Chicken Diapers, Pinterest and Research

K.P. Gresham Cropped Color Portrait  Written by Kathy Gresham

Sometimes my descriptions of a scene, idea, character, etc. can use a little pictorial help. For me, I find Pinterest can be a great resource to help me get the picture in my mind “just right”. Other times, I’ve used it to store ideas for future writing, motivate me when I need a new idea, and in a few cases, to prove a theory of a book I’m working on.

I have a couple of manuscripts in the drawer (that’s a writer’s way of talking about finished manuscripts that you haven’t sent out to any agents or editors YET}. Two of them are fun little murder mysteries that take place in a small Illinois town called Hardscrabble. The title on my Pinterest account for this series is Hardscrabble Homecoming. I have a Pinterest board for each of my series: “Chicago Cubs” supports my 2016 novel, Three Days at Wrigley Field. “Preachers Murders” has scenes, jokes, ideas from my Pastor Matt Hayden Mystery Series. There are boards for future book ideas as well. “Ada’s Story” is where I keep all my visual material on the book I’m writing about a reformed Hitler youth who has devoted her life to making sure the world never sees another Hitler. Only she doesn’t get it quite right. I’ve also got a Board that supports my “Writing Whimsies”—little nuggets about writing. Some make me smile. Some make me think. Some just get me back in the chair.

Since I was at the dentist this week, it reminded me that I had a dentist in one of my Hardscrabble Homecoming books. I decided to check out a few graphs of the procedure done in the book. Then I got to thinking. In a different Hardscrabble Homecoming book, a character (and I do mean character) has a pet chicken (which integral to the story). I’d heard stories of a writer who did, indeed, diaper her chicken and keep it inside as a house pet. So what the heck. I looked up “Diapered Chickens”. Today I actually put these photos up on my board.

First, I needed to know what a chicken diaper was. Then I needed to prove to myself (and my readers) this wasn’t a half-cocked idea. (Sorry.) Some chickens are considered house pets and wear diapers.

I really do enjoy researching stuff for my books. The more creative, the better. If chuckles ensue, that’s the best. Thank you, Pinterest for helping me research my books! If you’re interested in checking out my Pinterest boards, here’s the link.


Images from My Pet Chicken



Research the Business, Baby!

K.P. Gresham Cropped Color Portrait Written by K. P. Gresham

Who Are You Writing For? If it’s for yourself, and you have no intention of selling your book, go for it!  There’s a story in your head you have to get on paper, and you don’t care if anyone buys it. You can write anything you want, (and stop reading the rest of this blog). Just go do your thing and enjoy!

2018-08-01 kp gresham www pixabay cc0 books-3253834_640However, if you have aspirations to get this book on the market, a writer must take off the fictional hat and get down to business.  Literally.

I recently attended the Writer’s League of Texas Agents and Editors Conference in Austin, Texas. Thank you, WLT!!  Here are some magical tidbits that I heard that most assuredly involve research.

  1. What’s your market? When you pitch your book, design your cover, etc., what will stand out on the shelves? For that matter, where will your book appear on the shelf in bookstores? Are you writing a mystery? Science Fiction? Gardening? Genre matters.
  2. Who’s your audience? A romance writer has a very good idea what his or her audience is expecting. I’m confident that if your female/male protagonists is killed off at the end of the book, some people will throw your book at the wall when (and if) they finish it. Word of mouth probably won’t do you any favors.
  3. How does your audience receive information? If they are under thirty, consider Instagram to promote your book. Maybe the book isn’t finished or even half-way written but you can still build the outreach platform. Knowing your market/audience should provide good idea on how to connect with your readers so that you can keep your name and brand in front of them.
  4. If your intended audience is an agent or an editor, who should you pitch to? I’m talking specifics here. Go to the acknowledgement page at the back of your favorite authors’ books (or at least ones to whom you liken your manuscript) and check out the names of the agents and editors that they thank. This is a great source of knowing the NAMES of the folks who like to handle the kind of book you are writing. Once you get these names, go to their websites. Does the extended info you now have on this agent/editor look like a match for your needs? What are their submission requirements? Do they want just a query letter, or a synopsis, or the first five pages of your manuscript? Do they want it sent snail mail or email? Don’t waste your time or their’s by not complying with information that is readily available to you.

These are only four examples of items you need to know about from the business end of writing. A lot to keep track of? You don’t even know what questions to ask? Who can you turn to for help?

