So there’s a little bit of morning left, and I thought I might check in before I head to the office this afternoon for some lesson planning and committee work. Maestro — a little traveling music?
I spent much of Friday afternoon/night and Saturday grading papers from my Freshpeeps, and I was thinking a bit about how technology has changed my process. The kids now submit their papers electronically, via “plagiarism detector” software at Turnitin.com. Of course, it isn’t really a plagiarism detector — it simply identifies writing that it already has in its database; if a match is properly cited, there’s no plagiarism happening. The software also includes a grammar check feature, but it strikes me as being a bit hit-or-miss — I spend/waste a certain amount of time deleting “corrections” that aren’t, and I find plenty of stuff to mark that seems to have eluded the Skynet branch office.
So I now do the bulk of my paper grading in an online environment, and what I’m discovering is that it feels more laborious to me than the paper and pen method. This is because I have to navigate menus to find the “button” for the error I’ve noticed, and then I have to click the comment window fairly often in order to elucidate. When I’m working on hard copy, I just whip out my purple pen and jot what I think is needed. Doubtless I’ll get better as the years pass (and as the software evolves), but right now, it feels like another layer of hassles. All the same, I got the work done with enough time to watch my beloved Kentucky Wildcats pull off a rare football victory over the University of Tennessee, so I guess it’s a win here as well. And I even had a little time for reading…
… specifically, I read one of the books I picked up at Bouchercon, Robert Rotenberg‘s Heart of the City. Rotenberg is a Toronto-based defense attorney and writer, and his books are set on his home turf. The books (at least the two I’ve read) occupy a space with elements of the police procedural, legal thriller, and p.i. novel, and they entertain me both in themselves and as reminders of my favorite city. Heart of the City is his latest, and I think I might go back and check out some of his work that I’ve missed.
But there was other book-related stuff yesterday as well. I received an advance copy of Alive in Shape and Color, the Lawrence Block-edited successor to last year’s In Sunlight or In Shadow. The book includes gorgeous color plates of the artworks that inspired the authors, and I’m quite happy to see my name in there with stars like David Morrell, Joe R. Lansdale, and Joyce Carol Oates, as well as fellow up-and-comers and friends like Thomas Pluck and Jill D. Block.
My story, “Ampurdan”, is based on Salvador Dali’s The Pharmacist of Ampurdan in Search of Absolutely Nothing, and while it’s a bit of an odd story in some ways, it’s one of which I’m quite proud. I hope you’ll like it as well.
But that wasn’t all that showed up in my mailbox…
A print book of formal poetry about life in the Maryland woods, inspired by Old English alliterative verse and ancient and medieval calendar poems! Almost nothing is less marketable.
But he’s a very good poet, and we should encourage such people when we can. If you agree, or if you just want to check out something different, swing by Jeff’s blog and find out how to get a copy of the book.
And speaking of copies of books, I’d like to remind you that my novel Broken Glass Waltzes and the charity anthology Betrayed (which includes my story “The Birthmark and the Brand”) are available at very reasonable prices. Why not pick them up, if you haven’t already?
Well, morning has given way to afternoon, so I’d best get on with my day. But as is my custom, let’s close things with a bit of music. Since we’re closing in on Halloween, I thought I’d go with something spooky from Russian “horror-surfers” Messer Chups. I don’t know much about them, but I may have to change that. This is “Magneto.”
See you soon!