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The Posts of Long, Long Ago…


Transported: When Historical Fiction comes off the Page

Bringing a character to life is a challenge of its own, but bringing an entire era to life—that takes another kind of artistry. My most recent experience of historical fiction reminded me once again of why I love the genre: when done right, it…

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The Female Warrior Returns… well, sort of

According to archaeological findings and DNA tests, female warriors appear to be a historical reality– not just a legend.

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The Healing Power of Stories

“Stories are wild creatures. When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they may wreak?” Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls If you are at all familiar with Ness’s beautiful tale, however, you will know that the primary aspect of stories it explores is…

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A Comedy of Subtitles

Unless you’re used to watching foreign films or you have a hearing impairment, you probably don’t find much use for subtitles. Neither do I—unless, of course, I’m watching a historical drama set in 1800s lower-class England, where everyone has a thick Cockney accent. Then…

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The Power of the Short Story

For all the bite-sized TV dramas, music videos, and social media posts out there, it seems people often overlook the common thread that these share: they are all short stories. And while plenty of psychologists and social scientists argue that our attention span is…

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The Spectacular Hack that Recently Revolutionized my Writing

You can’t buy talent, but you can buy migraine-free writing. In case you missed my post bemoaning the woes of the contemporary writer, I can bring you up to speed in one sentence: screens hurt my eyes. Not just my eyes, but plenty of…

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The Viewer’s Perspective: Finding the Freedom to Laugh at Life

When my friend told me my life was material for a 4-star sitcom, I couldn’t decide whether that was flattering or insulting. “I would watch that show,” he said emphatically. “It sure would be better than some of the stuff out there.” On the…

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Networking: Making Friends in all Places

You can’t grow up today without having the importance of “networking” drilled into you. We’ve all heard the adages: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” “You scratch their back, and they scratch yours.” “It helps to have friends in high places.”…

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The Story behind the Story

Recently a contact from my alma mater reached out to interview me about The Exile, my first published novel. Fellow Hillsdale College alumna Gianna Marchese, the Editor in Chief of the Student Stories Blog and the college’s Social Media Coordinator, took the time to…

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Hatfields, McCoys, and Mental Issues

For all the attention that political and social issues receive in historical dramas, it seems mental issues are rarely addressed. That being said, when I started the History Channel miniseries “Hatfields and McCoys,” I had no inkling that this topic would even surface—and was…

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The Secret Recipe to Great Blog Posts: what the experts never told you

WARNING: If you have no palate for satire, read no further. What you are about to read is a collection of the four unspoken, yet ubiquitous, components that are essential for writing unrivaled, mind-blowing posts. As someone who has been blogging for a little…

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When We are History

Today I was caught in a hailstorm. Well, not by the time you read this—the storm happened on April 7. And obviously I survived it. In fact, within two minutes of making it in through the back door, I looked out the window and…

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The Reluctant Screen-Writer

Whether we like it or not, most of us today are screen-writers. Not that we all compose scripts, no, not that kind of writing. What I’m talking about is the fact that, regardless of what medium we are writing for, we have been compelled…

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A Curious Perspective on Coronavirus

“What is going to happen?” “How will this virus affect the economy?” “How many people will die?” These are the questions we are deluged by on every side during this pandemic. Countless mavens and prophets are spouting off their opinions and predictions via every…

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A Writer's List of Virtues

Everyone has a theory of what it takes to be a successful writer. That’s all well and good, but first we have to define “success,” don’t we? I mean, one person may churn out melodramatic teenage vampire novels, while another compiles decades of life…

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Perfectionism and Publishing

If any writer knows that revision is necessary, then he also knows the final product will be imperfect. “Final” draft does not mean “perfect” draft. This becomes especially (nay, painfully) clear when you see one of your works in print. Take it from me—I…

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Worth Your Salt?