The answer is simple. Your writing community. Fellow authors, teachers, folks that you meet at conferences. Chances are you have a state or regional organization that can give you guidance—here in Texas, we are blessed to have the incredibly active and nurturing Writers League of Texas.  Within your own genre there will be folks to help you as well.  I’m a member of Sisters in Crime, the Heart of Texas Chapter. A lot of my fellow members have gone through what I’m going through. Writing is enough of a solitary experience. I need to surround myself with others who have the same questions, problems, etc. as me.

If you want to make money selling your books, hopes and misguided self-confidence will do you no favors. Research the business, baby.


K.P. Gresham, author of the Pastor Matt Hayden Mystery series and Three Days at Wrigley Field, moved to Texas as quick as she could. Born Chicagoan, K.P. and her husband moved to Texas, fell in love with not shoveling snow and are 30+ year Lone Star State residents. She finds that her dual country citizenship, the Midwest and Texas, provide deep fodder for her award-winning novels. Her varied careers as a media librarian and technical director, middle school literature teacher and theatre playwright and director add humor and truth to her stories. A graduate of Houston’s Rice University Novels Writing Colloquium, K.P. now resides in Austin, Texas, where life with her tolerant but supportive husband and narcissistic Chihuahua is acceptably weird.

Research Requires Fertilization – by KP Gresham

 Posted by K. P. Gresham


And here I am, talking about . . . excrement.

I had a professor one time (Professor Kulkarni at Rice University) tell me that all experiences are like tomato seeds. Plant them in your thought process and see what grows. We’re talking a basic simile here. And here’s what it has to do with research.

My hubby and I just finished a cruise through the Panama Canal. Now I am not currently writing anything that has to do with the Panama Canal (okay, one possibility), but the history and engineering of this incredible, world-changing slice through the earth is epic. It’s an experience I shan’t easily forget (dementia runs in the family, so I have to qualify that), and one that is definitely a seed I will plant in my garden (that would be my brain).

Yes, I just likened my brain to a pile of . . . excrement, but few will argue the point.

As Professor Kulkarni would say, you plant it and see what grows. Will it be a major plot point? Will it be the background story for a character? I have no idea, but I have confidence this experience (the Panama Canal cruise) will influence my future stories in some way.

That’s what experiences do for writers. Around every corner is an idea that might end up in a book. Perhaps it’s a fact you picked up on vacation, a secret in your own family’s past, maybe even something as simple as an overheard conversation. To be a writer is to be open to new experiences at every turn, and to nurture those experiences into something you can use in your writing.

So, for today’s lesson, here’s a re-cap. Look to every experience you’ve had or the ones to come for seeds that might grow into your writing. Research what’s interesting (or fascinating in the case of the Panama Canal) and use your curiosity to feed your creative streak.

Oh, and yours truly may indeed be full of . . . well, you know.


K.P. Gresham, author of the Pastor Matt Hayden Mystery series and Three Days at Wrigley Field, moved to Texas as quick as she could. Born Chicagoan, K.P. and her husband moved to Texas, fell in love with not shoveling snow and are 30+ year Lone Star State residents. She finds that her dual country citizenship, the Midwest and Texas, provide deep fodder for her award-winning novels. Her varied careers as a media librarian and technical director, middle school literature teacher and theatre playwright and director add humor and truth to her stories. A graduate of Houston’s Rice University Novels Writing Colloquium, K.P. now resides in Austin, Texas, where life with her tolerant but supportive husband and narcissistic Chihuahua is acceptably weird.



Posted by: Karen Ingalls

Once I arrived home from the doctor’s office I knew that I wanted to journal my fears and questions, and what had been happening to my body for the past few months. Writing was a tool I had used most of my life to rise above, or outshine, sexual abuse, family alcoholism, untimely deaths, and divorce. After I heard the fateful words, “You have cancer,” recovered from surgery, gone through chemotherapy, and had begun a new life as a cancer survivor, a friend asked if she could read my journal. Days later she called to encourage me to publish my journal saying, “Women need to read this.”

Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir is a story of my survival, and that cancer, other diseases, or life-changing events are challenges from which there are opportunities for self-growth, ministry, and living more fully. God’s gift to me was my ability to write; the publication of this book is my gift to God. (

  • Step one was to journal and write stories about my life, goals, and fears as an adolescent, imagining that someday my words would help others.
  • I explored the magical, informative, and historical world of literature; thereby, unconsciously determining the style of writing and subjects I enjoyed.
  • My journal about a life threatening illness was put into a publishing format after encouragement from others.
  • An important step was to trust a friend, who is an English professor, to read my novel and non-fiction manuscripts for objective feedback.
  • Seeking publication for both manuscripts by contacting publishers and agents required courage and willingness to receive rejection letters.
  • I followed the advice of my publisher, accepted challenges and critiques, and worked hard through the publishing and selling processes.

 If you dream to be a published author, then I say, “Don’t let anything or anyone stop you from traveling the sometimes bumpy, difficult, and rewarding road to make your dream come true.”



Karen Ingalls is an author of three published books, two blogs, and many articles. She is an advocate for health/wellness, social issues, and ovarian cancer awareness.

2012-02-15 11.24.27

Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir 


Davida: Model & Mistress of Augustus Saint-Gaudens 


Novy’s Son  

Time is on My Side, Yes it Is by Cher’ley

This Blog  by Cher’ley Grogg

Q: What did the second hand say to the hour hand as it passed by?
A:  See you again in a minute.

Q: What do you call a story that one clock tells to another?
A: Second-hand information.

Time is on My Side, Yes it Is:

Time is on my side, yes it is.
Time is on my side, yes it is.
Now you all were saying that you want to be free
But you’ll come runnin’ back (I said you would baby),…

Time is on my side. Or is it? Is time on my side or your side, while on the truck, it seems that I am constantly fighting against time. It’s time to drive (11 hours), then it’s time to sleep (5-8 hours), then it’s time to eat (2 hours).  That’s 21 hours, so I have 3 hours to shower, clean the truck, relax, exercise, dance, or create.  Time is not on my side.

Related imageWhen I’m at home I have a little more time to do what I want, but that is usually going to my various classes or clubs, and swimming. I am still sorting out my collections or hoardings that we talked about in a previous blog. Also, I have family and friends there that I really must visit with before heading back to work.


My shortest book, Four Moons and Fair Maidens still took a lot of timeFour Moons and Fair Maidens to get the rhythm just right. Westerns more than other books have a rhythm of their own, and it is historical so that means a lot of research.  All the facts have to be exact because if they are not someone will notice.

Research, the fun and time-consuming part of the book. Time is on my Side, yes it is—right!                      Four Moons and Fair Ladies

***How is your time?*** And speaking of time, 2 anthologies that are listed below are getting ready to go out of print so if you’d like to have a copy now is the time to get them. Cowboys, Creatures, and Calico–Pawprints on my Heart.  

Cher’ley’s Books are listed below and on sale at Amazon and local bookstores. Her newest book is an Advanced Coloring Book and she has one that is freshly published with 11 other authors.

Stamp Out Murder”.
 The Secret in Grandma’s Trunk” This is an especially good book for your Tween Children and Grandchildren
The JourneyBack 3The Journey Back-One Joy at a Time and the B&W Edition of The Journey Back
Boys Will Be Boys   The Joys and Terrors of Raising Boys-An Anthology
 Cowboys, Creatures, and Calico 

All About the Girls 5(3)

Four Moons and Fair Ladies Four Moons and Fair Maidens

Memories from Maple Street U.S.A: Pawprints on My Heartlink coming soon

Wonders of Water      Advanced Coloring Book

And please join me on my Facebook Fanpage, that’s managed by one of my most faithful fans: Cindy Ferrell
Here’s a link to Cher’ley’s WEBSITE

MishMash and Thoughts

Post (c) Doris McCraw


According to Merriam-Webster the definition of mishmash is a confused mixture of things. It perfectly defines life right now. (No, I’m not talking politics. I leave that to those who are passionate about it.)

So what do I mean by life right now? Life is and always has been confusing. We learn as we go along, making mistakes and enjoying triumphs. We plan our journey, and do everything the way we think it should be, then…bam…some challenge gets thrown your way. The key to getting somewhere, go with the flow.


I always thought I would be a performer, and I have been. I decided at fifteen I would work with criminals. Been there, done that. I’ve always written, but didn’t think non-fiction would be in the picture. *OOPS* Teach me to think life didn’t have another idea.

