Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Advice for Emerging Writers

"Emerging writer" is a much nicer term than "aspiring writer," isn't it?

The Missouri Review recently published a highly informative article on advice for emerging writers. I thought it very pertinent to my blog here, so I'm listing some of the points the article made. Do read the article in its entirety for all the details.

You're Talented, but Talented is Overrated — It's not enough to be talented. In fact, talent merely puts you in the "emerging writers" pool. It's consistent hard work that puts you in the "published writers" pool. E.L. Doctorow once sais, "Planning to write is not writing. Outlining, researching, talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing."

Ignore the Clock — Anyone can publish. So publishing should not be your goal, but publishing your best work should be your goal. No one is truly waiting for your masterpiece, so take the time to make your manuscript the best it can be.

Don’t Wait to be Told When to Write — Make the time to write a priority. It's not easy to find the time with our various work, house, and family responsibilities tearing us in different directions. So schedule a specific time every day and guard it with your life against disruptions.

Read More Books — Sounds obvious, right? You read to learn how to write. But how many writers still read? Very few, you'll find. They're too busy writing. However, you need outside input to add stimulus to your imagination and growth as a writer.

You Need at least Three Professional Mentors — Guidance from established writers is gold. They can point out to know what you didn't know you don't know and how to go about learning it. They can help with problem-solving and general advice on career advancement.

Monday, October 28, 2013

When to Use "Who" and When to Use "Whom"

A hilarious look at grammar. This comic strip clearly illustrates when who vs. whom needs to be used in a sentence.

In short...

If you're asking about the subject doing something, then use who.

If you're asking about the object doing something, then use whom.

Read to the end of the comic to see why in the world you would use whom in the first place. Very funny, but incorrect, of course.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Picture Day Friday: Telephone Booths Into Stamp Dispensers

England's iconic red telephone booths are being given a second life as stamp dispenser machines.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Which Literary Character Are You?

The biggest second-hand bookstore in England, Abe Books, is running this contest on their website: What Literary Character Are You?.

I can't resist quizzes like this.

I am Lucy from the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. "You are trusting and intensely loyal. You would go to the ends of the earth for your friends and would never betray them."

What about you?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Historical Fiction Survey

If you're a fan of historical fiction, like I am, then I'd like you to consider spending five minutes of your time on THIS SURVEY by the Historical Novel Society.

The survey attempts to collect data on readers' reading habits, purchasing/borrowing habits, interest in history and historical periods and reasons behind them, and types of writing and writing skills of authors. You can then choose to have the results of the survey inboxed to you. If you're a blogger, they will highlight your blog if you give them your address.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Do You Write in Your Books?

Read It Forward asked on their Facebook page, "Do you write in your books?" They then posted the following chart of their readers:

So, I ask you, "Do you write in your books?"

Let me say first of all that I never write in library books. I write a lot in my textbooks. I also underline and highlight. I also tend to write in my nonfiction books. My fiction books have the least writing, usually, it's proofreading marks, once in a while if I'm confused over something or mad at someone in the story, then I write that in.

I have noticed that I read differently when I read fiction with a pencil in hand. I'm constantly aware of every word, whereas otherwise, I would've been enthralled in the world of the story.

I cannot read nonfiction without a pencil in hand. It's a compulsive habit, to commit to long-term memory by scribbling and underlining. I also feel this is necessary to quickly find the salient points when I come back for a second reading or for quick referencing.

I don't dog-ear books, and I make regular use of bookmarks. I have a largish collection of bookmarks from authors, bookstores, etc. I also use postcards and other such stiff cardstock implements that always remind me of some event or someone.

I take good care of my books, because having them sit on my shelves gives me so much joy. I find joy in reading and joy in looking at them, smelling them, touching them, riffling through them. Sigh! Love!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Picture Day Friday: Duke of Wellington

Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington (1769–1852), as painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence in 1814, a few months before the Battle of Waterloo.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wellington Tour of England

Are you a fan of the first Duke of Wellington of Georgian and Regency English fame? If so, THIS TOUR presented by Number One London will be a sure hit. The 10-day tour, set for September 2014, will cover London, Walmer, Brighton, Hampshire, and Windsor.

Number One London is a blog by historical fiction authors Kristine Hughes and Victoria Hinshaw. They have led similar themed tours of England before.

The trip will start with "an exclusive guided tour of Apsley House, the Duke of Wellington’s London home, also known as Number One London" (and thus, the name of the blog).

The trip will end with a tour of Windsor's Frogmore House and Gardens and a cruise on Thames River.

The trip also includes an excursion to Highclere Castle, otherwise known as Downton Abbey on the ostensibly thin connection that the owner Lord Carnarvon sat in the House of Lords with the Duke of Wellington.

I'm so tempted to go on a tour with other authors and readers, all fascinated by this history.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Regency Dances with Video Action Depicting Steps

I found this marvelous site recently that has videos showing how the various dances of the Regency period were danced. With animated figures, the graphics are basic, but very clear on who's moving and where they're moving to. Have a look at Regency Dances .org! (These are the dances demonstrated on the site.)

Regency dancing is characterised by an impression of lightness and lift, contrasting with the more stylised court dances of earlier times that were slow, heavy, and majestic.

The basics of the steps are as follows:
1. A hop is taking off on one foot and landing on the same foot.
2. A jeté is a leap from one foot onto the other.
3. An assemblé is a leap from one foot onto both.
4. When the foot is off the floor, the toes have to be pointed.
5. Any kind of leaps and hops requires toe landing with the heel then sinking quietly to the floor.

