What’s in a Name – Rapunzel

Did you know that Rapunzel was named after a plant?

rampion_at_degensRapunzel is the German name for a leafy plant called Rampion, whose leaves can be eaten like spinach and whose roots can be eaten like radish.

The character Rapunzel, was named after this herb that her mother craved and ultimately stole from Gothel’s garden. I’m thinking that her mum must have REALLY loved this veg if she named her only daughter in honour of it!

So, now I’m thinking, what will I name my Rapunzel? Is there another vegetable that sounds nice enough to be a name? I mean, let’s face it, Potato is not going to work, even though I LOVE potatoes — especially cut into little sticks and deep fried in oil, oh, or mashed with lashings of butter and cream. Yum! Now my stomach is rumbling.

But, I digress. The point is I would never name my child Potato. Imagine the nicknames — Mr Potato Head, etc. So, what is a more appropriate name for a pretty girl with fabulous long locks? Mizuna? Rocquette? Pumpkin? ;p

What do you think? And remember, it has to be something that would have been available in London in the early 1800s.

Published in: on 23rd April, 2017 at 6:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

The Life of a School Teacher

In doing research on anything historical for my novels, I often come across very interesting and amusing details about our past. As I read another blog post earlier this week, I remembered this morsel I had sitting in my drawer which I picked up at a historical museum. I have seen it in other museums since, but I always love to read it again. I hope you will find it as fascinating as I do.

Rules for teachers 1872

1. Teachers each day will fill lamps, trim wicks and clean chimneys.

2. Each morning teacher will bring a bucket of water and a scuttle of coal for the day’s session.

3. Make your pens carefully. You may whittle nibs to the individual taste of the pupils.

4. Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if they attend church regularly.

5. After ten hours in school, the teachers may spend the remaining time reading the bible or any other good books.

6. Women teachers who marry or engage in unseemly conduct will be dismissed.

7. Every teacher should lay aside from each pay a goodly sum of his earnings for his benefit during his declining years so that he will not become a burden on society.

8. Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, frequents pool or public halls, or gets shaved in a barber shop will give good reason to suspect his worth, intention, integrity and honesty.

9. The teacher who performs his labour faithfully and without fault for five years will be given an increase of twenty-five pence per week in his pay, providing the board of education approves.

It seems a male teacher would have to be a regular church goer to get the best opportunity of finding a wife. I never knew going to a public barber shop could give rise to suspicion! And if you were a woman, you clearly had to choose between a career and marriage. How times have changed, and yet our teachers still have a difficult career.

Published in: on 8th July, 2011 at 6:51 am  Comments (4)  
Tags: , , ,

A Wordy Gift (Part 3)

Yet another lovely present from one of my nearest and dearest. This has a lot of hidden meaning that many of you will not fully understand, unless you were eavesdropping on some of our conversations. 🙂 But it is worth a read anyway.

The Voyage of the Dreamy Susan

 On the whimsical winds

Unfettered and free

She sails on the wing

Of the sky and the sea


Through oceans of time

And life’s uncharted sea

To lands only imagined

She dares to journey


From sheltered bays of creamy sand

And sparkling topaz waters

To dangers and pirates

And rollicking adventures


And who should it be at the helm?

But the one

Who appears like the dawn

Who is brighter than the sun


A captain of mystery

Strength and renown

Both piercing as sword

And gentle as down


And what shall we say

Of her infamous crew?

Of the pink and the black

And the purple and blue


Peppered Spinkler she stands

With eyes all aflame

For her visions of splendour

And lands without name


Superwoman and hero

A courageous team

There’s none can compare

With PS and DB


Through what intrigues will she lead us?

What Games shall we find?

Shall we savour scarlet flowers

Or GH and her kind?


What gold to discover?

A love Stronger than all?

Shall we mount stairs to Nowhere

Or dwell in Bethel?


Whatever the challenge

Reck not! Let’s away!

Heed no hesitation

“To the Dreamy Susan I say!”




