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Sunday Six – 5/8/16 “Parker”

Sunday Six header

KEEP IN MIND: Sunday Six pullouts are by their nature spoilery. So if you don’t want to know, don’t read!

And here we are, the LAST Sunday Six pullout from Parker! The draft is nearly in the bag at 44 chapters and 105,000~ words. I’m moving on to writing other stuff after this. So, as a treat…back to the beginning! A pullout from the first chapter:

Continue reading “Sunday Six – 5/8/16 “Parker””

I’m Okay, You’re Okay, Wikipedia is Great

As an author and a librarian, I love Wikipedia, and I use it for research all the time. That surprises people a lot, who think that as both an author and a librarian, I should be “better than that.” I’m not better than that, though, because Wikipedia is pretty darn awesome.

Wikipedia logoLaunched in 2001, few online sites have received as much acclaim and criticism as Wikipedia. Teachers in all levels of education are constantly at war with students who try to use Wikipedia as an “academic source” of information for papers and projects. Librarians keep having to explain that finding an answer there does not always equal finding the answer that was sought. Social prognosticators decry the downfall of civilization.

It can all get a bit extreme.

So while every week there are new pro/cons about the site, in the end, it is impossible to beat its ease of accessibility and breadth of content.

As a librarian, I have heard plenty about how Wikipedia (or Google, or just “the internet”) has made my job obsolete. To be honest, yes, there are aspects of librarianship that have been made obsolete by all of those things. On the other hand, information studies (of which librarianship is a part) is a rapidly expanding field, getting more complicated every day. So, no, my job and my degree are not ready for the long box yet.

Yet the hostility remains among the literati towards Wikipedia. It’s unfortunate, because I think it’s great! It is an incredibly useful tool, and I believe most of the people who think it is a second-rate information source are definitely NOT librarians.

Of course, no, one should never use any encyclopedia entry as a valid, “credible” research source. That’s as true of Wikipedia as it is of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedias were never meant to serve as anything more than an information clearing house, so to speak. They are designed to give a general understanding of a topic (even very specific topics), pointing in directions that a researcher can go further into study.

Think of a Wikipedia entry as a map, not a destination: use it as a tool to point you in the direction you need to go.

Which leads to the most popular criticism of Wikipedia, which is that it is crowd-sourced and therefore inaccurate and/or untrustworthy. I think, back in the early ‘naughts, there was some valid concern about that, if only because it was a very new service and did not have a lot of editors to fact check each other.

Now, however, that’s not true. Ironically, Wikipedia has a page devoted to its own reliability (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reliability_of_Wikipedia), which lists the numerous studies done since 2005 that have shown that it shares a level of accuracy comparable to other encyclopedias as well as peer-reviewed journals.

Misinformation and hoaxes have appeared, of course, and some might go months before they are corrected/caught, which is why it is important to fact check data from other sources if you are doing serious research. Some entries are fraught with violently opposing viewpoints (such as entries about political conflicts) or get hijacked by people with an agenda. Again, it is important to check data against credible sources, if you are in a position where that information is critical to your research paper or writing. Wikipedia is great, but it’s certainly not infallible.

Personally, I think the biggest danger Wikipedia poses is the Random Article Link. You’ll never get out of that time sink alive!!!!!

Sunday Six – 4/17/16, “Parker”

Sunday Six header

KEEP IN MIND: Sunday Six pullouts are by their nature spoilery. So if you don’t want to know, don’t read!

More from Parker! I’m on the downhill run with this story; it’s already at 95k words, and will probably tip over 100k when finished. So, you’ll be getting a couple more “Sunday Six” pullouts but then it’s going into editing and submission phase. Wheeeee!

Continue reading “Sunday Six – 4/17/16, “Parker””

Lost Libraries

I don’t think anything brings pain to a librarian’s heart as much as losing a library. Collectively, we still raise our glasses in tearful memorial to the ancient world’s Library of Alexandria, but that is hardly the only “lost library” in history.

Wikipedia has a whole page dedicated to the topic of destroyed libraries (yes, librarians use Wikipedia, we think it is a great resource!…just not the only resource)  from the ancient world to modern times and it is truly depressing.

Cincinnati Library - Image via the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton Country
Cincinnati Library – Image via the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton Country

The U.S. has a few, and while ours often do not involved the destruction of the books inside as well as the building itself (*clutches bosom*), they are still heartbreaking. I stumbled across this older article from about two years ago that talks about one of the great library tragedies of the modern world, the demolition of the Public Library of Cincinnati. The article, at some site called Messy Nessy Chic, give a great overview of the library and its end, with lots of heartbreaking photographs. It’s worth a read, if you don’t mind crying.

Then there is the Villa of the Papyri in Herculaneum (buried in 79 a.d., rediscovered in about 1750 a.d.), which, despite the damage done by the pyroclastic flow that entombed the library, is still the only surviving library of classical antiquity. Yet, still: buried under 25 meters of volcanic ash which charred the precious scrolls. Science has been poking at those scrolls for over 200 years. Literally poking, and scraping, and slicing – acts of destruction in the name of discovery that can never be reversed.

Since about 1999, though, non-invasive techniques have been developed, resulting in the real possibility of virtually “unrolling” the scrolls for reading. They will forever be piece-meal documents, but still, so much ancient writings are just waiting to be reclaimed! The New Yorker has a great article from last year about the history of the scrolls from the Villa, “The Invisible Library.”

Look! In the bottom center of the picture!!! SCROLLS!!!!!
Look! In the bottom center of the picture!!! SCROLLS!!!!!

