will be rooting them on–but I will also likely be cleaning and keeping myself occupied to handle the nerves.

Sigh.

I slept in this morning–I did wake up around seven, but chose to stay in bed for another hour, before finally getting up and getting a load of laundry started. I feel extremely well-rested this morning; which is absolutely lovely. I have a lot of cleaning and organizing to do today in order to clear my plate so tomorrow can be all about writing and editing and reading. I am greatly enjoying Empire of Sin; it’s giving me all kinds of ideas about stories to write and maybe even a novel or two…I’ll probably read Herbert Asbury’s The French Quarter next.

Lisa Morton once suggested that I do a New Orleans version of her book Monsters of LA. I am thinking that might just be something I can do, now that I’m reading all this New Orleans history.

I also started streaming the Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House last night; I got through the first two episodes, which I greatly enjoyed. I was tempted to watch  yet a third but stopped myself as it was getting late. There’s been, since the trailers for the show dropped, a lot of anger and disgust from Shirley Jackson fans as well as horror fans, since obviously the show was going to be different from the novel, and why does this even need to be? Well, I am a huge fan of both Jackson AND this particular novel; one of my proudest moments was when Night Shadows was a Shirley Jackson Award finalist. (I love the rock I got for being a finalist.) The show is good. It didn’t have to be Hill House; it didn’t have to be The Haunting of Hill House, but that’s what it is, and it is inevitable, as such, that it’s going to be compared to the original. Jackson’s structure is there; Hill House, the Crain family, the Dudleys; even some of the things that happen in the book happen in the show. It’s being told in a parallel structure; when the Crains moved into Hill House, a young couple with five children, ostensibly to renovate the house and flip it. Something horrible happened while they lived there, and the parallel story being told in modern times is about the Crains today; all five of the kids grown up into severely damaged adults. The children are Steve, Shirley, Theo, Nell, and Luke–the names of the characters from the novels plus the novelist’s name–and the parallel story structure works. The performances are good, and I also like the concept–it’s very Stephen King’s It, because clearly they are all going to have to return to Hill House and face not only the house but their own demons. As I watched and began to understand the story structure, I also thought to myself, ah, this is a great direction modern horror is going in; not only dealing with the paranormal elements but the also dealing with the psychological aspects of having dealt with something so traumatic as a child. It reminded me somewhat of Paul Tremblay’s novel A Head Full of Ghosts in that way. I am really looking forward to continuing to watch and see how it plays out. I don’t see how this can become a regular series…but then again Netflix turned Thirteen Reasons Why into a multi-season show and the second season just wasn’t very good.

I’m also still watching season three of The Man in the High Castle, which is sooooo good. The first season was terrific, the second kind of mess, but they’ve really hit their stride in Season 3.

And now, I have laundry to fold, dishes to put away, spice to mine.

Have a lovely lovely Saturday, everyone.

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Mysterious Ways

I hate being sick.

I noticed on Saturday something was off–I just assumed it was the disappointment of the LSU loss, but on Sunday I knew I was coming down with something; achy joints, burning eyes, fever that came and went, lack of energy, congested sinuses, etc. I took a Claritin-D, dosed myself occasionally as warranted with DayQuil, and slept decently that night. Monday I was still off–congested, achy, etc.–but it was bearable. Yesterday I was again low energy and achy, but was still hopeful I could ward it off.

Silly Gregalicious. When will you ever learn?

Yes, it hit with a vengeance this morning. All of my joints ache. I have a fever. I am constantly blowing my nose. I have a headache. Nausea. Draining sinuses and constant fits of wet, phlegmy coughing. Lovely.

So I regretfully called in sick. I will spend the day resting in my easy chair, reading, dosing myself with DayQuil and Vitamin C and juice and water. My throat is very scratchy and feels raw. There is so much pressure behind my eyes it feels like they’ll both pop out if I cough hard enough.

Yes, in case I haven’t made it clear, I am feeling absolutely miserable. Miserable.

Of course, it could be worse. It can always be worse. This is just some flu-ey thing that will go away. It’s not a chronic illness I have to live with the rest of my life, or something potentially fatal. New Orleans is being spared from the fury of Hurricane Michael (do stay safe, Floridians). So, yeah, all this whining for a minor inconvenience is pretty pathetic and sad, in the big picture.

Fuck the big picture. I feel sick.

I’ve been watching Season 3 of The Man in the High Castle, which is quite good. I am having trouble remembering Season 2–which I know I watched and enjoyed–but the show is very interesting…and somewhat troubling to watch. If you don’t know the premise, it’s based on a popular Philip K. Dick novel of the same title, which was an alternate history which imagined that the Nazis developed an atomic bomb, which they dropped on DC, ending World War II with an Axis victory. The United States has been divided up between Japan and Germany–the Germans have everything from the eastern seaboard to the Rockies; the Japanese everything on the other side to the Pacific coast (no mention of the Italians, which is interesting in and of itself), and the growing Resistance to the Fascist tyrants. After watching the first season I read the book, which is significantly different but equally compelling, but the show is really taking off. I do remember some terrific moral dilemmas for the characters–this is one of the show’s great strengths, frankly; when you are living under a fascistic regime, what is moral? It’s also an interesting look at collaborators, because of course there would be some–many, in fact.

I also read some more of Circe last night in my misery, and it is, as always, still compelling and beautifully written. Maybe between naps and misery i can actually finally finish reading it today.

And now to the easy chair with me.

