The Midnight Hour Query/Update

*blows dust off of blog*

*mad hacking and coughing ensues*

*gurgle*

I surviiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiived! (though I should have changed the locks and made you leave your key, but whatever)

This is not a lengthy update…I promise something more concrete soon. But at the moment the novel is ALMOST FINISHED (lemme hear ya say amen). I’ll celebrate with champagne here once the draft is done. Watch this space 😉  In the meantime, I did finally finish the query and so I have updated the writing page HERE  so you can see everything I’ve been up to.

You can also read it below:

 

http://livedan330.com/

The Midnight Hour

An outcast of the saintly Port Salus upper class, Raoul Daviau has reinvented himself across the river in the stinking boardwalks of the Fulcrum slums. Even still, he remains haunted by his past: the innocent blood on his hands, the wife who left him, the back-stabbing brother Raoul schemes against.

When a member of his gang goes missing, Raoul’s life in the Fulcrum begins to crumble. When the man’s mutilated body is discovered floating in a canal, and then Raoul is attacked by creatures that are most certainly not human, there is no doubt that evil plagues the Fulcrum.

It will take an uneasy alliance with his estranged wife in order to destroy his brother and keep out of the monsters’ reach — unless the monster inside of Raoul wins first.

 

More to come. Soon.

 

p.s. I apologize deeply and humbly for the lack of gif in this post. There will be a gif-a-palooza when I finish this thing. Just you wait. *cackles*

 

 

 

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That Which They Defend

Ok. So I’ve literally spent weeks trying to figure out how to put this into a coherent blog post because where my heart is concerned, coherency doesn’t always happen. But in light of recent threats against Muslim students at my university, my heart is aching again. So let’s start with this:

2016 was the year I learned to fight. Not just how, but that I must. Because sometimes you have to fight for who and what you love. So much shit happened – the Orlando gay nightclub shooting, the shootings of unarmed black men and women, the horrible comments coming from someone who should be a role model for an entire country – and it breaks my heart.

And in the aftermath all I could think was What can I do? I am only one person. God, show me how to love.

And I had my answer (well, part of it). I am a teacher. I don’t have a classroom yet but that’s beside the point. The point is that I know what I want my classroom to look like. I want it to be a place where anyone – regardless of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, dis/ability, etc. – can walk in and know it’s a safe space. Know that when shit happens, this is a place we can talk about it, breathe, and try to work things through. I’m not saying I’m going to have all the answers. I won’t. And there are things I need to unlearn and things I need to learn. But to create that space where my students know they are cared about and respected. To create that space where we can all learn to use our voices to stand up for the marginalized. That is my vision.

These things that have happened, that are happening, touch people I love fiercely. And all I can say is: if “they” are coming after you, they have to go through me. And if all I can do is stand next to you and hold your hand while the stones fly, then that is what I am going to do. There is no second option.

sunrise

And that which they defend, which I defend, is you.

The Adventures of Nick & Ginny (aka Mr & Mrs Claus)

Right. So  few years ago I took part in the “Countdown to 2015” Challenge on Absolute Write. For every day of December we were given a prompt and the challenge was to write a piece of flash fiction every day. Some of those prompts turned into a series about the (mis)adventures of Nick & Ginny (aka Mr & Mrs Claus) around the Christmas season.

Shenanigans, sarcasm, and silliness ensue. Enjoy 🙂

Being the Adventures of Nick & Ginny (aka, Mr & Mrs Claus)

(Shenanigans, sarcasm, and silliness ensue)

Anna F. Humphrey

nick

 

PRE-CHRISTMAS

1-The elves are building…

“What,” Nick growled, “is that infernal racket? Can’t a man have a little peace and quiet around here?”

“It’s the elves, dear,” Ginny answered, pouring the tea. “They’ve got it into their heads that they need to keep themselves in practice or they’ll fall behind on orders when Christmas gets here.”

Nick rubbed his forehead. “Why did I choose elves?”

“It was the ‘Help an Elf’ program, dear. You were saying you wanted to give back to the community.”
“How’s about I give them back to the community.”

“Oh, be nice. They’re building you a swimming pool.”

He lowered his glasses. “They do realize this is the Arctic, don’t they?”

Ginny shrugged. “I never said they were terribly bright.”

 

2-Not the usual office party

“Who,” Nick growled, “invited the bloody dragon? And don’t tell me it was the elves.”

