Agree or Disagree — Brexit Is History in the Making

brit_flagIs this the end of globalization? The end of the EU? Perhaps the end of the world as we know it?

People are lining up on both sides to judge, mock, celebrate, condemn — and it’s only been a couple of days. But everyone is suddenly an expert on what this small island country should have done. I say, Keep Calm and Love British. Pour yourself a cuppa and give them, oh, I don’t know, maybe a week to settle into their newly voted independence.

Just heard an NPR report that said the vote to leave the EU was cast by the less educated, older people of Britain and that the younger, more informed Brits voted to stay in the EU. Then they interviewed a woman in her 50s who was a very savvy banker. She voted to exit even though it would be tough in the short term, with reasons of wanting control of British law, economy, and immigration back in British hands. And the younger people on the Underground (the “tube”) who were interviewed said merely that the older generation had screwed them by voting to exit. When asked the consequences, they said that it would be harder for them to travel around Europe (aw!! poor things) and that the older generations just weren’t very tolerant of people of other ethnicity. But they couldn’t articulate very well their reasons for staying no matter how many ways the reporter asked them the question and tried to make them seem thoughtful. It rather put the lie to NPR’s generalization about educated vs. non-educated voters.

The Netherlands may be next with Nexit and France with . . . well, they could come up with something quite colorful that I won’t write here.

And now, a couple days after the historic vote, it’s rather cool to see other European nations supporting the Brits and putting the blame for the Brexit wear it belongs, firmly on the shoulders of the EU officials. BBC:

“European newspapers see the UK Brexit vote as a serious blow to European unity and a warning that EU politicians must address widespread economic pain.

There is a general view that Europe is struggling with a dramatic turning point in its history.
‘Everything has changed’

The front page of France’s Le Figaro says ‘everything has changed’ because of the UK vote. Its editorial makes a criticism – echoed widely in the European press – that the EU has become too remote from voters.

This is ‘the end of Europe as we knew it’, writes Philippe Gelie, and the EU must ‘review everything – methods, objectives, and participants’, in order to save itself.

Le Monde’s editorial sees the vote as the response of those “abused by globalisation… which in Europe is represented by the European Union’.

It warns European leaders that if they do not address the decline in wages and public services that many Europeans associate with migration, populists will continue to tempt voters with their ‘miracle cures – or worse’. See the BBC article here for more:

Ultimately, history will judge the British on whether this was the right move for their country. But right or wrong, this was a vote, an honest referendum by a country whose majority wants it to go in a different direction than that in which it has been going. And that’s their prerogative.

However, there are a lot of pundits and other opinionated folks who seem to think the majority should have shut up and sat down. I have a good, thoughtful friend who has shockingly labeled these 52% of the British voting populace as “bigoted, narrow, and backward looking” because she doesn’t agree with what this sovereign nation wants to do. And she thinks Scotland should pick up their marbles and go home, too — meaning exit the UK (Scexit??). The Scottish have been talking of doing that long before the UK’s EU troubles. And I for one wish the Scots the very best if they decide to break off their union with the UK, because that’s the right of the Scottish people and should not be judged by anyone not living there, feet-on-the-ground.

I hope people will untwist their knickers and give the people of the UK (“the lone wolf” as the British Isles has now been called) a chance to see if this works for them rather than condemning them for trying to control their own destiny. I raise my tea cup, my pint, and my bag of Maltesers to the Brits. And I will end with this German newspaper’s sweet headline (though it may have been written ironically, who cares?):


A Video Featuring the Defiant Hearts Series and a Dog

Video stillshot1

I have two new things today: 1) a video made by REX Video Productions featuring my DEFIANT HEARTS series and the new series, the WARRIORS OF YORK, that I’m writing with bestselling author Marliss Melton and 2) my own YouTube channel with exactly one video (see #1).

If you have less than a minute, and nothing better to do, you can take a look at the video by clicking here. My slightly overweight pooch, Perry the Wonder Dog, made the final cut!

I enjoyed seeing the process of how such a mini-film is made; it all starts with the script! Then you get to go into a studio and do the voiceover narration. Finally, the video is made, with the cinematographer matching clips and images to the script.

Another stillshot of the video from YouTube:


Science Is Rewriting the History of President James Monroe

James Monroe portrait by William James Hubbard, ca. 1832.

James Monroe portrait by William James Hubbard, ca. 1832.

Recent excavations at Highland — the historic, Charlottesville, VA, home of our nation’s fifth president — are rewriting history. According to my old alma mater, The College of William and Mary, “The archaeology, combined with tree-ring dating, shows that the newly discovered foundation, not the modest home still standing on the property, was the Monroe (1799) house. The property is part of William & Mary and is the only U.S. president’s home currently owned by a university.”

Photograph of Ash Lawn - Highland, home of President James Monroe, in Albemarle County, Virginia. Taken on August 29th, 2006, by RebelAt.

Photograph of Ash Lawn – Highland, home of President James Monroe, in Albemarle County, Virginia. Taken on August 29th, 2006, by RebelAt.

As a historian, if not by trade, then by dabbling (and with my handy-dandy history degree from W&M), I find this interesting because of the longevity of our certainty of knowing Monroe and his home. Yet still, there is new information to be learned. And it was quite literally under our noses.

“We have made a stunning discovery. These exceptionally well-preserved remains are just beneath the ground surface in the front yard of the 1870s wing attached to the standing Monroe-era house,” said Sara Bon-Harper, executive director of James Monroe’s Highland. “This finding represents a breakthrough in how the nation understands Monroe and how he lived.”

Sometimes when researching historical facts for a novel (currently I’m doing so for a 12th-century medieval), one can come to think that all of history is already set in stone. As a researcher and writer, I usually assume I have to go along with the stated “facts” of how people lived. This recent change in how we view President Monroe has lifted the mantle of the sometimes strangling burden of historical accuracy just a little. If my 11th-century characters get married inside the chapel instead of on the steps as was custom, or if I allow my characters to drink water instead of ale and mead, it isn’t the end of verisimilitude as we know it.

Read more about how science is rewriting the past by clicking here.

On Birthdays, Fathers, and the Queen of England

“Oh My Ears and Whiskers, How Late It’s Getting!” At least, like Alice’s White Rabbit, I am consistent in running late. I’ve been trying to sit down and write this post for four days.

dad's 86th birthdayOn April 21, my father, James George Baily, would have turned 86. As I have done for a few years, I baked a drop-dead cake in his honor. It’s an ill-named, heavy pound cake, baked in a loaf pan, often made with raisins, though in deference to my current household, I made it with chocolate chips. Here it is, with a blue candle the color of my father’s eyes. It is often served with butter and jam or even clotted cream and jam. It is easy to make, takes an hour to bake, and is not too sweet. When I am stirring the ingredients together, tasting the batter, and baking the cake, I think of my dad and try to feel his presence. Sometimes, for no reason I can determine, the cake comes out not quite baked through in the middle. Not this year. This year, it was baked perfectly, which is to say dense and moist and delicious. He must have given me a helping hand.

Queen Elizabeth IIApril 21 is also the birthday of Elizabeth, II, Queen of England. She is going strong and turned 90 this year. She has seen a lot, lived a lot, and still seems to enjoy life, never looking weary. This unfortunately is not a photo of her on her and my dad’s birthday. This is a public domain shot from 2015. Still, she hasn’t aged much in a year so fast forward her to 2016 and you have her birthday photo; this year, she wore a pale green outfit.

In any case, growing up, we always appreciated the fact that my dad and the Queen had the same birthday, the cockney and the royal. As a story, it’s been done, but as a real life tale, it still gives me a little shiver to think of my grandmother and the Queen Mother on the same day a few years apart giving birth to their little royals. According to my aunts and uncles, my father, as the eldest boy in his large family of nine siblings, was in fact treated like a little prince by his mother.

Honestly, there was something about the man that just made one want to coddle and pamper him. Even as his daughter, I felt that. He never asked for it, and he was always very appreciative. And the cool thing about my dad was how he loved the simpler things as well as the finer — “tasting” a few grapes in the supermarket or sitting at the table waiting for over-medium fried eggs on buttered toast or eating a really good broiled chicken, they all brought him immense pleasure, as did a luxury hotel with a thick bathrobe and a fine Italian suit.

So I’m indulging in a little nostalgia this April and thinking of my wonderful dad, whom I miss every day. And I’m inviting you to cherish your fathers. Maybe bake him a cake, even if it’s not his birthday. You can always wish him a very merry unbirthday, as did Alice’s Mad Hatter.

Congrats to Smashwords!

four hundred thousand graphicMark Coker stated yesterday, “Smashwords on Wednesday surpassed 400,000 books published.”

Kudos to him and all the writers of whom he says, “You shared your wordy brilliance with the world.” I love that phrase, wordy brilliance! And thank goodness Mark used his business brilliance and his publishing brilliance and his distribution brilliance to help so many wordsmiths. He’s provided a phenomenal platform for writers and has reached many milestones in eight years, this being only one of them.

So congrats to Mark and all the writers who make up those 400,000 books. Keep on doing what you do.