Book Review – Book All The Teachers! by James Bartlett Parry.

James Parry’s semi-fictionalized (10%, give or take) memoir of the last five years of his thirty-year career as a middle school educator is at once, both hilarious and sobering. Hilarious as only middle school (or Jr. High) with all the hormones, awkwardness, and antics can be. And sobering when Parry masterfully lays bare the true plight of teachers everywhere dealing with bureaucracy, poverty, and a lack of parental involvement. However, despite the sometimes heavy content, Parry’s acerbic and occasionally goofy wit, keeps this book readable and entertaining.

The book begins on an average school day in Parry’s twenty-fifth year of teaching. When he arrives at work he finds the head custodian quickly changing a spray painted, “F**k All The Teachers” into “Book All The Teachers” with his own can of spray paint. At first Parry is upset by the graffiti until he turns the corner to find the colorful epithet continued on to say “Excep Parry.” Deciding this is the best possible compliment from a middle school hoodlum, we then watch James “…float through the door, skip down the back hall, pirouette through the gymnasium, and do the happy dance as I (he) enter(s) the public office.”

This first introduction into Parry’s world is a good example of the ups and downs throughout the book. Middle school has always been a roller coaster ride for the kids (as I’m sure we all remember), but James Bartlett Parry gives us a look at that wild ride from the teachers end of things. Due to the nature of the middle school experience, Parry has included a WARNING section before the Contents page. I believe it is worthy of being included here verbatim.

“WARNING – With its adolescent humor, convoluted sentence structure and many asides, the book is best enjoyed when accompanied by a bottle — or box — of cheap wine; or, perhaps Ice-house Beer would be a more fitting compliment. If you like parentheses, em-dashes, commas, and semicolons (and, hey, who doesn’t?), you’ll love this book.”

Honestly, I did. Well done, Parry.

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Sneak Peek! An excerpt from Lilac City Lunacy

Sneak Peek! An excerpt from Lilac City Lunacy

Hey everyone, if you’ve been looking forward to Volume 2 of the Luna Chronicles – Lilac City Lunacy, here’s a quick snippet to whet your appetite. An unedited scene with our favorite werewolf sheriff, Stan McKenna. Enjoy!

Spokane County Sheriff, Stan McKenna was having a bad week. A bad month if he were to be honest. The Lilac city, as Spokane was known, was inundated with hostility. Small fights had been breaking out more and more frequently. At first, Stan had chalked it up to increased gang activity and people working out the agitation of cabin fever after such a harsh winter. There was always a period between the winter chill and summer heat criminals took advantage of, but things had continued to happen.

            He realized something was truly messed up when he responded to what he thought was a prank call. There were a few on the force that might feel they owed him payback for bringing in donuts glazed with sour sugar and jalapeno dust. His fellow officer’s faces had both mottled and puckered while they cursed him out roundly. At the time he’d laughed so hard he thought he might have strained something, so he wouldn’t put it past his fellow officers to create a strange scenario just to mess with him. Unfortunately when he pulled up in front of his aunt Gena’s Sew Easy Too fabric shop, what he saw through the big front window was no joke.

            Four old women were facing off with each other. Two against two, all hollering at the top of their lungs while brandishing knitting needles. One of the ladies stepped forward and poked her opponent as Stan was getting out of his car. He moved faster when the poked woman’s eyes grew wild and her knitting hand turned the needle from a parrying position to a thrusting position. Good grief, she might just kill someone! The chimes above the doorway tinkled loudly as he entered. The sound distracted the women just long enough for him to place himself in the middle of the group. He unleashed a touch of Alpha charm hoping to diffuse the situation then put his hands up and spun in a small circle to smile at every one of them. His physical size forced them all to step back a bit. “Now, ladies. What’s going on here?”

            If he’d expected the torrent of clucking, spluttering, ferociousness that would spew from them he’d never have asked. At first, he couldn’t make out a word they were saying. After a moment he was sorry he could. He heard phrases drop from their sweet, grandmotherly lips that he hoped he’d never hear again. Betty White couldn’t do as well if she were fully drunk and witnessed someone beating their dog. There are just some things you can’t un-hear and Stan was wishing for a gallon of brain bleach when he finally caught onto a thread of the real problem. They were arguing over whose grandchildren were the smartest!

            He almost started laughing at how ridiculous it was, but as they continued arguing those knitting needles were again put into use. One of the ladies, a 4’9″ Latina with dyed brown hair in a loose bun, reached around him with her shiny red implement to prod another woman. He thought he heard one of them call the poker, Rosalinda, and the pokee, Agnes. Rosalinda was wearing a soft pink t-shirt and black shorts. Her target, Agnes, had short silvery hair and big coke bottle glasses. She was wearing a white, short-sleeved blouse and khaki slacks. She was also holding a long, olive green knitting needle low and at the ready.

