That’s All For Everyone

Yesterday I made a to-do list, and this odd sense of calm came down over all of my neuroses. Sure there’s a lot to be done and not much time to do it, but at least yesterday I felt like I could get it all done…now that I had made a list. I have a lot of writing to do, a lot of promotion to plan, and endless endless emails to send and reply to–and of course it’s football season and the heat is beginning to break a bit. I do like the fall, even though I don’t like it getting dark earlier.

I had to proof the galleys of an anthology I am in (just my story, fortunately) and it was quite an odd experience. I barely remembered anything about the story itself; I know how it came to be and how much money they offered me (seriously, y’all, I am very easy. Make me an offer) and I had a vague sense of what it was about, but I’d forgotten most of it, and I don’t really remember much of writing it, either. I know the anthology took a long time to come out, but the cover is lovely and they’ve done a really nice job of art on the interior of the book as well. It was interesting rereading the story, and weird–it’s very weird to not remember something you’ve written, but I guess I have finally reached that point in my life where I can’t remember everything I’ve written or said or done, for that matter–but it’s not bad. It was supposed to be a pulpy sort of story with a horror bent to it, and “A Whisper from the Graveyard” is what I came up with. They also had instructed us to “write something only a gay man can,” so I went back to 1994 or 1995 and had my big gay private eye hired to find a dead man the same day he finds out he is HIV positive. I’ve never written anything like that before; I’ve never written about HIV/AIDS, which is probably another one of those “I should write an essay about this so I can sort out all of my unresolved and long-buried traumas and fears and potential PTSD from those years” things–especially since I’ve worked as a sexual health counselor for the last fourteen years (my first four years I worked on research projects for NO/AIDS before becoming a counselor). I am also trying to address this in my novella “Never Kiss a Stranger,” which I hope to finish in the next year sometime.

I wasn’t terribly tired when I got home last night, and so I did the dishes and cooked dinner (so I would have something for lunch the rest of this week) before Paul and I settled in to watch Dahmer on Netflix (Paul came home all excited because “the new Star Wars show dropped!” and became even more excited when I replied, “And Dahmer dropped on Netflix”–Paul has long been fascinated by serial killers), which was really good and horribly disturbing; Evan Peters is fantastic as Dahmer, and Niecy Nash is golden in anything she does, but yeah–bleak and disturbing, and of course addicting. (When I get home tonight it’s this week’s Real Housewives of Beverly Hills before Paul gets home.) I slept well again last night, and since I had a productive day yesterday (finished pulling on some loose ends, even started working on the book again–Chapter Three is a mess, and I need to fix it before I can move on to Chapter Four and the rest of the story) and made some progress on my to-do list as well. Tonight I can come straight home from the office, and tomorrow of course is “I don’t have to get up at six Friday”, which is marvelous; one good thing about these “get-up-at-six” mornings is that it makes getting up at seven or eight seem almost vacation-like.

Yesterday’s post about erotica writing and my “sordid” past as a gay porn writer also set me to thinking about a lot of things about my past and my career and the direction it has gone. There’s probably a lot more to be said about it, definitely more to unpack, but I also really need to think some more about it and also, reread some of my earlier erotica writing. Revisiting my past works, as I have done a bit over the past few months, has been much more reassuring than worrisome; I had been concerned that the writing wouldn’t hold up or I would be appalled by its amateurishness or something, I don’t know (I don’t need a logical reason to be concerned about my work, really, especially when it’s old, published long ago work) but was pleasantly surprised to see it’s nowhere near as bad as I had convinced myself it was (it’s really a twisted and strange place here inside my head) and there’s always the possibility that I may have written something that could be seen as problematic by today’s standards…and, for the record, I do not think that is a bad thing; it simply means that culture and society continue to evolve to a place where past prejudices and bigotries are being overcome, albeit slowly, and hopefully we’ll gradually get to a place where no one is ever made to feel less than or that they are not welcomed or embraced in society. If that means periodic corrections, and acknowledging mistakes made in the not-so-distant past so be it. We are all learning more and more every day, and I certainly hope that neither my heart nor my compassion will ever become ossified and stop learning, growing and trying to be better.

