Monthly Archives: August 2013

On Impartiality

“Impartiality is a pompous name for Indifference, which is an elegant name for Ignorance.”

G.K. Chesterton, 19th C. English writerGK Chesterton

 

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August 31, 2013 · 10:00 PM

New Book Release: The Price of Freedom

POF1 - Amazon Optimal Pixel

The Price of Freedom
Now available on Amazon

At last, I can announce it!  My first published book, pre-Regency fiction called “The Price of Freedom” is out!  Available on Amazon worldwide, and ready to read and enjoy in the Kindle e-book format!

It’s been a long process, and one fraught with delays, hiccups, a lot of homework, and the unsexy side of writing.  It’s my first baby – the story that started me writing several years ago, and has been the friend I honed my writing chops on.  It’s hard to let go of that baby and let the wider world into its life, and allow it to take on a life of its own, but so it is.

As you know, self-published books are dependent on word-of mouth marketing.  I would really appreciate your help!  If anyone would like to interview me, review the book, and / or write a great review on Amazon, that would be amazing!  If you know anyone remotely interested in literary fiction, Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer (my style has been compared to both of those writers by editors & other writers), historical fiction, Regency or Pre-Regency era, please pass the word on to them!

Here’s a review, from Sue Moorcroft (Author, tutor):

“She was tall and willowy, and had a way of coming into a room like a welcomed summer breeze, drawing all eyes to herself.” – What a great description! It’s the kind of thing I wish I’d written. It really conjures up an image for the reader.

“…his death at such a ripe old age could not conveniently be avoided I suppose…” – A great snippet of dialogue. It’s exactly this kind of sly humour, that Jane Austen did so well, that earns for Regency fiction the tag, ‘comedy of manners’.

So… pass the word, download the book, grap a cuppa and curl up for a good read!

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Spoonerisms

A Spoonerism is a deliberate (or accidental) play on words in which the corresponding consonants of two words, vowels, or morphemes are switched between two words in a sentence to create two new words.  For instance, “talking back” becomes “balking tack.”  The name comes from an Oxford minister, Rev. William A. Spooner, who was notorious for making these mistakes.  He must have been an entertaining minister to listen to!  The poor fellow didn’t appreciate the honour of using his name for such mistakes; he had enough on his plate with being Albino with poor eyesight, but he was well-liked, and the dubious honour accorded him was kindly meant.

spoonerism 3Here are a few examples (the interchangeable letters are capitalized):

The Weight of Rages will press hard upon the employer. (Rev. Spooner)

a Tip of the Slung

Dear old Queen / Queer old Dean

Runny Babbit

is the Bean Dizzy?

Fight in your Race

a Pack of Lies

Pest in DRink

the Might is in my Lies

Belly Jeans

BRimulate your Stain

as the FLow CRies

SMart Feller

I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

SHake a Tower

well-boiled icicle, well-oiled bicycle

the Pea little THrigs

Roaring with Pain

Ragged Jocks

the Loose that Gaid the olden Geggs

the Mog in the Danger

the Pag at the STool

Beeping SLeauty

… and the Gist Loes on!

 

All I can say is, Roonerisms SPock!

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On being powerful

“When I dare to be powerful – to use my strength in the service of my vision – it becomes less & less important whether I am afraid.”

Audre-Lorde-620x480Audre Lorde, 20th C. Caribbean-American writer

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August 18, 2013 · 10:00 PM

Paraprosdokians. Parawhat?

Paraprosdokian is not a word I would readily remember.  I can even admit freely I’d never heard of it until recently.  Maybe I’m just weird, but I can remember a word much better if I know where it came from; this one actually makes sense: (Greek) para– meaning “against”, and prosdokaō meaning “I expect.”  Against expectations.  It’s not actually that old, and is thought of by some linguists as a bogus term; but there are a lot of words that have crept into the English language on just such a pretext, and have hung around for centuries (thereby gaining loyalty from linguists).  I’d say that sounds like a bit of cosmic humour.

A Paraprosdokian is a phrase or sentence that ends with an unexpected twist.  Now it may be as common as rain where you live, but not here.  I tend to think of these sentences as one-liners, and with good reason – this figure of speech is popular with comedians as it’s short and ends on a punch.  Some Paraprosdokians use a familiar phrase and twist the ending such as the first sentence (“Where there’s a will, there’s a way”).  So I say, call them what you will – just use them well!

