Reading and Writing Quotations

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“Read a lot. Reading really helps. Read anything you can get your hands on.”                                    J. K. Rowling

 

“I always advise children who ask me for tips on being a writer to read as much as they possibly can. Jane Austen gave a young friend the same advice, so I’m in good company there.”                                         J. K. Rowling

 

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“Believe in yourself. Keep writing.”  Neil Gaiman

“Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you’ve never been. Once you’ve visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different.”                                              Neil Gaiman

 

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“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”            Ray Bradbury

“You must write every single day of your life… You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads… may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”

                                                                  Ray Bradbury

A Request!

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Maledicus

Hello to everyone!

This may sound odd, but I am putting out a request for reviews of my books on Amazon. I have 89 for Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society Book 1, and I would really like to get to 100. I will soon have my author website up, and that would be a great detail to feature. So, if this sounds a bit like a writer begging, then I will show that I have no shame!

I also wouldn’t mind reviews of my other books also!

To everyone–thank you for listening to this unusual request.

Available on Amazon

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Get The Draft Done! is available here: Amazon.com

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Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

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Please follow the following links to find my novel:

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Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

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Available on Amazon

French On English

Available on Amazon

Another U.L.S. entry by Roberta Eaton Cheadle–All Quiet On The Western Front

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Roberta Eaton Cheadle, or Robbie, is an esteemed member of the U. L. S. — the Underground Library Society — and she is offering her thoughts on another book! Robbie, thank you so much!

Robbie has excellent blogs: Robbie Cheadle books/poems/reviews and   Robbie’s inspiration. Both are wonderful; please be sure to visit them.

Thoughts about All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

Overview

This book is a first-hand account of the life of Paul Bäumer, who belongs to a squad of German soldiers on the  Western Front during World War I. Paul and his classmates enlisted in the army at the end of their high school career as a result of the impassioned patriotism and relentless coaxing of their teacher, Kantorek. 

All Quiet on the Western Front tells the story of Paul and his friends experiences in the trenches. There is a lot of fighting, death, and destruction in this book, but there are also scenes of comradery, friendship, and bravery that break up the ‘heaviness’ of this read and give the reader some short periods of lighter relief.

Among these lighter scenes is one when Paul and his friend ‘Kat’ decide to poach a goose from a local farm. They roast the bird and enjoy a midnight feast, even venturing to share some of their spoil with friends who are in prison for insubordination towards a senior officer.

There are also some interesting insights into life for the French civilians trying to survive amid the disruption and decimation of the war. Russian prisoners of war also feature in this story and their pitiful plight is almost too much to bear.

My thoughts

Why do young men volunteer for war?

I look at my two sons, and I wonder why young men hurl themselves into the teeth of the storm through voluntary subscription to the army. I read about this in The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane, and I read about it again in this great, but disturbing, novel, All Quiet on the Western Front.

I have decided there are a few reasons that lead to this rash action. The first, is the expectation of parents and other older members of society that their sons throw down the gauntlet and risk all for “king and country”. Secondly, I believe there has historically been a terrible ignorance about the reality of war. War is glamourized and young men enter the fray with no concept of its harsh conditions or the horror of death.

I wonder if the young men of today would be as eager to take up the role of ‘cannon fodder’ with their greater knowledge of the world through internet access and better educational opportunities.

Leaders and war mongers pray on the passionate fervor of the young to achieve their ill-gotten ends when it comes to war. Wars are all fought either for purposes of greed and power or over religion. More recently, greed and power have trumped the possibly purer intentions of religion. Have recently explored in great depth the reasons behind the Anglo Zulu War and both Anglo Boer Wars in South Africa, as well as the First and Second World War, power and the gain of wealth have been the overarching reasons for placing young men in the line of fire and, often, ending their lives before they have even started.

All Quiet on the Western Front is a book that is written in a war setting and exposes with a sharp and unerringly accurate pen, the absolute horror of the First World War. The book is not, however, about the war, but rather about the loss of innocence the young soldiers experience and their inability to ever adapt back to civilian life afterwards. This is quite clear by the manner in which the story is told. Battles are not named and have so little relevance to the story that whether they are won or lost is not even revealed. Battles feature as a regular feature of the lives of Paul and his comrades; one during which death is a high possibility and survival is the only goal.

The obvious themes of war and patriotism that present in this novel are not the ones that resonated with me.

Given my status as the mother of two teenage boys, not much younger than the boys featured in this novel, it is understandable that the following themes are the ones that have stayed in my mind. I am sharing select quotations that explain these themes as they do so far better than I could.

