If You Love Somebody Set Them Free

I have to panel today and tomorrow at Saints and Sinners; one is a genre panel and the other is an on-stage interview with Jewelle Gomez; we are being interviewed by Eric Andrews-Katz. I can’t seem to get it into my head which is which day; old age is not pretty for anyone. The irony is the primary topic has to do with being prolific and/or maintaining a career over a long period of time; considering I haven’t published a novel under my own name since 2016 and the last Todd Gregory was January last year (I think), it seems kind of weird to be talking about being prolific. But I suppose all the stuff I’ve published since 2002 kind of makes up for the last year or so of slacking off.

I guess I can talk about how I used to be prolific.

I’m also supposed to read from my work. Sigh. Not sure what I’m going to read. I can always fall back on Timothy, I suppose; that always goes over pretty well. Or I could read from this story that is eventually going to be available on Kindle as an ebook. (It IS up, but I keep finding mistakes, and having to upload a corrected file; and I am not going to try to start selling it until I have it right. My fabulous friend Erin also put together a better cover for me AND made sure the formatting and everything was done in a new file, but since I had already corrected something on the page–adding a tag line about A new story of suspense from award-winning author Greg Herren–I have to wait until the page corrects before I can put the new file up AND the new cover; and trust me, the next time I do this I am going to make sure I do everything right the first fucking time.)

I have downloaded a copy of the story from Kindle, so I do have an electronic file, so I could just read from my iPad, I suppose. And since I’ve read it out loud a few times already the last few days in order to catch mistakes…I’ve kind of practiced. It’s a thought.

Heavy sigh.

I’ve also been playing around with the short story collection. I realized I was including stories in it that are out for submission, operating on the assumption that if my publisher wants it, it wouldn’t come out until sometime next year, so the stories would either have been accepted or rejected by then; but by including them in the collection I was assuming they would be rejected, and why would I put that kind of energy out into the universe? I know one is going to be used; I’ve already gotten corrections from the editor of the anthology, but the others–well, it will be a while before I hear back from them; and one is notorious for how long it takes to respond; they still have a story I submitted last summer so still keeping my fingers crossed on that one. But again, gay characters in this one, so the odds against me are even stronger than they were for the other story.

It’s funny, but I am so damned stubborn, you know? Twenty-odd years ago when I decided to finally make my dream a reality and started taking writing seriously, I deliberately chose to write about gay characters and gay themes and tell our stories. I knew it was going to limit my success; making them crime novels limited the success still further. I said the other day I never tried writing crime short stories for the longest time because I knew gay crime stories wouldn’t get published in the limited markets for crime stories, and the limited markets for gay fiction wouldn’t publish crime stories. “Annunciation Shotgun” was the first time I wrote a crime story with gay characters, but I also knew it was going to be published; New Orleans Noir’s editor had requested the story, and had requested specifically I write about a gay character. And now that I’m going through this burst of writing short stories, some of these could have been about straight people, sure…but in some instances the story requires the characters to be gay. “The Weight of a Feather,” which I just revised this week, was written years ago for the MWA Ice Cold anthology; stories about the Cold War. It didn’t get used, and I recently took the plunge and sent it somewhere else. It was rejected, but not because of the characters; the story moved too slow, and I immediately saw the value of that critique from the editor, which I used in the revision. (I had always seen, stubbornly, the opening of the story being the image of a man, in winter, in a trenchcoat, standing on a bridge over a creek as snow starts to fall; then he throws a gun into the water and as he walks back home, the story is told in a sort of flashback. I now have rewritten the story to open with the actual commission of the crime, the middle with him walking tells the why; and I am probably just going to use it for the collection. I fucking love that title, too; it comes from the Egyptian Book of the Dead; the goddess Ma’at weighed the heart of the dead against the weight of the feather of truth to determine whether the soul was admitted to the afterlife; my story basically illustrates a situation where, despite the crime, I’d be curious to see how the scales of Ma’at would balance….)

Need to get ready. Later!

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Things Can Only Get Better

It’s Friday, and I have the morning off in order to once again have an eye appointment. Here’s hoping nothing goes wrong with that one, right? Oy. But…it’s also Friday. Hooray!

I managed to finish the first draft of my story “The Carriage House,” clocking in another 2500 words or so; the story in first draft now sits at about 5350 words, most of them written over the last two days. I had hoped to finish my Italy story yesterday as well, and get started on another Scotty chapter, but alas, that was not to be. It also occurred to me last night that I’ve written a lot of short stories so far this year; certainly more this year than I have in any previous year, and it’s early March only. Three were written to submit to anthologies, and the others were simply written because I wanted, felt the need, to write them. I’ve written a Chanse short story, which is also a first; and that’s kind of cool. I know how to fix it; I actually know how to fix all of the stories that now sit in a first draft form, which is also a first. Usually I have nary a clue on what to do with these stories once the draft is written. I also know how to fix another story that’s just been sitting in my files for years; mayhap I shall work on fixing it this weekend, who knows? I also can’t help but think that all these short stories are happening now because of the Short Story Project.

