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In medias res – what it is and why you should use it – The History Quill

In medias res is the literary technique of jumping straight to the heart of the action, literally ‘in the middle of things’. What exactly those things are is the author’s prerogative. The common misconception is that in medias res means opening with an action scene, but in reality, the technique is a far broader church. In fact, if that action scene is incidental to the story, or points to no hidden past that the author intends to flesh out, it is not really in media res at all. Distinctively, in medias res means starting at the apex or nadir of a particular character’s journey and backfilling information from there, making use of an unknown past and an unknown future. It is often used in th...
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Ancient Travels


Some interesting information here on travel methodologies in ancient Rome. #PompeiiFire Nicholas C. Rossis I came across an interesting question on Quora the other day: What was the approximate travel time between London and Rome in the 13th century? As Frank Melling, author of “A Sixpence in the Settee,” points out, this is not a simple question to answer, as it depends on the circumstances. Are you a merchant, a peasant on pilgrimage, a priest, or a courier? Will you be walking, riding, or taking a Cog? Read on to find out the answer – and check out Stanford’s Orbis, the great link in the end! What a difference 900 years make At the peak of the Roman Empire, an Imperial Messenger would cov...
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Rest in Power, Tommy deVito

Not all of you know this, but I am a huge Four Seasons fan. One of the best nights of my life was seeing Frankie Valli live last year. Jersey Boys is one of my favorite musicals. I love the group’s harmonies, and Bob Gaudio’s compositions are wonderful. Coronavirus has taken the life of one of the founding members of the group. Tommy deVito, who was 92 (yes, a ripe old age … but still), was the lead guitarist. DeVito’s good friend, Joe Pesci (as he says in the musical, “Yeah, that Joe Pesci”), introduced him to Gaudio and Valli. DeVito left the group in 1970, selling his rights to the music to the rest of the group. While he didn’t disclose the reason at the time, in 2009 he told an intervie...
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Music Monday: “Bang a Gong (Get It On)”

Hi, everyone. Welcome to another week in what feels like the longest year of my life! At least there is still music out there to put a smile on our collective faces. Today’s selection is from T. Rex’s “Electric Warrior” album. Enjoy this performance of “Bang a Gong (Get It On).” The keyboard player may look a little familiar, as he’s a very young Elton John. Original link
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Nero, History’s Most Despised Emperor, Gets a Makeover | History | Smithsonian Magazine

The Domus Aurea project was also a mistake, criticized in its day as a lot more house than any absolute monarch would ever need. But it may be that Nero never meant for this city-within-a-city to be his purely private playground. “The Emperor wanted to make its pleasures available to the people,” David Shotter, a historian, asserts in his 2008 biography of Nero. “Recent excavations near the Arch of Constantine and the Colosseum have revealed a colonnaded pool, the stagnum Neronis, which imitated Nero’s lake at Baiae and the stagnum Agrippae on the Campus Martius. The implication of this appears to be that Nero intended that his new house and the rebuilt city of Rome should be one—the home of...
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2020 Is Like a Bad First Date That Never Ends


Me with RH Tecontender, and his trainer, at BreyerFest 2004 I don’t know how it came up yesterday, but my husband and I wound up talking about RH Tecontender, aka TJ, who was the main horse used in Hidalgo. Viggo Mortensen bought him after the film wrapped. Anyway, J. asked how old TJ was now, and so I looked him up. The answer was 27 … and that he passed away in April. Let’r buck, Sukawaka. Run free. Original link
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Rest in Power, Notorious RBG

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Weekend Reads: “For the Love of Europe”

For the Love of Europe: Musings on 45 Years of Travel
For the Love of Europe: Musings on 45 Years of Travel by Rick StevesMy rating: 5 of 5 starsOne of the hardest things about shelter-in-place, for me, has been that I cannot travel. Nor, it appears, can those of us who hold US passports, go much of anywhere for an indeterminate amount of time. So, I find myself doing the next best thing: armchair travel.In this book, Rick Steves shares essays based on his travel experiences over the years (some of which we see in his exceptional PBS series). We not only get to see the sites, but also meet some of the people he’s encountered along the way. The book is not only a delightful text, but is rich with photographs.The travelogues take us not only arou...
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52 New Books by Hispanic and Latinx Authors to Read Now – Goodreads News & Interviews

Hispanic Heritage Month is the perfect time to relish the latest works from beloved Hispanic and Latinx authors like Isabel Allende, Natalia Sylvester, and Julia Alvarez, as well as to discover debut writers such as Gabriella Burnham, Isabel Ibañez, and Aiden Thomas. 52 New Books by Hispanic and Latinx Authors to Read Now – Goodreads News & Interviews Please click through to the recommendation list; you may find several titles to add to your “to be read” shelf. I certainly did! Original link
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Novels are made of tiny details | A Writer of History

I often write the broad strokes of a story first with the basics of setting, the primary actions that occur and the dialogue that moves the story along while revealing each character’s emotions and motivations. On another pass, I add emotional reactions, inner dialogue and telling details. Like any other genre, historical fiction readers appreciate small details of setting, clothing, facial expressions and so on and, in particular, those that transport them in time and place. Novels are made of tiny details | A Writer of HistoryOriginal link
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It Was Twenty Years Ago Today …

