Friday, June 24, 2016

5 English Degree Goals (Unless You Missed Like I Did)

The title says it all; but just a little backstory to its conception.  I remember talking to an old coworker about blogging–but without sharing my particular interests and activities doing so.  As I’ve stated before, you must be discerning about who you share your ideas with.  Anyway, the conversation was about how it's possible to support yourself blogging, if vigilant.  Or how blogging came make you at least enough to build an extra income outside of working a 9-5. Combining your interest/passions with a solid monetization strategy–BOOM.  Interesting stuff to talk about at the workplace, right?  
Well, most of my expressed ideas fell on moot ears.  Abandoning the conversation, I started thinking about the paths we take in life.  Specifically, the detours we take when stumbling through brush and granite toward our life goals.  Then my English major years in college bubbled up in thought, as well as how I tumbled out of its expectations.  And while my expectations fell apart along the quest, these days I’m kind of already doing what I wanted to do.  Granted it's super-super small scaled, independent, flooded, and removed of any foreseeable safety nets.  But it's all about the tethered-less joy of expressing oneself through words and language (and drawing and talking life).  And, ever so naturally, reading.  Yet, let’s be real, you usually get degrees to get hired off somewhere.  Personal Flaw: I'm known for blowing interviews by being too honest when asked questions anyway.
Anyhow, just as I reflected on those years scratching around campus looking for the meaning of life through words and language, the idea for this post emerged.  Let's talk about five career paths one could get hired on with an English Degree.
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1.       TEACHER.  Ever notice when telling people you're majoring in English the first thing they ask is will you teach?  Of course the question comes after their gaping expression for your choice in majors. Anyway, most of us are all too familiar with this type of scenario.  We know it too, too well.  It’s a conversation we generally try to avoid with those outside of liberal arts.  For me, when asked will I teach, I would sometimes respond with a “kinda-sorta”.  Then I'd attempt to sedge out of the conversation to avoid an approaching sermon.  Sometimes I could see judgment in the eyes, and would rather risk eating a dish of cassava than share dreams of becoming a crime fiction writer.  I was always pretty tactful, but mainly because I grow exhausted explaining myself about anything.  
Nonetheless, the perceived inadequacies some people place on the major is rampant.  We hear it all the time dripping in a conversation, as we sub-speak and hint-dodge around how we’ll "pay the bills reading books."  I guess this is why so many think the default profession for an English major is teaching.  It’s almost as if the teacher path is the most rational way to go, and more or less income stimulating.  This path gets the compassion of receiving a little security and safety, and with less starving artist anecdotes.  Even if teaching appears as the English major’s default, it’s a needed path.  And it has its own challenges and rewards for the passionate leader.  Because that's what it takes–a leader.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

While We're on the Subject of L. A. Banks...

I miss this lady.  Still can't believe she's gone.  But I really want to reiterate the magnitude of her work by sharing one of my favorite interviews with her.  Especially as a black female author writing sci-fi and fantasy novels.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Dealing with a Book Snob Per Phaedra Parks

Now I don’t get into bookmanship (just made that up) debates with people often.  Without preamble, I know I have one of those oozing “ain’t no way you can tell me what to do” attitudes.  And it bubbles up especially when someone tries to talk down to me with their angle on the front line.  The memo goes: you can never tell an Aquarius what to do, think, sniff, or taste without opposition.  (Taurus and Scorpios are not to be trifled with as well.)  So that kind of spares me from having to tangle with another’s judgment of my reading choices.  It also serves  to the opposite effect of the wielder.  Nevertheless, with one life in hand, I’m old school and willing to shoot from the hip if admonished about what sits on my nightstand.  
But sometimes the energy between two readers sharing what they’ve read comes vibrating with silent judgments.  Naturally, as a close acquaintance to the often considered “fourth tier” mystery genre, my antennae has caught such in the past.  So I know when a little shade is thrown my way, and will handle it in whatever degree it is given.
But anyway, there’s always been this despairing conversation between literary fiction and commercial fiction.  Literature versus genre fiction.  YA versus adult books.  Read only books written by this group of people; or that.  Hell, physical book versus e-readers is in there as well.  It’s almost par the course for us bookworms.  I blame the once elitist aura books and reading had (and generated) centuries ago.  You know, when only Anglo men could be accounted for constructing what was in and what was not.  But digressing to the present; sometimes, when caught in defending your reading choices, you just got to let a judgmental snob know what time it is.  "Time" as in you don't have it for his or her shit.
And here lies “Dealing with a Book Snob.  Per Phaedra Parks.”
The Snob Who Thinks He Should School You
Now here's one thing I can’t stand.  You ever run into someone so high on their own reading fumes that he or she tries to tell you to ingest their opinion/perception of a particular book over your own? Furthermore, finding him or herself getting enraged because you continue to contest their view upon their pressure to convert?  And even furthermore, begins to take the matters personally by attacking you and your intelligence?
Chile, remind this person God gave you two good eyes, a couple of ears, and enough brain power to think for yourself–just as they supposedly have.  (I say "supposedly" because some folks follow the literary criticisms of critics to shape their thoughts.)