I remember watching the end to National Treasure (back when it was released, in 2004) and in that famous scene where the hero lights up the secret “national treasury” of artifacts, I bounced in my seat and squealed when I saw a stack of scrolls off to the side. My then-husband leaned over and whispered, “it’s all about the books for you, isn’t it?”

It totally is.

Sunday Six – Parker, 4/10/16

KEEP IN MIND: Sunday Six pullouts are by their nature spoilery. So if you don’t want to know, don’t read! More from Parker !

Sunday Six header

KEEP IN MIND: Sunday Six pullouts are by their nature spoilery. So if you don’t want to know, don’t read!

More from Parker! This pullout is from an earlier chapter, where Greg picks up Parker, a rescue dog:

Continue reading “Sunday Six – Parker, 4/10/16”

The Library as Old as Steampunk

I love libraries. I love books. I especially love both together, and with a fine patina of age. These are the reasons I originally considered library school, as I thought it might be a good track to take for becoming an antiquarian book dealer.

That was a long time ago though, and when, in 2010, I finally did go for my master’s in “library and information studies” (MLIS), the field was undergoing some very drastic changes. However, despite the fact that a modern MLIS degree has almost nothing to do with hard-copy books, per se (and that’s a topic for a different time! Wooo boy), I’m still pretty enamored of the things.

The gallery in the Old Library
Photo by Irish Welcome Tours. Used with permission via Flicker CC.

I was floating through flickr creative commons, haunting the “library” tag (as you do) and saw pictures of the Old Library at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. The place is outstandingly beautiful and I decided it needed a post dedicated to its honor. I’m a librarian – of course I did.

It’s not a lending library, nor is it one of those comfy-cozy libraries where you wander among the stacks, pluck a book off the shelves, and settle in at a table or padded chair for a good long afternoon read. The Old Library is far statelier than that, a museum-cum-library that recalls the majestic expanses of European cathedrals. Personally, as both a librarian and book lover, I would need nothing more than to simply bask in the glory of such a place, feeling humbled by its hallowed, rarefied atmosphere.

This gorgeous building is called the “Old” library because while it is just one of many libraries the college has, it is the original. The main space is the Long Room, a 213 foot long chamber with a vaulted barrel ceiling that houses 200,000 of the library’s oldest books.

The original portion was built between 1712 and 1732, while the current barrel-vaulted ceiling was added in 1860. Ironically, the 1860 addition was made primarily because the library was running out of space, but the librarians at the time vociferously opposed it, claiming the vaulted ceiling – now so admired – was the equivalent of vandalism. Everyone hates change, I guess, but I am, for once, glad the librarians lost their battle.

The old Old Library, before they literally raised the roof
The old Old Library, before they literally raised the roof

But, you know, let’s go back to that start date: 1712. This was the year the very first commercial steam engine was installed (the “Newcomen Atmospheric Engine”) so this library is as old as steampunk. When you read your next steampunk novel, think of the Old Library.

1712 is also 64 years before the American Revolution, which, since I am an American, I tend to use as my “time line yardstick.” I think it is one reason I look at pictures of the Old Library and see an ancient realm of arcane knowledge – because anything prior to the Revolution is basically primordial ooze as far as Americans are concerned (you don’t believe me, read one of our high school history textbooks).

Old Library shelves
Photo by Bruce Washburn. Used with permission via Flickr CC.

Perhaps its greatest claim to fame is that it is home to the Book of Kells, the magnificent Celtic illustrated manuscript that was created in c. 800 c.e. It actually came to the Trinity College in 1661, at which time it was already about 800 years old. I still cannot wrap my mind around that. Lesser known works such as the Book of Durrow (circa 700 c.e.) are also stored there. Think about it: that book was written about 1000 years BEFORE the American Revolution! Were there even people back then? Hard to believe.

This majestic edifice is definitely on my bucket list to visit, someday. I want to stand in that glorious gallery and listen for the shuffling murmurs of all the librarians who came before me…


Resources:

Wikipedia entry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinity_College_Library

Trinity College’s page on the Old Library: http://www.tcd.ie/Library/bookofkells/old-library/

Celsus page: https://libraryarchitecture.wikispaces.com/Old+Library,+Trinity+College+Library,+Dublin,+Ireland+(Historical+Library)

Sunday Six – Parker, 4/3/16

Sunday Six header

KEEP IN MIND: Sunday Six pullouts are by their nature spoilery. So if you don’t want to know, don’t read!

It has, shockingly, been a whole damn year since I pulled six sentences from Parker for you all to read. Wow. Well, April is the month I’m wrapping this baby up, so enjoy them while you can!

Continue reading “Sunday Six – Parker, 4/3/16”

Free Read at Wattpad & AO3!

A while back the rights to my old short story, “Room for One”, reverted to me. I sat on it for a while but I decided against a short story collection for the meantime. Instead, I’ve posted it as a free read at both Wattpad and AO3. Enjoy!

RoomForOne-cover-SM

Room for One

Toby doesn’t figure a musician will make a good housemate, but his new tenant Dakota keeps his guitar practice quiet. Soon Toby finds himself enjoying the handsome man’s company, but when he finds out Dakota is gay and interested in him, Toby isn’t sure he wants to mess up the housing arrangement with sex. It’s been a long time since Toby’s gotten physical with anyone, and he’s not sure he has room for a relationship in his life.Toby doesn’t figure a musician will make a good housemate, but his new tenant Dakota keeps his guitar practice quiet. Soon Toby finds himself enjoying the handsome man’s company, but when he finds out Dakota is gay and interested in him, Toby isn’t sure he wants to mess up the housing arrangement with sex. It’s been a long time since Toby’s gotten physical with anyone, and he’s not sure he has room for a relationship in his life.

At Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/story/55204848-room-for-one

At AO3: http://archiveofourown.org/works/6439474