Getaway Car

Saturday was a beautiful day.

I spent far too much time fighting with my dying desktop computer yesterday; in point of fact, I’ve been wasting far too much time lately fighting with the damned thing trying to get it to be functional at the very low level I require.

Since the time lost really cannot be spared any more, I needed to solve this problem rather than just keep bitching about it or else I would be so far behind I could never get caught up. So, I decided I am finally going to have to remove it from my desk and figure out a way to make the MacBook Air my working computer; it’ll also give me a place to put some books (as I will need to raise it to eye level)–some of those coffee table books will do a lovely job, actually–and I already have a keyboard and mouse for it. All I will need else is one of those USB converter things so the back-up hard drive can be hooked up to it (and the printer) and that will have to do until such time as I can afford to buy a new desktop. I know laptops are designed to be used as a main computer, but they just don’t work for me the way they used to. Part of it is the worsening of my aging eyes. The keyboard, the screen…yeah, not big enough, the screen is too small, and the inevitable resting of my wrists on the edge of the laptop simply will not due–it will take some getting used to, but better to start getting used to it now rather than putting it off and wasting more time. So, I need to get batteries for the wireless keyboard, I’ll start picking out the books to stack beneath it, and look for the spare cash for the adapters and so forth I need.

But now that I have made the decision to finally throw away the desktop–or see if I can trade it in, or something–it will be lovely to have that frustration behind me. I am actually writing on the laptop right now, in my easy chair, with it resting on my lap desk and I have the mouse with me as well and this isn’t bothering me near as much as I thought it might.

Maybe switching to a laptop permanently isn’t so out of the question as I had originally thought.

Hmmmm.

And you know what? Just making that decision yesterday loosened a knot of tension between my shoulders blades and my back muscles just unclenched. Clearly, the computer issues have been contributing to stress levels subconsciously; I need to remind myself this regularly from now on–that you can always figure out a way to work around the problem and thus possibly solve it. Look for the work around, rather than just focusing on the head-on approach–I hadn’t realized how stressed this issue was making me.

The weather was gorgeous yesterday as I ran my errands; it’s the fall season that always reminds me how wonderful living in New Orleans is. Our winters–all my bitching aside about how nasty damp cold can be–aren’t that bad, really; they get about as cold as is bearable for me, and the fall and the spring seasons are so amazingly beautiful that our four months or so of brutal summer are worth putting up with in exchange for our glorious falls and springs. I love that it gets chilly (for here) at night; it makes sleeping even easier, and actually using the stove (without setting it on fire) doesn’t turn the kitchen into an unbearable sweatbox. I can start making chilis and soups again; and grilled cheese is even lovelier in the cooler seasons than it is in the summer. Much as I dislike coming home from work in the dark (it’s really the only drawback), I really love this time of year.

Oooh. I should make lasagna.

That actually sounds pretty lovely.

LSU also won last night (GEAUX TIGERS!) and while yes, their 41-7 win over Vanderbilt wasn’t terribly impressive, the defense looked amazing in the second half and Miles Brennan is definitely getting his feet beneath him and is turning into a quite good quarterback. As embarrassing as the loss to Mississippi State was last week (made worse by their home loss to Arkansas yesterday, snapping a 20 game conference losing streak for the Razorbacks), at least the team seemed to gel last night. Who knows how good Auburn is now, but the real danger zones on the schedule now seem to be Florida and (surprise) Alabama, both of whom looked really impressive yesterday and so far this season.

I now have the Air set up as my desktop computer, with the wireless keyboard and Magic Mouse connected to it. I have it sitting atop my The Annotated Sherlock Holmes by Baring-Gould; it may need to go a little higher, but the system is really working well this morning thus far. (Still not a huge fan of the tiny screen, but I can get used to it, methinks.) Just to see how hard it would be, I also started writing a short story from scratch on here yesterday afternoon–a story called “The Last To See Him Alive”, which had no plan, no idea, no nothing behind it rather than the start–which finds police detective Blaine Tujague arriving at a potential witness’s home and finding said potential witness a little the worse for wear; I managed 873 words of a story of which I neither know what the case is, why Blaine is there, and how this is going to end (this happens a lot to me, which is why I have so many damned unfinished short story fragments floating around in my storage), but I showed that if need be, I can write on the laptop keyboard itself, and having the wireless one, along with the wireless mouse, makes it that much easier.

And on that note, it’s time to head into the spice mines.

Hit and Miss

Yesterday was…challenging.

