Sunday, April 20, 2014

So What Is a Remembrancer, Anyway?

       When I started writing The Termite Queen, I knew I wanted the Shshi to have a bard, since they had no writing and operate from an oral tradition.  I needed to figure out the word for "bard" in their language, so I thought, what is the function of a bard?  In an illiterate society a bard has to be more than a storyteller -- it has to be a historian, to keep the records of the past and of the myths and beliefs of the people.  So I settled on thu'dal'zei| -- literally, one who thinks about the past.  Then I had to decide how Kaitrin Oliva should translate this word into Inj (English in the 30th century).  I decided on Remembrancer, without really doing much research into the word.  It was unusual enough that I thought it would serve.
       Then, when I started this blog, I decided to call myself a Remembrancer, since what I'm doing is remembering the future!  I named the blog "Ruminations of a Remembrancer."
       Rather recently Google has started this Google Alert thing, where you can ask them to notify you when certain terms crop up on the internet.  I put in "termite queen," thinking I might find people referring to my book (however, I've mostly gotten articles on how to eradicate termites!)  I also put in "remembrancer" and that has led to this blog post.
(The above URL is the source of this picture, but unfortunately when you click on the link,
 you get only a page asking you to log in to PBS.)
       First off, the word really is quite archaic, but it was common from the 16th through the first half at least of the 19th century.  I've found several books with Remembrancer in the title -- a type of book of book that included things you ought to or would want to remember.   One of the most interesting is John Bell's London's Remembrancer.  See a facsimile of the title page above.  This book relates to the Great Plague of London in 1665.  Curiously, I wrote a term paper on the Great Plague in my British history class when I was a college junior.  Clearly, the word is used to indicate a way to remember the people who died in that disaster.
       Then I found the word used on The Obstetrical Remembrancer; or Denman's Aphorisms on Natural and Difficult Parturition; the application and use of instruments, etc., published in 1848.  Fascinating!  And a little bit gruesome!  You can leaf through the book at the source given and contemplate the torture instruments used in difficult labors!
       Less gruesome and much wordier is The Builder's Jewel; or, the Youth's Instructor, and Workman's Remembrancer, Explaining Short and Easy Rules, made familiar to the meanest capacity, for Drawing and Working, : the whole illustrated by upwards of 200 examples, engraved on 100 copper-plates [1787] ...     Again, you can leaf through the book at the source given, although most of the text is illegible.  I'm showing one of the engravings above, showing the profile of an entablature.  It seems like quite a book!

       This overview of the use of the word in book titles wouldn't be complete without a mention of Pastor James Smith's The Believer's Daily Remembrancer, or Pastor's Evening Visit, which appears to have been first published around 1840, before the word went out of style.  Can you believe the book is still in print?!  If you want evening devotional Bible quotations, get it at Amazon!  And I was flummoxed to find that Pastor James Smith and his Daily Remembrancer has a Facebook page!  The man lived from 1802 to 1862, and I'm sure he's saying right now, "Duh ... what's a facebook?  A book with engravings of people's portraits?"  I can't find a facsimile of the original edition -- I'm sure it exists out there on the internet somewhere, but I've spent too much time searching already.

       And now for a contemporary use of the word.  I found this website called The Evening Room ("Alex, Rich and Thom graciously welcome you to the Evening Room, a fledgling haven for all things geek.")  Among other pieces, it has a piece of fiction called The Remembrancer Files, a noir private eye story subtitled "Being the Case Books of Stanislaus H. Geiger: PI, Mind-for-hire, Remembrancer."  It appears to be by the above mentioned Alex under the moniker XanderPayne and it seems to have 13 chapters so far.  While I only skimmed the first installment, it looks like it could be run to read.  Intriguingly in this story a Remembrancer is defined as a "memory walker" -- I presume, some kind of telepath or with the ability to probe people's memories.  Nifty idea!  Check it out at

       And then my final discovery, which is the most fun of them all!  There is a British governmental post called the Queen's Remembrancer.  And you can find a picture of the current holder of this post at this URL:
The photo is copyrighted and won't allow me to save it to publish here, but I do encourage you to click on the URL because the Remembrancer is a very imposing chap, and quite worth contemplating! 
       The Queen's Remembrancer has an illustrious past.  Let me quote Wikipedia:

       "The Remembrancer is the oldest judicial position in continual existence. The post was created in 1154 by King Henry II as the chief official in the Exchequer Court, whose purpose was 'to put the Lord Treasurer and the Barons of Court in remembrance of such things as were to be called upon and dealt with for the benefit of the Crown, a primary duty being to keep records of the taxes, paid and unpaid."

