Tuesday, September 29, 2015

In Search of Verisimilitude

By guest Lynne Gentry

I’d just finished sharing my vast knowledge of the Roman Empire at a writer’s workshop when a lady raised her hand and said, “It’s obvious you’ve done your research.”

I glowed. “Thank you. Research is one of my favorite parts of writing.”

“I write contemporary.” She straightened her shoulders and went in for the kill. “I don’t think I have to waste my time doing research like you, do you?”

The hairs on my neck bristled. I wanted to say, “Not if you know everything about everything, which you obviously do.” Instead, I just smiled. “As long as you create verisimilitude I think you’ll be fine.”

Recalling her blank face still makes me chuckle.

VERISIMILITUDE is a literary device that gives a story that true-to-life feeling.

It is the art of taking a reader into another world, whether that world is located in a Roman colosseum, a beauty shop in a small town, a frozen kingdom in a dystopian future, or a cul-de-sac filled with lonely housewives.

Verisimilitude builds a believable framework that will convince a reader to suspend their disbelief. It transforms a pretty good story into: Wow! That was so real I could taste the dust of Rome.

I love reading stories that whisk me into another world. I want to learn to write these kinds of tales. In my quest to acquire the skill set of authors who successfully transport readers, I’ve discovered many of these storytellers have one thing in common: RESEARCH. Lots of it. They combine hours of reading, observing, interviewing, and life experience into the creation of their unique, yet believable worlds.

Before you think you know everything about research and click back to Facebook—hear me out.

If you’ve been using research simply to avoid mistakes, you’ve missed a wonderful opportunity to build a world so enticing readers can’t wait to go there. Research is more than getting your facts straight so your inaccuracies won’t get dinged in those pesky reviews.

Research can help you to discover rare gems that build a more believable story.

In RETURN TO EXILE, the second book in my CARTHAGE CHRONICLES series, I needed to find out how long it took a third-century Roman freighter to sail from Rome to Carthage. Since I had no Mediterranean sailing experience, I had to do my research. During the process of looking up ancient transportation, I stumbled upon a law forbidding wheeled carts inside the city limits of Roman cities during daylight hours. Here’s the shortened-condensed version of the recorded reasoning behind this strange law:

One day an ox broke away from his harness. He was chased through the narrow streets by his owner. Others joined the pursuit. They followed the ox up an outside staircase. The terrified beast, now trapped on the flat roof of a three-story apartment building, suddenly wheeled and leapt to his death. His fall killed five rubberneckers watching the circus from below. Hence, the law: No wheeled carts in the city until all the pedestrians are off the street.

I was so fascinated by this real life story I pondered how to surprise my readers by adding a totally unexpected, yet factual element from the Roman world. What if the character I’d planned to kill by plague in RETURN TO EXILE died by ox? Here’s a peek at the fictional passage I created from non-fictional research. (The character’s name has been removed.)  

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Somewhere ahead of them, the crack of an oxen whip sounded. The snap of chains and panicked shouts followed. Hooves thundered over the cobblestones. Lisbeth looked up to see a frightened ox. Horns down, he charged straight toward them…The giant animal plowed into XXX. The velocity ripped her from Lisbeth’s grip…powerless to stop what happened next, Lisbeth watched as XXX hit the pavement directly in the ox’s path. Hands clamped across her belly, XXX churned beneath a thousand pounds of thrashing, stumbling animal. A paper doll in a shredder.  ~Return to Exile

I’m spellbound by the world George R.R. Martin created in his epic saga GAME OF THRONES. Did you know Martin built his seven kingdoms story world brick-by-painstaking-research-brick? According to articles I’ve read, the idea for the story came to Martin while visiting Hadrian’s Wall in Scotland. He stood atop the ancient stones and wondered what it would be like to be a watcher on the wall. But the actual story came from:

-Reading Tolkein as a kid (restrained bits of magic from Lord of Rings).

-Becoming a history buff obsessed with War of Roses (1455-1485).

-Investigations into many world religions. The Faith of the Seven is based on his Catholic roots.

-And his famous Red wedding scene was actually inspired by two real-life events in Scottish history, The Black Dinner and the Glencoe Massacre.

Research pumped Martin’s creativity to award-winning levels. Over twenty million copies of GAME OF THRONES have sold because people are willing to suspend their disbelief and embrace the imaginary fate of Westeros.

