Misc., links, the week that was

1. I’m heading off for the weekend to the southern part of the state in a giant Suburban with some fellow “soccer moms” and our 12 year old sons. My older son has been invited to try out for Maine’s Olympic Development Program (ODP), which is supposed to identify players who will eventually play for the national team. Before anyone gets excited, bear in mind that we live in Maine, a state of 1 million people. What usually happens is that the Maine ODP team gets crushed the second they step out of the state to play other teams in our region with a population ten times larger. We think of it more as a chance for him, if he makes it, to play with some talented players around the state and get some superior coaching. So that’s my weekend, mostly.

2. But before that, I’m meeting Kristen of Fantasy Cafe for coffee. We’re giving a talk at our awesome local library on how to have a successful blog. I’m going to focus on the personal and social aspects. More on that next week. I made a joke about it on twitter that got RTd by Juan Cole. My brush with greatness for the week!

3. Speaking of the Bangor Library, they have an awesome book group that meets monthly to talk about “edgy” (mostly genre) fiction, PNR, SFF, YA, straight romance. I’m reading their last month’s choice, A Certain Slant of Light, by Laura Whitcomb, a ghost YA-ish love story, very slowly, but really enjoying it. It’s one of my 2012 goals to actually make it to one of their meetings.

4. I’m also reading, just as slowly, Lily by Patricia Gaffney. Proper review later, but Gaffney is one of those writers you pick up, and say “this is how it’s done”. I just think she is in a class by herself. The Kindle edition is just $2.99 right now.

5. And I’m also reading this PNR/sci fi series by Nina Croft. I plan to review (well, the two books I’ve read) but, while there is nothing new here (basically, it’s a PNR version of Star Wars) it’s a very enjoyable, very fun little series.

6. It was a big week on the blog, thanks wholly to my post on 50 Shades of Grey. Based on my stats — by far, my best days ever —  and the linkage in to RRR, this phenomenon is just getting underway. I’ve decided to create a new blog called “mommieporn”, fill it with ads for (a) sex toys, (b) wrinkle cream, and (c) yoga mats, and write short reviews of self-published erotic romance, the angstier the better.  I’ll be rich in two weeks. (And yes, I find it annoying the way this phenomenon is getting reported. I’m delighted there are women who are feeling “naughty sexy” as a result of reading 50SoG, but many middle aged women readers knew erotic romance quite well before reading this book, and, moreover, felt pretty sexy already, and I wish we heard those voices too.)

7. In the classroom… I just love my classes this semester, making it two semester in a row. I do have some things to work on in feminist philosophy. I’d like a better vibe in the room (the five men all sit in the back, for one thing), and I need to get a better sense of the balance to strike between discussion and lecture. In ethics, we spent some time discussing the Komen fiasco in connection with Kantian moral philosophy, so interms of pedagogy, it was fortuitous timing. I was invited to sit on a master’s committee in English by a student who is working on a feminist analysis of urban fantasy (hopefully that topic will be nice and shrunk by the time she actually writes her proposal). We plan to do an independent study this summer on urban fantasy, which I’m looking forward to as I haven’t read much UF nor have I read much of the critical literature (wonder how much there is?) on UF. My lowest moment was telling a student she was wrong, and then realizing as the words were emerging from my mouth that she wasn’t  (not only was she not wrong, but she had a better and more creative answer than the one I was seeking) and apologizing to her in front of everyone.

8. Most of you know I am married to a historian. Last night my older son said “Philosophy rules, history drools”. My work here is done.

9. I plan to write a review of A Wrinkle in Time, because my younger son and I just read it. Little did I know it is the fiftieth anniversary of its publication. Check out the Book Smugglers list of all the bloggers who are participating. Lurv a la Mode also recently reviewed it.

10. I liked this post from Red Hot Books: Give Readers Some Credit and Stop Working the System. I’ve been talking about this with many readers: we now view “all 5 star” ratings on GR or AZN with deep suspicion, and a lack of range in reader response is a huge red flag. Yes, authors, I’m saying what you think I’m saying: you’ll need to ask your minions to write you some 2 star reviews.

11. I’m definitely going to Book Blogger Con and Book Expo America in New York in June. Recent news (after I registered, naturally) is that the bloggers who founded BBC a couple of years ago have sold it to the company who runs BEA, which has said, “We are pleased to be able to take this responsibility over for them and to build even greater recognition for the Book Blogger Convention by fully merging it with our BEA marketing efforts, programs, and attendee outreach.” Nobody is asking what this means for BBC, to not have the event owned by bloggers, and I don’t want to go to those threads full of “Congratulations!!!!” and be the ant at the garden party by asking this question. All I know is that there is no news at all of speakers or events for BBC, nor of who is going to be putting the event together (will it still be bloggers?). Registration is a complete nightmare, with many bloggers paying different amounts and getting different answers as to why.  Book bloggers are increasingly viewed not as a varied group of independent voices on books with wide ranging agendas, but as marketing tools for publishers. It’s hard for me not to worry a bit about this development given the current climate.

12. I’m sorry there is not more linkage here. I’ve been busy (a sick child in the earlier part of the week, which *should* mean lots of time to get stuff done, but in fact means jumping up every five seconds to fetch something for said child). I’ve also been trying to eat more healthfully which always makes me a complete crank. That said, I’m delighted it’s the weekend and I hope you are too!

13. Go Pats!


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