Thought Candy Is Here! Plus Popes with Armies

Thanks to my friend Adriana Arbogast’s husband, Paul Arbogast, my author blog now has a title: Thought Candy. And a cool new graphic to go with my blog page’s sugary goodness.

This. Is. AWESOME!!!

I am so thankful to Paul for doing this for me, especially since he didn’t demand a new car or a blood sacrifice in return for his work. Paul is a really good guy. Plus, he built this whole website for me. And he didn’t demand a new car or a blood sacrifice then, either. He is coolness.

The advice to come up with a title for my blog came from a chapter in Catherine Ryan Howard’s amazing book about self-publishing, which you should totally read if you are a self-publishing author. Catherine Ryan Howard is Thought Candy squared.

Speaking of candy and sugar, I had to drive to Farmington, New Mexico last night, to pick up a car battery for my mom, and Greg took me to dinner at Texas Roadhouse. I’ve never eaten at a Texas Roadhouse before. There were peanut shells on the floor, ’90s country music blaring on the overhead speakers, small silver buckets to hold condiments on the tables (as well as the ubiquitous peanuts), and we had to wait over an hour for a table. This was at 4:50 p.m.

By the time we were seated, I was so hungry, I devoured two dinner rolls, liberally slathered with whipped butter. It turned out this butter was mixed with sugar and cinnamon. Which meant eating these rolls was a bigger sugar load than eating two cupcakes. Plus, nostalgia. I was suddenly eight years old again, making toast with my brother Lee at five a.m., mixing a perfect bowl of cinnamon sugar to sprinkle on our Wonder bread toast soaked with margarine. Then we would feast and watch Saturday morning cartoons.

Ah, the good old days. I wouldn’t go back to being a child for all the money in the world, but some things are nice to remember.

In my author work this week, I continued revising Mark of the Pterren like a boss. Last Saturday, I reached page 482 of 733 total pages to revise. This weekend, I reached page 758 of 780 total pages — which means my book has grown longer, though I knew that would happen, since I had several scenes to add, as well as two additional chapters to write.

One of those two additional chapters is almost finished now. The other will be completed this week.

While eating my sugar-rolls at Texas Roadhouse, I discussed my chapter additions at length with Greg, who listened with great patience, and also grilled me a lot on why I have a priest with a standing army who can rival the army of the king.

A priest with an army made no sense to Greg.

“But this is just like history,” I said. “Popes and priests used to keep standing armies. They slaughtered kings and waged war. They were rich, powerful, and brutal. That’s why kings paid tribute to them and had to do what they said.”

Greg was like, ???

Then he said, “Seriously, that king should just kill the priest. No priest, no problem.”

I said, “The king can’t do that. It would mean total war.” I tried to explain about the hierarchy of the pterren priesthood. How one dead pterren priest was super-easy to replace. But it really came back to the problem of Greg failing to see how a priest could control an army. How a priest was basically a king in his own right, but with the super power of God’s might on his side. I assured him that pope-kings with armies was definitely true to history.

I said, “This is papal militarism.”

Then I wondered if that was actually a thing. Papal militarism. Because I’ve never actually heard that phrase before.

I have this major problem where I just say stuff without knowing at all what I’m talking about, but I can sound really convincing, and this is uncool of me and yet I can’t stop doing it. I am randomness eruptus and I can random all over the place. If I was on a comedy show, someone would need to splat me with a cream pie, but in real life Greg has no cream pies, so he just has to shrug and assume I am crazy.

So I googled papal militarism just now, and the phrase does exist, and appears on page 145 of a book titled The Papal Monarchy : The Western Church from 1050 to 1250, by Colin Morris, published by Oxford University Press, 1989 —

“The first striking manifestation of the new papal militarism was the expedition of Leo IX against the Normans in 1053. Its aim was to defend the territories of the Roman Church and to protect the population against Norman savagery, and it was undertaken after an appeal to Henry III had failed to persuade the emperor to repress the Norman menace. The personal participation of the pope shocked some contemporaries… […] Subsequent popes used force to secure their control of the Roman countryside, and the growing spirit of militarism may be seen in the practice of Alexander II…”

I can guarantee this is accurate because the Oxford University Press is one of the most badass publishing companies in the world, and they do not publish drivel or crap.

So here is an instance where my randomness eruptus proved beneficial to me.


Greg’s inability to wrap his head around a priest with an army means I will also have readers who find a priest-controlled army equally questionable.

Which means after I drove home from Farmington last night, and during my writing time today, I was back at the beginning of Mark of the Pterren, trying to look at the novel through this lens — the lens of someone who never learned Church military history (especially pre-fall of Byzantium history), and doesn’t know that popes once possessed standing armies.

I just have to make it clear in the story that the pterren soldier-dudes (called gendarmes) who work for the High Priests are a force large enough, and frightening enough, to rival the King’s Army.

I have mini-fits of despair when I have to comb through the entire novel again. Especially when I still have 1.5 chapters to write, and hours upon hours of other edits to make.

And what am I doing? Starting at the beginning again… omg

But it will all be worth it in the end. Or someone better splat me with a cream pie.

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1 Response to Thought Candy Is Here! Plus Popes with Armies

  1. Laura says:

    Like a boss… bosses can be crazy. 😉


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