Friday, 29 August 2008

How Would You Take A Snail to Constantinople?

Speaking of fun toys...

Google Books is fun to play with, whether you have serious research aims or merely a penchant for reading old books (such as the Travels of John Mandeville from the 14th Century (the original is not available to Canadian Googlers, only American)).
I tend to search for Istanbul/Constantinople quite often, for the simple pleasure of reading travel items and geographical/historical works written with a Medieval, Renaissance or Victorian flavour. The places they describe are vaguely familiar and yet mysterious at the same time, speaking as they do of a Turkey I've never seen: population much less dense, countryside much cleaner, evidence of Islam everywhere but the cities more cosmopolitan than they ever appear now.
Recently, my uncle over at Snail's Tales searched for both Constantinople and snails, and one of the results was Method in Almsgiving by Matthew Weston Moggridge, first published in 1882.
As Aydın says, the book has nothing to do with either Constantinople or snails, but features this statement on p. 97:

Patience and a little cold-cream are said to have taken a snail to Constantinople...

The author then suggests that if snails can thus be brought to Constantinople, that patience can also overcome other obstacles. An admirable statement to be sure.
But why should one wish to take a snail to Constantinople (and from where?)? And why should cream help the matter?
That is, where did this phrase originate? Who first said it and when?
Google was surprisingly unhelpful, but produced some fun results:

1. How many words can you anagram from Constantinople?

2. They Might Be Giants, who covered the Istanbul (Not Constantinople) song, also have a song called Snail Shell.

3. Google Books finds Constantinople During the Crimean War by Edmund Hornby and Emelia Bithynia Hornby, who describe a snail shell they found, and Three Years in Constantinople by Charles White, which includes the phrase "Saliankoz (snails) [in today's Turkish it should be salyangoz] are much in demand among Greeks and Armenians during Lent. At that season they are exhibited outside..." I've downloaded both books for future reading (another aspect of Google Books is that it's free! And so not covered under my book-buying ban :-))

Yet we are no closer to understanding the origins of the phrase. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Best First Lines in Romance

Vote for Pam! Over at Smart Bitches!

Checking In

Not much prgress to note - I'm on Chapter 11 of 35 (yes, I've added a chapter!), which still leaves 24 chapters (about 150 manuscript pages) left to edit. Don't even ask about the Q letters! The templates are getting all wrinkled from travelling back and forth to work with me, but I haven't advanced on them at all.

As for my new-book-buying ban - I've already got books lined up to buy when the ban lifts in October/November, including new Folio publications, and Hélène's new books!
An interesting part of this ban has been that, since I'm so eager to finish reading all the books I own and haven't read, I haven't been re-reading as much. I stared longingly at the Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers shelves the other day, but forced myself to turn away and pick up an unread book. I'm trying to finish After London, but it's the slowest book I've read in a long time, despite the interesting topic; more on this one when I finish it...

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Pauline Baynes

Pauline Baynes, illustrator for J. R. R. Tolkien's and C. S. Lewis' works, among other books, has died (The Guardian and The Telegraph). I'm not sure where the newspapers are getting those Tolkien and Lewis quotes from; if anyone does, please let me know.
I always loved her thin lines and evocative facial expressions. To this day, I can not look at the picture of Tash in C. S. Lewis' The Last Battle - it frightens me no end. But her Lucy was always my Lucy, and I'm glad she did the cover of Watership Down also.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Dear Canada

I've been reading some of the books in the Scholastic Dear Canada series. Each book is the diary of a girl living through a significant moment in Canada's history. I say, "diary of a girl", because as far as I know, none of these books is told from a boy's point of view. And yet men do keep journals. What's going on here?

To date I've read:
A Season for Miracles, twelve short stories by twelve Dear Canada authors
Orphan at My Door and Brothers Far from Home, both by Jean Little
And I'm almost finished reading Marsha Skrypuch's Prisoners in the Promised Land. Marsha's also a member of the KidCrit section in the Books and Writers Community.
I'd like to read Janet Lunn's A Rebel's Daughter and Kit Pearson's Whispers of War, since they're my other two favourite Canadian YA authors, and maybe someday I'll read all the other books. But I'm not supposed to be buying any at the moment :-)

I've actually got glimmers of an idea for my own Dear Canada book, to take place during the Depression. Not sure yet... Something about a girl named Rose and a boy named Sam. It's supposed to be set in Montreal, though it would be nice to bring in Charles and Oliver, from my short story He Ain't Heavy - and they live out on the prairies.

