September 07: It was a very good month!

Disclaimer: I am an adult so the books I read are for grown-ups.  My musings are geared towards other adults unless otherwise stated.  That being the case, if you are a child/adolescent/teenager — call it what you will — keep in mind that children are not grown-ups and child reasoning is very different from adult reasoning.

Books Bought:


Alternatives to Grading Student Writing

            Ed. By Stephen Tchudi

Lanterns & Lances

            By James Thurber

JAG: Clean Steel

            By Robert Tine

Tanner’s Scheme

            By Lora Leigh

The War Against Cliché

            By Martin Amis

Heroes: Riley

            By Lori Foster

Books Read


  Silk & Steel (my first fanfic)

  JAG: Clean Steel

  Alternatives to Grading Student Writing

  Tanner’s Scheme

  The War Against Cliché

  Heroes: Riley



A short novel by Robert Tine based on the CBS television show that ran from 1995-2005.


JAG: Clean Steel is a novelette based on the TV show that I love and cherish, as a part of my San Antonio life and because of the massive, all-consuming crush I had on David James Elliott.  I ordered a second copy as they are becoming scarce and therefore, pricey.  I have two copies of the other novelette, the first one, simply called JAG: The Novel, also scarce and pricey.  Check out eBay.  Check out the prices for these insiders-only gems.  It’s enough to make one feel like part of an exclusive in-crowd if you have them in your collection.  After the final season of JAG is out and there’s no more to be had, there’s a good chance that asking prices for these little paperbacks could become rather exciting.


The plot would make a great 2-parter.  Harm, Mac and Bud have to investigate a possible homicide in an Arctic research station manned by Americans and Russians.  Like an opera, it starts slow and things build, and by the time you get to the last two chapters, it’s like the last 20 minutes of a soccer game – restless, anxious, impatient, ready to throw caution to the winds and just run, run, run!  Pretty exciting stuff.  (I know I’m mixing metaphors, but I know which ones to mix and which ones to not, so it’s okay.)


Note to shippers: shipper moments are pretty much non-existent.  Harm and Mac in the same room is about as shipper as it gets. Sorry.  But the author IS a man.  If the story had been written by Lori Foster or Lora Leigh or Angela Knight, it might have been a different story – literally.



My first fanfic based on characters from the WB’s Tarzan which ran for 8 episodes in Oct. & Nov. 2003.


Writing this story is one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done.  It was done in pieces over the course of two years, starting with the board meeting scene.  One day in the summer of 2004, I was with my mom at her friend’s office.  She was doing some work on the computer and I was at loose ends.  I had an idea running around my head for a while – a relationship between Richard Clayton’s henchman, Patrick Nash, and Richard’s sister Kathleen.  Several other fanfics had put Kathleen together with Sam Sullivan, but that never felt right to me.  He was younger, for a start.  Also, the way I pictured her character, she couldn’t be with someone who was “just” a detective.  She had to be with someone who’d been around the world.  Someone beyond a beat cop.  Someone who was his own boss.  And so Nash started to take shape. 


On the show, he was one-dimensional.  In my story — not so much.  The entire board meeting scene and subsequent restaurant scene I wrote in one afternoon while my mom was getting her Microsoft Word on.  After that, it was work.  Hard work.  Every scene after that had to follow naturally and logically.  “Naturally and logically” is hard slog.  It’s like engineering.  It’s also exciting and completely absorbing. 


Then there’s the dialogue.  I have read a lot of romance books where the hero is the only one capable of wit – or something approaching wit.  That has changed, thank God, with authors like Sherrilyn Kenyon.  Kathleen and Patrick are very intelligent, fast thinkers, decisive.  They are also New Yorkers.  Fast and sharp with a comeback.  Because of  their careers, they can spot a phony from a mile off.  I loved that they were witty together – with each other.  I had to inject some humor into the story so I wouldn’t be bored.


I loved writing this story for them, about them.  It took me several months to complete it, and when I read it now, it’s like going through a scrapbook of happy memories, remembering how it felt to write certain scenes, the joy of enthusiastic feedback.



A collection of essays about how to respond to student writing.


What a yawn-fest.  I shoulda knowed.  Before I talk about the lack of attractive design in this desiccated pile of nerd-speak, let me just say, this book could have been seriously condensed and still kept the main points intact – and easier to find!


I’m reading this to prepare for a workshop I’m going to teach on easing the paper-grading load on English teachers.  You have to be an archeologist to dig out and dust off the main ideas of these essays.  They are professionally done.  They sound very scientific, but that’s not really what the reader needs.  If it’s called “Methods”, show me the methods already!  Don’t force me to wade through a swamp of dissertation-style rhetoric to get to one sentence that says, “Growth-based assessment is the ideal response to student writing.”


I assume someone who’s experienced in English has written that statement.  What the F*&^ does it mean???  Where am I supposed to go with it?  Wait!  Slog through four more paragraphs that reiterate the idea in even less meaningful language until you get to something along the lines of “NCTE feels that grades should be abolished, but we are pretty sure that will not happen.”  WTF?? 


I’m not done with the book yet.  It’s best read as needed, not from cover to cover.




This is one of Lori Foster’s earlier works – from her larval stage.  It’s not bad, but after having read several Lora Leigh books, Foster’s story of a ex-SWAT-now-crime-scene investigator comes across as, well…larval.  I’m almost to the end of the story and Riley has done almost all of the work – all of the seducing, and the heroine, Regina, just sort of says, “okay” and falls into his arms.  Considering how it was written earlier in the decade, it’s very old-fashioned.  The man is manly and the woman is very swoony.  The characters are written in a vague Rochester/Jane Eyre mold in that he has a secret and she wants to love him, if she can just get him to come to terms with his past. 


I like it.  It’s a relaxing read.  It’s sugary, but it’s a breath of fresh air to see people easing their way into a relationship and having conversations instead of being punched in the face by “the lust that would not be denied” sort of attitude.  Think about it.  Lust or no lust, most people stumble into relationships.  I could grow quite fond of Riley.  He always knows just the right things to say to get your attention. 


Now that I think about it, MEN should read this book.  Don’t let your man read the Lora Leigh books. You’ll have to call in late or sick to work all the time, and you’ll get fired.






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