Unexpected Danger synopsis

Who knew a new friendship could be so dangerous?

Looking for peace and quiet, Margaret Taylor moves to a small Oxfordshire village to write about the Great War. She believes the idyllic countryside and picturesque hamlet would be the perfect contrast to the noise and distractions of Jazz-age London. Then one afternoon, she receives an unexpected invitation from a mysterious nobleman.

Christopher Tobias, forty-fifth Earl of Yawron, hasn’t left the grounds of his family’s estate since an accident that left him disfigured many years ago. Cloistered behind the protective walls that shield him from the outside world, he speaks to no one but his servants. Everything changes when he notices a young woman standing outside his gates staring curiously at his mansion. Intrigued, he takes a chance he never thought he would.

Margaret and Christopher face decisions that will change their lives forever. As their relationship grows, Christopher’s past casts a dark shadow. Will Margaret’s future survive the demons of his past?

Warning Signs

There are certain patterns and traditions in literature and film/TV. Some might call them tropes. People recognize these. Hence, the Evil Overlord Handbook with ideas like “A quick death is NOT too good for your enemy,” and “If you see a man and woman walking through your realm arguing constantly, kill them.” In the world of TV/books/film, certain things stay true. When someone “can’t discuss on the phone”, he’s dead. When a veteran cop is out on a call on his final day, he’ll die. There are thousands of them.

Entertainment industry’s love affair with irony knows no bounds. If used sparingly and done right, it’s very effective. But sometimes, you can see the train-wreck coming. If the writer/director frames it correctly, even that can still work. It causes suspense. Done badly, you get some really bad melodrama.

Writing is a wonderful tightrope walk sometimes!

History: And They Call Economics “the Cynical Science!”

I got sucked into a historical Wiki-hole this weekend. (following HTML links in Wikipedia from one subject to another.) Not sure I can even remember what was initially looking up. I ended up reading about The French Resistance, Queen Victoria’s children, Ivan the Terrible, Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany… all in one weekend!

I learned some interesting stuff… The writings of people like Ida B Wells and Claude McKay should be taught in schools. Some early-20th century Prussian noble families actually encouraged questioning authority. The Nazi military command was not as lockstep as people think (Oster Conspiracy, Valkyrie, the Canaris group). Ivan the Terrible needed someone to trust and a psychiatrist. Russian tzars and tzarinas (particularly Ivan, Peter the Great, Anna and Elizabeth) have “breathtaking anger-management issues.” And Nikita Khrushchev was a sociopathic son-of-a-you-know-what and not the flawed progressive I previously thought.

So your wondering, “what does all this have to do with the title of your post?” The answer is, the more you learn about human nature, especially the social history around events in history, you become very cynical. You have trouble enjoying historical things. I used to be an avid Victorian-phile, medieval fan and a lover of Classical music. I knew there were nasty aspects, that there were problems that were not being addressed, but I could compartmentalize it. Now I find it hard to experience at castles, manors, palaces and music like Viennese Waltzes with awe and admiration anymore. Now everything I see has “social injustice” stamped on it (maybe it’s an age thing).

My husband often says Europeans and European Americans can’t be proud of our history, either nationally or ethnically, because everything done, except perhaps WW2 (even with WW2, we aren’t allowed 100% pride) has a nasty taste to it now. I’m not saying that White America HASN’T been a-holes. Look at what Ms. Ida Wells and Mr. McKay were talking about! Read about the race riots in 1919 and the attitudes that the FBI and others about it; it’s pretty nasty stuff. Read about Emmet Til, the Apache chief “Red Sleeves”, and millions of others, and you get sick to your stomach. It would be nice however, to have one or two things we can say, “We did good there” with very little “but.”

The problem isn’t that we never did anything good. It’s that we are told we can’t recognize it. We’ve been conditioned to see the worst, take the darkest interpretation, and assume the most nasty intentions. When I heard that Emperor Franz Josef (1830–1916) used to walk through the streets of Vienna every day, did I think, “Wow! That’s cool? How unusual for a Victorian monarch”? Maybe for a second. Then I thought, “I bet he didn’t see, or wasn’t allowed to see, the areas and issues that really needed help!” Immediately, my opinion sours.

It seems we are trained to be cynics in ALL things. While that’s helpful to a point– especially since the winners often oppress the losers, write the history books and destroy documents that might contradict–I don’t think it should be the only reaction someone has. There should be a balance between a modern interpretation using modern viewpoints, taking the original viewpoint into account, and, when it comes to experiencing historical things, a bit of the “romantic” interpretation. We shouldn’t lose our wonder at the world, at the achievements we’ve reached, or at how far we’ve come.

