Busy busy busy: a potpourri of distractions this weekend

I must admit, I have not been a bit busy with writing. Or even writing-related stuff. Life got distracting in general and also (unusually) my actual job intruded on my free time. That’s fine, I don’t mind. I mean, I spent about four or five hours this weekend doing job-related stuff, but I can take those hours off some other time, so it doesn’t matter a bit. I was too distracted by other things to work on the HOUSE OF SHADOWS revision anyway. This coming week should be better for that.

Lately I have been writing about a zillion (rough estimate) worksheets that will hopefully help students review this summer for their upcoming math classes in the fall. Thirteen weeks of assignments and assessment/quizzes for students going into Elementary Algebra, Intermediate Algebra, and College Algebra. My Amazing Math Tutors are coming up with sets of worksheets for students going into Trig or Calc I (my trig and calculus were waaay too long ago for me to do those; that’s why we hire Amazing Math Tutors from the engineering track).

So the weekend has been all like this:

Remember how to add fractions? Well, then, do this huge worksheet. And that one. And this one. Just go ahead and nail down fractions. It will make algebra so much easier and for the dear Lord’s sake, it isn’t actually hard even if your grade-school teachers somehow gave you the idea that it is.

Never learned the multiplication tables? Well, join the club! [Insert bitter rant here. No, about twice that much bitter outrage.]

Now put away your #^%#^(^*% calculator and just memorize the damn multiplication tables. Do this whole set of worksheets. Twice, if necessary.

Is this an expression or an equation? How can you tell? Simplify this expression and solve this equation and explain why the equals sign makes a difference.

Factor this quadratic equation, and that one, and this equation that is prime, and that equation that is not really quadratic but is quadratic-in-form.

Review these exponent rules. They still apply even if the exponents are rational. Or negative. Do these problems with rational negative exponents.

Review how to handle rational expressions. And rational equations. No, really, get completely, totally comfortable with rational equations. Until you just quit flinching when you see a fraction. For heaven’s sake, you’re going to clear the fractions out of just about every equation anyway. Just learn to do that so you can relax about rational equations.

Well, well, you see how my weekend went. The introductory workshop for how-to-review is tomorrow. We have quite a lot of students who are mature, responsible, and quite possibly willing to invest some time this summer in review if given a crystal-clear structured schedule. It would be awesome to actually see a statistical bump in math success rates in the Fall 2015 semester. Though I don’t know if I really think we can manage to pull that off.

But I am going to dream about math tonight, I just know it.

Meanwhile! What the blazes should I call Black Dog 3?

Black Dog 1: BLACK DOG

Black Dog 2: PURE MAGIC

Black Dog 3: ???? ?????

ONLY HUMAN — a) kind of a stupid title, and b) what would I do for Book 4 if I used black dogs, the Pure, and humans for the first three books? I don’t have another type of person in this world. Do I?

BLOOD KIN — I have no actual plans to include blood kin as an important component of the third book, so . . . well . . . I do need a Big Bad Thing for this book. Maybe I can make it be something to do with blood kin? On the other hand, maybe committing to that without thinking of an overall plot that would actually work is a tiny bit ridiculous.

Something with WITCH in the title? Same as above. On the other hand, I have referred (very briefly) to witches. I know nothing at all about them. That certainly does give me freedom of action, and yet it would be awkward if I couldn’t come up with a good way to involve witches.

Something with TWIN in the title? Miguel is going to be an important pov protagonist in Book 3. That’s the part that I *do* have worked out. But what goes with TWIN? That’s a word that could be an adjective: TWIN ________. Or a noun: _________ TWIN.

Anyway, that is the question that has been drifting through my mind while I’ve been raking leaves off the chrysanthemums and pulling grass out of the epimediums, in between writing math worksheets and weekly assessments.

Tomorrow, I don’t know: my two new baby magnolias arrived. Maybe I should figure out where to put them. I could NOT make up my mind, that’s why two. I got ‘Angelica’ and ‘Woodsman.’ The former is an M. cylindrica x M. soulangeana cross, not too big, with fragrant flowers that are white-with-a-little-pink. The latter is a M. acuminata x M. liliiflora hybrid, a real tree, with flowers that are an odd blend of purple, pink, cream, greenish, and a kind of tan. I’m not quiiiite sure I will like it? But it sounds so interesting! And different! And I think it will bloom late, so late it may overlap with my M. sieboldii. It would be nice if they bloomed at the same time. But it’s fine either way, of course.

The ‘Angelica’ looks good, btw, though the ‘Woodsman’ is way tall for its rather small pot. I will be sure to knock all the soil off it and spread the roots out good and proper when planting it, so that should help it establish. I don’t in general have any problem transplanting magnolias. Klehm’s Song Sparrow Nursery has a good reputation and I must say, their packaging was amazing. The plants were secure and yet it was easy to get the plants out of the boxes. Sometimes with these mail-order plants, it seems to take longer to get the plants out of the box than it does to get them in the ground. I still have room for a couple more magnolias . . . I think . . . so if these two babies do well, I will definitely order from Klehm’s again.

