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A "Writing" Day
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So far this has been one of those days reserved for writing and entirely devoted to writing but which, somehow, produces no actual writing.

I just now spent some time updating our website to reflect two new reviews by Mary:

The Cat's Eye by R. Austin Freeman at Steve Lewis' Mystery*File

The Safety Pin by J. S. Fletcher, at Alan Bishop's Criminal History

Mary's reviews of golden age mysteries page is an excellent addition to our site and we hope that her reviews might encourage people interested in such mysteries to sample our own books which probably owe more to golden age authors than to modern ones. And we all know that keeping one's name out there in view is an important part of the writer's job.

Most of the day I spent on another job that writers can't avoid -- researching. When I got up this morning I blithely assumed I'd quickly bat out a brief scene in which our detective, John, runs into an old friend from his military days, an Armenian named Haik, who has just arrived in Constantinople. Haik has traveled from what is now Syria with general Belisarius who has been recalled by Emperor Justinian, in early 532, following some eventful run-ins with the Persians. I wasn't really expecting Haik to say much, in this scene, about Belisarius' military adventures, but it suddenly occurred to me that just in case the subject should come up, I'd better make sure I had my geography straight.

Easier said than done. As soon as I began reading the contemporary account, The Wars by Procopius who spent years at Belisarius' side as his secretary, I realized I had a problem. Historians could be remarkably vague back then. Thus I learned that at one point Belisarius was to defend the fortress at Daras, which was 100 stades from Nisibis. Then later, some emissaries from Persia and the Eastern Roman Empire met near the border of Persia and Rome, and the potential heir to the Persian throne, Chosroes, stayed near the Tigris River, only two days journey away. So what with ancient names that did not match modern ones, and imprecise distances given in measurements whose modern equivalent -- I soon learned -- is a matter of dispute....well....

I wrote down all the clues, scattered about in the long narrative and began trying to relate them to each other. Also, with difficulty, I found some maps from Victorian era history books. Finally I managed to get a picture of the comings and goings Procopius was rattling on about. Probably I didn't need the information but until I had it I didn't feel comfortable starting the scene.

So we started the day having written 8,132 words and after all this "writing" the word count now stands at....8,132. But I guess the evening is still young.

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