Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Witty's Year End Book Review 2022

I know I am late at the end of this year to compile the best of what I've read this 2022, please don't yell, it'll wake the cats... 

As a reminder, this list is not the best books that came out this year, but the best of what I've read this year. This means the book could be published five-ten years ago and I've just gotten around to it. The book should well be available in your local library (or you can always purchase online).

Here's my 2022 recommendations:

Best Fiction

Free Fire, CJ Box

I've been trying to diversify my reading interests as part of my librarian's duty of advisory (recommending stuff to patrons asking for new authors to follow), so instead of the science-fiction / fantasy stuff I tend to peruse, I've been reading various thriller series to see if I can find something other than Jack Reacher to promote.

Box has an ongoing series revolving around character Joe Pickett, a game warden from the vast ranges of Wyoming, who comes across dangerous killers and sociopathic bureaucrats in near-equal forces. Pickett's fortunes rise and fall depending on how desperate various politicians are to resolve public disasters, which is how this novel opens with the state's governor granting Pickett the authority to investigate a murder spree where the killer's already turned himself in and confessed.

The twist is the killer committed his murders in a particular corner of Yellowstone National Park where a Constitutionally-enforced legal loophole means nobody can ever be brought to trial for any crimes they commit there. This is the freaky thing: This Zone of Death is real, and Box uses this novel to examine the ramifications of how a devious individual (working for a conspiracy involving Yellowstone's unique habitat) could exploit it.

I bring up this novel, and the Pickett series, as a counter to the popular Jack Reacher series that I've tried reading and just left it feeling underwhelmed. While both series are similar in format, the characters and settings in Box's novels are more relatable and convincing. Also, Pickett and the other characters talk more.

Best Non-Fiction

Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service, Carol D. Leonnig

Out of all the post-trump works out there worth reading, I found this book by Leonnig to provide an interesting side note to all of the ongoing breakdowns of accountability across our government (of which trump's rise was merely part of the problem).

Leonnig examines the role of the Presidential bodyguard agency responsible for the safety and protection of the President, Vice President, and other vital members of the Executive branch. An organization with some effectiveness but haunted by tragic failures, the Secret Service has found its mission objectives at odds with ethical and professional norms especially when the War of Terror changed the agency into a purely praetorian role. Various scandals - including a prostitution-hiring embarrassment in Colombia - kept pointing to an agency staffed by poorly trained and undisciplined members who were hired for reasons other than being at the top of their game. The situation got worse when trump arrived, staffing the top offices with personal cronies who would be called upon to cover up some of trump's worst excesses (including the January 6th Insurrection that almost saw Secret Service agents kidnap Vice President Pence (!) to disrupt the electoral count).

I would have considered several other anti-trump books, but Leonnig's work uncovers a systemic breakdown that exists even without trump's corrupting influence.  

Best Graphic Novel (or Ongoing Series)

Jurassic League (DC), Daniel Warren Johnson, Juan Gedeon, and Mike Spicer

There are many epic stories in the comics 'Verses, there are often Earth-shattering conflicts with dark consequences, there are annual Crises that tests the valor and virtue of our legendary heroes.

This series is not one of those.

What's known in the DC Universe as an Elseworlds storyline, Jurassic League is basically a variation of the established superhero 'verse of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and all the other heavy hitters of their major superhero team... but with DINOSAURS. It's as goofy as it sounds, and that's what makes it fun. With all the other somber, dark, even gory storylines the DCU is working on - the Vampires series that got so bleak you just couldn't keep reading it, or the Dark Crisis series as yet another attempt to fix all the continuity errors that came from the first big Crisis - it's sometimes refreshing to read a comic book series that's in it for the goofiness. Even Darkseid shows up as a dino. It's awesome.

Best Work By Someone I Email, Tweet, or Chat With On a Regular Basis

The Kang Dynasty Omnibus, Kurt Busiek and Alan Davis w/ other artists

As part of getting up to speed on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is going into Phase V this 2023, I needed to read up on the next Big Bad of the story arc... which is going to be Kang the Conqueror. Considered one of Marvel's biggest villains - Thanos being the universal threat, and Kang (and oft-times rival Dr. Doom) being the Earth-based threat(s) - Kang is still unfamiliar to me (due to my devotion to the DCU). All I know is, he's a future-based villain with time control powers - among several others - making him a multidimensional threat. Past that, I got nothing. So I went hunting for any collected volumes, and this was one I got into.