Crabby Road

Where there’s a will, I want to be in it.

I sleep eight hours a day and at least ten at night. (Bill Hicks)

The last thing I want to do is hurt you, but it’s still on my list.

Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing – after they have tried everything else. (Winston Churchill)

If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.

I don’t belong to an organized political party. I’m a Democrat. (Will Rogers)

We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.

War does not determine who is right – only who is left.

This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly.  It should be thrown with great force.

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

They begin the evening news with Good Evening, then proceed to tell you why it isn’t.

He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother. (Variations on this phrase are attested as early as 1884.)

There’s a fine line between cuddling and holding someone down so they can’t get away.

To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.

If I am reading this graph correctly… I’d be very surprised. (Stephen Colbert)

I haven’t slept for ten days, because that would be too long. (Mitch Hedberg)

Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.

Buses stop in bus stations. Trains stop in train stations. On my desk is a work station.

I thought I wanted a career. Turns out I just wanted paychecks.

In filling out an application, where it says, ‘In case of emergency, notify, I put DOCTOR.

I like going to the park and watching the children run around because they don’t know I’m using blanks. (Emo Philips)

I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.

Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.

A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.

You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.

I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not so sure.

He was at his best when the going was good. (Alistair Cooke on the Duke of Windsor)

You’re never too old to learn something stupid.

To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit, the target.

Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.

Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it. (Groucho Marx)

A modest man, who has much to be modest about. (Winston Churchill, about Clement Attlee)

If I could just say a few words… I’d be a better public speaker.

She was good as cooks go, and as cooks go she went.

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A Small Treatise on the Viking Age, began at Lindisfarne

Norse Figurehead

Viking Figurehead

A novel for which I am currently researching is set in the Viking Age of Scotland, Norway, and in modern-day Britain.  The following is a snippet of the notes and thoughts I’ve percolated over while studying into this amazing time in world history:

I think it’s impossible to do justice to any information about the Vikings; their existence, culture, language, mentality, and the effect of their actions had repercussions that have echoed down through the ages.  They gave names to countless cities throughout the world, and even entire regions:  The Norse kingdom of Dublin (Old Norse for “Black Pool”) was a major centre of the Norse slave trade; Limerick, Wexford and Wicklow were other major ports of trade; Russia gets its name from them, and the list goes on and on. Had they not been so successful in the slave trade and conquest, entire regions of the earth would be populated differently, place names would be vastly different, and English would be a far poorer language than it is today.

A.D. 793. This year came dreadful fore-warnings over the land of the Northumbrians, terrifying the people most woefully: these were immense sheets of light rushing through the air, and whirlwinds, and fiery dragons flying across the firmament. These tremendous tokens were soon followed by a great famine: and not long after, on the sixth day before the ides of January in the same year, the harrowing inroads of heathen men made lamentable havoc in the church of God in Holy-island, by rapine and slaughter. (The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle)

This reference from The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, one of the most famous history books available in English, is a reference to what would become known as the beginning of the Viking Age, the attack on the Holy Isle of Lindisfarne.  Firstly, I’d like to clarify a few points:  “Viking” is a term that first came into being, in its present spelling, in 1840; it entered English through the Old Norse term “vikingr” in 1807.  The Old Norse term meant “freebooter, pirate, sea-rover, or viking”, and the term “viking” meant “piracy, freebooting voyage.”  The armies of what we would call Vikings were referred to as Danes, and those who settled were known by the area they settled in, or visa-versa.  Those who settled in the north eastern regions of Europe were called Rus by their Arabian and Constantinopolitan trading partners, perhaps related to the Indo-European root for “red”, referring to their hair colour.  Oh, and not a single Norse helmet with horns has ever been found.

But I’d like to focus on a key point of the Lindisfarne episode, if one could refer so glibly to the slaughter of innocent monks and the beginning of the reign of terror that held the civilized world in constant fear for over two centuries:  Yes, the Vikings were violent; their religion of violent gods and bloody sacrifices and rituals encouraged and cultivated it to a fine art.  Yes, the Vikings were tradesmen, but they were also skilled pirates and raiders, that skill honed along their own home coasts for generations prior to their debut on the rest of the unsuspecting world.  Yes, it was known that monasteries held items sacred to the Christian faith, that just happened to be exquisitely wrought works of art made of gold and jewels.

