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Author Blogs

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Dunce means stupid – but should it?


John Duns – note the headwear. John Duns (also known as Duns Scotus on account of his birthplace) was a thirteenth century Franciscan friar, theologian and philosopher. In his time he was one of the three most eminent theologian-philosophers in the Western world; the others being Thomas Aquinas and William of Ockham. As a philosopher, his main sphere of study was the ‘univocity of being’ – the notion that existence is the most abstract concept we have. He also explored ways of distinguishing between different aspects of the same thing, and what properties appertain to an individual thing to make it individual. As a theologian he developed a complex argument for the existence of God, and for ...
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The art of Rhetoric for the Aspiring Author


What am I like, writing a blog on rhetoric? Don’t worry, that is a rhetorical question. As is your possible answer to the question (if you could be bothered to provide one) – ‘who cares?’ Rhetoric has its origins in Mesopotamia, but is largely associated with the ancient Greeks. Aristotle described it as the art of persuasion and, alongside grammar and logic, one of the three ancient arts of discourse. Rhetor is the ancient Greek for a public speaker. Rhetoric was part of a scholar’s education from the time of the ancient Greeks, through to ancient Rome (Cicero being perhaps the most famous of the Roman practitioners) and into the twentieth century. One could argue that modern university cou...
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Meet Author Emily VanderBent


Emily VanderBent is a writer and historian. A natural born storyteller, she desires to relay and celebrate the stories of powerful women in history. Her premier novel, Crimson Time, is the first in a series that uses elements of history to creatively engage readers with the past. She hopes her writing will encourage young women to fearlessly pursue their passions and own the narrative of their own stories.With a degree in history, Emily uses her talent for writing, graphic design, and brand building to create blog posts, online content and design for Girl Museum and Makeover Your Brand. While living in the real world, Emily wishes to exist in the pages of a book. What is the title of your la...
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Dr Don’t Know wants the world to be as stupid as he is.

9781999633271 (1)
‘This beautifully written dynamic book is perfect for kids and adults alike. It’s quirky and offbeat with a big heart. It has all the wonder and magic of classic children’s books with the innovation of contemporary literature. Falcon Boy is not to be missed!’ Don’t let stupid win! Dr Don’t Know hates knowledge. He wants to steal the answer to every question ever asked. Dr Don’t Know wants the world to be as stupid as he is. We can’t let this happen! Only Falcon Boy and Bewilder Bird can save the world from Dr Don’t Know. The bad news is that they have been kidnapped. The good news is that they can’t stay kidnapped for long otherwise this story will never get started. Will Dr Don’t Know succe...
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How To Rate Your Cousins.


As a child I read a book. I read lots of books in fact, but this one has stuck in my mind even though I can’t remember the title, the author, or the plot. Or any of the characters apart from a rather grand small girl who came to stay, for some reason, with the narrator – a far less posh little girl. The grand young lady was said to be related to royalty; she claimed that she was the Tsar’s (or was it the King’s) cousin five times removed. Her less grand acquaintance assumed from this that she had tried to visit five times and been forcibly removed from the palace before gaining access to the royal presence. I was sure this was wrong, but couldn’t think of a better suggestion. I had no idea h...
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Drink Life to the Lees.


Drink life to the lees – the phrase comes from Ulysses, the poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. It means to enjoy life to the full. It little profits than an idle king By this still hearth, among the barren crags, Match’d with an aged wife, I mete and dole Unequal laws unto a savage race, That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me. I cannot rest from travel, I will drink life to the lees.  … The elderly Ulysses is back in his kingdom after years of travel but is still restless. The poem is about adventure and experience; perseverance and endurance; disappointment and frustration; nostalgia and anticipation. He might be old (and a bit fed up), but he is still going to get as much out of life...
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What’s a Staycation?