This makes the "Someone I Email/Tweet" list with Busiek being a regular Twitter poster to whom I've replied and retweeted. Often with Busiek slapping me down for my silliness and Reply Guy tendencies. My bad. Still, Busiek is one of the more popular authors in the graphic novels/comics industry that I follow, giving a good review of his JLA/Avengers crossover years ago. His Kang Dynasty is a must-read if you want to be able to follow the next set of Marvel movies without whispering to the geek sitting next to you "Wait, what superpower did he just use again?"

Best Work Including Stuff I Wrote

Strangely Funny IX, edited by Sarah Glenn

Containing my submission "The Brides of Wi-Fi," a modern take on the three vampire women associated with whatever Lord of the Vampires - no, NOT the D guy - you may confront at a spooky gothic mansion in the hills of Georgia. It's different from my previous vampire stories, going by different rules, but that's par for the course in vampire mythos where the powers and weaknesses of the strigoi change from region to region (and sometimes even in the same narrative 'Verse, damn you Hammer Horror for your inconsistency). Please do buy a copy of Strangely Funny and please do leave a good review, danke.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

NaNoWriMo 2022 Status

I reached 50,000 words! On the "rebellious space princess" novel idea!


Keep yelling at me to finish. I need the motivation of having an editor with a shotgun and an egg timer pushing me onward.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

I Survived Lake County Comic Con 2022

And I have the pictures to prove it!

There was a bit of a problem when I arrived: the table they assigned was in the doorway where vendors were entering to set up, meaning *I* couldn't set up, but the convention organizer Scott found a table available where the person had relocated to another group area (some vendors work as a team at various cons).

But once I got everything set up, and the doors opened to the public, the place got busy.

Either bring a basket of candy to draw a crowd,
or make a special offer.
The offer itself didn't attract people: I had buyers
refuse the coffee mugs. Sigh.

And oh boy did I get busy.

I sold eight books this con. Personal record. Previous attendance I had many three at most, probably two books sold all day. EIGHT today. I feel like I can take on the whole Empire myself. And each of the book volumes of Strangely Funny went home with eager readers. I am now officially out of Strangely Funny Volume I.

I had so many people stop by my table - between the busy hours of 11 AM to 3 PM - that I barely had any time to circle around and get pictures.

You might remember John Crowther. He was there
promoting more of his wrestling comics, as well as a
new novel!

Not sure of this cosplay.

EVERYBODY knows Squirrel Girl!!!

The crowd seemed about the same as last year's, although not as many cosplayers this time. It was rainy weather today - a cold front blowing across central Florida, yes it DOES get cold here - so that may have affected costumers avoiding the rain.

Thanks all, those who attended, and I hope to have something new - a nice fantasy or sci-fi novel - for you for next year's con! 

Friday, November 11, 2022

Lake County Comic Con 2022: I Shall Be There

And I shall be square!

The annual Lake County Comic Con - located at the Trilogy Orlando, address 100 Falling Acorn Ave, Groveland FL, it's north of Clermont FL folks, check your GPS - will open Sunday November 20 from 10AM to 5PM, and I will be one of many vendors there offering our wares!

I will bring the latest volume of the Strangely Funny anthology series, copies of my short story collection Last of the Grapefruit Wars, and a special offer this time around.


For one book purchase at $10.00, you get a Witty Librarian mousepad!

For two book purchases at $20.00, you get a Witty Librarian mug!

Supplies are limited, so the deal won't last!

I might even bring my Royal Palm Literary Award for display!

Hope to see you there, drive safe. Mask up if need to, COVID is still out there, please get your booster shots. 

Sunday, November 6, 2022

NaNo 2022 Update Week One

Getting to the first week of NaNoWriMo wrapped up and I am over 10,000 words today!

I just need to find out where this photo came from and I've got my book cover already.

Friday, November 4, 2022

For Winning the Silver in the RPLA Nonfiction Blogging


I will add this to my "Irrational" article over at the You Might Notice A Trend blog.

It's always a good motivational to have an award on your mind as you keep writing. /sigh

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Time to NaNoWriMo 2022

Where's your word count already, fellow writers!

I've actually got a decent turnout of writers at Bartow Library tonight, which bodes well for the Lakeland group presenting a strong front this year.

In the meantime I gotta start this Sci-Fi fantasy series of a falling stellar empire and a rebellious princess who turns herself into a jaguar lady. GET TO WORK, people!

