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.”
A couple of months ago I ran a thread on Twitter asking Indie Authors to send links to their books. Happily, my TBR pile grew quite a bit! M.G. Nelson’s YA fantasy, The Telling Mirror, was one of many on my now long reading list and I’m so glad Nelson posted it!
How much trouble can a rebellious teen and her cat get into? Oh, so much.
Signe Erickson’s parents are gone. Her father left years ago. Her mother lost to drugs is undergoing rehab. Now Signe – Sig for short – lives ungratefully with her Aunt Char and Uncle Dan, on their farm. Acting out in various ways she’s stretching her families patience to the max, testing them at every turn. When Dan finally confronts her she runs to her quiet place only to end up stumbling into another world. Just her and the annoying barn cat, Reggie, who is no longer a cat.
Together, Sig and Reggie must cross this new land and search out Sig’s father. How he ended up here they really don’t know, but then again, they don’t know how they got here either! Setting out with nothing but the clothes on their backs, a flashlight, a backpack, and a plastic baggie carrying $200 cash they begin their treacherous trek into the unknown.
This grand adventure is filled with dangerous travels, creepy characters, brave warriors, evil royals, kind commoners, fairies, centaurs, giants, and more! Reminiscent of both The Wizard of Oz and The Narnia Chronicles, it is filled with good lessons about self-reliance, kindness to others, determination, sacrifice, and faith. This book, first in The Telling Mirror Series, is one I would feel good sharing with my kids.
Clara Grey notices things. Things nobody else will allow themselves to see. It is this ability, this willingness to believe, that makes Miss Grey the perfect candidate for training to be a monster hunter.
In Chartres’ story we follow Clara from her early childhood traumas, through years of rigorous academic and religious training in the Tower, and eventually into adulthood with all its temptation, danger, and twists of fate. Inquisitive, intelligent, bold, and brave, Miss Grey ends up traveling the world via the mystical portals of the Tower’s Terminus, seeking out monsters to slay. She’s learned her lessons well and is a force to be reckoned with. Like the books tag line states, “A gal has to look out for herself after all.”
Well written and smart, The Van Helsing Paradox is a fresh take on monster hunting and monster hunters. In it Chartres has built a world simmering with intrigue and violence. A world at war both politically and spiritually. Set around the time of World War 1, the readers are plunged into layer after layer of horror and discovery.
If you are looking for a good summer read (or fall, or winter, or whatever!) pick up The Van Helsing Paradox today! **link below** https://g.co/kgs/fCdyPk
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!”
So this month’s Blog Battle word prompt is “shift” and if you’ve been following me for any length of time you KNOW I had to respond to this. 😉 Here is my 1,000 word (+ or -) entry. Enjoy.
June 10, 2018
This is my first entry in what Walt’s been calling the Luna Chronicles. It’s basically a glorified personal journal, except it’s supposed to help other Luna’s – eventually. To anyone reading this, please understand that I am no Shakespeare. I’m just doing my best. So here goes.
Becoming a Guardian has been tough but rewarding. I never realized just how much there is to learn OR that I’d have to journal about it! I mean really, who knew visual tracking, botany, and martial arts would be needed? I’m already a werewolf. Everything should come instinctively, right? Wrong.
Granted, I’ve enjoyed the martial arts. It’s something I never thought I’d be able to do considering how sick I was before my first shift. Lupus had put me down hard. It didn’t just limit my movement due to pain, it shrunk my world by interfering with my social and family life. I was always afraid to go too far from home in case I suddenly ran out of steam, or hurt myself in some new and stupid way. Queen of the klutzy, I am, but it was SO much worse with chronic illness issues. Thank God, Sherryl’s been really patient with me despite my klutziness. I can’t believe I nearly knocked her block off with that round house kick! I honestly didn’t think I could move that fast. Good thing we heal quickly.
Botany has been interesting and I’m really glad I’ll be able to identify and avoid poison ivy from now on. Yeah, tripping into that huge patch sucked. Of course that was during my tracking lesson with Stan, Alpha of the Eastern Washington Guardians. Despite his laughter, I’ll never be able to repay him for helping me up and out of that mess. His hands looked almost as horrible as my everything for two days, even with our accelerated healing ability. Ugh.
