Friday, January 30, 2015

My Kid Needs Xanax

...but she can't get it.

Or: Raising the Anxious Child. (My new Grounded Parents post!)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Here's Some Good News

Come Fall 2015, I'll be teaching, for our Popular Lit class, a class in Dystopian/Utopian literature which I proposed a few weeks ago.

Can I just say, Oh BOY?

Of course, I now have about two weeks to come up with the reading list.  (Book orders have to be in ridiculously soon, considering how far off Fall 2015 actually is.)

Luckily the other classes I'm teaching I have already taught, and I know the books I'll use for those; and that I already have some idea of the texts I want to use.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Mothers in The Hood

This is pretty great.

(Hat tip Steph, from over at Grounded Parents.)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Books I Am Reading

Here at the start of the semester, when I have no time to read or write, I am suddenly writing and reading furiously: working on several short stories and all three novels again.  It's blissful.

And reading!  So much to read.  Not just the many texts I am reading for classes -- though I am reading a great deal for class -- but also plenty for fun.  I have discovered Scribd, which if you haven't yet, turns out to be (so far) a boon to those of us who read voraciously, but live in towns with severely inadequate libraries.  For a relatively small amount a month (about the same amount Netflix charges) you can borrow an unlimited number of ebooks.

Granted, they don't have every title.  But they have a good selection.

What am I reading? (Not all of these are on Scribd, by the way.)

Miss Read 

I may have mentioned Miss Read before.  She's a comfort read.

My favorites are the Fairacre novels, which chronicle life in a small (and fictional) English village, told from the point of view of the village school teacher.  Miss Read (whose name is actually Dora Saint) wrote another series about Thrush Village, which I don't like as much.

These novels were written between 1955 and 1995. On the edge of being too conservative (British conservative) to suit my taste, but on the other hand, extremely readable and charming.

Eleanor Arnason, Hidden Folk

As long-time readers of the blog know, Eleanor Arnason is almost definitely my favorite SF writer on the planet.  This is her new book, and it's wonderful.

It's a collection of Icelandic tales -- three set in mythic times, and three in modern times -- and, as always with Arnason, almost wholly indescribable otherwise.  Except they are filled with the wry and understated humor that I have found in no other writer. (I think that may be an Icelandic influence, since I have found flashes of it in Icelandic sagas I have read.)

Having said they are indescribable, I will attempt to describe them: these are stories about realistic (not mythic) humans who encounter elves and trolls.  What happens next?  If you were a hunter and your prey suddenly spoke to you, how would you react? Especially if you were a cranky old hunter who had been living alone on your farm for quite some years. That's the kind of subject Arnason tackles.  The stories that result are wonderful.

Jo Walton, The Just City

Take all the people ever, throughout history, who have ever wanted to build Plato's Republic.  Put them on an island, back at the start of time.  Add in ten thousand ten years olds.  Now press go.  Can we build the Just City?

That's the premise to Walton's The Just City.

This book (and its two sequels) will be of most interest to those of us, like me, who grew up reading Mary Renault's books on Plato, and thus fell happily, when we hit the university, into philosophy classes that let us study Plato and classics classes that let us study Greek and Latin so that we might read Plato and Homer in the original.  But even if you didn't, you might like this book.  You don't need to be a Classic geek like me to get what's going on here, is what I am saying!

And Walton is here, as always, so wonderfully readable that I can promise you will love it even if you have never read a bit of Plato or Renault.  (But go read Plato!  What are you waiting for!)

Kij Johnson, At the Mouth of the River of Bees

This one's a collection of SF short stories.

Johnson writes a really mixed collection -- by which I mean, her stories are mostly all different from one another.  I can see some common strains, in that she writes about animals frequently.  One of my favorites by here is "The Cat That Walked A Thousand Miles," which isn't really science fiction at all.  It's about -- seriously -- a cat that walks a thousand miles, trying to find a new cat family, after the Toyko earthquake.

Another of my favorites by her, possibly one of my favorite stories ever, is "The Evolution of Trickster Stories Among the Dogs of North Park After The Change," about what happens to the world when dogs learn to talk.

Others, though, like "The Man Who Bridged The Mist," or "Spar," which are probably her most famous stories, aren't about animals at all. ("Spar" is not at all for the faint of heart.)

