Some Thoughts on History

Post by Doris McCraw


I’m in the midst of writing a novel due to be released in January. I’m also writing a paper for the library districts history symposium. Additionally, I’m thinking of taking the nanowrimo challenge this November. 

So you may wonder why I chose ‘Some Thoughts on History’ as the subject of this post with the other projects on tap. Quite simply, I’m constantly in awe of what I find as I research and write. What history has to share with those who look is priceless. 

I’ve chosen to share the thoughts of thinkers who also have their own ideas on the subject. While we may not always agree, to know history is to know ourselves.

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“History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.” Winston S. Churchill

“If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree. ” Michael Crichton

“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” George Orwell

“History, like love, is so apt to surround her heroes with an atmosphere of imaginary brightness.” James Fenimore Cooper 

“Study the past if you would define the future.” Confucius

“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.” Carl Sagan

“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

“To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history?” Marcus Tullius Circero

“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”  Rudyard Kipling

“The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” Winston S Churchill

“For the survivor who chooses to testify, it is clear: his duty is to bear witness for the dead and for the living. He has no right to deprive future generations of a past that belongs to our collective memory. To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.”  Elie Wiesel

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Some quotes are funny, some were thoughtful and others somewhat controversial. All are important, for history is who we are, and to delve into that well of knowledge is something that is precious to ourselves and those who will follow after. 

Happy reading, and enjoy your own form of creativity for you are sharing your history with the world.

Doris Gardner-McCraw -Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women’s History

Angela Raines – author: Where Love & History Meet

For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 
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774x1228This post is by Nancy Jardine.

Authors are often quoted as having the most amazing imagination but I’m not always sure that’s an instinctive attribute for all writers. Personally speaking, I need a little bit of help to kick start my imagination when I’m writing. Once I get that little extra push, I’m right into the scene and then my characters can take over in their imagined setting.

When I write my contemporary mysteries my imagination is helped by my memories of a place where I want to scene set. In my contemporary mystery Topaz Eyes, I used a number of locations in cities that I’ve visited. When I decided to have one of the ‘cousins’ in the story live in Vienna, Austria, I just had to turn on my memories of central Vienna and the wide open old streets popped up.

Vienna 2002

But I also know that my memories can be fickle and a bit selective so in the interests of accuracy I turned to the internet to give me current photos of where  I was thinking of. That little research on the internet was useful when I was writing Topaz Eyes because the trams I was seeing in my head were red during my visit in 2002. The current ones in the area I was writing about have been the bright yellow tourist designed ‘Ring Trams’ for some years now. (c. 2010?)

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There are still red trams operating on the original tram lines in Vienna but they’re not where my scenes are. After my research on the internet, as I wrote the scene where my main female character Keira was being pursued by her unknown stalker, I was ‘seeing’ her escaping from a bright yellow tram.

In my historical writing it’s not so easy to create visual images for my locations.  I want authenticity and credibility in my stories but I can’t look back at photographs of my places to see what that landscape was like 2000 years ago. The contours may be largely the same but the vegetation is unlikely to be similar since recent centuries of farming (since the 18th century) and forestry methods in north east Scotland have altered the original picture. That means I need to seek help from other places.

Nancy & Crannog
Scottish Crannog Centre, Loch Tay

I can add things that were already very ancient like standing stone circles of the stone and bronze ages, or stone hillforts, or stone brochs but my imagination definitely has to work a lot harder on things that were made of wood- like Celtic roundhouses and crannogs which have mostly deteriorated to nothing over the millennia.

What helps sometimes with my ‘scene imagining’ for 2000 years ago Scotland is looking at the artwork of some relevant artists  like the famous Angus McBride, or from illustrated children’s non-fiction history books of which I still have a large selection! Celts wranglers But I need to remember it’s that particular artist’s interpretation. Other artists,  archaeologists and historians may interpret things differently. And so do I!

In Book 4 of my Celtic Fervour Series, when writing about my character General Agricola thinking about the Emperor Domitian and the Senate being back in Ancient Rome, I find it a little helpful to look at ancient sculptures. The friezes, and the carved fascias of ancient buildings also give me clues as to what the environment was like. Things my character Agricola is remembering as they were almost 2000 years ago. My visit to Rome last year helps me a bit but of course, what I saw last year is only what has survived and not the Rome of Agricola’s era  in all it’s colourful glory.

SONY DSCVirtual imagining processes of ancient places are fabulous and I love to see any that are shared with me on Social Media. Looking at Pompeii, or Portus (the artificial harbour of ancient Rome), or Athens or Ancient Egypt is fascinating.

So, last week, when I saw a FutureLearn course entitled ‘Rome: A Virtual Tour of the Ancient City being advertised I just could not resist enrolling. Click the link above, scroll down to the little video window and see what’s on offer. You might like it, too but there’s not much time to enrol since it starts next week, 9th October! (I loved my last year’s FutureLearn course on Hadrian’s Wall’.)

I’m hoping this Rome course will give me some ideas for polishing my character named Agricola a little better, or that it’ll be useful for the next book in the series BUT—most of all I hope that it’ll be fun!

Guess I have to get my head down now and finish my current writing!

What are your thoughts on Virtual imaging? Do you like seeing the way gifted visual imaging creators present these ancient places?