Dedicated to my dear PS

By Brice F. Sword 

Published in: on 21st May, 2011 at 3:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Wordy Gift (part 2)

Here is another brilliant fictionalised story about me, given on my birthday by one of my dear friends. 🙂

The Maid From the Manor

Once upon a time there was a young maid who worked in an ordinary manor, yet knew she would always be a maid, for she was not comely or handsome like the ladies of the house. Many times over summer, the ladies — for though they were her age, she thought of them much more highly than herself — would spend all day preparing for a ball, for no house in the shire wanted to seem parsimonious with their estate or friendship. The four sisters talked constantly of beaus and bows — the biggest fashion at the moment. Oh the bows! They argued whether one large bow at the waist was equal to twenty small bows sewn along the hem. Or else they talked of the most eligible men and which might have looked at whom at the last ball. Each of these evenings the maid aided them with their dresses and hair, speaking rarely — for in their excitement, the ladies forgot her. They had never been rude, but of course, she was but a maid.

After working hard through the day, when the ladies rushed off to the carriage with their mother and father, the maid would stop, breathe, and sit. She gazed out at the moonrise and thought of another life, a life she would never have. If she could be a lady, carefree, with such beautiful silks and laces, what worry should she have? Even if not — if someone would truly love her, perhaps she would one day have a home of her own. But she could not every truly imagine that life. It drifted at the corners of her mind, but every time she grasped for the dream, it slipped away, chased by a mop, a broom, or even a rolling-pin. She sighed. There was sweeping to be finished.

One morning, the maid was sent to the market to fetch some ribbon and thread. Greeting the shop owner, a pleasant middle-aged gentleman with intelligent eyes and neatly trimmed brown hair, greeted her. “Amanda, how are you my dear? And isn’t it your birthday?”

Amanda smiled at his friendly greeting. “Well enough, Mr Peters, and yes it is! How kind of you to remember.”

“Not at all. How can we help you today?”

“One of my mistresses tore a hole in her newest frock this morning, and we’re all out of blue satin ribbon. Have you some this morning, and some thread to match?”

Mr Peters assured her they had just what she wanted, and turned towards the storeroom door. “Merrese, the ribbon tray!”

A tray promptly appeared, carried by a young man with curly brown hair and his father’s clever eyes. Amanda inhaled sharply — who was this? His eyes glanced her way and settled there as the laid the tray on the counter and opened the lid.

“Amanda, this is my son Morry. He’s just joined us from school for the summer.”

“Last year, you know,” Morry said with a disengaging smile as he leant over the counter. “Blue, did you say? There’s five colours here, what a choice! Which will you have?”

Amanda took a few moments to get her tongue working again. “Oh, nice to meet you, thank you, please, “she managed, manners at least not deserting her, as she pointed to the ribbon that matched the best.

Mr Peters cut the length she indicated, and deftly rolled it, selected a matching thread, and packaged it. Amanda paid quickly and turned to flee, but Mr Peters stopped her.

“Wait there Amanda, you’ve forgotten something. It is your birthday after all.”

As Amanda turned back to Mr Peters he retrieved a package from under the counter.

“Drat! I won’t be outdone by Father, I won’t, not with the first person I meet,” muttered Morry, and with a sudden movement that boys tend to prefer, leapt upright and raced up the stairs behind his father.

As Amanda opened the carefully wrapped biscuits, made by Mrs Peters and a customary gift for all occasions, thumping upstairs betrayed Morry’s haste, followed by more thumping after the briefest of pauses. Moments later, a neatly wrapped parcel was in Amanda’s hands, a somewhat breathless yet grinning Morry before her.

 “You see, I picked this up from a small bookstore near the school and I knew it just needed a home. Not really my sort of thing, I prefer pirates and the like, but just the thing for a birthday. You see, the owner even wrapped it for me, no matter how I insisted, he would only sell it wrapped, and here it is, he knew what was right after all.”

During this pleasant chatter, the paper was carefully laid aside and Amanda looked down at the gift.

“Please promise you’ll read it,” and Amanda found herself promising, though she had never read such a book before. Usually shopping lists and recipes were all she even had time for. She muttered a thank you and fled.

That evening, when her chores were done, instead of going straight to bed, she examined the gift. What secrets could this hold? She paused, caught by an idea. Could a book such as this give her a dream? And written by a woman! Amanda gently turned the cover, and entered another world.

The maid never knew that not only would that book take her places she could never have imagined, but it would change her life forever. For her friendship with the young man she met that day grew, and shared dreams, one day, became a shared truth.

