Showing posts from 2019

Queen Victoria's 200th birthday

I missed it by a day, but May 24th was the 200th anniversary of Queen Victoria's birth. She was born in 1819 in Kensington Palace, London, the only daughter of Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent and Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. Victoria was born during the reign of her grandfather, George III. She was christened Alexandrina Victoria.

Her father was George III's fourth son and--it turned out--that made Victoria an heir to the throne. Her older cousin Charlotte--the only legitimate heir to the throne, daughter of George the Prince Regent--had died in 1817 after childbirth. Her baby was stillborn, so once again, George III's immediate heirs were his first four sons: George, Frederick, William, and Edward. George and Frederick were old and hated their wives. William had a ton of children from an invalid marriage, left his sort-of wife and kids, and like his brother Edward, found a German princess to marry. He and Edward married on the same day.

Edward died in January 1820. A…

Questions for the FrankenIdea

1. Can somebody explain the British university system to me, please? Thank you.

2. Can anybody explain the process of a UK country house becoming a business/graded and protected/National Trust home?

3. I could probably research all this, but I'm researched out at the moment. :-)

Last Week in Library School...

*pops head up*

Oh, hi.

So, I had a many and varied week this past week, an interesting mix of fun and school.

First, school: I have something like three more weeks until this semester is over. Of course, I have finals coming up, but I also have a research paper to write, a sort of study/presentation thing to do, and other shenanigans.

I had two presentations last week--one was a group presentation, which was stressful. I admit that I don't like presentations period. I hate talking in front of groups of people. I'm also not loud and am very small, which doesn't help when being forced to present things. The second presentation last week was me solo with a PowerPoint and some notes for a different class and frankly, that one was far less stressful.

And yet, though I was nervous before both presentations, it was not the depth of existential anxiety I've faced in the past simply talking in front of others, never mind standing in front of a room and talking to them. I think …


Today, April 30th, Japan's Emperor Akihito abdicates. He became the Emperor in 1989.

Japan's Emperor is a purely symbolic role. Technically, it's a constitutional monarchy, but I'm not sure of what official governmental roles the imperial family actually fulfill except to be symbols of Japan.

Japan tells time by eras, like many historical periods. There's the Edo-jidai or Edo Period, from 1603 to 1868, when the Tokugawa shogunate ruled over a not-very-centralized Japan. That's when Japan sort of isolated itself and there were a lot of samurais running around and some Dutch people came to trade and the Japanese gave them a punky island that they made them stay on in Nagasaki Harbor.

In 1868, the Emperor Meiji came to the throne and the Meiji Era began. The Meiji Era is considered Modern Japan and since then, each emperor corresponds to an era. The era name is symbolic and after the emperor dies--or abdicates--he will become known as the Emperor Era Name.

Which i…

TV Shows and Other Things

So I'm on spring break this week, though I'm working on two projects plus work, it a proper break?

At any rate, I caught up on Fosse/Verdon, a miniseries on FX about famous Broadway choreographer and director Bob Fosse and the rather contentious relationship he had with his wife, muse, and the best Broadway dancer of all time, Gwen Verdon. It stars Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams and there's lots of dancing and musical theater.

I know nothing about dance, but look at Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon dance:

I also want to watch the three-part miniseries Mrs. Wilson, starring Ruth Wilson, which aired on PBS. I have the first episode on the DVR but I'll have to find the final two. Mrs. Wilson is based on a memoir Ruth Wilson's grandmother wrote and left behind. When Ruth's grandfather Alec died in the 60s, her grandmother learned that that she was not the only wife he had--Alec Wilson was a spy, worked for MI-5 and MI-6, wrote a spy novels, and had four wives …

On Social Media

This post is inspired by Krystal Jane Ruin's blog post: Should Anti-Social People Use Facebook?

I ended up writing a book in her comments and concluded that I should write my own post.

My first social medium was Facebook, which was brand-new and everyone at my college was joining it back in 2004. I've been on it ever since, with a personal page and with an author page. And I think about deleting my author page every other week or so because a) I'm not really creative writing anything imminent at the moment, so the page is all meme quotes and blog posts and b) I don't get a lot of engagement on it and c) more than once, I've had follower numbers go up but I can't tell where those followers are from, which is disconcerting.

I think we've all become aware of the bad ish social networks are up to--gathering massive amounts of data and then not protecting it, selling that data, not regulating their platforms enough to avoid nasty people using it, the spread of m…

Problematic Past Characters

Around about two years to a year and a half ago, I was struggling to write a Regency historical romance between a fairly major character in Pearl and a character I'd written in an earlier incarnation of Pearl and then cut when I rewrote the story.

At the time, I thought the story wasn't working because there was no chemistry between these two characters. I thought I'd burnt myself out on Regency times in a way, having kind of immersed myself in the Georgian era for this fictional family I'd created, and maybe it was just time to move on to something else. Plus, although I love reading romances, they're exceedingly hard to write because they're essentially two plots--the external and the internal--and they each have their own beats that must be hit.

All of that is true, but I also had this pervasive sense that I was trying to write--and had written, in Pearl--something problematic. So, Miles Keegan was created because I needed a white English guy of decent birth…

Crown Jewels

Ever since I learned a bit more about the Koh-i-Noor Diamond, Duleep Singh, and his daughter Sophia, I've been like low-key (and by low-key, I mean I think about it from time to time but not a lot) interested in the idea of a British Crown Jewel tied into other royal families and what the symbolism of Crown Jewels are--and what it means to those whose jewels were destroyed or stolen by colonizers or revolutionaries or whomever...

