Sunday, July 31, 2011

Who's Reading Blue Bells of Scotland?

The Summer Giveaway Hop!  Just click on my FACEBOOK LIKE button in the right hand sidebar, and you're entered.  For extra entries, please become a follower here, and on twitter, tweet this post, and share it on facebook.  (Buttons are at the top and bottom of each post.)  Please scroll down to the form below to enter.  The prize is a $10 giftcard to  Winner is chosen by a random drawing.  Thanks to I am a Reader Not a Writer for sponsoring.

Scroll to the bottom of the post for the rest of the blogs participating and enter as many as you'd like!

In other news, I'm pleased to announce I will be signing books at the Lakewalk Bookshop at 1427 London Road in the beautiful city of Duluth (one of my favorites of all the places I've lived!)  The signing is Tuesday, August 9, from 5 to 7 p.m.  If you know a book lover in the Duluth area, please let them know. I'd love to meet anyone in the area!

July has been a big month for me and for the Maple Grove Night Writers!  John and Stephanie rode in the Maple Grove Arts Center's cars in the Maple Grove Days Parade Thursday night, and had a blast! 

We had a joint book signing at the Maple Grove Arts Center on Saturday, and you wouldn't believe the people I found reading Blue Bells of Scotland! 

The past two Tuesdays have been two of our three writing classes at the Maple Grove Community Center. We have covered some basic critiquing, research, using the senses in writing, and done several writing exercises.  If you're in the area, there's still one more class you can get to on August 2, 6:30 to 8:30 pm.  We'll be talking about publishing, marketing, and forming critique groups.  Response to the class has been very positive, and we have all really enjoyed meeting more writers and hearing about their works in progress. We look forward to holding more classes next summer.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Winner! And This Day in Scottish History.

Once again, we have a winner! An e-mail has been sent out to the winner of the Freedom Hop. 

July 10 is a date that was to have great impact on the Scottish Wars of Independence. Before Robert the Bruce became one of Scotland's greatest kings, there was John Balliol, king of Scots. In the wake of Alexander III dying without a clear heir, the Scottish lords, fearing bloody disputes among the 13 competitors for the throne, called in Edward I of England to settle the matter. The strongest claims to the throne came from John Balliol and Robert the Bruce, grandfather of the later king of Scots who fought at Bannockburn.
Edward chose John Balliol. Even today, historians discuss who had the stronger claim, and many do say that he did. However, Edward's motives were not so pure.  He had declared himself overlord, or Lord Paramount of Scotland, and believed Balliol would be a suitable puppet king.
Almost immediately upon the new king's coronation on November 30, 1292, Edward I began a series of actions designed to undermine and humiliate Balliol.  In 1294, Edward demanded that Scotland send troops to help fight England's war against France.  King John refused.  Rather, his council of twelve made a treaty with France known as the Auld Alliance. 

Edward, on finding out, took a break from fighting the French to march north and sack the town of Berwick on March 30, 1296, killing thousands of men, women, and children over the course of three days. 

Very shortly after his men finished their bloody massacre, Edward received a message from King John, renouncing his homage to the English king.  Edward is reported to have said, O foolish knave!  What folly he commits!  If he will not come to us, we will go to him.

And so Edward turned his army on the Earl of March's castle at Dunbar, just north of Berwick.  The Earl of March sided with Edward, but his wife, Marjory Comyn, sister to the Earl of Buchan, felt otherwise, and allowed the Scots to use the castle.

On April 27, the English defeated the Scots at Dunbar.  In the following months, more castles fell to England, and finally, on July 10, John Balliol was captured by the English in a churchyard in Strathaco.  There, Anthony Bek, Bishop of Durham, tore Scotland's red and gold arms from Balliol's surcoat, and Balliol was forced to abdicate the throne of Scotland and sign documents admitting to allying with Edward's enemies, and giving the kingdom of Scotland to Edward.

It was a dark day for Scotland. 

But it was not the end. 

Perhaps Edward would have done better to allow John Balliol some nominal kingship, for from this void rose the great heroes of Scotland's Wars of Independence: William Wallace, Andrew de Moray, James Douglas, Robert the Bruce, and many more. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Writing Class

Night Writers, in conjunction with Gabriel's Horn Publishing, will be presenting a three night writing class at the Maple Grove Community Center in Maple Grove, MN. Dates are Tuesday, July 19, July 26, and August 2, starting each night at 6:30 until 8:30. 

Topics covered will include historical research, using the senses, publishing, how to start a critique group, and more.  Classes are presented by Laura Vosika, Ross Tarry, Judd Knauss, Judy Granahan, Janet Kramer, John Stanton, and Genny Kieley, and Lyn Miller LaCoursiere, with 15 published books between them.