Want to write a story readers are dying to read? Go in search of the great nuggets of fact that could enhance your stories. Readers crave an opportunity to escape their everyday worlds. Let’s give readers a ride they’ll never forget.

I hope you’ll join me on the quest for verisimilitude.

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Tell me the most outrageous fact you’ve discovered while poking around in a musty libraries or interviewing an expert, you’ll be entered to win a copy of VALLEY OF DECISION.

Lynne Gentry has written for numerous publications. She is a professional acting coach, theater director, and playwright. This inspirational speaker loves spending time with her family and medical therapy dog.

The Carthage Chronicles Series blurb:

A twenty-first-century doctor. A third-century plague. A love out of time.

Filled with gripping action and raw emotion, The Carthage Chronicles follows the unexpected adventures of Lisbeth Hastings, a twenty-first-century doctor, as she finds herself dropped into third-century Carthage in the middle of the fledgling early Christian church as they battle Roman persecution and a historic plague. Even as Lisbeth seeks a way back to her time, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to Cyprian Thascius, the charismatic Roman noble trying his best to keep the church together in the midst of impossible obstacles.

Can Lisbeth and Cyprian find their way to each other through all that stands between them? Or are the 1800 years that separate them too far of a leap? Follow this incredibly compelling adventure of star-crossed lovers in the electric series The Carthage Chronicles.

This ebook boxed set contains the first two novels of The Carthage Chronicles, as well as two e-novellas and a sneak peek at the final novel, VALLEY OF DECISION.

You can find Lynne Gentry at:
Website: http://lynnegentry.com/books/
Facebook: Author Lynne Gentry https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Lynne-Gentry/215337565176144
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lynne_Gentry
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/lynnegentry7/
Simon & Schuster: http://authors.simonandschuster.com/Lynne-Gentry/412732530

Series Video Trailer/Author Interview:


  1. Right now I am living in the desert of Arizona on an large ranch. Love's Dream Song is calling me back! Great post, Lynne. Thanks for sharing it. I love the tidbit abo,it wheeled carts and your excerpt.

  2. One of the facts that sticks with me is that a climber in Yosemite died a few (2 or 3) feet from the ground because the snow was so blinding he couldn't see the bottom. I'd love to win your books!

  3. VERISIMILTUDE - my new word for the day. Love it.

  4. Great post, Lynne (and I'll be whipping verisimilitude out at every opportunity once I can say it confidently!)

  5. That is one big word!

    Lynne, thank you so much for being here today, and sharing your wisdom and your big word!

    I used to fear writing historicals because of the research. And then I thought if CONNEALY can do it, Ruthy can do it! It can't be that hard!!! :)

    I dipped my toes in accidentally, when an offered contemporary contract turned out to be an historical contract, and I was hooked. It's fun recreating scenes from a past so very different from anything we know today.


    And doughnuts, I'm in a high-carb, let's eat everything we see mode. So share the calories with me, my friends!

    1. Mary Conealy makes everything look easy!


    I was asleep for the last hour of the Yankees loss last night. I need that six hours! Unless it's playoff time or World series!

  7. Great post, Lynne! I love to be swept away while reading. Remember everyone, today is National Coffee Day! Free coffee at Dunkin Donuts! Woo Hoo!

  8. What a great new word and so true. Here's a fun fact...Michigan and Ohio once fought a war over Frog Town, also known as Toledo. The only casualty was a mule...and Michigan losing rights to Toledo. Please enter me in the drawing for your books. What an interesting concept for a story.

  9. Welcome to Seekerville, Lynn. What a spot on post.

    I happen to have brought birthday cake because it is Seeker Myra Johnson's birthday and I also brought a breakfast casserole.

    But I digress; VERISIMILITUDE is a literary device that gives a story that true-to-life feeling. -

    VINCE MOONEY ARE YOU THERE?? Vince has reminded me about the need for verismiltude in my writing with his gentle read of my proposal.

    Thanks for this fabulous post!!! And congratulations on the success of your series.

  10. BTW, this is an interesting time period to write, Lynne! What turned you on to it?

  11. Good morning. You people get up early! I haven't even had my coffee yet and it's national coffee day. Don't think me all that brilliant because of this BIG word! :) But it is a wonderful tool to add to our craft tool box. Love the mule story, Bettie. Tina, I think you're blessed to have someone like Vince Mooney urging you to press toward creating that world. It's all in the little details.

