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Tell me if this sounds familiar: you've wrapped the gift for your friend Julie, sealed it in a box, stuck stamps on it and then, as you're listening to the Beatles sing "Hey Jude," you address the package... to Jude. OOPS!
Now what? Well, if you're Barney, you'll make a weird-looking cartoon heart over the word "Jude"...which sprouts legs and arms, a top hat and cane, and suddenly there's a host of fabulous creatures framing Julie's mailing address...a veritable celebration. That's a Beautiful Oops...a mistake made beautiful.
The point of this book is to encourage all of us to allow "the magical transformation from blunder to wonder," and as schools all over the world celebrate Beautiful Oops Day (in any month, on any day; a school could decide to celebrate Beautiful Oops Day each month), I wish we'd celebrated it when I was in school!
The Beautiful Oops Day website includes project ideas shared by teachers from all over the world to get you started. And here's a 1:41 minute video of Barney sharing with young students:
How does this translate to writing? I just happen to have a perfect example. Here's a new poem author Bruce Balan sent me just this week; beneath it is his "mistake" backstory:
THE PLAINTIFF CALL OF THE WILD by Bruce Balan
I submit to the court that this species has ignored the proper protocol: They’ve decided that it’s all for them and no one else; Not fish nor elk nor tiny eels. Their ills are real. They spoil and take break and forsake and maul every spot and plot and it’s not as if they don’t know… They do! They just ignore, which underscores my call. Please dear Judge, I do not intend to fawn, but I pray the court will look kindly on my call before my clients all are gone.
(c) 2015 by Bruce Balan. All rights reserved.
Bruce (whose newest book, The Magic Hippo, is available at the iTunes store, B&N, and Amazon) explains: "I was going to write a poem called The Plaintive Call of the Wild (it just popped into my head), but I misspelled plaintive and so ran with it…"
Perhaps today's Beautiful Oops lesson is RUN WITH IT!
So, thank you, Barney Saltzberg, for gifting us the space to make mistakes; to be human.Campers, stay tuned: on February 4, 2015, Barney will share a Wednesday Writing Workout on this very blog!
Joining us today to answer your questions is Lisa Colozza Cocca, author of Providence, a YA novel from Merit Press/F&W Media plus almost a dozen nonfiction titles. We appreciate Lisa guiding us through our first post as she takes your questions and answers them with her warmth and insight. Plus, she's giving away a copy of her book! Check the Rafflecopter at the end!
Remember to get your questions in for next month's Ask a Pub Pro column. Just send an email to me, Susan Sipal, at AYAPLit AT gmail and put "Ask a Pub Pro Question" in your subject line. And thank you, Lisa!
Ask a Pub Pro - Lisa Colozza Cocca Responds to Questions on POV and Trends
Question: POV in YA:
I've written my first three YA\MG novels in first person past and first person present tense. While I enjoy first person, I'd still like to switch to third person with multiple POVs. Does the average YA reader insist on first person? I'm sure there are third person YAs out there, but I can't recall the last time I've read one.
-- Ron Estrada, author of: Now I Knew You, contemporary YA with a touch of the supernatural -- What if you visited heaven and everything you thought important turned out to be meaningless? And that you've ignored all that truly is important.
Since you’ve been thinking about exploring new-to-you POVs, you’ve probably Googled the topic and found thousands of posts on the subject. Most advocate first person for YA, because of the intimacy it builds between the reader and the character telling the story. This is a good reason to use first person, but by no means are you limited to that point of view. I think the only thing YA readers insist upon is a story they can connect with.
One advantage of third person over first person is it gives readers a broader view. This can be especially important if you’re writing fantasy and building a new world. Are there things in your story you want your readers to see or know that your main character does not notice or know? Third person narration can fill in the gaps. Have you read Ann Brashere’s Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants? It’s been quite a while since I read it, but if I remember correctly it is written in third person with multiple viewpoints. There are plenty of teens who read the Harry Potter series too. That series is another example of third person point of view.
I do think though you have to start with the story. Let the story you want to tell determine the point of view. Don’t pick a point of view and then shape a story around it. Story always comes first.
Of course, knowing how that story wants to be told isn’t always easy, is it? Try writing the first 1-3 chapters in first person. Then go back and write the same chapters in first person alternating viewpoints. Make a third run through the same story points, but from third person alternating viewpoints. Finally, try it with third person omniscient. Read through all versions several times. With the omniscient version, note how many times you ask your reader to flip from one character’s head to another. Is there time for the reader to develop a sense of loyalty to any one character?
If you’re just looking to explore POV, you could do the above exercise with an existing YA written by someone else. Rewrite the first chapters from different points of view and compare them.
Good luck with your next novel and with discovering how your story wants to be told.
Question: Trends & Originality:
As I've been writing my story, so many of the plot points that I thought were fairly original have come to the public consciousness recently in other ways: controlling ones dreams (Inception), ley lines (The Librarians), Scotland (Outlander, and other books/shows set there). My question has to do with "riding the wave of popularity." I'm worried that by the time my WIP is polished and sent to an agent, the answer I'll get back is "it's too derivative, we need something fresher." What do you suggest?
-- Suzanne Lucero, her WIP: In Dreams Unbidden, a YA novel. When an American teen visits Scotland for the first time she starts catching glimpses of the future in her dreams, some harmless, some deadly.
I suggest you finish writing and polishing your story. What you’re experiencing is pretty common – that feeling of ‘that’s my idea!’ while reading another book or watching a show. I understand your concerns. If an agent or editor has already received fifty queries for books on Celtic trails will she even consider query 51? Maybe not, but maybe she will if it is a really well-written query. Maybe she will because even though you imagine she has received countless queries on the topic, in reality she hasn’t. There are so many ‘maybes.’
The point I’m trying to make is you can’t predict what an agent or editor will be looking for at some point in the future. I think that can be a good thing. It gives you the freedom to write the story inside of you. As writers, we have to let go of the things we have no control over – like shifting markets. We have to focus on what we do control. So push those little doubtful voices out of your head. Make your manuscript the best story you can write and then send it out into the world. Once you have, start writing your next great story. Take each hurdle as it comes and don’t give up until you’ve reached your goal.
About the Author:
Lisa works full-time as a freelance writer and editor of curriculum materials. She is also the author of a dozen books for the school and library market. Her personal goal at the moment is to have three days in a row where everything on her to-do list actually gets done. PROVIDENCE is her first trade novel.
What’s the number 1 online marketing strategy today?
It’s social media sharing.
Uh, well, maybe . . . most probably.
Rumors and murmurings are filtering through the internet world insinuating that ‘sharing’ is now more powerful than backlinks. I did some research as to whether this is true or not, but couldn’t find any concrete evidence.
But, if it’s not true yet, it probably will be the
Fluorescent proteins are changing the world. Page through any modern scientific journal and it’s impossible to miss the vibrant images of fluorescent proteins. Bright, colorful photographs not only liven-up scholarly journals, but they also serve as invaluable tools to track HIV, to design chickens that are resistant to bird flu and to confirm the existence of cancerous stem cells. Each day, fluorescent proteins initially extracted from jellyfish and other marine organisms illuminate the inner workings of diseases, increasing our knowledge of them and providing new avenues in the search for their cures.
It is important to realize that these incredibly useful and now very common tools might not have been found if it were not for decades of basic research funded by the US government — research that would probably not be funded by most current funding agencies as the research would be deemed too fundamental in nature and not applied enough to qualify for funding. This fundamental research that formed the basis for all the fluorescent protein based technologies, such as super-resolution microscopy and even optogenetics, was performed by Osamu Shimomura.
While a research scientist at Princeton University and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Shimomura spent more than 40 years trying to understand the chemistry responsible for the emission of the green light in A. victoria, and in the process, he caught more than a million jellyfish. Every summer for more than twenty years, Shimomura and his family would make the 3,000-mile drive from Princeton, New Jersey, to the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor laboratory, where they would spend the summer days catching crystal jellyfish from the side of the pier. For 20 well-funded years at Princeton and an additional 20 years at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Shimomura spent his days, and sometimes his nights, unraveling the mysteries of the jellyfish’s glow.
The crystal jellyfish was the first organism known to use one protein to make light, aequorin, and another to change the color of this light, GFP. There was no precedence in the scientific literature for this type of bioluminescence, and so Shimomura had to break new ground. Additionally it was laborious and painstaking work to isolate even the smallest quantities of GFP. Fortunately Shimomura had both funding and a purist’s fascination with bioluminescence to unlock the secrets of GFP.
Although he was the first to discover GFP and isolate it, he was not interested in the applications of this protein. Doug Prascher, Martin Chalfie and Roger Tsien were responsible for ensuring that the green fluorescent protein from crystal jellyfish, Aequorea victoria, has been used in millions of experiments all around the world. They took the next step, but without Shimomura’s first essential step there may have been no flourescent future.
