Friday, September 25, 2020

5 Things That Cheer Me Up Right Now

 


I don't know about you, but I really did NOT think we would still be in full pandemic mode this fall. 

Or rather, I thought we'd be bracing up to the possibility of a second wave, not still dealing with the first. But here we are heading into flu season while never having really got a handle on the pandemic. In fact, a third of the country firmly believes it's all made up. LOL. Because... 

That part of the conspiracy remains vague. I mean, to be a serious PLOT you've got to have a concrete goal. There has to be a pragmatic outcome. Like World Domination. Like a zillion billion dollars ransom. I mean THOSE ARE THE RULES OF EVILDOING. 

But I digress. The fact is, you can get used to anything, and I'm getting used to this. We all are. 

And lest you think it's all doom and gloom at Chez Lanyon, nothing of the kind! Luckily, the SO and I are extremely compatible thanks to a mutual love of murder and mystery. We literally never run out of anything to blab about whether it's the latest episode of Dateline, something I'm writing, something he's writing, or a debate over the merits of the Perry Mason books (uh yeah, they're not TV tie-ins, as I was entertained to see someone insisting in an online discussion) versus the original movies (recommended if you love old movies!) versus the TV series and the TV series reboot (I love William Katt! Whatever happened to William Katt!) versus the latest and weakest incarnation on HBO (but oh my God excellent acting and how beautifully filmed it was!). I have the dogs and the garden and my cocktail shaker--and let me tell you, I am becoming one hell of a mixologist. 

In fact, let me share my latest invention. It's called The Tipsy Mermaid. It's very sweet but carries an unexpected punch, just like a real mermaid. *cough* IF there was such a thing as mermaids.

1 oz cake vodka

1 oz Chambord

1 oz blue Curacao

1 oz cranberry-blackberry juice 


 (Also I now have TWO alternate recipes for Raspberry Lemon Drops, but I'll save those for another day.)

And I have my writing. Sort of. I mean, it's shaky, it's still more theoretical than practical, but I am working and I am making very slow progress. 

In fact, yesterday I outlined a short story called 44.1644° NORTH. It's going to be in the second short story collection (although if you're in Patreon, you'll be getting it for free) due out in January. I'm currently working on Bell, Book and Scandal, and yes, I do actually plan to have that one out for Halloween. Blessed be.

So yeah, I'm feeling more optimistic, more in control again, and here are five of the things I find most comforting right now.

1 - YouTube Beauty Bloggers. OH, I KNOW. BELIEVE ME, I KNOW. But there is something really soothing about watching people who know what they're doing, apply eyeshadow. All those paint boxes and tubes of color! Gorgeous color. How can you NOT enjoy all that color? Make up is transformative. Self care is healthy. YMMV but to each their own and I do own a LOT of eyeshadow.

Last week one of my favorite beauty bloggers did what I found to be a really interesting bit on urgency, and how so much of the pressure we feel is self-inflicted. I thought I would share it. And also holy moly can this woman do things with eyeshadow!





2 - Coffee Table books. I don't think those of us in the States are going to be traveling much until 2022. Just my opinion. So I'm reminding myself of everything out there, past and present and imaginary through the application of art and coffee table travel books. In particular I'm loving Slim Aarons right now. If you don't know Aarons, he documented a world that never really existed for most people, but yet that somehow continues to shape our own concept of class, elegance, and how the other half should live. 


3 - Gardening. It's officially autumn, so it's time to start closing up shop for the winter, but my garden has been a huge source of comfort this summer. There's just something really centering about sunlight and damp earth and the smell of flowers and the hum of bees. A garden teaches patience like nothing else.


4 - Coloring books. Yes! Coloring books. When all this madness started, I was playing a lot of Candy Crush and so forth, and I felt like that just had to stop. That was just too...numb. So I moved over to coloring books, which it turns out I have tons of (also lots of wonderful pencils and crayons--largely unused) and it's been really relaxing to listen to the news or listen to the SO rant about the news while I color in my coloring books. ;-) I'm not very good, but I can stay within the lines, and maybe in the end, that's all that really matters. 


5 - Goldbelly. A dear friend sent me a gift certificate to Goldbelly a while back--and then another friend sent me the most delicious pies--and eventually I figured out that Goldbelly was a way to sample legendary and fantastic foods from across the country from the comfort of your own quarantine cell pretty much whenever you wanted. Wow. 


So that's it. Those are my tips for staying sane during Phase 2 of Our Pandemic. What about you? Do you have any good tips? How are you coping these days?  



Friday, September 18, 2020

Five Things I've Learned from Watching True Crime

 

I HATE THE NEW BLOGGER

I'm not sure why watching shows about people murdering each other is somehow less distressing right now than watching the news--maybe because the body count is so much lower on Dateline?

Whatever, I've definitely noticed a pattern of behaviors that I'm going to watch for moving forward. ;-D I don't mean in real life--I'm not planning on killing anyone, let alone becoming an amateur sleuth--but these are good reminders for writing crime fiction.


