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Archive for the ‘history’ Category

Today, of all days, it seems a difference of opinion is what it’s all about. But I’m not here to talk politics!

I did get drawn into a Facebook conversation about unicorns and Pegasus. (I know — my geeky side is about to shine).

Someone argued that a winged unicorn must be called an alicorn. I beg to differ. Alicorn is indeed a term sometimes used for a winged unicorn, but I believe the word means the horn of a unicorn. Originally, it appears alicorn comes from the Italian alicorno, alicorne meaning “unicorn.” And alicorno, alicorne appear to have their origins in a Latin word for unicorn: unicornis. (And I just confirmed what many have thought, I was one of the weird kids who chose Latin as my “language” in middle school and high school).

Alicorn remains a really cool word, just as the idea of a unicorn’s horn as a cure for poison is most magical. Alicorns or unicorn horns also appear on various coat-of-arms and other insignia, as well as in spell books and healer’s journals of long ago.

catseye_final-72dpi Which brings me to the first review of “In a Cat’s Eye,” the marvelous anthology of cat stories I recently edited (with Kelly A. Harmon) for Pole to Pole Publishing. I’m delighted with the review, and thank NerdGirl and NerdGirl Vamp for a wonderful review.

Alas, one of my favorite stories in “In a Cat’s Eye,” the reviewer, while saying it was good, didn’t really get. Oh, no!

But then I pause — language, politics, editing, and reviews all benefit from a difference in opinion — even if we don’t see it at first. For how boring this world would be if we were all alike.

 

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794 Halloween has passed. The Day of the Dead is over. And so, for lovers of the macabre, new sources of the weird and dark need to be found!

As both an avid reader and author, I thought it appropriate to give fans of the strange a little creepy book trivia. Oddly enough, several of the entries on this list are about my favorite authors hugging dead spouses, carrying around hearts, visiting morgues, and participating in other eccentric behavior – including Charles Dickens, Mary Shelley, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

So fellow readers, here’s the link to an article on Creepy Bookish Trivia from Bookriot. Enjoy (I think!)

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As a girl, I loved Little House on the Prairie, and other books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. And I still enjoy them today. The television series featuring Michael Landon, Melissa Gilbert, Karen Grassle, and others didn’t follow the books’ story lines all the time, but nevertheless remained faithful to the themes and spirit of Laura’s books (and life experiences).

Writer-reader geek that I am, I visited the Ingalls farm, school house, and the house that Pa built in De Smet, South Dakota. The area is still beautiful and wind-blown. It wasn’t difficult to image the Ingalls family riding in a buggy to town or to the store where Harriet and Nellie Oleson spent their lives annoying others (including Willie and long-suffering Nels). A bit “off the beaten path,” I’m glad we took the time to visit De Smet.

These memoirs, for that is what Little House in the Big Woods, By the Shores of Silver Lake, and On the Banks of Plum Creek seemed to be to me, breathe life into American history. And I think my enjoyment of history was helped along by Laura’s books (as well as family stories and my father’s fascination with history – especially American history).

Currently, I’m working on several historical projects. They will never obtain the readership or popularity of Laura’s books, but I hope to breathe life into the men and women dwelling in their pages – for history matters!

And these words from a tiny (4′ 11″) pioneer woman still ring true: “The real things haven’t changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong.” — Laura Ingalls Wilder.

For those who’d like to view some historical photos of Laura, and learn a little bit about Laura and her family, husband, and life – here’s a link to a wonderful article: The Amazing Life of Laura Ingalls Wilder Part I: Old Photo Archive. Enjoy!

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As a mom and granny, I often sing children’s songs (though not very melodically, I must add). Some of the songs and rhymes seem just “silly” with no greater meaning than to entertain the ears and imaginations of the listeners and singers. Others might have their origins in folklore, history, and other places.

Ring Around the Rosies has famously been linked to the Bubonic Plague. And here’s the theory: “Ring around the rosies” – refers to red X with a circled around it that was drawn on the doors of homes to indicate someone inside that house had the plague (or had died from it). “Pocket full of posies” – refers to the boils and blisters that often accompanied the plague. “Ashes, ashes” – refers to the remains of the bodies, homes, and possessions of the plague’s victims which were burned. Or the alternate, “Pussy-cat, pussy-cat” – which refers to the cats brought in to kill the rats (whose fleas carried the plague). “We all fall down” refers to the ultimate end of everyone, whether plague victim or not.