Featured image: Aequorea victoria by Mnolf (Photo taken in the Monterey Bay Aquarium, CA, USA). CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Okay folks, I'm calling it now--The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain (translated by Emily Boyce and Jane Aitken) is the best novel I'm going to read this year. A perfect follow-up to Laurain's delightful The President's Hat, this upcoming release has the most common of set-ups and yet becomes the best meet-up story ever. That it manages to be a fairly traditional romance that is not the slightest bit mushy but rather the very definition of wit and smarts and downright cool is proof positive that any tale can be retold in a refreshing way. I knew there would be a happy ending here as I knew the protagonists would meet (beyond that we can't know), but the journey was so lovely; I'm still trying to figure out just how Laurain accomplished so much in so few pages.
Book of the year, folks. Book.Of.The.Year.
The plot is straightforward: Laure is mugged on her doorstep returning home late one night, losing her purse and getting hit in the head in the process. With no way to get into her apartment, she walks across the street to a hotel, convinces them to let her have a room for the night and then, more injured than she realized, slips into unconsciousness overnight. She is rushed to the hospital in the morning and her part of the story is thus paused.
Divorced bookseller Laurent comes across a discarded high quality purse while out getting breakfast and impulsively picks it up and even though it lacks identification, decides to try and find the owner. Going through the contents, an image forms in his mind of the woman who owns them and he can not resist the allure of the mystery she poses. Laurent thus becomes an amateur detective and even though the reader already knows about Laure, it's impossible to resist Laurent's search for clues and be cheered by his every success.
Slowly, Laurent finds his way to Laure's life just as she reenters the story through her friends and co-workers and recovery. Laurent's daughter and ex-wife are introduced, readers learn more of his life and Laure's own past is revealed as well. They are two extremely ordinary people--there are no tales of horror and high drama to force the plot along. But Laurain is such a great writer that these characters become more and more compelling the more they are on the page. Laurent's previous career, Laure's job, their mutual love of books (bibliophiles will rejoice!), their families, their hopes, their dreams and of course, the red notebook.
Laure keeps a notebook in her purse where she writes lists of what she loves, what she's afraid of, what she longs for. Here's a bit:
More things I like:
Summer evenings when it gets dark late.
Opening my eyes underwater.
The names 'Trans-Siberian Express' and 'Orient Express' (I'll never travel on either).
Lapsang Souchong tea.
Haribo Fraises Tagada.
Watching men sleep after making love.
Hearing 'Mind the gap' on the tube in London.
The Red Notebook resonated with me for several reasons, I think but mostly it was the extraordinary appeal of these characters who managed to sneak up on me and settle into my heart. This book could have been so many things--it seemed destined to be Meg Ryanesque* more than anything else--but it's a thoroughly grown-up story about how two adults come to know each other. That it is remarkably literary as well is just a huge bonus.
Don't miss this one; it's really something special.
I'm just ruminating over my last three poems, where I got going on a set of Spoon, Knife and Fork. Atypically for me, all three are rhymed, similarly metered, and all share a basic 4-line stanza. I could keep going like this for a while, I guess, picking kitchen items and writing each its little ditty (see all the "Deeper Wisdom" poems featured at Today's Little Ditty, of which "What Does the Knife Know?" is one).
But would that make a readable collection, a saleable collection? When I started typing this, I was planning for the answer to be "NO; that would be a little boring and samey and in a way unchallenging for both writer and reader," and then I was going to contrast that with any collection of "traditional" haiku, which would be therefore by its very nature boring and samey and unchallenging, and then I was going to wonder why haiku collections don't seem that way.
And then as I entered that second paragraph, I got walloped upside the head by Jack on one side and Shel on the other, and A.A. Milne appeared to wag his clever ghostly finger in my face, reminding me how many, many classic poems and entire volumes of poetry for children are rhymed and metered and kind of about the same things (although not usually kitchen items).
Now I'm wondering what it is that makes me want a new shape, a new rhythm, a new challenge each time I begin a poem. I never cook the same recipe or meal the same way twice, and at school I'm forever devising new greetings, new center activities, new routines (and creating a lot of work for myself). While I craved novelty as a kid, I understand that for many students, sticking with one thing for longer is what's needed for competent mastery, and that too much "new" can be stressful.
Well, it seems that in the spirit of my OLW for 2015, I'm revising my 2nd-paragraph thinking. I still think it's important for young writers to learn that poetry is not all rhythm and rhyme, and that for most beginning writers those things are hard to pull off and probably best avoided. But golly, when 2/3 of a class of kindergarteners need to be TAUGHT to hear rhyme instead of having grown it into their bodies, and in the knowledge that I am not a beginning writer myself and quite enjoy the challenge of hewing to a rhymed and metered form, perhaps Spoon, Knife and Fork are suggesting a less varied--but no less tasty--diet of poetry for now.
Revision (with apologies to A.A. Milne)
Heidi Heidi Mordhorst Mordhorst: As teacher and poet she Took great Care to seek freedom, Craving the novelty. Heidi Heidi Said to herself, "Self," she said, said she: "You must never get stuck at the end of the town called Free-Verse Poetry."