Gold was one enticement; but their primary trading good was human flesh; slaves.  It was by far the most lucrative item, and readily had along any coast they chose; if too many died in the voyage, they could always just get more before they docked at Constantinople, Dublin, or any other major trading port.  So why did they slaughter the monks so mercilessly at Lindisfarne, when they would have gained more by taking them captive and either selling them as slaves, or selling them for ransom?  The answer might actually be found in Rome.

Charlemagne (ruled 768-814 AD) took up his father’s reigns and papal policies in 768 AD. From about 772 AD onwards, his primary occupation became the conversion to Christianity of the pagan Saxons along his northeastern frontier.  It is very important to make a distinction between the modern expressions of the Christian faith and the institution of power mongers of past centuries; Christianity then had extremely little to do with the teachings of Christ and far more to do with political and military power, coercion, and acquisition of wealth through those powers; it was a political means to their own end with the blessing of the most powerful politician in the history of the civilized world, the Pope.  Without his blessing and benediction, a king had not only very little power, but was exposed to attack from anyone who had “holy permission” to exterminate heathens; joining the ranks of the Christian church took on the all-important definition of survival, and protection from the others in those ranks being free to attack you at their leisure.

In the year 772 AD, Charlemagne’s forces clashed with the Saxons and destroyed Irmensul, the Saxon’s most holy shrine and likely their version of the Yggdrasil, the Tree of the World, of Scandinavian mythology.  In the Royal Frankish Annals of 775 AD, it was recorded that the king (Charlemagne) was so determined in his quest that he decided to persist until they were either defeated and forced to accept the papal authority (in the guise of “Christian faith”), or be entirely exterminated (Carolingian Chronicles: Royal Frankish Annals and Nithard’s Histories, trans. Bernhard Walter Scholz with Barbara Rogers (Michigan 1972: 51).  Charlemagne himself conducted a few mass baptisms to underscore the close identification of his military power with the Christian church.

“In 782 the Saxons rebelled again and defeated the Franks in the Süntel hills. Charlemagne’s response was the infamous massacre of Verden on the banks of the river Aller, just south of the neck of the Jutland peninsula. As many as 4,500 unarmed Saxon captives were forcibly baptized into the Church and then executed.  Even this failed to end Saxon resistance and had to be followed up by a programme of transportations in 794 in which about 7,000 of them were forcibly resettled. Two further campaigns of forcible resettlement followed, in 797 and in 798….  Heathens were defined as less than fully human so that, under contemporary Frankish canon law, no penance was payable for the killing of one” [Ferguson, Robert (2009-11-05). The Hammer and the Cross: A New History of the Vikings (Kindle Locations 1048-1051). Penguin UK. Kindle Edition.]

The defining of a heathen as less than human was actually not a unique idea;  Scandinavians were familiar with that notion from their own cultures, which defined slaves as less than human and therefore tradable goods; and if a freeman announced his intention of killing someone (anyone) it was not considered murder as the victim was given “fair” warning.

The more I understand of the connection between Charlemagne’s brutal policies toward what he considered sub-human pagans, the more I understand the reaction of retaliation toward the symbols of that so-called Christian faith, the monasteries and its inhabitants.  They slaughtered, trampled, polluted, dug up altars, stole treasures, killed some, enslaved some, drove out others naked while heaping insults on them, and others they drowned in the sea.  The latter was perhaps a tit-for-tat for those at Verden who were forcibly baptized and then killed.

Lindisfarne was merely the first major attack in Britain that was highly publicized (as chroniclers of history were usually monks, and those such as Alcuin knew the inhabitants of Lindisfarne personally), in what would become a 250-year reign of terror, violence, slavery, raping, pillaging, plundering and theft either by force or by Danegeld.  But as in all good histories, it’s important to remember that hurt people hurt people; the perpetrator was at one time a victim.  One might say that what goes around comes around.  It’s no excuse or downplay of what happened there, which literally changed the course of the civilized world, but it perhaps gives a wider perspective on the Vikings of the times rather than just the vicious raiders portrayed in so many documentaries.  And it is important to remember that Vikings did not equal Norsemen; the majority of Scandinavians were farmers and fishermen, living as peacefully as their times would allow, and even themselves victims to the occasional Viking raid.

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