       Wikipedia goes on to describe the duties of the Remembrancer:
First, to collect the "Quit Rents" for the City of London, to wit:
The City pays two knives, one blunt and one sharp, for the use of a certain piece of land in Shropshire.  This dates back to 1211.
The City pays six horseshoes and 61 horseshoe nails for the forge in Tweezer's Alley near the Strand. This dates to 1235.
       These two quits are collected in one ceremony, and I simply have to quote Wikipedia here -- it's just too much fun to summarize:

       "These two quits are paid together as one ceremony, during which a black-and-white chequered cloth is spread out — it is from this that the word 'Exchequer' derives -- combined with the introduction to the Remembrancer of the City's newly elected Sheriffs.
       "The Solicitor & Comptroller of the City presents the horseshoes and nails and counts them out to the Remembrancer who then pronounces 'Good number.' The knives are tested by the Queen's Remembrancer by taking a hazel stick, one cubit in length, and bending it over the blunt knife and leaving a mark, and the stick is split in two with the sharp knife. This practice stems from the creation of tally sticks where a mark was made in a stick with a blunt knife for each payment counted. When payment was complete the stick was split down the middle, leaving each party with half of the marked stick and creating a receipt (or foil and counter-foil). After the knives are tested the Remembrancer pronounces 'Good service'."

       The article goes on to describe other services provided by the Remembrancer, including the Trial of the Pyx, which dates back to 1249.  A sworn jury, under the supervision of the Remembrancer, counts out, weighs, and measures 88,000 gold coins produced by the Royal Mint.  The box in which the coins are placed is called a pyx.

       Now, besides entertaining the reader with the quaint customs of our peers across the pond, what is my point here?  It's this:  I love ritual and I'm an Anglophile.  Rituals are symbols and what could better symbolize the ancient and enduring legacy of the Islands of Britan (as they are called in my future history) than the preservation of archaic customs?  These practices have no usefulness or significance in the modern day except to remind humanity of its historical legacy -- of the importance of remembering ("remembrancing") how things were done in a time that existed even before the invention of printing, to say nothing of the steam engine or the internet. 

       I say, let the Queen's Remembrancer flourish and never be forgotten! Unfor-tunately, in my future history I did away with the British monarchy, but I kind of regret that!  I can imagine a day a thousand years into the future when the distinguished gentleman in the wig confronts a visitor to Earth -- a termite Remembrancer.  The gentleman makes a leg and the termite Alate abases and then they both settle down to share the ancient, remembered tales of their own cultures -- to think about the past, each becoming a true thu'dal'zei|!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Two Great New Reviews of The Termite Queen, v.1!

My enthusiastic thanks to
Erika M Szabo and Shebat Legion
for the following 5-star reviews of
The Termite Queen, v.1: The Speaking of the Dead. 
Check out Erika's books at Amazon and at Smashwords
Find all of Shebat Legion's books at Amazon.

Review by Shebat Legion

Where does one even start? Brilliant? Yes. Original? Absolutely. Well written? Without a doubt! Comparisons come to mind; Dune, Watership Down, The Jungle Books… but that is where it breaks down for me as truly, it is rare to come across a work of fiction that carries the reader this many light years beyond that of the ordinary. I could attempt to describe the premise of the story but that would be doing you, hopeful reader, an injustice. I would only be describing the setting and not the nuance, this is something that needs to be discovered for yourself. I feel fortunate to have been introduced to this series written by Lorinda J. Taylor and would have no hesitation about placing it next to my most beloved books on my bookshelf. My only disappointment is that this book has not plummeted up the charts as it deserves. Read it for yourself and explain this to me, please. If I could give this book more than five stars I would gladly do so.