            The other two women facing off looked like twins. Both stooped with age, they had short, curly, gray hair and baby blue eyes. One had a pair of glasses dangling from a chain, the other had them propped on top of her head. Both were wearing floral pattern cotton dresses topped by pale blue, loosely knit cardigans and both had short wooden knitting needles. From the cacophony of bickering, he plucked the names, Janet and Jess, before he’d finally had enough.

            Drawing himself to his full 6’5″ height, Stan quickly plucked the knitting needles away from each woman, put his hands on his hips and shouted. “SILENCE!”

            All four women turned their eyes upon him and if he hadn’t been such a big man, or a Sheriff, or a Guardian, Stan might have run away. Instead, he cleared his throat and with all the authority he could muster he tried to reason with them. “Ladies. . .

Gerald Ringtail and his Battlepus!

Not sure how many of you use Twitter, but I’m on there everyday and I follow the Spokane Authors & Self-Publishers account. They don’t post every day but when they do, it’s usually pretty fun. Well this time they’ve started a May writers challenge, the Sunday Image Prompt. Click the link for original post. https://twitter.com/AndAuthors/status/1125154547083530242

The #SundayImagePrompt promises a new, strange image to write about every week. Here’s their first image prompt. Fun huh?

Well, after seeing this, I just HAD to take them up on the challenge. Enjoy my entry below, and if you like it, I may just continue the story! *********************************************************

Gerald picked up and hefted his great grandfather’s sword a few times. Not his usual weapon, it felt strange and unwieldy in his paw. Still, despite his lack of experience, he knew it was time to join the fight to save his beloved homeland. He shoved the blade into it’s sheath and tied it tightly to his pack before grabbing one more acorn for the road. As he chewed, he looked around at his home knowing he may never see it again.

His bed looked strangely naked, it’s coverlet stashed in his pack. His tool chest closed and locked for the first time in years also looked odd. Due to the commanders weight restrictions for backpacks he’d had to leave the tools of his trade at home. Though, he did make one concession and brought along his favorite wrench. (A squirrel never knew when he’d have to loosen the odd tough nut!) The desk, usually a disorganized mess, was now neatly arranged. His neighbor, Ruth, had promised to take care of his affairs while he was gone and he wanted to make it easy for her. Cleaning that up had been a major task, of course, nothing like what he was heading to. Stories from the front lines had been bleak, at best.

One last bite of acorn and Gerald knew it was time to leave. His precious books lined the walls around him. Many, worn by time, lent a distinguished warmth to his home. Others, still shiny and new, graced his to-be-read shelf. To those he silently promised to return. Gerald loved his books. Through them he’d learned much and lived many adventures, but now it was time to embark on a real one. With a last sorrowful glance, he closed the door to his comfy home and began the long walk to the training camp.

On the second day of his journey, a young jack rabbit stumbled into the road ahead of him. Upon seeing Gerald, the rabbit waved and hollered, “Hullo there! Is this the road to Commander Coyote’s basic training camp?”

“Why, yes it is. I’m headed there myself.”

The jack rabbit gave Gerald a buck toothed grin. “Great! Do you mind if I travel with you?”

“Not at all. I’d appreciate the company. My name is Gerald. What’s yours?”

“Nice to meet you, Gerald,” the rabbit extended a paw, “my name is Conrad.”

The two shook paws before resuming their trek and Conrad resumed speaking.

“I take it you don’t have a mount either?”

Gerald grimaced. “No, I used to have a tree frog, but she met an unfortunate end when a flock of cranes decided to take a break and landed all around her.”

Conrad shuddered. “Oh that’s horrid. I’m so sorry.”

“Thank you,” Gerald sighed. “She was a faithful frog, but she was old and had started to wander further and further from the paddock. It was bound to happen eventually.”

Conrad nodded knowingly. After a moment of silence he asked, “Did you hear about the mounts on the battlefield?”

When Gerald shook his head the rabbit continued. “I heard that all sorts of mounts are available but they only ever award mounts to the best of the best, and rather than the soldier choosing their mount, the mount chooses them!”

When Gerald looked askance at Conrad, he shrugged. “Hey, I’m just repeating what I’ve heard. It’s weird though, isn’t it? How would a mount choose it’s rider?”

“Maybe it’s magic.” Gerald offered. When Conrad remained silent, he looked up at his new companion only to find him a few feet behind with a stunned expression on his face. “What’s wrong, Conrad?”

