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* * *
Cheaper Than Free
Good morning, Constant Reader! And a happy Good Friday to you. I have a three day weekend, during the course of which I hope to get so much done that it would frighten a lesser mortal. I am determined to make progress not only on Murder in the Arts District but on my secret projects as well, get the Lost Apartment cleaned (I am doing the windows this weekend--LONG overdue), and assorted other organization/cleaning projects that are way past their expiration dates. I've already been to the gym to work out with Wacky Russian, and I am having lunch with my friend Laura today as well.

We finished Season Three of Game of Thrones, and I may be the only person on the planet watching the show (well, Paul, too--he felt the same) whose reaction to the infamous "Rains of Castamere" episode was good, about time. SPOILER ALERT: the young Stark children were the most interesting members of that family (team Arya!), and let's face it, not everyone is going to win the war--and my money is on the Mother of Dragons, who is by far my favorite.

We also started watching The White Queen, which seemed oddly appropriate after watching Game of Thrones; as it started Paul asked, 'what is this about?' and I replied, "The Wars of the Roses aka the real Game of Thrones." (Although George R. R. Martin does not claim the Wars of the Roses as his real life inspiration; but more on that later, or at a later time.)

As Constant Reader knows, I loves me some history. I was vaguely aware, through my interest in history as a child, of the Wars of the Roses; but I learned a LOT about them when I found a copy of Thomas B. Costain's The Last Plantagenets at a flea market I went to one weekend with my grandmother and her second husband. I highly recommend his entire Pageant of England series for anyone with an interest in history written in an easy to follow and understand, interesting way. This is a four volume history of the Plantagenet ruling family of England; The Conquering Family, The Magnificent Century, The Three Edwards, and of course, The Last Plantagenets.

The fourth volume is about the Wars of the Roses and the final end of the Plantagenet dynasty, supplanted by the Tudors in 1485. But the great thing about Costain--and this book--is that he knew, and explained, how the seeds of the Wars of the Roses were actually planted almost a century earlier, with the ascent of Richard II to the throne at the age of ten when his grandfather, Edward III, died. It was Richard, you see, who was supplanted in 1399 by Henry of Lancaster, who was proclaimed king by Parliament as Henry IV even though he was not the true heir to the English throne. Costain spins the tale of Richard II's failed kingship, through the reign of his usurper, the usurper's son's short reign as Henry V (victor of Agincourt and conqueror of France), and of course, his death at a very young age leaving behind a son not even a year old who then became king.

I read somewhere once about how the fifteen century was plagued by Plantagenet fertility and the sixteenth by Tudor sterility, which is really a good way of putting it. Edward III and his Flemish queen Philippa had an enormous brood of children; it was their descendants and the squabbling over who had more of a right to the throne that led to the Wars of the Roses, when those descendants spent nearly thirty years exterminating each other. When the dust finally settled in 1485 after the Battle of Bosworth Field, the House of Lancaster's heir Henry Tudor married a daughter of the opposing House of York and the wars ended.

(Henry VII and his son Henry VIII finished exterminating the Plantagenet line during their reigns.)

The White Queen is based on several novels by Philippa Gregory, who has done a magnificent job of branding herself as the queen and leading author of fictionalized accounts of actual history (although Hilary Mantel is certainly giving her a run for her money on the bestseller lists, as well as winning major literary awards right and left); this series is based on her books The White Queen, The Red Queen,, and The Kingmaker's Daughter.

To be honest, I've never read Philippa Gregory, despite my exceptional interest in history, and the periods she writes about (I've also yet to read Mantel, but I have her books on my shelves). As I said earlier, I read the Costain histories of the Plantagenets, and I also read Jean Plaidy's books on the same period (well, I read most of Plaidy's English history novels; she pretty much covered every king and queen from the Conqueror through Victoria, with side trips into French and Spanish history periodically).

I don't necessarily agree with some of the depictions of the historical characters (in the four episodes I've seen so far Anne Neville is depicted as scheming and ambitious and her older sister Isabelle is shown as sweet and innocent and a mere victim of circumstance; it's entirely possible this may have been the case but everything I've read, whether fiction or actual history or biography, have indicated the reverse was the case), but I am really enjoying the show, and my interest in the period has actually been revived (or rather brought to the forefront of my mind, at any rate), and now I'd like to dig out my copies of Costain and reread them...

