The Romans were technically ingenious!
As well as a knife, spoon, and fork, this implement provides a spike, spatula and small pick. The spike might have helped in extracting the meat from snails, and the spatula in poking sauce out of narrow-necked bottles: the pick could have served as a tooth-pick.
While many less elaborate folding knives survive in bronze, this one’s complexity and the fact that it is made of silver suggest it is a luxury item, perhaps a useful gadget for a wealthy traveller.
Cerbonius again took a seat on his favourite boulder and Silvanus sat at his feet. Then the Bishop told him a parable, saying:
‘A certain farmer lived with his wife and two young sons on a small island. Their possessions consisted of little more than a simple hut, several hens, three goats, a few vines and an ancient olive tree. Although the family meticulously gathered most of the olives, fermenting them in clay pots using rock salt, some were found by the hens and wild birds. Continue reading
One day Cerbonius went up to his favourite boulder and sat down. When Silvanus took his place next to him, the Bishop told him a parable, saying:
‘A father asked his sons to follow him. Procius maintained he was old enough to decide for himself what to do. Gallus, hesitated, then decided to join his older brother. So the father went out alone. Continue reading
For a change, I’m including a guest post. Thanks, Lucy Adams, for an interesting and thought-provoking article.
Why do people read books? What are the reasons that they are among the most important inventions of human civilization? You know the answer, although you may not be aware of it.
Today I want to talk about two of the largest concepts of fiction, but let me start from afar. Continue reading
“Kill your darlings!” they say. Oh, how it hurts to have to cut carefully crafted episodes out of my manuscript, just to comply with the expected word count.
Here is one such incident that that had to go. It took place on the Isle of Capraria, very near the end of the book. Continue reading
I just discovered a map Silvanus must have made, showing his treks across Ilva. How do you like it?
Actually, it was made for him by a brilliant cartographer in Russia, Polina Vorontsova.
Aware that he was soon to die, Cerbonius bequeathed all the wisdom he had garnered over his long and colourful life to his spiritual son, Silvanus, in the form of a scroll of warnings and admonitions for young Christian believers.
Silvanus would have liked to read Cerbonius’s advice out loud and ask for explanations where necessary. But the aged Bishop was too weak. So I’ve taken the liberty of here reproducing the headlines of that catalogue, together with some comments the Saint would have voiced had he had the strength: Continue reading
I’m afraid she did exactly what I feared. Much to my grief, the good lady editor said my book was unworthy. And she begged me not to take steps toward self-publishing, like finding someone to design a cover for it.
‘It’s far too long. The plot is all over the place. Most of the action happens off stage. It doesn’t resonate with a young adult readership. And it’s too preachy.’
I was devastated.
One point she made, which others have also mentioned, was that Cerbonius‘s archaic speech didn’t work. I had given him that antiquated argot because I wanted him to come over as old and provincial. But if it didn’t work, it needed to be changed, I told myself. It needed to be translated from English into English. Continue reading
It’s one thing to say I have completed the first draft of Aquila – all 34½ chapters – but quite another to say my book is finished.
I’ve benefitted greatly from the constructive and critical feedback I’ve received over more than two years through kindly colleagues in the Ubergroup on Scribophile and through less tolerant friends at the OtherWorlds Writing Group in Zürich. Considering all the – sometimes contradictory – remarks and suggestions was a major job. Then I started on some other issues I knew needed attention.
The next stage was a chapter-by-chapter Combo Check with Pro Writing Aid (Have a look at their Special Offer), which revealed a huge number of stylistic weaknesses, such as sticky words, far too many adverbs, repeated words, long sentences and overuse of things like ‘think’, ‘believe’, ‘then’, ‘heard’, ‘just’, etc.
A professional editor requested a double-spaced hardcopy, so I had two drafts printed. The second is for my own use – to read aloud (my wife has volunteered as a captive audience) and for further reviewing.
There’s still a way to go and – unless the editor says it’s unworthy of publishing – one of the next steps will be to have a cover designed.
Aquila won’t be on the shelves tomorrow!
Snow-covered Alps in the distance, a red kite complaining about having been chased from its realm by angry crows, a waxing moon and last rays of sunshine at 4 pm on the 17th of December!
Having completed the first draft of my book, much revision is called for. One approach I’ve discovered is to read it out aloud, chapter by chapter, and listen to what it sounds like. What better place to do that than a hunter’s hide at the edge of the woods? The deer, foxes and hares don’t object.