Tag Archives: Dickens

Last Free Days for the Illustrated Dodge, a Twist, and a Tobacconist

dodge ebook 10 illus
We have facebook friends all over the world, so I am posting all the store links Amazon has for the Illustrated Dodge, Twist and Tobacconist, which is free today, tomorrow and Wednesday. Merry Christmas!

US
http://amzn.to/S14DWe

France
http://amzn.to/12rTJgE
Germany
http://amzn.to/T0Ut9Y
UK
http://amzn.to/TTWkKV
Spain
http://amzn.to/T0UKJR
Italy
http://amzn.to/Tla2aV
Brazil
http://bit.ly/Svmybe
Canada
http://amzn.to/XrAHms

Japan
http://amzn.to/Rw73Q3

India
http://amzn.to/UwrXKs

And in this special new edition you get a sneak preview of The Alexander Legacy Book 2: The ‘Pprentices, the Puppets, and the Pirate. Here’s a peek at the latest cover concept art:

redesigned legacy 2 10
 

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Do Drop by Tomorrow for Tea and Mechanicals … Dodge Will Be Free

“This is where Doctor Twist said his professor’s workshop used to be located,” Kera said as we stood on the cobblestones before a large warehouse. The black-mouldy red bricks were faintly mirrored in the oily pools from an earlier rain and the sky showed fitful signs of clearing. I gazed around in the dreary shrouded full moon’s light escaping around a retreating mass of clouds and stubborn patches of fog. “I see no lights, hear no sounds, and have no idea how to get in.”

“Twist said the place is protected from intruders in some way.” My eyes cast about for the twentieth time. “Everything looks so ordinary. The workshop could be underground. There could be weapons set to kill automatically. Just when we need Twist’s brains most, we must go wanting.”

Kera and I prowled some more and located a lever and gear-and-chain assembly along the side. Both of us strained and worked it until a great steel and wood door swung upward with a heavy clanking and hissing. Thick clots of greasy mud and water dripped from the fouled wood and stone ramp beneath it. We ran around to the opening and saw a strangely-glowing figure haloed in the black interior. The short, bow-legged figure had its back to us and faced a far rear corner of the cavernous room.

“It’s Dodge,” Kera quavered. I stepped up onto the dock toward him at once, drawing my firearm, though Kera tried to hold me back.

“Where is Doctor Twist?” I demanded. Seeing I would not be stopped, Kera drew her pistols as well.

“Where is Doctor Twist?” I gritted again when the apparition turned to face us but made no answer, only began to retreat backward.

Free tomorrow and Wednesday. http://www.amazon.com/Dodge-Tobacconist-Alexander-Legacy-ebook/dp/B009NV1DMG

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The Alexander Legacy Company One: A Dodge, a Twist, and aTobacconist

A Dodge, a Twist, and a Tobacconist is a Steampunk Literary Tribute The Amazon ebook is now live here:
Sophronia Belle Lyon grew up in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York and has always loved Sci Fi, Fantasy, and the great literary classics. Please like her facebook page https://www.facebook.com/SophroniaBelleLyon
The book comes out October 30, and should make a great Halloween alternative.
This series melds some better and lesser-known characters of classic literary fiction: A literary dream team of crime fighters including nods to Dickens, Stevenson, Alcott, Austen, Kipling, Doyle, and other writers across the pond, with plenty of homages to great books sprinkled throughout. Prowl the foggy London streets on the track of a ruthless enslaver of souls. Travel the Thames in a Giant Catfish. Soar over London in a stealth glider, and witness true redemptions and restorations no one ever imagined.
Here’s a “deleted scene” that describes some of the characters the story brings together.
A “deleted scene” where Mac Campbell and Rose discuss the biographical studies Phoebe gave them, a copy of which Florizel also received.” ‘Doctor Oliver Twist’? Isn’t that the young man we met with Prince Florizel?”
“Yes,” Mac replied, “the one who might frighten people away.”