Because of course I have nothing else to do!

But I am looking forward to watching more of The White Queen tonight--and an interesting aside about Elizabeth Woodville, wife of Edward IV and point of view character for the series--she was the first truly English queen since 1066. The Plantagent kings were themselves French and most often married French wives; they followed the Normans (who were also French), and it was her marriage that brought the name Elizabeth into English royalty; her daughter Elizabeth was also Queen of England; her great granddaughter was Elizabeth I.

So, every English princess of the blood royal from 1465 to the present day is actually named for Elizabeth Woodville, the commoner, daughter of a French noblewoman and an English squire.

I love that kind of shit.
Current Location:
my desk
Current Mood:
bouncy bouncy
Current Music:
Let It Go by Idina Menzel
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Doing the Best I Can (Escape from Berlin)
Okay, for this Monday morning, I have been tagged by one Jeffrey Ricker on a blog tour of sorts, in which I am to answer several questions.

All right, then.

1) What am I working on?

I am in the process of working on three different projects; I am writing the final Chanse MacLeod mystery, Murder in the Arts District. I'm not terribly comfortable talking publicly about the other two, but I will say this: they are both young adult novels, one is about rape culture and the other is about a rather unpleasant near future.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I'm not sure what the meaning of this question is; does 'work' refer to my entire canon of works, or the one that I am currently working on? I shall, for the purpose of answering, take it to mean the work-in-progress.

I don't know that Murder in the Arts District is different from other works in the field of crime fiction, honestly. It differs from the majority of crime fiction in having a gay male protagonist. It differs from the majority of crime fiction in being set in New Orleans. It isn't something I really think about, to be honest--I don't think of my work in terms of other authors. I just try to tell the best story I can and write the best book I can.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I write crime fiction because real world injustices make me incredibly angry but also make me curious. I am curious as to why people behave the way they do and do the things they do....so I write about them to try to make sense of it to myself.

4) How does my writing process work?

I get ideas all the time. I write down a sentence or a paragraph, make a file folder for it and put it away. Sometimes I'll read an article in a newspaper, magazine or online that will strike my interest, so I'll save it for use later. I've been saving articles and making notes for several years now about art, art fraud, and the gentrification of post-Katrina New Orleans. Now I am writing and sifting through all this accumulated information to determine what will work in my story and what won't. As for the writing of the book itself, I generally will plan out a few chapters at a time, and then write them. When I finish the planned out chapters, I plan out the next few and write them. I am constantly revising and rewriting the already written chapters as I go. Sometimes if I go a day or two without working on the current book I have to reread the early chapters to get back into it...and I always always rewrite when I do that as well. I generally try to write as much per day as I can. Sometimes I can't write more than a couple of hundred words. Other days I can do up to ten thousand. Most days fall somewhere in between there. It depends on what else is going on that day, how tired and sore and emotionally exhausted I am. I've been like a hamster in a wheel for about three or four years now, and right now have two books under contract that aren't finished. The pace has been back-breaking, and so I've made some choices about the future and how I work. Right now, I'm ending the Chanse series. The future of the Scotty series is still up in the air; I am not ruling future Scotty books out, but Chanse is definitely finished with this one. I may write another series, I may not--I have some ideas. But I also want to take some time to think and strategize about what I want to do and my future as a writer. Who knows? I may not write for a while. I find that highly unlikely, but that's where my mind is right now. I see the deadline for the last book contracted on my calendar and I see that in the same way I used to look at the last day of the school year: if I can make it till then...

We'll see. I'm not ruling anything--other than another Chanse--out.
Tags:
Current Location:
my desk
Current Mood:
tired tired
Current Music:
I Like It Like That by Break Out All Stars
* * *
Maybe Love Will Change Your Mind
I slept extremely well and long last night, retiring to my bedchamber at around midnight and sleeping until shortly before nine this morning. As you can undoubtedly ascertain, we binge watched about eight hours of Game of Thrones yesterday. I also did some writing yesterday, as well as some planning for the book I am currently writing, and some research.

