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Gang Roundup – October 2020

It’s October, the year is turning towards its end, and things are not as well as we all hoped.
The numbers of contagion are going up again here in Italy, as all over the world. From tomorrow, we’ll have to wear a mask even outside as it was during the lockdown back in March.
I really don’t know what to expect from this winter. I almost fear to think about it. But let’s hope that we learned something from last spring.

Be careful, everyone. Stay safe!


October is the month of Halloween. I’ve already seen people getting ready, especially in my reading group.
Will you be doing something special?
I always plan to read a lot more spooky stories, but then my ply always fell on the roadside. I’m already on the roadside at this moment. I’m far behind with my NetGalley reads as well as with reads I’ve promised to friends.
Have you ever had a look at what Halloween looked like in the 1920s?
It was quite a scary affair.

30 Vintage Photos Show Strange and Terrifying Halloween Costumes From Between the 1900s and 1920s

Fortunately, others were a bit less scary, but still quite strange.

Weird Old Figures and a New Twist:
Cultural Functions of Halloween at the Turn of the 20th Century

It appears that Halloween wasn’t the great celebration it has become as recently as the beginning of the 1900s. It was in the 1920s, with the booming consumerism – to which it appears to be closely bound – that Halloween became ‘a thing’, especially in the United States.
Here’s a paper about it.

halloween 1920s skull child

Halloween costumes in the 1920s were genuinely terrifying

1920s Halloween cocstumes are really seriously scary. Sometimes I wonder whether this comes from the memory of WWI. People in the 1920s were mor efamiliar with death than we are today, many young people had seen the battlefields and mamed veterans were hadly rare in the streets – at least in Europe.
May this explain the macabre vibe of these costumes?


Beyond the Moon by Catherine Taylor

BEYOND THE MOON (Catherine Taylor) A strange twist of fate connects a British soldier fighting in the First World War in 1916 with a young woman living in modern-day England a century later, in this haunting literary time travel novel.

In 1916 1st Lieutenant Robert Lovett is a patient at Coldbrook Hall military hospital in Sussex, England. A gifted artist, he’s been wounded fighting in the Great War. Shell shocked and suffering from hysterical blindness he can no longer see his own face, let alone paint, and life seems increasingly hopeless.

A century later in 2017, medical student Louisa Casson has just lost her beloved grandmother – her only family. Heartbroken, she drowns her sorrows in alcohol on the South Downs cliffs – only to fall accidentally part-way down. Doctors fear she may have attempted suicide, and Louisa finds herself involuntarily admitted to Coldbrook Hall – now a psychiatric hospital, an unfriendly and chaotic place.

Then one day, while secretly exploring the old Victorian hospital’s ruined, abandoned wing, Louisa hears a voice calling for help, and stumbles across a dark, old-fashioned hospital room. Inside, lying on the floor, is a mysterious, sightless young man, who tells her he was hurt at the Battle of the Somme, a WW1 battle a century ago. And that his name is Lieutenant Robert Lovett…


The Surprisingly Important Role China Played in WWI

It is indeed quite surprising how little we know about why WWI was really a ‘World’ war.
Both Japan and China took part in it (as did courtries from all continents), though China only supplied non-combatants to the war effort. The Chinese people who took part int he conflict mostly build trenches and other infrustructure, or attende the battlefields armament.
It’s a little known part of the great history of the Great War that indeed deserves to be known more.

Sarah Plugs Her Stuff

On September 14th, I was unexpectedly called back to work. 

Imagine this: I went from having total control of my time, to having no control of my time. 
These first weeks have been hellish, too. I just had time to sleep and eat at home. 
So, you guessed it, all my plans have gone to the wind.

What can I say? I now have to find a way to go after my writing the way I did before: when I can, and often skipping the entire day. 

But let’s not complain about it. 

Somehow I did it before, so I can do it again. 

New publications

I haven’t touched Before the First Line since last I’ve mentioned it on this blog. I was hoping to publish it at the end of September. Now I’ll be lucky if I’ll be able to publish it at the end of the year. 

But what I want to do above all is publishing the ebook version of Living the Twenties. It absolutely has to come out before the end of this year. So I definitely need a plan, because these last months of the year will be hellish. 

Instagram makeover

Things are very slow with my Instagram Makeover too. 

But I have restyled my entire feed (that is, I planned it) and I love it! I found a combination of colours that really speaks to me, and I think it reflects the spirit of my stories very well. 

I’m also working on the hashtags and the captions, then I’ll be able to start porting. Don’t you love it when you discover that the hashtags you’ve been using are totally useless to you? 

I can’t wait to start revealing my feed. I hope you’ll like it.

The Frozen Maze

NaNoWriMo November 2020 - square badge

Next month is NaNoWriMo, and I see where I’m heading. I need to finish my revision of The Frozen Maze

Who would have thought that almost a year would pass before I took up this story again? 

But then, who would have thought to find themselves in a pandemic emergency? 

I need a full immersion in this, and I think NaNoWriMo is the perfect opportunity. There are two micro blocks I need to tackle: the central part, set in Schneedorf, which I was about to write when I stopped back in March. And the final part. 

Both these parts are drafted, but I feel I’ll have to work a lot of changes into them. I’ve already started revising the Schneedorf part, and I’d rewritten a good half of it before I stopped. The good news is I know perfectly where I want to go with it. It will be tricky to write, but I know where I want to go. 

The concluding part is different. I’m not sure I’m pleased with it anymore. In fact, I’m quite sure I’m not. But at this moment, I can’t say how I’d like to change it. 

But hey, let’s take a step at the time!

Tolkien and bibliotherapy

Because I don’t have enough on my hands already, I’ve taken up the offer of a friend to work with him. 

He is a bibliotherapist, an educator with books, so to say. He has recently launched his own business. It’s an online academy where people may learn about bibliotherapy and take courses to become a bibliotherapist. But also a place where readers may learn interesting things in general. 

Because he likes the work I’m doing about Tolkien on my Medium publication and elsewhere, he asked me to create a course on this subject. 

It will be something totally new to me. This will be mostly done in videos (heeeeelp!!!!!), which means I have lots of new things to learn. It will be a learning curve, and I can’t wait to start! 

What would you like to read?

And now for the main problem.

This is the time of the year when I start planning the AtoZ Challenge. For next year, I was thinking about WWI. I’ve been thinking about doing a WWI AtoZ for a few years now, but I feel I need a lot of research if I want to do a good job. I had actually started researching back in September, but with my current working schedule, I doubt I’ll be ready to draft in February. 

So I need a plan B in the likely event I won’t be able to work on this subject. But for the first time in years, I’m not sure where to turn.

Is there anything you’d like to read? Something about the 1920s that would be a good subject for the challenge? 

I have a few ideas, but none would sustain the 26 entries of the AtoZ. I’d love a series about everyday innovations (I’m already planning a series anyway). I’ve meant to write a series about the artistic vanguards of the interwar-years, but that would require even more research than WWI at this point (it’s another series I mean to write sooner or later). On the back burner is also a series entirely devoted to the car and what enormous changes it brought about in people’s lives. 

Is there anything you’d like to read in particular? Even something I haven’t mention? 

I’d really appreciate some input. 

The next few months will be hard work wherever I turn. But it will be fun!


Gang RoundUp - October 2020 - Halloween wasn't the great celebration it has becomeuntil the beginning of the 1900s. In the 1920s, with the booming consumerism, to which it appears to be closely bound, Halloween became 'a thing', especially in the United States.

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