Research 101

Cat 243 Dover by Mary Jo

We Wenches have blogged about many, many things over the last three years, but the largest single category is probably research in its many forms.  Naturally I love reading such stuff—one has to have a certain taste for research to be a good historical writer, I think.  (I freely admit that most of the other Wenches are better at it than I, but I do my share.)

This afternoon I e-mailed a novella to my editor.  It’s a story for the third paranormal anthology done by Jo Beverley, Karen Harbaugh, Barbara Samuel, and me.  We have fun working together on a themed anthology, and our interests are different enough to make the stories enjoyably varied. 

But it’s too early to be promo-ing the anthology.  Today, I want to talk about some of the research that went into this one little novella.  And some of the byways a researcher can wander down!  (If you think that Susan Sarah’s Friday blog on distractions has some bearing on this—you’re right. <G>)

For starters, “Strangers on a Train” is set in WWII Scotland, a period I’ve not written about.  It’s within living memory, so I needed to make an effort to get the details right, but it’s not within my personal memory. 

I originally thought I’d start on the Flying Scotsman, the famous train that runs from London to Edinburgh.  Did it even run during WWII?  Though it wasn't exactly research, I started by reading Carola Dunn’s Murder on the Flying Scotsman, part of her Daisy Dalyrmple series, which is set in the ‘20s.  Not the right time, but I thought the book might give me a feeling for the train. 

It did, a little.  But even more, it got me hooked on Daisy Dalyrmple.  I ended up reading the whole series. <G>

I also ended using a Scottish no name train that is more or less invented—but I did want to figure out where the train lines ran in Scotland, because there aren’t that many.  Googling proved fairly useless.  I eventually found my best information in a book on the history of trains on my own shelf.  Photocopied a map, blew it up, and got out the magnifying glass.  And remembered the poky little compartmentalized trains I rode on in England in the 1970s, which were similar to one that would have been used in WWII.

I did manage to find some info on railway blackout measures: black curtains on the windows, and interior light bulbs painted blue.  That must have been weird! 

I also needed to find out about auto blackout regulations.  In the early days, cars could only use sidelights at night.  British motorists were doing more damage to each other than Hitler was managing, so the regulations changed to allow three small slits in a sort of mask that went over the headlights.  Speeds were limited to 20 mph. 

Morris Minor For sentimental reasons, I gave them a Morris Minor after determining the model was old enough.  When I lived in England, I drove a Morris Minor Traveller, which was a woody wagon that creaked like a ship at sea when I rounded corners. <g>

Susan King, our expert on all things Scottish, suggested that the Moray Firth might be a suitable body of water for my story.  It’s that great chunk of the North Sea that bites into the east coast of Scotland, and indeed it was just right.  I researched 300px-Morayfirthmap and yes, U-boats might have snuck in, and it has a lot of cliffs around the edges.  Just what I needed, and in the process, I found a holiday rental cottage I’d like to try someday. <G>

I considered using sea lions or porpoises in the Firth, and looked up some info on them, but in the end, I didn’t use it.

Shall I make my Guardian heroine, Jane Macrae, a codebreaker at Bletchley Park?  Mmmm, a bit early for that.  So I made her an ace analyst who worked for military intelligence while theoretically a secretary.  This occasioned a foray into the history of British military intelligence, though virtually none of it shows up in the finished story.

My hero, David Sinclair, is a Canadian from near Halifax who enlisted in the Royal Air Force and became a fighter pilot in the lethal skies of the Battle of Britain.  Were there Canadians in the RAF?  Indeed, there were 112, and pilots of many other nationalities as well.  (574 of them.) Only Poland and New Zealand had larger contingents in the RAF than Canada.

So David is one of the few famously referred to by Winston Churchill in his immortal words  "never was so much owed by so many to so few".

Wing commander insignia What rank would he be?  That necessitated more research.  Wikipedia was amazingly helpful for a lot of these details. While it might not always be dissertation level accuracy, it’s pretty darned good for a general understanding of millions of topics.  I found an article on RAF ranks and decided to make David a wing commander, the equivalent of a lieutenant colonel.  He’s under thirty, but promotion was fast in those days. And I learned that it is always “wing commander,” never shortened to commander.

There is a reference to a sister of Jane’s who is also a pilot.  She can’t be an RAF pilot in those days, but she could be in the Air Transport Auxiliary, ATA.  These were pilots who did the dangerous work of ferrying aircraft around, and something one in eight were female.  They were known as the “Atagirls.” <g>

They had the distinction of receiving equal pay and benefits with male pilots, unlike the American WASPS (Women’s Air Service Pilots), who received as little as 35% of the pay of men.  Any pilot who could do the job was eligible, even if missing an eye or limbs.  They were sometimes called the “Ancient and Tattered Airmen.” <g> 

300px-Fairey_Fox I needed my characters to borrow a private aircraft for a hot pursuit of the villain, so I put the Mayhem Consultant to work on it. He came up with the Fairey Fox,  a nifty little biplane that might have been bought as surplus by a private pilot of means during the 1930a. 