However, I can't concentrate on that yet - I'm supposed to be busy working on sending The Face of A Lion into the wide world...

Friday, 1 August 2008

A Productive Day

Yesterday I:

finished reading the Australian Short Stories book (all my cobbers should read it!)
went to work
helped my soon-to-retire mom buy a suitcase
bought groceries
did the dishes and cleaned the bathroom
made a salmon dip for Saturday's BBQ
made a salmon dish and some bulgur rice for supper
baked a gooseberry cake
finished scrapbooking the photos of our trip to the States

What does all that have to do with the novel, you may well ask. Well, even more importantly, I also:
Drew up a shortlist of agents and printed their submission guidelines.
Revised revised revised in a desparate bid to have the best First Five Pages possible for submission to said agents.

I'm still on nine pages. If I can just get it down to six...

Books I'm Reading and Finished Books

  • The Making of Outlander by Tara Bennett
  • Testament of Experience by Vera Brittain
  • Zoom sur Plainpalais by Corinne Jaquet
  • beta read! (JB)
  • ***Reading At Intervals***
  • Sophie's Choice by William Styron
  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  • The Young Lions by Irwin Shaw
  • Burning Sky by Lori Benton
  • 12 Anne and Avonlea books by L. M. Montgomery (skimming/reread (this was free on Kindle!))
  • Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford
  • Istanbul Noir (Akashic Books anthology)
  • The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien manuscripts edited by J. D. Rateliff
  • The Jerusalem Bible
  • ***Finished Books***
  • The Children of Men by P. D. James
  • A Daughter's A Daughter by Mary Westmacott (Agatha Christie)
  • A Girl From Yamhill by Beverly Cleary
  • Sunlight by Margaret Rucker (poem; floating in a cocktail glass)
  • Save the Cat by Blake Snyder
  • Preface to The Hobbit, by Christopher Tolkien
  • Ilk Defa... by Beste Barki (essays)
  • Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers (essay)
  • The Moon and I by Betsy Byars
  • The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson
  • Rogue Warrior by Regan Walker
  • Beauty and the Beast by Villeneuve
  • Black (what was this? I don't remember!)
  • Dance of the Jakaranda by Peter Kimani
  • Thomas the Tank Engine by Rev. Awry (26 book collection)
  • beta read (Born to Run by RB)
  • The Little Turtle by Vachel Lindsay (poem; reread)
  • The Kraken by Alfred Lord Tennyson (poem)
  • Android's Dream by John Scalzi
  • The Mysterious Tadpole by Stephen Kellogg (reread)
  • Yashim Cooks Istanbul by Jason Goodwin
  • Miniatures by John Scalzi
  • Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain
  • Kitty-in-Boots by Beatrix Potter (illustrated by Quentin Blake)
  • All or Nothing by Rose Lerner (short story)
  • Merry Christmas, Emily (board book)
  • Extra Yarn by __ and Jan Klassen
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  • The Outlandish Companion II by Diana Gabaldon
  • The Outlandish Companion I, Revised by Diana Gabaldon
  • MacHinery and the Cauliflowers by Alistair MacLean (short story)
  • The Dileas by Alistair MacLean (short story)
  • The Gold Watch by Alistair MacLean (short story)
  • betty, butter, sun by Monica Byrne (short story)
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them screenplay by J.K. Rowling
  • The Very Cranky Bear (Scholastic)
  • various haiku by R. Wodaski
  • ongoing rereads of most board books listed last year!
  • see the 2016 list and statistics at
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  • see the 2012 list and statistics here
  • see the 2011 statistics on
  • see the 2011 list at
  • see the 2010 list at
  • see the 2009 list at
  • also in 2009 at
  • see the 2008 list at
  • also in 2008 at
  • also in 2008 at