If there’s one thing writers know, it’s that adjustments are inevitable. In reality, this goes for everyone, not just writers. But what’s interesting is that there’s a special term for this in writing—revising. Okay, that’s not the interesting part. The interesting part is that…

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Closing the Deal (and the Book)

If a writer can sell a lead character to an audience for the entirety of a story, he’d better not give them what they expect at the close. Sounds counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? What buyer wants to walk out of a store dissatisfied? While this…

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How to Sell a Lead

Unlike most types of sales, this one involves no transaction. The agreement is unspoken, and is measured only by the customer’s insatiable desire for more. It’s the sale of a lead character. Last week we talked about the two different strategies to hooking readers,…

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Sales and Storytelling: the Hook

We’re all familiar with the cut-to-the-chase sales tactics that seem necessary in order for businesses to survive. But what can we learn from the business world if our mission isn’t to close a deal? Lots. It seems that two vastly different types of writers…

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The Case of the Vanishing Character

Do you find it unsettling when people vanish from your life? “Depends on the person,” you say. Fair enough. But in general, when people who formerly played some semi-notable or even regular role in your life leave it, you usually have a sense of…

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Identity Crisis: the Point of Re-inquiring

Identity Crises come in many forms. And with any luck, they lead to positive changes. This one is no exception. On The Inquisitive Inkpot’s 30th birthday, it has come face-to-face with the reality it can no longer deny: it is something different from what…

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Cancer, Monsters, and Catharsis

Have you ever found yourself emotionally unprepared for a book or movie? You know, when you finish it and feel like the wind was just knocked out of you—and not in a good way. There’s a number of ways this can happen: Scenario 1:…

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The Aeronauts: What the Skies Teach us about Humanity

Found: a fine specimen of historical fiction and an epic ride. It’s Director Tom Harper’s latest, The Aeronauts. Admittedly I was mostly interested in seeing Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones starring opposite one another again (after first seeing their acting chemistry in The Theory…

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Character Quizzes and Why We Take them

Does this mean we’re all narcissistic? Maybe a little.

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Sequels: when Part II just isn’t a good idea…

When does too much of a good thing become a bad thing? I mean, let’s be honest: any time you read a great book or finish a great movie, somewhere in the back of your mind you wonder if there will be more –unless,…

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Inception and the Impact of Emotional Memory on Personal Identity

Whether or not you buy into the theory that the entirety of the movie Inception takes place as a dream, we can all agree on one thing: the importance of emotional memory in the story. The first time I saw the film, I struggled…

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Ambiguity: the Emotional effect of Memory in La La Land

First, let me ask: have you seen La La Land? If not, do NOT read any further or you will forever rue the day that you let me spoil it for you. Last week we talked about the role of “reflecting” or “recalling” in…

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Triggered: the Power of Memory in Stories

Do you ever think about how much of our lives we spend reflecting? I don’t mean staring into a mirror. And I don’t necessarily mean long, soul-searching contemplations on our inner being. I simply mean pausing to acknowledge or recall the past and its…

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How Many Faces Can One Figure Have?

Have you ever seen multiple iterations of the same historical figure? I don’t mean simply multiple appearances of said person in a variety of different hist-fic books, shows, or movies. I mean different works both devoted to that person, whose portrayals clash in some…

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What the Author Hoped You Wouldn’t Notice

It’s funny how much of an author’s character we read into his works. We’ve all done it, and often with good reason. Knowing Mark Twain believed in racial equality helps us understand The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as a satire. Knowing Arthur Miller’s purpose…

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Sailing on Against All Obstacles: Lessons from a Historical Figure

“Only a weakling gives up when he’s becalmed! A strong man sails by ash breeze.” Admittedly a funny-sounding inspirational quote. What on earth is “sailing by ash breeze?” I wondered this when I first read the line in Carry on Mr. Bowditch— the true…

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The Story I Distilled With

When I pulled the two notebooks off my shelf and folded back the cover of each, what I saw surprised me. Even though it’s only been a handful of years since I filled them, the penciled handwriting is already fading. Yep. Pencil. I was…

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The Package that took Six and a Half Years

Here, at the end of a six and a half year long process, the developed, revised, completed product of my mind had been delivered to my doorstep by a person I never got to thank—enclosed neatly between a two-sided cover.