  12. Hi Lynne! I'm not awake enough to figure out the most interesting discovery I've made. I write contemporary, and sometimes I find interesting tidbits from interviews and conversations with others.

    I love your book covers. They are very beautiful, and your stories sound great.

    Thanks for sharing. I hope my stories draw the reader in.

  13. Happy birthday, Myra Johnson. Good morning, Jackie. Interesting tidbits from current events is a great way of creating a believable story world. Thanks for taking the time to share.

  14. I admit, I had no idea what that word really meant. I think historical writers do have to dig deeper but that's all part of the fun. And a great way to dally when I'm supposed to be writing.
    Thanks, Lynne. You are SO right. Calgon can never take us away like a great book and its setting!

    Happy Birthday Myra!
    (and don't faint, everyone. I am still alive, and now writing again.) It's good to be home.

  15. Lynn, I enjoyed your post so very much—you've made me look at research in a different light. As a rule it's not my favorite thing to do. I tend to get sidetracked and chase rabbits for hours.

    It's amazing what you can learn . . . :-)

  16. Debra, I too had to look up the meaning of the word! A great book is better than Calgon. Mary, rabbit trails can eat up my day, but in the end, its often pursuing one lead after another that lands me upon a brilliant piece of information.

  17. Lynne, welcome! What a great post. I write contemporary and always do research--mainly for my characters' careers. But you've inspired me to take it up a notch! :)

    Your series sounds fantastic!

  18. Thanks, Missy. I've found that taking it up a notch is a lot of work! :)

  19. Mary P. and Kara, I agree! I'll be trying that word out on my kids to impress them. :)

  20. Jill, thanks for the reminder!! I saw that advertised yesterday. I was hoping Starbucks would give something away. :)

  21. Lynne,

    I loved hearing stories from parents how ornery kids were during the 1950's.
    One of my favorites was of a some kind of wildcat (a panther or bobcat...I can't remember) was running around the countryside stirring up the local farmers. The farmer's loved to get together at the local store and, of course, the cat was a favorite topic. A few of the teens overheard the excitement and started running up and down the ravines and creek beds hollering like that cat. It wasn't long before the farmers were out chasing the "cat", really, the teens.

    I use this in one of my stories, but I add where one of the kids is accidentally shot and killed.

  22. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MYRA!!!! (Can you hear me singing to you?)

  23. This is one of the craziest historical fact that I'm glad that it doesn't really practiced anymore. In ancient China, it's better for woman for not having large feet so little, dainty feet are considered beautiful. To achieve this result, a little girl's feet would be broken so it won't grow anymore. A small feet means you can marry into a high society and you would be staying at home most of the time. Even though the parents feel bad but they can't do anything to prevent this, because their daughters would have less chance of getting wealthy husband. Sometimes the feet get infected and those girls would die. I truly feel sad this happened.

  24. I'm a genealogist and I found that my husband's 4th great grandfather survived Native American attacks and a cougar attack.

  25. Connie, great twists on facts are the ingredients to great fiction. Thanks for sharing the crazy story about the wildcat. Evelyn, that fact about the ancient practice of breaking a little girl's feet is fantastic fodder for a story. Thanks for sharing.

  26. Hi Lynne, Thanks for joining us in Seekerville today. And wow, you started us off with a huge word. I need coffee for this one. smile

    Great and informative post. Thanks again and have a fun day.

  27. I loved your post, Lynne. I love having a firm grip on the meaning of verisimilitude, thanks to you. :)

    You've challenged me to see what more I can do to transport readers to the events in my contemporary story. Thanks for the challenge, and for sharing your passion for crafting wonderful stories!

  28. What a great post, Lynne. You make me want to run to my local library and poke around the stacks. And thank you for sharing about verisimilitude. Until your post, I hadn't heard the word but understand the meaning. Several readers of mentioned to me how they felt they could feel the fabric of my heroine's wedding dress, as well as picture the small town my story was set in. Though A Husband for Danna is my first book, I'm hoping this means I'm heading in the right direction. Have a great day!

  29. Oh, I forgot to answer the question. :) For research for my first book, don't laugh, but I found out that the Tango is a hard dance to learn. :)

    For historical research, my father has done a ton of genealogical research. He discovered that there's a scullery maid in our lineage (yes, she was included because of an affair . . . ), and that one of our ancestors stayed and for the colonists when the American Revolution began, while his two brothers sailed back to England. :)

  30. Wow!! My story is contemporary but your article has lit the fire under me and I need to get off work so I can figure out how to research my topic!! I think I may need to find some people to interview and perhaps 'shadow'!