Okay, what kind of flight check would a careful pilot perform before taking off?  Found that, including the tidbit that it’s good to check for mouse nests under wheel cowlings. <G>

What kind of stove would the heroine use to heat the tea water in a simple country croft?  Can’t have trauma without tea!  Hmmm, peat looks best, and it smells nice.  I found when traveling in Scotland that sometimes water comes out of taps brown because it travels through peat layers.  Alarming to an American at first!

McVities choc digestives Did McVitie’s chocolate digestive biscuits exist in 1941?  Indeed they did, and their popularity continues unbroken.  They’re basically a whole wheat cookie with milk chocolate on one side. 

Onward to Rosslyn Chapel, made famous (if inaccurately so), by the mega-bestselling The DaVinci Code.  Fabulous carvings inside!  I really must visit some Rosslyn Chapel aerial time.

Another topic to research was male underwear of the time.  (This is a romance, after all. <g>)  Turns out that the basic styles of briefs and boxers date from the 1930s, so nothing exotic need be explained.

How about bomber jackets, still dashing and fashionable in the 21st century?  Turns out they date to WWI, so fine for WWII.  Very useful for keeping warm in high flying aircraft that had no Bomber jacket heater.  <shiver!>

I also wanted to make David a competitive swimmer.  I was pretty sure that swimming has been a competitive sport for a long time—Johnny Weismuller went from Olympic swimming glory to the becoming Tarzan, after all—but I still did a spot of research to find out more.  Swimming contests started early in the 19th century.  Most English swimmers did sedate versions of the breast stroke, and were rather shocked by the wild flailings of American Indian competitors—who beat the breaststrokers all hollow with what became the crawl stroke.  Interesting!

What would a Roman era goblet look like?  About as one would expect, but still, it’s good to find some pictures. 

Hmm, I need some kind of bag to carry an object. Ah, perfect, a buckled canvas military bag.  I found a nifty picture of a WWII original on a shopping blog.  Unfortunately, it has already sold or I’d’ve been tempted. 

And so it goes.  This is only a sampling of the grasshopper research that I did for this one modest story.  (Though I think it turned out rather well if I do say so myself.)

So that’s how a writers research goes—fun and false starts, and lots of temptations to stray or buy! 

Lady Chapel I assume if you read the Wenches, you like this kind of stuff, too.  What are some of your favorite research bits that you've read?  And how many of you have comparable detours and poking around in your own work?

Mary Jo, off to admire that cottage in Portknockie again….

65 thoughts on “Research 101”

  1. Hello! I’ve been MIA for awhile. Life just sometimes gets in the way.
    Great post. I always love learning how others research and some of the gems they learn along the way.
    I watched a program on the weather channel, When Weather Changed History. It focused on the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. Someone in my head said, “Hey! That’s where my story starts!” so off I went on a treasure hunt of information on the storm and the aftermath. Along the way, I got sidetracked (of course) and learned about the ship yards, the various businesses, the way the people on the island lived, how the supplies to the island were delivered, (I never really thought about it, but Galveston is an island) where their water came from, what the streets were made of, and on and on. I also learned much about hurricanes, how they start, how they grow, what makes them die…
    And the funny thing is, the hurricane is only the first four pages of the story.
    And that’s just one. You should see all the information I have on ghosts and werewolves…
    I have to say, I’ve learned more history in the three or four years I’ve been writing than I ever did in school. Maybe research for a fictional novel should be required in all high schools. Who knows where it might lead? 😉

    Reply
  2. Hello! I’ve been MIA for awhile. Life just sometimes gets in the way.
    Great post. I always love learning how others research and some of the gems they learn along the way.
    I watched a program on the weather channel, When Weather Changed History. It focused on the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. Someone in my head said, “Hey! That’s where my story starts!” so off I went on a treasure hunt of information on the storm and the aftermath. Along the way, I got sidetracked (of course) and learned about the ship yards, the various businesses, the way the people on the island lived, how the supplies to the island were delivered, (I never really thought about it, but Galveston is an island) where their water came from, what the streets were made of, and on and on. I also learned much about hurricanes, how they start, how they grow, what makes them die…
    And the funny thing is, the hurricane is only the first four pages of the story.
    And that’s just one. You should see all the information I have on ghosts and werewolves…
    I have to say, I’ve learned more history in the three or four years I’ve been writing than I ever did in school. Maybe research for a fictional novel should be required in all high schools. Who knows where it might lead? 😉