I realize that a lot of this negativity is in reaction to centuries of Euro-centric, pro-Imperialistic, Golden-Age-thinking views in History. I’m not even complaining about high-end academics. I understand that they have a duty to provide the unvarnished truth (though I could argue about the slant they sometimes give that truth). And I realize that each era has their own views on the rules for research. However, I do think that the outlook and assumptions historians have developed might have become as calcified and knee-jerk as the outlook and assumptions that they replaced.

Perhaps this is an “academics thing.” Do you have to regiment thought, style and approach on a topic to such a degree in order to be accepted as respectable, objective and serious by others? In order to be heard and respected in the world, do you have to go after your message like bull down the streets of Paloma?

Whose job is it to provide the framework or explanations that recognize the flaws of the time, don’t dismiss them, but allow the reader/visitor to also appreciate the beauty and quality of the music, architecture or writing?  How do we keep our society from becoming bitter cynical self-haters? Or is that how people should behave?

I’m apparently in a bit of a dark place today!

Connections

You ever have that weird mental jump when two separate things suddenly become connected in your mind? And then you can’t seem separate them again, ever?

With me, it’s the song “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen and “Kubla Khan” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

I know: “Where the heck did that come from?”

Perhaps it’s the effect of an English degree mixed with a fondness for music. Maybe its the strange melancholy of both pieces. Or perhaps it’s Cohen’s reference to hair and the way the song’s lines build within each verse. After all, the Coleridge lines that snagged me were: “And all should cry, Beware! Beware! His flashing eyes, his floating hair! Weave a circle round him thrice, And close your eyes with holy dread. For he on honey-dew hath fed, And drunk the milk of Paradise.”

Now, in my head, I’m trying to fit “Kubla Khan” into “Halleluja” as a filk.  (A filk, by the way, is a loosely-defined “folk song” that reuses the music and possibly the lyrical structure of another song, but with unrelated content).

I’ll let you all know if it works. 🙂

The Pleasure of “Piffle”

“Do you find it easy to get drunk on words?”

“So easy that, to tell you the truth, I am seldom perfectly sober.”

― Dorothy L. Sayers, Gaudy Night

“If anyone were to marry you, Peter, it would be for the pleasure of hearing you talk piffle.”

― Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison

I’m addicted to words. I love how they sound, how they move people, and how many different shades of meaning they can have. Finding the right word for a scene is my obsession. Not only the ideas but the syllables must flow. As a result, I admit, I tend to overwrite.

Words are brilliant at triggering reactions. Words like “lurch” and “stagger” have the hard consonants that create tension. “Fluffy” and “cozy” have soft tones. Then you have the wonderfully silly-sounding words that are hard to say these days without a smile. Even the word “molly-coddling”, a negative thing, makes me want to giggle.

Yet, some of my favorite written words aren’t used anymore. These words have the exact tone I want, but they aren’t usable because they sound archaic. Modern people just don’t talk like that.

I particularly love “piffle”. Meaning “frivolous talk”, it isn’t a good thing necessarily, but it sounds adorable. It, in my opinion, it takes the sting out of any criticism.

As time passes, language gets harsher and cruder. F-bombs drop everywhere. Discussions become angrier. It seems that arguments end in violence or rage more often. What’s a possible answer?

I think words like “piffle,” words that express frustration without ire or real visceral insult, should be returned to common usage. It might calm down rhetoric if you could just be silly like that.

I can’t imagine anyone getting punched for using “piffle”, though I’m sure someone accused of it can get offended. If nothing else, it would deflect and distract the ranter from his rant.

Can you imagine one Senator telling another “stop talking piffle”? How many varieties of red would the said Senator’s face change? Yet, to swear back at the speaker would be seen as excessive and childish. What a way to stop escalations!

Now I will stop talking piffle.

Why I cannot write a blog.

Hello. My name is Lisa Pugh, I’m a Romance writer and this is my first foray into blogging.

My father is a retired scientist. While he was still active, he would drive me from New Orleans, LA to Roanoke, VA so I could attend College. Then he’d come up and pick me up at the end of the school year. The trip took 2 days, so we often played music.

One cassette, which he acquired during a scientific conference, was called “Songs for Cynical Scientists” by Ron Laskey. One of his songs was “Why I cannot write a song,” chronicling a period of writer’s block, when he couldn’t find an interesting enough topic. The song ended with the realization that he’d just wrote a song about why he could not write a song.

I feel that way about this first blog. I don’t know if I can write anything fascinating to anyone but me. I hope I can.

I’ve always been a bit of an outsider. Growing up, I had weird tastes for my gender and age-group. Girls in 1980’s Louisiana generally didn’t read Sherlock Holmes and Robert Louis Stevenson. They didn’t watch British mysteries and British science fiction like Doctor Who. I developed a very British sense of humor and a similar literary tilt. So I can only hope that people will find this glimpse into my world interesting.