So, today it’s off to Metairie for the eye doctor, then it’s to the office for testing, and then it’s time to come home (it’s my short day) and hopefully to the gym for a workout. I’d like to spend the evening cleaning the Lost Apartment as well, so I can spend the weekend writing (other than the errands that must be run tomorrow).

Well, I never finished that, did I? Nope; my bad. Before I finished it was time to go, and off I went. I am now home, it’s later on in the day, and I’m a bit tired.

I’ll finish in the morning; sorry, Constant Reader!

I didn’t want to get up this Saturday morning, but I did–I have things to do today, errands and such, and must go to the gym–so I’ll sleep in tomorrow, which is when we lose an hour of sleep anyway. It’s not light out; it’s cloudy. I am not sure if that means it’s going to rain or something, but whatever it means…I’ll be out there dealing with it soon enough.

I also have some chores around here that I have to complete before heading out to face the day.

I am going to take today off from writing, despite being behind. I am very pleased with “The Carriage House,” as I said earlier in this missive, and I am relatively pleased with the Chanse story. It needs some more work, of course–there’s at least one scene missing that I need to put into it, as well as some more layers–but overall, I am quite well pleased with it, as well. I am more pleased, I think, that I’ve written a private eye story; I may write more now that I know I can actually do it. I doubt if I’ll do Scotty stories–there’s just way too much backstory necessary–but I have an idea for another Chanse story, this time set on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge. Oh! The title just came to me! “Once a Tiger.” I kind of like that. (The Chanse story needs not only revision but a new title; “Glory Days” doesn’t work with the story as it wound up. I originally set it at a reunion of sorts, but wrote that out of the story.) I do want to finish my Italy story, and perhaps work on a revision of either “The Weight of a Feather” or “The Problem with Autofill.” I also would like to get another Scotty chapter finished. We’ll see.

I’ve done quite a few short stories this year, as I mentioned earlier; even more than I originally thought I had done. I am thinking more about placement for said stories; I worry that some of the better paying markets–there aren’t many of those any more–won’t want a story with a gay male lead, even if the story itself isn’t particularly gay; “The Carriage House,” while not having anything particularly gay about it’s story line, also has gay character and involved murders of gay men. And you know, that’s really the thing about writing gay stories and novels; when you get rejected, when you don’t get reviewed or recognized–you always wonder. Was it really not good enough to get published/reviewed/recognized, and was it because of the gay factor? If I assume it’s the gay thing, am I not being honest with myself as a writer and rather than accepting that it needed more work or wasn’t good enough, am I using that as a crutch/excuse?

Heavy sigh.

All right, back to my chores. Here’s a Saturday hunk for you.

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Do You Really Want to Hurt Me

Wednesday; the week is half-over–although I am also working on Saturday; my weekend this week will be Sunday and Monday, which is lovely. My birthday is also nigh; I shall be fifty-six! Closer to sixty than fifty, but hey, there you go, you know? Getting older is not for the faint of heart, someone once said, and while there are definitely more aches and pains, and my memory isn’t what it used to be, and I don’t quite have the energy I once had–I ain’t doing too badly. Yesterday I managed to get some significant work done on Scotty; the book is really taking shape in my mind, and I also got some work done on the line edit. I am not as far along on the line edit as I would like to be, but I am getting closer to being done with each bit that I do.

Progress. It’s everything, really.

I’m enjoying the Eric Ambler novel, Journey Into Fear, that I’m reading, and am hoping to get some more of that read today at some point. I like the way Ambler writes, and there’s just this amazing sense of 40’s noir to the story and the writing; I can visualize everything in my head really easily. Writing something in a different time period–one that I didn’t live through–is kind of intimidating to me; I’ve only written one story that is set in a time period before I was alive; set ambiguously in either the late 40’s or early 50’s, it’s a noir story that still need some work. The title, “The Weight of a Feather,” is one of my favorite titles, so I am pretty determined to do something with the story.

So many stories, so little time. Seriously.

Football season looms on the horizon as well; not sure how well LSU is going to do this year, but as always we have high hopes down here in Bayou Country. New coaches, new offense and defensive plans…I guess we’ll see how it’s going to play out at the season opener over Labor Day weekend in Houston when we play BYU. And football season is, as a general rule, kind of exciting. Ten years ago was the last time LSU won the national championship, in that insane year of 2007 which was one of the wackiest football seasons of all time; from week to week no one had any idea of who was going to win and who was going to lose; Top Ten teams would get beaten by someone unranked every week. SBNation has a great website about that crazy year; I wasted some serious time reading and remembering the other day.

And on that note, ’tis time to return to Ye Olde Spice Mines.

Here’s your Wednesday hunk.

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