Ginny looked at him over the rim of her punch. “For someone who gives gifts to children, you are a remarkably grumpy old man.”

“Did you see the naughty list this year?”
“Yes, well, it’s over now dear. Smile and enjoy the party.”

“There’s still a dragon. And someone brought gremlins. I can feel them waiting to make off with my best mittens.”

Ginny smiled and handed him the punch. “Here. Have some of this.”

He scowled. “Is it spiked?”

“Of course.”

Throwing back his head, he drained it.

“Has the dragon started to look cute?”

He held out the glass. “That’ll take at least two more, love.”

 

3-Something On the Roof

What the hell?

Nick forced his eyes open, now convinced that the incessant drumming was not just the after-effects of too much punch. How much had he drunk? Not enough for the bloody dragon to look cute, especially after it had torched the hall.

Dragging himself out of bed and over to the window, he threw up the sash and stuck his head out.

“Jack! I’m-hic-flying!”

“Rudolph, I really don’t think this is a good idea right now…”

Nick groaned and retreated back to bed.

“Nick, dear, what’s going on?”

He pulled the covers over his head. “Rudolph had too much eggnog, that’s what.”

“Oh.” Ginny rubbed her eyes. “Well. At least he knows how to fly.”

Nick snorted. “Tell him that.”

 

4-Wrapped

The elves were hard at work making toys. The painters were painting, the craftsmen were crafting, the sculptors were sculpting…all in all, Nick was forced to admit that when they had a focus, elves were good workers.

Not that he would ever say that.

He strode through the workshop, practicing his ho-ho-ing (couldn’t disappoint the kiddies, no matter how ridiculous he felt), until he came to the Wrapping Room.
“Ginny, what are you doing here?”

She rocked her chair, which was right in front of the door. “Knitting.”

“I can see that. Why?

“Because you can’t go in just yet.”

His stomach plummeted. “Why not?”

With a sigh, she set down her knitting and looked at him over the rim of her glasses. “Because one of them decided it was a good idea to wrap the boxes before they were filled. To save time afterwards.”

He stared at her. Then he let loose a long string of words that were very unsaintly.

“Nick!”

“Next year I’m hiring dwarves.”

 

5-The Solstice

Nick cracked his eye open and stared at the date on the clock: December 21, the winter solstice.

Well, damn.

With a groan he hid his head under the pillow. Maybe it would go away if he wished hard enough. Hell, wasn’t it time some fat man in a red suit brought him a present?

“Time to get up, dear,” Ginny said, gleefully pulling the blanket away. “The reindeer games won’t wait.”

He tugged on the blanket. “That’s what I’m counting on.”

Ginny gave a violent yank and the blanket fled from his grasp. “If you don’t referee then Rudolph won’t play, and then he’ll sulk, and don’t you remember the last time that happened?”

“Rudolph is a diva.”

“But he’s a diva with clout, dear.”

 

6-Ancient Rites

There are many ancient rites surrounding Christmas and the winter solstice, many of which were so old no one could remember why they started or how.

This was one Nick bloody well wished they’d bloody well do away with. There were only so many cookies he could eat in one night without making himself sick. And giving them to the reindeer was out of the question, since sugar rendered them high and useless.

Just once, he wished someone would leave him a nice bottle of whisky – maybe a Scapa 16 – or a really old French red.

With a sigh, he stared down at the plate of chocolate chip cookies and glass of milk.

“Bottoms up, Nick.”

 

POST-CHRISTMAS

7-101 Easy Tricks You Can Teach Your Druid

“What,” said Nick, speaking very slowly so that the elf would understand him, “is this?” He held up the book.

“Oh,” said the elf, so brightly it hurt. “You weren’t supposed to see that.”

Nick smiled. It was the type of smile that would have sent a polar bear running, but the elf seemed not to have received the memo. “Why not?”

“Because I haven’t finished it yet. I’m in training to be your own personal druid!”

“And what makes you think I need a druid?”

“Sir, you fly a sleigh in the middle of winter. As your personal druid, I can control the weather to give you optimum flying conditions.”

Nick flipped to the table of contents. “They don’t list controlling the weather in here.”

“That’s because it’s in the second volume. Right here, sir: 101 MORE Easy Tricks You Can—

“I don’t need a druid.”

“But—”

“No. And if you even think about messing with the weather, I will replace you with a dwarf. Am I clear?”