    Reply
  3. Hello! I’ve been MIA for awhile. Life just sometimes gets in the way.
    Great post. I always love learning how others research and some of the gems they learn along the way.
    I watched a program on the weather channel, When Weather Changed History. It focused on the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. Someone in my head said, “Hey! That’s where my story starts!” so off I went on a treasure hunt of information on the storm and the aftermath. Along the way, I got sidetracked (of course) and learned about the ship yards, the various businesses, the way the people on the island lived, how the supplies to the island were delivered, (I never really thought about it, but Galveston is an island) where their water came from, what the streets were made of, and on and on. I also learned much about hurricanes, how they start, how they grow, what makes them die…
    And the funny thing is, the hurricane is only the first four pages of the story.
    And that’s just one. You should see all the information I have on ghosts and werewolves…
    I have to say, I’ve learned more history in the three or four years I’ve been writing than I ever did in school. Maybe research for a fictional novel should be required in all high schools. Who knows where it might lead? 😉

    Reply
  4. Hello! I’ve been MIA for awhile. Life just sometimes gets in the way.
    Great post. I always love learning how others research and some of the gems they learn along the way.
    I watched a program on the weather channel, When Weather Changed History. It focused on the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. Someone in my head said, “Hey! That’s where my story starts!” so off I went on a treasure hunt of information on the storm and the aftermath. Along the way, I got sidetracked (of course) and learned about the ship yards, the various businesses, the way the people on the island lived, how the supplies to the island were delivered, (I never really thought about it, but Galveston is an island) where their water came from, what the streets were made of, and on and on. I also learned much about hurricanes, how they start, how they grow, what makes them die…
    And the funny thing is, the hurricane is only the first four pages of the story.
    And that’s just one. You should see all the information I have on ghosts and werewolves…
    I have to say, I’ve learned more history in the three or four years I’ve been writing than I ever did in school. Maybe research for a fictional novel should be required in all high schools. Who knows where it might lead? 😉

    Reply
  5. Hello! I’ve been MIA for awhile. Life just sometimes gets in the way.
    Great post. I always love learning how others research and some of the gems they learn along the way.
    I watched a program on the weather channel, When Weather Changed History. It focused on the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. Someone in my head said, “Hey! That’s where my story starts!” so off I went on a treasure hunt of information on the storm and the aftermath. Along the way, I got sidetracked (of course) and learned about the ship yards, the various businesses, the way the people on the island lived, how the supplies to the island were delivered, (I never really thought about it, but Galveston is an island) where their water came from, what the streets were made of, and on and on. I also learned much about hurricanes, how they start, how they grow, what makes them die…
    And the funny thing is, the hurricane is only the first four pages of the story.
    And that’s just one. You should see all the information I have on ghosts and werewolves…
    I have to say, I’ve learned more history in the three or four years I’ve been writing than I ever did in school. Maybe research for a fictional novel should be required in all high schools. Who knows where it might lead? 😉

    Reply
  6. Welcome back, Theo! As I was reading your comment, I had the same thought–if teachers aren’t prone to teaching history anymore, perhaps we could set teenage imaginations loose by making them research for writing class! Trying to apply what we learn is so much more interesting than memorizing dry, irrelevant facts.
    I’ve read MJ’s novella and can attest that she has all this surprising reality knitted into the fabric of a fabulous story, which serves to enhance the romance rather than distract. Just imagine feeding a drained pilot in bomber jacket some digestive biscuits next to a peat fire…

    Reply
  7. Welcome back, Theo! As I was reading your comment, I had the same thought–if teachers aren’t prone to teaching history anymore, perhaps we could set teenage imaginations loose by making them research for writing class! Trying to apply what we learn is so much more interesting than memorizing dry, irrelevant facts.
    I’ve read MJ’s novella and can attest that she has all this surprising reality knitted into the fabric of a fabulous story, which serves to enhance the romance rather than distract. Just imagine feeding a drained pilot in bomber jacket some digestive biscuits next to a peat fire…

    Reply
  8. Welcome back, Theo! As I was reading your comment, I had the same thought–if teachers aren’t prone to teaching history anymore, perhaps we could set teenage imaginations loose by making them research for writing class! Trying to apply what we learn is so much more interesting than memorizing dry, irrelevant facts.
    I’ve read MJ’s novella and can attest that she has all this surprising reality knitted into the fabric of a fabulous story, which serves to enhance the romance rather than distract. Just imagine feeding a drained pilot in bomber jacket some digestive biscuits next to a peat fire…