ANYWAY, next week: I have been thinking about the Black Dog world kind of a lot and I have plenty of ideas for short stories and stuff, but, yeah, I really need to get started with the revision of the HOUSE OF SHADOWS sequel. We’ll see!

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10 thoughts on “Busy busy busy: a potpourri of distractions this weekend”

  1. At least you are using the proper terms: When the teen was in regular school the math classes called 2+2=4 a number sentence. There were lots of other weird terms, too. We translated, cut the crap and summarized what the (badly written) text was trying to say and she got it. There are lots of reason to homeschool and that was just one.

    For your title…. I’m afraid my mind jumped to ‘BLACK MAGIC” which probably isn’t appropriate. :-) But would PURE BLACK be fitting? Usually lousy at titles, sorry. Or if you want to play up Michael/Miguel PURE TWIN or BLACK TWIN or..TWIN, BLACK & PURE? That would still leave ‘human’ for a fourth should you come up with a plot for one.

    And I thought the blood kin were wiped out? Everyone seems to think so, anyway…?
    BTW, do you know where Dimilioc’s wealth comes from?

  2. A . . . number sentence? Well, whatever.

    Actually, I can see where they got that. An expression would translate into a phrase, an equation into a complete sentence. Like, Four less than ten vs Four less than ten is six.

    On the other hand, JUST STOP WITH YOUR STUPID PSEUDO-TEACHING AND TEACH MATH. The problems we have with not all, but too many students in algebra is not that they didn’t learn algebra in high school, it’s that they never learned any math whatsoever anywhere.

    Yeah, titles are indeed hard. BLACK MAGIC strikes me as a good title . . . for a different book in the series. I do in fact have a vague overarching plot for the whole series, what I don’t have are specifics for the individual books. But it’ll come, it’ll come.

    As for whether vampires and blood kin have truly been wiped out, well, maybe, maybe not.

  3. Do you have other key words from the book that you could post? Then we all could try to be creative and create title options, and one of our variations might bring to mind something for you. :)

  4. That would be great, Katie, but . . . it’s tough. All I really know for sure is that Miguel is an important POV character and that Colonel Herrod is an important secondary character. Uh, you haven’t met Herrod yet. Anyway, ordinary humans get to move to a more front-and-center role in Book 3, I know that for sure. But I’m just not certain what else will be going on.

    It would be easier if I were a detailed-outline kind of writer. But I’m the kind of writer who probably won’t know for sure where the story is going until I’m halfway to the end.

  5. Titles:
    I played around with Twin __ on Google autocomplete, but it seems to be mostly geographic (twin oaks, twin rivers, etc.). TWIN FLAMES isn’t bad, though it’s apparently a poetic name for the New Age “soul mate” concept.

    Twin shadows almost works, and SHADOW TWIN (or TWINS) actually looks promising. Between Miguel being just a human, and Natividad’s mysterious connection to dark (as well as Pure) magic, it isn’t obvious which one of them that would refers to. And it’s hard to imagine shadows not being appropriate in a Black Dog book.

    BLOOD KIN is actually a pretty good title for some book or other in the series; presumably one in which family rather than romantic relationships are particularly important. Whether that’s book 3 or not, I don’t know.

  6. I kept thinking of Twin Peaks! Couldn’t get that out of my head, and I don’t think I ever actually watched it.

    I do like BLOOD KIN as a title. Maybe that will wind up working for Book 4 or Book 5. In the meantime, maaaybe I could see SHADOW TWIN working — especially if I can think of a way to make it apply to Miguel as well as Natividad.

  7. Well, she’s a bright shiny sorceress who’s immune to direct demonic influence, and he’s just this guy. Depending on what happens to him in the book, he might end up more shadowy in a mystical or a metaphorical sense.

    Or (and?) some other character can be set up as a dark reflection of one of our principals — doesn’t even have to be one of the twins: there’s probably someone out there who aspires to be the evil version of Grayson or Ezekiel.

    Anyway. You might want to write the book before coming up with a title.

    I never knew “college algebra” was a Thing. What I took was linear algebra and abstract algebra.

  9. Ohhh Shadow Twin sounds epic. You could also do something with the word human as the second word and a descriptive word in front–Solely Human (ok, that one’s odd), which follows your first idea. Shadow Human? Meh?

  10. Pete, “College Algebra” is called that at my school because it is the first Algebra class in the series that is officially a college-level class. It actually maps onto what is often called Algebra II in high school. If you learn the material in College Algebra properly, and Trig, it should give you enough algebra to handle Calculus I.

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