Archive for October, 2012


I registered for my next semester of courses for the MFA this morning. One term in, I’m starting to get a feel for the flow of the curriculum design as a Low-Residency program. The course runs three years which is one year longer than the average. For most of those three years, students register for around 10 credit hours. Three of those are the accounting for the Residency week. Five of those cover the “Term Writing Project.” Any remaining hours go towards the “Academic” classes (RIG courses are 2 hours, but others may be 3… haven’t spent that much time looking at that level).

The encouraged progression of classes involves the three RIG classes being taken over the first terms. I thought about challenging that, and taking something else, when it hit me. The first part of the program is best served by actually writing the novel [the most intense part of the process], and reading a lot should help with balancing (nay, even contribute to) the writing process. Then, when the more challenging academic classes start hitting, the student should be getting into the revision stages.

Granted, revisions are no cakewalk themselves, but as the addage goes it’s easier to fix what’s on the paper when there’s actually words on the page and not blank.

So, for anyone else that’s looking into the program, there’s a hint as to the structure you can expect during registration.

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On the Subject of Reading Lists… Take 1

As part of the MFA at Seton Hill, students are required to take three semesters of “Reading In Genre” – RIG for short. Part of the purpose here is for the student to acquaint themselves with the conventions of their preferred genre over the three course cycle. Cycle? Yes… The idea behind the cycle is that each track is broken into three approaches to the readings (SF/Fantasy – Current works, Classic SF, and Classic Fantasy; Mysteries – Subgenres, Classic, and Contemporary, etc.). Students are encouraged over the course of their time to take courses across multiple genres, or take additional RIG sections, should they be so inclined.

I tell you that to tell you this. If you would like to know what some of the selected readings might be like for the program, here is the list of readings for four of the five genres. (Sadly, either no one in my group took the YA RIG this semester, or they just didn’t provide the reading list when we discussed the classes over the summer.)

As the title suggests, this will be the first of three posts. The other two will come at future dates, as I undertake my other two RIG courses.

Contemporary SF/Fantasy
A Game of Thrones – George R. R. Martin
Leviathan Wakes – James S. A. Corey
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms – N. K. Jemisen
Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti – Genevieve Valentine
Railsea – China Mieville
Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor
Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
Romance (Subgenres)
Never Romance a Rake – Liz Carlyle
Risky Engagement – Merline Lovelace
Jinx – Meg Cabot
I’ve Got Your Number – Sophie Kinsella
Critical Impact – Isable Cooper
With Just One Kiss – Francis Ray
Horror (Psychos)
Psycho: A Novel – Robert Bloch
The Church of Dead Girls – Stephen Dobyns
Red Dragon – Thomas Harris
Misery – Stephen King
The Sculptor – Gregory Funaro
Joyride – Jack Ketchum
Batman: The Killing Joke – Alan Moore (Graphic Novel)
Seven – Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey
The Silence of the Lambs – Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins
Howdunit: How Crimes are Committed and Solved – John Boertlein, Ed
Mysteries: Subgenres
The Last Dance – Ed McBain (police procedural)
Final Jeopardy – Linda Fairstein (legal)
High-Wire Act – Franklin W. Dixon (young adult)
One for the Money – Janet Evanovich (crime humor)
Little Scarlet – Walter Mosley (P.I.)
Thief of Hearts – Tess Gerritsen (romance)
North of Montana – April Smith (FBI agent)
Writing Mysteries (selections): a Handbook by the Mystery Writers of America, edited by Sue Grafton

For this round, I had the Mystery course… at the moment, I am in line for the Classic Fantasy track (with Horror as my second option). I’ll let you know how that works out.

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Early Halloween… on MVM

Since ’tis that time of year, time to get your zombie shuffle on.

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Thoughts on a Mini…

No, not the vroom-vroom from over the pond Mini (I’ve mentioned before how much I like driving mine, so it’s obviously out).

No, today I’m talking about this one. That’s right (for those of you that chose not to jump down the rabbit hole), I’m referring to the iPad Mini. As staunchly as he objected to a smaller iPad, I’m wondering if he was saying that because the technology wasn’t there, or if this is part of Tim Cook’s plan to maintain a competitive edge by diversifying (slightly) the available product options.

