Archive for January, 2013

SHU WPF: 2013 Jan Residency (Day 4)

Another day, another round of workshops first thing in the morning. (My selections this day: mixed genre pieces.)

After lunch, it was time for the first (“program students only”) session with Kevin Hearne, our guest speaker. I don’t have my notes in front of me, so I can’t really go into the meat of his talk (which lasted three hours, and he broke down his agenda early – three different topics at an hour each, with a pause between topics for questions), but I can say this with full ease: he was engaging, entertaining, and provided good enough information that it didn’t really feel like three hours had flown by.

From the afternoon session it was time for dinner – and this time it was the Mystery dinner which turned into a small affair.

Then it was time for Hearne’s evening session, which was an even open to the public. Followed by a book signing. Where he sold out. Sold. Out. He was signing for over an hour (and I was near the end of the line…)… then it was back to the hotel.

Now, a few thoughts about Kevin Hearne. I may have heard of him before he was slated as the guest for the residency – from browsing stacks at the local B&N – but I can’t say for certain. His book series sounds interesting (Celtic mythology? Sure!), and is something I’d be willing to give a shot. Eventually, under normal circumstances. After this experience, though, much like some of the other people I have had good Con experiences with, I am more inclined to move his books higher on my list. Definietly worth checking out his website.

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The Rush Induction… preview

Last month, as a fan, I was thrilled to discover that not only was Rush a) finally up for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but b) they were inducted! (As a fan, the induction is a no brainer, but considering how anti-traditional-establishment their career has been, I must admit I was a little nervous, considering how long after they first became eligibile before finally getting nominated).

According to recent news, itlooks like they will be inducted by Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters – a band that I think comes from a similar “on our own terms” mold.

Happy day!

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A few updates…

I have been doing some behind the scenes stuff recently, so here’s a little bit to catch you up:

I’ve finished prepping the Music Video Monday entries through April… some good stuff, and plenty of throwbacks peppered with some newer music.

I’ve started trying to make a serious push to clear my “drafts” queue, which is going to explain a few of the “old news” pieces that will be popping up in the next couple of days…

Yes, one of those entries includes thoughts on Lance’s admissions from last week. Those thoughts are more complex than just a knee-jerk brush off, which is part of why it’;s taken a little time to put them in order.

In the academic arena, I regret to inform you, dear readers, that I have not made it through the first round of screening for a Fulbright grant. (If you recall from here, the goal for the scholarship would have been for funding the first year in Scotland for the PhD. I can’t say I’m not surprised, I sent in what I had but was still missing a couple of reference letters that hadn’t arrived by the time I had to finalize the application.)

In other academic news, my contractual commitment for pages this term runs around 80 – around 20k words for those wanting to run numbers (assuming 250 words per page). Personally, I am aiming to finish a draft of the novel by June (when the assigned mentor is slated to change), even if I only share the first 100-ish of those pages with my critique group. More on the novel later…

But, that’s it… still here, still working, and trying to bring you more stuff.

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SHU WPF: 2013 Jan Residency (Day 3)

Day 3 was a Monday.

Part of the SHU WPF experience is a “Teaching” class, which carries with it a follow-up requirement of leading an hour-long presentation during the following residency. Those “student teaching” modules are conducted as part of the Workshop rotation, and are assigned to all of the students except the 1’s/first termer’s. (To clarify – anyone that is a 2 or higher gets assigned to one of the “student teaching” sections, each section being run by 3 people. This time, there were six possible sections where someone could have been placed.) My assignment to experience the student teaching was here.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the greatest (as a whole). There were moments where I felt like either the person presenting was just phoning it in (since planning a module is a “required element”), or they felt passionate about their topic but it just didn’t connect with me. Maybe it was slight dleep deprivation starting to take its toll. I heard mixed reviews from other people sitting in other sections with similarly mixed reviews – some of the presentations were great, others, not so much. Which, I guess, is likely to happen anywhere.

After a lunch intended for critique groups to taslk and plan for the coming term, it was off to the afternoon module: Setting and Research (one of the required/pre-assigned sessions). The session itself was good, but I’m too far removed now to articulate specific high points.