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Backroom Susan Too

Snoopy me was listening to a volunteer library worker sighing in the backroom of their used bookstore.  She had the door parted, and I glanced up and saw these two puppies sitting high on a shelf.  As the other two workers–men who held in their sighs with the recently trucked six boxes of donated books–cleared out of the stockroom to stock shelves, I stage whispered to the agitated woman could I step inside.  (Hell, I almost wished she asked me to help so I could peek through what was in the back.)  However, it wasn’t until the fourth, raised hissed that I got her attention.  I asked could I step inside and take a look at what was in back stock, but immediately went to these hardback Susan Wittig Albert books; as a part of Albert’s China Bayle series.
I'd already did my routine search around what was out front and found nothing.  But why, oh why do they always keep the good stuff in the backrooms?
Anyway, Bloodroot is China Bayles #10.  In this entry China goes back to Mississippi to confront, or uproot (heh), pieces of her past.  I’m almost certain her recovering alcoholic mother, Leatha, will be in the mix.
A Dilly of a Death is Bayles #12.  While there’s much more to the synopsis, this has the queen of a pickle festival (remember, these books take place in Texas) disappearing.  Rumor has it she sold her business and dashed.  Other rumors point to her missing boyfriend.
I just want to read the damn book and see.
I got a lot of ground to cover before I get to these entries.  Still I felt for a $1.50 apiece, I could hold them in stock for myself instead.
Problem solved.  And now they have a little more back stock room.  (Lowkey: not really.  That room was a mess!)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Sisters in Urban Fantasy

I need to do a quick share of two urban fantasy African American writers writing African American women in leads.  Both these series are on-going with me, and I'm desperately in need of reawakening my thirst.


First is Kira Solomon, the lead of Seressia Glass’s Shadowchasers series.  The series is only three books long.  Though I have the first two, I’ve only (shamefully) read the first.  Don’t judge.  I may just not want the series to end so quickly.  (At least I told myself that after reading the first book back in 2012.)  Anyway, here’s the synopsis…
Kira's day job is as an antiquities expert, but her true calling is as a Shadowchaser. Trained from youth to be one of the most lethal Chasers in existence, Kira serves the Gilead Commission, dispatching the Fallen who sow discord and chaos. Of course, sometimes Gilead bureaucracy is as much a thorn in her side as anything the Fallen can muster against her. Right now, though, she's got a bigger problem. Someone is turning the city of Atlanta upside down in search of a millennia-old Egyptian dagger that just happens to have fallen into Kira's hands.  
Then there's Khefar, the dagger's true owner -- a near-immortal 4,000-year-old Nubian warrior who, Kira has to admit, looks pretty fine for his age. Joining forces is the only way to keep the weapon safe from the sinister Shadow forces, but now Kira is in deep with someone who holds more secrets than she does, the one person who knows just how treacherous this fight is. Because every step closer to destroying the enemy is a step closer to losing herself to Shadow forever....
First, we still love and cherish you L. A. Banks.
While I’ve devoured the hell out of Banks’ Vampire Huntress series, I’ve yet to fully eat her Crimson Moon titles.  Pitiful of me, I know.  I’ve gotten through the first two books, and have yet to follow through with the third in her six-book series.  Nonetheless, Banks is a writer that stays on my heart, and I one day plan on tackling this series into completion.
The synopsis of the first book:
Sasha Trudeau knows all about working beneath the shadows, back-alley deals, and things that go bump in the night. She also knows that the world is unaware of the existence of the paranormal―and that the government would like to keep it that way. 
As a highly trained Special Ops soldier, Sasha and her team are an elite group of individuals who are survivors of werewolf attacks, now trained to be loyal to only to each other and their government. But when she returns from a solo mission, she finds that her team has mysteriously gone missing. Shocking government conspiracies, double-dealing vampires, and a host of stunning revelations about who―and what―she really is are only just the beginning…
That’s all for today, guys.  I just wanted to share these authors/books to remind us that our Sisters does do urban fantasy just as well.  And with that said, share any black female writers you know who have found or taken over an avenue of this sub-genre.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Walker's Jubilee | Me and Vyry Had a Fight

I’m super, super behind on my Final Thoughts regarding the books I’ve read.  Like, behind.  As far back as my February reads.  I kind of left off with Margaret Walker’s Jubilee, and it’s where all my written thoughts stalled out.  It’s a tough book to breakdown and shape my perspective around.  And it's also increasingly difficult to do with more than a few months stacked between now and my reading.  And that’s okay.  That’s cool.  
Nonetheless, to break it down, Jubilee chronicles the story of a bi-racial slave named Vyry; Vyry’s story travels through the South’s Antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction years.  In the beginning of Vyry’s story, her slave master–and consequent father–comes rushing to his slave mistress' (Vyry's mother) deathbed.  One outcome of this death pulls Vyry closer to her father’s home.  Here she becomes a house slave and witness/bearer to his wife's mistreatment, and Vyry's half-sister's obliviousness to the running circumstances.  Nonetheless, though however torturous of the exploits, Vyry’s given small cycles of grace by her father.  Even if his moments of kindness inflames his well-aware wife.  And she's a lady who has no problem excising her power and control over other slaves.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Ultimate Nevada Barr Haul


THE OUTS


One tends to lose his or her mind in all the book-loving concussion.  Which leads to this current obsession–excuse me–Friday book haul.  More or less knowing what I was getting myself into (having spent two days desperate for another Anna Pigeon book to quell my forever fervent soul); I decided the best method to cut into the approaching madness was to turn some books in for credit.  Though the two Sandra Brown books (see two posts previous) didn’t garner any attention.  Apparently they were overstocked with her titles, because she doesn’t move well.  Yet the mass markets weighted in perfectly.  (FYI: I only gave up Stephen King's Misery because it's been over three years of me hating this particularly unread copy.)  And, two different stops later, this is what I came up with…

THE INS

With absolutely zero shame, the Anna Pigeon series haul list goes…
Blood Lure (Pigeon #9)
Hunting Season (Pigeon #10; has to go back because of the previous owner's widowed mark-ups)
Flashback (Pigeon #11)
Hard Truth (Pigeon #13)
Winter Study (Pigeon #14)
Borderline (Pigeon #15)
Burn (Pigeon #16)
Park Ranger Anna Pigeon mysteries for DAYS...!  Good-bye sleepless nights fueled by melancholy.

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