I missed the event yesterday – had some other things going on at work and hadn’t pencilled it onto my calendar to look for. Frankly, I wasn’t all that bothered by the speculation of a smaller iPad. Yes, I am still rocking a 1st generation. It’s not that I’m being a crotchety ol’ dinosaur (entirely). It’s the principle of how much tech does a normal person need? (Something MC would follow up with, “Yeah” then ask if I’m feeling okay since I just said that. Yes, I have a small tech problem. But I am also getting to a point where I realize that having multiples of some things just becomes overkill.) Wait… getting off track… Where was I?

Right… iPad Mini.

As a concept, I think it’s great, especially to compete with dedicated tablet readers like Nook or Android. As a multi-function device, it looks like a no-brainer option – as awesome as a regular iPad, only smaller (duh!). But I’m not really about to rush out and try to pick one up when they hit the streets. Go hit up the local Best Buy to play with one maybe (sweetie, I said “maybe”…) but I’m not about to buy one… yet.

And here is why I say “yet.” First, I would want to test drive one – I did that when iPads were first coming out, to see what the interface was like and play with the functionality of the apps. The cogs started turning, thinking of the possibilities – being able to write without pulling out a laptop (if a notepad wasn’t handy), media portability/experiences while traveling (load the sucker up with movies & TV shows and we’re golden for hours!)… and gaming.

Which is part of what takes me back to “yet.”

In case you missed it, almost eight months ago we had a son. While he still has a ways to go before he’s coordinated enough to do much with it by himself, there will likely come a point when we start filling up the iPad with learning games or videos to keep him occupied on long drives to the grandparents (or even longer drives to the great-grandparents). And if all three of us want to have access to things on the device at the same time?

At that point, I might consider a Mini. In the event that something irrevocably bad happens to one we currently have. At that point, I might consider a Mini.

I know there are a lot of Droid related enthusiasts, just as there are a lot of Amazon enthusiasts, and a whole slew of Apple enthusiasts that get crap from everyone else because of Apple’s “walled garden.” A lot of it comes down to platform manipulation, lock-in, and content management. Part of why I have switched over to Apple in the last five years (after vehemently being anti-Mac for most of the previous fifteen years), has been the ease with which they allow me to flip content across devices.

Damn train jumped the track again… the iPad mini.

Just by watching the presentation pieces, I’m impressed with the device. If I did not already have an iPad, I would definitely consider getting a Mini, which is probably part of the point. With a smaller device, and a smaller price point, the business mind is seeing this as an offering to win as many new people over as they can. Repeat business is great, but it’s the new blood that will help maintain market shares. But it’s a device I would have to play with for a little while, first, before buying. And I would have to have a justifiable need to add another device.

I will admit, the black one looks pretty sweet. And it should fit easier in a book sleeve for a smaller carry-on pack. And…

(grabs a d20… *shakes* [rattle of die rolling across the table]….) Whew… successful save vs. shiny… for now.

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Not Dead… Just Busy

It’s close to the end of one phase of the MFA program (tomorrow, 10/24), and since I’m just now starting to get my head out of the post-VP shell shock, I have quite a few things that I need to accomplish by then to come anywhere close to making deadline.

So, back to the word mines.

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Armageddon… on MVM

I came of age inthe days of big hair and crunchy guitar riffs. One of the biggest of the day was a group of working class guys from England… Def Leppard. And this comes from one of their biggest albums.

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Interesting Thought on Voting…

I voted today.

It’s nice that the early voting options have become available so those that work regular 8-5 jobs can have an increased chance to spend a few minutes exercising a constitutional right without having to be penalized when trying to vote on election day and lines running longer than what can reasonably be managed during a lunch break if the after-work family schedule is too full to be able to make it before polls close.

That said, I did notice something interesting as I walked up to the voting station. There’s signs indicating a demarkation line that basically indicates – “no campaigning beyond this point”. Signs marked the grassy areas around the voting location, but what I noticed struck me as one-sided. Most of the signs tended towards only one political party, with the most prominent placements (as close to the voting line as allowed) reserved for one particular candidate.

Yes, in an effort to remain neutral, I am intentionally avoiding any specific party mentions. Just something I found interesting, and encourage you to watch for wherever you are when you go to cast your own vote.

You are going to vote, right?

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