    Reply
  9. Welcome back, Theo! As I was reading your comment, I had the same thought–if teachers aren’t prone to teaching history anymore, perhaps we could set teenage imaginations loose by making them research for writing class! Trying to apply what we learn is so much more interesting than memorizing dry, irrelevant facts.
    I’ve read MJ’s novella and can attest that she has all this surprising reality knitted into the fabric of a fabulous story, which serves to enhance the romance rather than distract. Just imagine feeding a drained pilot in bomber jacket some digestive biscuits next to a peat fire…

    Reply
  10. Welcome back, Theo! As I was reading your comment, I had the same thought–if teachers aren’t prone to teaching history anymore, perhaps we could set teenage imaginations loose by making them research for writing class! Trying to apply what we learn is so much more interesting than memorizing dry, irrelevant facts.
    I’ve read MJ’s novella and can attest that she has all this surprising reality knitted into the fabric of a fabulous story, which serves to enhance the romance rather than distract. Just imagine feeding a drained pilot in bomber jacket some digestive biscuits next to a peat fire…

    Reply
  11. Interesting post. I tend to get carried away with the internet and find myself going into interesting areas.
    I do love Daisey Dalrymple. Excellent series by Carola Dunn. She has a new series starting with “Manna From Hades” set on the Cornwall coast…looks promising.
    You brought back fond memories of the Morris Minor “Woodie Wagon” that I drove for many years.

    Reply
  12. Interesting post. I tend to get carried away with the internet and find myself going into interesting areas.
    I do love Daisey Dalrymple. Excellent series by Carola Dunn. She has a new series starting with “Manna From Hades” set on the Cornwall coast…looks promising.
    You brought back fond memories of the Morris Minor “Woodie Wagon” that I drove for many years.

    Reply
  13. Interesting post. I tend to get carried away with the internet and find myself going into interesting areas.
    I do love Daisey Dalrymple. Excellent series by Carola Dunn. She has a new series starting with “Manna From Hades” set on the Cornwall coast…looks promising.
    You brought back fond memories of the Morris Minor “Woodie Wagon” that I drove for many years.

    Reply
  14. Interesting post. I tend to get carried away with the internet and find myself going into interesting areas.
    I do love Daisey Dalrymple. Excellent series by Carola Dunn. She has a new series starting with “Manna From Hades” set on the Cornwall coast…looks promising.
    You brought back fond memories of the Morris Minor “Woodie Wagon” that I drove for many years.

    Reply
  15. Interesting post. I tend to get carried away with the internet and find myself going into interesting areas.
    I do love Daisey Dalrymple. Excellent series by Carola Dunn. She has a new series starting with “Manna From Hades” set on the Cornwall coast…looks promising.
    You brought back fond memories of the Morris Minor “Woodie Wagon” that I drove for many years.

    Reply
  16. From MJP:
    Theo, isn’t Weather That Changed History great? And isn’t it interesting how the research cascades out from the original good idea? 🙂
    Pat, how do you want your bribe paid off for your love comment on my story. Will chocolate do? 🙂
    Ah, Louis, another proud owner of a Morris Minor woody wagon! It had an amazingly vague stick shift and once when I turned a corner the wheel fell off (rusted king pin), but I loved it nonetheless.
    I look forward to Carola Dunn’s new series, though she says on her site that at least a couple more Daisy Dalrymple books are in the pipeline.
    Mary Jo,

    Reply
  17. From MJP:
    Theo, isn’t Weather That Changed History great? And isn’t it interesting how the research cascades out from the original good idea? 🙂
    Pat, how do you want your bribe paid off for your love comment on my story. Will chocolate do? 🙂
    Ah, Louis, another proud owner of a Morris Minor woody wagon! It had an amazingly vague stick shift and once when I turned a corner the wheel fell off (rusted king pin), but I loved it nonetheless.
    I look forward to Carola Dunn’s new series, though she says on her site that at least a couple more Daisy Dalrymple books are in the pipeline.
    Mary Jo,

    Reply
  18. From MJP:
    Theo, isn’t Weather That Changed History great? And isn’t it interesting how the research cascades out from the original good idea? 🙂
    Pat, how do you want your bribe paid off for your love comment on my story. Will chocolate do? 🙂
    Ah, Louis, another proud owner of a Morris Minor woody wagon! It had an amazingly vague stick shift and once when I turned a corner the wheel fell off (rusted king pin), but I loved it nonetheless.
    I look forward to Carola Dunn’s new series, though she says on her site that at least a couple more Daisy Dalrymple books are in the pipeline.
    Mary Jo,