Or maybe it’s just a fun rhyme about kids playing in the garden!

“Jack be nimble, jack be quick. Jack jump over the candlestick.” is another oft-repeated/sung nursery rhyme. Theories on this rhyme’s source varies from gaining good luck or fortune-telling skills from jumping over a burning candle to Yellow Fever prevention. It seems people believed Yellow Fever could be kept away by burning flames (and maybe their smoke), so candles would be lit by the beds of children to keep the fever at bay.

Or maybe, kids afraid of the dark just liked candles (and modern day nightlights) in their bedrooms to keep the monsters away.

A new possible source for me, was the She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain link to the moon goddess put forth in this article. Though I can see the moon image link, I’m not sure it’s a pagan-worship thing. And I must admit to never hearing the “she’ll be carrying six white puppies” verse before, though I have heard/sung the “she’ll have to sleep with grandma” and “she’ll be wearing red pajamas” verses.

How about you? Any children’s song sources you find interesting?

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In an attempt to finish many incomplete projects, I’ve set monthly goals for myself. So, how am I doing on the April and May 2016 goals I set forth on April 1st?

What’s done?

Murder_Cover_CS_front1-Complete my science fiction novelette (such a charming word!) and get it into the hands of my publisher. Done! Murder on Marawa Prime was published by Pole to Pole Publishing in May 2016. If you like science fiction murder mysteries – this one is for you.

2-Finish crocheting an afghan for my granddaughter. Done! And given to her. (pastel colors)

3-Revise and add another story and poem to my fantasy story collection, The Greener Forest, so it can be re-released with a new cover, etc. Done! Now, all that’s left to be done are to get some cover comments from fellow fantasy writers.

4-Finish at least 2 short stories and submit them to publishers. Done! I await the editors’ responses.

5-Finish crocheting an afghan for youngest grandson. Done! (greens, blues, and black) Plus, I finished crocheting an afghan for my oldest grandson, too. (reds, blues, and black) Both were given to the boys earlier in June.

6-Went on a 2 week RV trip to see a niece and her husband in Indiana; visit Lincoln country in Illinois; see Mark Twain sites in Hannibal, Missouri; visit Lewis & Clark sites in St. Louis, Missouri; visit Graceland in Tennessee; visit Shiloh Battlefield in Tenn.; see Ruby Falls & Cave and Look Out Mountain in Tenn.; visit Chickamauga Battlefield in Georgia; visit godmother in Greenville, South Carolina; visit uncle in Sparta, North Carolina, see sister and brother-in-law in Staunton, Virginia; and get back to Maryland in one piece. Done!

So what’s NOT done?

1- I haven’t gotten all the letters home from World War II from a great-uncle typed, or begun research for this nonfiction book.

2- I’m still polishing one story for a publisher, and working hard on another for a science fiction anthology. I’m hoping they’ll both make it to the Table of Contents.

3- The embroidered samplers still await their borders and framing – though I have gotten out the fabric to finish the projects.

4- The black and white drawings await their scanning. Why is this not done? I want to make a few changes in each drawing.

Where do I go from here? Set goals for June and July, of course!

By the end of June, I will:

1- send in a final version of a story I’ve been working on since last June!

2- send in the first draft of a science fiction story to an anthology.

3- type at least 10 more letters from World War II.

4- add borders to and frame one of the samplers.

5- put a border and backing on a vintage redwork quilt top which has suddenly become mine. (More on this unfinished project later).

By the end of July, I will:

1- send a final version of the science fiction story to the anthology.

2- begin reading books to prepare to submit to another anthology.

3- type 10 more letters from WW II.

4- revise my science fiction and fantasy collection, Owl Light, in preparation for re-release.

How about you? Are you trying to finish up unfinished projects, too? Any tips for me?

Now, back to work on an unfinished story! – Vonnie

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I’m a fan of history, especially American history. But I must admit never having heard of Sybil Ludington, who in April 1777 rode her horse across the countryside alerting the militia men that the British were coming. At age 16, she rode further than Paul Revere, and George Washington visited her to thank her for her efforts.

Here’s the link to a history minute with more information on Sybil Ludington.

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