“Yes sir.” The elf rose and leaned forward, lowering his voice confidentially. “Actually, sir, I’m glad you said that. It’s a lot of work.”

Nick pinched the bridge of his nose. “Dismissed. Go take a holiday.”

“Yes, sir. Thank you sir!”

And then the elf bounded out the door.

Nick picked up the phone. “Ginny, please tell me the bags are packed.”

“Ready and waiting,” she said, cheerfully. “Let me guess, you just had your yearly “I want to be a druid”?”

“Yes. Please tell me we’re going somewhere very far away.”

Ginny sniffed. “Of course, dear. I can’t wait to see you in your swimming trunks.”

Nick smiled. “Why Mrs. Claus, whatever are you planning?”

“Why don’t you come home and I’ll show you?”

Nick laughed. “On my way, love.”

And with that, he hung up. He reached for his coat, grabbed the druid books – leaving them in the open with a hundred silly elves running around the place was a bad idea. How did the damn thing keep turning up, anyway? – and headed for the door.

It was time for a holiday. Just him, Ginny, and a beach.

He couldn’t wait.

 

8-At the Bottom of the Stocking

The plane landed and Nick stared out the window, grinning at the heat waves that shimmered on the tarmac. Four weeks of sun, sand, and Ginny and no bloody elves or extended family knocking on the door.

The hotel was perfect – they’d stayed there last year – and they paused only long enough the dump off their bags before they wandered down to the beach, hand in hand.

“Why,” Ginny asked, “for the love of frost, are you wearing stockings? We’re on the beach, dear.”

His grin grew wider (he hadn’t stopped grinning since they’d landed and he was worried he might have pulled something). “Because, Ginny love, I love the feel of sand at the bottom of my stockings. It’s bloody irritating, but it reminds me we’re not at home.”

Ginny laughed. “You strange old man.”

“You married me.”

“Well, it was either you or the Easter Bunny.”

“Mrs. Claus!”

And with a roar that put his ­ho-hos to shame, he chased her down the beach.

 

9-Relative

Time slipped by rather too quickly and it was nearing the end of the third week when Nick began to worry.

“Let me get this straight,” Ginny said, sipping her martini. “Everything is going so well you’re sure the other shoe is about to drop.”

Nick glared into his scotch (a lovely Scapa 16. Damn but the Scots made a fine whisky). “Doesn’t it always?”

“Usually because you expect it,” Ginny answered, dryly.

“I—”

“Damn!” Ginny set down her glass. “Nick. Out. Now.”

“What—oh.” He downed his scotch (no sense letting it go to waste) and ushered Ginny out the side door.

His cousin, Father Frost, had just entered the restaurant, complete with bodyguards.

A life in organized crime tended to require that of a person.

 

10-Friends

“Kolya! Cousin! What are you doing here?”

Nick groaned and Ginny made a face. “Better face the music, dear,” she muttered.

He snorted, watching as Father Frost – Boris – drew near. “The last time we met I almost did, or don’t you remember?”

“Of course I remember; you looked good in orange. But you’re not exactly low-profile. You can’t hide from him.”

“Wanna bet? Borya!” he cried, and plastered a huge grin on his face. Yep, he had definitely pulled something there. “What a surprise.”

“Konechno!” Boris gripped his hand in a bone-crushing handshake, then enveloped him in an equally bone-crushing hug. Ginny, he noted sourly, seemed to be having trouble not laughing.

“So what brings you and your…friends to this island?” Nick asked.

Boris looked up from kissing Ginny’s hand. “I heard you were in the neighbourhood.”

Well, damn. “What do you want, Borya?”

Boris nodded his head over at one of his bodyguards. One was tall and broad, his scalp plastered with Russian prison tattoos, and the other was smaller than Nick, muscular, and clearly grumpy behind his beard. “I need you take Igor with you to the North Pole.” He motioned at the shorter one.

Nick felt his heart sink. “Why?”

Boris coughed delicately. “Don’t ask questions, Kolya. You should know that. Besides, I think you’ll like him.”

Nick glared at him. “What makes you say that?”

Boris smiled. “He’s a dwarf.”

Ginny burst out laughing.

 

11-Home Again

Ah, yes. The North Pole. After a month’s vacation, Nick was almost ready to see the place again. “Well, Igor, what do you think?”

Igor sniffed and stepped outside the terminal. “Xolodno. Cold. Good. Very good.” He stomped on the ground with his boot. “There is good rock here. I can build. Very good.”