I also finished reading Cutter and Bone.

I decided to read the book because it was on a list I saw somewhere of the 100 crime novels everyone should read; I'd heard of it back in the 1970's, when it was made into a film yet I had never read it. So, as it was out of print I went to ebay, as is my wont, and paid a couple of bucks for a hardcover copy without a dust jacket.

It took me a lot longer to read it than it usually takes me to read a book of its length; I am not certain if that's because I've been busy with a work schedule that's been all over the map for the last week or so, or if it was because the book didn't really engage me; perhaps a combination of the two is at the root of the matter. It was extremely well written; I have absolutely no complaints about the writing. I also was surprised and pleased by the way it ended; yet at the same time felt there was an authorial cheat of a kind going on.

Ultimately, I think the problem I had with Cutter and Bone was that the book was very much a novel of its time; the 1970's, and as someone who came of age in that very decade, it was very much a reminder of that time, and not in a good way. Our main characters, the titular Cutter and Bone, aren't likable. I don't have to have, of course, likable main characters in order to engage with a book (Lew Archer, if we're being honest, isn't particularly likable, and neither are any number of other heroes/heroines of crime fiction), but they have to be interesting. Both characters are extremely self-absorbed, don't care about anyone other than themselves and their own needs, have no problem with treating other people like crap-including each other--and we never really get to the heart of them. We are supposed to engage with Bone--and perhaps in the Me Decade of the 1970's it was much more possible--because he was very much a corporatist with a wife and three children before he decided he couldn't deal with it anymore, quit his job and abandoned his family. (All I could think about was his unfortunate wife, left alone to support herself and three children in an incredibly sexist time; and the fact that he never can be bothered to even think of his wife and children by name made me loathe him all the more--and I have little to no respect for the poor oppressed straight white man who can no longer handle his responsibilities so he walks away from them to become a drunk bum in Santa Barbara.) Poor, poor Bone--whom also is the straight white male fantasy of the gorgeous gorgeous man with an amazing dick whom every woman he encounters wants to have sex with; the book opens with him treating a vacationing teacher who's been basically supporting him for a few days because he is just such an amazing fuck she is willing to abandon her vacation and everything to be with him; and of course he walks out on her rudely when she decides to try to make the pimp-jane relationship something more than that. The open contempt with which he treats her--which we as the reader are supposed to cheer on and relate to--is the kind of misogynist bullshit I simply loathe, so it's not like we were off to a good start.

As I said, the book is very much of its time. The writing is truly stellar; Newton Thornburg was nothing if not a skilled wordsmith. Reading this made me think very much about the 1970's and the reasons the decade is not remembered fondly; the oranges and browns and shag carpeting and enormous ugly steel cars and faux wood paneling and the bell bottoms and the feathered hairstyles.

Perhaps that was Thornburg's point: here are these unlikable people, bumming their way through life on the outer edges of society, and here is their story.

I would, in fact, say that the book is more of a literary novel than a crime one.

But--and this is an important but--I haven't really stopped thinking about the book since I finished reading it.

The writing was also inspiring.

That's really saying something.
Current Location:
my desk
Current Mood:
contemplative contemplative
Current Music:
Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve
* * *
Bombay Sapphires
I have lots of writing to do today, which is, of course, nothing new for a Gregalicious. I am almost finished reading Cutter and Bone, and we also got caught up watching everything on the DVR last night--Bates Motel, Revenge, Arrow--and now we can start watching Season Three of Game of Thrones. (And yes, I know everything pretty much that's going to happen thanks to all the on-line spoilers...but Paul of course is not engaged anywhere on social media, so watching his reaction to the Red Wedding will be rather fun.)

I am very pleased with the progress I'm making on Last Chanse, and I must confess, it's very fun to be moving along on the secret projects as well. I'm enjoying being motivated creatively again--there was a period last fall where I was feeling burnt out, stressed, and ready to pay back advances and walk away from it all, quite frankly--but that has passed and I am feeling invigorated again, which is so lovely.

