HOMEGOING announced in Locus

So I received the newest Locus.  THIS was in the section about Forthcoming Releases:

Locus announcement

And then I had a nightmare that I’d imagined the whole thing, there was no mention in Locus or any publication happening AT ALL.  But it was still there the next day.

Right, like I’m the only nervy debut author out there.  Yup.  Just me.  The rest of y’all are like cucumbers.

Guilty Pleasure(s)

Not without some serious trepidation, we started watching my favorite favorite all-time favorite (no really, I was obsessed–I collected newspaper clippings, magazine articles, episode announcements in the TV guide, etc) middle-school era show:  Scarecrow and Mrs. King.

Mercifully (unlike, say, The A-Team), the re-watch did not make me want to time-travel to slap the stupid out of my younger self.  My younger self is, admittedly, as much of a sentimental sap as my older self, but I can live with that.

During season three, I suddenly realized how much Leroy Jethro Gibbs looks like an older Lee Stetson.  I’d already linked Bones and NCIS in my head.  Ralph Waite played both Gibbs’ father and Booth’s grandfather, so naturally Booth and Gibbs are related.

Which is how I ended up writing my first piece of fanfic.

Yup, a whole collection of guilty pleasures to fess up to.

Keeping Myself Busy and Out of Trouble

2014 is the 60th anniversary of the publication of Lord of the Rings.  I realized this about a year ago, and talked my department into sponsoring a campus-wide celebration this fall.  Between September 5 and October 11, we have about two dozen events going on.  You can see ’em all at our website (mithrilturtle.umd.edu).  I have the best job ever.

Vikings of the Irish Sea (David Griffiths)

(Why, yes, school DID just start again…it’s no accident I haven’t posted since June 13th, when school got out for the summer.  It’s difficult to think, let alone type, with children chattering at your elbow.  So many of their sentences this summer started with “HeyMomCanI..” I was beginning to think I’d acquired a new nickname..  Anyhoo.  Back for the school year…)

It’s taken me several months to read David Griffiths’ Vikings of the Irish Sea (2010) but that’s my fault, not the book’s.  Mostly.  It is a detailed, academic treatment, possibly not a good fit for a general audience and certainly not a place to begin reading about the Vikings’ forays into the British islands.  And absolutely not a book to be trying to get through with short people chanting “HeyMomCanI…” in the background.  Your brain starts blinking Insufficient attention available at this time.  

That said, the book is very good at what it’s meant to be–a corrective to how we usually think about Vikings and their interaction with the British islands.  Griffith makes the point that crossing the Irish sea is much easier and faster than, say, crossing Ireland by land. Trading and raiding–and not just by Vikings–crisscrossed the Irish sea, and we would do well to adjust our thinking accordingly.

The added bonus for anyone interested in Linn Duachaill is that this book came out as the first-round excavations were planned or perhaps underway, and so is a snapshot of the state of our knowledge just before that significant discovery.  It’s worth noting that Griffiths had enough information at his disposal even before the discovery of the longphort  to caution against assuming that Lisnarann was where the Vikings made camp:  “the longphort…could equally well be associated with the monastery, as also seems the case at St. Mullins” (32).

This, of course, has turned out to be precisely the case.

Now, of course, I want to do some reading about St. Mullins as an analogue for Linn Duachaill.

Estonian Viking Burials, Revisited

So here’s another, longer article about the Viking Ship burial, complete with ill-fated crew, discovered in Estonia in 2008.

I have a soft spot for Estonia.  We visited in 1998.  The medieval city walls of Talinn were stunning.  Also, the sea was rough and the ferry bounced a lot.  For months after you could ask my then-2 year old son, “What happened on the boat?”  and he would say sadly, “I coughed.”

This burial may cause us to rethink our dates for Viking activity.  Traditionally we talk about Viking raiding as beginning late 8th century, but these burials are from roughly 50 years earlier.