HM 2015 all rights reserved
Today's Little Roundup is with Paul at These 4 Corners. Hope to see you there!
Another exhibition opening this weekend is Playtime Paris where designer Gabriela Larios will be showing her portfolioin the Crea tif. Space. From 31st January - 2nd February Gabriela will be exhibiting some of her latest designs, prints and illustrations for the children’s market, created and hand painted in her home based studio in London. Many of them inspired by Gabriela's love for picture
*Please join Rose City Reader every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author's name. *Taken directly from Rose City Reader's Blog Page.
This week's book beginnings comes from THE POCKET WIFE by Susan Crawford:
"The ambulance is still miles away when Dana awakens to the near dark of evening. It wails ribbon-thin in the smog over the highway as she opens her eyes where she lies sprawled across her couch in a suburb of Paterson, a stone's throw from Manhattan but a different world entirely."
THE POCKET WIFE is a thriller with exquisite descriptions.
I am enjoying the book. My review is scheduled for March 17.
I am happily floored at the new that Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos is one of only FIVE books given the honor. Here is the link to the National Council of Teachers of English. Feeling proud- thank you NCTE!
What a crazy week, huh? All I can say is, no one in my neck of the woods is going to pay any attention to whatever the weather person says next!
But they better listen up to the Weather Hog!
That's right! Only 3 more days until GROUNDHOG DAY! And you know what THAT means, right?
Some awesome Phyllis-lovers have already put together their poems for Phyllis, ready for Monday's special post, but if you haven't heard about it and want to join in, hop over HERE.
And now, for today's Perfect Picture Book which has nothing whatsoever to do with Groundhog Day, winter, snowpocalypses, etc. but is still an excellent book which I highly recommend! :)
Title: The Name Jar Written & Illustrated By: Yangsook Choi Dragonfly Books, 2001, Fiction
Suitable For Ages: 3-7
Themes/Topics: acceptance/tolerance, fitting in, feeling different, multicultural diversity (Korean-American), being the new kid, names
Opening: "Through the school bus window, Unhei looked out at the strange buildings and houses on the way to her new school. It was her first day, and she was both nervous and excited."
Brief Synopsis: Unhei's (pronounced Yoon-hye) first encounter with her American schoolmates leaves her feeling uncertain about her name, and different from everyone else. Her name is difficult to pronounce. Kids make fun of it. It sets her apart. How much easier to be Amanda, Laura, or Suzy! So when she enters her new classroom, she tells the teacher she hasn't chosen her name yet - she'll let him know next week. All through the week, her classmates fill a name jar with suggestions they think she might like. But in the end, she is not Amanda, Laura or Suzy. She is Unhei. And she comes to realize just how special that is.
Why I Like This Book: This book is beautifully written, clearly communicating Unhei's acute agony over having a name that's different from everyone else's which is just the tip of the iceberg of being and feeling different. She just wants to fit in. But she also loves her Korean family, the Korean market that feels like a little piece of home in this strange new world, and her Korean heritage. She knows the history of her name - how her grandmother and mother went to a name master specially to get the perfect name for her - Unhei, which means "grace." She doesn't want to let go of that. It takes a special friend to help her see that Unhei is who she is and should be. A great choice for any child who is having trouble fitting in, or to help children have more understanding of a friend or classmate who might feel that way.
This is work-in-progress. I am developing a yeti character (abominable snowman) for a "contest" Chronicle Books is having. I wrote a little rhyme to go with Yolanda. As you can see the face still needs rendering. One leg and one arm still need work too.
They've announced that Anne Enright has been named the inaugural 'Laureate for Irish Fiction' -- selected from 34 nominees (including William Trevor, Edna O'Brien, and John Banville, among some other pretty big names).
It's a three-year gig, and she:
will be expected to continue her work as a creative artist.
In addition, over the course of her term, Anne Enright will spend one semester at University College Dublin and one semester at New York University.
It also pays out €150,000 over the three years, which sounds pretty good, too.
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Title: this ORQ (he cave boy.) Written by: David Elliott Illustrated by: Lori Nichols Published by: Boyds Mills Press, 2014 Themes/Topics: pets, cave boys, cave moms, wooly mammoths Suitable for ages: preschoolers Opening: This Orq. He live in cave. He carry club. He cave boy. … Continue reading →
The list of explorers that changed the way we see the world is vast, so we asked Stewart A. Weaver, author of Exploration: A Very Short Introduction, to highlight some of the most interesting explorers everyone should know more about. The dates provided are the years in which the explorations took place. Let us know if you think anyone else should be added to the list in the comments below.