In addition to the above, various different steps are described here with links to videos demonstrating the individual steps (by a person wearing period-perfect clothing): chassé, allemande, drop, waltz traveling, fleuret or bouré, plié, strathspey traveling, balancé, schottishe, rigadon, and so on.

In his 1815 Essay on Deportment dancing master Thomas Wilson offers this advice to dancers on which errors to avoid:

•Making awkward bows
•Shuffling and rattling about the feet
•Looking at the feet
•Bending [sharply] the arm at the elbow, in giving the hand in Dancing
•Holding the hands of any person too fast
•Bending down the hands of your partner
•Bouncing the hands up and down
•Bending the body forward.

Given the complicated dance figures and number of things to remember to do and not to do, I live in fear of ever learning to dance even one dance correctly by heart. Having said that, I did manage to not mangle the steps too badly at the Beau Monde Soirée, I attended one summer. I was wearing my proper Regency regalia, mais oui.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Picture Day Friday: Icelandic Earth Homes of Keldur

Earth covered farm homes in Keldur, Iceland, were built in 1193 and are considered the oldest buildings in Iceland.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Calf's Head Hash & Other Recipes from the Georgian Era

The Georgian Cookbook of Unknown Ladies is long on meat dishes and short on veggies.

"The handwritten compendium of recipes, which traverses the years 1690 to 1830, was re-discovered by Judith Finnamore, local studies librarian at Westminster Council’s Archives Centre, who believes she was the first to open it in over a century."

Some of the delicacies mentioned in the 300-year-old book, include roast sheep's head, cow heel, calf’s head hash, veal kidney florentine, and mince pies with calves' tongues in them.

"Now Finnamore and her colleagues have begun trying out these recipes themselves, thus turning the compendium of recipes into its modern-day counterpart, a food blog.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Become the Real Monarch of the Glen

Image copyrighted by Have you seen the BBC TV series Monarch of the Glen? For American viewers, five of the seasons are available in their entirety on Netflix.

The Monarch of the Glen series is loosely based on Sir Compton Mackenzie's Highland Novels. The main storyline is of an urban restaurateur and scion of the laird returning to the estate of Glenbogle in the Scottish Highlands to attempt to restore the estate to its former glory. He struggles against seemingly insurmountable odds, many of which have to do with the eccentrics living there.

The people of this series are what makes it memorable—they are all unforgettably batty in their own unique way. Makes for many hilarious moments, some completely unintentional. Superb acting all around though. Downton Abbey's director Julian Fellowes is one of the secondary characters.

Image copyrighted by While you may not be barmy, you could still be a modern-day Monarch of the Glen by putting down a spare seven million pounds to buy Balavil House. The house is known in the series as Kilwillie Castle and the 7500-acre lands are part of Glenbogle.

Now, for the first time in 200 years, this estate near Kinguissie in Inverness is up for sale. It has been owned by Allan Macpherson-Fletcher's family since 1790. The estate allows visitors to stalk red deer, shoot grouse and pheasant, and fish for salmon along the acres running from the River Spey up into the mountains of the Monadhliaths.

Some of the amenities of this lovely manor house include ten bedrooms with private bathrooms, central eating, a fully equipped gun room (see above), a 36-foot dining room, and a huge Victorian style kitchen. For detailed pictures, go HERE.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Picture Day Friday: Western Deffufa in Kerma from Ancient Nubia

This is the Western Deffufa in the town of Kerma from the ancient Nubian world of modern-day Sudan.

Kerma was settled around 2400 BCE. It was a walled city containing religious buildings, large circular dwellings, a palace, a funerary temple, and well-planned roads.

The deffufa is a structure unique to Nubian architecture. The Western Deffufa is a 164 ft by 82 ft mud brick temple surrounded by a boundary wall. It is 59 ft tall and comprises three stories with chambers inside connected by passageways. Religious ceremonies were performed on top of the temple.

Image copyrighted by Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Michael Wood on King Alfred the Great

Very unfortunately, the following documentary is only for UK residents. Hopefully, sometime in the near future, it'll come out on DVD, like other of Michael Wood's works, or it'll be broadcasted by PBS.

From the BBC website: "King Alfred the Great fights a desperate guerrilla war in the marshes of Somerset—burning the cakes on the way—before his decisive victory at Edington. Creating towns, trade and coinage, reviving learning and literacy, Alfred then lays the foundations of a single kingdom of 'all the English'. Filmed on location from Reading to Rome, using original texts read in Old English, and interviews with leading scholars, Michael Wood describes a man who was 'not just the greatest Briton, but one of the greatest rulers of any time or place'."

Historian, a trained Anglo-Saxonist, and broadcaster, Michael Wood is best known for his books and programs, such as "The Story of England," "The Story of India," "Conquistadors," and "In Search of the Dark Ages."

The British Library blog talks about the involvement of two of their curators, one conservator, and several of their Anglo-Saxon manuscripts in the project.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

MacArthur for Medievalist

A quick note to recognize medievalist Dr. Robin Fleming on her win of the MacArthur Fellowship.

Dr. Robin Fleming is the chair of the History Department at Boston College. Her area of expertise is Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman England, the millenium following the departure of the Romans. For interest to a potential student: Professor Fleming teaches courses on late Roman and early medieval history, the Vikings, ancient and medieval historical writing, and material culture.