Ginny nudged Nick in the ribs, her mouth forming the word “elves”. Nick winced.

“So, Igor…did Kolya tell you I work with elves?”

Igor froze. “Elves? Why you work with elves? Elves silly. Elves—” He stopped, staring at the waiting sleigh.

Nick frowned and looked over. Rudolph was leading the team, and waiting outside were the less ridiculous members of his enterprise: Green, Everest, and…oh damn.

Ginger.

The pretty little elf with the red hair and rosy cheeks and a surprisingly sarcastic sense of humour.

“Elves pretty,” Igor murmured. Then he stepped forward, swept off his hood, and bowed low over Ginger’s hand. “Krasotka!*”

Nick groaned. Damn. And damn again.

Ginny took his arm, shaking with laughter. “Welcome home, love.”

 

*babe, lovely, cracker, bombshell, cutie, beautiful

 

Bonus-About those gremlins…

The Chief Gremlin set his Santa hat at a jaunty angle (‘twas the season, after all) and strode into the room.

“Task force!” he barked.

As one, the assembled gremlins jumped into formation and saluted. “Sir!”

He whipped his pointer stick against the map on the wall. “Tonight, we tackle the Upper West Side of the city. Shaggy’s Task Force has the Lower West.” He narrowed his eyes. “We are 2-0 and we’re keeping that lead.”

One gremlin raised his hand.

“What?”

“Sir, some of the humans have been investing in idiot-mittens.”

“What is this, training school? Snip them. Any other stupid questions? No? Good. I want a pile of mittens on my desk in the morning. Dismissed.”

 

 

 

 

Til we have faces

::dons surgical mask::

::grabs dust mop::

DIE DUST BUNNIES!!!!!

::a cloud of dust erupts as the killer mutant monster dust bunnies are swept out of the blog::

Phew. I’m ba-ack! 🙂

 

moriarty

 

In my defense, it was a hell of a summer and I never promised to update regularly. 😛

The title for this post is from C.S. Lewis’ novel of the same name and it is brilliant. Read it, if you haven’t. The title seemed appropriate for this post. I have literally spent weeks trying to figure out how to put this into words as all the thoughts kept being a whirlwind in my head, refusing to coalesce into coherency. I finally found the key in the words of one of my friends (you know who you are):

 

Don’t let your passion and creativity take backseat to your image.

 

Why is this so forefront in my mind right now? This semester I took a class on teaching and pedagogy. It was, I kid you not, the most valuable class I’ve taken in the course of this degree. It stretched my mind and gave me a vision for what I want my own teaching practice and classroom to look like, and gave me so much to think about.* But one of the major things it made me think about is who I am in the classroom. Not as a student, but as a teacher. And it’s not something I ever had to think about before because I just decided to be myself, and that seems to work. My first time teaching research methods I was new, nervous, though I thought the whole thing went reasonably well. The second time around, I decided to have fun with it. I geeked out my slides: every week was a different theme, ranging from Star Wars to Doctor Who to Lord of the Rings, which inevitably led to pre/post class discussions on why exactly the Witch King could NOT have broken Gandalf’s staff**, why Peter Capaldi is a bloody brilliant 12th Doctor***, why Thor: The Dark World was NOT the worst Marvel film ever****, etc.

And that one seemingly small change changed the entire atmosphere of the classroom. I was still the instructor, but I was human. Everything was more relaxed. We got the work done, but we had some laughs along the way as well. I loved that semester.

So bringing myself into the classroom with the things that make me me is not something I ever thought about. I learned to do it.

And then we started talking about image in the classroom and the problems in academia in that respect. Do a Google search for “university professor”. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

You see the problem? The image search results overwhelmingly favour older white men*****. While the situation is changing within academia, it’s far from changed over. One of the women panelists who came to class, a young woman in her thirties, gave a talk on how she felt she had to keep the “dancing” part of herself out of the classroom in order to be taken seriously.

STOP. RIGHT. THERE.

I am a dancer.******

I am a writer.

I need both these things like breathing. I was made to dance like I was made to write. They are part of what makes me a whole person, and when I bring the whole person into the classroom as opposed to the person I think I should be it gives me so much more confidence. And I’m a better teacher for it.

 

Point.

 

 

*Trust me, that’s another blog post. I’ll get to it. Eventually. Patience is a virtue, people.