Pytheas of Massalia, 325 B.C.E.: The first known reporter of the arctic and the midnight sun.
The Greek geographer sailed out of the Bay of Biscay and did not stop until he had rounded the coast of Brittany, crossed the English Channel, and fully circumnavigated the British Isles. Pytheas was an independent adventurer and scientific traveler—the first, for instance, to associate ocean tides with the moon. Whether he made it as far north as Iceland is doubtful, but he somehow knew of the midnight sun and he evidently encountered arctic ice. Even conservative estimates give him credit for some 7,500 miles of ocean travel—an astounding feat for the time and one that justifies Pytheas’s vague reputation as the archetypal maritime explorer.
Abu ’Abdallah Ibn Battuta, 1349-1353: The first known crossing of the Sahara Desert
The greatest of all medieval Muslim travelers was a Moroccan pilgrim who set out for Mecca from his native Tangier in 1325 and did not return until he had logged over 75,000 miles through much of Africa, Arabia, Central Asia, India, and China. He left the first recorded description of a crossing of the Sahara desert, including the only eye-witness reports on such peripheral and then little-known lands as Sudanic West Africa, the Swahili Coast, Asia Minor, and the Malabar coast of India for the better part of a century or more. His journeys included some high adventure and shipwreck worthy of any great explorer.
Zheng He 1405-1433: China’s imperial expeditions
The “Grand Eunuch” and court favorite of the Yongle Emperor of China, Zheng He led seven formidable expeditions through the Indian Ocean. The first voyage alone featured 62 oceangoing junks—each one perhaps ten times the size of anything afloat in Europe at the time—along with a fleet of 225 smaller support vessels, and 27,780 men. With the admiral’s death at sea in 1433, the great fleet was broken up, foreign travel forbidden, and the very name of Zheng He expunged from the records in an effort to erase his example. In 1420 Chinese ships and sailors had no equal in the world. Eighty years later, scarcely a deep-seaworthy ship survived in China.
Christopher Columbus, 1492: God, gold, and glory in the discovery of the Americas
Lured by flawed cartography, Marco Polo’s Travels, the legends of antiquity, and the desire for title and dignity, Columbus weighed anchor on August 3, 1492, in search of a westward route to China and resolved, as he said in his journal, “to write down the whole of this voyage in detail.” From the Canaries, the seasoned navigator picked up the northeast trades that swept his little flotilla directly across the Atlantic in a matter of 33 days. The trans-Atlantic routes he pioneered and the voyages he publicized not only decisively altered European conceptions of global geography; they led almost immediately to the European colonial occupation of the Americas and thus permanently joined together formerly distinct peoples, cultures, and biological ecosystems.
Bartolomeu Dias, 1488: The first European to round the Cape of Good Hope
For six months, Portuguese commander Bartolomeu Dias battled his way south along the coast of Africa against continual storm and adverse currents in search of an ocean passage to India. Finally, unable to do much else, Dias stood out to sea and sailed south-south-west for many days until providentially around 40° south he picked up the prevailing South Atlantic westerlies that carried him eastwards round the southern tip of Africa without his even noticing it. The Indian Ocean was not an enclosed sea; it was accessible from the Atlantic by way of what Dias fittingly called the Cape of Storms and his sponsor, King João of Portugal, named the Cape of Good Hope.
James Cook, 1768-1779: The Christopher Columbus of the Pacific Ocean
James Cook did not in any sense “discover” the Pacific or its island peoples. But he was the first to take full measure of both, to bring order, coherence, and completion to the map of the Pacific, from the Arctic to the Antarctic, and to disclose to the world the broad lineaments of Polynesian cultures. His voyages set a new standard for maritime safety and contributed decisively to the development of astronomy, oceanography, meteorology, and botany and to the founding, in the next century, of ethnology and anthropology. They also did much to integrate Oceania into modern systems of global trade even as they stimulated a fondness for the primitive and the exotic.
David Livingstone, 1856: The first European to transverse sub-Saharan Africa from coast to coast
Born in a one-room tenement in Scotland, this most famous of 19th century explorers had gone to Africa as medical missionary in 1841, but Livingstone’s wanderlust ran ahead of his proselytizing purpose. His sighting of the Zambezi river in June 1851 encouraged a vision of a broad highway of “legitimate commerce” into regions still blighted by the slave trade, and one year later he returned to explore its upper reaches, with the indispensable guidance and cooperation of the indigenous Makololo and other tribes. In May 1856, after years of harrowing travel, he became the first European to traverse sub-Saharan Africa from coast to coast
Nain Singh, 1866-1868: The first cartographer of the Himalayan Mountains
Starting in the winter of 1866, Nain Singh began a two-year trek across the Himalayan Mountains. Known to his British employers as “Pundit No. 1,” Singh surveyed the height and positions of numerous peaks in the Himalayan range, and many of its rivers during his 1,500-mile trek. Recognized by the Royal Geographical Society on his retirement in 1876 as “the man who has added a greater amount of positive knowledge to the map of Asia than any individual of our time,” Singh provided Western explorers the tools to navigate on their own, rather than to rely on local guides.