1 - The louder and more hysterical the person reporting the crime is, the more likely THEY are the killer. Especially if the person on the phone is a spouse. Talk about Bad Actors. In every sense of the word. Maybe it's because genuine shock often leaves people seeming weirdly cold and detached rather than, as might seem reasonable, screaming and hysterical. 

Also, addressing the victim while on the phone with the 911 operator is almost always a giveaway. 

"Oh Gina, Gina. Darling! Noooooo. Breathe!!"

YOU DID IT AND WE ALL KNOW YOU DID IT.

 

2 -  There is the exact same breakdown of skill and talent on any given police force as there is in any given office anywhere. You know how Beth (we'll call her Beth) never wants to refund customers to whom she recommended the wrong product? Well, if Beth were a cop--and she occasionally is--Beth would be the kind of cop who just goes with the first and obvious suspect and doesn't bother to run that DNA test. And eventually, twenty years later, Caren gets assigned to Cold Cases, runs the DNA, and discovers the wrong person has been sitting in jail for decades. 

WHOOPSIE.

Seriously, it's mind-blowing how often stuff falls through the cracks. But then it's mind blowing how many orders get dropped at my local coffee house. Despite the life or death stakes, a police force is only as good as its weakest barista.


3 - WHAT THE HELL WITH ALL THE MURDEROUS PASTORS??!!! 


4 -  Children will forgive (or blank-out) just about anything evil their parents do--including one parent murdering another--UNTIL THEY HAVE THEIR OWN KIDS. It's kind of fascinating to see how often this one plays out. Of course, it does kind of make sense given the fact that none of us really pay close attention to anything until we're about thirty. *cough* 

HEY, DAD, I JUST REMEMBERED MOM'S PURSE IS STILL SITTING IN THE BASEMENT ON TOP OF THAT TRUNK BEHIND THE AX DISPLAY...


5 - What is the aversion to divorce?! You don't want to share custody of the kids or pay alimony or split the DVD collection, so instead you KILL the person you've been sharing scrambled eggs with for the last ten years and risk losing everything. EVERYTHING. Because even an entire police force made of baristas knows the spouse is the #1 suspect. Even Beth can solve this one. Would it really have been so bad to have to divvy everything up fair and square? Worse than years of prison food and orange jumpsuits--not to mention you still have to pay lawyers fees? 

Yeesh.


What about you? Do you watch true crime? Do you have a favorite show? Do you have any true crime insights? 

Monday, September 7, 2020

Happy Labor Day!

 Wherever, whoever, whatever. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You are keeping us afloat--and the rest of us notice and appreciate it.




Friday, September 4, 2020

Person, woman, man, camera, TV




It sounds like a writing prompt, doesn't it?

IF ONLY.

I've been putting off posting an update because I honestly wasn't sure what to say. Mentally, emotionally, spiritually, philosophically (?!) I've been all over the map for the last six weeks or so. I'd feel a surge of creative energy, start work, and shortly after fall into... I hate to say depression because, for one thing, depression doesn't even cover it. 

Anger--so much anger--frustration, anxiety, and yes, depression. Which has played out in a kind of inertia. Inertia and indifference.  

I REALLY DON'T CARE, DO U?

Except I do care. Hence the anger verging on rage. 

Which you might think would be great for fueling creative energy, but turns out to be merely exhausting.

I mean, I started out the pandemic in a fairly calm state of mind. ("Calm" being relative.) I got tons of writing business stuff done, and I wasn't too worried about the lack of creative drive because I felt confident that would return once I got all the busyness done. Buuuuuut... Not so much. 

So here we are at the start of September--ARE YOU KIDDING ME???--and I haven't published since April. That is not good. That is very, very bad. 
And, while I'm starting to feel a bit more optimistic again, a bit more creative, I know my anxiety will ratchet up the closer we get to flu season and the election and the holidays. I've already had to mostly cut myself off from watching the news, and my nightly CBD oil intake verges on industrial strength. 

There are five projects I would like to finish before the end of the year--and four months to do them in. This is all doable provided nobody moves, nobody blinks, nobody breathes too loudly. I'm feeling more like my normal self, but I want to be very cautious about committing to anything. For obvious reasons.

Which is a very long way of saying I'm okay and I'm working again and I think everything is going to work out. 

Really. :-)


 



Wednesday, September 2, 2020

It's Cal Worthington and Her Dog Spot!

So far I have not had to resort to riding a pig around a car lot, but given how weird this year is, who knows?

Anyway, if you've been considering pledging to my Patreon, I have an enticing but limited time offer. 

ANNUAL MEMBERSHIPS.

Patreon recently decided to offer the option of annual subscriptions to both new and existing patrons. (Apparently 35% of patrons would prefer not to be bothered with monthly payments!) I can see the convenience of this, assuming you have the ability to pay your monthly fees in a lump sum up front--and I can see there is a short term potential advantage to me. 

I'll be honest, I'm not sure about this, but a lot of people are struggling right now, so from today until the end of December, I'm offering a 10% discount on annual pledges.