    Reply
  19. From MJP:
    Theo, isn’t Weather That Changed History great? And isn’t it interesting how the research cascades out from the original good idea? 🙂
    Pat, how do you want your bribe paid off for your love comment on my story. Will chocolate do? 🙂
    Ah, Louis, another proud owner of a Morris Minor woody wagon! It had an amazingly vague stick shift and once when I turned a corner the wheel fell off (rusted king pin), but I loved it nonetheless.
    I look forward to Carola Dunn’s new series, though she says on her site that at least a couple more Daisy Dalrymple books are in the pipeline.
    Mary Jo,

    Reply
  20. From MJP:
    Theo, isn’t Weather That Changed History great? And isn’t it interesting how the research cascades out from the original good idea? 🙂
    Pat, how do you want your bribe paid off for your love comment on my story. Will chocolate do? 🙂
    Ah, Louis, another proud owner of a Morris Minor woody wagon! It had an amazingly vague stick shift and once when I turned a corner the wheel fell off (rusted king pin), but I loved it nonetheless.
    I look forward to Carola Dunn’s new series, though she says on her site that at least a couple more Daisy Dalrymple books are in the pipeline.
    Mary Jo,

    Reply
  21. I think we should run a virtual history class and make the students research and then write a short story about some time in history!
    I have to admit, not to harp on this, but I’ve also retained so much more doing it this way than I ever did in high school, and I learned a lot in high school! 🙂
    And not to be a suck up ;), but you all have a wonderful way of integrating details into your stories that never make me go Huh? as if it doesn’t belong. But the details stick around after the story is done and often, I research those as well.

    Reply
  22. I think we should run a virtual history class and make the students research and then write a short story about some time in history!
    I have to admit, not to harp on this, but I’ve also retained so much more doing it this way than I ever did in high school, and I learned a lot in high school! 🙂
    And not to be a suck up ;), but you all have a wonderful way of integrating details into your stories that never make me go Huh? as if it doesn’t belong. But the details stick around after the story is done and often, I research those as well.

    Reply
  23. I think we should run a virtual history class and make the students research and then write a short story about some time in history!
    I have to admit, not to harp on this, but I’ve also retained so much more doing it this way than I ever did in high school, and I learned a lot in high school! 🙂
    And not to be a suck up ;), but you all have a wonderful way of integrating details into your stories that never make me go Huh? as if it doesn’t belong. But the details stick around after the story is done and often, I research those as well.

    Reply
  24. I think we should run a virtual history class and make the students research and then write a short story about some time in history!
    I have to admit, not to harp on this, but I’ve also retained so much more doing it this way than I ever did in high school, and I learned a lot in high school! 🙂
    And not to be a suck up ;), but you all have a wonderful way of integrating details into your stories that never make me go Huh? as if it doesn’t belong. But the details stick around after the story is done and often, I research those as well.

    Reply
  25. I think we should run a virtual history class and make the students research and then write a short story about some time in history!
    I have to admit, not to harp on this, but I’ve also retained so much more doing it this way than I ever did in high school, and I learned a lot in high school! 🙂
    And not to be a suck up ;), but you all have a wonderful way of integrating details into your stories that never make me go Huh? as if it doesn’t belong. But the details stick around after the story is done and often, I research those as well.

    Reply
  26. mj the fairey fox is a great aeroplane I once had one and it was fast and responsive
    wing commander(ret) colin james

    Reply
  27. mj the fairey fox is a great aeroplane I once had one and it was fast and responsive
    wing commander(ret) colin james

    Reply
  28. mj the fairey fox is a great aeroplane I once had one and it was fast and responsive
    wing commander(ret) colin james

    Reply
  29. mj the fairey fox is a great aeroplane I once had one and it was fast and responsive
    wing commander(ret) colin james

    Reply
  30. mj the fairey fox is a great aeroplane I once had one and it was fast and responsive
    wing commander(ret) colin james

    Reply
  31. Hello All! Another MIA wenchling back from the world of crazy.
    Great post, MJ. Must have your new novella.
    I love researching history, especially the Knights Templar. I‘ve found their fingerprints everywhere, in every century. Like Christianity and Islam, the harder a king, a nation or an ideal tried to stamp them out, the more resilient they became. Did anyone see the recently televised moving “The Last Templar”? If so, read the book. It is nothing like the movie. No producer would risk the fiery blowback that would come from putting the Raymond Khoury’s true story up on the silver screen.
    To the poorly taught HS history… I’m with you theo and Prof. Pat, something must be done to set our teens’ imaginations on fire. My father, a huge history buff, strongly encouraged me to study Hitler and his regime. I did. He and I would talk often. At the end of our conversations, he would look me in the eye, raise his thick finger and say… “Let we forget.” Without knowledge of history, I believe we are doomed to repeat it.
    Retired Wing Commander Colin James… really liking your name. Has a great “romance hero” ring. Thanks for stopping by.
    Nina, writing for the first time in over a month. Boy, it feels good.

