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Gang Roundup – November 2019

I’ve survived the worst October I ever had at work!
There was a moment I didn’t count on it.

I work in a university bookshop, right in front of the University of Verona. The first term starts at the beginning of October, so this month has always been hectic for us. But this year, due to family crises and work emergencies, it has been particularly hard.
I’ll just say that I’d take the train to work at 8:00 in the morning, and then the train back home at 8:00 in the evening. After a month and a half of this schedule, I was a walking zombie.

In case you wondered where I disappeared.

But happily, last week, my timetable went back to normal. I can hardly believe it.
I’m afraid you’ll see me a lot more on this blog. Sorry.

So, I know I’m quite late with the roundup, but I really didn’t want to skip this month.

In November we celebrate Armistice Day, and there were many remarkable posts about it out there. Here I give you a little selection of what I found.

First World War

Celebrating Armistice Day

Nicholas Rossi isn’t just a fantastic fantasy author, he’s also a tireless helper of writers and an enthusiastic divulger of history.
His post in celebration of Armistice Day is to the point and informative. It addresses the ways in which WWI changed the world, some of which are relevant still today (for example, for the many advances it caused in the medical field).
This article is full of little known facts. I enjoyed it very much.

The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month

Truce Ends War - The Detroit Free Press

A great collection of front pages of newspapers announcing the end of WWI.
I don’t know what it is that I find so fascinating about old newspapers. I like to look at the composition, the titles, and the way they come together. It often says something about communication. It used to be very different from how it works now. The big, bold titles, the blocks of text, often jammed together, the few but popping images, drawing more than photos. There is something totally ‘others’ in these old papers, don’t you find?

Edie’s Three — Lest We Forget

This is a small but moving collection of articles commemorating the end of WWI. All the pieces are about memory and the importance of remembrance. Which is what history truly is about, I believe. Not learning facts, but rather remembering people and events. Life.

War Without Allegory: WWI, Tolkien, and The Lord of the Rings

JRR Tolkien during WWI

I swear I wasn’t looking for it, but while researching articles about WWI, I just stumbled upon this one about Tolkien and his experience in the war.

The author’s theory is that The Lord of the Rings has the same characteristics of a war novel, especially the kind of war novels others from Tolkien’s generation (the Lost Generation) wrote. And I tend to agree. We often know so little about WWI that we have a hard time recognising the signs. I fell for the fascination of WWI just recently, and rereading The Lord of the Rings a couple of years ago, after many years, and honestly, there is no way that I’ll miss the feelings of the war and the trenches in Tolkien’s major work.
The war was a crucial experience for Tolkien (as it was for so many other men and women of his generation). I believe it was traumatic to the point that it took a novel like The Lord of the Rings to try and free him from that trauma.

“One has indeed personally to come under the shadow of war to feel fully it’s oppression; but as the years go by it seems now often forgotten that to be caught in youth by 1914 was no less hideous an experience than to be involved in 1939 and the following years. By 1918 all but one of my close friends were dead. “ – JRR Tolkien

The first fairytales were feminist critiques of patriarchy. We need to revive their legacy

I will admit that I’ve been fascinated with fairytales and folktales for a very long time and I’d like to know about them a lot more than I do. So I never let an opportunity to read about them pass me by.
One of my fellow #FellowshipOfTolkien readers posted this link to an article which explores how the original fairytales (written by an author, as opposed to folktales, which emerged from a culture) were often women and their stories were unconventional and rebellious.
Quite a change of perspective from our usual view that fairytales support a patriarchal view.

The Secret Language of Stones by M. J. Rose

THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF STONES (M.J. Rose) - As World War I rages and the Romanov dynasty reaches its sudden, brutal end, a young jewelry maker discovers love, passion, and her own healing powers in this rich and romantic ghost story.

As World War I rages and the Romanov dynasty reaches its sudden, brutal end, a young jewelry maker discovers love, passion, and her own healing powers in this rich and romantic ghost story.

Nestled within Paris’s historic Palais Royal is a jewelry store unlike any other. La Fantasie Russie is owned by Pavel Orloff, protégé to the famous Faberge, and is known by the city’s fashion elite as the place to find the rarest of gemstones and the most unique designs. But war has transformed Paris from a city of style and romance to a place of fear and mourning. In the summer of 1918, places where lovers used to walk, widows now wander alone.

So it is from La Fantasie Russie’s workshop that young, ambitious Opaline Duplessi now spends her time making trench watches for soldiers at the front, as well as mourning jewelry for the mothers, wives, and lovers of those who have fallen — jewlery that is very special.

Opaline has a rare gift: a form of lithomancy that allows her to translate the energy emanating from stones. Certain gemstones, combined with a personal item, such as a lock of hair, enable her to receive messages from beyond the grave. In her mind, she is no mystic, but merely a messenger, giving voice to soldiers who died before they were able to properly express themselves to loved ones. Until one day, one of these fallen soldiers communicates a message… directly to her.

