<![CDATA[Welcome to All Things Stacey Longo - My Blog]]>Thu, 19 Apr 2018 17:27:24 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Little Organ of Horrors]]>Thu, 19 Apr 2018 23:50:46 GMThttp://staceylongo.com/my-blog/little-organ-of-horrorsI apologize for my blog absence last week, but I had a good excuse. You see, my appendix tried to murder me.
 
I hadn’t been feeling great, but pretty much chalked it up to my usual digestive woes. Tuesday morning, I was so bloated I had to dig out fat pants to wear to work. Still I wasn’t alarmed. Maybe the cold cuts I’d eaten were pushing their code date or something. I mean, I had things to do. Wasn’t going to let a little crippling pain, alarming bloat, and increasingly stabbing stomach pains get in my way.
 
By Tuesday night, it was concerning enough that I decided I’d definitely do something ... if it was still bad in the morning. Then I realized I was in flannel jammies, under a comforter with two blankets layered over that, and I was still shivering. It was possible I now had a fever.
 
I did what any modern, self-reliant, mature woman would do: I called my mother. (Jason was out of town.)
 
Mom: I’m coming over and we’re going to the walk-in.
 
Me: Really? You think it could be bad?
 
It was. My appendix had gone rogue (and gangrenous). I was in surgery by 7 a.m. Wednesday morning, though the mutinous little death organ had ruptured by then.
 
The good news: I am now lighter by one appendix, and I didn’t die.
 
The bad news: All of this—all of this—hurt. Tremendously. In a million different ways. It still hurts over a week later, though not as much, but still enough that I’m whining right now.
 
The hospital was awful. My roommate was incontinent. The hospital food smelled okay, but I had no appetite and the idea of putting anything in my stomach nauseated me.
 
My surgeon was great, though. He stopped by that evening to see how I was.
 
Dr. Awesome: Do you remember our talk right before surgery?
 
I did, and blushed. “Yeah. I asked you if it was okay to swear.”
 
Dr. Awesome: Yup. And then what did you say?
 
Oh, dear lord. Did I drop an F bomb? Please don’t tell my mom. “Um ... nothing? I fell asleep.”
 
Dr. Awesome: You apologized for not having shaved your legs.
 
Me: I did feel bad about that.
 
Dr. Awesome: Then I asked you if you had any preference of what type of music to listen to during surgery.
 
Me: I had to have been asleep by then.
 
Dr. Awesome: You said you were an eighties kid, and you’d really appreciate a little Duran Duran.
 
Keep in mind I have no memory of anything after “Is it okay to swear?” I would’ve sworn he was making all this up ... except that Duran Duran thing sure did sound like me.
 
Dr. Awesome: The good news is, I was in college in the eighties, and I happened to have two Duran Duran songs on my surgery playlist. So your appendix came out to the tune of “Hungry Like the Wolf.”
 
Me: I can live with that.
 
So, a little over a week post-emergency-surgery, I’m on the mend. I can’t wear pants and I’ve developed an aversion to marshmallows and eggs, the two things I did try to eat while in the hospital. I’m still very angry at my appendix, even though it’s long gone. I get seasick when I read.
 
But: Jason and my family and friends were awesome throughout the whole thing, and I certainly felt loved and supported. My job was pretty great, too. I’m going to be fine eventually, and it’ll never happen again.
 
And I love that my doctor had Duran Duran on his iPod.
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<![CDATA[Falling in Love]]>Fri, 06 Apr 2018 11:45:53 GMThttp://staceylongo.com/my-blog/falling-in-loveRecently, I wrote a blog about all my boyfriends (if you missed it, click here). I don't want you to think I'm some wanton tart who falls in love at the drop of a hat. This week, I thought I'd share this piece (it originally appeared over on The Storyside's blog) about the moment I fell in love—hard—with one of them.

For those of us who love to read, we can remember the awe and wonderment we felt as children picking up an author for the first time and discovering a world of magic wardrobes or phantom tollbooths or tesseracts. This would undoubtedly prompt a return trip to the library to check out every other book ever written by the same author, and weeks of immersion into a new amazing world.  

I can remember running my fingers lightly over the pages of Steven Kellogg’s spectacular illustrations of great danes and mice; imagining myself in the world of Maud Hart Lovelace’s trio of best friends (in my mind, I was Tib); closing my eyes and trying to feel the wind on my cheeks as I rode to Wild Island on my father’s dragon with Ruth Stiles Gannett. I fell in love with all three of these authors and many others: deeply, unconditionally, fearlessly, with no worries that any of them would break my heart.