“I can’t imagine him frightening anybody. He seemed so sweet and harmless.”
“Perhaps he’s a mad scientist, since he does carry the title of ‘Doctor.’ Orphaned at birth, thrown into the British workhouse system, apprenticed out to a coffin-maker, escaped to London, unwittingly received training as a pickpocket from a fence named Fagin — ”
“How does someone not know he’s being taught to rob people?”
“I don’t get that, either. At any rate, this says Twist was actually the victim of a plot by a half-brother he never met. This lovely sibling knew of Twist’s real family but worked hard to keep him from finding them. The half-brother knew Twist could lay claim to a sizeable inheritance conditional upon Twist keeping an unspotted character. His loving brother Monks paid off the workhouse matron, the parish beadle, the coffin-maker, and a London fence, to try to destroy proofs of the boy’s identity, his reputation and any hope of being re-united with his true family.”
“The poor boy! Did Monks succeed in this terrible plan?”
“Looks as if he would have if it hadn’t been for a prostitute named Nancy. She at first helped kidnap the boy back after he was briefly rescued from the fence. She later repented and went to the man, Brownlow, who had taken Twist in, with evidence that proved not only who Twist really was, but that he hadn’t become a thief as Monks planned. Twist was still eligible to receive his inheritance, and he has put it into scientific research, having built a facility he calls Nancy House.”
“Oh, how terribly sad. Nancy was murdered by the housebreaker Bill Sykes when he discovered how she had exposed the whole operation run by this man Fagin.”
“What an odd history. Still doesn’t explain how he frightens people. We may have to fall back on the mad scientist position. Now, here’s the one I want to read about. Mowgli, native of somewhere in India, Raised by wolves, also called Nathoo, possibly the son of a woman called Messua. Father not identified by name. Forest ranger under a British officer named Gisborne, accompanied by Bagheera, a black leopard of Oodeypore.”
“That is the man who gave you back your stick and watch and sang birdcalls with Phoebe.”
“Did you see how broad his shoulders are? He is all muscle and spring, that fellow. He’s also the one who saved us tonight.”
“I thought so. Then that noise we heard from the other bedroom and the children’s talk of the ‘great black kitty’ — ”
“Bagheera. Well, on with the papers. I believe we may skip over Mrs. Phoebe Moore-Campbell, though it is useful to note that she does not list her ‘talent’ as singing.”
“Yes! It says here she is able to mix freely among all levels of society, both as a celebrity and as a housemaid. Why would Phoebe go back to housemaiding?”
“As Archie said to me, I expect she’ll explain if she has a mind to. Zambo is the next name on the list. Italian nobility, perhaps?”
“Mac, for all the time you spend with your nose in a book, you ought to know better. Zambo is a trade name for a black or mixed-race slave in the Caribbean or South America. This gentleman was freed by a hunter named Lord John Roxton, known as “The flail of the Lord” for his battles against the slave trade. Zambo traveled with the party of this hunter, which included a newspaper reporter and two scientists seeking a place where dinosaurs had been found living in South America.”
“I remember reading the news articles about that! Those idiot scientists had to admit the plateau was real and the dinosaurs were there. But they dismissed the possibility of man and dinosaur living at the same time because they would never acknowledge that God created them within a day of each other. Said some kind of catastrophe millions of years ago upthrust the plateau where the ‘Lost World’ was and kept it ‘primitive,’ complete with ‘missing link’ ape men!'”
“Mac, you’ll wake the children.” Both of them froze as they heard a deep, eerie rumble similar to the sound that had sent Mowgli darting out of the sitting room earlier.
“Or something bigger and less forgiving,” Mac said in a contrite whisper.
“Zambo was unable to go into the lost plateau world with the others because of the actions of some slavers his friend the hunter had thwarted. They had infiltrated the party and were seeking revenge. Zambo dealt with the saboteurs, who thought they had cut off the explorers’ only means of escape from the plateau. He waited faithfully for his companions to return. Roxton found diamonds on the plateau and freely gave a share to his faithful servant. Zambo was therefore was able to devote himself to the work his hunter benefactor started. He now travels in the cause of ending human trafficking all over the world.”
“Next comes a fellow American, someone called S — Er — does that say what I think it does?” Mac squinted and adjusted his thick, gold-rimmed glasses.
“Slue-Foot Sue? Um… perhaps she is a real cowgirl, Mac. I would like to meet one.”
“This says she is the wife of a western folk hero named Pecos Bill. She and her husband were prospectors, ranchers and Texas Rangers, as well as working for the Pinkerton Detective Agency.”
“Mrs.– err — Sue is known for her exemplary riding, tracking and mechanical skills.”
“I am certain Phoebe’s crimefighters need a good cowgirl-mechanic. I just keep telling myself, ‘Phoebe will explain.’ Hey, Rosie, here’s Fun See!”
“Oh. Mac, that’s not his real name, you know.”
“I know that’s not his real name. But he always let us call him that, and it got to be a habit. Never could get my tongue around the genuine article. Anyway, it says he’s an expert on all things trade and commerce, especially as it relates to Chinese and other Asian ships. That makes sense.”
“Dear old Fun See. I still cannot believe he and Annabel Bliss are married, and how happy they are.”
“Annabel has changed a lot. Of course, so has Fun. You remember how you liked him better than his uncle at first because he was still ‘all Chinese?’ It’s amazing how well he’s kept that image, in spite of being so savvy about everything. He’s mastered a dozen languages, and Miss Annabel now resembles a China doll instead of — what was it you said about that other stuck-up thing they sent to entertain you before we boys came to your rescue?”
“Oh, you mean Ariadne Blish! I said she looked so much like a wax doll I wanted to pinch her and see if she would squeak! Annabelle was never that unbearable.”
“The two of them dress and act the perfect dynasty couple but they don’t miss a thing that goes on about them. Fun’s done a load of customs work, and knows everything about every ship that sails in and out of China and the whole British Empire. Annabelle helps him every step of the way.”
“Here is an Edward Ferrars. English. Son of a gentleman’s family, disinherited by his mother for wanting to marry beneath himself, got a living – that’s like a pastorate, I guess — a small church in the English countryside.”
“Married a Miss Elinor Dashwood. Apparently she was not the aforementioned lady beneath himself, although, on the other hand, there does not seem to have been any great fortune involved. I’m so glad I picked a rich wife.”
Rose made a face and threw her little scented pillow, a gift from Uncle Alec, which she still kept and carried everywhere with her. “How does this quiet couple fit in with these people?”
“It says here that he is very involved in and knowledgeable about church, government, and the education system. I’m not sure how that fits in with Phoebe’s mission, but I have no doubt that will be made clear to us tomorrow. And now, Madam Campbell, since the foundation representatives must hear this proposal at such an early hour tomorrow – ” he glanced at the watch on the bedside table and grimaced ” — or should I say today, I suggest we retire.”
“Not just yet.” Rose put her arms around her husband’s neck and gave him a kiss.
“Oh, well, if you insist.”