What does the word staycation mean to you? When I first heard it, about ten years ago when the financial crisis caused many of us to tighten our belts (my annual income went down about 90% – so I was on the last hole), I thought it meant you stayed at home and went on day trips – possibly having one of the picnics I described in my last post.   On checking, I find the word was indeed used in The Times in 2008 to describe a couple’s decision to forgo a week’s family holiday and take the children out every day, returning to their own beds each night, instead. Staycation seemed like a newly minted welding of two concepts (staying put and going away on vacation). The newspaper clearly didn’t app...
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We’re Going on a Picnic.


Covid-19 has turned us into a nation – a world, even – of picnickers.  I remember picnics from childhood. I genuinely thought that my parents liked them; that sand in the soggy sandwiches and tepid, tinny tasting, tea from a thermos, preferably taken under a sun umbrella, doubling briefly and unsuccessfully as protection against persistent drizzle, was a thing of joy for them as well as us kids. I admit to enjoying the crisps and chocolate biscuits, if not the rest. Turned out though, they only did it because they didn’t have enough money to take the whole family into a café, and as soon as enough of us left home, and money wasn’t so scarce, they ate out with the best of them. But the corona...
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VIRO – Proposal for TV Series – Introduction


Introduction And so the task begins, as I start to turn the highly successful VIRO book series into a proposal for a TV series. Over the coming weeks, I will be sharing insights and updates as to how this process is going.  So let’s begin at the beginning. VIRO – The TV Series Proposal GENRE: Horror/Science Fiction – Post-Apocalypse TAG LINE: Four Kids, One Apocalypse LOG LINE: As a viral pandemic turns the world into bloodthirsty creatures, a boy with special needs looks for his missing mum. VIRO tells the story of Jake, a boy born with special needs who wakes one morning to find that the world has been catastrophically overrun by a deadly virus and his mum has not come home after work. Det...
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VIRO – ‘a new take on the zombie genre’


‘I absolutely loved this book. Powerful and poignant, VIRO packs a punch. Sad and haunting, VIRO is a new take on the zombie genre.The characters are dynamic and interesting, finding strength despite their horrifying circumstances. Jake is a character that will stick with you long after the final page. The action sequences are thrilling. I was on the edge of my seat!’ Get Your FREE copy of Book One HERE Original link
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VIRO – the Book Series – NEWS FLASH


As a viral outbreak turns the world into bloodthirsty creatures, a boy with special needs looks for his missing mum. ‘The writing style is beautifully compelling, and after the first couple of pages I couldn’t put it down. The author very skilfully creates a world and characters through deceptively simple prose that draws the reader right in. It is a fascinating blend of one-after-the-other edge-of-the seat scares, alongside a haunting narrative about what it is to be human.’ ‘Capturing the voice of a young character with special needs (I spent 25 years as a special education teacher/administrator), Taylor’s story of a group of young people coping with a world disintegrating in front of them...
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Is Book Collecting Just for Freaks?


Rick Gekoski is an American book collector who now lives in the UK. To be precise, he makes a living by collecting rare books and selling them on at a considerable profit. He is also a writer of some repute, an academic and former university lecturer (and the ex-husband of a therapist I consulted briefly when my son was long-term ill – I feel almost a family connection!) Despite his love of old books, he is puzzled by the obsessive nature of some book collectors, particularly those who will pay huge sums of money for old books that are still pristine and have clearly not been read. After all, old paintings and furniture are enhanced by the patina of age, why not books? A not so pristine copy...
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Inteachán – Book Five: The Tallest Tower Crane 5: 50 ‘a merely malevolent whim’


An old man wearing a ragged tweed suit and broken brogues stands at the side of Front Square. He has stood here every day for as long as anyone can remember. When Trinity College teemed with tourists this old man and his daily vigil was a noteworthy addition to the guided tour of the grounds. Now that the College, like the city, the country, and the world, is about to be finally destroyed this old man is no longer remarkable, is no longer anything. He is just someone else about to die like everyone else. Since the very beginning it has always been considered that the most likely cause of the final downfall of the human race will be plague or flood or pestilence or virus or war or blast or he...
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Inteachán – Book Five: The Tallest Tower Crane 5: 49 ‘the chaos and the screaming’