As an adult, I fell in love less frequently. I suppose the more we learn about life and the craft of writing, the more critical we become. Though John Irving, Larry McMurtry, and Augusten Burroughs won my heart, all three of them occasionally . . . disappointed me. My love was no longer unconditional. I found myself saying things like stick to his early works or she’s been known to drop the occasional clunker. I’d become cynical. Cautious. Sometimes caustic and bitter. I missed the days when I’d give my heart freely to anyone who came along with an upside-down house and an Interrupting Cure.  

I missed the magic of new love.

I’d been wandering through the library stacks one sunny afternoon, unable to make a decision—I was hungry for something, but didn’t know what—when a message rolled in from a writer friend of mine. Hellbound Heart is only 99 cents on Kindle today, the message read.

Ah, fate.  

Though I often write horror, I don’t read it as expansively as I probably should. I’ve read a lot of King, sure, and Koontz, Straub, and Bloch. I’ve read the occasional Hill, Ketchum, and Matheson, and of course, covered the classics: Poe, Bradbury, Lovecraft, Shelley, and Stoker. But I’d steadfastly avoided Clive Barker. Maybe I was afraid to allow myself to get involved, to risk heartache. I’d held back from cracking a Barker book like a girl insisting she didn’t want to go to the prom anyway. But . . . ninety-nine cents. For the novella that launched the Hellraiser series.  

I’d been burned before, but it was time to move on and take a chance on someone new. I bought the book. And fell so quickly, so completely, it left me breathless.

It was an adult love this time: I marveled at the descriptive, hellish nuances of taste and sound and touch; sighed in unabashed appreciation as Barker painted a picture with words of muscle without flesh; ran my fingers over the cover illustration, gaping at the visceral detail. Barker was . . . brilliant. Beautiful and smart and witty and so amazing I ached in both admiration and jealousy of his talent. I felt it then—the cynicism that had solidified into shackles around my heart and mind over the years shattered and fell away as I scrolled through the pages, my eyes and brain and very soul hungry for more, more, more. Within twenty-four hours, my Kindle was filled with fifteen other Barker titles. Work and food and laundry became secondary in importance to the new man in my life. Every waking moment, I wanted to be with Clive.

Once the initial puppy-love phase passed, I calmed down. After all, there was only so much I could read: eventually, I’d hit that wall where I’d gone through everything he’d done, and would find myself sitting at home, alone, checking and re-checking my email to see if Amazon had sent me any notification that Barker’s next book was available for pre-purchase. I didn’t want to be that woman. Hungry. Desperate. I needed to be more mature about this. Rational.

I started parceling out Barker stories like a dieter indulging in a single chocolate at the end of a long, calorie-counting week. I needed to value the time I did have with him instead of panting for more like a lovelorn, lusty teenager. Whenever I was tired, burned out, or uninspired, I’d allow myself a treat: just one story from Books of Blood. Once that satisfying morsel had soothed my soul, I’d get back to the real world. If it’d been a particularly rough day, two stories. No more.

Maybe three.

Every day seems brighter; there’s a bounce to my step and a fresh new excitement in my eyes when I enter a used bookstore. Life has purpose and meaning again. Laughter comes easier these days, my smile more genuine. And whenever someone talks about what they’re reading, I can’t help but babble at length about the new man in my life.

It feels wonderful to be in love again.
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Pictured: after one particularly rough week, I hit every book sale, yard sale, and used book store in CT and bought every Barker book I could find.
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<![CDATA[Easter Crafts]]>Fri, 30 Mar 2018 13:04:21 GMThttp://staceylongo.com/my-blog/easter-craftsPicture
I'm one of those people who likes to dream up cute, creative things to do, and then never take the time to execute the idea. Eastertime is no different. Just last week, I saw a fabulous way to dye Easter eggs using shaving cream, creating a tie-dye effect. It looked adorable. My inner Deadhead, long dormant, perked up. I could do that!

Except my adult, sensible, non-Deadhead self has gotten a lot more vocal these days. And adult me was thinking, that's a lot of shaving cream to waste. Plus, where would I find the time?

Deadhead Stacey would not give up. You can put off finishing editing the manuscript that client is paying you good money to clean up! And maybe don't write a blog this week. I want tie-dyed eggs!

