Tag Archives: truth

Truth in Advertising . . .

. . . is sadly lacking in the United States of America on March 17. Here’s my answer to a query found on Fractured Faith Blog‘s, Everything You Wanted To Know About Ireland But Were Afraid To Ask.”

. . . They don’t do corned beef and cabbage in Ireland. You’ll see it on the menu only when American tourists are expected (such as for March 17). It’s not a genuine ethnic Irish meal because in ancient Ireland, cattle were a form of wealth like currency is today: see the legends of Queen Medb and Táin Bó Cúailnge (The Cattle Raid of Cooley). The Irish traditionally raised their cattle for dairy consumption, not for their meat (when the Irish could afford to eat meat – which wasn’t often – it was chicken, pork or mutton). After Ireland became part of the British Empire, the British wanted beef, and they bought it from the Irish, who shipped the cattle over on the hoof, and also slaughtered, with the meat preserved in very coarse salt (“corned,” because the bits of salt were about the size of grains of wheat, which in Europe was called “corn” – see also this usage in the term “peppercorns”). The barrels of salted beef were marked that they were the product of Ireland. Thus, it was the British who ate “Irish corned beef,” not the Irish. Irish corned beef was also shipped to America, where the standard of living slowly improved for Irish immigrants, until they began to be able to afford to eat the cheaper cuts of beef (the fatty corned brisket). Imported Irish beef also would have been bought by Americans (particularly of Irish descent) as a sign of support for Ireland, although they were probably buying it from British suppliers who were shipping over their excess inventory.

I learned a lot of interesting stuff like that when I was writing my first novel. I wanted the story to be an authentic reflection of contemporary Irish life, so it took three years to research (including a 2-week backpack trip over there).

BTW, the proper culinary name for the combination of corned beef brisket and cabbage is “New England Boiled Dinner,” which is another hint about its origins as an American dish.

Outline map courtesy of d-maps.com free maps. Photo CornedBeef&Cabbage.jpg courtesy of Jonathunder at commons.wikimedia.org.




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The Ten Rights of Medicalized Fiction (Intro):

What Every Indie Author Needs to Know.

Medicalized fiction is not the same as medical fiction.

Medical fiction deals primarily with one or more healthcare issues, whatever the genre of the story, and whether or not healthcare professionals are main characters. Medicalized fiction consists of any story in which characters are born or give birth, die of injury or disease, if they get into fights or wars, eat, sleep, work or strenuously exert themselves, feel emotions – in fact, if they engage in any activity at all (because if characters are doing nothing, there’s no reason to write anything) – their author will need to address the physical and psychological toll these activities take on their bodies and minds.

It doesn’t matter if the writing is about humans or animals or aliens – life leaves its marks on “real” beings, and plausibly constructed characters, whatever their genetic origins or abodes in the Parallel Universe, need to show those scars. This is what medicalizes fiction.

“But it’s just entertainment,” some may object. “And what about artistic license?” Most authors would like to reach the largest possible audience, and if this happens, erroneous writing may become the vector that makes some serious damage go viral (in more ways than one). If you’re writing something that’s too loosely based on The Bathroom Barber-Surgeon’s Pocket Guide to Gallbladder Removal, you must understand there is a potential for harm from wrong information disseminated in fiction.

This harm could come to laypersons, many of whom have absolutely no background in health issues, but who believe that what they’re reading is accurate, and may then mistakenly mismanage their own health, which could conceivably result in legal liability. But even if nobody ever tries to sue, harm can still come to an author’s reputation, because healthcare professionals are also people who like to be entertained by fiction, but if they encounter flagrant fiddling with known facts, their suspension of disbelief will be destroyed, and they may close the cover (or shut off the show, if the problem is with a screenplay) in disgust.

The origin of the “Rights.”

I’m a retired Registered Nurse, and I’ve always thought that Nursing would be an ideal occupation for the obsessive-compulsive, because the job demands that nurses repeatedly wash their hands and “check up” on things: on the doctor, the pharmacist, the patient, and, of course, themselves. This requirement is intended to minimize the possibility of medication errors, and although no person and no system is perfectly foolproof, it usually works.

One of the ways nurses do this checking is to follow the Five Rights of Medication Administration: the Right Patient, the Right Drug, the Right Dose, the Right Time, and the Right Route of administration. Our discussion of how to write good medicalized fiction will incorporate and build on that list:

Right Character
Right Drug
Right Dose
Right Time
Right Route
Right Damage
Right Disease
Right Demise
Right Rescue
Right Writing

We’ll dissect each of these “Rights” as they apply to fiction, so stay tuned to this blog!




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What Are You Waiting For? Write That Great Book!

Question_book-6You have plenty of material for a solid start on it, because you’ll combine and rearrange the facts to suit the truth. Thirty-four 2000-word, 15 to 20-minute chapters yield a thorough short novel (like Treasure Island); thirty-four 5000 to 6250-word, 30 to 40-minute chapters yield a literary or fusion fiction epic (like Irish Firebrands).

indigo-quillStart now, but not on Page One; just write whatever comes to you: beginnings, middles and ends of chapters, in no particular order. Rewrite as you go, if you like, but don’t fret about finishing chapters, or even scenes: Trust me, the holes will close. When finished, if you’re a good writer (equal to all but the costliest “professional” editors) and are rigorous with your revisions, you can reasonably avoid fees for line, copy and content editing.

Open_book_01When you begin final revision and publication formatting, set up dedicated promotional blog and social media, for early publicity, and to perhaps get pre-publication orders (I didn’t do that, but it wouldn’t have made any difference if I had, because I don’t write popular “genre fiction”). For cover art, use your own high-quality photos, or find something that’s open-licensed (or public domain) at Wikimedia Commons; use CreateSpace free paperback setup (but I don’t recommend pushing the Kindle button: it’s Amazon’s author ripoff); use Smashwords free e-book setup; set an appropriate price; and register copyright (USA authors: send the Library of Congress two bound copies and a debit for the registration fee).

UncsamendorsesI’ll be looking for your magnum opus!


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