She was not the only one. For many, going back as far as stories themselves, were changed because of a book. For a story is more than just a story — it is an escape, it is a dream, it is a friendship. It is a gift.


Published in: on 13th May, 2011 at 8:31 am  Leave a Comment  

A Wordy Gift

I recently celebrated my fortieth birthday. My very thoughtful sister came up with a gift idea that she knew would appeal to me. She asked my dear friends and family to write some fiction about me. They were nothing short of brialliant – in my eyes anyway – and I thought I would share a few of them with you.

Princess Amanda

Princess Amanda was in a wonderful mood. It was the middle of October and the sun was shining and the birds were singing as they cared for their newborn chicks, and the sides of the track she was riding on were full of wildflowers in full bloom. She looked over at her sister Rebecca, who caught her eye and they shared a smile that only two sisters sharing a private joke can share.

They were riding back to the castle from the most wonderful picnic on this glorious spring day, and to the sisters, the best part hadn’t even happened yet. In company with them were their ladies in waiting, and ‘the boys’ as they called them. There was of course one particular boy that Princess Amanda could feel herself pulled toward. It was a feeling that she couldn’t quite put her finger on, and even after plenty of ‘under the bed covers’ giggling with her sister, she was still trying to run from the feeling that she could only describe as a building love for Prince Morry. It was of course, Prince Morry that would be at the unfortunate side of the sisters’ joke.

Prince Morry rode his horse like a man show was born in the saddle, and he felt it was his duty to gloat about this skill at every opportunity he could. It was the sisters’ plan to put him back in his place.

He rode up to Princess Amanda, strutting like the peacock he sometimes pretended to be. “Princess Amanda, I believe you need to watch something.”

“Oh really Prince Morry? And what would that be?”

“I think you’ll know when you see it.” And with that he rode back to the other ‘boys’ which laughed at some joke he said.

“Do you think this will work Rebecca?”

“Of course it will. We’ve been planning this joke for ages. Do you know how hard is was to get the stable boys to agree to this? It’s perfect.”

“I hope you’re right. And I also hope he doesn’t break his neck.”

“I wouldn’t worry about that. He knows how to ride that horse so well, I’m sure he’ll have learned to know how to fall off it without breaking anything.”

“You’d better be right. I don’t know what I’d do if he got hurt.”

“You worry too much Amanda. He’ll be fine.”

Just then Prince Morry rode ahead of the others, turned around and started riding back. All of a sudden, he slipped his feet out of the stirrups, stood on the saddle and rode right up to Princess Amanda.

“So what do you think Princess?”

“Very clever Morry! Why don’t you get down before you break your neck?”

“I will, just one more thing.”

He rode away again, sat down and leaned over the side and started to reach under the saddle. It was just then that somehow, the saddle strap broke and he fell to the ground. This brought rapturous laughter from the two princesses and the other ladies, as well as a few chuckles from some of ‘the boys’, although one of them did go over to help him up. He got up groggily and looked down at his saddle girth and held one of the broken ends up to everyone to see.

“Very funny…! Who on earth would cut through half of someone’s saddle girth?!”

“Well I thought it was about time you came crashing back down to earth! Are you ok?”

“I’m fine Princess Amanda, no thanks to you!”

“Well that’s good. Maybe you’ll learn to check your horse better in future?”

And with that she rode off with the rest of the ladies leaving the Prince to go and find his horse.


Published in: on 7th May, 2011 at 8:29 am  Comments (5)  

The Greatest Author

…looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…” [Hebrews 12:2 NKJV]

As a writer, I create characters and I write their stories, usually trying to give them a happy ending. An important part of writing a novel is character development. I put them through situations which make them face their fears, work through their regrets or test their beliefs. This creates tension in the book, but it also forges their character into something special, leaving an ending which is satisfying to the reader.

As I was walking this morning, I realised that is exactly what God does–only sooooo much better. He is the author of our faith. He begins our story. But, He doesn’t leave us to muddle through life so our future is without hope. He likes to finish a story well–we can all have a happy ending in Heaven with Him.

Along the way, however, He does allow us to face situations which make us face our fears, deal with our regrets, test our beliefs. They are not usually fun experiences. Yet through the fire and the hardship, the diamond is formed. Our special qualities, the ones He created us with, are forged in those times.