Nancy Jardine writes: Contemporary romantic mysteries; time travel historical for early teens and historical fiction for adults. She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists Association, the Scottish Association of Writers and the Federation of Writers Scotland.

multiple new TEYou can find her at these places:

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History of Dolls by Barbara Schlichting

IMG_3075(1)Since my A First Ladies Mystery series is set in a dollhouse, 
I thought it’d be interesting to learn the history of dolls.


Doll origins date to the beginning of time. Women passed their dolls 
down to their daughters as toys. In ancient times, they were considered 
part of religious rites and ceremonies. Greek literature supports this theory.

Nurenburg, Germany, records show dollmakers in the early fifteenth century. 
Dolls have been handmade for centuries, using clay, fur, wood, wax, clothespins,
rags, cornhusks, and let’s not forget the Russian stacking dolls. 
This names a few of the types of dolls.
Fashion dolls were popular in the 1300’s. With the settling of North America, 
women made dolls for their daughters. Porcelain and bisque dolls became 
popular in the 1800’s. After WWII, doll makers began manufacturing them 
with plastic, rubber, and other durable materials. Vinyl changed the doll 
makeup, allowing the head to have hair. Mass-marketing has taken 
over the market. Traditional dollmakers are now using materials from the 
past, which I like the concept since it connects the past with the present.



Beyond the Roman Frontier

Susann 2 croppedThis post is by Nancy Jardine

Yesterday, I took a lovely coach trip to Inverness, the Capital of the Highlands in Scotland – at least that’s what it’s often unofficially named. My trip wasn’t a social one; it was another type of learning curve for me.

An advert in one of my FaceBook groups, a few weeks ago, about a conference entitled “Moving beyond the Frontier”the impact and legacy left by the Ancient Roman Empire on the Moray Firth area – was way too good an opportunity for me to pass up on. Readers of this blog who know me, know that I’m a geek when it comes to Roman Scotland history.

It’s a 3 hour drive for me (make that 6 hour return trip) but I chose to go by coach instead. Some might call me a cheapskate, and they might be correct because the Scottish Government have issued me with a special ‘bus pass’ that gives me FREE bus travel throughout Scotland (but I’m not going to tell you how old I am to get that concession). The coach ride was flawless, comfortable, and it meant I wasn’t too tired for the 5 hour duration of the conference.

20151009_105907Inverness is a fine city to visit at any time and has a history of long standing. The earliest settlements are thought to date back to well before the 6th century AD, long before AD 565 when the Pictish King Brude, is said to have had a visit from St. Columba. This was at Brude’s vitrified fort stronghold at Craig Phadrig which was nestled high on the hill above the River Ness. (The hotel in the photo is named after Columba but is on the opposite side of the River Ness)

Another claim to fame about Inverness (‘inver’ means the mouth of the river) is the connection to Shakespeare. But wait! Someone might cry “Isn’t Shakespeare very English rather than Scottish?” The answer would be that Shakespeare used many popular folk tales from all over the known world as the basis of his plays. The Inverness connection is Shakespeare’s tragedy- Macbeth. The story goes this way…In the 11th century AD, the Gaelic King Macbeth killed King Duncan, the local Mormaer of Moray and Ross at his castle on the site of Auld (old) Castlehill in Inverness and deadly dire deeds ensued. (I’ve written about the Mormaers of northeast Scotland in a different post in July 2015)

Inverness Castle

Inverness is a small city, one of the 7 official cities in Scotland, and its old town can easily be covered by foot. It has many other historic buildings including the present castle on the hill above the river which only dates back to 1836, though there have been many earlier forms of the castle since the 11th century. Inverness Castle is currently not open to the public since it’s the Sheriff Court (Justiciary) …and I, for one, have no wish to be summoned there, even if it is a handsome building.

Click the links for more information about nearby attractions to Inverness -like Culloden Moor (Battle of Culloden) and the infamous ‘Nessie’ , the Loch Ness monster)

moray firth mapBut, back to my purpose in visiting Inverness. I’m currently writing Book 4 of my Celtic Fervour Series of historical adventures. The action of my novel moves from my own local area of near Aberdeen to further north, to where Inverness sits on the Moray Firth.

The time is AD 84 and there has just been a huge battle between my Celtic warriors and the legions of the Roman Empire. After the battle, some of the legions’ soldiers march on further north to the Moray Firth.

mapI really wanted the archaeologists who attended yesterday to tell me more about those temporary marching camps that the Romans built… but it wasn’t to be.

The focus was on what happened to the local people AFTER the invasion of Romans and that was just as good!

Dr. Fraser Hunter ( I really recommend this video of a TV programme he did a couple of years ago) was an excellent speaker who clarified some niggly things I didn’t quite understand about the Roman occupation of northeast Scotland. The other speakers who gave broad overviews of archaeological illustration and conservation of artefacts were very good, too.

Having snatched a few hours sleep after an exciting day, I’m now still tired but I’m heading off to one of my Craft Fairs to sell more of my books. Later I’ll be ploughing on with that WIP of Book 4 which is taking me ages to write. 😉

Have a lovely weekend! 

Nancy Jardine writes historical romantic adventures, contemporary mysteries and time travel historical adventures for Teen’ YA readers. CF poster

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