So, on this glorious and unusual Thursday morning (because I am not walking around in a coma this morning waiting for the coffee to kick in, and I can also tell it’s humid outside this morning, yay), I am looking at the positives and looking forward to getting things stricken from that to-do list I made yesterday afternoon. I am looking forward to getting some writing done this evening, and some reading this weekend–I need to reread My Cousin Rachel so I don’t sound like a fricking moron on that podcast recording on Sunday morning–and maybe, just maybe, I can get my email inbox down to something that doesn’t make my heart sink and my soul diminish just by looking at it.

Have a lovely Thursday, Constant Reader, and I’ll check in with you again probably tomorrow morning.

Point Me in the Direction of Albuquerque

And now I am on vacation.

While it is lovely–it was quite lovely–to not have to get up and go to the office (or make condom packs, or do data entry) this fine morning, it’s also a bit bittersweet: this is the vacation time I took to attend Bouchercon a mere fifteen minute walk from the Lost Apartment. If this was NOT pandemic time, a friend would be arriving at the Lost Apartment around noonish; we’d store her bags in my car and we were going to have lunch and hang out until other friends arrived later, whom we would be joining for a lovely dinner at Coquette. I would also be checking into the Marriott on Canal Street at some point today; probably not staying there tonight, but definitely heading down there tomorrow morning as my first panel would be that afternoon. *sobs softly to self; shakes fist in fury at anti-vaxxers*

Ah, well. Things don’t always work out as they were planned, do they?

I slept in a bit this morning, which was lovely–I feel very rested and not a bit in the least groggy this morning, which is marvelous. The kitchen is a horrifying mess this morning, so once I’ve finished my coffee that’s the first thing on Today’s Agenda, among other things–first is actually making Today’s Agenda, so I can put clean the kitchen on the top of the list. The living room is also a mess; but I am going to make “room by room” the working theory of this lovely if too short vacation. I am starting small, in the laundry room today–the books! Dear God, the books in the laundry room! But if I don’t get everything done that I need to get done over this vacation–the most important thing the corrections and revisions to the book, of course, more on that later–but it feels rather nice to not have to go to the office today, or have condom-packing/data entry hanging over my head as I swill my coffee here at my marvelous new computer. But yes, this mess around my work space is a bit much–and the Lost Apartment itself is a disaster area from top to bottom. I worked on the manuscript last night some more, and am at the halfway point. But as I get deeper into the manuscript I am finding even worse mistakes than in the beginning, and some really atrocious writing. I literally was squirming in embarrassment as I corrected and cleaned up this horrifically sloppy manuscript last night. When I called it a night and started rewatching episodes of Ted Lasso (this show is really amazing; if you haven’t checked it out yet you need to) while waiting for Paul to come home. He was rather late, so after rewatching two of my favorite episodes (“Make Rebecca Great Again’ and “All Apologies”) I switched over to TCM and started rewatching The Way We Were, which is what I was doing when Paul got home and I stopped–Redford and Streisand were still at their unnamed college–and I was thinking, outside of the fact that they were clearly too old to be playing college students, there are other parts of this movie that actually would no longer fly today; I am going to have to finish watching it at some point because I want to review it as part of the Cynical 70’s Film Festival (it’s from 1973). I can’t think why I never activated the TCM app on my Apple TV before; just scrolling through the offerings last night before settling on The Way We Were was very exciting, as there are so many classics there I want to either rewatch or see for the first time (including Nightmare Alley, In a Lonely Place, and some classic Katharine Hepburn films I’ve never seen). Exciting!

Today’s Agenda also includes a short exploration trip for this book I just signed a contract for; I need to explore the particular neighborhood of the city where I am setting the book so I can take pictures and have more of a feel for the book. I’m now creating secondary characters for the regular cast (it always seems so weird to talk about books like they’re films; but blame it on all those Agatha Christie/Erle Stanley Gardner/Ellery Queen novels I read as a kid that had the list of the cast of characters at the beginning with a snide sentence or two defining who they were as people….which I miss terribly!), which I am really enjoying doing. This is maybe the most emotionally and intellectually satisfying part of writing any book–building the foundation for it with the creation of characters and the establishment of place–it’s certainly a lot more fun than rereading a manuscript and finding all the mistakes and fuck-ups, that’s for sure.