  31. Lynne, welcome to Seekerville! Thanks for the terrific post! I write Americana and this snippet is a gem for me:

    If you’ve been using research simply to avoid mistakes, you’ve missed a wonderful opportunity to build a world so enticing readers can’t wait to go there. Research is more than getting your facts straight so your inaccuracies won’t get dinged in those pesky reviews.

    Research can help you to discover rare gems that build a more believable story.

    I'll admit I'm often focused on not getting it wrong, instead of on getting it right, building a world that hooks readers. You've inspired me to delve beyond the facts to find the nuggets.


  32. Jeanne, I have heard that about the Tango...especially hard for someone like me with two left feet!: So cool about your family lineage. I think we all could find some wonderful skeletons in our closets and when truth is stranger than fiction it is perfect story fodder. S. Trietsch, experts can lend so much authenticity to a story. Go for it. Christina, you run to that library girl. In fact, befriending a crackerjack librarian is one of the best things a writer can do for her storyworld. Congrats on your debut, Christina.

  33. Happy Birthday, Myra!! Wishing you a fabulous day!


  34. Amen! Research makes all the difference when it comes to immersing readers in a story world, even a contemporary one like a college football program.

    As for interesting research tidbits, I haven't found any falling ox or meowing teens or such. In researching a dinner theater setting, I did however learn that the company owned several apartments and housed the cast there. My imagination latched on to the idea that my heroine can't escape the antagonist because they also live together. That ramped up the conflict possibilities right away.

    Love your story premise where modern meets past with romance, Christian persecution, and the plague. Sounds fascinating!

  35. Janet, you're so right. In our quest to get the facts right, we've missed so many delicious opportunities to create amazing experiences for our reader. Sometimes this means taking chances, working harder, and shooting that gun or writing about a falling ox even when it seems over the top. Candee, amazing how one little tidbit took your tension up several notches. Well, done, girl. Well done.

  36. While I was doing research on the inside of a private jet, I discovered there was a hot tub in one. This fact found its way into a book I am working on.

    Research is vitally important. People would wonder about me with the things I have googled and learned in that way.

    thank you for this post

  37. HELLO LYNNE! The Carthage Chronicles is a THRILLING ADVENTURE! I will be "visiting" Carthage often and sharing with my friends. I am excited to read how this exciting story concludes.

    psalm103and138 at gmail dot com

  38. Lynne, this is WONDERFUL. I agree with this so much that the research is a big part of bringing the reader inside your world, making them smell the dust, hear the clink of the bridles, taste the apple cake.
    These are familiar things to readers and if you can do this with authenticity, you have the reader, not just enjoying the book, but becoming the characters. They don't just know what the characters are feeling, they FEEL what the characters are feeling.

    I really liked this line from your post:
    Research is more than getting your facts straight so your inaccuracies won’t get dinged in those pesky reviews.

  39. The fact that I found there was a baby born in Andersonville Prison, a confederate prison camp full of MEN ONLY, just lit all my fires. I've used the rabbit trails I followed research this for wow, 5 books now? Not that one fact, but the other fascinating things I found as a result of being inspired by that fact to read and read.

  40. Ooooo, such a delicious word: VERISIMILITUDE. That's a great way to kill off a character by the way. Death by ox. Much better than drowning. And thanks for introducing me to a new series in The Carthage Chronicles. What an intriguing premise!

    While writing my present novel, I needed a day activity for a bachelor cowboy, a governess, and four children in 19th-century Boston. I found an 1877 snippet at Newspapers.com about the new Swan Boats at one of the parks. No, they weren't pulled by swans. They were constructed and painted to look like swans and poled around the lake by a young man much like the canal boats in Venice. The bench seats could hold several tourists at the same time. How cool is that for a seven-year-old boy? And how much trouble can he get into? No, they didn't capsize, but he did give everyone a good scare.

    I'd love to win a copy of Valley of Decision!


    And thanks for the coffee and goodies, RUTHY. Happy National Coffee Day!