So, be encouraged, He hasn’t finished with you yet.

“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” [Philippians 1:6 NIV]

Published in: on 8th March, 2011 at 10:54 am  Comments (9)  
Tags: ,

Adverbally Speaking

The first time I heard that you should minimise your use of adverbs–correction, the first few times I heard it–I pretty much ignored it. I like adverbs, I thought to myself. Why should I stop using them?

Eventually of course, as you would expect, I am told to cut my lys by my publisher. I let my bottom lip drop to the floor for a bit before I sighed in resignation and began the hunt for adverbs in my manuscript.

It didn’t take long before I realised I was being sentimental about nothing. Those who suggest adverbs are not always necessary are completely right. They aren’t. My eyes were opened.

I discovered that I used phrases like “walked quickly”, which can be replaced by “hurried” and has a better effect in the end. So simple. In other places I had used an adverb which really just doubled up on the verb. For instance, “softly whispered”. Everyone knows a whisper is soft, so it is unnecessary to use it at all. It was one of those “duh” moments for me.

So, if there is anyone else out there who loves their ly words, like me, you might have to let them go to make your writing tighter and faster paced.

By the way, I have use a couple of very unnecessary adverbs in this blog post. Can you find them and tell me what they are? 🙂


Published in: on 28th January, 2011 at 10:54 am  Comments (8)  
Tags: ,

Which book am I talking about????

In the past few weeks I have found I get confused when discussing my own novels. For example, while running a market stall last weekend, I had customers asking me about the content of my novel. “Does anyone get shot?” someone asked (actually a bloke who really isn’t into romance novels–just likes the action).

“Well, yes. The heroine shoots someone.” Then I thought, No! Wrong book.

The book I’m selling and the book I’m editing and the book I’m writing are three different books. My head is often in whichever one I am working on at the time, and that day I was editing my upcoming novel. Then of course, I had to think frantically back to the plot of the book I had on the stall.

Sounds confusing? Definitely. But what happens when I have a few books already published–how mixed up will I be then?  Crazy thought, eh! Can anyone relate?

By the way, the fellow didn’t buy one–he was just giving me a stir–but he tried to convince a friend of his who was there to buy one. Maybe next time. 🙂


Published in: on 22nd January, 2011 at 9:06 am  Comments (1)  

Help Me Name My Novel

For those of you who don’t know, my second work of fiction is to be published in the next twelve months or so. This book is set in the Victorian gold rush of the 1850s. A young woman finds herself running a large property on her own through a series of tragic circumstances. The name of the property is Ellenvale Station, and is situated north of Sunbury along Jacksons Creek.

Much of the plot revolves around the battle for this piece of land, and a number of events in the story involve the creek. The theme of the gold rush also features heavily throughout.

I have two working titles for this novel:

  1. Ellenvale Gold
  2. Jacksons Creek

What I would like to know is, if you picked up a book, without knowing much of the content, which title would grab your attention more?

Please vote for your favourite. I would love to hear your thoughts also, if you wish to comment. 🙂

Published in: on 6th January, 2011 at 3:04 pm  Comments (11)  

Rainforest office?

For creativity to run freely and unhindered, what is the best working environment? I guess we are all different and have our favourite surroundings. Some like background music, some don’t. Some like fragrant candles burning. Some like a pleasant view.

I know I like it really quiet. No children laughing (or screaming) in the background–or approaching me with “Mum? Mum!” every five minutes. No machines running in the house. No TV. No music. Nothing but silence. Unfortunately that means that my best writing happens late at night when everyone is asleep…and then I am not always fresh.

My ideal writing environment would be up in a mountain forest, with the smell of damp undergrowth and the intermittent call of bell-birds. Perhaps a gentle rippling stream flowing by and not another soul in sight (or ear-shot). Air temperature around 23°C and some cloud cover. A good supply of chocolate and iced coffee. Oh, and a comfy chair! Then of course, I would need a lap-top with and unending battery supply and strong mobile internet connection for any spontaneous research. Sigh! Yes, that would be a wonderful day.

That’s my ideal environment to inspire creativity. What does yours look like?

Published in: on 10th December, 2010 at 7:24 am  Comments (1)