🙂
Twenty years ago today, I was at my first-ever fan convention, for the Highlander TV show. It was also my first time using a passport; I had never been out of the United States before. Part of the event was a book signing at Chapters Indigo in Vancouver, BC … where it is now possible to buy my books on-line. My husband found my scrapbook from the event during our on-going clean-up/clear out … and I took this photo from one of the pages. I had a splendid time. Original link
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Music Monday: “Wildflowers”

Hi, everyone. Today, I thought I would share a long-time favorite of mine. Dolly Parton wrote “Wildflowers,” which is a song that has always spoken to me. This version is performed by Sierra Boggess, her father Mike Boggess (an exceptional luthier who made both guitars used in the video), and Ramin Karimloo on banjo. Enjoy! Original link
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Sample Saturday: “Through the Opera Glass”

Opera Glass Alternate
Hi, everyone. Today’s sample is from my award-winning short fiction collection, Through the Opera Glass. Enjoy! From Persia to ParisWritten June 25, 2012Clever Fiction writing prompt: Winner/Leaving/Alone Somewhere in the Persian Desert1870 Erik reined his horse around to look, for one last time, in the direction of the Rosy Hours of Mazandaran. What an odd thing to call a palace of murder, torture – and yet the Shah and his Khanoum named it as such. Erik was glad to be leaving. “Build me a torture chamber,” the Shah had demanded. Erik had done just that; he created a mirrored room that constantly reflected a tree with a noose hanging from it. This was not torture in and of itself; the room ...
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Victor Hugo’s Sur Une Barricade | A Writer of History

According to Michael Partridge, “Hugo was dismayed at the wrongdoings of both the Communards and the government, writing in a diary entry, “this Commune is as idiotic as the National Assembly is ferocious. From both sides, folly.” We’ve all heard of Hugo’s famous works such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables, but he was also a renowned poet of the romantic movement. Victor Hugo’s Sur Une Barricade | A Writer of History If you read my Two Days in June, you know that Victor Hugo has first-hand knowledge of what it was like behind the barricades. That’s why he wrote Les Miserables. The poem referenced in the original post was written during the Communard era. Please click through...
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On This Day …


I have only been to New York City once as an adult (my mom likes to remind me that I was at the 1964 World’s Fair, but I was an infant). I was in Jersey City on a business trip, and I took the subway to Manhattan. While I was there, I took this photo of the 9/11 Memorial. It is hard to do justice to the emotional response I had with a mere image, but there we are. The names of every person lost surround a fountain located where one of the Twin Towers stood. I had only a limited amount of free time, so I didn’t visit the museum … but next time I will. Original link
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Dormice and Other Ancient Delicacies


We carry culture via three methods: language, music, and food. I have been studying ancient Roman foodways while working on Pompeii Fire. While I’ve only reproduced one recipe to date (a chard dish that was a huge hit in our household), I have others in the pipeline. Here is some excellent information on ancient Greek and Roman foodways, via Nicholas Rossis. Nicholas C. Rossis I have a confession: besides writing, I love cooking and I love food. Perhaps that explains why the parts I enjoy most in fantasy or historical fiction books concern the little things – things like food and drink. What kind of dinner do the protagonists enjoy, given that modern staples such as tomatoes and potatoes did...
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Music Monday: “Wicked Game”

Hi, everyone. When I first moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, Chris Isaak was probably the most popular local act. He broke nationally not too long after. One of my great regrets is that I never took advantage of the opportunity to see him in a small club. He was also quite a composer; probably his best known tune is “Wicked Game.” I didn’t think it was possible to outdo the original. And then I heard Lucifer star Tom Ellis sing it. Enjoy! Original link
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Sample Saturday: “Pompeii Fire”


Hi, everyone. This week’s snippet is from my current WIP. As always, this is a draft and is likely to change before final publication. Enjoy! Suetonius could hardly believe his luck. That beautiful, blue-eyed girl from the praedia was sitting in the quadriportico. He finished his bout, took off his practice helmet, and nodded to her. The smile she gave him was modest without being discouraging, so he walked over. His skin, bronzed from the sun, glistened with perspiration from his exertions. “Milady, I crave an introduction. I hope you will excuse my boldness. Here I am called Britannicus; perhaps one day I will share my true name with you.” “Bold indeed,” Claudia responded. “This is my frie...
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Weekend Reads: “Don’t Speak”

Don't Speak (Jade Harrington, #1)
Don’t Speak by J.L. BrownMy rating: 5 of 5 starsThe first Jade Harrington novel is a combination fair-play puzzle mystery and political thriller. We know that the killer is going to strike again, and we hope that Jade and her FBI task force will stop him in time … but we don’t know exactly who he is.Jade and her team are on the trail of a serial killer who is targeting right-wing/conservative commentators. He’s leaving a trail of bodies, with their tongues cut out. His primary target is Cole Brennan, who has thrown his support behind incumbent Pres. Ellison as he runs against female senator Whitney Fairchild.The book, published in January 2016, feels oddly prescient. Ellison is a less-stupid...
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New Retail Partner: Exclusive Books


Hi, everyone. It’s always great fun to find I have another retail partner abroad. Several of my titles are available in paperback via Exclusive Books in South Africa. Original link
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