And honestly, I never thought I would ever get to a point where I wouldn't want to write. It was a terribly scary feeling for me, to be honest. It wasn't writer's block; I just didn't want to write anymore. It was very unpleasant. I was just under a lot of stress, and was pretty unhappy about some things...but I eventually made some changes and rid myself of some toxic relationships and it was like coming out of a smoke-filled room into the daylight and fresh air.

And I'm writing again, and enjoying it the way I used to--which is lovely. It's amazing how much of a drain toxic, nasty people can prove to be.

So, onward and upward, as they say. :)

I have also decided that once I finish Cutter and Bone I am going to reread some Mary Stewart novels; first up will be Madam Will You Talk? I do love me some Mary Stewart novels...and I have some amazing other writers on deck as well--Jennifer McMahon, for one, and some old noir classics I am really looking forward into losing myself in.

I'm also going to make some dietary and exercise changes in my life as well--tired of being the same size as the side of the proverbial barn, quite frankly. And I know I can make it happen, so it would be silly not to.

Yup, feeling like I can conquer the world again. Huzzah! What a lovely feeling that is!

And now, back to the spice mines.
Current Location:
my desk
Current Mood:
bouncy bouncy
Current Music:
Joan of Arc by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
* * *
Wouldn't It Be Good
Yesterday was a gorgeous day in New Orleans. I managed to get a lot written on Last Chanse, and I also had lunch with my friend Laura at Basin, a seafood place on Magazine Street. It was lovely; it was a gorgeous day out, the shrimp po'boy was fabulous, and we had a lovely visit, discussing books and writing as we sat outside on the sidewalk. It was one of those gorgeous days that are so magical, and reminded me yet again what a truly wonderful life I have; something I need to remind myself of periodically.

I parked on Harmony Street, and walked down to Magazine.

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I parked in front of that house.

I love the brick sidewalks--or would this be considered cobblestone? They are rare in New Orleans now, but it's always lovely to see them.

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Everything is blooming.

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And look at that sky!

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It has been a really long time since I've actually been on Magazine Street in that area; and it's changed dramatically. The walk from the car to Basin actually reminded me how much I used to enjoy just taking walks around the city because I would always find something new. For example, as I walked up Harmony Street to Magazine Street, I realized that around Coliseum Street, Harmony splits in two--Harmony and 9th Street. It always rather drove me crazy thinking there was a 9th Street--I usually drive on Prytania or St. Charles on my way to and from Uptown, and there is no 9th Street intersection on either of those streets. So, it was kind of cool to realize that I am not completely insane and there actually IS a 9th Street.

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One of the many things I love about having lunch with Laura is she always suggests a place I've never even heard of, and it always turns out to be wonderful.

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And I decided I need to spend some time exploring the city again.

And now back to the spice mines.
Current Location:
my desk
Current Mood:
bouncy bouncy
Current Music:
Stand Back by Stevie Nicks
* * *
Sugar Sugar
I read comic books when I was a kid.

Yeah, that's not particularly unique; millions of other kids did, too. Comic books, like my kids' mystery series, were such an integral part of my childhood that I really can't imagine my childhood without them--or the Saturday morning cartoon shows, either. I remember when I was a kid, there was a vending machine at the Jewel grocery store we would walk to every Saturday in Chicago, and you could put in your twelve cents, pick the comic book you wanted, and it would discharge it for you. My sister was older, and so she got into comic books before me; she was, of course, a big fan of Archie and the kids in Riverdale. She kind of taught me how to read using comic books, and so for years I was a fan of the Archie series--and there were quite a few of them. I couldn't tell you much about any of the stories, because they were all kind of the same, to be honest. They were very vanilla--nothing much went on in Riverdale, which was some idealistic depiction of a small town, like Leave It to Beaver--there were no people of color, no controversies, and as I recall, it seemed rather stuck in the 1950's.

When I was about nine or ten, I moved on to super heroes.

It's amazing, though, how Archie has stuck with me over the years. I remember all of their names: Archie Andrews, Reggie Mantle, Veronica Lodge, Betty Cooper, Pop Tate (who ran the Chocolate Shop, where they all hung out and went on dates), Dilton Doiley, Jughead Jones and Hotdog, Big Moose, his girlfriend Midge, genius Dilton Doiley, Ethel (who had a crush on Jughead, whose only crush was on food), Mr. Weatherbee the principal, Miss Grundy the spinster teacher...Mr.Lodge who disapproved of Archie and tried to keep Veronica from dating him...