Adult Stacey was having none of it. I want to keep a roof over our heads, Adult Stacey said. That won't happen if we procrastinate on editing and waste shaving cream all willy-nilly. (Adult Stacey sometimes uses old-fashioned words like will- nilly.)

Deadhead Stacey gave it one last shot. Maybe we can convince Jason to use the food-coloring-smeared shaving cream?

We could not. And I'm sorry to report Deadhead Stacey might be gone for good.

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Pictured: Adult Stacey's Easter eggs.
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​For Easter, I'd promised to bring chocolate-covered Peeps to my sister-in-law's house. I'm sorry, did I say I promised? Actually I blame Creative Ideas Stacey for this one.

It seemed simple enough. Buy some Peeps, melt some chocolate, and dip away. Except by Friday night, Adult Stacey was tired from fighting with the flighty Deadhead all week. She didn't have any sticks to impale the Peeps upon. Her back hurt. 

In short, she wasn't going to waste her time melting chocolate and burning her fingertips trying to dip sugar-coated marshmallows into it. (Quite frankly, I don't blame her. My back hurt too.)

But a promise is a promise. Which is why I'd like to thank the Just Born company for reading my mind and creating prepackaged ChocoPeeps just for me. (Turns out Adult Stacey doesn't care about wasting money when it means she doesn't have to do any manual labor.

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But I'd also promised my sister I'd make deviled eggs for Sunday. Turns out Creative Ideas Stacey is a blabbermouth. My mother was no help, instead showing me the cutest creative deviled eggs idea ever: chicks in an egg. 

Keep in mind Adult Stacey balked at the idea of dipping Peeps in chocolate because it was too much work. There was no way I was going to take the time to cut the edges of the deviled eggs to look like shells, much less stick tiny bits on the egg filling to make it look like a baby chicken. 

At this point, Creative Ideas Stacey decided to get on board with Adult Stacey's rather cranky and low maintenance attitude. Creative started whispering in Adult's ear, and I have to admit, what she was saying made sense. It was creative. It was low maintenance, requiring only eggs and a fork. I might actually be able to pull it off.

Behold: a cute little Do it Yourself Deviled Eggs Kit, which I will be bringing to my sister's exactly as it appears below.

Life is short. And eggs don't need to be cute.

Happy Easter to all who celebrate! And a very happy birthday to my nephew Nathan!

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I'm tired. YOU do it.
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<![CDATA[Growing up Glastonbury]]>Thu, 22 Mar 2018 23:19:21 GMThttp://staceylongo.com/my-blog/growing-up-glastonburyIn case you haven’t heard, I have a new book out. My Sister the Zombie is a YA mystery with a little horror thrown in, and it was a lot of fun to write. It’s also set in my hometown of Glastonbury, Connecticut.
 
Glastonbury has a reputation of being a lovely (dare I say pristine?), white collar, upper middle-class town. But growing up there wasn’t all ice cream cakes and money growing on trees. See, I lived on the outskirts, barely within town limits, and on a dairy farm to boot. While my friends’ parents were buying them shiny new clothes and cars, mine were advising me on the best way to get the lingering manure smell out of my hair. We didn’t have a lot of money, but what we did have was cows. And heart, I suppose. But mostly cows.
 
I spent the first eighteen years of my life in this town, enduring field trips in elementary school to my backyard, and farmer’s daughter jokes in my teen years. I got my driver’s license and my high school diploma in Glastonbury. And then I moved away as soon as I could, because I was a snotty teenager, and that’s what snotty teens tend to do as a rule.
 
A funny thing happened when I moved away, though. While I can’t say I loved growing up there, I found I was awfully proud to be from there. See, outsiders don’t care about the mortification you felt when a pack of rogue Holsteins escaped and planted themselves in front of your school bus (true story). Or those times you were teased because your clothes came from K-Mart instead of some boutique. All they know is that Glastonbury is a really, really nice town. And when I saw they were impressed, I’ll admit, I gained a new respect for my hometown.
 
When it came time to pick a setting for My Sister the Zombie, I considered my options carefully. I needed a place that would fit all of these requirements:

  • It had to be in New England, because I needed somewhere humid in the summer that was also full of cautious and hard-to-crack residents.
  • Both parents had really good jobs, so it should be an upper-middle-class community.
  • The layout of the town had to be pretty straightforward and make sense, because I get lost easily, even in my own fiction.
  • The townspeople had to be the type who would be politely horrified when a zombie moved into town.
 
