Hearts Through History Romance Writers

Egypt and Greco-Roman Art, Mystery, Adventure and Romance

Years ago I traveled overseas for business and was gone for two weeks at a time. I traveled alone and kept my suitcase filled with paperback books. It was the perfect way to spend the evening after finishing up my reports and preparing for the next city.

On the long trip from New York to Egypt I consumed a romance mystery novel, The Mummy. It wasn’t the classic story, definitely a romance. I wish I could remember the author. I do remember the story taking place in the 1920’s. When I got to Cairo I stepped back in time. I walked through the Cairo Museum, a smallish building, that was filled to overflowing with mummies and sarcophagi. I took the obligatory trip to the Sphinx and Pyramids.

On a drive through the desert to Alexandria with my Egyptian colleague I saw sand dunes as large as mountains and in the distance large tanker ships that seemed to float through the desert. They were going through the Suez Canal. Business-wise the trip was a success. Personally, I reread my book as I experienced Egypt. It was more wonderful the second time.

When I returned home I once again scoured my local bookstore (we had them then) for something new. I found Elizabeth Peters. She’s become one of my favorite authors. She writes about Amelia Peabody, a Victorian woman deeply in love with her husband, archaeologist Lord Radcliffe Emerson, her son, Ramses, and Egypt. The stories are filled with mystery, adventure, romance and Egypt.

You can find out more about Lady Amelia in a post by Shelley Noble wrote a while ago as well as on Amelia Peabody‘s own website.

I know some of you write about Egypt, Greece and Rome. Tell me about them.

History on Film

I majored in History twice in college.  Yes, one bachelor’s degree wasn’t enough, so I went back and got a second.  In the pursuit of that second degree, I was blessed to take hands-down the best History class ever: Historiography.  For those who don’t know, Historiography is the history of how history has been recorded.  The more historical romance novels I write, the more important I realize the whole concept of historiography is to us.  (more…)

The Question of Historical Accuracy

Before we discuss how accurate your historical novel should be, we should look at why we decide to write a historical novel in the first place (we know most of us aren’t doing it for the money).  So why did you decide to write historical romance? 

From my perspective as a history teacher, I want a historical novel to allow the reader to exist in another time and another place. But you’re not a history teacher you say. Well, if you’re writing a historical novel – you ARE a history teacher. Remember the old Chinese saying “every time you open a book you learn something”. Your readers are learning something from your books. It up to you to determine what they learn.  (more…)

Music to write by

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Often times while writing I like to have music on in the background.  I found the music needs to be instrumental.  If there are words, I find that I’m actually listening to the music, and not using it a background.

Music, like the sense of smell brings memories or feelings associated with the music.  So it’s a big help to use music that fits what you happen to be writing.  Since I write historical romance, I tend to use music that reflects this.

I discovered this when I wrote my first novel, Kentucky Green, set in the Kentucky frontier in 1794.  While writing this story, I listened to the movie sound track to The Last of the Mohicans. Not only did the music fit the story, but if I was writing a love scene, there was a romantic track.  Tracks for the action/adventure part of my story.


Teaching history with stories

Two things happened last week that prompted this blog.  There was a discussion on our loop about the lack of history knowledge in today’s students, and I watched one of my favorite movies.  The movie was Red River (1948), a western staring John Wayne and Montgomery Cliff.  As a history professor tried to make history real for my students, and one of the ways I did this was to show the first twenty minutes of this film for a discussion of the westward moment in America history.

For those of you who haven’t seen the film, here’s a brief summary of what the students saw. Thomas Dunstan (John Wayne) and his friend (Walter Brennan) are on a wagon train west before the Civil War, 1851 when they pull their wagon out of line and head south to Texas to start a ranch. 

Wagon Master: You can’t leave, you signed on.

\Dunstan: I signed nothing, if I had I’d stay say, no I didn’t, I joined the train after you left St. Louis. (He keeps looking over his shoulder down the line of wagons).

Wagon Master: But there are signs of Indians #1.  The Comanche’s are welcome to you, but not your bull and cow, we need the beginning of herds in California. #2

Dunstan: I’m starting my own herd.

As they start to leave, the girl Dunstan has fallen in love with wants to go with them.

Dunstan: I decided last night.

Girl: I have too, I want to go with you.

Dunstan: I’ll send for you

Girl: I know you have work to do, Tom.  I want to be part of it. I love you.

Dunstan: It’s too much for a woman.

She pleads with him, but he says no.

Dunstan:  I’ve made up my mind.  I’ll send for you.  Will you come?

Girl: Of course I’ll come. #3

But Dunstan says he has work to do, and he’ll send for her when he gets the ranch set up.  So Dunstan and his friend head south. 

Dunstan and his friends, reach Texas, and in the middle of nowhere, they stop, brand their bull and cow to start their ranch. 

Dunstan: This is it, good water and grass.

Garth (as a boy): Who this belong to?

To me. Someday this will all be covered with good beef

 At this point two Mexican arrive from the south.

Mexican: Where do you travel

Dunstan: No where

Mexican: You may remain here on Don Diego’s land. You are welcome for day, a week, a year

Dunstan: Are you Diego?

Mexican: No senior

Dunstan: Where is he?

Mexican: At his home across the river, 600 kilometers south

Groot: How far is that?

Dunstan: About 400 miles

Groot: That’s too much land for one man. Why it ain’t decent.  All this land aching to be used. It ain’t decent, I tell you.

Mexican: But it is for Don Diego to decide.

Dunstan: Where did he get the land

Mexican: In grant from the king of all the Spains

Dunstan: Took it away from those who were here first. Indians maybe. Well, I’m taking it away from him. #4

 This is essentially the prologue to the rest of the movie which deals with the first cattle drive north after the Civil War. And, of course, there is a romantic element that comes into the story.


One of the things I tried to teach was critical thinking.  After seeing this part of the film, I’d asks question as to what they’d seen.  What might have been incorrect?  What did you learn about the lives of the people of the time? 


Here are some of the things I pointed out to the class (from the numbers above).


#1 – Indian attacks on wagons trains were not common before the Civil War, as the wagon trains were just traversing the Great Plains.  Indians attacks happen mostly during and after the Civil Was as the Indians realized the people were planning on staying on the land.


#2 – they didn’t need cattle in California. The Spanish had brought cattle, and they multiplied until they were killed for hides and tallow.  Hides went back to New England to make into shoes.


#3 At this point I asked the women in the class to think about this scenario – This man is the love of your life, you go on the Oregon.  How long are you going to wait for him to send for you?  A year?  Two years? Forever?  Eventually marry someone else and hope you don’t hear from him? For the men this is the scenario – This woman is the love of your life, and you’ve made a success of your ranch.  How are you going to send for her? How are you going to send a letter or massager?  Go yourself?  Where is Oregon are you going to look? Say the heck with it and marry whoever’s available?


#4 this film (in addition to being a good movie –OK I admit it’s one of my favorites) has a good example of Manifest Destiny (you remember that from you history classes, right?).  Land belongs to those who can utilize it.


Have you ever seen a movie (or read a book) that made history come alive for you?  I hope I made my students think about who we are and where we come from that has shaped up into who we are today.  And I think that what, in some way, all of us who write historical novels do – tell today’s readers about the past and make it come alive.