Several years ago, the Archie brand was in the news for the first time in years--and in a rather surprising and pleasant way: they were adding a gay character, Kevin Keller, and planning on dealing with homophobia and other gay issues. I bought the Kevin Keller mini-series, and was surprised there wasn't more of an uproar against the comics. (Maybe there was, but I've become more immune to the silliness of the One "Million" Moms and others od their ilk, so much so that I barely even notice them anymore.)

SO, when I saw that they were going to kill off Archie, I was a bit surprised.

How can you have Archie comics without Archie?

But they are not killing off Archie across the board; rather, Archie is being killed off in Life with Archie, an 'alternate universe' comic book that takes place in the future--this same book has had stories where he married Betty as well as married Veronica, and Kevin Keller married his boyfriend as well.

So, in some ways, it's a publicity ploy--much like the death of Robin made headlines (that one shocked me until I remembered, 'hey, Dock Grayson grew up and is Nightwing now--this is some other Robin), or when they killed off Superman, only to bring him back to life in various different forms. I think even one of the Spiderman comics killed off Peter Parker, for that matter, and has a different Spiderman, one of color.

Yet it was still kind of a wrenching shock to see the headline that Archie was going to die. It was almost like reading that Carolyn Keene was going to kill off Nancy Drew, or Franklin W. Dixon was going to kill off one of the Hardy Boys.

The creative people who are running Archie have clearly moved the books away from the silly humor of my childhood, which is actually kind of cool.
* * *
Thriller
From the International Thriller Writers:

We’re thrilled to announce the finalists for the 2014 ITW Thriller Awards:

BEST HARDCOVER NOVEL

Linda Castillo – HER LAST BREATH (Minotaur Books)
Lee Child – NEVER GO BACK (Delacorte Press)
Lisa Gardner – TOUCH AND GO (Dutton Adult)
Stephen King – DOCTOR SLEEP (Scribner)
Owen Laukkanen – CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE (Putnam Adult)
Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child – WHITE FIRE (Grand Central Publishing)
Andrew Pyper – THE DEMONOLOGIST (Simon & Schuster)

BEST FIRST NOVEL

Gwen Florio – MONTANA (Permanent Press)
J.J. Hensley – RESOLVE (Permanent Press)
Becky Masterman – RAGE AGAINST THE DYING (Minotaur Books)
Jason Matthews – RED SPARROW (Scribner)
Carla Norton – THE EDGE OF NORMAL (Minotaur Books)
Hank Steinberg – OUT OF RANGE (William Morrow)
Dick Wolf – THE INTERCEPT (Harper)

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL NOVEL

Allison Brennan – COLD SNAP (Minotaur Books)
Kendra Elliot – BURIED (Montlake Romance)
Susan Elia MacNeal – HIS MAJESTY’S HOPE (Bantam)
Jennifer McMahon – THE ONE I LEFT BEHIND (William Morrow Paperbacks)
Nele Neuhaus – SNOW WHITE MUST DIE (Minotaur Books)
Michael Stanley – DEADLY HARVEST (Harper Paperbacks)

BEST SHORT STORY

Eric Guignard – “Baggage of Eternal Night” (JournalStone)
Laura Lippman – “Waco 1982” (Grand Central)
Kevin Mims – “The Gallows Bird” (Ellery Queen)
Twist Phelan – “Footprints in the Water” (Ellery Queen)
Stephen Vessels – “Doloroso” (Ellery Queen)

BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL

Ashley Elston – THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING (Disney-Hyperion)
Mari Mancusi – SCORCHED (Sourcebooks Fire)
Elisa Nader – ESCAPE FROM EDEN (Merit Press)
Cristin Terrill – ALL OUR YESTERDAYS (Disney-Hyperion)
Allen Zadoff – BOY NOBODY (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

BEST E-BOOK ORIGINAL NOVEL

Rebecca Cantrell – THE WORLD BENEATH (Rebecca Cantrell)
J.G. Faherty – THE BURNING TIME (JournalStone)
Joshua Graham – TERMINUS (Redhaven Books)
James Lepore and Carlos Davis – NO DAWN FOR MEN (The Story Plant)
Luke Preston – OUT OF EXILE (Momentum)

Congratulations to all the finalists!