**I have no other complaints about the films. They are gorgeous. Stunning. But I will nitpick on that one detail. Fight me.

***BLOODY. BRILLIANT. I LOVE HIM.

****I WILL FIGHT YOU ON THIS. DANCE OFF. NOW.

*****I’d have provided a screenshot but my computer is being stupid and won’t let me. Grr.

******And lemme just say, I spent the entire summer dealing with an injury it only served to make me go HELL YES I AM A DANCER AND I WILL DANCE.

The Sunshine Thingy (aka, silly questions)

Righty then. I was tagged by S. Hunter Nisbet to do the Sunshine Thingy. Also known as answering silly questions and providing some of my own. It’s a blog meme. So I’ll be tagging some suckers lucky lovelies to carry on the meme lest we all lose our way in the mists of the interwebs and what-else-have-you.

Let the games begin!

 

  1. Dost thou speaketh any other languages? If so, what is thine go-to phrase when people say “Ooh, say something in that language!”

I speaketh 3.5. Or, 2 + .5 +.5. Ish. I’m bilingual in English & French, speak a very rusty Spanish (I can get by) and a teensy bit of Russian. I know the Russian is still there, but it’s veeeeeeeeeeeeery rusty. Favourite phrase with which to impress people in Russian? “я немного говорю по русски” “Ya nyemnoga govoryou po-russki” “I don’t speak much Russian”. This is usually followed by “Вы говорите по-английски?” “Vi govoritye po-angliskii?” “Do you speak English?” 😀

Useful. Dat’s me. 😉

 

  1. Hast thine car ever run out of gas? What did you do?

Nyet. I ride a magic carpet. What do you take me for? Next!

 

  1. Didst thou go to university, and what was thy major or focus?

Went to uni. Did a BA in English Lit with a minor in Russian (aha! you say), then did a Masters of Library and Information Studies. I was going to be a librarian. It didn’t work out. Now I’m back in school doing an MLit because I want to teach English Lit. And I focus on the medieval stuff, though I am forced out of sheer necessity (i.e. I need the credits) to take a summer course about a bloody pretentious git of a modern playwright. After this course is over, he and I are never, ever, EVER getting back together.

 

  1. What is thine starter Pokemon?

I don’t speak Pokemon. I speak Myst and Carmen Sandiego. Still putting the “miss” in “misdemeanor” as I go. 😉

 

  1. Black thumb, or digit of greenest emerald?

Black. Only give me your plants if you want to murder them.  >:)

 

  1. In a world where thy eyebrows were, in fact, long enough to reach the brim of thine hat, dost thou trim them or let them be ala Gandalf?

Hmmmm….trim them. They’d just get in my tea.

 

  1. What was the first chapter book thou ever read, and why?

What. You want to think that far back? I has no clue. None. So to weasel my way around, the first chapter book I remember reading is The Secret of the Old Clock. NANCY DREW FTW.

 

  1. How many poems can thou recite at will?

1.5. By which I mean, I can recite parts of a poem. Macavity the Mystery Cat by T.S. Eliot (screw The Wasteland, and yes I just said that and no, I don’t regret it) is sheer joy. As the threatening rhyme in the opening chapters of The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson. That one must be recited with a thick Scottish accent. I do my best. *cough*

 

  1. If I say we must do something for the good of the many, not the few, thy answer will be:

Nyarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh

 

  1. What is knee high by the fourth of July?

Apparently the answer is corn. And yes, I googled that. No, I have no shame.

 

…and how would you answer? Comment if you feel so inclined!

As for the lucky ducks chosen to carry on the flame…I challenge Elaine Witt Nicole Wilson  Maggie Maxwell and Outtamylaine

I salute you all and ply you with cookies and tea. Your questions are below. You know the rest.

::cracks knuckles::

 

  1. You are stranded on a desert island. You are allowed one book, one CD, and one movie. What do you take?
  2. Favourite season? Why?
  3. Coffee fanatic or tea fiend? With milk/cream and sugar or without?
  4. What one place would you visit with that magical plane ticket? Why?
  5. Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, or Harry Potter? ::evil laugh::
  6. Black Widow or Catwoman? Explain.
  7. Milk chocolate or sinfully dark?
  8. Smaug: justified in defending his hoard against thieving dwarves or homicidal maniac?
  9. Dragons or krakens?
  10. You find a gold ring buried in your backyard. What do you do?