“No. . . Nothing. It’s just, that would explain so much! My grandpa always spun yarns about his time in the militia and talked about the magical mounts used by the elite soldiers during the Greenleaf war. I always thought he was just, ya know, embellishing his stories. But after what I’ve heard from others, maybe he was telling the truth after all.”

“Maybe,” Gerald adjusted his pack, “but we’ll never find out if we don’t keep walking. Let’s get moving. We’ve only got a few more miles to go before we reach the river crossing. Another day’s travel after that and we’ll reach the training camp. Then we’ll know more about all of this.”

Conrad nodded. “You’re right.” He caught up with his new squirrel friend and they resumed walking. “So, if you were to become an elite soldier, what kind of mount do you think would pick you?”

Gerald chuckled. “I don’t know but with my luck, I’d probably end up with a platypus!”

BOOOOOOKS!!!

BOOOOOOKS!!!

Do you love books? Are you a total bookworm? Love to talk about them and share your favorites? Have you written a book and need another easy marketing opportunity? Well, here it is. I’m going to post a link to my book, and another to my 2 fave authors / series. I invite you to do the same in the comments (They’ll show up on the About page).

Whether you’ve written a book or just want to share fave series, let’s see it!

Here’s mine.  Waxing is Useless  smallwerewolf

Here are my 2 favorite authors / series.

Patricia Briggs’ – Mercy Thompson Series Mercy Thompson (10 Book Series) by  Patricia Briggs

And Kerrelyn Sparks’ – Love at Stake Series Love at Stake (15 Book Series) by  Kerrelyn Sparks

Now tell me and everyone else about yours. 🙂

A very humble THANK YOU!

So my first novel, Waxing is Useless has been out for nearly 2 months now. It’s still somewhat surreal that it’s out there, but what’s even more surreal is the sweet, positive comments and reviews I’ve been getting!

To all out there who’ve taken the time to visit the Amazon site and leave a review,

You guys make me feel like this. . .

WIP = Vol. 2 of The Luna Chronicles

WIP = Vol. 2 of The Luna Chronicles

Lilac City Lunacy is in the works!
So I’m about ten chapters in and it’s reminding me why a first draft is called rough. Good grief! I’m struggling a bit, but still enjoying the world of the Spokane Guardians.
I’m digging deeper into my original characters back stories (esp. Hank and his mysterious family tree), introducing new characters, and creating a monstrous new menace!

Miranda and the pack will have their relationships and creativity tested, and their pack history, territory, and shoe sizes expanded. 😉

Stay tuned for more news about “Lilac City Lunacy – Vol. 2 of the Luna Chronicles!

**Mini-spoiler** There may also be a bit of romance involved this time. Crikey!

Happy Howl-oween!

Hey everyone,

I hope you all have a Halloween fun enough to howl about! 

Tail wags & shoulder bumps to you all,

M.J. 

P.S. If you are looking for a good, clean Halloween read, check out my first novel in the Luna Chronicles, Waxing is Useless.  What happens when a middle age soccer mom faces adversity? She grows fur and a tail, of course! **Excerpt below. 

Miranda closed her eyes and tried to concentrate on breathing, but the minute she shut them her other senses seemed to explode. Her heart raced, a bass accompaniment to a symphony of dripping water, crackling ice, a light breeze, and somewhere a few blocks away, tires on icy streets. She could feel every blade of mushy grass beneath her hands and feet. She felt the mud and the slight temperature fluctuations in the wind. Even the moonlight felt like waves of mist against her burning skin.

Lifting her face to the sky, she inhaled deeply. Scents she’d never recognized before sifted into her brain. She identified crocus shoots, compost, and weirdly, earthworms. She turned her face north into the wind. Someone was smoking marijuana in a nearby home. The Kollyers had apparently grilled chicken earlier. George burned it a bit. The chemical floral scent of someone’s dryer stuck in her throat, making her gag. She sneezed to clear her nose and continued to explore the scents of the neighborhood. Wood smoke from someone’s stove and beer and cigarettes from the bar four blocks away. She couldn’t believe what all she was sensing!

Miranda opened her eyes. She had spent so much time analyzing scents that the moon had slipped lower in the sky, and the temperature had dropped even further. She knew it was cold enough to become hypothermic but didn’t feel cold at all.

She focused on her surroundings. She could see everything so clearly! Details she’d never noticed during the day jumped out at her in the dark. Despite the strange new clarity of her eyesight, Miranda was finding it hard to think. Her brain felt foggy. She considered calling for help, but she couldn’t work up the energy to vocalize her need.

Fighting the urge to lay down in the now semi-frozen grass, she forced herself to stand, and swayed unsteadily for a moment before she turned toward the house. She’d taken two lurching steps when something metallic hit the cement floor inside the garage. Someone is in there!