Let’s just say my computer problems continue, and also continue to be an incredible time suck–one that I really can’t afford to experience right now. But it is what it is, and I managed to turn yesterday into something that I can look back at from this morning with a cup of coffee in hand without regret. I am very pleased that I didn’t allow the frustrations to ruin the day, nor keep me from accomplishing things.

It’s easy to feel zen about yesterday after a decent night’s sleep and over a good cup of coffee. I do, however, have to confess that I was feeling somewhat homicidal around three yesterday, and I placed many curses on Apple, its programmers, and the company stockholders.

And for the record, I am not lifting those curses. I am not that zen yet.

But I did get things done that needed doing. Just not what I had planned.

We watched more of Little Fires Everywhere, and we continue to enjoy it, although I have come to tire of the “backstory episode,” where we find out the main characters’ back stories. It always feels like a filler episode–and yes, I suppose it was necessary, but I can’t help but feel it wasn’t necessarily needed, and perhaps some flashbacks, sprinkled throughout the previous two episodes, could have broken it up a bit and not lessened any of the impact of the story. These episodes feel kind of like the dreaded info dump, something writers try to avoid at all costs. These things are very difficult to do well in prose, and only the best writers can pull it off–and when they manage, it’s spectacular, which is why people always try. But an hour episode is a lot, particularly when it’s not moving the story forward. It’s a fun show, though, and I am greatly enjoying the acting–it’s also nice to see another show where the focus is entirely on the women, with the men serving primarily as backdrops.

As I’ve said before, the classic old “women’s picture” now finds its audience through television.

It’s cool again this morning, not even seventy degrees outside, with a high forecast of eighty. Usually by mid-May there’s not such a huge range of temperature between night and day; maybe a five or six degree differential. It’s very unseasonal, and very weird, to me. Then again we didn’t get a polar vortex and snow in May, either–perhaps the edges of the vortex, dropping the night time temperature. It also makes it hard to dress for the day; I’m going to have to carry a light jacket with me to get me through the morning but by the afternoon I won’t need it anymore. At least, I suppose, it’s better than having to shovel snow and chip ice off my car windows.

But I feel much better this morning, and today is going to be a very good day, methinks; it really is amazing what a difference a deep, good night’s sleep can make on one’s mood and outlook. With enough rest, I always feel like I can take over the world.

We’ll see how long that feeling lasts, won’t we? Until tomorrow, Constant Reader!

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Daddy’s Home

Hello, Thursday morning, how are you?

Another lovely night’ sleep last night, and it’s quite marvelous to feel so rested and be energetic as I have been this entire week (which undoubtedly means I’ve now jinxed it and will not sleep well tonight). Have I gotten as much finished as I wanted to this week? Of course not. I was very tired when I got home from work last night, which means I wrote maybe 100 words on Chapter Nineteen; but it’s a hundred more words than I had yesterday morning, so I am calling that not only a win but a major win; I always count anything on a day when I was tired and didn’t want to do anything a major victory.

Yesterday was a very strange day for New Orleans in July; it was actually cool-and it was about twenty-thirty degrees cooler here than it was in places like, you know, PARIS. Anytime we have a relatively lovely day in New Orleans in the summertime is highly unusual; but it also kinds of messes with the city’s mentality and energy levels in many odd and different ways. I didn’t work very much on the large project that landed in my lap recently, but I think today I’ll be able to get some work done on it. Today is the first of my two short days this week, which is lovely; I can make groceries on my way home from the office tonight, finish the laundry and the dishes, and maybe even (gasp!) make dinner tonight. Depending on what time Paul gets home–he’s buried under with grants, as always, in July, which means getting home rather late every night (last night he got home after nine). This should give me some time to get some work done around the house as well as some work done on Bury Me in Shadows.

That’s the plan, at any rate. I also have an essay to write, some short stories to get going on, and of course, the Lost Apartment is a disaster area. Keeping the apartment neat and tidy is really a full time job, it seems, and of course on my two long days I simply don’t have the energy to do anything about it–or if I do, I won’t have the energy to write. This creates a war within myself; I cannot stand having a messy home and it both bothers and distracts me from writing, but if I do something about it I won’t have the time or the energy to get the writing done. The endless struggle…

But we shall see how today turns out. I may even go make the major grocery run tomorrow after I get off work; tomorrow is an early day and I get off work around run, which is plenty of time for me to run uptown and get the mail, while circling back around to make the grocery run before heading home to both clean and write. That’s really the question, isn’t it, how do I–or any other writer–find enough time to write the things we need to get written?  It really always comes down to finding the energy, really–one of the things I was thinking about the other day when I was talking about the need for self-absorption as a writer has everything to do with not wasting energy you need for your writing on people who ultimately won’t pay off in the long run.