And of course I do want to spend some time with Megan Abbott’s The Turnout today, and I have to go to the gym at some point as well. MY DAY IS JAM-PACKED. But I do need to make today’s to-do list, as well as an overarching one of all the things I need to get done so I have a template to follow for my vacation daily agendas. (Rereading that last sentence made me realize how absolutely batshit insane I must come across…but that’s not telling you, Constant Reader, anything you’ve not been able to ascertain already for yourself, is it?) I also need to do some male grooming things–I’ve not shaved my face in days (thank you, mask mandates; which do not get enough credit for relieving men of the necessity to shave every fucking day) for one, and I also need to do some computer file organizing and rearranging and so forth. So many projects….which is why I need that overarching list of things to do.

And on that note, tis time to make lists and buckle down for the day. Have a lovely Wednesday, Constant Reader, and I will chat with you again tomorrow morning.

A Woman Needs Love (Just Like You Do)

Oh, Mercury in retrograde.

So, my car–not so new anymore, and nearly paid off–wouldn’t start yesterday, which was horrifying and traumatizing; like any car drama inevitably always is.. Mostly for the incredible inconvenience of having to deal with it all, really–and the inevitable unexpected expense. There are few things that can drive me to the brink of tears more quickly than car trouble; years of having old, old, OLD cars have trained me to be expect expense and heartbreak every time something goes wrong with a car. I specifically bought a brand new car so I’d never have to worry about this again, I thought sadly, feeling terribly betrayed, but..it’s almost paid for (and oh, how long I’ve been looking forward to that day)and this is the first real trouble of any kind and so I sighed, came back inside and called the dealership. I explained what was going on–the technician was looking me up in the computer from the called ID and when I finished, he said, “well, that doesn’t sound like the battery, it sounds like an electrical system issue and I am seeing you bought the extended warrantee so that’s completely covered. Have you arranged for the tow yet?”

GREG: “Well, no, I was waiting to talk to you and–”

He cut me off before I could finish saying “…can you recommend someone?”

“Mr. Herren, do you have full coverage with your car insurance?” When I answered in the affirmative, he replied, “Call them and see if they cover tows–most of them do and most people don’t know that. Regardless, they can arrange for the tow for you, and the tow company will simply bill us, so it will be included in whatever costs you may incur here; if this is completely covered by your warrantee you just pay us for the tow charges when you pick up the car. So, give them a call and we’ll take a look at your car when it arrives.”

I hung up, dumbfounded, and went to my insurance website. I called, the automated system texted me a link to their app, and within two minutes I’d arranged for a tow; it arrived exactly on the dot when the app said it would, and that was it.

The app will even arrange a ride for me to pick up the car.

I mean, wow. I don’t even know how to feel about being so bad at being an adult–if not for the tech at my dealership, I would have paid for the tow, and I might have even just decided to take it to the Firestone on Camp Street because it’s walkable from here. I mean, it’s still entirely possible I need stuff done that isn’t covered under the warrantee, but just the savings on the tow truck alone has made me really happy and joyful and now I don’t even care about the inconvenience of both not having a car momentarily and having to go to the West Bank eventually to pick it up. UPDATE: they just called and it was the battery; not covered. But it’s fine. Batteries generally last three to five years and mine made it to 4 1/2, not bad, really.

I also spent some time on-line chatting with Apple Support because the latest upgrade to Big Sur messed up Safari somehow and it kept failing. tl:dr we had to reinstall the OS, but it still didn’t work, but I had created another user account on this computer–and everything works there; in fact, it’s so fast it’s like a new computer so I figure well, what the hell, until THIS user account fucks up I’ll keep using this one instead of the other one, but none of this makes sense to me in any way, shape or form.

But whatever works, works, you know? And my computer is still working beautifully this morning, so…not complaints. I’m just going to keep doing this, and then when the opportunity presents itself–when I have time to spend hours futzing with it and Apple Support, maybe then we can get it all worked out. But I am not going to look this gift horse in the mouth, until I have too, and in the meantime I have a desktop that is highly functioning and I am very very happy about that–it’s been soooooo long since the Great Data Disaster of 2018 (or was it 2017?) that I’d almost forgotten how lovely it is to have a functioning computer.

My day job’s functionality is about to change, now that we are nearly post-pandemic; we’re going to be opening more and offering more services for our clients again. It’s going to require some serious adjustments–seriously–and of course the old dog is going to have to readjust to new scheduling and new writing times. I am a little bit concerned on that level, because of course my adaptability isn’t quite what it used to be, but this too shall pass and I am relatively certain that I can eventually evolve into whatever this new work schedule is going to be…but the main adjustment I am primarily trying to make now is getting used to the return of summer to New Orleans. I probably say this every year, but GOOD LORD, it seems so much hotter and ever so more humid this year; far earlier than usual, I would also say. Maybe it’s no different that previous years–and am far too lazy to go look anything up–but yesterday waiting outside for the tow truck I honestly felt like I was broiling. I will never understand how people lived, worked, and functioned down here before air conditioning.