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From Grilled Cheese to Paninis: a Literary Journey

Are stories with morals antiquated? I mean, think about it: when was the last time you read a story or watched a movie with a clear “moral” and didn’t inwardly yawn? But we’ve been born and raised on such stories. Everything from Beatrix Potter…

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We are all Characters…

If someone were to write a book based on your life… what kind of character would you be? This is probably an odd question, but it occurred to me the other day after finishing a journal entry. I haven’t journaled regularly in a long…

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How to Cope with a Trope

Imagine you’re sitting on the edge of your seat, engrossed in a movie or show. The characters are unique, the plot is gripping, the tension is building, and then suddenly your worst subconscious fear comes true— It falls into a trope. NO! Where did…

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Less than Friends, More than Rivals

I’ve spent the past three weeks unpacking the character foils found in the TV series The Last Kingdom, and I promise next week we’ll move on to something else. 🙂 But I couldn’t help spending one more post on perhaps the most central foil…

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Good guys, bad guys: what’s the real difference?

Do you ever stop and think about what exactly it is that makes one character a hero and another a villain? It’s easy to chock it up to a good vs. evil conrast, but it seems that the more complex and realistic the characters…

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Saints and Prudes: what do they show us?

You probably don’t sit down to watch a show with the intent of analyzing and breaking down its elements. Most people don’t. And to be honest, I didn’t plan to when I first started The Last Kingdom, but by the time I finished season…

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Wait… What did I just see?

Do you ever finish watching a series and then just need some time to mentally process everything? Four weeks after finishing Season 3 of “The Last Kingdom,” I am still formulating my opinions on the series as a whole. I will say that as…

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What Makes the Cut?

We’ve all had that experience of watching one of our favorite books turned into a movie, and finding the movie version vastly disappointing. Hopefully you’ve also had the satisfaction of seeing a good film rendition of a favorite book, but it seems that experience…

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Literary Osmosis

When you hang around people, you usually start to adopt their mannerisms, turns of phrase, and attitudes. Or at least, theirs begin to influence your own. I’ll let the social scientists give us the details on how that works, but it seems this principle…

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Can You Hear the Story?

Let’s face it: whether you’re a reader, writer, or both, having the right background music can work wonders to get you and your imagination in the mood. A number of scientists, bloggers, and authors have studied the connection between what you listen to and…

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Verbal Flab: when can a novel afford to lose weight?

I tend to think of a novel as a cut of meat. A lean novel is one whose words center on the story— the muscle, if you will, composed of characters and their actions. The details that do not directly impact the muscle (if…

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Clan Slavery: an Over-dramatized Image?

I noticed when we arrived at the longhouse kitchen that there were some men tarrying around, eyeing the women at work. I happened to glance and see Clare stirring a pot that hung over a rod in the nearest fireplace. A tall young warrior…

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The Female Warrior: a Figment of the Modern Imagination?

Dodging past some battle-ready men, I glided into one of the lodges and threw the door shut behind me. Fairly ripping off my dress, I pulled on the men’s leggings and tunic that warriors wore, strapping the leather belt about my waist. For a…

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It’s About Time!… Or is it?

“You don’t look like the rest,” Clare said, her eyes traveling over the scars on my skin. “I was a warrior,” I told her. “But I can tell you’re not from any clan at all.” She lowered her eyes and glanced at her sister…

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Says Who?

Her name was Clare. She came on a dark day when my body was still sore from its latest beating two nights ago. They brought her into camp with her sister, both of them quiet and skittish. When I first saw her I could…

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What makes it Timeless?

Meet The Exile “When the Scandinavian princess Clare finds herself and her sisters sold into slavery to the ruthless clans inhabiting the unsettled mainland, she meets Delta—a hardened slave girl with a history of her own. Although their morals and perspectives clash initially, each…

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What? Why?

At this point, you might be wondering two things: What is the point of this blog? What’s up with the name? It’s really quite simple: I tell stories set in the past. Chances are, if you landed on this site, you are also either…

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