Sure, I could’ve made up a place, but I already knew of a location that fit the bill to a T. And yeah, I could’ve fictionalized it, but I did that in my novel Ordinary Boy, and I continually find myself having to confirm to readers from Connecticut that their suspicions are correct, it is Glastonbury I’m describing there.
 
I thought it over. I wasn’t saying bad things about the town: it is nice. The people who live there are polite. And, for someone as geographically challenged as I am, using the town where I learned how to drive would be a relief, because I wouldn’t have to try and make a map. There are events that happen there every year—the Art Show on the Green, the Apple Fest—that would provide the perfect backdrop for some of the main scenes. So call Glastonbury Glastonbury, I decided. And I did.
 
I’ll be in Glastonbury this weekend for their “Read Local” Author Fair (Saturday, March 24, 2018, at the Riverfront Community Center, 300 Welles Street) from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., signing copies of My Sister the Zombie. I’m really looking forward to it, because as we get older, our memories tend to be more selective. Now when I drive through town, I think about the hours I spent at the truly fabulous Welles-Turner Memorial Library, or getting Chinese food at House of Tong with my sister (incidentally, not a zombie). I can drive by what is now open space, but what used to be the farm, and smile at the memory of rogue Holsteins making a break for Hebron Avenue. Because you know what? It is a nice town.
 
Here’s hoping they don’t chase me out of it with pitchforks on Saturday.
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<![CDATA[Rules for Being My Boyfriend]]>Thu, 15 Mar 2018 17:32:11 GMThttp://staceylongo.com/my-blog/rules-for-being-my-boyfriendIf you’re wondering just what kind of tramp I am, being a married woman with a blog title like that, then this is exactly why you need to understand my boyfriend rules.
 
Much like an immature teen shouting “That’s your boyfriend!” to her sister when she sees an octogenarian in a Speedo on the street, I’ve never really grown up. (I would still shout this to my sister should said eightysomething wearing a banana hammock cross our paths.) I’ve sort of reversed this as I’ve grown up, though: I’m more likely to shout “That’s my boyfriend!” when someone hunky passes by. Yes, I’m married, and yes, my husband’s pretty patient. Because I do have a list of men I refer to as my boyfriends, including:
 
  • Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran
  • Actor Jon Bernthal
  • Author Clive Barker
  • Walter White on Breaking Bad (but not, incidentally, actor Bryan Cranston)
  • Actor Jonathan Banks (whether as Breaking Bad’s Mike Ehrmantraut or giving an interview as himself)
  • Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson
  • Actor Richard Grieco
  • Survivor winner Richard Hatch
     
I'm pretty sure none of these men know they're my boyfriends, but no matter. Here’s rule number one: I don’t need your permission to refer to you as my boyfriend. I get to decide.
 
Essentially, my boyfriend choices come down to this: I have precious little free time on any given day. So if I’m going to give up, say, an hour to a man, he has to be really worth it.
 
Here are the rest of the rules:

  • To earn boyfriend status, a man must be talented, entertaining, and most importantly, be engaging enough to keep me from looking at my phone for at least thirty minutes.
  • Potential boyfriends must have either played a role in which he was a dark, brooding, bad-boy-with-noble-intentions, been a person like this, written about characters like this, or played keyboards for Duran Duran.
  • My boyfriends must be men I’m highly unlikely to run into in person on a daily basis, because seriously, that would be mortifying.
  • If I do get the chance to meet one of my boyfriends, he has to at least have the decency to not question my mortification and make me explain how he's my boyfriend.
  • There must never be an unfavorable news article about my boyfriend acting like a jerk, specifically if he’s acting like a jerk toward one of my other boyfriends like Dwayne Johnson, or he’ll be immediately removed of his status (see: Diesel, Vin).
  • Age is unimportant, though said boyfriend should be old enough to not make me feel like a creepy perv when I spend quality time with him.
  • My boyfriend's sexual preference is also unimportant. Ours is a higher love.
 
Jason is remarkably tolerant of the men in my life. In fact, while watching an episode of Breaking Bad, he actually said, “Look out! I think your boyfriend is about to shoot your boyfriend!” It is not unusual for him to ask how my day was only to get the response, “Not bad. I spent some quality time with my boyfriend on my lunch break.” (I’m currently reading Clive Barker’s Everville.) I thought Jason had my whole system straight in his head, until this conversation last week:
 
Jason: Hey, I think your boyfriend is in this movie.
 