    Reply
  32. Hello All! Another MIA wenchling back from the world of crazy.
    Great post, MJ. Must have your new novella.
    I love researching history, especially the Knights Templar. I‘ve found their fingerprints everywhere, in every century. Like Christianity and Islam, the harder a king, a nation or an ideal tried to stamp them out, the more resilient they became. Did anyone see the recently televised moving “The Last Templar”? If so, read the book. It is nothing like the movie. No producer would risk the fiery blowback that would come from putting the Raymond Khoury’s true story up on the silver screen.
    To the poorly taught HS history… I’m with you theo and Prof. Pat, something must be done to set our teens’ imaginations on fire. My father, a huge history buff, strongly encouraged me to study Hitler and his regime. I did. He and I would talk often. At the end of our conversations, he would look me in the eye, raise his thick finger and say… “Let we forget.” Without knowledge of history, I believe we are doomed to repeat it.
    Retired Wing Commander Colin James… really liking your name. Has a great “romance hero” ring. Thanks for stopping by.
    Nina, writing for the first time in over a month. Boy, it feels good.

    Reply
  33. Hello All! Another MIA wenchling back from the world of crazy.
    Great post, MJ. Must have your new novella.
    I love researching history, especially the Knights Templar. I‘ve found their fingerprints everywhere, in every century. Like Christianity and Islam, the harder a king, a nation or an ideal tried to stamp them out, the more resilient they became. Did anyone see the recently televised moving “The Last Templar”? If so, read the book. It is nothing like the movie. No producer would risk the fiery blowback that would come from putting the Raymond Khoury’s true story up on the silver screen.
    To the poorly taught HS history… I’m with you theo and Prof. Pat, something must be done to set our teens’ imaginations on fire. My father, a huge history buff, strongly encouraged me to study Hitler and his regime. I did. He and I would talk often. At the end of our conversations, he would look me in the eye, raise his thick finger and say… “Let we forget.” Without knowledge of history, I believe we are doomed to repeat it.
    Retired Wing Commander Colin James… really liking your name. Has a great “romance hero” ring. Thanks for stopping by.
    Nina, writing for the first time in over a month. Boy, it feels good.

    Reply
  34. Hello All! Another MIA wenchling back from the world of crazy.
    Great post, MJ. Must have your new novella.
    I love researching history, especially the Knights Templar. I‘ve found their fingerprints everywhere, in every century. Like Christianity and Islam, the harder a king, a nation or an ideal tried to stamp them out, the more resilient they became. Did anyone see the recently televised moving “The Last Templar”? If so, read the book. It is nothing like the movie. No producer would risk the fiery blowback that would come from putting the Raymond Khoury’s true story up on the silver screen.
    To the poorly taught HS history… I’m with you theo and Prof. Pat, something must be done to set our teens’ imaginations on fire. My father, a huge history buff, strongly encouraged me to study Hitler and his regime. I did. He and I would talk often. At the end of our conversations, he would look me in the eye, raise his thick finger and say… “Let we forget.” Without knowledge of history, I believe we are doomed to repeat it.
    Retired Wing Commander Colin James… really liking your name. Has a great “romance hero” ring. Thanks for stopping by.
    Nina, writing for the first time in over a month. Boy, it feels good.

    Reply
  35. Hello All! Another MIA wenchling back from the world of crazy.
    Great post, MJ. Must have your new novella.
    I love researching history, especially the Knights Templar. I‘ve found their fingerprints everywhere, in every century. Like Christianity and Islam, the harder a king, a nation or an ideal tried to stamp them out, the more resilient they became. Did anyone see the recently televised moving “The Last Templar”? If so, read the book. It is nothing like the movie. No producer would risk the fiery blowback that would come from putting the Raymond Khoury’s true story up on the silver screen.
    To the poorly taught HS history… I’m with you theo and Prof. Pat, something must be done to set our teens’ imaginations on fire. My father, a huge history buff, strongly encouraged me to study Hitler and his regime. I did. He and I would talk often. At the end of our conversations, he would look me in the eye, raise his thick finger and say… “Let we forget.” Without knowledge of history, I believe we are doomed to repeat it.
    Retired Wing Commander Colin James… really liking your name. Has a great “romance hero” ring. Thanks for stopping by.
    Nina, writing for the first time in over a month. Boy, it feels good.

    Reply
  36. For me, the reverse of the usual process has been happening lately. I have been reading a great deal about women in the World War I period for an academic project, and I find myself fascinated with the idea of stories about the “Hello Girls” (telephone operators), entertainers, and journalists. I’ve never seriously considered writing a historical, but I admit I am finding the idea of a WW I setting more and more tempting.