Review by Erika M Szabo

This book made it to my bookshelf's "read it again in print" section. When I first saw the book cover, I scrolled over it without giving it a second glance. The title didn't trigger my want-to-read-this-book either. Only after I read Lorinda's short story that she donated to my Read for Animals project, her writing style piqued my interest. I started reading the book one in her series and her storytelling and writing style captured me instantly. Her dialog are amazingly written and the characters are so easy to connect with. The names were confusing at first and hard to remember, but after a few pages A'a'ma became my instant favorite and the names of different species also fell into place and now they just roll off my tongue when I speak the names out loud, such as Tish'ra that I wanted so badly to stay alive, Kwi'ga'ga'tei or Ta'rei'so'cha. I never thought possible to forget that I was reading about a bird, termite or other species; I paid attention to their personality. Lorinda masterfully triggers emotions in the reader with a few carefully placed words, builds tension and drives the story; however she is a bit long winded when it comes to describing the anatomy of the species and interplanetary customs and practices. Although it is a bit slow reading those parts, her attention to meticulous details is unbelievable, thus I caught myself reading certain pages twice in order to take in those details instead of skimming through the less interesting parts. I didn't like Gwidian at first, but Lorinda had built their relationship into a love story so masterfully, that eventually I accepted him. The termite planet and complex society is created brilliantly with conspiracy, intrigue and assassination plot to commit murder. Overall this story is very enjoyable, the intriguing story line and budding love story sucks you right in. Highly recommend it to readers who like a fascinating, complex and perfectly detailed story.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Learn More about The Story Reading Ape!

A most entertaining way to learn more about and to thank
The Story Reading Ape
for all his great support for us indie authors!

Chris (The Story Reading Ape) Graham

Ape 1Well, he FINALLY arrived at the Bingergread Cottage.
I could tell when he did, all the local wildlife went streaming through the open front door and out through the previously closed back door before disappearing into the tangled overgrowth called (imaginatively, considering it was the Council’s choice) ‘The Bingerbread Cottage Enchanted Forest’!
It was also evident when, after the last Squirrel had disappeared, I heard a loud CLATTER of my precious motorbike hitting the ground, followed by an equally loud “SORRY – I WAS ONLY LOOKING AT IT, NOT TRYING TO GET ON IT” from my Guest.
Yes, you’ve guessed who my Guest is – the biggest, strongest, furriest Blogger in the Cyberworld – Chris, The Story Reading Ape!

After Badger reluctantly assisted him to get untangled and out from under the motorbike Chris finally made it through the now permanently open front door (it was no longer attached to the door frame) and settled himself onto my three seater settee (which STILL has a sag in it)
I greeted him and the interview commenced as follows (I took the precaution of recording it, in case I wouldn’t have enough elbow room to write – and I was right – I didn’t)

Would you like some of my twin brother Cameron’s Home Made Peanut Brittle instead of nibbling the potpourri?
Thank you, these funny little multicoloured nibbles DO taste a little too exotic for me, sort of ‘perfumery’ if you know what I mean (he said with a big furry, pointy fanged grin).

Do you like dogs? No, not for lunch, I can always put them away in the other room if they bother you.
No, No, I LIKE dogs and I’d NEVER eat an uncooked one – ONLY JOKING !!!(he added quickly as Lily started chewing delicately on ape toes)

Well, Lily seems to have taken a great liking to you, judging by the way she’s gently tugging at your ankle fur and drooling copiously.
Y-E-S – I can see that mmmm.

So – your famous blog is one year old now and I really want to know – how did you come up with the idea?
Ape 2I
I’m a great fan of Sir Terry Pratchett who writes all about the goings on at Discworld ( and he once said that all humans were really just apes and that the main difference between the ape-humans who survived and the other ape-humans who didn’t, was because they told stories! This helped them avoid and survive the things that destroyed the non-story telling ape-humans!
Well I thought, for every story teller there has to be at least one listener and since I can’t tell stories to save my life but love to hear them, I must be descended from the story listener species.
Taking this thought a little further, since people who do story TELLING (verbally) seem to be getting few and far between nowadays and story WRITING is on the increase, this must mean that evolution has changed them from story tellers to story writers!
THAT must mean that story LISTENERS have ALSO evolved to become story READERS, and that includes ME!
After this revelation, I decided to try and help keep these new evolved story writers (and thereby save the ape-human race) by promoting those ‘not yet rich and famous’ ones I discovered as I explored the mutliverse of stories I read.