  41. This is a good post. I like the concept of researching not only not to be wrong, but to build a world. My favorite books are the ones where I can get "lost." In the past I've been gripped by the Thoenes' Zion Chronicles and Zion Covenant books, which immerse the reader in the new state of Israel and wartime Europe respectively. I also loved the early books in Lauraine Snelling's Red River series for total immersion in the hard life of the earliest pioneers -- and being glad I wasn't one of them, especially when I read about Ingeborg's first winter there. And who could forget Lord of the Rings? This is how I want to write.

  42. Lynne and I debuted together as Tyndale Digital First authors! :) Great to see you in Seekerville, lady!

    love tucking little nuggets in my stories, not just for the accuracy, but because of the sheer surprise. Let's see... When I wrote Castaway with the Cowboy (With this Spark Collection), I kept looking for an unusual way for my characters to get off a deserted island. My research led me to a couple of believable options that dovetailed nicely with the cowboy/horse theme, and I was off and running. The entire scenario makes me laugh, and it's totally believable.

    But, yes, I'm constantly looking for some kind of clarification that leads to an amazing twist in the story, or something neat that I'd not thought of before. To me, those authentic details that can be backed up with research, adds a lot of VERISIMILITUDE to the story. Lordy, hope I used that big word correctly! lol

    Oh, National Coffee Day??? Yay... I think I'll toast with a 2nd cup.

    And...last.... I'm laughing about the woman's shock when you told her that. I probably would have had the same reaction, hoping I could remember the word long enough to go look it up. lol

  43. This is an extremely useful post to inspire me to greater research depths. Thanks for the word of the day and the info to help us better world-build.

    I learned about cone snail venom being used as a pain killer for people with chronic pain issues. Learned about it on a dive trip where I was crew for dive trip where a University Professor and his minions collecting specimens for study. Was quite the interesting trip (along with awesome Bahamas diving...)

    Love your blurbs! Would love to be in the draw. Time travel books always interest me.

  44. Lynne,

    Enjoyed reading your post. I'm fascinated by research and captivated by strange facts. Thanks for introducing me to a fantastic new word...and I'm practicing pronouncing it...thank goodness for the sound on the digital dictionary I use. Can't wait to fling it around at my writer's group...but with my luck half of them will already know it!! LOL

    I'm a coffee inhaler...well...coffee aroma! Can't drink it, but LOVE the smell. Celebrating with y'all anyway!!

    My current WIP is set in a Valley similar to where our ranch is located. The Valley is pocketed with hot springs. Always rumors floating around about people disappearing and being tossed in one of the springs. No evidence...ever! While researching, I came across this little tidbit..."We stopped at Chicken Hot Springs, with a water temperature around 230 degrees, one of many hot springs located in Surprise Valley. The locals cook their chickens and pigs by throwing them into Chicken Hot Springs.

    We saw the dried carcasses and entrails of recent cookouts."

    Yep...I'm using this reference in my novel!

    Would love to be in the drawing! Thanks so much for a great post!!

    1. I confess I had to listen to the digital pronunciation a time or two myself before I started throwing the word around

  45. I love reading a well-researched book and being brought to another time and place by someone who is in charge of their material. As a writer living at the intersection of No and Where (as Captain Mal likes to say) I am so thankful for the internet to help my research. And my husband who has a vast variety of friends whose brains I can pick. I think we writers collect morsels like Katherine did - and hoard them to use in stories. I don't know if I've found any outrageous facts though I do know what it's like to be bucked off a horse! That's the kind of research I prefer not to do.

    1. Always wise to collect a vast array of friends!

  46. Lynne! Lynne! Lynne!
    Where have You Been?
    Under what basket
    Have you hidden you light!
    Is your orbit the same as mine
    But forever on the other side of the sun?

    Lynne, I've been reading both Roman and Greek history and fiction for over 50 years! (Sixty years if you count the new testament.)

    I've read and loved Steven Saylor, Lindsey Davis, Michelle Stiles, Tracy Higgly, Carla Capshaw, Roseanna White, and of course all the classics -- to say nothing of the Roman writers themselves. Five years of Latin. Three years living in Italy! Walking twenty miles a day thru the streets of Rome one summer.

    And here I sit, in Tulsa, my ears still ringing with Cato the Elder's 'voice' -- eternally ending every conversation with, "Delenda est Carthago!" Indeed, I'm a man for whom Hannibal was not a cannibal.

    Have you read, "The Coin of Carthage," by Bryher … have you had tears to shed at the mention of poor mistreated Dido? Perhaps this queen of Carthage was the most passionate queen of all time!