So begins a dangerous journey that will take Opaline into the darkest corners of wartime Paris and across the English Channel, where the exiled Romanov dowager empress is waiting to discover the fate of her family. Full of romance, seduction, and a love so powerful it reaches beyond the grave, The Secret Language of Stones is yet another “spellbindingly haunting” (Suspense magazine), “entrancing read that will long be savored”

You won’t believe it, but I’ve never watched Downton Abbie. I don’t know why. It just never happened. So I’m particularly eager to see this new film.
It is quite likely that then I’ll go and watch anything watchable regarding this series, but for the moment, I’m contenting myself with the film.

Have you seen it? Thoughts?

Bit out of my usual fare, but this film looks awesome.

And let’s end with some music, which is always a good thing.

Sarah plugs her own stuff

Since I’ve been starving for free time for a month and a half, November has turned out to be such a busy month. So busy, in fact, that I had to renounce to NaNoWriMo – which stings, but really I had to make some hard choices.

I wanted to start posting my new story, The Frozen Maze, for many reasons, but mostly because I’ve kept moved the beginning of the serialisation to a later time. The story isn’t entirely revised yet, but the initial chapters are finalised. I’ve completed the first draft and revised it twice. I didn’t want to keep postponing it.
I’m not the kind of author that usually offers a story that is not finished, but since the first act of the story is ready, and it will take me some two months to post, I thought, why not?
I’m very excited about this story. It received such a great welcoming from you readers. You really make this worth it.

I also wanted to give Medium a fair shot.
I’ve been posting on the platform on and off since last November, but I know that if I want to get some real results, I need to commit to it and write every day.
It is bigger a commitment than I expected, if I may be honest, but It’s so rewarding and in so many ways.
It also allows me to write about things that don’t really have a place on this blog (which is one of the reasons why I looked Medium up) but I’d love to share with you.
You can visit my profile to see all of my recent articles, but I’d like to highlight a few that I particularly enjoyed writing.

The Power of a Writing Community: NaNoWriMo Explained to Introverts

We often say that the life of a writer is a lonely one. Well, it may be. We sure need solitude to write and to nurture our stories as they come to life. But I firmly believe that becoming part of a community is the best thing a writer can do for both themselves, their mental and emotional health and for their stories.
In this article, I’ve explored what the positive aspects of being part of a writing community are and why we writers should strive to find our own.

Fairytale Retellings: What Old Stories May Still Offer to the Modern Reader

As I’ve mentioned above, I’ve always been fascinated with fairy and folktales. It was probably only a matter of time before I came to write my own retelling.
Besides, I think retelling old stories for the modern readers it’s a very rich form of storytelling. Here’s why.

Film Noir May Be a Secret Weapon to the Fiction Writer (a Noirvember Post)

Granted, film noir is first and foremost a visual medium. Noir visuals are part of noir mood and essence and are very difficult to translate into words. Still, I think noir has a lot to offer to storytelling: characters, moods, narrative structures.
Above all, film noir can teach us how to handle mystery and how to reveal while not revealing. This is, in my opinion, noir’s more significant teaching.

That’s all for now, falks.

I’m working on pinning down a defintie schedule for this blog. Let’s see what I can do about it.

Talk soon!

GANG ROUNDUP (November 2019) Armistice Day - Celebrating Armistice Day, looking up the new 'Diesel Era' film trailers, some new idea for historical reading. The November link roundup has a lto to offer


  • Margot Kinberg
    Posted November 22, 2019 at 22:42

    I always love your roundups! There’s so much good stuff out there that it’s nice to have a reminder, so I can go back and check it all out. Oh, and I want you to know I’m loving your story. There is no place to leave comments on your instalments, but I’m really enjoying it, and I like Ingeborg’s character quite a lot.

    • Post Author
      Posted November 24, 2019 at 09:01

      To be honest, I love compiling the Gang Roundups. It allows me to put all my favourite links together and sometimes it prompts more research.
      I know. I hate there’s no place for comments on the chapters. I’ve contacted the guy who created the plugin I’m using and he told me he’s already working on it and should be adding that possibility to add comments in the next update, which he said is going to come soon. I’m eagerly waiting.
      Thanks so much for reading. I’m happy you’re enjoying it :-)

  • Nicholas Rossis
    Posted November 23, 2019 at 06:13

    Wow, it sounds like this has been a pretty hectic couple of months! Thanks for the links and for making my day with your kind mention :)

    • Post Author
      Posted November 24, 2019 at 09:01

      It was a pleasure, Nicholas.
      I love your blog. I’m happy to spread the word :-)

  • Roland R Clarke
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 23:54

    Apologies for this belated visit. I was distracted by NaNoWriMo and an avalanche of emails – still sweeping down. Inspired by what you get done and share. Thanks, Sarah.

    • Post Author
      Posted December 4, 2019 at 17:15

      Thanks for visiting, Roland. I’m agraid I’ve been a terrible blogosphere citizen lately. Must find a way to organise my time so to manage to do most of what I want to do.
      How did your NaNoWriMo go?
      I had to renounce this year. Too much on my plate.

      • Roland R Clarke
        Posted December 4, 2019 at 20:40

        Total understandable, given your commitments, Sarah. I revised my 2018 NaNo attempt so wrote 68k, but that’s not a real win.

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