Are you a writer yourself? Are the Ape memoires going to appear on the shelves sometime?
HAHAHAHA, as I said, I couldn’t tell a story to save my life, never mind WRITE any. With regards to my memoires, whoever would be interested in reading about an old moth-eaten, ape like me HAHAHA!

It is incredibly altruistic of you to give all us baby-writers a leg-up on the artistic ladder – does it cost you a fortune?
Oh, I don’t ever think of anyone who writes stories as Babies who need pampering – far from it – I’m, in fact challenging them to write more stories, write and edit better and to help them promote themselves and their stories!
With regards to any costs I incur, if I can sell a few book covers( occasionally, it will help keep those costs down.
But I regard any expenditure as an investment in the survival and future of ape-humankind (STOP TITTERING YOU IN THE CHEAP SEATS AT THE BACK!).
If I can help keep the art and skill of story making alive for future generations, so they can enjoy them as much as I do, then any costs will be worthwhile.

I imagine that all this voluntary work with authors takes up a lot of time but if you do find some free time – what do you like to do?
Oh I’m kept busy alright, but because I enjoy it, it’s no problem.Ape 3
In my free time, apart from reading, which entertains and educates me, I like to listen to music from classical to some modern – I have a little hearing issue that prevents me making out the words of songs sometimes, but I find that the tunes themselves can benefit the spirit of the inner ape.
I also love walking in fresh air, be it in the countryside or seaside, although sometimes the wind can be a bit lazy, especially when cold, and cuts through me rather than go around me.

Where do you live?
In a nice leafy suburb of South East Manchester, England.

Is there a troupe or are you a lone silverback?
I have a treasure of a wife who, luckily, shares many of the things I like to do, plus I have a little sister and a daughter.

Ape 4
I don’t suppose Apes have jobs…but did you ever work before you became an author-promoter?
Oh yes, I’ve had a long and varied life of employment.
When I was 16, I worked for my hometown Council, in between leaving College and starting an apprenticeship in a local large Engineering Company. I helped to tend a large Cemetery and digging of graves. Did you know that when they say ‘Six Feet Under’, they mean it’s six feet of soil above the top of the coffin, but the grave is actually eight feet deep?
My friend and I had many an adventure discovering old unmarked graves running across new graves we were digging LOL.
I’ve worked at many aspects of engineering from the ground up, in design, manufacture, on-site supervision, installation and commissioning of equipment ranging from Power Station Turbines through Air-conditioning Chillers and Air Handling Units for Townhouses to Palaces and Tower Blocks through Shopping Malls and Hospitals.
I have also been fortunate enough to have lived and worked in several European and Middle Eastern Countries, with occasional visits to Far Eastern Countries, dealing with a variety of nationalities.

Ape 5Do iyou have anything else you want to tell me?
(he said, straightening his back, puffing out his impressive 75 inch belly and growling softly – but not in the least bit terrifyingly)
Readers, please do not dismiss the books of self-published independent authors (Indies) as a waste of time or money.
Granted, there are a lot who have not taken the proper time and care they should have before publishing, or who do it for all the wrong reasons (like making money).
But, there are also MANY who are turning out well written stories that easily rival those of the more famous authors.
Take a chance, after all, many of their books cost LESS than a Lottery Ticket, but you have a better chance of getting a good read than you have of winning the lottery!
If you want to know some I can recommend, check out my blog Authors Hall of Fame (

Well, with that (and after persuading Lily to let go of him) Chris arose, removed the settee from his bottom, finished off the last of the Peanut Brittles and (luckily) left through the still wide open front door, resisting any further ‘Looking” at my motorcycle and knuckled off down the lane into the picturesque smog of sunset.

PS. Several hours later Badger, Lily and I awoke to the sight and sound of the local wildlife returning to their own homes via the reopened back door and the removed boards of the front door!
And we got to work on my bike!
tool kit f