Amidst the chaos and the screaming and the suffering and the hatred and the horror and the hopelessness and the gunfire and the pleading and the taunting and the sheer futility of it all, a small child works alone in Front Square. A small child with a broken nose who works all day, using a household hammer to smash bricks until her arm burns and she cannot lift it any more. Spent and close to collapse, this small child then falls asleep near where I am laying. No one pays her any mind. Original link
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Inteachán – Book Five: The Tallest Tower Crane 5: 48 ‘even in the darkest darkness’


And yet existence can live alongside the very destruction of the same and though the notion of life here is clearly finite in its duration it is the same life that resolves to sing as the firing squad takes aim or signal eternal defiance with a shout from the scaffold and until there is no-one left to hear the song or hear the shout then there is always the hope that even songs and shouting might actually signal something more than simple silent resignation. And even in the darkest darkness ever to have descended from way beyond on-high there are still voices to be heard. They may be single. They may be strangled. They may be shortened. But they are voices all the same. Original link
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Inteachán – Book Five: The Tallest Tower Crane 5: 47 ‘an invisible ink’


The evil of the NotBeSpeak would make great art, were both things possible of existing in the same space. Which, of course, in this instance, they are not. New and dizzying depictions of Hell and human suffering to be captured with oil and gauche and mechanical reproduction. Images capturing earthly contortions and the agony of existence with a clarity and ferocity not witnessed since the Renaissance. But much like an invisible ink designed to disappear during the very act of writing, any recording is doomed and must likely die in the same second that it is born. Original link
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The tale of Charlotte’s slippers


In 1848 Charlotte Bronte, the author of Jane Eyre,  travelled to Scarborough, a seaside town on the north east coast of England, to look after her younger sister Anne who was very ill with tuberculosis. After her sister’s death she returned to her home in the parsonage at Howarth, leaving instructions that a box of personal items should be sent on to the parsonage after her. It never arrived and eventually found its way into the hands of a Bronte enthusiast who, in 1983, sent the box to the parsonage that was, by then, a museum. The museum curators were puzzled because among the items in the box was a well-worn pair of moccasins. What on earth were they doing in the possession of a nineteent...
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Inteachán – Book Five: The Tallest Tower Crane 5: 46 ‘coffee, committee and conversation’


None of this is to suggest or even suppose that the evil of the NotBeSpeak is founded on coffee, committee and conversation. This evil is very different altogether. It is of the random. The indifferent. The deliberate. Mechanical. And other words now. Cold. Impassive. Indurated. Wholly detached from reason and emotion and therefore alive in the heart of other words. Unfathomable. Bottomless. Abysmal. Illimitable. Original link
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Inteachán – Book Five: The Tallest Tower Crane 5: 45 ‘What claim the Earth over any other?’


Alternatively, these explorers might just leave this planet and cross it off as ‘dead’ on their maps and never wonder how Humanity lost its light. After all, the universe is scattered with countless stars all vying for the attention of anyone capable of exploring them. So in this way, why should the Earth be any more privileged than any other dead rock floating in the endless void? Imagine a list complied somewhere and then put before a committee and each item on the list was a planet being considered for further investigation. What claim the Earth over any other? Original link
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Beat the Beatific Beatnik.


The word beat has been getting quite a bit of use recently, what with the British Prime Minister announcing ‘world beating’ this …, and getting that pesky virus ‘beat.’ It hasn’t had such an airing since the late 1950s when Jack Kerouac epitomised the beat generation in his novel On The Road. So much so, in fact, that he originally thought of using this phrase as the title of his book. A notion thoroughly approved of by the novelist and book collector, Rick Gekoski. In his short essay about Kerouac in his own book Tolkien’s Gown and other stories he states: ‘The Beat Generation […] seemed, properly, to suggest an amalgam of rhythm, aggression and fatigue.’ And anyone who has read On The Road...
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