Me: No, he’s not. (I didn’t know if he meant Johnson, Banks, Bernthal, Grieco, or even a cameo from my very first boyfriend, Nick Rhodes, but I did know none of the above was in the movie in question.)
 
Jason: Sure he is. I just saw Michael Fitchman’s name in the credits.
 
I suppose I should explain. The first time I ever saw this actor was in The Perfect Storm, in which he played a character named Sully. I have a horrible time remembering his name (so much so that when I just Googled “Who played Sully in The Perfect Storm,” I found out his name is actually William Fichtner, and I’d just messed it up again when typing up Jason’s dialogue for this blog post). He has an easily recognizable face, but an easily forgettable name. So whenever I see him onscreen, I shout, “Sully!”
 
I don’t know why Jason thinks this makes him my boyfriend. Yes, he’s a good actor, and yes, he’s fairly attractive. I don’t know if he’s got any bad boy in him, though as I’m typing this, Sully was a bit of a bad boy in Perfect Storm. He’s age appropriate, it’s doubtful I’d ever meet him for coffee, and I see nothing online in which he says mean things about Dwayne Johnson. In all honesty, the only thing that disqualifies Michael William Fitchburgh from boyfriend status is that I can’t for the life of me remember his name from one moment to the next.
 
But Sully . . . I can remember Sully.
 
You know what? Maybe Jason does get the whole boyfriend thing. Because clearly, Sully’s my boyfriend.
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<![CDATA[On Sisters and Zombies]]>Fri, 09 Mar 2018 13:42:49 GMThttp://staceylongo.com/my-blog/on-sisters-and-zombiesIf you haven’t heard yet, I have a book coming out next week. My Sister the Zombie hits bookshelves on March 11, and I couldn’t be more excited. Though sometimes this doesn’t always come through in interviews, I suspect.
 
One of the most common traits among writers is introversion. (It’s a real word; I looked it up.) We tend to be those folks who find talking to others to be draining, and need a solitary environment to recharge our batteries. But when you have a book coming out, you pretty much have to suck it up and get over it if you want to promote your new release.
 
In an ideal world, the book would sell itself and I wouldn’t have to do interviews, but I’m pretty sure this has never happened in the history of modern publishing (even Stephen King does interviews when he has a new release, and—hard truth—I’m no Stephen King). My publisher has been pretty awesome about sending out press releases and media kits, but sadly, they can’t tell the nice reporter at the local paper how my sister feels about being turned into one of the shambling undead. (Note to self: but my sister can . . . [scribbling] have Kim do all interviews going forward.) If anyone’s going to answer questions about how this book came to be, it pretty much has to be me. Or Kim . . . I’m really liking the idea of making it Kim.
 
But because of my painful introversion, the interviews tend to go something like this:
 
Reporter: How did this book come to be?
Me: Um, I sat down and wrote it.
Reporter: No, but where’d you get the idea from?
Me: I wanted to write a mystery. About my sister. And zombies.
Reporter: (sensing an opening) About your sister? Why?
Me: Because we’re close. Can I flee now, please?
 
I do feel bad for the poor reporter that has to somehow shape a story out of that. I really do. But it is so hard to have to meet with someone and talk about me.
 
So help both reporters and readers get an idea of what’s going on with this new book, here it is:
My Sister the Zombie is the tale of two sisters, Blossom and Jasmine Hamilton. Blossom is a zombie. The family moves from Arizona, where everyone has a zombie in the family and it’s no big deal, to Glastonbury, CT, where Blossom is the only undead person shambling around, and the residents are politely horrified. People start turning up murdered, with their brains removed. Blossom’s the prime suspect. She and Jasmine work together to solve the mystery.
It’s a study of the close bond between siblings. It’s a scathing commentary on how people who are perceived as different are treated in our society. And yeah, it’s funny and silly and I like to think it’s a good book.
 
There you go. Best I can do. I’ll be retreating to hide in my fort made of blankets now. If you have any follow-up questions, by all means, don’t be afraid to contact my sister.
 