The thing is, life really is a mishmash, but it isn’t such a bad thing. Instead, I prefer to think of all the wonderful experiences I’ve had in my lifetime as gifts. If I hadn’t started spending weekends in the research section of the library, I’d have missed out on some great friendships. I also probably would never have found the women doctors, and written scholarly papers on such diverse subjects as ancient volcanos, film commissioners and of course women doctors.


If my parents hadn’t encouraged me to take chances, to follow dreams and not worry about how others viewed me, I wouldn’t have been an acting teacher, played music professionally and been an actor. Because no one told me I couldn’t, I live a blessed life. So bring on the mishmash.

I’d like to share some of the thoughts of Mark Twain about life. Hope you enjoy the mishmash.

  1. You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.
  2. Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.
  3. The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.
  4. Don’t part with your illusions. When they are gone, you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.
  5.  It is curious–curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare.
  6. There are not enough morally brave men in stock. We are out of moral-courage material.

And my favorite:
Let us endeavor so to live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.

Angela Raines is the pen name for Doris McCraw
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women’s History

For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 
Photo and Poem: Click Here A

Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here


Research? Or sheer indulgence?


This post is by Nancy Jardine.

Tomorrow, I’m embarking on a journey part of which was roughly trod by the Ancient Roman Armies of General Agricola in AD 83/84, and of the Roman Emperor Severus in AD 210, when they came to explore my part of north-east Scotland.

inverurie to kyle of lochalsh

The route shown on the map follows the current rail line from Aberdeen on the east coast of Scotland to Kyle of Lochalsh on the west coast. I’ll be making a return journey by train from Inverurie all the way to Kyle of Lochalsh—though how far the Ancient Romans marched beyond Inverness is still anyone’s guess.

Archaeologists have confirmed evidence of Ancient Roman Marching Camps at regular intervals from Aberdeen to Inverness. These camps lie roughly along the same route as the railway, some being only a few miles from the rail lines. Between Inverurie and about 16 miles south of Elgin (the angle change on the map above) the camps were large enough to shelter upwards of 20,000 men. After that ‘angle change’ (Camps of Muiryfold and Auchinhove) the Roman camp sizes get smaller, meaning they sheltered fewer and fewer Roman soldiers, as they progressed along the coast of the Moray Firth towards Inverness. Why they got smaller is open to conjecture and I’m having a lot of fun writing my version of the advances of Agricola’s forces in Book 4 of my Celtic Fervour Series of historical adventures.

CFS wordsCurrent archaeological digs are underway to find out if there’s any evidence of further Roman Camps beyond Inverness and I’m very keen to hear the updates of these because it might be important when I eventually get around to writing Book 5!



I’ve driven the same route to Inverness and beyond many times, since the main trunk road (A 96) also roughly follows the rail lines, but naturally I’ve not been able to appreciate the landscape in the way that I hope to do tomorrow. From the comfort of the train, I’m really looking forward to seeing the terrain in a more detailed way and doing a bit of imagining of what it was like some 2000 years ago – during the eras of my historical novels. Now, you might be asking yourself -Why isn’t she just taking the train to Inverness? Why go all the way to the west coast?

SRPS Maroon Mark 1 coaches

Tomorrow’s train journey isn’t on just a regular service train. I’ll be journeying in a vintage railway carriage that’s probably almost as old as I am!

In Scotland, like many other countries, we have many heritage societies. One of them is the Scottish Railway Preservation Society. This was formed in 1961 at a time when many rural railway services were being axed by the government and the enthusiasts who formed the society were determined to preserve as much of Scottish railway history as they could. By the mid-1970s, my husband and I were enjoying the society’s special tours all over Scotland, some of which were steam hauled on shorter routes and some by diesel engines for longer treks.

Tomorrow’s special tour will use a restored diesel engine and the restored carriages will be Maroon Mark 1 stock, which were probably built in the 1950s. The return journey is expected to take approximately 12 hours with a stop at Kyle of Lochalsh of 1 ½ hours. Just enough time to stretch our legs and have a wee wander, though it might include a coffee stop since the inevitable Scottish rain is forecast for the west coast!  I’m looking forward to having an elegant lunch and dinner on the train as we ply forth and back along the spectacular Kyle Line – named as ‘One of the Great Railway Journeys of the World’ passing moorlands, mountains, rivers and lochs.

More about SRPS HERE if you’d like to see some more images.