The 2014 ITW Thriller Award Winners will be announced at ThrillerFest IX, July 12, 2014, at the Grand Hyatt (New York City.)

Very special thanks to:

Joshua Corin, Awards Committee Chair
Anthony Franze, Awards Coordinator
Jeff Ayers, Awards Coordinator
And all the 2014 ITW Thriller Awards Judges
* * *
Outside the Rain
It's kind of gloomy outside my windows this morning. Not sure what that's all about, but at some point I am going to have to venture outside the house, despite desperately not wanting to. I have writing and editing to do today, and I really need to get both manuscripts rolling today. I am also still reading Cutter and Bone, and not really sure why I am having so much difficulty reading it. I was pondering this last night, as I streamed Season One of The Tudors for background noise as I read. (I really want to finish it because I am so ready to read so many other things.) It's very well written, and it is very much of it's time--the 1970's. I think that may be the problem I'm having with it. It's very dark, and I am really enjoying the writing. Newburgh did an absolutely brilliant job of catching the 1970's, it's particular slang and dialect, and its mentality; the problem is that I am of that decade...there's almost a--and I hesitate to say this--70's hipster feel; and while people did use slang like "the fuzz' to refer to the cops and 'You dig' and so forth, it seemed, even at the time, to seem like an affectation. (I also had a rather interesting conversation with my friend Stuart the other day, visiting from Boston, about the hipster culture and the gentrification of New Orleans--which came at a very good time; since that is part of the focus of Last Chanse.)

So, yup, that's my day to look forward to. Writing, editing, writing, more editing, and even more writing. I think I have some short stories promised to some anthologies, and an essay to another place. Heavy heaving sigh. How fortunate that I enjoy writing, otherwise this could be an enormous drag.

However, the other day some books arrived in the mail, which finished up my collection of these:

IMG_5527

I have to say, I love these new covers. These editions of the first four Nancy Drew mysteries (The Secret of the Old Clock, The Hidden Staircase, The Bungalow Mystery, and The Mystery at Lilac Inn), with these gorgeous covers, have been produced for Target exclusively; at least that's what I've read, and I haven't checked to see if they are available anywhere else.

IMG_5533

As Constant Reader knows, I was obsessed with the kids' mystery series when I was a kid, and collected the vast majority of them--still do, in fact, and have my collections carefully boxed up and stored for the day when I have a room dedicated to my books, or my own office in my house (a boy can dream). So, of course, I had to have these. The interiors are exactly the same as the revised versions Grosset & Dunlap originally published in the late 1950's and 1960's.

IMG_5534

I haven't actually looked at, or reread, the first four Nancy Drews in years. Several things struck me as I paged through these new editions--one, how thin Nancy and her friends are in the illustrations; and for another, how lonely Nancy's life was in these first four books. Her Watson, for want of a better term, was Helen Corning, who is three years older and becomes engaged in The Hidden Staircase. After The Mystery at Lilac Inn, Helen disappears from the series completely (resurfacing as a young married woman in Password to Larkspur Lane, before vanishing from Nancy's life entirely), and un The Secret at Shadow Ranch the cousins who are to be Nancy's friends throughout the rest of the series, George Fayne (the girl with the boy's name) and Bess Marvin, appear from the ether--having never been mentioned before. (There's also a continuity error in Shadow Ranch; Nancy mentions her boyfriend Ned, whom she actually doesn't meet until the seventh book in the series, The Clue in the Diary. And yes, I know more about these books than I probably should.)

IMG_5530

(Note how thin she is in the above picture; I assume this is the illustrator's attempt to make her seem girlish; but she's eighteen...)

