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Sample Saturday, with Bonus Track: “Pompeii Fire”

Hi, everyone. This week’s sample is, again, from my work in progress entitled Pompeii Fire. As always, the final product is likely to differ from the current draft. Music was a regular part of gladiatorial games, played during and between bouts. The cornu referred to in the text is a brass instrument. You have probably seen images of them in frescoes and so on. Two examples of the instrument were excavated from Pompeii during the 19th century. The cornu in the video is a reconstructon. We are very fortunate to have an opportunity to hear this ancient horn played. After his bout ended and the cornu signaled the next event, Drusilla met Suetonius in the quadriportico. “You must come to the pra...
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Special Guest Post by Publishing Consultant Natalie Audley


My name is Natalie Audley, and I am a Publishing Consultant who has spent the last six years working across the industry. I have worked with hundreds of authors, from debuts to household names, and I know what makes them sell. In my work I have managed and marketed a variety of genres and learnt a great deal about how and why something sells. I have a great passion for literature, as well as respect for those who love to write. My abilities at selling books, from being a bookseller to pitching thousands of copies to Amazon, means I know how to communicate great ideas with personable flare.  The aim of my publishing consultancy is to support new writers in developing their fiction or plays, w...
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Weekend Reads: “The Jane Austen Society”

The Jane Austen Society
The Jane Austen Society by Natalie JennerMy rating: 5 of 5 starsOnce upon a time, I was a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America. Austen’s books, though they are few in number, are some of the most splendid social commentary of their time. Her works give us an intimate view of life in Regency England.This novel takes place during and shortly after World War II, in the town of Chawton (Austen lived there toward the end of her life). Frances Knight, a descendant of Austen’s brother, is living a reclusive life in the ancestral home while village life goes on around her. We get to meet Adeline Grover, the school teacher, Dr. Benjamin Gray, attorney/solicitor Andrew Forrester, and man...
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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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Will “Hiden” Biden Survive the First Debate?


Today, I am reprinting a column by J. B. Shurk who raises the question of whether or not Joe Biden will survive his first debate with Donald Trump. It’s a valid inquiry, given Biden’s bumbling, stumbling, grumbling answers to the pre-approved whiffle-ball questions a compliant press has lobbed at him when he even agrees to take a swing at answering them. As J.B. Shurk suggests, debate #1 next Tuesday could be a prime-time massacre. Will “Hiden” Biden Survive the First Debate? By J.B. Shurk The first presidential debate is next Tuesday, and I don’t see Biden surviving.  His campaign has been playing “hide the Crypt-Keeper” since spring, occasionally proving to the public that he’s still ticki...
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Special Guest Post by Suzanne M. Wolfe, Author of The Course of All Treasons: An Elizabethan Spy Mystery


Available on Amazon UK and Amazon USThe Elizabethan court is beset by traitors at home and abroad as spies, rogues, and would-be usurpers of the throne vie for power.I grew up in Didsbury, Manchester. My mother was a single mum who worked as a physiotherapist at a hospital during the day and at night took on private patients just to make ends meet. My brother was, naturally, involved in his own life. So, in my loneliness, I turned to historical fiction for companionship—Joan Aiken, Henry Treece, Geoffrey Trease, Cynthia Harnett, and many others were among my favorite authors. Something about the way they brought forgotten—or at least distant—voices to my inner ear touched me deeply. As someo...
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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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A Feverish Visionary Dream: “Memoirs and Misinformation,” by Jim Carrey and Dana Vachon


In an interview with New York Times reviewer, Dave Itzkoff, Jim Carrey explained his latest book, “Memoirs and Misinformation,” co-written by author of Wall Street satire, “Mergers & Acquisitions,” Dana Vachon. “It’s the end of the world, and we have the perfect book for it.” “Not the end of civilization,” he continued. “Just the end of a world, the selfish world. We’re getting over the Ayn Rand, ‘you can be a jerk and we can all live in a paradise of jerks’ thing. That’s what we’re going through.” Photo: Linda Fields Hill Part autobiography, part fiction, Carrey and Vachon draw disparate parts of experience together to pull off an unconventional memoir/farewell letter to civilization as the...
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The George Soros Cover-Up