This is a strong collection.  Well worth the read.

Sandra Mcdonald, Ettie Ruiz Rescues The Past 

This is a sequel to McDonald's wonderful Annie Wu Saves The Future, which I reviewed formerly on this blog.

McDonald, like Arnason, is one of my favorite writers, and I love this series.  It's aimed at middle-grade readers, so if you're one of those people who doesn't like reading YA Lit, be forewarned.  Me, I love the genre.

This one is even better than Annie Wu, which was wonderful.  I look forward to more from McDonald in this series.

Mornings at The delagar Household

Since my kid has returned to high school, our mornings have been fraught, y'all.

First, we have to wake up at actual freaking dawn.

Only Dr. Skull is a morning person.  He wakes at four, usually.  Sometimes three.  This is handy, since his new job is subbing in the local public school system, and this means he gets first crack at whatever work is available.  He is awake when the new jobs come up on the system, in other words, and can take his pick.

I wake up, cursing, at six, stagger out into the kitchen, still cursing and dodging cats, to make the kid's lunch.  (The cats demand their share of the tuna from the tuna fish sandwich.  They get some, too.)  When the lunch is made, and I am somewhat awake, I wake the kid.

The Kid: "Noooo."

Me: "Look at the clock."

The Kid: "NOOOOO."

Me: "Come on."

The Kid: "Why school.  WHY."

Me: "What do you want for breakfast?"

The Kid: "I want to die."

I make her grits and eggs.  She emerges as they are finishing, glumly, with her iPad, and eats while I make coffee for myself.  Dr. Skull comes, chipper, from his shower, to announce he has taken a job teaching band at Darby.

Me: "What!  You hate band!  You said you'd never do band again!"

Dr. Skull:  "That's all that was open, though."

The Kid: "Brush my hair."

Me: (getting the brush): "You could learn to brush your own hair."

The Kid: "I always mess it up."

Me: "What are you going to do when you get to college?  Who will brush your hair then?"

The Kid: "Once I graduate high school, I am going to shave my head."

Dr. Skull: "Where's the boiled eggs?"

Me: "Did you want me to boil them?"

Dr. Skull "-- -- "

Me: "You didn't say you want me to boil them."

The Kid: "OW."

Me: "You could brush your own hair."

Dr. Skull: "I'll take cheese sticks."

Me: (to the kid): "Why do you always have feathers in your hair?  Are you consorting with angels?"

The Kid: (To Dr. Skull): "We're gonna be late."

Dr. Skull: "I need my iPod."

He wanders off.  The Kid gathers all her many items -- backpack, purse, Trapper-Keeper -- and waits impatiently by the door.  I refill my coffee and collapse in my big chair with my laptop.

Me: (as they leave): Goodbye!  Have a nice day!  I'll be lounging about here!  Drinking coffee!

The Kid: (growls)

Dr. Skull:  "Bye, sweetie!  I love you!"

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Shameless Bragging Post, Y'all

So, no excuses here.  Just bragging.

My kid went back to public school, as y'all know.  This past October she took the PSAT.

Today we got a letter from the school, saying that due to her high scores on the PSAT, they're recommending we put her in all AP classes next year.

(I may not have mentioned she's making all A's.  Have I mentioned that?  Yeah, that's my kid.)

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Semester Takes Off

We've started the new semester -- Spring 2015, huzzah! -- and I am teaching a lovely schedule.

Oh, it's not perfect. (Nothing is perfect: it has lumps in it.)  But it's very nice.

I've got four preps -- that's one of the lumpy bits.  Another is that my classes start at 8:00.

On the other hand!  All my classes are on Tues-Thursday.  And!  I am teaching English Grammar, which, as long time readers of the blog might remember, is my very favorite class to teach.

Also: one section of Comp II, one section of Global Lit, and one of Fiction Workshop, all spaced nicely apart, so that I can teach at a leisurely pace, and all in my building -- the one my office is in, I mean -- so that I don't have to rush about the campus, and use foreign classrooms.

(This is more of a problem than you would think, since occasionally faculty in other buildings are grumpy about how we use their desks and whiteboards and tools. Why, once a faculty member in a building which shall remain nameless called his dean, who called my dean, who called me and gave me a tiny scolding for rearranging the desks and not getting them back in quite the proper order.  Alors!)

