What’s the point of school? Why are children sent to school? What do we hope they’ll get from it?

I think a good school should show children what’s available to learn and encourage them to discover as much as they can. It should make them excited about all the possibilities and hungry for knowledge.

My school did the opposite for me. Looking back now, I can recognise that some of the teaching was less than inspiring. But I think the main problem was that I was made to learn things I wasn’t ready for.

I received a mark of 29% for my first History exam. Although I worked at it and revised before the exam, that was all I managed, and later on I came to the conclusion that history before the 17th century  is just too boring to remember. But my poor grade was also the result of not being used to thinking and writing fast, because that’s what you have to do in a History exam.

And then, in English, we had to read a book called Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff. This historical adventure novel is set in Roman Britain in the 2nd century and I hated it. Looking back, that could be because I didn’t understand it, because I wasn’t ready for it. Maybe if I read it now I’d enjoy it. All it told me then was that ancient history was boring. I was happy to be able to leave ancient history and move on to times that made more sense to me. Whether that was because those times were closer to modern times or because I’d matured in the meantime and was more able to follow, I don’t know, but I haven’t returned to ancient history since then.

The Beltane ChoiceUntil now. I won an ecopy of Nancy Jardine’s novel, The Beltane Choice, which is set in Celtic/Roman Britain in the year 71. I started reading it with some apprehension and I did find it a little slow at the beginning. But the writing was good enough for me to keep going and soon I became involved in the story of the two main characters, really hoping they would be able to overcome all the odds.

This is such a beautifully told story that even I could put my preconceived notions aside and immerse myself in the lives of the Celtic warriors. Even the sex scenes, as I mentioned in a previous post, are described with passion and sensitivity and just the right amount of detail.

Maybe, one day, I’ll have another go at art – another subject I hated at school. But I can’t see myself ever playing hockey again!

Some of the things we think of as bad can also be good.

Cholesterol isn’t all bad. There’s bad cholesterol and good cholesterol.

And traffic isn’t all bad. There’s bad traffic.

Bad TrafficAnd there’s good traffic.

Blog StatsAccording to Totsy, traffic comes to your blog if you write about politics and sex. Hmm. How many times have I written about politics on this blog? Well, I did mention voting once. You can see me posting my ballot. And I wrote an ode to the PM’s wife. As far as I remember, that’s as far as it went.

And sex? Nothing. Zilch. But I can put that right, right now. Are you ready? Don’t you dare scroll down if you’re under eighteen or feeling squirmish….

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Yes, I know squirmish isn’t a word. That’s why you’re still here, isn’t it? So, about sex…. I’ve never written a sex scene. But in the novel I’m reading, The Beltane Choice by Nancy Jardine, the sex scenes are written beautifully. Just the right amount of detail, shown with passion and sensitivity. I will write more about this novel when I’ve finished it.

Sending good traffic your way….

I’ve been interviewed for the first time (as an author) by Nancy Jardine, author of Topaz Eyes, The Beltane Choice and After Whorl. Read about them here.

You can read the interview here.

After a little rest, I’m back in Scotland. Or rather, considering what’s been going on in my part of the world, I’m having a rest far away in the north of Scotland.

Nancy Jardine, who, amazingly, has written and published romances, mysteries, children’s literature and more, has kindly offered to host me this time. Closed communities is the topic and there’s also a teasery excerpt from Neither Here Nor There.

Here I am….

The blog hop schedule so far:

18 June Catriona King My Route to Publication
20 June Cathie Dunn The Background to my Novel
22 June Sarah Louise Smith Arranged Marriage
22 June Jeff Gardiner Life-changing Decisions
6 July Nancy Jardine Closed Communities

AuthorsJames Joyce

Wikipedia says,

James Augustine Aloysius Joyce (2 February 1882 – 13 January 1941) was an Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century. Joyce is best known for Ulysses (1922), a landmark work in which the episodes of Homer’s Odyssey are paralleled in an array of contrasting literary styles, perhaps most prominent among these the stream of consciousness technique he perfected. Other major works are the short-story collection Dubliners (1914), and the novels A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) and Finnegans Wake (1939). His complete oeuvre also includes three books of poetry, a play, occasional journalism, and his published letters.

Joyce was born into a middle class family in Dublin, where he excelled as a student at the Jesuit schools Clongowes and Belvedere, then at University College Dublin. In his early twenties he emigrated permanently to continental Europe, living in Trieste, Paris and Zurich. Though most of his adult life was spent abroad, Joyce’s fictional universe does not extend far beyond Dublin, and is populated largely by characters who closely resemble family members, enemies and friends from his time there; Ulysses in particular is set with precision in the streets and alleyways of the city. Shortly after the publication of Ulysses he elucidated this preoccupation somewhat, saying, “For myself, I always write about Dublin, because if I can get to the heart of Dublin I can get to the heart of all the cities of the world. In the particular is contained the universal.”

Nancy Jardine

Crooked Cat says,

Having taught primary kids for many years, Nancy Jardine wound down her career from late 2008, finally giving up the chalk in 2011. Writing non-fiction works for school purposes made her itch to enter the world of fiction writing.

Teaching historical periods was a joy, and it heavily influenced the writing of The Beltane Choice. Two contemporary romances are now published–one of those a history/mystery. She enjoyed creating her first history-mystery so much another, Topaz Eyes, will be published in December 2012.

Novels for children still have their place in her life. A time-travel adventure for children, 9-12yrs, is completed, but not yet published. A family saga is a work in progress, along with sequels to The Beltane Choice, and the time-travel adventure for children.

Nancy lives in the picturesque castle country of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, with her husband who feeds her well – and that’s just perfect or they’d both starve. Time permitting she loves to read, and do ancestry research. Working in her large garden, she now grows spectacular weeds which she’s becoming very fond of! She loves participating in activity weekends with her extended family, since they give her great fodder for new writing.

The Link

Well, nothing really amazing. Nancy had an Irish grandfather and has been to Dublin. Both authors have B.A. degrees and worked for a time as teachers. And Nancy read Joyce’s work at college.