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How to Write a Book Review the Author Will Love

I am a big classics fan. I have, however, recently begun reviewing book by modern authors, and especially Indie writers, some of whom I’ve become friends and acquaintances with through author and reader sites I have joined.

I have gotten good responses from the authors so far, even if I gave them the dreaded “three out of five stars.” One who was at first very unhappy with her three stars admitted that it was a very good review, she liked it, and she quotes from it as she promotes. Another author said she loved my review so much it made her cry. It’s the only five star I’ve given so far, and she really deserved it.

I’m going to use Tale of Two Cities as an example of how to write a book review by reviewing it. Mr. Dickens won’t mind.

First, an author wants you to find out the solution of his book’s mystery by reading it, not by the reviewer giving it away. In Tale of Two Cities, why in the world does that drunken lowlife Sidney Carton get to hang around sweet Lucie the whole book, almost?

The author does want the reviewer make readers interested, though. So I will just mention that Sidney has a much bigger part to play than just standing up in court looking remarkably like Charles Darnay, thus saving his life.

Second, the author wants the reviewer to get readers to like the people in the story. For this example, let me introduce you to Mr. Lorry. Mr. Lorry represents an ancient, trustworthy, boring bank, but Mr. Lorry is hardly boring. He’s vain about his fine calves, though he’s past sixty. He rescues a parentless child although he says he is “merely a man of business.” He warns off a most unsuitable suitor, protecting a young lady from an arrogant and disgusting predator. He goes along with an unknown plot for an impossible rescue. This can hardly be a service to the bank he has served his whole life, but is an extraordinary example of compassion and courage.