Loss of innocence

“While they went on writing and making speeches, we saw field hospitals and men dying: while they preached the service of the state as the greatest thing, we already knew that the fear of death is even greater. This didn’t make us into rebels or deserters, or turn us into cowards – and they were more than ready to use all of these words – because we loved our country just as much as they did, and so we went bravely into every attack. But now we were able to distinguish things clearly, all at once our eyes had been opened. And we saw that there was nothing left of their world. Suddenly we found ourselves horrible alone – and we had to come to terms with it alone as well.”

Loss of individuality

“I can still remember how embarrassed we were at the beginning, when we were recruits in the barracks and had to use the communal latrines. There are no doors, so that twenty men had to sit side by side as if they were on a train. That way they could all be seen at a glance – soldiers, of course, have to be under supervision at all times.

Since then we’ve learnt more than just how to cope with a bit of embarrassment. As time went by, our habits changed quite a bit.,

Out here in the open air the whole business is a real pleasure.”

Home

“It gets dark. Kemmerich’s face gets paler, it stands out against his pillow and is so white that it looks luminous. He makes a small movement with his mouth. I get closer to him. He whispers, ‘If you find my watch, send it home.’

I don’t argue. There is no point any more. He is beyond convincing. I’m sick with helplessness. That forehead, sunk in at the temples, that mount, which is all teeth now, that thin, sharp nose. And the fat, tearful woman at home that I shall have to write to – I wish I had that job behind me already.”

Hopelessness

“But our mates are dead, and we can’t help them. They are at peace – who knows what we might still have to face? We want to chuck ourselves down and sleep, or stuff as much food into our bellies as we can, and booze and smoke, so that the passing hours aren’t so empty. Life is short.”

Primitiveness

“It’s a nuisance trying to kill every single louse when you’ve got hundreds of them. The beasts are hard, and it gets to be a bore when you are forever pinching them between your nails. So Tjaden has rigged up a boot-polish lid hanging on a piece of wire over a burning candle-end. You just have toss the lice into this little frying-pan – there is a sharp crack, and that’s it.”

Conclusion

All Quiet on the Western Front is a book we should never allow to be burned or removed from its place as a historical classic. Its primary role in literature, in my opinion, is that it illustrates the pointlessness of war which descends into a series of actions and day-to-day survival with no real meaning or even importance to those involved in the fighting. This sentiment is generally presented through the character of Albert Kropp, one of Paul’s previous school friends.

This book also highlights the destruction of young men’s innocence and their inability to ever reconnect with ordinary civilian life. It doesn’t mention post-traumatic stress syndrome specifically, but this is alluded to throughout the book.

All in, this is one of the most emotional and memorable books I have ever read.

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Again, thank you to Roberta Eaton Cheadle for this U. L. S. post!

Copy of Roberta Writes - independent pub 2 theme.

Robbie

Holler Oddities~

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Here are beautiful and unusual photographs from Cindy Knoke!

Ghost ranches, buried old cars, coyote packs, a former free range Ankole Watusi bull, The Holler is definitely an odd place, which is why we fit in so well!

Take this thorny tree for example. It is a Silk Floss tree and is about 50 feet tall.

This time of year it is covered in plate sized cotton poofs.

The poofs develop from large seed pods.

In the fall, the tree drops all its leaves and devotes all it’s energy to producing masses of beautiful blooms.

The Holler abuts a large nature preserve and is built on very old orchards. Back in the day, orchard workers lived on site and indulged in their love of exotic plants and trees, many of which are still thriving and producing today.

I often wish I could tell them how much we appreciate living with the beautiful results of their talent and effort.

Cheers…

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Reviews of Get The Draft Done! Helping Writers Finish Their First Draft by Charles F. French

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Must Read for Writers!

“As a writer, I have always found writing the first draft of my novel to be a daunting process. I had the novel idea, had some idea of how I wanted it to start, and how I wanted it to end. But after reading this book, I now feel I have the tools and confidence I need to get my first draft done without any obstacles!

I definitely consider this book a must-read for any writer who is struggling with their first draft! And if you’re looking for a good recipe for an omelette, this book has that as well.”

Do you write? Then you have to do drafts and need this book

“Ah, the draft!! Any writer knows good work takes many drafts and edits. This book will help you get it done and done correctly.”

The book is a treasure.

“For five long years, I could not finish the first draft. After reading this book, I finished in three weeks. Great read!”

 Available on Amazon

An U.L.S. — The Underground Library Society– Post by M. C. Tuggle

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I want to thank M. C. Tuggle for joining the Underground Library Society!