Sunday, October 30, 2022

I Survived Florida Writers Conference 2022

And I have documented evidence that they didn't survive me. BWHAHAHAHA. Ow stop hitting me.


I have my Batman logo t-shirt on, but
my blue button-shirt is in the laundry
so I wore a white-blue beach bum shirt
instead. I masked for much of the day

One of the two writing sessions I attended.
The FWA organizers hosted a smaller program this year,
again due to COVID and people still being wary of
public places...

The lunch gathering.

The dinner gathering. They switched out the tablecloths,
obviously. ;-)

One thing at FWA was the backlog of annual anthology
publications offered for FREE. I'm guessing they were
clearing out storage space somewhere.
FREE BOOKS!!!!! This was just the one I brought with me
to the dinner. There was a huge pile of volumes
back in my car...

I changed out to a more professional look for the dinner,
because I was a Royal Palm Literary Award finalist in the
Nonfiction - Blogging/Articles category. I know this isn't
Oscars-worthy fashion, but WORK WITH ME HERE.

Hark! A Blogger Approaches!


There may be more photos and prize stickers forthcoming. Long day, satisfying night. 

Update: Here is the official event photo of me accepting the award!

Keep on blogging, you beautiful bastards!


Friday, October 28, 2022

Thursday, October 6, 2022

NaNo Time, Kiddos, for 2022

It's less than a month away: Another round of National Novel Writing Month

I've been doing this regularly since (checks notes) 2006, off and on with some success reaching the 50,000 word counts certain years.

The problem, which bothers me but not to the point of obsession, is that I don't finish up.

I've had - past tense, because the flash drive I've been saving to is lost now - a stack of unfinished first drafts piling up that I found myself unable to finish either because 1) I hated the direction the novels were going even when I had plotted them first, or 2) lost track of how I wanted those works to end. When I found myself with about five of those unfinished drafts, I couldn't decide on which one to stay focused on.

This year, with something of a clean slate ahead of me, I will be making the effort to plot out a reasonably short work, nothing too elaborate, and find the motivation to stick to the landing on this stunt.

Wish me luck.


Friday, August 12, 2022

FWA Finalists for the 2022 Royal Palm Literary Awards


Two of my blog article submissions to the Best Non-Fiction Short/Blogging category have reached FINALIST status!!!

The submissions still in it to win it are:

Hark! A Ranking of Nirvana Albums


I'm a bit surprised The Tragedy of Surfside did not reach Finalist status, as it was both a somber (and non-partisan) article as well as something of regional (Florida) interest. Irrational, after all, was rather partisan (anti-trumpian) in tone. Hmm. The judging does depend on how the readers view the quality of it, alas.

Still and all, NOW I have to go get a day pass to attend this year's FWA Conference to be present for a hopeful award win. I know now the rules about Finalist grading does NOT guarantee a win - there can be more than three Finalists, hell there could be more than TEN Finalists for the top three awards - so I will be more guarded about my hopes.

Good luck, all.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Official Release: Strangely Funny IX

It's official: Strangely Funny IX - containing my short submission "The Brides of WiFi" - is available on!

The Kindle download version is up-and-running, although Sarah at Mystery & Horror LLC says they're still waiting on the print proof for the paperback version.

Either way, it's good to go faithful readers!

For those of you wondering about the other stories they've published in the Strangely Funny series, check out the earlier volumes I'm in:

"I Must Be Your First" in Strangely Funny

"Minette Dances With the Golem of Albany" in Strangely Funny III

"The Pumpkin Spice Must Flow" in Strangely Funny V

"How a Vampire Gets a Tan" in Strangely Funny VI

"War of the Murder Hornets" in Strangely Funny VIII

Also check out "Why The Mask" in Mardi Gras Murder and "The Secret of the Battle of Los Angeles" in History and Mystery Oh My

Many thanks again to Sarah and Gwen for accepting these stories, and get to reading the rest of ye!

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Trailblazer: RIP Nichelle Nichols

One of the sadder things about the passage of time is the passing of legends and inspirations. All the actors and performers and motivational figures you knew when you were children do not stay 30 years old, they age as you do, and given how brief our times may be at some point that time ends.

I've been growing up as a Generation X geek, still living that life - I just came back from the 2022 Tampa Bay Comic Con, I will post elsewhere about it - but where I was a child of seven watching Star Wars on screen and Star Trek reruns on TV, a teenager watching Star Trek: The Next Generation, a college student laughing to Red Dwarf, I've aged into a thirtysomething-turned-fiftysomething keeping up with the ever-growing Marvel Cinematic Universe and thrilled as a child at heart as my youthful geekdom gets fulfilled.

But as these years pass, so to do the heroes of my youth, and today came the painful news that actress Nichelle Nichols famous as the USS Enterprise's Uhura died this weekend at the age of no I won't go there (via Mandalit Del Marco at NPR):

Nichols was one of the first Black women featured in a major television series, and her role as Lt. Nyota Uhura on the original TV series was groundbreaking: an African American woman whose name came from Uhuru, the Swahili word for "freedom."

"Here I was projecting in the 23rd century what should have been quite simple," Nichols told NPR in 2011. "We're on a starship. I was head communications officer. Fourth in command on a starship. They didn't see this as being, oh, it doesn't happen til the 23rd century. Young people and adults saw it as now..."

"Trailblazing" is the word they're describing her. I've written before about "Representation Matters" when it came to the likes of Wonder Woman and having characters like Rey emerge in the Star Wars canon. This is what I wrote about the importance of Nichols back in the Civil Rights Era of the 1960s when she played Uhura on the original show:

It cast African-Americans in prominent starring and guest roles: Just having Uhura - despite the seeming meaningless task of "hailing" calls - on the bridge of a starship alongside White men (mostly) in a genuine attempt at ethnic and gender sharing was shocking for the 1960s television market. Would it stun you to find out that Southern television stations back in the day would insist on cutting out any black characters on shows as much as possible? Having Uhura in nearly every bridge shot made that impossible. No less a figure than Martin Luther King spoke to actress Nichelle Nichols to convince her to stay on after she wanted to move on: She was that important a role model...

The NPR article goes into more detail about what happened:

"He complimented me on the manner in which I'd created the character. I thanked him, and I think I said something like, 'Dr. King, I wish I could be out there marching with you.' He said, 'no, no, no. No, you don't understand. We don't need you ... to march. You are marching. You are reflecting what we are fighting for.' So, I said to him, 'thank you so much. And I'm going to miss my co-stars.'"

"His face got very, very serious," she recalled. "And he said, 'what are you talking about?' And I said, 'well, I told Gene just yesterday that I'm going to leave the show after the first year because I've been offered... And he stopped me and said: 'You cannot do that.' I was stunned. He said, 'don't you understand what this man has achieved? For the first time, we are being seen the world over as we should be seen. He says, do you understand that this is the only show that my wife Coretta and I will allow our little children to stay up and watch.' I was speechless."

This was back in 1967, on what was supposed to be yet another television show, a science fiction show representing a genre that wasn't being taken seriously by the academics... but was turning into a cultural phenomenon that redefined fandom and brought the hopes and dreams of the future to the kids and teens who were watching Star Trek. Reverend King saw it and understood, as a Civil Rights leader he knew all about "Representation Matters." As much as he mattered on the political stage, Uhura mattered on the TV screen.

While the role eventually dominated her career - much like her co-stars who had to live with and come to terms with their legacy - Nichols took it in stride and accepted her place as a role model to Blacks, Women, and both as the years went on. Above all, Nichols took up a job working with NASA to promote more Black Women in the sciences to get more of them working in space programs.

In the matter of "Representation Matters," Nichelle Nichols was the undisputed queen. Entire generations grew up to her as Uhura. She defined the role even as other actresses - Zoe Saldana in the reboot films, and Celia Rose Gooding in this year's inaugural season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds - grew up to succeed her.

Nichols blazed an arc across the stars. I leave you with this, one of her best badass moments in the TOS film series, dealing with "Mr. Adventure" in III:

When the cocky cadet's talk got Uhura's eyes rolling, everyone in the theaters knew he was toast. She was on a five-year voyage, son, and slapped down the likes of V'Ger and Khan. She probably kept him in that closet until Star Trek VI.

Farewell, Nichelle. All our hopes.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Update on the FWA Royal Palm Submissions in 2022

Well, started getting the word back from the Florida Writers' Association on the Royal Palm Literary Awards, where I had submitted five articles from my political blog this year for consideration in the Non-Fiction - Blogging category.

Sad news is that two of them - "The Big Lie and the One Truth," and "Strange Days Inside the Job Lines" - did not make the Semifinalist cut.

Good news is that three of them - "Irrational," "The Tragedy in Surfside," and "Hark! A Ranking of Nirvana Albums" - DID make the Semifinalist cut, and I am hopeful that at least one of those articles can reach Finalist status as well.

I have to admit the new art logos for the RPLA awards are more eye-catching than the previous banners. Nice...

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Upcoming Cover for Strangely Funny IX

My submission "The Brides of WiFi" shall be contained therein!

Information on publication date coming soon! 

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Book With the Blue Cover: Logos and Branding, Eh

So the topic of self-marketing and branding came up among the writers group I'm with here in the Lakeland area, and considering I have an account with VistaPrint to make mousepads and coffee mugs promoting my Witty Librarian brand, I wondered if they had a Logo Designer I could use to make logos I could slap on stuff to promote meself.

So I made this, primarily to create logos for this blog site: 

It's a bit wordy, I admit, but I can work with it and design other logos.

Granted, I'm not as creative with design as I'd like to be, but I'll try.

Update: How's this for an avatar-ish logo?

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Getting Through the Writing Grind

It's about that time in my writing calendar for hearing back from the Florida Writers Association about my various submissions. Both to the annual anthology contest - this year's theme was "Thrills and Chills" - as well as the Royal Palm Literary awards. 

Welp. I heard back from the judges on the Annual and... I did not make the 60-story cut.

I knew it was a long shot - they get so many submissions - but still I'm sitting here wondering "what the hell do I have to write... HOW do I write something that will appeal to others?"

I know the rule is "write for yourself" foremost, but c'mon, you're writing so others can see your work and be entertained if you do it well.

I hope that my blog writing - which relies a lot on my journalism expertise for pithy and concise wordcraft as well as my librarian background on research - can be more impressive (I did win a Silver for one blog article two years ago, but I struck out last year. Sigh).

Part of my writing logjam is having about five or six ideas at any one time and then failing to focus on getting one done in a fast-enough manner to make it relevant to the moments that inspire me. Part of it is the doubt that creeps in along the lines of "no, wait, people aren't going to grok that" or worse.

I look through Submission Grinder from time to time wondering what I could submit to, or start working on to fill an editorial request, but I get stumped and frustrated second-guessing myself on what those editors really want.

I read enough to know what the markets are like, I write enough to feel I have a knack for it.

But most of the time I just despair. This isn't a hobby anymore, or a lark.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

May the 4th Be With You 2022 Edition

Wake up Nerf Herders!

It's MAY THE 4th!!!

Celebrate all the ways you can!

Celebrate in LEGO!

Dance to the rhythm of the Force!

And don't let the stormtroopers get you down!

Beware the Revenge of the Sixth, people!

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

A Writer's Lament

There is nothing more heartbreaking to a writer than the loss of the USB flash drive that contained every Work-In-Progress and archived story you've ever written.

/anguished scream

With luck, the flash drive is merely dropped behind or underneath some furniture in my house. Bad luck would be if it had fallen into a trash can and already placed in the condo unit's dumpsters.

/anguished scream repeated

The good news is I've done backups, and I have older flash drives that contain earlier versions of stuff I'd written and were working on before the newest flash drive. Unfortunately, everything after 2018-19 was on that flash drive, and if I try to go back and restart stuff... well, if I gotta I gotta.

There was also a lot of personal stuff - photos, family docs, research - on that USB that I'm missing as well.



Sunday, March 20, 2022

If I Had to Build My Own Library

So let's say I win a mega lotto, hundreds of millions of dollars all in one go, and I could do anything and everything with it. How evil would I get with it? 

Well, I *would* set aside a set amount of it - maybe $15 million - to myself, I could live comfortably on that and never work again. I would put a certain amount into long-term investments to make sure I never go bankrupt down the line. That would still leave millions upon millions at disposal.

I wouldn't buy yachts - although there may be a resale market right now with all the Russian oligarchs losing theirs - and I wouldn't go crazy buying mega mansions with 20 bedrooms and 5-car garages, that's just all waste.

I'd put most of that money into foundations and charities, donating out to those issues - refugees, immigrants, homeless relocation to good homes, animal rescues, child care, women's health - I would deem most essential.

I'd also as a librarian - who's been in love with libraries and books since I was a child - put money towards building a good-sized public library serving a needy community.

Which intrigues the amateur architect / interior designer in me. What would my dream public library look like?