Roald Amundsen, 1910-1912: The winner of the ‘race to the South Pole’
During his three-year journey through the Northwest Passage beginning in 1903, Roald Amundsen learned to adapt to harsh polar conditions. The Norwegian learned to ski, appreciated the essential role of dogs in polar travel, and adapted to some native Inuit practices. Above all, learning to think small—in terms of ship size and crew—and to travel light , helped him beat his rival explorer, Englishman, Robert F. Scott to the South Pole by over a month. Scott, who considered Amundsen an interloper with a passion for chasing records, died with his four-person crew eleven miles short of their food depot.
Alexander von Humboldt, 1799-1804: Enlightenment scientist and romantic explorer of Latin America
A Prussian geographer, naturalist, and explorer whose five-year expedition through Latin America cast him as a “second Columbus.” Humboldt confirmed the connection of two river systems, the Amazon and the Orinoco, and is most noted for his attempt to climb Chimborazo, then mistakenly thought to be the highest peak in the Americas. A crevasse stopped his team just short of the summit, but at 19,734 feet, they climbed higher than anyone else on record. Sometimes reviled as an example of the explorer as oppressor, one whose travel writing reduced South America to pure nature, drained it of human presence or history, and thus laid it open to exploitation and abuse by European empires, Humboldt has more recently been recovered as an essential inspiration of modern environmentalism.
Leif Eriksson (Son of Eirik the Red), 1001: Northern Europeans’ discovery of America
Bjarni Herjolfsson accidentally triggered the European discovery of America in about 985 when he was blown off course while en route from Norway to Greenland. His adventure stirred an exploratory spirit in his countrymen. Fellow Norseman Leif Eiriksson had no known destination in mind when he set out across the North Atlantic in the year 1001. He sought something new, found it, occupied it, and then returned to tell others. While his journey from Greenland to the “new world” occurred roughly five hundred years before Columbus, it was not immediately celebrated in print and made no lasting cultural impression. Still, Leif’s landfall in “Vinland” led to the first attempt at a permanent European settlement in the Americas at L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland.
Featured image: “Hodges, Resolution and Adventure in Matavai Bay” by William Hodges. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Hello little blog, how've you been? I just wanted to pop in and tell you I've packed up my things and will be traveling for a while. I'm still drawing and exploring, but very excited to be on the move again. If you want to see glimpses of my adventures, look me up on Instagram.
Designer Jessica Hogarth exhibited at Top Drawer in London recently and showcased a new range of greetings cards. Jessica is based in Whitby, on the North Yorkshire coast where the seaside often influences her work. She loves to hand draw her designs and then work them into stylish and bright colour schemes. Next week Jessica exhibits at the Spring Fair in Birmingham. and you can find her cards
Winston Churchill’s Victory broadcast of 13 May 1945, in which he claimed that but for Northern Ireland’s “loyalty and friendship” the British people “should have been confronted with slavery or death,” is perhaps the most emphatic assertion that the Second World War entrenched partition from the southern state and strengthened the political bond between Britain and Northern Ireland.
Two years earlier, however, in private correspondence with US President Roosevelt, Churchill had written disparagingly of the young men of Belfast, who unlike their counterparts in Britain were not subject to conscription, loafing around “with their hands in their pockets,” hindering recruitment and the vital work of the shipyards.
Churchill’s role as a unifying figure, galvanising the war effort through wireless broadcasts and morale-boosting public appearances, is much celebrated in accounts of the British Home Front. The further away from London and the South East of England that one travels, however, the more questions should be asked of this simplistic narrative. Due to Churchill’s actions as Liberal Home Secretary during the 1910 confrontations between miners and police in South Wales, for example, he was far less popular in Wales, and indeed in Scotland, than in England during the war. But in Northern Ireland, too, Churchill was a controversial figure at this time. The roots of this controversy are to be found in events that took place more than a quarter of a century before, in 1912.
Then First Lord of the Admiralty, Churchill was booed on arrival in Belfast that February, before his car was attacked and his effigy brandished by a mob of loyalist demonstrators. Later at Belfast Celtic Football Ground he was cheered by a crowd of five thousand nationalists as he spoke in favour of Home Rule for Ireland. Churchill was not sympathetic to the Irish nationalist cause but believed that Home Rule would strengthen the Empire and the bond between Britain and Ireland; he also saw this alliance as vital to the defence of the United Kingdom.