I will have another post for the U. L. S. up on Sunday.

Now, here is M. C. Tuggle’s post:

I Am Beowulf

by M. C. Tuggle

I follow the rusting railroad tracks, occasionally veering off to wade through icy streams so the Mechanical Hound cannot follow my scent. When I find Granger and his small band of rebels, he welcomes me with hot coffee, which I greedily drink, then chase down with the bitter fluid Granger assures me will change my scent and confuse the Hound. Then he asks what book I choose to become by committing it to memory.

There is no question which book it will be.

After all, I’ve joined the resistance against a totalitarian government that controls its subjects by keeping them in perpetual ignorance. Numbed by mindless, ever-present mass media, the population exists without a past, either as individuals or as part of a living tradition. Only the present moment exists for them. Independent thought is quickly detected and snuffed out, and anyone with a book is a criminal who can be executed on the spot.

So of course the book I choose to memorize and become must be Beowulf.

After all, the oppressed people of Fahrenheit 451 need a vision that will rouse them out of their apathy. Once they rediscover who they are and what they were meant to be, maybe a fire will grow in their bellies and inspire them to reclaim their humanity.

Also, practical issues aside, I just love Beowulf. It’s the high school classic that made me into a future English major. The gritty details of battle against Grendel, his mother, and the dragon are as vivid and breathtaking as the greatest adventure tales of Robert E. Howard or H. Rider Haggard. And the action in Beowulf is not only entertaining, but significant. The tale is packed with commentary on the human condition as well as eye-opening insights into history, religion, and culture.

In Bradbury’s dystopia, historical amnesia has been weaponized to keep the people alienated and aimless. In Beowulf, on the other hand, one’s history is a vital part of one’s existence. Early in the story, when a Danish watchman challenges Beowulf and his crew, Beowulf identifies himself by telling the watchman about his lineage:

“We belong by birth to the Geat people and owe allegiance to Lord Hygelac. In his day, my father was a famous man, a noble warrior-lord named Ecgtheow.”

And in stark contrast to the soul-crushing conformity and stupor of Fahrenheit 451’s dystopian society, the world of Beowulf celebrates achievement, battle, and nobility. Upon first viewing Beowulf, the Danish watchman remarks, “Nor have I seen a mightier man-at-arms on this earth than the one standing here: unless I am mistaken, he is truly noble.”

Beowulf also gives us an overview of the history of Western civilization. It offers a glimpse of Britain’s transition from a pagan to a Christian culture. My take on this classic is that it is a rewriting of an oral epic from pagan days. What makes it unique is that it mirrors the history of the spread of Christianity, particularly in northern Europe, where the world-weary religion of southern European slaves and the poor reinvented itself to appeal to the more prosperous, more aristocratic, and more worldly north.

In doing so, the new religion embraced much of the pagan worldview of northern Europe, and this update of a pagan classic reflects that.

Consider the book’s undisguised pagan values. The hero sets out to save the Danish king’s mead hall, a place where members of the warrior class drink, feast, and share the spoils of battle. Prized weapons are named, something we do not see in the Iliad or Odyssey. And instead of promoting turning the other cheek, or looking to an eternal reward as life’s ultimate aim, Beowulf glorifies revenge and worldly honor: “It is better for us all to avenge our friends, not mourn them forever. Each of us will come to the end of this life on earth; he who can earn it should fight for the glory of his name; fame after death is the noblest of goals.”

I have four translations, or modernizations, of this epic poem. My favorites are by JRR Tolkien and the Irish poet Seamus Heaney. If forced to pick, I’ll have to go with Heaney’s shimmering retelling. That’s the book I would memorize.

END

M. C. Tuggle writes science fiction, fantasy, and mystery stories, and occasionally gets some published. His observations and rants about the writing craft appear on his blog mctuggle.com

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Thank you again to M. C. Tuggle!

“Life Begins When You Get Back Up” – a Memorable Day at School

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Here is a beautiful post from that extraordinary teacher, Jennie!

A Teacher's Reflections

 Music brings joy to children.
Books bring questions and thinking.
Teachers bring love and answers.

Today at school was a day I’ll always remember.  So will the children.  Emotions ran high.  In Dickens’ words, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”  It was COVID, overcoming fear, needing to be held, singing and dancing, and reading aloud one of the best children’s books – perfect for the day.

It started in the morning with Eddie.  He just stopped.  He folded his arms, scrunched up his face to keep from crying, and refused to talk.  All the coaxing in the world did nothing to help him talk.  Finally I said, “Eddie, come here” and pulled him onto my lap.  He curled up.