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Welcome to the Room…Sara

Christmas Eve, a lovely Saturday morning. It’s supposed to reach a high of seventy-seven degrees today; maybe if I get as much work done as I want to I can take the time out to clean the windows, which are, as always, filthy. I didn’t get as much done yesterday as I wanted–I’m not sure why, but every word yesterday was a struggle and a fight, like drawing blood, but I really have to get moving on this today. I think I’ll be able to get pretty far along today, and another productive day tomorrow can get me back on schedule to finish. I really don’t know why this has been such a struggle, frankly. But if I could learn why I struggle so hard to do something I love, I could rule the world.

I finished watching Season 2 of The Man in the High Castle last night (enjoyed it) and the first season of Eyewitness, which I felt was really high quality and good right up until the last two episodes, when it went off the rails and became completely unbelievable (but I applaud it for its clever plot and for making a pair of gay teens the center of the story, and showing them actually being intimate–kissing and so forth; I also think their sexuality was handled sensitively and honestly; which was really nice. Too too bad about the last two episodes, though). I also finished reading Exit Pursued by a Bear last night.

“I swear to God, Leo, if you throw one more sock, I am going to throw you in the lake myself!” I shout, knees sticking to the vinyl as I turn to face the back of the bus. The boys have claimed the back when we boarded, and since it smelled weird (well, more weird) we were happy to let them have it. I hadn’t expected a constant barrage of hosiery, though.

“Like you could, Winters,” he shouts back. The other boys hoot in laughter.

“I may be small,” I reply, “but I’m crafty.”

“Don’t I know it,” Leo leers, and the hooting devolves into outright catcalls.

I fire back with a wadded sock, barely missing Leo but managing to nail Clarence, who looks properly chastened. I glare at the rest and then turn sharply to face the front, but by the time I’m in my seat again, I’m smiling. The other girls lean in towards me, ribboned braids dropping over shoulders like the least-threatening snake pile in the world. Of course, that’s what the snakes probably want you to think.

E. K. Johnston is a phenomenally successful Canadian young adult writer–her The Story of Owen series looks quite clever (and I am adding it to my list)–and Exit Pursued by a Bear is a very good book, and not only a very good read but a thought-provoking one. The story is told from the point of view of cheerleading co-captain Hermione Winters, and she is telling the story of her senior year, beginning with the trip to cheerleading camp with her team. Unfortunately, at a camp dance one night Hermione is roofied, and she is found the next morning half-naked in the lake. The water has pretty much ruined any chance of forensic evidence, and she herself has little or no memory of what happened to her–the last thing she remembers is trying to find the recycling bin to throw away her empty cup as things start to get foggy.

The book is very well-written and compelling; Hermione’s struggle to deal with being ‘the girl who was raped’ and trying to get her life back together is hard to put down; the way people now react to her and how that makes her feel is painful and sad–how do you deal with people when you’ve been through something horrible and they are sympathetic but don’t know what to do, what to say, to you? But Hermione is a strong young woman with a very great support system which enables her to put her life back together, and that’s the primary focus of the book. And that’s an important story to tell.

If I had a quibble with the book, though, it would be that; Hermione has so much love and support as she puts her life back together, and she doesn’t remember anything that happened to her that night–as she says, “it feels like it happened to someone I know instead of to me”–and she avoids social media so she can’t see what people are posting and saying about her, and for the most part, her friends and the other cheerleaders gather around her to create a protective shell…which kind of seemed a bit too good to be true to me, if that makes sense? I just felt that–don’t get me wrong, I liked the book a lot and recommend it–she should have had to face some of what most girls in her position have to in the real world.

Rape culture is a very real thing, no matter how much some people may want to pretend that it isn’t. I, like so many others, was horrified by the two primary cases illustrating this sort of thing–the Steubenville and Marysville cases a few years back–and of course, the ones detailed in Jon Krakauer’s Missoula. I recently watched the heartbreaking documentary Audrie and Daisy (Daisy is the girl from Marysville) on Netflix (I urge everyone to watch it, especially if you have daughters–and watch it with your daughters), so after seeing how these kinds of stories actually play out in the real world made the written-for-young-adult-audience sense of this one seem almost like a cop-out.

But that doesn’t lessen the impact of this book by any means. It’s also heartbreaking, even if to a lesser degree than the true stories, which I suspect motivated Johnston to write the book in the first place.

Although I would love to see what Megan Abbott could do with the same kind of story.

And now, back to the spice mines.

Family Man

Good morning, four day weekend!

I was sleepy again last night, even dozing off before Paul got home (he’s been working late every night this week) so we could watch the end of the first season of Yuri on Ice (which was wonderful)and so it wasn’t difficult for me to get a good night’s sleep, which was also absolutely lovely. I have to run some errands today, but other than that I am going to spend the day writing and cleaning the house. I absolutely must get back on schedule with it. Last night I finished a difficult chapter, and then did some planning on what needs to be done. As always, this helped, and probably should have done that before I hit the homestretch; that might have helped me through the last few weeks.

One day I will learn, no doubt. (As if!)

I also hope to finish reading Exit Pursued by a Bear today. I’m not sure what the next book I’m going to select from the TBR pile will be; I am thinking maybe something horror, or maybe a reread, or a classic. I’m not certain, but I shall make that decision once I get through this one. It’s a riveting and incredibly poignant read; I am definitely going to write about it when I am finished.

I also watched a couple of episodes of The Man in the High Castle last night, which I am still enjoying–it has some interesting things to say about choices–but there’s also a bit of Oh, really? sometimes–which is fine; that happens sometimes with shows (books, movies, etc., but doesn’t stop me from enjoying them; I just had to work harder to suspend belief).

I did do a pretty good job yesterday on the kitchen; there’s just a few final touches it needs–there are always some little odds and ends I don’t have a place for, which is incredibly annoying as you can imagine.

All right, I should get back to the spice mines. Here’s a hunk for today: