Posts tagged “Reading

A Priestess’s Manumission

This is sort of a supplement to my book Exilium, so if you've never read it, you may be confused.

But then again, if you know anything about Roman slavery, or have read The Passion of Mary Magdalen, you may know what I'm talking about to some extent.

If you haven't read any of them, not a problem—you're about to get educated. (If you don’t mind spoilers, that is.)

[Caveat: this is a citation-free zone; I'm just going off what Elizabeth Cunningham wrote. If you want to do your own research, I suggest checking her notes section.]


In Roman marriage, ownership of the wife was notionally given to the husband through a document called the manus. (Slaves also had manus, so you can see how much the Romans cared about their women!) There were, however, cases where the manus was retained by the father, who could then manage and punish their daughters as they saw fit.

That's right! If Daddy caught you cheating, he could kick your little ass.

Or kill you, like he did with Paulina's sister in Passion.

(Pardon my spoiler, there.)

I don't know how it actually worked, but in Exilium, I presented an interesting notion about priestesses and their manus. Since I don't think I explained it very well—if at all—I thought I'd make a short post about it.

 

In Julia's world, a girl's manus was granted to the temple at the time of her initiation. This gave priestesses a wide-ranging set of freedoms, but could also make fathers very angry if, for example, the high priestess declared an orgy—the priestesses' fathers could not punish them for ruining the families’ reputation, because the paterfamilias was now the temple, as personified by the high priestess.

Serving the temple was also the fastest way to manumission, as if the priestess sought to marry a man of whom her high priestess approved, the manus would be burnt in the sacred fire and the priestess would be freed to do as she pleased.

Unfortunately, the temple's ownership could also trip a girl up, as Julia eventually learned.

[Original cover painting for Exilium, which I rendered in black and white.]

If you read the "Not-So-Historical Notes" at the end of Early One Morning, you know what happened to the other priestesses and their manus. But the nature of the kerfuffle over Julia's during Exilium was a little vague.

As high priestess, Julia officially owned her own manus; however, since it was on an institutional basis (as the temple personified, you may remember), she wasn't a freedwoman. In light of this, when Pontius kidnapped her, Livia was automatically promoted to high priestess and the control over everyone’s manus went to her.

Officially, only the Virgo Vestalis Maxima (and the emperor, of course) were superior to the High Priestess of Isis and only they could force Livia to sign over Julia's manus or that of any other priestess. In practice, however, the priestesses answered to the provincial prefect; so when Pontius threatened death or other bodily harm to the priestesses if Livia didn't sign over Julia's manus once he'd decided to keep her as his personal priestess, the high priestess hurried to respond.

Theoretically, once Julia betrayed Pontius and he exiled her, her manus should've been passed to whoever was receiving her in Ireland. However, it somehow got left behind in the rush to kick her out (he likely didn't have his own copy and would've had to go to the provincial record office), so that was the basis of the upset—Julia's manus being on file without a change of possession meant that Pontius still owned her and could do what he pleased. Without her manus, Lucius had no recourse against Pontius forcing Julia into marriage, which is why Lucius paid two hundred denarii and agreed to take as her his concubine. An executor was never appointed, of course, which is how Lucius was able to marry Julia without legal repercussions.

Though if you read the book, you know that Pontius got his way in the end.


Book Murder

or: How My Decision was Made for Me


When I’m debating whether to get rid of a potential book (or two), I generally like to make the decision for myself. But sometimes things get so out of hand that you have no choice but to let it go.

 

There are quite a few book cataloging sites out there, with Goodreads probably being the most famous. One I haven’t heard of until a few months ago (I’m going to call it “Grape” out of laziness) when someone on one of the Not Always sites told me about it. (I wish I could remember who it was, because it probably would’ve saved a lot of the drama I’m about to share!) It seemed pretty easy to join Grape and get my stuff listed, so I did, and was loosely involved in the site until yesterday.

When this person (let’s call her “Amanda”) found out about my work, she (helpfully) made a page for my debut novel, then made pages for two books I hadn’t written yet—Emmeline and Elizabeth.

It didn’t bother me at first. There was always the chance I’d write them myself, or pay for a ghostwriter to do them as I mentioned in Prequels, Sequels and Problems.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it wasn’t a good idea. It’s one thing to make pages for books I’m fairly certain I’ll write (Dark and Dirty Games is an excellent example); it’s another to make pages for books that I’ve publicly stated are low on my priority list, as it’s not likely they’ll ever be written.

After poking around in Grape’s FAQ section and its help pages, I decided to ask for help in the forums.

Big mistake!

To summarize the responses, the pages can’t be deleted, and it’s not permissible to ask Amanda to delete them, either.1

“But it’s my work and my intellectual property! I’m the one that has control over it, not Amanda!”

“It doesn’t matter if they’re your books,” the users argued. “Amanda posted the pages, they’re her work, you have no rights to them and no right to contact her and ask her to remove them.” (One user said that Grape isn’t a bibliography, it’s a catalog of books belonging to people on the site. But that makes no sense, because how can you claim to own a book that’s never been written?)2

While I’m sure copyright law doesn’t protect books I haven’t written, I do know that you can contact sites and ask them to take down pictures and information they have of yours—that’s why services that clean up your web presence exist! Which means that the whole “you can’t contact Amanda” premise is bullshit.

You’re right—I can’t contact Amanda, but I can contact “Lambda”, who I believe owns the site!

 

I told Lambda what was going on, argued that I should have control over my intellectual property, and asked her nicely to remove the pages, as I didn’t want to file a lawsuit over something that could be solved with a simple email.

Her response? [*crickets*]

While I would’ve preferred a short response along the lines of “sorry for all the problems—the pages are deleted”, not getting one means I don’t have to worry about my anxiety being triggered. (Not to mention not having money for an attorney, should it go that far.)

 

As for the dead books? Why should I write something with so much negativity attached to it?

(I was going to go into detail about the ideas I had for the dead books, but I don’t have the energy anymore. I’m just glad this is all—pretty much—over.)

=====

1I honestly don’t care about Grape’s etiquette—if Amanda wasn’t listed as a private user (thereby rendering her unreachable), I would’ve contacted her and saved myself a headache or seven.

2One user actually had the gall to say, “No one is going to read your books after you threw a hissy fit like this!”
“Ooo, big fucking threat! No one reads my books anyway!”
(They might not read my books, but I noticed an uptick in visitors on my site! HA!)


Mind on Shuffle

Sometimes, my mind is like an MP3 player.

Okay, maybe my mind is like an MP3 player quite frequently.

Anyway, a novelista wants her mind on repeat. If her mind is on repeat, then she’s working on one novel (or other writing-related project, like editing) and nothing else. If her mind is on shuffle, then she’s bouncing from concept to manuscript to a back-burnered piece to a poem and maybe back to the original concept…and nothing gets done. Ever.

Guess whose mind is on shuffle?


So I’m thinking a lot about dystopian fiction, lately. Like most readers, I started with The Giver many years ago. But I read it so young that nothing ever really stuck with me until we re-read it in English 10. Everyone else said we were lucky…that we didn’t have to read the boring books assigned by the department veterans. But I have to tell you…you might not think yourself so lucky when you’re suddenly discussing euthanasia, social control and the other finer points of the book that a fifteen year old is more capable of understanding than, say, a seven year old.

And then I read Animal Farm. (I don’t see how that was dystopian, but I see it listed as such in quite a few places.) Then the sequels to The Giver (which weren’t nearly as good). Then Matched and Crossed. Then the Hunger Games trilogy. DivergentReachedThe Selection. Now I’m re-reading Divergent to see if I like it any better before trying Insurgent. I’m anxiously awaiting the release of The Elite next month, even though the formulaic nature of The Selection made it kind of obvious where the trilogy is going.

Honestly, I don’t know why I like this genre (or sub-genre?) if it’s all the same in the long run. Little Miss Nobody gets into Something Big and the whole world changes because of it. Actually, the fact that Ally Condie made Cassia middle class (or maybe even upper-middle-class, given that her father was an Official) was a nice change when you think of girls like Katniss and America and how poor they were before the Big Thing gave them more money. (Though just having finished The Selection, I’m starting to think America was a bit better off than Katniss ever was.) I don’t know why I want in, not when it’s the “it genre” right now. Vampires are so dead (or undead, as the case may be)! Everyone wants to do something dystopian now. Which is why it’s a good thing that I don’t have an idea for a novel/series. I’m sure that as I sit here typing this, every last idea in the genre is either out there or being finished off by some other author in the world.


I want to say I have an idea, but that’s an understatement. I don’t have “an” idea, I have plural ideas. Thanks to something biomom said several years ago, I have a whole accordion folder full of ideas! The trouble is, nothing consigned to the folder has ever turned into a novel…at least not yet. Yes, Ophelia and Broken Road spent time in there, but I don’t think they were ever completely filed away like the others; they simply had their excess chapters, notes and research stored in there until I felt safe in shredding everything.

I know I’m disappointing the sixty or more people who came by to read the excerpt from Elizabeth after Moo retweeted me (plus my friend Katie, who is now the proud owner of the first and second annotated editions of Ophelia), but I really have no idea where I’m going with it. I have a vague idea of what I want to do, but Elizabeth is not like Ophelia, where I had the movies (and the interregnums) to string together into a plotline. I hope I have better luck with Thalassa…but I’ve had the same (disliked) title for that going on three years now!


Games without Frontiers

I almost thought I wasn’t going to be able to see this week’s episode, owing to the fact that the feed I’ve been viewing decided it was going to buffer like crazy. But last night, I decided I was going to tough it out and I’m glad I did–it finally stopped and I was able to watch in peace.


This week’s episode title makes little sense, I’m going to say right off. I realize that another word for “frontier” is “border”, but that still doesn’t really make sense in a real life gaming situation.

That being said, “Games without Frontiers” skewed to the boring side of things. I honestly thought an episode involving “live gaming” would be a little more exciting, but I guess every episode can’t be “edge of your seat viewing”. (Or “fall out of your bed”, if you happen to like to watch KotN while lying on your bed, as I do.) Honestly, if you’re going to do something with live gaming, try making it a little more challenging, a la Legends of the Hidden Temple. What’s more fun, flying around these little helicopter things or running around obstacles, attempting to put puzzles together and constantly looking over your shoulder for temple guards? Yeah, I thought so!

Oh and what was up with the Nerd-Off? Driving golf carts via remote control? In the words of Seth Meyers: “Really?!” Could the properties department not put in some sort of restraint system in each cart, hand out a pair of helmets and say “go to”? Gods, I could imagine getting into one of those carts, flooring it and yelling my head off as I tried to get the ball into the goal! Better yet, make it a little more difficult…hand out Nerf guns and let the competitors shoot at each other while they’re trying to score. WeeeeHA!

 

Jerk of the Week: Josh. Did you really have to tell Danielle that you were going to vote for yourself in the Nerd-Off? Was that really necessary, among teammates and friends? What was the point?

Dumbass of the Week: Danielle. Usually, you’re pretty sharp on the uptake, so I don’t get why you believed Josh when he said he was going to vote for himself, when he clearly said he was going to vote for you five minutes before. I didn’t think you were actually that thick, but people can surprise me.

The I Almost Shot You Award: Genevieve. Fortunately, she covered her tracks on Twitter, saying that she’s not usually a morning person…she was just up early in that particular episode because she was nervous. (All right, then. :> )

 

Can’t leave out my favorites!

Brandon: WAH! He lost the Nerd-Off! I’ll miss his razor sharp wit (and a few things I didn’t even know were going on behind the scenes, ’til I saw them on YT. Heh, heh!) The show (twitter) feed said, “Good night, sweet prince…we’ll miss you.” I’d like to take the opportunity to use the full Shakespearean quote: Good night, sweet prince. May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest. (Hamlet) | Typical that he was kicked off the show just as I was starting to “fall in like” with him.

Celeste: Was this week’s episode as much of a…ah…clit block for you as it was for me? You have phenomenal cosmic powers and they had you blow them on a simple little quadcopter course, where the most exciting thing was the fire gate. *sigh* | I hope they don’t waste your talents so badly in the future. (Though way to psych up Virgil for a great run! Woohoo!)

Moo: I know I saw my beloved Dr. Moo this week. I saw her giving…what do they call it? Confessional interviews? I saw her flying a quadcopter. But I think my Twitter interactions with her this week were far more entertaining than what I saw on the show. Oh well…every week can’t be perfect.

~*~

Sorry for such a short blog this week, but that’s what happens when the episode lacks pizzazz. I know most of you come in from Twitter/the internet to read this, so you probably know my handle, but if you don’t, I can be reached for questions and blog ideas @DayaRyelle.

 

Until Friday…or later…


 

Recently Finished: Oh Myyy! (George Takei), For Love of Evil (Piers Anthony)
     I’ve seen lots of memes from George, but I didn’t like his page or follow him on Twitter until one day when I stumbled on the fact that he had a book. So I read an excerpt on his site. And then I read the first three chapters for free on Amazon. And finally I pirated the whole damn book and found it a worthy read. He hit his intended point–the book was so amusing that I followed him on Twitter and liked his Facebook page immediately after.
     I’m not into fantasy, per se (despite something a psychic once told me), but I read the Incarnations of Immortality books when I was younger and decided I wanted copies to keep on my tablet. The only one I have yet to read is the much-maligned Under a Velvet Cloak…I’ll let you know how that turns out.

Currently Reading: And Eternity (Piers Anthony), Endless Highway (David Carradine)
     AE has become what many see as the official end to the IoI series. I’ve discussed EH before, but let me just say that you shouldn’t label Bobby as “plain” and “upright” until you read stories about the stuff he and his brother used to get into. (Nerds, can you imagine him in a Ferrari, tearing around the track at Daytona at 150 MPH? Yeah, I can’t either. But David said it happened. xD )

Currently Writing: Back from the Edge, a story seed I’ve been nursing for a long time. I was re-inspired to work on it while re-reading For Love of Evil. (I won’t bore you with a blog entry about it, unless I get some interest from the twitter folk.)

Looking Forward To: Monday Mornings (on Tuesday nights, thanks to having to watch it online). I’ve been a fan of Alfred Molina since Spider-Man 2 and some suggest that the “Chelsea General” of Dr. Gupta’s book is a veiled reference to the hospital at the University of Michigan, so I’m in. (If mentioning that I like Spider-Man doesn’t built my “nerd cred”, check out my first novel. I didn’t mean to write a glorified fanfic, but the annotated edition explains all that.) (Which reminds me…I really need to redo the annotated edition, so I have more than the hardcover, and eEditions out!)


Aside

Just a little post…

So I griped about the King of the Nerds people not asking the contestants what they were reading, but I never said what was reading.

Cute.

*facepalm*

 

Anyway, I’m into Endless Highway for about the fifth time.

No, I’m not trying to win brownie points with Bobby (why the fuck do I always type “booby”?! Maybe I should just go back to calling him “Rob”)…I honestly dig this book out and read it at least once a year. (I keep it stowed in a trunk with the stuffed animals and figures I want to display when I have my own place…primarily because it’s so big.) If you’ve never read David’s autobio/memoir, you really ought to. He had a great sense of humor (either that, or what I think is funny is really not!) and it’s really interesting to look into nearly sixty years of his life, from all his projects, to his art, his hobbies and his myriad odd jobs before he hit the big time.

I said a few times after first reading it that I would like to see another family member write a book about the fourteen intervening years between the end of Endless Highway and his death, but now I’m starting to think otherwise. Yes, David’s Kill Bill diary was interesting (though not nearly as informative); nevertheless, I plunked down some money to read that steamy tell all that one of his exes wrote after his death and…well… (I should point out that I would never directly feed that bitch money…I bought it used and got rid of it through Paperback Swap when I was done.) I know a novelista should never say this, but some stories are better left untold.


Check back in the coming days for my take on episode two of KotN…including a complete nitpick of Curtis’s makeup and kimono.

(What kind of geisha nerd would I be without it?!)