Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Role of the Physical Environment in Ancient Greek Seafaring...

...Is actually the name of a book I just finished by Jamie Morton. I'm not sure it was worth $80 (!) but I'm still happy I got it, as I know nothing about the workings of the Mediterranean and need to better understand the very LARGE role ships played in the lives of Ancient Greeks (I'm currently trying to write the Battle of Salamis). Despite being annoyingly repetitive and hard to follow at times (I'm not familiar with oceanography and meteorology ) I got some great information out of the book and hope to use it in my novel.

Here's a brief synopsis for anyone who's interested.

"In this study of the world of ancient Greek mariners, the relationship between the natural environment and the techniques and technology of seafaring is focused upon.
An initial description of the geology, oceanography and meteorology of Greece and the Mediterranean, is followed by discussion of the resulting sailing conditions, such as physical hazards, sea conditions, winds and availability of shelter, and environmental factors in sailing routes, sailing directions, and navigational techniques. Appendices discuss winter and night sailing, ship design, weather prediction, and related areas of socio-maritime life, such as settlement, religion, and warfare.
Wide-ranging sources and illustrations are used to demonstrate both how the environment shaped many of the problems and constraints of seafaring, and also that Greek mariners' understanding of the environment was instrumental in their development of a highly successful seafaring tradition."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Almost finished!?

I think I'm actually past the halfway point in my Themistocles novel. O.o;

Sure, I'll still need to go back and add more details for battles, major events in Themistocles' life (his wedding, etc.) and so forth, but I still feel like I've accomplished something!

Making progress!

Still, I have a question: when is "The End" really the END? Is it really when I write the end? Or is it after I revise my story until it's just right?

Saturday, November 01, 2008

My Halloween Costume.


Friday, October 31, 2008

Guess Who I Am!

For Halloween, that is.

Sarah Palin.

Pictures coming soon.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What Should I Do?

Recently my fictional autobiography for Themistocles is going really well. I still get stuck sometimes but it's about halfway done already. That's amazing progress for me. But I still really love my original multi-character PoV of The Owl & The Eagle. Still, I really need to get my work out there (notice I haven't put up anything from my Themistocles story because I'm afraid of criticism--I really want to COMPLETE something, even if it's awful).

Yet The Owl & The Eagle tells things from different perspectives, including the Persian side which is rarely looked at.

Writing both would be covering the same exact time period so it would see odd, yet different.

Should I finish Themistocles' story? Try to do both? Don't...know...what..to..do...!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Good Idea?

Last post I asked about sites or publications that feature short stories for historical fiction writers. The short of it is, there's not much out there. Then a reader (Gabriel, I believe) had the idea someone should start one.

I'm kind of intrigued by the idea. I have NO idea how to go about it or who to turn to. Any ideas?

Personally I think this might just be an untapped resource in the world of historical fiction. I can't believe there's not more. There are many "small" figures in history who have made a big impact. Or one poignant moment in history that changed everything and someone wants to write about it.

What do you think? Would you be interested in contributing to such a site?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Historical Fiction Short Story Q

While writing my novel(s), I've been toying with the idea of doing a short story idea about Queen Artemisia (one of the few female naval commanders in history) or Pheidippides (the original Marathon runner). But short story historical fiction doesn't seem that popular. Does anyone have any suggestions about where to submit such a story online or offline? I know about Paradox Magazine, but a quick Google search didn't help much beyond that...

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Themistocles es el mejor!

Hey everybody!

I'm still here and still writing. Currently all my energy is going into an fictional autobiography of Themistocles, which at the very least will force me to confront events in O&E from a different vantage point. It's pretty exciting actually. It's all hand-written right now and as soon as I finish I'll move it to Word Document form. At least that's my goal: to finish a complete manuscript and have it both in electronic and written form. How exciting would it be to say I finished a literary work, even if it reads like a Bablefish translation?

Wish me luck!

Monday, August 25, 2008


Yes! I got a sparkle award of some sort! A big giant thank you Carla to for this. :D

Here are some people I feel deserve this award if they haven't received it already (and they should):

Jason Evans
Helena Schrader
David Anthony Durham
Scott Oden
Wynn Bexton
Jason Pinter
George RR Martin
Sarah Johnson

Basically, anyone you see on my Links list deserves this award. All are fantastic writers with great imagination. If you got left off the list I apologize, although it seems like most people have a tone of awards already. :p

Friday, August 15, 2008

Hey. I thought you were writing a book?

Yes, I'm still writing.