First off: It must serve the community. Every feature that makes a library what it is - bookshelf space, reading space, computer lab, teen reading space, children's story time and crafts room, adult makerspace craft room - also has to share public meeting room space and outdoors activity space.

It'll depend on where the library goes, the size of the community. More people = more demands on library services = bigger floorspace. I currently work in Bartow, that's around 20,000 people. I grew up in Palm Harbor, that's currently 60,000 people. A new library in Palm Harbor would HAVE to be bigger than Bartow's, obviously.

Should it be single-story or multi-floors? If I wanted to show off, I'd make it at least a three-story building with the public meeting rooms and special services offices - like a café, art gallery, and Friends of the Library Book Store - on the first floor, YA and adult services/computer lab on the second floor, library admin and children's services on the third. But a building like that will require elevators - side note, libraries ought to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act - and near-constant maintenance of them. That's not even considering the huge amount of HVAC / central air and heat you'll need for all those floors. Oft times, a single-story public library would be best. Only the major metro and county library systems - Hi, Broward Main! - should think about multi-floor libraries.

Collection Management of any library requires a basic core collection of reading materials, DVDs, CDs, and audiobooks for checkout. Some distributors will offer package deals on those, but they ought to get supplemented with local authors and regional interests materials. I'd actually opened a new regional library in Broward County that went with ordering a core collection package, and tried to merge it with the existing collection of the books from the local library the new building was replacing. Thing was, they failed to plan shelf space to merge both collections, so rule of thumb if you're going with a start-off collection it'd best be for a brand-new library.

And from that experience I learned something else: We need as much shelf space as possible. You can't make every inch of a library a shelf area, by the by. You need reading chair areas and study table areas and enough floor space for people to walk here and there. But you can't skimp on maintaining a good collection of new fiction reads and existing subject titles on things like cookbooks and histories. You can't aggressively weed out older titles unless you have to, so you need a lot of shelves to manage it all.

My new library would open with what's called "Compact Shelving" although I've nicknamed it "Accordion Shelving" because it collapses and opens like an accordion. It allows you to deploy extra shelves in a limited floor space, by having just one shelf range open for shelf browsing at a time. You'll see those compact shelves a lot in universities, but public libraries ought to use them too. If we start off with a core collection that takes up only two-thirds of the compact shelves, the library should have a few years building up from that start to fill out enough of those shelves while a regular management process of weeding out older or damaged or unread books keeps it from getting overwhelmed.

The layout / floorplan shouldn't deviate from standard layouts. The meeting rooms have to be separate from the rest of the library as those rooms may be in use for the community when the library itself is closed. So there's often a lobby entrance that merges the meeting space to the library space. Also, the bathrooms have to be in the foyer in order to serve both parts.

The Circulation/Checkout desk has to be at the front entrance, both to handle incoming returns from patrons but to also control what gets checked out and making sure nobody sneaks off with that copy of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass in their back pocket, you naughty book thief.

There used to be a Reference Desk for patrons who came in with questions and research needs, but the advent of online searching - damn you, Google - reduced a lot of demand for that. Instead most libraries have converted it to an Adult Services desk that also oversees the public computers for tech assistance. Some libraries share an all-in-one service desk that reaches from the Checkout workstations to the Adult Services workstation, mostly so that staff can support each other during busy hours.

A joint public desk usually means a shared staff work area, which helps reduce the need for adding more floor space for separate off-desk workstations. It would also be where the cataloging and book processing takes place, along with shipment deliveries and supplies storage.

Oooh, storage. Very important. CLOSET SPACE IS A MUST. Double supply closet floor space whenever possible. Just saying.

It would help to design the floor space so that the children's librarian workstation is with the rest of the staff's. I've been in some places even in single-story buildings where they put the children's librarian in a remote office. It doesn't help with interoffice communication and team-sharing. The children's story time room, THAT can be separate from the main library floor space, but make it easy access for the librarians to reach.

A library director's office should be accessible to both the staff's work area and the public floor. Both as a management principle as well as a public service necessity. The director is going to handle a lot of patron issues, visiting salespersons, civic leaders stopping by, and a safe place to make the occasional 911 call regarding an atypical patron.

Your building custodian is going to need both a workstation and a supply closet, most likely in the lobby area to handle meeting-room-only emergencies.

Having a dedicated Teen/YA Area is good for promoting libraries to the group in most need of literacy and after-school activities. It has to be positioned close enough for the Adult Services librarian to handle any emergencies, but isolated enough so teens can hang out without fear of getting chaperoned every minute of their stay. In this day and age, comfy reading chairs next to floor outlets to recharge smartphones is a good floorplan.