That evening, I sat in for two more thesis readings before leaving campus for “evening activities,” chief among them being the SF/Fantasy dinner before going back to the hotel.

The SF/Fantasy dinner was unique in that there was a “reading contest” (selection or story of under 1000 words). There were about 14 people reading (including myself – I read my “Horror that is Thursday” story from Viable Paradise, to generally positive reviews) out of over 40 people that were there.

Then it was back to the hotel to recover an prep for the next day – and the guest speaker presentations.

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The Baumgartner Jump

While this is generally old news, the jump that Felix Baumgartner did last year still merits a few considerations.

First, I think it’s important to remember that (for now), the event was a fluke. Don’t get me wrong, I think the fact that he did it is great, but it is important to remember that he is a very experienced jumper. Some of the moments during the jump where he goes into a spin… someone less experienced may not have been able to recover.

With that said, I hope there was a good amount of data that was able to be gleaned from his experience. One of the things I read back when it was happeneing was that he had been linked to one of the Columbia astronauts and was thus motivated by that. Regardless of accuracy of those claims, anything that might lead to improvements in astronaut safety/survivability is a good thing.

Now, in case you missed it, here’s a full clip of the jump.


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A Good Time… on MVM

Anyone that grew up in the 80s experienced the phenomenon that has come to be known as the “Big Hair Bands.” Poison was one of the biggest in the day. While Brett Michaels has received heckling for such recent things as his “Rock of Love” series, the music still remains a guilty pleasure for a lot of us.

When I flew up to Martha’s Vineyard last October, I had put their Greatest Hits album on the iPod (after catching a snippet of a song on the radio). One that still holds up, for me, is this week’s selection… Nothin’ But a Good Time.

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On the Subject of Reading Lists, Take 2

As I mentioned before, one aspect of how the Seton Hill MFA program is structured is the “Readings in Genre” courses. Students in the program complete a minimum of three (the courses themselves are offered in cycle, the focus repeating every third semester). Entering my second semester, and second Readings course, here’s what’s on tap for the term ahead.

Horror: Hauntings
Hell House – Richard Matheson
The Shining – Stephen King
Ghost Story – Peter Straub
The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson
The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
Grave’s End – Elaine Mercado
The Amityville Horror – Jay Anson
The Others
Paranormal Activity
May Genres, One Craft – ed. Michael Arnzen & Ruby Miller
SF/Fantasy: Fantasy Classics
A Short History of Fantasy – Farah Mendlesohn and Edward James
The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkien
A Wizard of Earthsea – Ursula LeGuin
Nine Princes in Amber – Roger Zelazny*
The Riddle Master of Hed – Patricia McKillip*
Anubis Gates – Tim Powers
War for the Oaks – Emma BullNote:
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – L. Frank Baum
The King of Elfland’s Daughter – Lord Dunsany**
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – C. S. Lewis
Witch World – Andre Norton* Determined by polling of registered students
** 3rd in voting for the “student selected” books
Mystery: Classics
Hound of the Baskervilles – Arthur Conan Doyle (Intellectual Detection)
The Seven Dials Mystery – Dame Agatha Christie (Cozy)
The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler (Private Eye)
Brat Farrar – Josephine Tey (Criminal as Protagonist)
Lady Killer – Ed McBain (Police Procedural)
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – John LeCarre (Suspense)
Whip Hand – Dick Francis (Thriller)

Romance Classics
Pamela Regis, A Natural History of the Romance Novel
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austin
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
A Civil Contract (Regency) – Georgette Heyer
Nine Coaches Waiting (romantic suspense) – Mary Stewart
Shield’s Lady (futuristic) – Jayne Ann Krentz
Montana Sky (western) – Nora Roberts

· One contemporary book of your choice that you believe will become a classic, according to our class discussions and readings. Don’t choose this book now; wait until at least halfway through the course.

In addition to the above, the “common novel” for the next Residency will be Ernest Cline’s Ready, Player One. Everyone in the program also has an assigned “Craft” book for the semester… mine is James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure.