Month: July 2017

L. C. Mawson’s Diverse 99c Spotlight

 

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L. C. Mawson is doing a Start Reading Diverse 99c Spotlight over on her website. Some of the books included in the Spotlight are always 99c, but some aren’t, including The Complete Lady Ruth Constance Chapelstone Chronicles. Yep, you can get the entire Lady Ruth series for just 99c. But, act quickly.

Looking for some historical/steampunk, diverse reads? This weekend, we’ve got four diverse books in the historical/steampunk category, all priced at 99c.

Check them out!

http://lcmawson.com/start-reading-diverse-99c-spotlight

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The Crone in Hollywood

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Three big budget movies have come out in the last year, with memorable, grotesque, and striking females as the main villain. The films feature Enchantress in Suicide Squad (2016). Rita Repulsa in Power Rangers (2017), and Ahmanet in The Mummy (2017). These representations made me think of the role of “the crone” in Western culture and literature.

Crone in modern America is most often taken to represent an old and unappealing female. The term, in English, derives from Middle English, as a term of abuse, from Anglo-French caroine, meaning dead flesh. The contemporary meaning for the term crone refers to an older woman, such as a witch or hag, and is certainly derogatory and demeaning. The crone is commonly used to describe useless or evil females. The concept of a crone incorporates the stigma of both age and inferior gender into one term. However, long ago it could also mean “wise woman” or “holy one.”

Watching Power Rangers, this week, I was reminded of visual similarities of the villains in the three movies. Taking a look at historical representations of unattractive females we find witches, crones, and hags in fairy tales, and other literature. In the West, these traits perhaps are connected to not being married, or not bearing children. In Great Expectations (1861) the novel by Charles Dickens, the villainess is a woman who was jilted at the alter, and who nurtures a lifelong plan to wreck her vengeance on men. Perhaps the male writers of the past were channeling the cultural role of females as wife, mother, and object of male domination by showing women outside of those norms as evil.

Some scholars believe this schism between wise elder figures and evil elder female figures are a carryover from the change in cultural values after female dominated societies were overthrown by male dominated warrior leaders, as during the Bronze age.

The pattern was formed, and it apparently persists to this day. Enchantress in the Suicide Squad movie is a witch-goddess with a desire to destroy the world. The Squad must defeat her as she uses her power to ravage the earth. Rita Replusa in the Power Rangers movie is an alien entity that wants to end all life on planet Earth, for some unknown reason. Ahmanet in The Mummy is represented as a former princess from the Egyptian New Kingdom era who sells her soul to the god Set for mystical power. The heroes must defeat Ahmanet’s plan to release Set on an unsuspecting world.

Perhaps this year will exhaust the idea of having so many villains who are evil, bitter females with power and a distorted appearance. I hope Hollywood grows tired of its reliance on the crone as a go-to villain in action blockbusters. Let’s reprise, instead, that other mythic character, the wise women, from whom many gifts and blessing arise. But then what will the box-office dictate?

 

Knitting in Wartime

KnittingBannerWhen you think of knitting, do you think about winning wars? Probably not, but historically knitting has been one of those small contributions made during various war efforts. The word knitting comes from the Old English cnyttan, meaning “to knot”. We use the knitting term to indicate making a textile product by looping yarn using two needles. Knitting has played a role in human conflict down the ages.

A fictional representation is in Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities, where Madame Defarge sits by the guillotine as the enemies of the French Revolution are beheaded, calmly recording their names in wool as their heads fall. More historical references date to more recent conflicts. Spies during the American Revolutionary War used the cover of knitting, to serve the new country. Molly “Old Mom” Rinker,  spied for George Washington, during the Revolutionary War, while sitting on a hilltop knitting and watching the British. Hiding scraps of paper within balls of yarn, she passed messages in plain sight of the enemy.

The British government was so concerned about knitting, that in both WWI and WWII they banned people from posting knitting patterns abroad in case they contained coded messages. During World War I, A woman in Belgium knitted at her window, watching the passing trains. Making bumpy stitches in the fabric, or dropping stitches from the fabric, she recorded counts of German trains. These fabric messages she passed on to spies in the Belgian resistance.