Oh, and you'll need a good-sized parking lot. With sunset-sensitive parking lot light timers.

And an outdoors Book Drop, preferably built into the library with a roof over it for bad weather, with a narrow enough slot that vandals won't shove drinks or trash through it, and with a drive-thru lane so people won't have to get out of their cars if they're in a hurry.

And it won't hurt to build the library on a pre-existing bus route so that the community has transit access to your public library.

Also bike racks. Maybe with built-in locks that patrons can borrow to secure their bikes without fear.

It wouldn't hurt to be near a pizza parlor either, especially with a lunch buffet for staff to walk to from time to time.

You know what, if I'm a multimillionaire I'll BUILD that pizza buffet within walking distance of the library, how about that, huh?! YOU LIKING THIS?! I'M LOVING THIS!


You want me to DRAW this dream library?!


Gimme a minute, I need to find my D&D graph paper...

Thursday, March 17, 2022

It's Quiet Man Time! What Does Erin Go Bragh Mean Anywho...?

Well according to Merriam-Webster, Erin Go Bragh (or Braugh) translates from the Gaelic as Ireland Until Doomsday: In short, Ireland Forever


Now go wear your green, drive all the snakes out of Ireland your plane, and watch the Quiet Man on DVD or Turner Classics or something!

Friday, March 11, 2022

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Defend Your Libraries in 2022

Well, this is unsettling (Via Nikoel Hytrek at the Iowa Starting Line).

The effort to ban books has expanded beyond the classroom now to public libraries, with a new GOP-backed bill adding librarians to their target for prosecution and civil fines of those they believe give access to materials that are “obscene or harmful to minors.”

A collection of 14 Iowa Republican representatives introduced a bill Tuesday that makes it illegal for a person affiliated with a public school or public library to knowingly spread “material the person knows or reasonably should know, is obscene or harmful to minors.” Colleges and universities are exempted.

The penalty would be an aggravated misdemeanor, upgraded to a class D felony if the person was previously guilty of this.

Aggravated misdemeanors can be punishable by up to two years in jail and a fine between $625 and $6,250. Class D felonies are punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine between $750 and $7,500.

In short, Iowa Republicans want to turn librarianship into a criminal profession. Putting us up there with robbers, drug dealers, and people who talk at the theater.

You want to know how this game will get played if Iowa makes this a law?

Say a mature-looking young adult comes in, claiming they're a college student, asking for a book on sexual identity from the 306 Dewey Decimal (DDC) shelves. As a librarian, I would direct them to the shelf area, show them the titles we've got there. And then WHAMMO the "college student" turns out to be a 17-year-old high schooler on "dual enrollment" with the local community college and they call in the cops to arrest you for "knowingly spreading obscene material" to a minor.

You think that if this law passes, the courts will only rely on the fines to punish librarians, I mean who wants to send a sad little librarian to jail over an obscene book? Thing is you WILL get judges who will punish sad little librarians "to send a message," because those judges may agree with the Far Right religious conservatives who want to ban "obscene" books from the face of the Earth. Even then, those fines aren't cheap: A full-time librarian usually makes between $35,000 to $45,000 a year. Even a $625 fine is cutting into rent or mortgage, not to mention the costs of fighting these charges in court. Want to take care of $1000 fines every month? There goes most of a monthly paycheck for librarians. This would bankrupt most of us.

Oho, you say. If this law passes, perhaps it would be safer to pull all the obscene books off the shelves, right?

You want to know what these Far Right religious extremists think is obscene? Anything about gay and lesbian and trans culture, even when those books aren't graphic in detail. Young Adult books about sexual identity that don't even get as far as kissing scenes will still get targeted.

Anything about sexuality in general, even straight-up medical textbooks detailing human anatomy, and sociology/psychology textbooks. Because even those research-type books will offend those wingnuts.

Anything about "Critical Race Theory" because God forbid we upset Far Right people who believe that pointing out systemic racism is obscene to them.

Anything artistic from the Fine Arts (700s DDC) shelf range that just happens to show human nudity (Note: Most public libraries already self-sensor themselves from anything sexually graphic. But the religious nuts will go after anything that even hints at sexuality).