    Reply
  37. For me, the reverse of the usual process has been happening lately. I have been reading a great deal about women in the World War I period for an academic project, and I find myself fascinated with the idea of stories about the “Hello Girls” (telephone operators), entertainers, and journalists. I’ve never seriously considered writing a historical, but I admit I am finding the idea of a WW I setting more and more tempting.

    Reply
  38. For me, the reverse of the usual process has been happening lately. I have been reading a great deal about women in the World War I period for an academic project, and I find myself fascinated with the idea of stories about the “Hello Girls” (telephone operators), entertainers, and journalists. I’ve never seriously considered writing a historical, but I admit I am finding the idea of a WW I setting more and more tempting.

    Reply
  39. For me, the reverse of the usual process has been happening lately. I have been reading a great deal about women in the World War I period for an academic project, and I find myself fascinated with the idea of stories about the “Hello Girls” (telephone operators), entertainers, and journalists. I’ve never seriously considered writing a historical, but I admit I am finding the idea of a WW I setting more and more tempting.

    Reply
  40. For me, the reverse of the usual process has been happening lately. I have been reading a great deal about women in the World War I period for an academic project, and I find myself fascinated with the idea of stories about the “Hello Girls” (telephone operators), entertainers, and journalists. I’ve never seriously considered writing a historical, but I admit I am finding the idea of a WW I setting more and more tempting.

    Reply
  41. From MJP:
    Theo–readers of historical novels are great at answering trivia questions. 🙂
    Wing Commander, thanks so much for stopping by to tell us about the Fairey Fox! My Mayhem Consultant will be tickled when his choice is validated. He spent some time researching, and ended up thinking that the Fairey Fox sounded just right. It sounds like he was right.
    And Nina P. is right–you have an excellent romance hero name. 🙂
    Janga, WWI is indeed a fascinating period where huge and lasting changes took place in a short period of time. As a reader, though, I’m wary because the casualties of that war were so staggering. Maybe if the body count isn’t center stage…
    Mary Jo, wimpy reader

    Reply
  42. From MJP:
    Theo–readers of historical novels are great at answering trivia questions. 🙂
    Wing Commander, thanks so much for stopping by to tell us about the Fairey Fox! My Mayhem Consultant will be tickled when his choice is validated. He spent some time researching, and ended up thinking that the Fairey Fox sounded just right. It sounds like he was right.
    And Nina P. is right–you have an excellent romance hero name. 🙂
    Janga, WWI is indeed a fascinating period where huge and lasting changes took place in a short period of time. As a reader, though, I’m wary because the casualties of that war were so staggering. Maybe if the body count isn’t center stage…
    Mary Jo, wimpy reader

    Reply
  43. From MJP:
    Theo–readers of historical novels are great at answering trivia questions. 🙂
    Wing Commander, thanks so much for stopping by to tell us about the Fairey Fox! My Mayhem Consultant will be tickled when his choice is validated. He spent some time researching, and ended up thinking that the Fairey Fox sounded just right. It sounds like he was right.
    And Nina P. is right–you have an excellent romance hero name. 🙂
    Janga, WWI is indeed a fascinating period where huge and lasting changes took place in a short period of time. As a reader, though, I’m wary because the casualties of that war were so staggering. Maybe if the body count isn’t center stage…
    Mary Jo, wimpy reader

    Reply
  44. From MJP:
    Theo–readers of historical novels are great at answering trivia questions. 🙂
    Wing Commander, thanks so much for stopping by to tell us about the Fairey Fox! My Mayhem Consultant will be tickled when his choice is validated. He spent some time researching, and ended up thinking that the Fairey Fox sounded just right. It sounds like he was right.
    And Nina P. is right–you have an excellent romance hero name. 🙂
    Janga, WWI is indeed a fascinating period where huge and lasting changes took place in a short period of time. As a reader, though, I’m wary because the casualties of that war were so staggering. Maybe if the body count isn’t center stage…
    Mary Jo, wimpy reader

    Reply
  45. From MJP:
    Theo–readers of historical novels are great at answering trivia questions. 🙂
    Wing Commander, thanks so much for stopping by to tell us about the Fairey Fox! My Mayhem Consultant will be tickled when his choice is validated. He spent some time researching, and ended up thinking that the Fairey Fox sounded just right. It sounds like he was right.
    And Nina P. is right–you have an excellent romance hero name. 🙂
    Janga, WWI is indeed a fascinating period where huge and lasting changes took place in a short period of time. As a reader, though, I’m wary because the casualties of that war were so staggering. Maybe if the body count isn’t center stage…
    Mary Jo, wimpy reader

    Reply
  46. Mary Jo, I was thinking not about a battlefield story but about homecoming after the war and coping with a return to the “normal” after war experiences. I don’t think I have the skill or the stomach to actually write the battles.

    Reply
  47. Mary Jo, I was thinking not about a battlefield story but about homecoming after the war and coping with a return to the “normal” after war experiences. I don’t think I have the skill or the stomach to actually write the battles.

    Reply
  48. Mary Jo, I was thinking not about a battlefield story but about homecoming after the war and coping with a return to the “normal” after war experiences. I don’t think I have the skill or the stomach to actually write the battles.

    Reply
  49. Mary Jo, I was thinking not about a battlefield story but about homecoming after the war and coping with a return to the “normal” after war experiences. I don’t think I have the skill or the stomach to actually write the battles.

    Reply
  50. Mary Jo, I was thinking not about a battlefield story but about homecoming after the war and coping with a return to the “normal” after war experiences. I don’t think I have the skill or the stomach to actually write the battles.

    Reply
  51. Great post, MJ. I loved following your research as it meandered around WWII Scotland. 🙂 This is all the promo I need; I’m sold. 🙂 I love learning history through novels and I love researching history for my own novels. Fascinating!

    Reply
  52. Great post, MJ. I loved following your research as it meandered around WWII Scotland. 🙂 This is all the promo I need; I’m sold. 🙂 I love learning history through novels and I love researching history for my own novels. Fascinating!

    Reply
  53. Great post, MJ. I loved following your research as it meandered around WWII Scotland. 🙂 This is all the promo I need; I’m sold. 🙂 I love learning history through novels and I love researching history for my own novels. Fascinating!

    Reply
  54. Great post, MJ. I loved following your research as it meandered around WWII Scotland. 🙂 This is all the promo I need; I’m sold. 🙂 I love learning history through novels and I love researching history for my own novels. Fascinating!

    Reply
  55. Great post, MJ. I loved following your research as it meandered around WWII Scotland. 🙂 This is all the promo I need; I’m sold. 🙂 I love learning history through novels and I love researching history for my own novels. Fascinating!

    Reply
  56. From MJP:
    Battles are tough, Janga. I’d think that the homecoming and dealing with all the changes would be really interesting.
    Also interesting–I’d never of “Hello Girls” until you mentioned them. Today I stopped by Borders and saw a new Merline Lovelace trade paperback with two novels in it, and one specifically mentioned Hello Girls. (It sounded very different from what you’re contemplating, though.)
    Anne, I’m glad you enjoyed the post! And if you think my research is interesting–consider that it will be four stories, one by Wench Jo, and we’re -all- in different time periods. 🙂
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  57. From MJP:
    Battles are tough, Janga. I’d think that the homecoming and dealing with all the changes would be really interesting.
    Also interesting–I’d never of “Hello Girls” until you mentioned them. Today I stopped by Borders and saw a new Merline Lovelace trade paperback with two novels in it, and one specifically mentioned Hello Girls. (It sounded very different from what you’re contemplating, though.)
    Anne, I’m glad you enjoyed the post! And if you think my research is interesting–consider that it will be four stories, one by Wench Jo, and we’re -all- in different time periods. 🙂
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  58. From MJP:
    Battles are tough, Janga. I’d think that the homecoming and dealing with all the changes would be really interesting.
    Also interesting–I’d never of “Hello Girls” until you mentioned them. Today I stopped by Borders and saw a new Merline Lovelace trade paperback with two novels in it, and one specifically mentioned Hello Girls. (It sounded very different from what you’re contemplating, though.)
    Anne, I’m glad you enjoyed the post! And if you think my research is interesting–consider that it will be four stories, one by Wench Jo, and we’re -all- in different time periods. 🙂
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  59. From MJP:
    Battles are tough, Janga. I’d think that the homecoming and dealing with all the changes would be really interesting.
    Also interesting–I’d never of “Hello Girls” until you mentioned them. Today I stopped by Borders and saw a new Merline Lovelace trade paperback with two novels in it, and one specifically mentioned Hello Girls. (It sounded very different from what you’re contemplating, though.)
    Anne, I’m glad you enjoyed the post! And if you think my research is interesting–consider that it will be four stories, one by Wench Jo, and we’re -all- in different time periods. 🙂
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  60. From MJP:
    Battles are tough, Janga. I’d think that the homecoming and dealing with all the changes would be really interesting.
    Also interesting–I’d never of “Hello Girls” until you mentioned them. Today I stopped by Borders and saw a new Merline Lovelace trade paperback with two novels in it, and one specifically mentioned Hello Girls. (It sounded very different from what you’re contemplating, though.)
    Anne, I’m glad you enjoyed the post! And if you think my research is interesting–consider that it will be four stories, one by Wench Jo, and we’re -all- in different time periods. 🙂
    Mary Jo

    Reply

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