    Perhaps your light has been hidden under a 'paranormal' cloaking device. It's as if someone didn't tell Caesar that that stream was the Rubicon!

    And here I actually hold the coin that Jesus exemplified when He asked, "Whose picture is on the coin?" This is a coin I passed around my class to let the students 'feel' history. And while Tiberius was emperor at the time, it would have been Augustus's picture on that coin because Tiberius didn't want to be emperor in the first place and he objected to having coins with his picture on them being used to pay the fee for using the ubiquitous pay toilets in Rome.

    But all is not lost!

    Like the Athenians of old, worshiping in the Temple of the "Yet to be Learned About Gods" -- I can now go and hear the good news about your books.

    Who would think that Seekerville would play the role of Saint Paul for this poor old reader who once, at great personal risk of bodily harm, climbed atop the very rock, the Areopagus, where Paul delivered the news of a yet unknown God?

    I shall return with some facts of interest of the ways of the Romans.


    P.S. Are you related to Georgina Gentry? She loves history so much that she includes endless pages of notes at the back of her historical western romances so fans can benefit from her research.

    P.P.S. If you need a beta reader, I'm available. I can even translate the very cryptic inscriptions on Roman coins.

    1. Vince, where were you when I was scouring the Internet for experts? I found a fascinating Facebook page by the Carthaginian Wanderer. You would love following this bright young man who lives only 8 miles from the ruins of that amazing Punic port. P.s. Not related to Georgina gentry that I know of.

  47. Wow, step out to go to the dentist and fall way behind. First, Tina Radcliff to answer your question as to what turned me on to the Roman era: I started out writing Christmas/Easter musicals. In the process did a lot of research on Roman customs. Became enamored with the whole Roman era. But it was actually my son who turned me on to the 3rd century Plague of Cyprian. This real-life pandemic nearly wiped out the Empire. I was fascinated. Like Mary Connealy, this fascination turned into five books. P.S. I so admire you, Mary Connealy and your great research.

    Wilani that hot tub in a private jet reminds me of an old Calgon commercial where a limo had a bathtub. Oh, to be so rich.

    Kaybee, reading about the pioneers struggling across the plains in covered wagons is one of my adventures into a whole new world. Made me wonder if I would have had the gumption.

    Love the painted swan boats you came across Barb. Good to hear from you.

    Pam Hillman, girlfriend you are a master at maximizing research to build a believable story world. So good to hear from you.

  48. Hi Lynne, you've taught me a new word, but I'll never learn to spell it. I use research a lot in my plotting and characterization. For my 1880s western romance my heroine had to be well educated, on the level of men. The finishing schools and women's colleges of the day wouldn't do. As I was researching Harvard, I discovered they conducted an experiment during my target time period for women to take the same courses as men. Yay, it solved my problem and revealed an historical tidbit readers might not know.

    For the record, I find researching contemporary just as time-consuming as historical.

  49. Lynne,

    Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your world...and historic Carthage. How fascinating to write stories set in Roman times. Thanks too for the great explanation of VERISIMILITUDE, a big word that carries a powerful punch. Something I need to remember.

    Happy birthday to Myra! I've brought helium balloons and cupcakes and iced tea for an afternoon pick-me-up! Enjoy your day, Myra.

    Wonder if the Grammar Queen is celebrating too?

  50. Hi Lynne:

    Here are a few fun facts about the Roman Republic and Empire:

    1. Julius Ceasar was never a Caesar, Augustus was the first Caesar (Emperor). All emperors were called Caesar except late in the Empire when 'Caesar' became the Vice-President…usually running a part of the Empire and standing by in case the Emperor died.

    2. There were no police departments or public prosecutors. Crime was self-help. The victim had to find the bad guys and the victim had to act as prosecutor. If you charged someone with a crime and lost, then you could be exiled from Rome.

    3. There were no public fire departments. If there was time a private fire gang would show up and bid on the job. Investors would also be ready to buy the burning property at 'fire sale' prices and they would then pay the fire crew.

    4. Inflation was so bad at times the government did not go after counterfeiters if their product was of good quality.

    5. Experts say that between 3% to 5% of all the Roman coins ever minted are in coin collections to this day. That's millions of them! Don't think genuine Roman coins are always valuable.