I’ll also be having a wee read since I’ve just stocked up my kindle with new books. My publisher, Crooked Cat, has a SUMMER SALE going on this weekend (7-10th July) All Crooked Cat ebooks are 99c/99p across the Amazon network  – including my own, so if you fancy reading about the Romans who trod that pathway noted above, you can get my Celtic Fervour Series for less than $3! Or if you’d like to try my stand alone mysteries you can get them for the same price if you’re really quick! Just click the link HERE to reach my amazon page or type in Crooked Cat on Amazon to choose from around 150 multi-genre titles.

all cc books

Have you ever taken a rail journey like the one above – for pleasure and more? 

Whatever your weekend is like- happy reading!

Nancy Jardine also writes time travel historical for Middle Grade so if you know any good readers of approximately 10 years and above they can enjoy an ebook version of The Taexali Game for only $1.99!


Nancy finds all historical eras totally fascinating: research a delightful procrastination! Her week is taken up with grandchild-minding, gardening, reading, writing and blogging. Catching up with historical programmes or TV series and watching the news is a luxury – as are social events with friends and family but she does a creative job to squeeze them in.   Twitter @nansjar  Facebook: and (for The Rubidium time Travel Novels.) email:

Amazon Author page for books and to view book trailer videos:

Most novels are available in print and ebook formats from Amazon, Barnes and Noble; NOOK; KOBO; W. H.;; Smashwords; TESCO Blinkboxbooks; and various other ebook stores.









A Little Bit of Why

Post copyright by Doris McCraw

edit hhj spc

We all seem to have the Big Why in our lives. Why did I do this, or that. We tend to beat ourselves up over some mistake. Let’s take a look at the Little Why.

Why do I continue to comment on other people’s blog post even when they do return the courtesy?

I do so because I know people who write these post have something to say. It is a joy to see how they think, what’s important to them. By taking the time to comment, even if it is to say thank you, I acknowledge their efforts. Let’s face it, we all want to be heard.



Why do I continue to write post that no one seems to read or care about?

This goes back to the comments in the first Why. As I learn new things I want to share. The world is a big place, we can’t all do everything, so if something I think about or research will make a difference, I’m going to share. It goes back to my days working with juveniles. A wise lady once told me, “just keep talking, you never know when something you said might make all the difference.”

Why do I continue my photo and haiku practice?

This one is easy. It has become a habit, and I plain enjoy the challenge.



Why write romance?

I want to tell stories, and if there is a bit of romance in them, I’m okay with that. One of my cover models said she loved my novella, but it didn’t follow the formula. That is what I aim for, a good story that doesn’t have to rely on formula to succeed.


Why is telling the story of early women doctors so important?

Why shouldn’t it be? Dr. Susan Anderson had Virginia Cornell to tell her story. While I do not aspire to the universal love that the Cornell book has, I do not want these women to be lost to time. They did as much if not more than the more ‘famous’ ones did. They may not be famous, but they are worth remembering.

                                          from Elizabeth Blackwell, MD

Why am I doing history symposiums and speaking in public?

See the above answer. There is so much rich history to be shared. If I can add just one small part to the overall knowledge or get someone excited about a piece of history I am happy. Life is too short to be too afraid. No one really told me I couldn’t and if they did, I chose not to listen.

So there you have it, a little bit of Why.

For those who are interested you can stream the symposium on June 11. Here is the link:  The program starts at 9am Mountain Time. The topic this year is Myths and Mysteries of the Rocky Mountain West.

For further reading on some of the posts that prompted the why, here you go:

Angela Raines is the pen name for Doris McCraw. In addition to Historical Romance, Doris also writes haiku, posted five days a week at:  She has posted over one thousand haiku.“One Christmas Knight” Medieval Anthology

“Angel of Salvation Valley”



Author Page:





Culture’em early!

ccnancyjardineThis post is by Nancy Jardine.

Our local schools have recently had their 2 week spring holiday. When I was teaching, those two weeks were avidly awaited – they were an opportunity to recharge my batteries and snatch a short break in cultural venues steeped in history like Vienna, Barcelona, or Mediterranean islands like Malta or Crete. The destinations never needed long haul flights, European cities being easily achievable in a couple of hours from a Scottish airport.

Now it’s my grand kids who’re locked into the school holiday system so, as a regular carer, I’m back to taking spring holiday breaks. We’ll work up to a whole week away…but not just yet… that’ll take a wee bit of practising! At present it’s a ‘Day Out’, one at a time.