Loyalists were outraged. Angry dockers hurled rotten fish at Churchill and his wife Clementine as they left the city; historian and novelist Hugh Shearman reported that their car was diverted to avoid thousands of shipyard workers who had lined the route with pockets filled with “Queen’s Island confetti,” local slang for rivet heads. (Harland and Wolff were at this time Belfast’s largest employer, and indeed one of the largest shipbuilding firms in the world; at the time of the Churchills’ visit the Titanic was being fitted out.)
Two years later in March 1914 Churchill made a further speech in Bradford in England, calling for a peaceful solution to the escalating situation in Ulster and arguing that the law in Ireland should be applied equally to nationalists and unionists without preference. Three decades later, this speech was widely reprinted and quoted in several socialist and nationalist publications in Northern Ireland, embarrassing the unionist establishment by highlighting their erstwhile hostility to the most prominent icon of the British war effort. Churchill’s ignominious retreat from Belfast in 1912 was also raised by pamphleteers and politicians who sought to exploit a perceived hypocrisy in the unionist government’s professed support for the British war effort as it sought to suppress dissent within the province. One socialist pamphlet attacked unionists by arguing that “The Party which denied freedom of speech to a member of the British Government before it became the Government of Northern Ireland is not likely to worry overmuch about free speech for its political opponents after it became the Government.”
And in London in 1940 Victor Gollancz’s Left Book Club published a polemic by the Dublin-born republican activist Jim Phelan, startlingly entitled Churchill Can Unite Ireland. In this Phelan expressed hopes that Churchill’s personality itself could effect positive change in Ireland. He saw Churchill as a figure who could challenge what Phelan called “punctilio,” the adherence to deferential attitudes that kept vested interests in control of the British establishment. Phelan identified a cultural shift in Britain following Churchill’s replacement of Chamberlain as Prime Minister, characterised by a move towards plain speaking: he argued that for the first time since the revolutionary year of 1848 “people are saying and writing what they mean.”
Jim Phelan’s ideas in Churchill Can Unite Ireland were often fanciful, but they alert us to the curious patterns of debate that can be found away from more familiar British narratives of the Second World War. Here a proud Irish republican could assert his faith in a British Prime Minister with a questionable record in Ireland as capable of delivering Irish unity.
Despite publically professed loyalty to the British war effort, unionist mistrust of the London government in London endured over the course of the war, partly due to Churchill’s perceived willingness to deal with Irish Taoiseach Éamon de Valera. Phelan’s book concluded with the words: “Liberty does not grow on trees; it must be fought for. Not ‘now or never’. Now.” Eerily these lines presaged the infamous telegram from Churchill to de Valera following the bombing of Pearl Harbor the following year in 1941, which, it is implied, offered Irish unity in return for the southern state’s entry into the war on the side of Allies, and read in part “Now is your chance. Now or never. A Nation once again.”
Lily Dalton is celebrating the release of Never Surrender to a Scoundrel! She stopped by the virtual offices to share a guest post, as well as an excerpt from her latest book. There is also a giveaway you can enter!
Five Things Dominick, the Spy, Doesn’t Leave Home Without by Lily Dalton
A silver cheroot case, which contains not only his favorite Burmese cheroots but a small set of specialized tools useful for all manner of circumstances, such as prying open locked boxes filled with secrets, and enabling one to make a fast escape when imprisoned against one’s will.
A fashionable cane sword walking stick–which with a flick of his wrist, converts into a deadly dagger.
An onyx ring that conceals within its hinged lid, the Secret Service intaglio he uses to certify his clandestine reports before they are delivered to the Home Office.
His scars. Concealed by his clothing, they accompany him everywhere, reminders of past missions, and proof of his loyalty to his monarch and country. However, as a spy, he will never discuss the circumstances by which those painful badges of honor were earned.
A Rundell, Bridge and Rundell pocket watch, recently given to him by the Prince Regent, in recognition of his heroism and bravery.
About NEVER SURRENDER TO A SCOUNDREL:
A Reckless Desire . . .
Lady Clarissa Bevington is in trouble. A reckless indiscretion has left her with two choices: ruin her family with the scandal of the Season, or marry Mr. Kincraig, the notorious scoundrel mistaken as her lover. Desperate and disgraced, Clarissa vows to love and cherish a veritable stranger, a man whose eyes smolder with danger-and undeniable desire . . .