    6. The Roman army had mobile mints they took on campaigns to mint the coins to pay the soldiers. Before a battle they would bury the coins so the enemy would not get the money if the Romans lost the battle. These hoards are still being found today!

    7. Some counterfeit gold Roman coins were so well made and so beautiful that they command much higher prices today than the real coins.

    8. The best selling books in the Roman world were Latin translations of Greek romance novels! See the "Collected Ancient Greek Novels" by Reardon, B.P.

    9. After Julius Caesar changed the calendar month of Quintilis to July after himself, Augustus named the next month, Sextillus, August after himself. And not to be outdone by Caesar, Augustus also had to have 31 days in his month. That's why there are two months in a row with 31 days and February only has 28 days! All is vanity!

    One last thing: when writing historical fiction please don't forget the big things, either.

    Lots of romances are written in the year 1888. Just look at all the major events that happened in that year here:


    Have you ever read about any of these events in a romance that takes place in 1888? I'd like to see at least a token amount of the macro historical facts in a romance.


    P.S. I like this fact: "Dec 18th - Richard Wetherill and his brother in-law discover the ancient Anasazi ruins of Mesa Verde, Colorado."

  51. Great comments! I would enjoy reading these too!


    Yesterday was sent back for revisions.

    The teams that needed to lose, won and the Yankees lost. The Yanks still need to win two games or the other three teams need to lose two games for the Yanks to make the playoffs. Heads will roll in the Bronx if the Bombers don't make the playoffs.

  53. Vince you're better than a good Wikipedia page!

  54. Hi Lynne:

    I just ordered "Return to Exile" and "Healer of Carthage".

    I've heard it said that when 'the author is ready, the beta reader will appear'. However, this saying doesn't guarantee the two events will be simultaneous. : )

    I can't wait to read your books because I believe I can always tell when an author has had live stage acting experience. I believe the first 'writing course' any novice writer should take is getting a part in a little theater play production.

    Actors live on the audience reaction to their every word. Ordinary writers worry about if their writing is meeting the needs of the novel, the editors or the contest judges. Actor writers worry about how each word will be received by the reader in real time. The difference between these two approaches is profound as is often evidenced in an author's first few books.

    Aspiring authors please get that acting experience!


  55. Thanks for checking out my books, Vince...no pressure on this little author!!!! :)

  56. WOW ... am I sorry I am late to the party today!!

    Welcome to Seekerville, Lynne -- your blog and your video fascinated me to no end! What a wonderful concept for a series, my friend, and I absolutely LOVE the wheeled carts law you discovered and how you used it in your story -- VERY cool!

    I absolutely think that unearthing research gems like that totally enhance a story and flesh it out like nothing else can. I would have to say that the coolest thing I ever stumbled on in my research that I completely incorporated in one of my books is Sutro Baths, San Francisco’s premiere indoor swimming facility in the late 1800s. It was seven seawater and freshwater pools beneath a four-story glazed roof of 100,000 panes of stained glass that fit so well in my Heart of San Francisco series, that I utilized it throughout all three books. Adolph Sutro’s man-made wonder fairly shimmered with activity like a sea of minnows, from bathers milling on the platforms to swimmers flying high on toboggan slides, swings, flying rings and trampolines. The crash of the surf on the rocky shore outside filtered in between the laughter and shrieks of children of all ages, each and every one thrilling to the largest and most magnificent bathhouse in the world. It lured people far and wide, a veritable Atlantis where ten thousand bathers could experience a love affair with the sea all at one time, each required to wear Sutro Bath's standard swimsuit attire!

    Your books sound fascinating, Lynne, and I'm looking forward to reading them.


  57. Vince I went to that website to look at 1888. Not only is that year unbelievably full of fascinating things, but that is such a cool WEBSITE!
    Wow, I marked it on my favorite's bar so I could return over and over!!!!!!!

  58. I thought I'd get back here mid-day, and then I didn't, and I'm not going to tell you that I'm fighting vermin in and around my chicken coop....

    If you saw "Pizza Rat" going viral last week, you'll know what I mean! THE WAR IS ON!!!!

    So if anyone wants first-hand info about reducing vermin around the farm, I've got great ideas.


  59. Vince: SIDEBAR....


    I'll see them through the first 6 innings and then I must sleep.... Stinkin' Red Sox!

    But I'm hangin' in there, my friend!!!