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An American Red Cross knitting class during World War One. NATIONAL ARCHIVES/20802186

An undercover agent in WWII, Phyllis Latour Doyle, snuck information to the British using knitting as a cover. Parachuting into occupied France in 1944, she learned German secrets and used silk yarn to code secret knotted messages. She hid her code equipment by wrapping silk yarn around a knitting needle and using it to tie her hair up.

Today, individuals are waging different types of battles with yarn. In 2013, knitted items were strung from trees and lamp-posts in parts of Leicester, UK. The police hoped this would calm the area and deter crime. This is a type of “yarnbombing,” where people knit cozies for tree trunks, parking meters and stationary or moving objects. The history of knitting is not over. I’m sure that in the years to come knitting will continue to play a role in how people respond to and confront violence and radical change. I salute the knitters, carry on!

Links:

http://elinorflorence.com/blog/wartime-knitting

http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/knitting-spies-wwi-wwii

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/the-filter/qi/10638792/QI-how-knitting-was-used-as-code-in-WW2.html

 

 

 

The ABCs Of War And An Adult Children’s Book: Unusual Alphabet Primers

Nicholas C. Rossis

Alison Jay ABC | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksThe wee one is at that age when we’re reading her ABCs on a daily basis — which explains why one of her first words was “ackle” (apparently, that’s what A stands for). We have half a dozen of these, with Alison Jay’s ABC being my favorite one, thanks to her stunning illustrations. However, I wish I could get my hands on two of the more unusual ones. Like Shel Silverstein’s Adults-Only Children’s Book and The ABCs of WWI, a British Wartime Alphabet Primer: did you know that D stands for dreadnought?

Shel Silverstein’s Adults-Only Children’s Book

In 1961, Hugh Hefner, likely recognizing that his adult publication was missing out on a lucrative and untapped market, commissioned some material just for the kids. As Kevin Litman-Navarro of Atlas Obscura explains, six pages after August’s centerfold spread of Playmate Karen Thompson, Playboy Magazine printed its inaugural children’s work—Uncle Shelby’s ABZ…

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MARKED BY FATE: ORIGINS – release & giveaway

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Announcing a new release and giveaway!

MARKED BY FATE: ORIGINS
Beginnings. Secrets. Deleted Scenes.
Transport yourself to other worlds with 15 Marked by Fate warriors…encounter shadows, queens, witches, and wizards who battle against immortals, angels, vampires, demons, genetically engineered soldiers, robots and gods. Let yourself be swept away by adventures in magical fantasy worlds, mind-blowing dystopian lands, space stations, galaxies, and alternate timelines.
These NEVER BEFORE released short stories and deleted scenes in Marked by Fate: Origins are EXCLUSIVE to this collection. Read them before the Marked by Fate full boxset releases in October 2017.
Gain a glimpse of where the action begins, including a deeper look into some of your favorite characters! Get the Marked by Fate: Origins collection today to join these teen warriors in their adventures!
mbf-giveaway.jpgTo celebrate the Marked by Fate: Origins short story collection — we’re offering you the chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card! You can enter here: https://gleam.io/9t0BY/marked-by-fate-origins-giveaway-2

The Road to Fantasy is Paved with Facts

Traveling Light

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(This is the first of four “themed” posts about research for fantasy novelists.)

I don’t really give “Writing Advice”.

Oh, sure – I have my opinions, and since I’ve managed to produce two novels and a memoir, I have just enough experience and success to think that, perhaps, I do know what I’m doing when I write.

At least, I know what works for me, and being older and crabbier than I was when the first novel got past the first draft, I occasionally do hop onto the soap-box and declaim about stuff writers might want to stop doing, because it’s annoying to read that shit.

But the one thing I have come to realize that what I do know something about is research.

(You would think that having an MA in archaeology from a highly renowned institution, and having some research published and used, I would have known this…

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