Shifting has come most easily to me. Ninety-nine percent of the time I stick the landing, so to speak, moving easily from human to wolf and back without issue. That pesky one percent though is a tad worrisome.
I only seem to have issues when I get too tired or emotional, like after that three day flu the kids went through. Of course my lucky husband, Hank, avoided it altogether since his boss just happened to schedule him to go to a conference on those days. I’m still not sure how I escaped getting it, but so glad I did! It was horrible. Poor Matt and Tammy. They must have each lost ten pounds the hard way. Thank God for Sherryl! I’m not sure I’d have been able to handle working, studying, and running between rooms for that long if she hadn’t been dropping off food for me and medicine for the kids.
You wouldn’t believe how hard it was to force myself to take in the currently required 12,000 calories a day while emptying barf buckets every hour or so. Ewww. Sorry, but this journal is supposedly for posterity and Walt told me not to leave ANYTHING out. So yeah, Walt, you asked for it.
Back to the one percent problem. Sorry about the bunny trail. Anyway, after those three days I was wiped out. So with the kids on the mend and finally able to keep food down I needed to get out for a bit. I called Jennifer and invited her out for a run. We’ve been spending more time together recently and I’m enjoying getting to know her. She’s a lovely person, smart, beautiful, hard working, and a talented painter, though she refuses to show her work outside of her home. She’s also single and looking. I can’t imagine how hard dating would be as a woman werewolf. How many guys can handle not just her success as a realtor, but her ability to outrun, outsmart, outplay them AND smell a lie? It has to be like the worst mash-up of Survivor and The Bachelorette ever!
Wow, I bunny trailed again. Sorry. So as I was saying, Jennifer and I were going running. I was exhausted but needed to stretch my legs before hitting the hay for the night. We drove her car and headed to the Bowl and Pitcher in Riverside State Park. There’s great trails around there and I hoped we could make a quick three mile loop. Making the Change from human to wolf was no problem. Running the darkened trail was no problem. Getting back to her car was no problem. The problem came when I tried to Change back.
I felt good after the run, but apparently hadn’t accurately gauged how low on energy I was. By the time Jennifer had Changed and gotten dressed, I still hadn’t been able to find my human form. Jennifer tried to help “push” me through but I was stuck.
I was a little wigged out but Jennifer remained calm. She called Walt who told me to just sleep in my wolf form and try again in the morning. He said he’d call back at 8:00 am to check on me. Jennifer proved herself amazing yet again when she drove me home, roused the kids to inform them of the situation, then helped me up to my room. She brought up a bowl of water and a tray of cold chicken she found in the fridge. I hate to say it but I quite literally wolfed down her offerings. Ten hours later I woke up human only to find she’d set the timer on my coffee maker as well.
I haven’t had any issues shifting since but now I know, burning the candle at both ends for too long can result in a seriously hairy situation. Yup, I said it. You’re welcome, Walt.
Down sick for the last few days, I haven’t gotten much writing done. In fact, I haven’t gotten much of anything done other than to wonder when I’d be able to get anything done. Yeah, it’s been like that. Today, however, I began thinking about my current work in progress (wip) – Lilac City Lunacy.
Building a fantasy world full of characters, plot twists, heroes and villains, is not easy. There’s so much to be done, and though I’m still lagging with little energy I figured I could doodle a few ideas for the cover. Now, I’m no artist. Oh, I can do some silly little line drawings but with about as much talent and flare as a duck using a fountain pen. Still, it’s enough to give a real artist a better idea of what I want. I did this with my first book, Waxing is Useless. In fact, I hired one of the local artists I’d previously interviewed for this blog, Shannon Potratz .
His sense of humor, talent, and accessibility made him the perfect choice for my cover. Let me show you what I mean. On my first visit to his office I handed him this.
And after a follow up visit he created this, and I love it!
Close by and easy to collaborate with I am still amazed by and grateful for his artistry, especially as I have NO experience with graphic art. Worth every penny, he made it so easy for me, as a self-publisher, to load everything up and put it to print. If you are a writer / self-publisher with little to no artistic talent, I highly recommend getting to know your local artists. Beside potentially finding someone great to work with, I just think it’s awesome for local authors to support local artists and vice verse.