Crathes Castle taken 2013

Last week we picnicked at 16th century Crathes Castle, along with my daughter who had a day off work. After a long visit to a brand new soft play area, there was heaps of grass to play ball on and space to throw a Frisbee. My 4½ year old granddaughter wanted to go into the walled garden having remembered the fountain and various other interesting features from previous visits, her recall of things quite astounding.


April 2016
My grandson, only just turned 2 years old, was convinced it was Tinkerbell’s Castle and wanted to go inside, though an inside tour hadn’t been on the original plan for the day. With two adults it was doable—one adult and two little kids not so much.

Aberdeenshire is coined as ‘castle country’. It has the greatest amount of castles per acre in Scotland and there’s a plethora of them to visit, some of them now administered by The National Trust of Scotland of which I’ve been a member for the last thirty years. The interiors are all distinctively different, well preserved, and full of ancient treasures so it’s with trepidation that I enter the portals with a two year old, but I think that you’ve got to culture’em early!

Crathes Castle is set in magnificent grounds of around 600 acres which are typical of other grand estates in Royal Deeside. Aberdeenshire castles have an impressive history that’s documented but also shrouded in legend. The present Crathes Castle, completed c. 1596 and which took around 40 years to build, was the home of the Burnett family for many centuries and was only given over to The National Trust for Scotland organisation in 1959, when the new Burnett heir, resident in New Zealand, couldn’t maintain the property.

via amazon

Legend plays a part in the story because it’s said that the most prized treasure of Crathes Castle is ‘The Horn of Leys’ which Alexander de Burnard received from King Robert The Bruce in 1323 as his badge of office as forester (overseer of the estates). ‘The Horn of Leys’ is a highly decorated carved ivory horn which now hangs encased behind glass in the High Hall at Crathes Castle;  the horn symbol also a part of the Heraldic Coat of Arms of the Burnett family (the name change from Burnard was a common trait) . Photography is not allowed in the castle but the general idea at left of the horn has been taken from a book on Amazon. (I’m not sure I’d be willing to pay over £200 for this copy, though)

My problem with visiting even fairly well known castles is that there’s always something new that I’ve not absorbed on earlier visits that just begs to be researched. I’d never thought before of what the first family dwelling of the Burnetts  might have been, i.e. before the present castle was built, but it’s an intriguing question that begs to be researched. The problem is that there’s no documentation from the early 1300s to clarify the answer!

If you’re interested in learning more there are some scant details about our visit to the castle and an intriguing mystery about the first home of the Burnett family who lived on the Crathes estate on my BLOG .

What do you think about culturing ’em early? 

Whatever you’re doing this weekend – enjoy it!

Nancy Jardine writes:

Historical Romantic AdventuresCFS End Sept 2015 




Contemporary Romantic Mysteries3 mysteries




Time travel historical adventure for teensThe_Taexali_Game_Cover_for_Kindle
   Twitter @nansjar  Facebook: and (for The Rubidium time Travel Novels.) email:

Amazon Author page for books and to view book trailer videos:

Most novels are available in print and ebook formats from Amazon, Barnes and Noble; NOOK; KOBO; W. H.;; Smashwords; TESCO Blinkboxbooks; and various other ebook stores.

It’s all in the interpretation!

ccnancyjardineThis post is by Nancy Jardine.

History is dull as ditch water. Really? 

Have you ever heard anyone say that before? I have many times but as I got older I found it very easy to disbelieve it. I would even go so far as to say that I probably veered a lot of my reading energy during my teenage years (1960s) towards subject matter that was nerdy and very unfashionable purely because it was history, or historical biographies, or historical fiction and because I was quite happy to buck the trends. Where I grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, during the 1950s and 1960s, archaeology was thought to be a very dull subject indeed and quite a closemouthed occupation. By that, I mean that when the experts conducted an archaeological ‘dig’ it seemed to be shrouded in absolute secrecy for a very long time till the results were finally published and available for public reading…by which time the dig details had died a dull death and had faded into the forgotten news archives.

image use bought from

I’m thrilled that for the last couple of decades archaeology has become a hot topic. I’m delighted to thank the use of innovative scientific technology, television, the internet and the general media for that volte face… and this post is full of links to demonstrate the ease of information transfer.