As a refresher: the Koh-i-Noor Diamond has a long, convoluted history, but it ended up in the Punjab as part of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh's collection. His son, Duleep Singh, was the last emperor of the Punjab and when the British imposed a treaty on the Sikh Empire, part of the deal involved the Koh-i-Noor being given to Queen Victoria.

I feel jewels and jewelry get used a lot as symbolism in stories. The Lord of the Rings hinges on a bunch of powerful rings. A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson involves a Russian aristocratic family's jewels …

So far in library school...

Well, I finished one midterm (two essays, two pages each, one day to write both!) and I've survived another midterm and I have a group project in the other class going. And I have two longer-term assignments for two of my classes and reading to do and oh, another group project to do and...

I never want to hear that local city colleges are not rigorous ever again. Y'all, I'm taking fewer classes in library school than in my last grad degree but the workload is at least twice as much.

I will say that there are some advantages in having gone back to school older. For one thing, I never want to work in retail ever again, so I am highly motivated in earning this degree and keeping an eye on career paths. I am much better at time management than when I was younger, which helps. I am a bit stressed, but it's not a long snaking line of people on Black Friday, so whatevs. I'll get the work done, one way or another.

I am very good at taking notes--I was horrible at it in col…

The Romanovs Part 6: After Life

There is a truck driving around the woods outside of Yekaterinburg, carrying the sheet-wrapped bodies of eleven brutally murdered victims. The truck is heading toward the Koptyaki woods, where Yurovsky had earlier identified disused mineshafts that might work as a gravesite. But the truck breaks down.

Another gang of men wait in the woods for them. Turns out there's only one shovel amongst them.
Yurovsky dismissed the majority of the men. The victims were stripped--this is when the jewels sewn into underwear, corsets, hats and other items were discovered--disfigured, dumped into the mineshaft, and doused with sulphuric acid. Their clothing was burned.
But Yurovsky realized the mineshaft wasn't deep enough. The men tried to grenade the mineshaft into collapsing, but it still wasn't good enough.
The murder of the Romanov family and their loyal retainers is so messy that yeah, you could almost believe that one of the children, wounded and injured but still breathing, could ha…

Introducing Fuckbois of Literature: A New Podcast

Hello gang! Today I am bringing you a repeat guest and Friend to The Blog, Emily Edwards, who you all may remember from previous guest posts here as the author of Collecting the Constellations and Pursue The Unknown End. Emily is now launching a new creative endeavor--a podcast called Fuckbois of Literature--so I had to ask her about it.

Have a listen to the introduction here:

1. Fuckbois of Literature is an irreverant, hilarious deep dive into the problematic characters in literature. Where the heck did this idea come from?

A few months back, a comedian named Sara Benincasa asked her followers, "If you could murder anyone from literature, who would you kill?" It's morbid and macabre, but without hesitation, I responded back with JANE EYRE, because, you know, she's awful. She married someone after he locked his first wife in the attic! I thought nothing of the response, but the tweet– both Sara's and mine– went viral, and I woke up to hundreds of replies. People …

IWSG: March

It is the first Wednesday in March, so it is time for the IWSG post! Check out the group here.The awesome co-hosts for the March 6 posting of the IWSG areFundy Blue,Beverly Stowe McClure,Erika Beebe,andLisa Buie-Collard!

As I don't really have any writing news to share, secure or insecure, let's go to the monthly question!
Whose perspective do you like to write from best, the hero (protagonist) or the villain (antagonist)? And why?
I don't know if I've ever written a story with a proper villain. I feel like a lot of my characters are more fighting against societal things or circumstances than merely one person. So I guess I tend to write from a protagonist's point of view. I don't really like to read books in an antagonist's point of view either. I think they can be deeply interesting and I don't mind watching movies or TV with anti-heroes or villains (hellooo, Breaking Bad!) but reading is a much more personal experience and there are simply things I don…

Music Boxes by Tonja Drecker

Today's a really cool day, everyone! My writing friend Tonja Drecker is releasing a book!

Music Boxes By Tonja Drecker Middle Grade Fantasy / Performing Arts 158 pages Dancing Lemur Press Release date: March 5th, 2019 Ages 9 to 12
·ISBN-10: 1939844568 ·ISBN-13: 978-1939844569

Book Blurb:
“I only desire your talent...”

Twelve-year-old Lindsey McKay's biggest dream is to be a famous ballerina. But after moving to New York, she ends up at the Community Center with a teacher who’s a burly bear in tights.
When she meets Madame DestinĂ©e, the teacher of a top dance school who offers her classes for free, Lindsey can't believe her luck. In exchange, she must perform in the school’s exclusive midnight shows, ones sure to make her a star. But something’s not right...
One by one, the other dancers disappear. Each time they do, a music box with a figurine just like the missing ballerina joins Madame DestinĂ©e’s growing collection. If Lindsey doesn’t discover the truth about the dance school, she mig…

Romanovs Part 5: Yekaterinburg

Warning: bad stuff happens in this installment.

Nicholas II, Alexandra, Maria, and their servants are on their way to Tyumen to get on the railway. The fastest way to get to Moscow from Tyumen was to ride the train west, but that would take them through Yekaterinburg, a large city in the Urals, full of communists. The Ural Soviets were based in Yekaterinburg and they were baying for the Romanovs.

Yakovlev opted to take the railroad east to Omsk, there to transfer to a westbound train and bypass Yekaterinburg. But since Yakovlev's intentions remain sketchy to this day, nobody actually knows if he intended to bring the family to Moscow or to escape to Japan or to do what actually happened:

The Omsk Soviet handed the Romanovs over to the Ural Soviet. Four days later, on April 30th, the Romanovs arrived in Yekaterinburg. After a thorough inspection--Maria wrote to her siblings back in Tobolsk that the soldiers rifled through everything even "the candy" and "the medicine…