Last night’s panel for Tubby and Coo’s was quite fun–I really enjoyed meeting and listening to Traci Taylor, whose debut novel And I You sounds fantastic; a Black lesbian romance set in Detroit in the 1990’s and exploring issues of sexuality and stigma. The book she is currently working on also sounds amazing. I am trying to also get ready for next week’s San Francisco Public Library panel, moderated by Michael Nava (gulp), and the other authors are Dharma Kelleher, Cheryl Head, and PJ Vernon, whose Bath Haus is getting buzz everywhere this summer (so exciting to see this for a queer writer), and of course, I need to get some writing (and cleaning, the never-ending cleaning) done this weekend as well as getting back into the gym. I also updated my to-do list yesterday, and was pleased to see that I had gotten at least half–if not more–of the things on it done. The new one, of course, isn’t quite as extensive–I didn’t really add anything new to it, just disposed of the things done–but now there is, indeed, room for more, and I am assuming that as I go through the weekend and clean up things and get stuff put away and so forth, I’ll be adding to that list.

And on that note, I am going to head back into the spice mines. Happy Friday, all.

Rocky Mountain High

I was very tired yesterday. Pretty much the entire day, too. Rolling back into my regularly scheduled work week after a vacation week and a storm-disturbed week wasn’t the easiest task I’ve undertaken lately. I felt terrible all day long, actually, which was incredibly unpleasant. The weather was equally unpleasant; gray and cool but oppressively humid at the same time. I suppose the exhaustion was the release from the stress of dealing with tropical weather over the last few days–the pent-up stress and PTSD and everything else, finally being let go with the tension leaving exhaustion in its wake–which was pretty awful. I didn’t sleep deeply last night, but at least I feel somewhat rested this morning.

I managed to get a little work done on the WIP yesterday; Chapter Eighteen, where it had stalled, just needed a little nudging to get moving, and that’s precisely what I did; I went back to the very first sentence and started rebuilding the chapter. I didn’t get very far–I was exhausted–but it was a start, and I think I can get the damned thing finished by the end of the month again. A month late, to be sure, but finished nonetheless. And that is some progress I can get behind, even if it’s not as much progress as I would like, nor am as I far along with this year’s work as I wanted to be by now. But it happens, and writing, at least for me, isn’t something I can ever really force myself to do. Sometimes I need to force myself into doing it and then the words start to come; some days they never come. I wish I knew how to turn it off and on; but here we are twenty years in and it’s never gotten any easier.

We got caught up onĀ Big Little LiesĀ last night. This season isn’t as strong as the first; the acting is just as good, if not better, and I do like that this entire season is actually about the cover-up of the crime and how that fallout has impacted all the women negatively; how the guilt and keeping that secret has caused ripple effects into the rest of their lives, putting their marriages and/or relationships in trouble. I’ve said before one of the things that has interested me the most about crime fiction lately has been dealing with the aftermath of a crime, how it affects the people involved, how it changes and shapes the rest of their lives going forward.

I am hopeful that today will be a good day; I feel sufficiently rested this morning, and while it doesn’t look particularly great outside, I am hoping the sun will be back and today will be the usual hot, sweaty, humid misery of a normal July day in New Orleans. I do think the weirdness of yesterday’s weather played a part in the badness of my day yesterday. I want to get some writing done tonight, I want to get my email inbox cleared and cleaned out, and I need to get caught up on all of my correspondence as well. I think I made a to-do list over the course of the weekend; at least, I remember thinking I needed to make one and start going through it, item by item. It really does bother me that I’ve stopped making my to-do lists; it helps me with my productivity and helps me keep track of everything I need to get done. I have three short stories to prep for submission as well; even now, sitting here thinking about it, I can’t remember what one of them is for or what it was going to be about.

My once-sharp mind and memory now is as filled with holes as Swiss cheese. This doesn’t please me in the least, but I suppose it’s inevitable and a part of getting older, which makes the to-do list even more crucial than it used to be.

I also need to start thinking about promoting the new Scotty when it’s released. Sigh. It never ends, does it?

And on that note, it’s back to the spice mines with me.

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