Third, the author knows his book isn’t perfect, though he loves it as his own child. He doesn’t mind if you tell people imperfections, as long as you are honest and have good reasons. Tale of Two Cities, like most of Dickens’ works, is very wordy. I don’t care how many people say he wasn’t paid by the word, he was. He wrote serials. He had to pad out the work to fill a certain amount space in a magazine and make a cliffhanger out of every installment to get people to keep reading. That’s a guaranteed recipe for wordiness. Some of Dickens’ books are much longer than this one, but a modern editor would certainly be chafing to trim it down. I know as a former editor I would.

Fourth, a reviewer needs to warn readers if there is material not suitable for certain ages or groups. Dickens describes people in grinding poverty virtually starving to death before our eyes. He has a careless nobleman run his cart over a small child. The noble gentleman cares nothing about it except to try to throw a coin at the father and ask why he makes such an infernal noise. People are beaten and beheaded and described as blood-covered and murderously enraged. Sometimes just the sheer callousness and indifference toward death is hard to take. However jaded young readers might be today, it’s still not the best thing for very young readers. There is no real sex. Reference is made to breasts but only for nursing children.

In conclusion, I give Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities a four out of five, because I think he could have written a better story without so many words. Otherwise, it’s probably my favorite fictional work of all time.

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Guest Blogging on My Dream Team of Literary Characters

http://irenelpynn.wordpress.com/2011/11/18/reader-input-requested-mary-findley-guest-blog/#comment-423

Inspired by “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” movie, I want to create my own graphic novel with favorite literary characters, including a grown-up Oliver Twist, Steampunk Inventor, solving mysteries and fighting evil.

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Principles of Teaching Literature and English Skills

English Skills must include Grammar, Composition, Spelling, and Vocabulary. I am an English teacher who hates Grammar, at least the way it is usually taught. Rather than drill on sentence diagramming and parts of speech in isolated sentences, I taught Grammar from Tom Sawyer. The student finds parts of speech in realistic speech, regional, standard and non-standard dialects, and many other grammatical and ungrammatical principles that represent real life situations. Our students learned Composition from Alice in Wonderland, a collection that introduces students to social and political commentary essays in a way second to none. Spelling and Vocabulary came courtesy of Around the World in Eighty Days, a work rich in travel words, technology terms, and especially context clues to help a student learn to read for meaning without a dictionary always at his elbow.

We also included Literary Criticism. We made use of Bullfinch’s Mythology for comparison studies between mythologies and the truth of the Scriptures to examine and understand their similarities and differences. We taught figurative language (special uses of words and phrases in Literature, like metaphors and similes). These English study techniques have important applications in studying the Scriptures, in the instances where secularists will claim that the Scriptures had their origin in more ancient writings. The flawed echoes of Greek, Roman and Norse myths don’t uphold the standard of truth, morality or consistency that the Scriptures present.

Sometimes critics claim the “plain literal sense” interpretation doesn’t fit a Scripture passage. For example, when Revelation 1:16 says Jesus had a sharp, two-edged sword coming out of his mouth, we should say, “Aha! That’s a figure of speech, a metaphor. The Bible uses the same figure, but as a simile, in Hebrews 4:12!”  The Scripture frequently explains its figurative language, and saying there is figurative language does not make an argument for the Scriptures containing errors or not being inspired and authoritative.

In a Christian school, I taught The Merchant of Venice, and we put on a one-hour performance version for which I cut down the play, preserving Shakespeare’s wording and the essence of his story, just cutting extras and combining some characters. A homeschool group could produce a “Shakespeare in an Hour” play, using the exercise of cutting as part of the study. The Faerie Queene Part One is an epic poem, a forgotten treasure of English lit. It is the Christian allegory that inspired Pilgrim’s Progress, C.S. Lewis and Tolkien in their writings. We have a video summary and study of the literary devices used in it on YouTube of this great poem.

The main focus of our literature studies included analysis of various kinds of works, ancient to modern, TV shows, movies, even Video Games and Graphic Novels, with an eye to learning what is good and bad in literature. Do not make the mistake of thinking that you have to put in modern stuff to be relevant or to keep students interested. Use modern stuff because it is relevant to show your students what is good and bad in what they see every day. Our children got tired of analyzing every movie or TV show we watched, but they couldn’t miss the message that nothing is just entertainment for a Christian.