My Sister the Zombie is available for preorder now, and available to purchase March 11.
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My new book! Also visible: the turquoise sheet covering the outside of my blanket fort.
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<![CDATA[March Madness]]>Fri, 02 Mar 2018 15:52:51 GMThttp://staceylongo.com/my-blog/march-madnessAh, March. I’m glad it’s here. There’s a storm raging outside and I had to dodge a falling tree on my way to work, but I’m just happy it’s rain pelting the windows and causing the power outages right now and not snow.

March is a busy month for me normally. We have three birthdays on my side of the family this month, so that always livens things up. (Incidentally, I asked my sister, father, and nephew what they wanted for their birthdays, and got the same answer from each: “I don’t know.” So this year’s shopping will be easy: they’re all getting socks.) This March is a bit more hectic than usual, however: I’m currently juggling editing two manuscripts during the hours I’m not at my day job, plus I have a book coming out on the 11th. Add to that the discovery that one of my former coworkers regularly appears in a Rocky Horror Picture Show performance the first weekend of the month, and well, you can see where my priorities are. (Make no mistake, I’ll be at Rocky Horror this weekend. The editing clients can wait.)

The book debuting on March 11 is the long-awaited My Sister the Zombie, which, I’m happy to report, my sister has finally—not her fault, there were production snags—read. (I’ll be doing a guest post for another blogger this month titled “Turning Your Real-Life Sister into a Fictional Zombie: Will She Ever Speak to You Again?”) I’ve also been scheduling interviews and appearances surrounding the release, which has been a bit nerve-wracking, because I’m an introvert by nature and lately I’ve evolved into full-time hermit. I have to give my publisher credit, though, because he’s the one setting up these interviews, and has made it quite clear he will be very disappointed in me if I didn’t follow through with actually doing them. (Incidentally, with the disappointed dad look he’s perfected, I have no doubt he is an excellent father, too.)

The whole point of this long-winded description of what my March is going to be like was meant to be my explanation as to why I don’t have a blog post this week. But seeing as I’m coming up on 400 words, according to my handy word count function at the bottom of my screen, I believe what we have here is a bona fide post. Hooray!

Also, don’t forget the best thing about March: Shamrock Shakes! Which, I’ve just learned, are gluten free. Best month of the year!

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<![CDATA[The CrimeCon That Wasn't]]>Fri, 23 Feb 2018 15:45:46 GMThttp://staceylongo.com/my-blog/the-crimecon-that-wasntThere are certain events I daydream about attending. One of these is CrimeCon, a fairly new annual convention of true crime enthusiasts who gather to enthuse about their favorite cases, crime shows, and podcasters.

I listen to several true crime podcasts. And I kept hearing the hosts of Generation Why, Crime in Sports/Small Town Murder, Crime Writers On, and Truth & Justice advertising CrimeCon and talking about how they’d be there. Seriously, literally every single podcast I listen to was going to make an appearance.

I started to think maybe I should make an appearance, too. It might be fun. Plus, when you listen to the same people every week, sometimes twice a week, for years, you start to think you kind of know them. I eagerly await the next installment of Generation Why’s Justin and Aaron, knowing my Monday morning commute will be all the brighter for it. I bicker with Rebecca Lavoie and Kevin Flynn when I don’t agree with their Crime Writers On opinions. (They may not know it, but I still do it.) These were my people, and they would all be gathered together in Nashville in May for one special weekend.

I mentioned it to Jason. He was not at all opposed to my going, but didn’t entertain the thought of coming with me for one moment. He doesn’t give one hoot about true crime. “Why don’t you price it out?” he suggested. “For one,” he added. (He really has no interest in dead people.)

So I did. And thus the first hurdle.

A flight was about $500 round trip. Then the hotel would be $225 a night. And to actually attend the convention? Three hundred dollars.

Here is where I would like to remind you, gentle reader, that I’m cheap. There was no way I would shell out that kind of money for a death convention, no matter how appealing it sounded.

Adding to that was the list of special guests. See, there’s a bit of infighting going on in the true crime podcast world. At last year’s CrimeCon, Payne Lindsey (Up & Vanished) ruffled quite a few feathers by giving a presentation on why he was doing true crime podcasting right . . . implying that every other podcaster was doing it wrong. The word “amateurs” may have been used. In addition to this, Truth & Justice’s host, Bob Ruff, declared last year—rather recklessly—who he thought was guilty of killing Hae Min Lee (and for you Serial fans, he doesn’t believe it was Adnan Syed). The Crime in Sports hosts recently called him out on this behavior, and I love the Crime in Sports guys. Plus, Bob did some sloppy editing last week that kind of made Damien Echols (West Memphis Three) sound like a lying jerkbag, which, believe what you will about Damien, wasn’t fair to him. So I was already ticked off at Bob.