However, I do have to confess that back in the late 1960s, although I loved reading about archaeologists like Howard Carter, who hit the headlines with the 1922 discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamun, I didn’t actually fancy doing the boringly repetitive and back breaking digging that’s a necessary part of being an archaeologist. Whether the date is 1922 or 2022, that monotonous minute clearing away of soil is still a necessary part of any exploration of sites of interest but today even that process can be speeded up by the initial use of a small mechanical excavator. When I first saw evidence of this use I was horrified till I realised that the experts know just how deep in the soil to begin the painstaking clearance, particle by particle, and that what’s above that level can be quickly removed.

Since joining Facebook, I’ve liked a lot of ‘history’ pages and I get regular media updates of all sorts of interesting discoveries. Hardly a day goes by now without something amazing being found and I’m delighted to say that many of these have been closer to home in the UK, and even in Scotland.

I’ve written posts about interesting places in Aberdeenshire before on this blog—about local castles; and places like the ‘folly’ at Dunnideer but I’ve not written all that many posts about places associated with ‘Dark Ages’ history. On the way home from one particular Craft Fair at Insch, I went home the long way which took me past a site that I knew was being excavated by an archaeological team led by Dr. Gordon Noble.

Dr. Noble is associated with many current archaeological projects in Scotland and is associated with Aberdeen University. I’ve gone to a few local talks where he’s updated amateurs, like me, on what’s currently happening on the sites of excavation. The videos below show just how ‘open to the public’ archaeologists are now, and it gives some light on the fact that a lot of the sheer grunt work of painstaking excavation is now done by volunteer labour. 

(I’m belatedly adding the URL in the hope that you can access via that in the US- )

What’s incredibly exciting about archaeological discovery is that for the last couple of decades the addition of scientific techniques like geophysical surveys/ resistivity surveys have provided much more evidence of ancient occupation. Some 22 watch towers and small Roman forts on the Gask Ridge in Scotland – now claiming the name of Rome’s First Frontier – have been identified… and this is only on a tiny stretch along the long line of Roman advance around AD 84 from the Central Belt (Glasgow to Edinburgh) to the north-east where I live. (You can find out about resistivity HERE. )

(and the URL for the video below is  )


Dendrochronology and dendroarchaeology now make the likelihood of evidence discovery and dating a much more real prospect (Information on the techniques HERE. )

Tried and tested aerial photography, since the end of the Second World War, has been incredible in advancing the knowledge of ancient sites in Scotland and can still be a useful indicator of what is below ground, especially during dry summers. But anyone who knows anything about Scotland will also know that dry summers are pretty fictional and not to be relied on!

For me, the most exciting technology of all now being used for archaeological purposes is LIDAR. LIDAR isn’t a new technique. It’s been used since post Second World War for governmental uses but only now is it beginning to be used for archaeological identification of potential sites of interest.  I wrote about LIDAR a couple of times on my own blog last year, you can read one of them HERE.  The grunt work will be needed at a computer but the potential results could be amazing. (More information on how LIDAR works can be read HERE.)

All of these scientific techniques make the history much more easily understood by the average member of the public. Some TV programmes (in the UK and maybe worldwide) admittedly dumb down the knowledge level of a subject to make it more palatable and more sensational, but generally if a programme interests more people in the historical subject, then it’s successful.

I love the visuals that are now available. I really look forward to ‘shared’ items on Facebook about new discoveries and articles written about them. And I especially love when really clever people make 3D images of places I’d love to visit—if I travelled back in time. My Roman characters spend their time in Britannia but if they spent time in Rome itself they might have encountered the scene in this 3D reconstruction of the Mausoleum of Augustus. I can’t add this one directly to this blog but it’s definitely worth a click!

Sadly, I’m not adding much to my WIP for Book 4 of my Celtic Fervour Series because newly read archaeological information means (like that about The Gask Ridge Project) I’m constantly changing what I’ve written because I’m not happy with what I already wrote. But I am slowly learning – a lot – and enjoying what the internet has to offer in new archaeology!

Do you love the visual history that’s now available via the internet covering all eras  ? 

Have a lovely weekend!

Nancy Jardine writes:

historical romantic adventures (Celtic Fervour Series)CFS End Sept 2015




3 mysteriescontemporary mystery thrillers (Take Me Now, Monogamy Twist, Topaz Eyes-finalist for THE PEOPLE’S BOOK PRIZE 2014)



The_Taexali_Game_Cover_for_Kindle& time-travel historical adventures for Teen/ YA readers (Rubidium Time Travel Series).

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