Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Banned Books and painful ignorance.

"What you are about to read is a true account of events. Trust me folks, I couldn't make this stuff up. No one is that creative."

This is National Banned Book week. The American Library Association (ALA) sponsors this awareness raising event every year to raise the issue of censorship in American schools and public libraries.

So today I went to school in a t-shirt that proclaimed “I’m with the banned”. First of all, several people tried to tell me I misspelled “band”.

I had a slide show going with the title “Banned Book week” and slide after slide of book titles of the most often challenged books. I thought I would simple raise questions among the students as to what was going on. But being the drama filled kiddies they are, they assumed it meant I was banning those books for the week. They were very upset, which I guess is good.

The most frightening thing was that as we discussed the books, my students displayed the most appalling lack of cultural awareness and simple knowledge about the world, literature, history and art. One of the books on the list is “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings”. I explained this was a book by an amazing poet, Maya Angelou and waited. Every year I have at least one student ask if I meant Michelangelo. I explain no, Michelangelo is the Renaissance painter and sculptor and Maya Angelou is a talented African American poet.

What followed however, resulted in my having to step into the hall and take several deep breaths to keep from banging my head against the wall.

Student 1: “The dog from Beethoven was a painter?”

Me: “What?”

Student 1: “Michelangelo is the name of one of the dogs on the movie Beethoven.”

Student 2: “No he’s not, he’s one of the Ninja Turtles”

Me: “No guys, those characters were named for the artist just like the dog Beethoven was named for the famous composer?”

Student 3: “What’s a composer?”

Me: “Someone who writes music. Michelangelo is famous for sculpting The David and painting the Sistine Chapel.”

Student 3: “What’s that sistinn thing?”

Student 4: “Is that like one of the places in Las Vegas where you can get married?”

Me: [groaning] “No, the Sistine Chapel is in Rome…[blank stares]…at the Vatican…[blank stares]…in Italy…[blank stares]…where the Pope lives…anyway, he was a Renaissance artist.

Student 3: “Oh, I know like Paul Revere.

Me: “Huh?”

Student 3: “He rode through the town yelling the Renaissance is coming, the Renaissance is coming.”

Me: [stunned silence]

Other students: [blank looks of confusion]

Me: "Noooo, Paul Revere road through the countryside telling people the British were coming…you know the American Revolution?”

Student 3: “Oh”

Student 5: “So are Michelangelo and Maya Angelou brother and sister?”

At that point I had to step out side or scream.

Monday, September 28, 2009

New video

I'd kind of expect to show this off at RomantiCon, but it feels nice and cozy to share it with you. This is the trailer for the lastest release, Jewels of Ursus. The book is a compilation of the the three novellas I wrote surrounding the Ursine family, a family of shape-shifters who transform...naturally, into Bears.

I enjoy the process of making these trailers, but it can turn a bit obsessive. I get lost in the amount of time that has passed.

Today was the first day back at school for the kids in the county where I teach. They had been out all last week because of the damage from the floods. We still had no drinkable water in the building and our PTSO provided bottles of water for the students to carry about with them since they can't use the water fountains.
I admit I'm exhausted today. So exhausted that I'm hoping I'm going to be forgiven for falling asleep.
Z and I have routine. His last nap time comes right about the time he and I get home for the day. I give him a bottle and lay him down. Then I get comfortable and take a few minutes to read or just rest. This afternoon I fell asleep and Z slept too right up until K got home. The dear let me sleep and I snoozed until about 11pm and will be going back to bed momentarily.
It's our anniversary. I found a card waiting for me on the computer when I woke up. Crapmonkeys.
We have a date weekend this weekend. A friend is keeping Z for the day on Saturday so we can have some couple time. I'll have to make up for it then.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Because of the recent flooding, regretfully I’m not going to be able to attend the RomantiCon coming up next month. I had registered early on, had my hotel room reserved, had gathered all my goodies for readers and was making my list of authors I wanted to meet and hunt autographs from.

I was so looking forward to it because I can’t attended the RT conventions because they always fall during the state standardized testing week my school has to undergo each year.

So now I have to move to plan B. I’m boxing up some of the goodies and sending them express to Ellora’s Cave. They’ve promised to set them out on the swag table for me. However, that still leaves me trying to figure out what to do with 200 cherry-flavored white rose suckers, 100 old-fashioned candy sticks, and a ceramic bear holding a medium sized fishbowl that I was going to fill with red, white and purple stones and use to hold the candy. (Red for rubies, purple for amethysts and white for opals – the stones in my Jewels of Ursus series.) It would take far too long to individually label each one of the treats to send.

So, I think I’m going to take the bear to school with me and use the bowl for candy or maybe for a small beta fish to liven up my classroom. I’ve always had fish in my room until the last couple of years. I had a group of kids who had no respect for anything or anyone one year. In one 50 minute class period, while I was out and a substitute was supposed to be watching them, the destroyed my stereo, tore posters off the walls, and tried to kiss my fish. In addition to dumping the whole canister of food into the tank, they sprayed it Lysol. The sub of course saw nothing, but you corner a 13 year-old and he’ll rat on his friends so fast you’ll smell the cheese.

Well, Bob the Beta showed them. He lived another 9 months, safe at home in his tank. He finally passed away after a little fishy stroke that left him unable to move his left fins. He hovered at the bottom of the tank and when he swam, swam in circles.