Thus, the second hurdle: Both Payne Lindsey and Bob Ruff were being touted on CrimeCon’s website as special guests. Plus a third guy who I don’t listen to anymore because he’s arrogant and condescending to one of his cohosts. No special guest honors for Justin and Aaron, or the Crime Writers On gang, or my boys James and Jimmy at Crime in Sports . . . people I actually liked.

You know what? I really didn’t want to go after all.

So to my friends out there who are passionate about the genre, I hope you have a wonderful time. I’ll miss seeing some of my favorite pod personalities, but the minuses really outweigh the plusses for me this year.

And I’m sure I’ll hear all about what happened there on the podcasts.
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Two comedians talking about criminal athletes. Why aren't you listening yet?
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<![CDATA[The Nature of Temptation]]>Thu, 15 Feb 2018 17:19:03 GMThttp://staceylongo.com/my-blog/the-nature-of-temptationI'm a fiction writer. So this week, here's a short story!

The Nature of Temptation by Stacey Longo

Her eyes follow his steps as he passes her desk on his way to the staff lounge. The words of Thomas Harris—spoken so chillingly by Sir Anthony Hopkins over twenty-five years ago—ring in her ears: we covet what we see every day.
 
And oh, how she covets.
 
She watches his retreating form: the sinew of his shoulders flexing as he strides confidently to his destination. The curl of his brown locks poking out from under his cap. The way his faded jeans cup his butt.
 
I want. She feels foolish. The saliva is working in her cheeks like a teenager at the high school prom. But she can’t help herself. I want.
 
She’s worked at the library for thirteen years now, calling wayward bibliophiles who’ve kept their books out too long, filing returns in their proper place, never once straying from the Dewey Decimal System. At night, she retreats to her apartment, binge-watching Dexter or Breaking Bad, her iguana, Mr. Greenjeans, in her lap. After dealing with books all day, the last thing she wants to do at night is crack open the pages. She’d once thought her job—hell, life itself—had quelled all the embers of passion thrumming inside her. The library has killed her desire to read. She’d thought that was the only craving she’d had left, now reduced to chilled, blackened coals. But then he came into her life—as casually as a leaf fluttering from tree to earth, sashaying in the breeze as it skims down to settle on the ground.
 
We covet what we see every day.
 
It doesn’t help that he works right across the street. After months of his daily visits to her stacks, she finally got up the nerve to stop into the Crusty Cruller last week before clocking in. She’d gazed at the frosted, sprinkled wares through the glass, her senses overwhelmed by the pinks and purples, the yeasty smell of freshly kneaded dough, the noise.
 
Oh, the noise. Chatter and laughter and a little girl wailing because her big brother had gotten the last chocolate bomb—a dark cakey doughnut with thick chocolate glaze, topped with fudge chunks—and the music, piped in overhead, the Beatles telling her most hidden of thoughts, over and over: she loves you, John Lennon insisted, spilling her secret.
 
She’d fled before ordering so much as a coffee. It’s clear if she’s to go through with this, it must be on her turf.
 
She’s managed to resist for—hell, a decade, if she’s truly being honest in her counting. Is that really the last time she allowed herself a bit of decadence? Where had the time gone? Her sassiness? Her ability to grab onto the best things about life, things that would no doubt kill her in the long run, but were oh, so sweet in the moment?
 
She was looking at fifty, now—and not from that far a distance. Time was running out. Life had turned bleak and mundane. She missed the pinks and purples. They’d shocked her only because they’d been absent from her life so very long.
 
But today. Today is the day. She’s ready for a change. To indulge her wanton and wild side. She’s tired of being proper—a rule follower who never steps out of line, who apologizes if a colorful word accidentally slips past her lips, who scowls when giggles break out in the YA section.
 
A librarian.
 
His gait takes him past the circulation desk in a flash, so quick she almost misses him. Oh, no you don’t. Not today. Today it’s my turn. The wheels of her chair get caught on the foot of the desk as she pushes away, standing. She bangs her stomach against the rim of the desk, lets out a soft oof!, and hurries to follow.
 