I knew what to do.  He wanted to be rocked.  I remember listening to a song recently on the radio that has a chorus:

“Rock…

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Telling Sonny by Elizabeth Gauffreau: A Review

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Telling Sonny by Elizabeth Gauffreau is a poignant, bittersweet, and powerful novel of love, loss, and an exploration of both New England and the vaudeville circuit in the first half of the 20th Century. She shows the reader a world that few have known personally and of which few are aware, and she draws the reader into that world seemingly effortlessly.

Gauffreau skillfully tells the story of Faby Gauthier and her life in Vermont both during and after she met, was seduced, and married a dancer named Slim White on stage and Louis Kittell in his real life. Sonny is a selfish man who uses his sophistication to take Faby’s virginity and impregnate her. At this time, for a girl with a child on the way, this was a difficult situation. Gauffreau handles the story beautifully. It is neither overly sentimental nor it is maudlin. Gauffreau weaves her story and tells us the lives of people and how they survive.

Gauffreau, through excellent dialogue and description, creates this past world and in an historical and literary novel, pulls the reader into the tale and makes us care about Gaby and her son.

Gaby is faced with having to tell her grown son who is waiting for his wedding that his father, who abandoned them is now dead from a car accident. Gauffreau adds this layer of tension to this novel and does it quietly and with precision and care.

This is a tale of quiet strength and desperation, of love and abandonment, and of death and life. It is a novel of family, of connection, and ultimately of love.

Telling Sonny by Elizabeth Gauffreau is a sweet, lovely, insightful, and compelling novel, and I give it my highest recommendation.

Please Join The Underground Library Society!

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I am again asking for those who would like to join the U.L.S., the Underground Library Society, to join and write a guest post. I put this request out several times over the course of a year, because I hope to have more people join in the cause.

In an earlier First Year Class at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA, The U.L.S. — The Underground Library Society — was created. It is in the spirit of the Book People from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. In that novel, all books have been banned, and a few people “become” books by memorizing them, in the hope that, one day, books will be permitted to exist again.

In that spirit, I am putting out the call once more for like-minded people to join The U.L.S. All that is needed is to choose a book you would memorize if the need ever arose. The type or genre of the chosen piece does not matter.  There is no restriction on what you would become. You do not, however, actually have to memorize  the book now. If you wish to join, simply write a guest post in which you say what book you would “become” and why.

I have had several other bloggers join the U. L. S. Join the movement!

I hope many of you choose to join.

If you are a member and wish to add another book that you might become, you are welcome to do another post!

In the past, I have mentioned that I would become one of the following books: The Lord Of The Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien, Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, or Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

If you do wish to do a post, please email me at frenchc1955@yahoo.com  and write a guest post as a Word doc. Thank you.

Charles F. French

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I am looking forward to hearing from new members!

Please, come and join in the fun!

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

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Please read this wonderful post about Romeo and Juliet from Vanessa at FOODINBOOKS!

Food In Books

Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo? Well, it’s Valentine’s Day so really, what other tale of star-crossed love, murder and suicide could I possibly blog about on this day of hearts and romance than Romeo and Juliet? Seriously though, during my recent move, I finally found my huge book of Shakespeare’s plays which had been lost for awhile, and decided to browse through it and see what culinary inspiration I could find.

I’d forgotten what a beautifully written play it is, and for a tale filled with men fighting, bloodshed, poison and death, it’s actually quite hilarious in certain parts. The Nurse, for example, is a marvelous comedic foil to Juliet’s drama, and I never truly realized how wonderful the character of Mercutio is, by turns witty, sarcastic, declamatory and with some really humorous lines, though he is also pretty crass at times, especially at the Nurse’s expense. There…

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Creatures of the Breton Night

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Please read this excellent post from Bon Repos Gites!

Bonjour From Brittany

The windswept moors and uncultivated lands of Brittany have long been linked with the ghostly activity of the dead. However, the beings that traditionally inhabit these areas in Breton folklore are the malevolent children of the night. For it is not only the dead who inhabit the gloom; dangerous and evil beings, who are not of the race of men, roam abroad during the hours of darkness and to encounter them could be fatal to us mortals.

Many stories, from across the region, warn of the dangers that await those traversing the lonely places after dark. The Breton nights belonged to the black dogs and to the korrigans; a race of capricious magical dwarves who emerge from their subterranean domain to haunt the moors and the ancient sites between dusk and dawn. They amuse themselves by disturbing the peace of the countryside and playing tricks on passing travellers, never…

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