Also, the Macavity Award nominations came out today:

The Macavity Awards are nominated by members of Mystery Readers International, subscribers to Mystery Readers Journal and friends of MRI. The winners will be announced at opening ceremonies at Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention, in Dallas, TX, October 31, 2019. Congratulations to all.

If you’re a member of MRI, a subscriber to MRJ, or a friend of MRI, you will receive a ballot by August 15, so get reading.

Best Novel 

November Road by Lou Berney (William Morrow)

If I Die Tonight by Alison Gaylin (William Morrow)

The Lost Man by Jane Harper (Flat Iron Books)

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier (Minotaur Books)

Hiroshima Boy by Naomi Hirahara (Prospect Park Books)

Under My Skin by Lisa Unger (Harlequin – Park Row Books)

Best First Novel 

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (Doubleday)

Dodging and Burning by John Copenhaver (Pegasus Books)

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman (Ballantine)

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor (Crown)

Best Nonfiction 

The Metaphysical Mysteries of G.K. Chesterton: A Critical Study of the Father Brown Stories and Other Detective Fiction by Laird R. Blackwell (McFarland)

Conan Doyle for the Defense: The True Story of a Sensational British Murder, a Quest for Justice, and the World’s Most Famous Detective Writer by Margalit Fox (Random House)

Classic American Crime Fiction of the 1920s by Leslie S. Klinger (Pegasus Books)

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara (HarperCollins)

Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life by Laura Thompson (Pegasus Books)

The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World by Sarah Weinman (HarperCollins)

Best Short Story 

 “Race to Judgment” by Craig Faustus Buck (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Nov/Dec 2018)

“All God’s Sparrows” by Leslie Budewitz (Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, May/Jun 2018)

“Bug Appétit” by Barb Goffman (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Nov/Dec 2018)

“Three-Star Sushi” by Barry Lancet (Down & Out: The Magazine, Vol.1, No. 3)

“The Cambodian Curse” by Gigi Pandian (The Cambodian Curse and Other Stories)

 “English 398: Fiction Workshop” by Art Taylor (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Jul/Aug 2018)

Sue Feder Memorial Award for Best Historical Mystery 

A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder by Dianne Freeman (Kensington)

City of Ink by Elsa Hart (Minotaur)

Island of the Mad by Laurie R. King (Bantam)

The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey (Soho Crime)

A Dying Note by Ann Parker (Poisoned Pen)

A Forgotten Place by Charles Todd (William Morrow)

Lots of friends on that list! Congrats all!

And now back to the spice mines.

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I Can’t Tell You Why

Wednesday morning, and it’s also pay day–on which I pay the bills and watch all the money I worked so hard for vanish in the blink of an eye. I cannot believe in two days the first parades will roll down St. Charles Avenue…which means when I get off work on Friday I need to run all my errands, because making groceries will be an impossibility over the course of the weekend–at least until Sunday night. But then…I only have to work two days next week, and then I am on vacation until Ash Wednesday.

Woo-hoo! Vacation!

I only got halfway through yesterday’s chapter; I was tired last night after a second long day at the office–I didn’t even watch another episode of Versailles, and was also too tired to read. My short days are coming up, though, and I should be able to get caught up on my reading and my revising over the course of the rest of the week…bearing in mind there are parades this weekend. Oshun and Cleopatra are Friday night, and there are five on Saturday–Ponchartrain, Choctaw, Freret, Sparta and Pygmalion. Sunday there are four: Femme Fatale, Carrollton, King Arthur, and Alla.

There will be beads.

But the true madness begins next week.

I seem to be having some trouble this morning getting motivated; I am feeling lazy this morning. Perhaps it is a lack of caffeine, perhaps it’s just a holdover from the last two length work days, I don’t know. The weather took a strange turn yesterday. It was chilly and wet in the morning before raining all afternoon. Usually, this means another drop in temperature at this time of year…yet the fog rolled in and when I left the office last night it was extremely humid and warm. My car windows were all fogged up, as were my windows here at the Lost Apartment…and the sweater I’d worn because it was chilly was too heavy and hot. I have no idea what I should wear to work today…maybe a sweater over a T-shirt, so I can remove the sweater if it gets too warm. My windows are covered in condensation, which means it’s much warmer outside than in.

So, I just looked at the weather. It’s 72 degrees right now and the low is 63. Yeah, probably no sweater today after all.

All right, I am going to try to finish revising that chapter before work. Back to the spice mines!

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