If you're interested in registering, call the Maple Grove Community Center at (763) 494-6500.  Ask for the Bringing Writing to Life on page 59 of the Summer 2011 Parks and Rec catalogue.

There's still time to join the Freedom Blog Hop!  Just become a follower of my blog and click like on my facebook page (both links are in the right hand sidebar.)  You get extra entries for tweeting or re-posting on facebook or any other social media (digg, stumble, etc.)  Just please let me know you did it in the comments, along with contact information in case your name is drawn.  Then hop on to other blogs and enter to win their prizes, too!  The prize here is a $10 giftcard from amazon.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Declaration of Independence

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


The Freedom Blog hop continues.  Become a follower here and at facebook.  For extra entries, tweet this post or post it on your facebook page.  PLEASE...leave me a comment letting me know you did these things and contact information!  Thanks!  Drawing is on the 8th.

Have a wonderful Independence Day.  Happy birthday, America!

Friday, July 1, 2011

This Month In Scottish History: the Non-battle of Irvine

Here for the Freedom Blog hop?  Details at the end of the post!

Throughout history, the story of the American colonists' fight for freedom has been repeated: small and weak countries fighting against those bigger and larger.  The Scottish Wars of Independence are one such example.

Since 1286, Edward I, king of England, had involved himself in Scotland's affairs, claiming to be overland of the country.  With the death of Alexander III, king of Scots, and in the absence of a clear heir, Edward chose John Baliol as the new king, thinking to have himself a puppet on the throne.  However, after a string of offenses and humiliations, Baliol refused to send troops for the English king's war against France.  This provoked the sack of Berwick in March 1296, the vicious murder of the men, women, and children of the town of Berwick, that is said to have ended only when Edward saw his troops butchering a woman in the very act of giving birth.  (Good to know he had some standards.)

By 1297, open revolt was spreading across Scotland.  During the winter of 1296-97, Andrew de Moray, the younger, had escaped captivity by the English and begun raising men against them.  In May 1297, William Wallace killed the English sheriff in Lanark, gathered like-minded men to join him, and received the blessings of Bishop Wishart, the bishop of Glasgow, in his stand against the English.  Around the same time, Edward discovered that William Douglas had defected to the Scottish cause, and sent Robert Bruce, the young Scottish Earl of Carrick, to attack Douglas's castle.  Instead, Bruce joined forces with Douglas and others standing against England.

He soon found himself side by side with several Scottish lords, William Douglas, James the Steward, Bishop Wishart, and William Wallace.  On July 9, 1297, they gathered on the northern banks of a loch near Irvine, prepared to fight the oncoming English.  The English army, led by Henry Percy and Robert Clifford, gathered on the southern banks.

The fun and frustration of research is the many versions of an event which are told.

One colorful, but unlikely, version of the Capitulation at Irvine is that the bickering of the Scottish troops became so intolerable to the English that they simply left the field. 

A more common story of what happened at Irvine is that the Scottish lords objected to being led by one they considered their social inferior.  Infighting broke out among the Scottish ranks, resulting in the Scottish lords capitulating to the English, rather than being led by their inferior.  Wallace, unable to fight without the lords, disappeared into the north.

G.W.S. Barrow, in Robert Bruce and the Community of the Realm of Scotland paints a somewhat different picture, reporting that Douglas, as soon as English troops were seen, sent envoys asking if they were authorized to accept surrender.  One Richard Lundie was so disgusted with this immediate capitulation that he changed sides then and there and joined the English.

However, Barrow points out that the Scots spun out surrender negotiations for a month, during which, Wallace, unhindered by the English, was busy elsewhere laying more plans and gathering men.  The end result was that the nobles once again agreed to swear allegiance to Edward I.  You'd think by now Edward would understand that forcing oaths of allegiance from the Scottish nobles was an exercise in futility. 

However the events of Irvine are interpreted, the Scots went on, as the American colonists would four hundred years later, to successfully fight off the much stronger country of England. 



Please join us for the fun!  An e-mail was sent to the winner of the last hop, so please check your e-mails.  I'd love to hear back from the winner!  Once again, I'm giving away a $10 giftcard to 

To enter, become a follower at my blog here and click LIKE on my facebook.  Both links are in the right-hand sidebar. 

For additional entries, share this post on facebook or tweet it on twitter (one extra entry apiece.)  And please tell me in your comments that you did so!!

Please leave your name and contact information so I can contact you!

Just for fun, there's a poll in the right sidebar, and please tell us in your comment what you love best about the Fourth of July, or an interesting story you remember about the War of Independence or, if you happen to know and love Scottish history, about the Scottish Wars of Independence!

Happy Fourth of July, America!