Our school population has changed since then and I can’t see my current kids being so deliberately vicious. Not to mention that sub was banned at our school. When she objected that she hadn’t see anything, she was told that the option was she could pay me for the almost $300 in damage that had been done her watch.

Sorry to digress. I’ll miss seeing all of you and as a way to make up for it, I’ll be holding a give away or two in the upcoming weeks and giving out copies of Jewels of Ursus and some other goodies. I’ll also be sponsoring some giveaways for Bitten By Books’ Halloween anniversary celebration.

Til then, be safe.


I've been trying to update my blog for a couple of days now and keep getting an error message. Let's see if this works and then, maybe tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Still Here

It's been very interesting in Atlanta the last few days. Most of us were checking Genesis for the specification on building an ark.

The metro Atlanta, GA area received 15+" of rain in a 24 hour period on top of rain showers that had been off and on for a couple of weeks. Sunday night was bad, but it got worse overnight and Monday. We have hundreds of people without homes right now and at least 8 confirmed fatalities.

(Pictures courtesy of the Atlanta Journal Constitution)

The school I work at closed Monday and will remain closed until at least Thursday. Roads washed out across the area. Major interstates were closed and the Georgia Dept. of Transportation was begging people not to go anywhere. The picture above and to the right is a major convergence of interstates that turned into a river.

One family in our county saw their flooded home burn while the fire trucks got stranded and could not reach them. Below, the road near the school where I teach washed completely away. Several miles down the road it did so again, stranding several families stuck in the middle. Backroads were dangerous and impassible. Fatalities range from 8-10 people, including one toddler, who were swept away by the flood waters.
Near us several subdivisions were flooded and a horse ranch had to have it's four-legged occupants evacuated. Our house sits up on a hill and has three floors. We had to have the roof repaired today because the rains had overloaded seals around the venting pipes on the roof. Our entry way got a bit damp, but other than that we're all home, safe and sound.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Getting Ready for Romanticon

There are just a couple of weeks left before heading off to RomantiCon. I'm trying to decide what to pack and what to wear. I have a few goodies for readers coming with me and one special stow-away.

No, not a long-hair Chihuahua, but my miniature dachshund. Wendell travels with me most places that I go. He loves to curl up in the passenger's seat and snooze. I foresee a lot ot time curled up in the hotel room for him, but he hates being borded.

At present it seems we're going to need to build an ark in the backyard. It's been raining for over a week now and some parts of Atlanta are flooded. This for an area that had been under severe drought conditions for several years.

The good part, I guess, is that our lakes and resevoirs are almost back up to normal levels...almost.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Who'll Keep Baby Out of the Corner, Now?

I remember being in high school and watching the movie that opened the door to the "Brat Pack". The Outsiders. That movie introduced so many teen heart-throbs and film legends that looking back it seems startling. Tom Cruise, Rob Lowe, Emilio Esteves, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, C. Thomas Howell and Leif Garrett. Some of them are now relegated to the has-been list, but at the time, they were it.

But there was one more guy that was part of this pool of amazing young talent. The oldest of the boys, Darry Curtis, was played by the late Patrick Swayze. Long before he became the very face of romance to the tune of Unchained Melody, before he helped Baby out her corner, before he led a rag-tag team of high-schoolers against the invading Communists, and before he was kicking butt in RoadHouse he was the "adult" keeping a lid on and providing some stability for a group of Greasers in The Outsiders.

Swayze was a rarity among the Hollywood scene. He was someone who could do it all. He sang, danced, acted, wrote and directed. His teenage marriage to his wife lasted over 30 years. Caught up in no more scandal over the years than confessing to and getting treatment for a drinking problem, Swayze was never anything but polite and grateful to his fans. His courage as he battled cancer these last two years was inspiring.

He certainly had a great deal to teach some of Hollywoods current crowd, including that bouche-dag Kanye West. But let's not give that moron anymore press than he already gets.

So thank you Mr. Swayze, you will be remembered and missed.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Muses, dragons and reviews

Received a nice review for Circle of Wolves from Bitten by Books.

"You will be pleasantly surprised at the depth of emotions and the vivid lifelike quality of the characters. I truly enjoyed watching Evan come into contact with his wolf half and seeing him and Kira learn to love and trust one another, despite the completely different ways that they were raised. I was not exactly sure what to expect when I started reading this, but I did not think I would be so drawn into the story! Want to be surprised by the twists and turns that take place right in front of you? Then read Circle of Wolves and sit back for a tale that will surprise and enthrall you." -Nicole (4 tombstones)

Circle of Wolves is one of the books that will be available at the RomantiCon book fair in October.

I received the my order for some of the goodies I'll be giving out at the Author Mania portion of RomantiCon. Unlike the very talented Anny Cook who will no doubt dazzle with some of the goodies she's preparing, I have to resort to buying them. I'm preparing a few items to pass out to readers, and I hope you'll like them.

We did a little shopping today. We bought a new refrigerator. Our old one has been dripping water for some time now and it was just time to retire it. We also bought a costume for Z. He's going to be a dragon for Halloween. We're planning ahead of time so we can get pictures taken of him in his costume.

Writing has been very slow for me lately. It's not just the time constraints of Z. I guess what I'm writing lately doesn't grab me, so I know it won't grab anyone else. I'm looking for something original. I'm tired of the same old. The original appeal to me of the paranormal was that it could be or do anything. Now it just seems like I've said all I have to say in the area. I feel like the things I've written have been very good, but I've said them and I'm done. So, I'm hoping the muses visit me with something new that catches fire.