But it's not The Owl & The Eagle (which I've put aside until I can solve some timeline/plot issues). Instead I'm tinkering with a fictional autobiography of Themistocles.

In case you need a quick brush-up on Ancient Greek history, Themistocles was the wily Athenian politician who outwitted his political opponents, convinced the Athenians to spend their newly acquired silver on warships instead of themselves, tricked the Persian king into action(twice), and convinced a very skeptical group of leaders from around Greece to make a heroic stand at the battle of Salamis.

Themistocles was NOT a hero. He was shrewd, deceitful, shameless, and self-interested (in short a true politician). But he was also a natural genius, able to take action while others were paralyzed with indecision. He's such a fascinating person; I'm shocked there aren't a lot of books on him. But I'm also glad because I wouldn't have to fight for shelf space the way authors of books on Alexander and Queen Elizabeth have to.

Currently I'm about two or three chapters into my book, and it's a lot of fun (I make Themistocles out to be a real rascal as a child). Since books like I, Elizabeth, I Claudius or anything else that starts with "I" are a success, I've chosen the very unoriginal title "I, Themistocles" for my book. I'm not sure it will be anywhere NEAR the brilliance of the above novels, but hey a girl can dream, right?

At any rate, that's what I'm working on right now. But worry not! I haven't given up on The Owl & The Eagle. It's still patiently waiting for me to figure some things out before I dive back into it. But since I'm stuck right now, I'm re-directing my energy towards a slightly (slightly!) easier project.

What do you think? Would you be interested in a "tell-all" book by Ancient Greece's premier politician?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Viva Las Vegas

I'd like to take a quick break from my Greece pictures to bring you some pictures I took in Las Vegas over these past couple of days. Vegas was...well, interesting. I got to see the strip at night, have a cheap drink while playing Black Jack (I won $60!)and got to say I'd been to Vegas. Unfortunately it was hot, JAMMED with people, and the thin air made me tired and thirsty all the time.

At any rate, here are some pics!

New York...in Las Vegas.


Ceaser's Palace.

The water show at the Bellagio.

Me in front of Ceaser's Palace.

The Arc de Triomph...sort of.

Me holding up the might of Rome.

The Bellagio at night.

Paris...in Last Vegas.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Greece Highlight Reel Part 3

As promised, here are some more pictures from Greece. As soon as I finish typing out all the notes I took on my trip I'll post some of them here, with more detailed information about locations like Delphi and Olympia. Enjoy!

Another picture of the awesome Parthenon!

A statue of Aphrodite!

Me in the town of Delphi (with beautiful mountains in the background)!

A picture-perfect town!

Hadrian's Arch!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

More Pics of Greece

I'm sorry my pictures and stories about Greece are coming along so slowly. I'm still recovering from my trip and playing catch-up with friends, family and work. I'm also still organizing all the notes I took.

I do know that I plan to write extensive blogs on Delphi, Olympia, the Acropolis, and Meteora in the future. For now though, here are some more pictures I took. Enjoy!

The Temple of Zeus (with me in front of it)!

Themistocles' Wall (the hotel I stayed in was built on top of it)!

Information about the wall!

The Lion Gate at Mycenae (with me in front of it)!

The theater at Epidauros!

A real Spartan shield!

Ostraka all featuring the name of Themistocles!

MORE pottery with the name of Themistocles!

Me in front of the Parthenon at night!

A side view of the Parthenon!

A picture of the Aereopagus with an awesome view of the Parthenon!

Stay tuned for Pt. 3!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Greece Highlight Reel Part 1

After a few days of trying to catch up on work (this week was E3 so there was--and still is--a lot of it), I finally managed to upload all my pictures from Greece onto my computer. I thought I'd share some of them with you, with more detailed commentary to come in the future. Enjoy!

The Parthenon!


Space rocks!

Agemmemnon's Tomb!

The old "new" Olympic Stadium!

The old "old" Olympic Stadium!

The Corinth Canal!

A cool bridge!

Gorgeous statues!

A Greek biker gang!

An apologetic toilet!

Greek food!


..and much more. Stay tuned for part 2!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I'm Back

Well I'm back from Greece!

I just flew in from Athens last night, and boy are my arms tired! ;)

Seriously though, Greece is has some really beautiful land and interesting historical places to see. I loved Delphi, was mezmorized by the Parthenon lit up at night, and got to run on the Olympic race track. Unfortunately, the people in mainland Greece were not very nice. In fact, with a few notable exceptions (like the wonderful staff at the Divani Acropolis Hotel Rooftop Garden), the people were the most dissapointing part of the trip. Perhaps all that "Greek Hospitality" is only on the islands, because getting people to help me was like pulling teeth at times. Was it because of the language barrier? Or perhaps the summer heat and crowds? Or maybe becausae I rarely travelled off the beaten path? In any case, it really put a damper on my trip.