Here’s just one example: Make a study of what makes a true hero. Start back with the superheroes Nimrod, Gilgamesh, and Hercules. Check out Joseph, David, Daniel. Take a look at Hector versus Achilles in the Trojan War. Jump forward to Beowulf, Galahad, Siegfried. Go all around the world, all through the ages, and learn what characteristics God values in a hero as opposed to what man values. Then compare them to modern heroes, the characters John Wayne plays, crimefighters in comic books and movies, ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances and how they respond.

Have students read a lot, and have them write a lot. Millions of works are available free on sites like Gutenberg.org. You will find collections of short stories, poems, speeches, biographies and religious writings. Have students read a little of everything, as long as you have a good idea of what it is and that it’s not seriously harmful to read. Don’t think they have to read great long things to be literate. The example project above can be done by reading relatively short excerpts. I had a college English teacher who used to say, in her southern drawl, “I am appalled by what some people have not read!” Well, there’s a lot I haven’t read that “English people” are supposed to have read.

I “Go with my gut” (usually the Holy Spirit’s leading, I hope and pray) when it comes to reading. I haven’t read Clockwork Orange, or Catcher In the Rye, or Lord of the Flies, for example. I’ve educated myself about them, but that’s all that’s needed. I’ve read nothing but excerpts by Cervantes, Dumas, Hugo. I have trouble reading very long works. (I have read Bleak House, by Charles Dickens, which is really long, and really worth it.) Some authors of longer works have short stories and I’ve read them. Tolstoy is an example. School situations don’t really allow for reading very long works anyway. Keep things moving and encourage the students to read longer stuff on their own time.

Writing for a student assignment should be an exercise in self-editing, and figuring out what’s important and unimportant, what’s good and bad in his own writing and in what he’s read, morally and structurally. Can he tell that writers like Dickens got paid by the word? (Yes, he did, whatever people claim. He wrote serials, had to have a cliffhanger of sorts at the end of ever magazine issue, and had to justify what he was getting paid by filling the space allotted. He also loved words and didn’t edit himself for length much.) Have you considered that the translators of the KJV wanted variety in the vocabulary at least as much as they wanted accuracy? (This doesn’t mean the KJV is inaccurate. It just means that it’s a literary translation, striving to elevate the beauty of the Scriptures and the English tongue. Consider doing a study of how many times a different English word was used to translate the same Greek word in the New Testament.)

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Principles of Writing Fiction

It’s hard to say when people began writing fiction, but it has been used for millennia to communicate truth. Seems strange to say that something that isn’t true can teach truth, but good fiction always has done that. Using characters, settings or events that didn’t actually happen, writers create a vehicle by which to make a point. Jesus Christ taught parables, beginning with “A certain man … or “A sower …,” or “A woman …, ” a clue that what he was about to say was not about a particular person, but was going to make a point about people. Even the Old Testament had parables, such as the Parable of the Trees, warning a king not to get too big for his britches.

Writers of the genre contemporary fiction write about the time they live in. Charles Dickens was immersed in the culture of his times and used his fiction for social commentary, to try to change what was wrong with life as he lived it. Writers like Georgette Heyer use historical fiction to go back to a time and place where things were done differently, to deal with certain social customs, or just to show the readers the color and life of a lost way of living. Science Fiction writers bridge from existing technology to what may be sooner or later. Robert A. Heinlein colonized Mars, updating the pioneer/settler storyline with futuristic adaptations.

Fantasy writers usually base their works on smidgins of reality or convention, classic creatures of Greek mythology or simple agrarian economies. Then they add an element of magic, spirit intervention or other supernatural influence. Allegories are a subcategory of fantasy, but they differ in including an element of teaching, usually related to religion. Pilgrim’s Progress is an allegory. Things and people stand for something other than the reality. Pilgrim becomes Christian, symbolizing the salvation experience. His journey is Christian growth. Pilgrim’s Progress was inspired by Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene, another story of a Christian and his armor fighting and serving God. This in turn was derived from Ephesians 6, a parable of sorts describing the Helmet of Salvation, the Sword of the Spirit, and the rest of the equipment the Christian needs to wrestle against the dark forces of this world.

The point is that the best fiction, the right fiction to read, is based on Scriptural principles. It treats good and evil as the Scriptures do. Articles, excerpts and essays in this section will show how that should be done.

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