Basically, if you're currently paying $10.00 a month (or $120.00 a year), you'd be paying $9.00 a month (or $108. a year) And so on and so forth. You're paying less but you're getting a free month of membership.You're also reducing transaction fees and reducing the change of credit card declines. Those are all good things! Right?  

Right. 

So. Visit my Patreon page where you’ll see the option below the “Join” button of your chosen tier. Just follow the directions. 

There's lots more helpful info right here.  (And no, I don't mean the video!) 








Friday, July 24, 2020

Cover Reveal: THE ENTIRE ADRIEN ENGLISH SERIES!!!

Now that the "reboot" is complete, I'm pulling the series from Kindle Unlimited and making it wide again starting in September.

New cover art by the talented--well, really MULTI-talented Reese Dante. I love that she kept the original cover model and that she shows a gradual, subtle aging of Adrien throughout the course of the series. And you know what I particularly love? He looks younger and happier again by SO THIS IS CHRISTMAS.

YOU GET ME, REESE, YOU REALLY GET ME. ;-D

But seriously, my plans for the 20th Anniversary have kind of gone KAAAA-BLOOEY with everything that has happened, including the cancellation of this year's GRL. NO CAKE???? HOW CAN WE HAVE AN ANNIVERSARY WITHOUT CAKE!!!???

But I'm going to do what I can--and maybe we'll get together and have cake at NEXT year's GRL!? God willing and we don't all die of the plague.

Here is my official invitation to fans of the series to contribute art and fiction or even non-fiction to our virtual celebration, which I will feature here on the blog. I'd like to do at least one AE-related post a month, starting in August. (Obviously, I'll come up with some things as well.)

But meantime, enjoy a glimpse of the new cover art!










Friday, July 17, 2020

What I Did on My Summer Va-- Oh. Right.


If anyone had asked me prior to the pandemic how I'd deal with being forced to stay home and write all the time with almost no interruptions--or at least zero to no reason to leave home--I'd have said it sounded like a dream come true pretty good to me. Certainly, it sounded like something I could easily adjust to.

And I was initially very productive in lockdown. Not creative. Well, I did learn to use BookBrush and I did make a bunch of book trailers. Not much writing happened, but a lot of other catching up on stuff did. I dealt with some of the audio, print, translation, and marketing chores that have been hanging over me forever. That felt great. That felt like I was moving forward even though I was worried and uncertain about the future.

But now... It's been just about three months since I last published anything. Secret at Skull House came out at the end of April, and since then I've written a little here and there. I started Mystery at the Masquerade, I started a short story, I'm working on the outline for Haunted Heart: Spring, I've done a couple of codas for Patreon. Obviously, it's not the year any of us planned on, but does it have to be a  full-blown crash-and-burn disaster?

I mean, there's still half a year to go, and there's no reason I can't pull myself together but...

73,000 NEW CORONA VIRUS CASES REPORTED YESTERDAY. I mean... Seventy-three THOUSAND???? What. The. Hell.

And that's not even the scariest news of the day. I mean, just a glance at the headlines on the political front are enough to suck the breath out of my lungs. (Which is not to say I don't do plenty of yelling about it--just ask the SO.)

But really, as worrying as all that is, I've been writing through the last three years. I don't see why I can't write through this.

And some good things have happened. I got to see my family (finally) at our socially distanced 4th of July celebration. Our taxes are done (the bleeding has nearly stopped). The dogs have their shots and vaccinations for the rest of the year. We're having socially distanced dinner and cocktails with my sister's family tonight. We're figuring it out. We're navigating uncharted waters. We're okay. I'm okay.

I just have to begin writing again.



But so far, not so good. I've had to once more push Haunted Heart: Spring back. I've seen a few comments wherein irate readers say I should just cancel the book. Why? No, seriously. WHY? I still plan on writing the book. I still want to finish Flynn's story. Why would I cancel the book simply because some petulant petunia is disappointed it didn't arrive when originally promised? As a reader who has also endured having to wait for books I really wanted to read, I far prefer to get the book later than expected than learn it's been canceled for good. Like, I still hope that maybe, maybe someday Poppy Z. Brite will return to the world of John Rickey and G-man Stubbs, as unlikely as I know that is.

Should the day come that I realize I no longer have any stories in me, then that's another thing. I'm not there yet. Not even close. In fact, I was brushing my teeth this morning and I realized Sam and Jason dialog was running through my brain. That's a really good sign. That's something that hasn't been happening for a few weeks.

So, yes. I'm struggling to find the words and books are running late. But the words haven't vanished. Thank God. If I could snap out of it on cue, I would. But I can't. I have to work my way back to where I was. My plan is to play around with some Patreon stuff and hope that shakes loose a little more creativity, and then I'll tackle something small. Probably a short story--probably the short story I started and then abandoned last month. Or maybe not. I just don't know. This is something new for me. It's not exactly burn-out, but it might as well be.

One word, one sentence, one paragraph, one page at a time. This is the advice I've always given, and I know it works. So that's the plan. I'll keep you posted.