That being said, I still got some really cool pictures I plan to post here in the future. Some highlights include the Tomb of Agemmemnon, Delphi, the Parthenon, the Temple of Zeus, and Olympia.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Update from Greece!

Hey everyone--

Just a quick update from Greece. I'm in Meteora right now and have already seen Athens, Olympia and Delphi. Wow. Amazing places to visit! We'll be going up the rock structures tommorow and then it's back to Athens for a few more days of playing tourist and taking notes for The Owl & The Eagle. I hope to show you lots of pics when I get back!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Greek Vacation

Well, tommorow morning I leave for my 10 day trip to Greece. I admit I'm a little nervous, but I think it will be lots of fun! I've heard the Greek people are VERY warm and welcoming, and I can't WAIT to see all the awesome historical places. :D

I'll be going to Athens, Olympia, Delphi, Meteora, and Argos. We'll also drive through Corinth and Thermopylae. Then I plan on visiting Sparta for a day.

I'll be taking my digital camera as well, and hope to show you some neat pictures when I get back. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dinosaurs & The Greeks

Recently I caught an interesting episode of Ancient Mysteries on the History Channel (I know, I know, something actually related to history on the History Channel!).

The book the show is based on.

According to Adrienne Mayor, an author and classical folklorist, Greek myths may have been inspired by prehistoric fossils. After researching numerous passages from ancient authors, interviewing various paleontologists and analyzing and interpreting ancient art, Mayor concludes that the Ancient Greeks came across prehistoric bones and associated them with strange creatures like the Griffin and Cyclops.

Elephant...or Cyclops?

The show was so interesting that after it ended I ordered Mayor's book The First Fossil Hunters on Amazon to learn more. The verdict? Although it's needlessly repetitious, Mayor's overall conjecture is fascinating and perhaps even plausible.

One of the things I was surprised to learn is that the scientific community doesn't believe the Ancient Greeks were capable of recognizing prehistoric fossils as bones. I can't fanthom why this would be, and luckily Mayor agrees. She argues that they DID recognize the bones of prehistoric animals, and cites various ancient authors to prover her point. For example, Herodotus reports that in order to win a war against their neighbor Tegea, the Spartans were told by the priestess of Delphi to find and bring home the bones of Orestes (a prince of Mycenae and a relation to the Spartan king Menelaus). Eventually the bones were found on the edge of Tegea, where they were encased in a large coffin measuring almost ten feet long. The Spartans took the remains back to Sparta, reburied them in a lavish ceremony, and won the war.

Although it seems strange to us that the Greeks would think bones that big could be human, Mayor explains that the Ancient Greeks believed heroes like Theseus and Orestes to be three times the size of mortal men! Since most of the prehistoric bones found in Greece belong to huge prehistoric mammals like elephants and rhinosoraus, it's not hard to see why the Ancient Greeks believed in giants and bigger-than-life heroes.

Mayor offers more proof that the Greeks understood fossils with the Monster of Troy vase. This otherwise normal looking column-krater has--for inexplicible reasons--the Monster of Troy portrayed as a weird, white, skull-looking... thing. Mayor insists it is a skull, perhaps a fossil poking out from the side of a cliff. She draws attention to the fact that the teeth are drawn like that of prehistoric animal and that mouth looks like an actual jawbone.

What is that???

She also thinks that the Griffin, which has its origin in Scythia may be based on a dinosaur. Mayor traces the story of the Griffin all the way to the Gobi desert, where nomadic tribes roamed about prospecting for gold. These nomadic Scythians reported to the Greeks that they had seen winged creatures with the body of a lion and the beak of an eagle, and that they fiercely protected the gold dust that fell from the mountains. When Mayor did some investigating she learned that around the area are the well preserved bones of Protoceratops, a dinosaur with a beaked skull and a large crest that could be mistaken for wings. Her side-by-side comparison between the remains of a Protoceratops and a picture of a Griffin is pretty interesting.

Terrible Lizard or...

Terrible Griffin?

Although there's no way to prove her theory is correct, it's interesting to think that if they didn't inspire the myths, prehistoric bones at least convinced the ancients that giants and heroes of huge size really existed. At any rate, despite a few editing issues I enjoyed the book. I think I might even use some of the material in my story. :)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Greece Here I Come!