Okay, I suppose it's time to get back to the spice mines.
Current Location:
my desk on a gloomy morning
Current Mood:
contemplative contemplative
Current Music:
Midnight by Yaz
* * *
Isn't It Midnight?
I've been meaning to write a blog entry about Ace Atkins' amazing keynote speech at Sleuthfest ever since I heard it. It was amazing, inspiring, and everything that a keynote should be; and interestingly enough, he talked about something I'd been thinking about for awhile, and had been wanting to blog about. (Between Ace and Laura Lippman's amazing keynotes at this event, I hope to God I am never asked to do a keynote speech; I cannot imagine ever being able to come up with anything half as amazing as theirs at Sleuthfest...of course, I doubt I'll be asked to ever deliver a keynote anywhere any time, so it's really not something to be concerned about.)

The bottom line of Ace's speech was pretty simple: never give up, and don't stop trying.

Writing careers are funny things.

It's very easy to get disheartened; things go wrong, books don't do as well as we would like, nasty reviews turn up on amazon, and on and on and on. The business changes seemingly overnight, and it's not easy to keep up and stay on top of things. The negativity can be overwhelming.

I can't speak for other writers, but I am not the most confident writer in the world. Nothing amazes me more than writers who are incredibly confident in their abilities and in their work. I am constantly questioning myself: am I telling this story right? Am I the right author to write this book? Am I any good at this? Who am I to think I can do this?

I mean, given my CV and my track record, one would think those niggling voices in my head would go away, right? But they haven't, and they are still there. Sometimes I sit down at the computer and stare at the blinking cursor and completely freeze up. I look at the calendar and see the deadline rapidly approaching and my brain goes haywire, short circuiting and going on the fritz.

Ace, for example, talked about how he launched his first mystery series, the Nick Travers books, with incredible high hopes (I thoroughly enjoyed these books, I might add--starting with Crossroads Blues), and while the series continued for a while, it was eventually dropped because it never quite got the traction it should have (my words, not Ace's). He then turned to stand alones--quite extraordinary ones, I might add--but again, they didn't take off the way they should have, given the subject matter and the quality of the writing (again, my words).

Then two things happened: Ace launched a series featuring former Army Ranger Quinn Colson, returning from the wars to his corner of rural Mississippi (The Ranger, The Quiet Ones, The Broken Places) AND he was hired by the Parker Estate to continue the Spenser series. The first two books in the Colson series were Edgar finalists for Best Novel, and Ace has become a fixture on the New York Times best seller list.

Any number of authors have similar type stories. Charlaine Harris was a moderately successful mystery novelist for about twenty years or so before she struck gold with Sookie Stackhouse; others have successfully reinvented their careers under other names. The point being, if writing is your passion--you should never let the naysayers, or failure, stop you from continuing to do it.

I've often wondered if I should reinvent myself; come up with another name and leave Greg Herren behind. Then I laugh at myself--how MANY names can I write under, anyway?

Anyway, Ace was incredibly inspiring. And if you aren't reading his books, you really should be.

And now back to the spice mines.
Current Location:
my desk
Current Mood:
contemplative contemplative
Current Music:
Soak Up The Sun by Sheryl Crow
* * *
Eyes of the World
Had another good night's sleep last night, which was heavenly. I didn't sleep well Monday night, so all day long yesterday was I both mentally and emotionally and physically fatigued, which is a shitty way to go through the day, particularly when you have a lot of things to do.

Heavy heaving sigh.

I am leaving for Daddy's Girl Weekend in Mobile tomorrow; have I packed? Am I even remotely ready? I think the fact that I am asking those questions tells the tale...but I don't have to leave until about one in the afternoon tomorrow, so I have plenty of time to get stuff done in the morning that I'm unable to get to this evening. *Whew*

The creative ADD thing is really out of control this week; I think it's partly because I have this trip coming up and so I have that in the back of my head. The inability, however, to focus on one thing until I have it finished is bugging me to a serious extreme. Ah, well, such is the life of a Gregalicious.

I am determined to get some of this mess in my office handled before heading to work this morning. Progress is something, right? And if I don't have to do any of it tonight, perhaps that will inspire me to start getting packed for the trip, right?

An old man can dream.

Anyway...

I guess I'd better get started on this mess.
Current Location:
my desk
Current Mood:
relaxed relaxed
Current Music:
Take Your Mama by Scissor Sisters
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