And it won't be the cheap and tawdry books these wingnuts will go after. Prize-winning authors like Toni Morrison and Ernest Hemingway - about a hundred writers and about a thousand literary works that make up a public library's core collection - will get labeled "obscene" and make it impossible for us to keep our doors open to everybody else who wants to use the library for their reading (and entertainment) needs.

And this is just the books: Many libraries have DVD movies available - yes, not everybody's gone to streaming yet - and half of those movies will be "obscene" in the wingnuts' eyes.

A good library - school, public, college - is one with a broad range of books from fiction to nonfiction, able to provide research and literary information to the communities we serve. This means we have to cover - even with a handful of titles - a lot of topics and reading interests for a diverse population, some of whom DO WANT to read books that others might find grotesque.

Again, most libraries DO evaluate and self-censor when necessary: For example, most libraries will not stock The Illustrated Joy of Sex because we know community standards won't abide it (Also, it will disappear off the shelf). We also won't stock The Turner Diaries, not only because it's openly racist and Anti-Semitic but it also contains bomb-making instructions violating laws banning such information (also also, that book is poorly plotted with one-dimensional characters, bland sex, and suffers many grammatic errors).

But what this Iowa law will do is make librarians vulnerable to ANY accusation about ANY other book that most would find benign but what the extremists will view as dangerous. Librarians could weed out every "offensive" book we could think of, and the wingnuts will STILL find something on the shelf to offend them and punish us.

And this just won't stop in Iowa. If this law passes, and it survives every court challenge - even the Supreme Court where a 6-3 conservative lineup could well side with the religious extremists - every other Republican-controlled state is going to pass their own version. Half the nation could well see our public libraries shut down due to the threat of prison and bankruptcy facing their staffers.

And who would win then? Without public libraries, children and adult literacy withers. Public access to computers goes away, hurting poor people searching online for jobs or families trying to file for food stamps. No more children's programs. No more community centers.

Libraries matter to people. Libraries define a city, support their counties. We're a public service that people enjoy having, because they often get good results from what we help them with. You can hear people whine about the post office or waiting forever at the DMV, but you don't see those kind of complaints about libraries.

Except from the ones who hate libraries for doing the one thing the religious extremists despise. We give our communities the diversity of experience that shames those who would rather keep us ignorant, uninformed, and fearful.

Well, to hell with those haters.    

You're gonna have to pry my library catalog from my cold dead hands, you bloody wingnuts.

Now is the time for all honest Americans who want to keep copies of Harry Potter stories and books on Tarot and Wicca to join your library's Friends group. Now is the time to defend your library and your community!

To The Shelves! To the Shelves! Defend the books!

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Submitting to FWA 2022

Okay, I've done my ego some good submitting a number of works to the Florida Writers Association's annual Royal Palm Literary Awards!

I sent in five articles from my political blog for the Short Non-Fiction/Blogging category, hopefully this year I won't be toooooo partisan in my opinions.

I also submitted two flash fiction items I'd written this 2021, both of them were for a flash publication that were not accepted, but I feel good about them so I'm trying them with the RPLA. Update: Okay it turns out I did not pay attention to the rule changes. Last time I was told you could submit up to five entries per genre, but this year it's just five entries TOTAL. So I had to weed out the two flash fiction entries and eat the "No Refunds" consequences.

I also also submitted the FWA's annual anthology, this year themed "Thrills and Chills," and with luck it's funny enough - well, *I* like the punchline - to impress the judges this time around.

I'm thinking about submitting one more, longer short story that I've been toiling with for years, but I need to get it done soonest before the Early Bird submission costs go up.


Here's hoping for good news by June/July...

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Working on 2022

Just a reminder to myself:

Gotta get stuff edited and prepped for the FWA writing contests, and oh I gotta renew my membership with them.

More to report on later.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Good News to Open 2022

It's nice to open a new year with news of getting published.

The Strangely Funny anthology accepted another humor horror short this week, a 21st Century take on vampires called "The Brides of WiFi."  It's in a different vein than the other vampire stories - "I Must Be Your First," "Minette Dances with the Golem of Albany," "How a Vampire Gets a Tan" - I've done for them, but that's allowed because there's so many different rules for how vampires work that you can change their behaviors and weaknesses from story to story and still find the logic to make it fit.

It's just, okay, there's no effing way that vampires sparkle. They don't. They never will.

I think the publication date is scheduled for some time in August, we'll see as the year progresses.

Gets me in the mood to see about other publications for short stories I can submit to. Yasssss queen.

Happy New Year, fellow writers!