Well I finally did it! I booked my trip to Greece!

It came down to two choices. One choice was through GAP Adventures, and the other was through Virgin Vacations. It was VERY difficult to choose between the two.

On the one hand, GAP's tour goes directly to Sparta (which no other tour offers to go to) and features a smaller group with the same guide throughout the tour (I even got to find out how many people are going and what kind of group they are). Then there's Virgin Vacations, which goes to more places in the same amount of time, includes meals, transportation fees and promises me my own room (I'm a pretty private person so this was something to consider).

Both have their negative points though. The GAP Adventure doesn't pay for meals and takes a lot of publice transportation, and advises you to bring your own first aid kit just in case. I have to admit that last part doesn't ring well with me. The tour also goes to a couple of places that I'm not all that interested in along. I'm trying to see locations that end up in my book The Owl & The Eagle, so any place that doesn't seem relevent might be fun but might make me impatient too.

Virgin has its own issues-- mainly that the group can have up to 40 people in it at once (and since it's high tourist season, I'm assuming it will). That can take away from a more "personal" experience, and it might be hard to hear the guide at times.

In the end though, I went with Virgin. They include almost everything in the price right off the bat, and to be honest I want a tour where someone will pick me up from the airport, where meals are included and where I can see more places. I admit it's sad to lose out on a more personal experience where I might make some wonderful friends and the tour guide will be more attentive, but I just wasn't sure about the more "rustic" sounding aspect of it.

I DID book two extra days in Athens for myself. I'm hoping that will give me time to hop a bus to Sparta for a day, and an extra day to do anything or see anything else that I didn't get to before.

My trip is from July 5th until July 15th. I hope it goes well! ^_^;

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Estoy Aqui!

Just checking in real fast. I'm still working on O&E. I have a character who I think will really make writing the story a lot easier because they're young and not well-traveled, giving me a chance to throw some information the reader's way without it sounding like "As you know, Themistocles..."

I'm also (yet again) trying to arrange a vacation in Greece this summer. I think the thing I'm really dragging my feet on is the flight. I HATE flying. Hate it. And the fact that I've never been to Greece and am going alone is making me a nervous wreck. I'm thinking about going on this package here

Quick travel experts (*cough* Wynn *cough*)! Any suggestions? I'm still trying to find a trip that will humor me and take me to Sparta, but alas unless you're a history buff it's just not that interesting to tourists.

And finally for those interested I now have a blog in Japanese. If you're curious check it out: California no Casual Seikatsu (California Casual Lifestyle)

Monday, May 12, 2008

My First Flower Arrangement

OK. These aren't really my first flower arrangements, just the first I'm willing to share in a public forum. They're VERY simple, which means anyone can do these. Don't believe me? I'll give you my trade secrets (er...well they're not MINE...)

1) Roses & Lemons On A Plate

Items: Roses, lemons, a plate, a bottle of sparkling water, a clean spray bottle full of water
Shelf Life: 1 day
Prep Time: I don't know. How long does it take to go to your garden and pick blooms and lemons (or failing that go to Safeway)?

Basically I just cut off the stems and placed 3 beautiful rose blooms on an elegant plate facing different directions, then added three small lemons and one half of a sliced lemon on the other side. Then I added a small amount of sparkling water to draw the eye (I added this last so the flowers wouldn't float and thus be hard to arrange). Then I sprayed the flowers with a clean spray bottle full of water to create a lovely shimmer. Notice I used no intricate mechanics, but I suppose if you want to make the roses last longer you could use a small oasis (that green foamy stuff you put water in) and then stick the roses into it. Keep in mind that roses are not as hardy as say carnations and the arrangement will still probably not last that long. Still, if you're having a party and want something pretty and simple and don't have time for complications, this should tie you over.

2) Lemons & Roses In A Container

Items: Glass container of any shape or size, lemons, rose blooms, sparkling water, filler material (optional)
Shelf Life: 1 day
Prep Time: A couple of minutes to arrange the most basic elements, longer if you choose to be more elaborate.

I Put lemons and roses in a clear glass container in alternate layers until I got the desired effect. I then added some filler (you can't see it very well but I used three stems of grass on one side to balance the large rose on the other and threw in some loosed rose petals and small daisies for fun). Then I filled the container with sparkling water to catch the light. That's it.

It's amazing that just by putting flowers on a dish with some fruit you can call it a day. Thanks to my mom for suggestions and Ron Morgan who's book A Glass Act is awesome.