An Unexpected Arrangement
As an agent for the Crown, Lord Donovan Blackmer has spent the last two years guarding Clarissa’s grandfather from an unknown assassin while disguised as the rakehell Kincraig. His mission may now be over, but his duty has just begun. Salvaging his beautiful, impetuous wife’s virtue will cost him his fortune and his position as an officer-but it might save him from the ghosts that haunt his own past. When their marriage “in name only” leads to exquisite seduction, Donovan must risk the only thing he has left to lose . . . his heart.
About Lily Dalton:
Lily Dalton grew up as an Army brat, moving from place to place. Her first stop after relocating was always the local library, where she could hang out with familiar friends: Books! Lily has an English degree from Texas A & M University and after graduation worked as a legal assistant in the fields of accident reconstruction and litigation. She now lives in Houston, Texas, with her family. When she isn’t at work on her next manuscript, she spends her time trying out new recipes, cheering on her favorite Texas football teams and collecting old dishes, vintage linens and other fine “junque” from thrift stores and flea markets.
He set the nightshirt back on the bed, and spoke over his shoulder.
“I think it’s time you returned to your room.”
He spoke the words without passion. She could only assume he’d had enough talking and wanted her to leave. The night air chilled her skin, and she wrapped her arms around her waist for warmth. She felt rebuffed by him. Stung. Her husband, the man with whom she would spend the rest of her days, did not have the slightest interest in spending a moment more in her company.
She knew she ought to calmly say ‘Very well then, I bid you good night,’ and quit the room, but she feared with a certainty that if she opened her mouth and attempted to utter a single syllable, her voice would falter and reveal the confused tumult of her emotions.
Not because she cared for him. Of course she didn’t. Clearly he did not care for her.
They’d been thrown together, and no amount of wishful thinking or good intentions would create a spark between them, when such a spark was never intended to be. She blinked away tears. Foolish tears! As if he had hurt her, but he hadn’t.
It had just been a long day, and a long night before that, and she’d made a terrible mess of everything, and she hated Quinn. And perhaps still loved him. And she was lonely. So very lonely and frightened of what the future held.
So instead she nodded jerkily, her chin outthrust, and turned on her slippered foot to escape into the dark dressing closet, taking care to close the first and the second door firmly behind her. Miss Randolph reclined in her sleeping gown and robe on the chaise with her book open and steepled across her forehead, snoring, which was just as well because Clarissa could not face the woman’s questions or her pity.
She doused the lamps and, in darkness, with only the scant light from behind the fire grate to see, crawled into bed and lay on unfamiliar sheets, her mind tangled with thoughts of… Mr. Blackmer.
Suddenly, the door swung open, and a shadow moved toward her, stealthily and swift, with only the faint white swath across his hips visible in the night. She recognized Blackmer instantly and desire ignited inside her. He crouched above her, breathing hard, his skin still damp and the tight flex of muscles in his shoulders darkly illuminated. The scent of the soap from his bath filled her nostrils. Her pulse raced, her heart near exploding.
“You,” he growled deep in his throat. “Are my preference.”
A second later, he kissed her hard, pressing his thumb against the side of her jaw, commanding her lips to part while his tongue boldly entered and teased. She gasped for breath, stunned into half-senselessness…and surrendered, her mouth opening fully to accept each deep, possessing stroke.
He gave a husky groan. His large hands caught hers by the wrists, pinning her to the mattress. She squirmed beneath him—but with no intent to escape.
Moments before he had dismissed her coldly, and made her feel invisible and unwanted and yet in this moment, he revealed his true feelings, ones he’d tried to conceal. She knew without a doubt that her husband desired her. Something about that made her weak, and—
His mouth moved to her cheek…her neck, leaving her skin hot and awakened wherever his lips touched. Sensations she’d never experienced spiraled up from inside her, delicious and achingly sweet, awakening a need in her body and rendering her unexpectedly wild.
God help her, she didn’t understand, but she wanted him as well. The moment he released her hands she moaned and seized his shoulders, sliding her hands upward over his neck, finding unexpected appreciation in the powerful contraction and flux of his muscles beneath her palms. He exhaled, filling her mouth with his breath, and sucked her bottom lip—
Only to groan and twist away.
No. She reached, her hands trailing over his shoulders and his arms, desperately wanting more. More of his kiss, and his warm, firm skin. And yes, for him to ravish her so she would forget—
The bed creaked, relieved of his weight. She heard his sharp exhalation of breath–a laugh, perhaps?
“Good night then, Mrs. Blackmer,” he murmured.
Silence filled the room.
“Good night,” she answered breathlessly.
He crossed the room, disappearing into the dressing closet, gone the way he had come. She heard the door close.
After a long moment of silence, Miss Randolph’s voice came from the direction of the chaise. “Well that was rather thrilling.”