  60. Julie, thanks for sharing that incredible story on the modern-day version of a Roman bath house. The public bath house in Carthage was a wonder to behold. Don't you wish we could be a fly on the wall in one of these fantastic places for just a few hours?

  61. Thanks Mary.

    I try to be helpful and sometimes I succeed.

    BTW: Grover Cleveland had the first telephone in the White House and it is said his phone number was 1. He also answered the phone himself!!!

    Your newsletter came today and I think it shows how to write a good newsletter. Short and sweet and featuring just the news I'm interested in reading. I'd rather have you writing books than newsletters. I also think your baby born in Andersonville takes the prize for best research results.


  62. Vince when I read some historical tidbit that gives me CHILLS I really turn it around and think HOW CAN I USE THIS? How can this be the jumping off point for the next book?

  63. What impressed me when I did some research was how many soldiers were actually women during the civil war. They didn't want to leave their husband's behind, so they didn't, Some of these women were even pregnant and they were able to wrap themselves to conceal it the whole time. I even read of an account where a pregnant woman who was hurt fought off the people trying to check her for injury. In another case a woman who concealed her identity was able to get a monthly pay for getting hurt during battle after she left. I am interested in reading Lynne's book. I have greatly enjoyed the ones I've read.
    Deanne Patterson

  64. Lynne, When I research I love exploring little tangents I find along the way. Even with contemporaries, it was fun to research floor plans of architectural buildings for different shops and buildings in a fictional town. As far as historicals and my present research, I think what is fascinating is something I touched on in one of my comments the other day, but since it's so fresh in my mind, I can repeat myself. I was researching the West and found two totally different biographies of a Western figure. One said he was raised by a single mother in poor surroundings and his wife abandoned him. The other said he was the product of happy parents who were well-off and that this man was actually cruel to his wife and that was why she returned to her family. It was interesting to read about the same man in two different totally ways.

    Also, happy birthday, Myra.

    And that is interesting about Grover Cleveland. I've always loved reading about Frances Folsom. Regardless of whether the story of her telling the person in the White House not to move the furniture around because she would be back in four years is true or not, it was always a fun story to read.

    One last thing. I love black and white game shows. My husband and I were watching I've Got a Secret with Garry Moore. There were two gentlemen on stage and they whispered their secret in Mr. Moore's ear. They were the grandsons of John Tyler, the tenth president of the U.S. In the 1950s, John Tyler still had two living grandsons. His second marriage to Julia Tyler was also worth noting.

    Thanks for some interesting things to think about and more reasons to research.

  65. Lynne, I enjoyed your post so much...thank you! It made so much sense. And now I'm going to be searching for a reason to use my new word! But first I gotta make sure I can pronounce it:)


  66. Thank you Lynne for the post. I definitely want everything I write to be as true as I can possibly make it, and if it isn't my journal, it is going to have to have some well thought out research. Thank you for the encouragement to dig deep!

  67. Vince, I didn't know about this site, either! It's a wonder! I am peppering my Sewing Society Sisters novellas and novels with women's rights and suffragist propaganda, set in 1888, 89 and 90 (so far). But what a treasure trove this is!!!! Hattie gets a newspaper sent out by her friend Jean Ellen, and now I can keep folks up on the news.


  68. Great reminder. Research is so important. The journey of research can be so much fun. I love interviewing people who are experts. Their passion for their subjects can reveal things you can't find in books.
    Cindy Huff

  69. Tanya, you bring up an interesting point...what to do when research conflicts. I ran into this alot while researching Rome. At one point the emperors changed so often its was hard to come up with two lists that agreed on the succession. So what's a writer to do? I'd love to hear what others think?

  70. Thanks for blogging on how to add the nostalgia and reality into our writing to capture the reader's attention. You gave us a good description and valuable points to make the scene become more than real. I admire the richness of your example. Thanks for sharing.

  71. I want to wish Myra a very Happy Birthday too.

  72. first of all, your books are on my TBR list - historical fiction if my favorite genre to read. and secondly, i now have a new word i'm in love with - verisimilitude!!! gonna gotta work that into conversation one day, or perhaps at least a blog post! LOL

  73. Thanks, Robin. Let me know how you casually work verisimilitude into a conversation!

  74. Love going to other worlds! Thanks for reminding us of great techniques to make the experience more realistic for our readers. I feel like I've been to Sweden after spending a couple of years researching it for my first novel. Funny how you get attached, too.