I saw the exchange Newt Gingrich refers to in his commentary below. It was a stunning display of censorship. Gingrich, the former House Speaker, joined a group of panelists on Harris Faulkner’s show Outnumbered last week and was asked his opinion on violence and unrest afflicting major American cities. He accurately pointed out Soros’ role in trying to overhaul the U.S. justice system by pouring money into district attorney races across the country. The problem, Gingrich opined, was due to “George Soros-elected, left-wing, anti-police, pro-criminal district attorneys who refuse to keep people locked up.” Former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich “Progressive district attorneys ar...
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Special Guest Interview with Juliette Lawson, Author of A Borrowed Past (Seaton Carew Sagas)


Available from Amazon UK and Amazon USEscape into William Harper’s journey of discovery, love and loss in the first book of the Seaton Carew Sagas series. A Borrowed Past is a historical saga for anyone who’s ever felt that they don’t belong. I'm pleased to welcome author Juliette Lawson to The Writing Desk: Tell us about your latest book  ‘A Borrowed Past’ is the first in the Seaton Carew Sagas series, set in the 1870s in Seaton Carew, York and Scarborough. What would you do if you discovered your life was a lie? Young aspiring artist William Harper runs away to find out the truth. But the pull of the past is strong, drawing him into a web of deceit. When tragedy strikes, can he make the ri...
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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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Guest Post: Writing a Novel, by Kate Ferguson ~ Part One: The Writing Process


The first thing to do is take a walk. The road ahead is long and hard and paved with self-doubt. Might as well get some fresh air.     The overwhelming odds are the world won't take any notice. There's a pandemic to think about. Also ironing, Instagram, climate change and Netflix.  Accept this as the likeliest outcome and do it anyway. You cannot fall in love with a person while being obsessed with how to sell them. The same applies to your novel. What you should think about is that kernel in your head. That impulse you feel to write. Where does it come from? Maybe you saw a rat crawling through an upturned trashcan on your way to work. Maybe there's a fully formed alternate universe floatin...
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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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Thanks a Million For Your Support


 I'd like to thank all the visitors who have helped The Writing Desk pass the milestone of a million page views. This blog continues to average 15,000 visitors a month, and I'm pleased to see so many return visits to older posts.As well as my own book reviews, writing features and spotlights, I would like to thank the many hundreds of authors and writers who have generously given their time to write guest posts, and take part in my series of author interviews.I am also pleased to say my Stories of the Tudors podcast passed a more modest milestone of 50,000 downloads this month, so thanks to all the listeners!I am busy writing the second book of my Elizabethan series and researching the third...
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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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Historical Fiction Spotlight: The Boy King (The Seymour Saga Book 3) by Janet Wertman


Available for pre-order fromAmazon UK and Amazon US Motherless since birth and newly bereft of his father, King Henry VIII, nine-year-old Edward Tudor ascends to the throne of England and quickly learns that he cannot trust anyone, even himself.  Edward is at first relieved that his uncle, the new Duke of Somerset, will act on his behalf as Lord Protector, but this consolation evaporates as jealousy spreads through the court. Challengers arise on all sides to wrest control of the child king, and through him, England. While Edward can bring frustratingly little direction to the Council's policies, he refuses to abandon his one firm conviction: that Catholicism has no place in England.  When E...
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Guest Post: Lucinda E Clarke


Originally posted on writerchristophfischer: Today I have the pleasure and honour to host the very talented Lucinda E Clarke on my blog. I’m a big fan of her work and look forward to reading this new psychological thriller series of her. Books 1 & 2 are on sale @ $/£0.99 for a week beginning 12th…Original link
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