Anyway!  The first week has gone well.

And may I just add this: despite what you get told, every year now since I started teaching, the students get smarter, they are better educated, and they are much nicer besides.

Someone is doing something right.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

More of Triple Junction

I've posted a little more of the sequel to Broken Slate.

You can read Triple Junction: Chapter Two: Part II and Part III here.

If you want to start from the beginning, go here.

I really need illustrations.  I should enlist that kid of mine.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Sequel to Broken Slate: Triple Junction

Those of y'all who have read and liked Broken Slate, my gay socialist revolutionary novel, might be interested to know that I have indeed been at work on sequels.  I plan for four sequels in total.

Meanwhile!  I'm putting up the first couple of chapters of the next book, Triple Junction, for those who want previews.  If there's sufficient interest, I might put up a couple more chapters.

Go here for the first part of the first chapter.  You'll see links to the next sections on the side.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Crossed Genres: Indoctrinate

Issue # 25 of Crossed Genres is live.

This is the Indoctrinate issue, featuring wildly varying stories (as usual!).  As a side note, this is the very first ever issue of CG magazine to feature all male writers.

First up, a story from Julian Mortimer Smith, "Cabaret Obscuro," a dark tale about a dark cabaret and the aliens who inhabit it.

"Distant Gates of Eden Gleam," by Brian Trent, might be my favorite from this issue, for purely personal reasons.  No spoilers. Just go read.

And for Narnia fans, you're gonna love "The Lion God" by Benjamin Blattberg.  Even if you're not a Narnia fan, you'll love it.  I did.  Interview with Benjamin here.

By the way, we are open to submissions for new stories.  We pay professional rates, and are a SFWA qualifying market.  We are especially looking for stories from and about LGBTQ writers/characters, writers & characters of color, women writers/ characters, characters with disabilities, and characters and writers who aren't from North America.

 Details here.


How much do I want to see this movie?

All the muches. That's how much.

Sadly, the chances of it ever coming to this sad little town are slender.  Right now, our theaters are still showing that ridiculous movie about how heaven is real; another equally eye-rollingly bad movie about how some hard-drinking rock-music playin' guy finds Jesus through the sweet loyalty of his faithful woman; the racist one about Moses; and about sixteen movies where things blow up.

We do have the one tiny theater that shows decent movies -- our sole hope for foreign films, anything that has LGBT themes, and anything even slightly Leftist or intellectual.  Right now it's playing The Theory of Everything.  Maybe it will show Selma. One can hope.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Life Skills

So I'm teaching my kid how to change the light bulb in the overhead light in her room and we're still in our pajamas.
Me: (taking off the cover) The important thing is not lose these little screws. Now if I weren't wearing girl pajamas, these would have pockets, and I could put the little screws in the pocket....
The Kid: Holy smoke (or words to THAT EFFECT). Why don't girl pajamas have pockets?
Me: Well, we're girls. We're not going to be DOING anything. We just lounge about and eat bon-bons.
The Kid: Holy smoke. (Or words to THAT EFFECT.)
Me: Here, hold these so I don't lose them.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Only The Good News: 2014

This has been a grim year for me, with my brother dying (that was the worst) and other bad news coming at me in all directions.  My retrospective, as I've browsed through 2014, has shown me that bad news outweighed the good at about three to one.

BUT: In my retrospective, I'ma give you Only The Good News Edition.

So here it is:

One Good Thing From Each Month.

January 2014:

Lose Your Phone?

February 2014:

Bookreview: Fangirl

March 2014:

Crossed Genres Makes The Big Time

April 2014:

Well, Now, Look at This

May 2014:

Arkansas Enters The Century of the Anchovy

June 2014:

Some Good News!

July 2014:

Hey, Guess What! 

August 2014

Why, Look Here

September 2014:  (Really hard to find good news in this month, y'all)

Rosh Hashashah

October 2014

New Story Up

November 2014 (Another tough month: I settle for amusing rather than good)

The Annual Winter Argument in the delagar Household

December 2014

Teaching Laura Ingalls Wilder as a Major Author

That's it, folks!  A few months, I could have listed more than one good thing -- but most months, not so much.  What a loser year.  Here's hoping 2015 will get its act together.