She catches up right as he’s placing his wares on the table in the staff room. A dozen doughnuts, apparently still warm, from the way the heat radiates onto the cold tabletop and is nipped away. His eyebrow kinks up as she faces him. Her cheeks fill with heat, and she bites back the instinct to flee. She glances down at what he’s brought: four powdered jellies, three crullers, two pink sprinkled, two purple. One chocolate bomb. She inhales sharply, letting the sugary scent set her synapses to firing. I want.
 
“I want.” She speaks it out loud, and the words are a release, giving her the last boost of confidence she needs to go through with it.
 
“Yes?” The softness, eagerness in his brown eyes propels her onward.
 
“I want that chocolate bomb.”
There. She’s said it. Type two diabetes and celiac disease be damned: she’s denied herself long enough. We covet what we see every day.
 
He makes a big show of pulling a napkin from his breast pocket, snapping it in the air like the unfolding of a bedsheet, and scoops up her doughnut, presenting it as a prize.
 
She takes it, biting in without so much as a thank you, closing her eyes to let the fudge and frosting and cake-like morsels run rampant across her tongue. She’ll pay later, of course: she’ll need a shot of insulin and will no doubt be running to the bathroom all afternoon with stabbing abdominal cramps. But for now, oh, for now . . . she’s tasting a little bit of heaven, right here on earth. She offers the doughnut guy a black-crumbed, toothy smile.
 
“I’ll bring two tomorrow.” He taps the brim of his cap, winks, and leaves.
Isn’t he a doll, she thinks. Too bad he’s half my age. She licks the sugary glaze off her fingers, sighs, and takes another bite.
____
This story first appeared on https://thestoryside.com. If you haven't visited The Storyside lately, stop on by! We have lots of good stuff on there.
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<![CDATA[A Sisterly Salon Adventure]]>Thu, 08 Feb 2018 14:52:20 GMThttp://staceylongo.com/my-blog/a-sisterly-salon-adventurePicture
I knew I needed a haircut well before the Christmas holiday. But between last-minute shopping, wrapping, mailing, tagging, and trying to invent gluten-free chocolate crackle cookies (a fail), time just got away from me.
How lucky that one of my presents this year was a gift certificate to a hair salon! My parents really came through. My sister got the same certificate and announced, “I’m going there this week! I’ll set something up for both of us to go when I schedule the next appointment.”

Perfect. A sister bonding day, plus, I could take care of this “desperately need a haircut” thing (because, at this point, it had become a desperate and rather unruly situation).

Kim called the following week. “We’re all set! I made our appointments for Feb. 3.”

That sounded like a long way off. I mean, I was already probably a month overdue for a trim, and we were now looking at another six weeks. But I hate to be the high-maintenance sort, plus, I had a lot on my plate—I was working probably sixty hours a week during the month of January—so I decided to throw my hair into a ponytail and wait it out.

By the time our salon date arrived, I looked like a hag. I mean, seriously, look at the before picture. Still don't believe me? I took one of those fun "Who's your celebrity twin?" quizzes on Facebook, and got this:


The hairdresser made the sign of the cross when I walked in, but otherwise was quite pleasant. She didn’t yell at me for waiting so long or for cutting my own bangs. She just sighed, patted my shoulder, and said, “Don’t cry. We can fix this.”

And she did.

Feeling much lighter and better groomed, I smiled into the salon mirror. “You have the same hair as your sister! I gave you the same cut.”

Um, what? Listen: I love by big sis. And yeah, I’ve been known to copy her from time to time (we even have the same make, model, and color of vehicle). But she has my dad’s face and my mom’s coloring; I have my mom’s face and my father’s pigmentation. And nobody wants to see my parents with the same hairdo.

“No, no,” she said at my horrified expression. (I was picturing my father with my mom’s Jackie O hairstyle.) “You two will wear it differently.”

I waited anxiously for Kim to get done in her chair. If we started showing up to family functions with the same hairstyle, we’d never hear the end of it. It’s one thing to emulate your sister when you’re kids. But we’re in our forties. This was moving perilously close to “total dork” territory. How could I go to my nephews’ basketball games? I couldn’t possibly sit next to their mother. They’d be ridiculed for life!

Kim stood up from the chair. I held my breath. We blinked at each other.

By golly, the hairdresser was right. We both looked adorable, but different. Thank God.

The point of the story: the Longo sisters are both happily styled once again. You’re welcome. (And thank you, Capricorn Hair Salon!)
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