Tag Archives: Sandra Schwab

On the Dangers of Re-Reading Past Favourites

cover of Rosemary Sutcliff's Eage of the NinthWhen I was eight or nine years old, I read my first Rosemary Sutcliff novel, The Eagle of the Ninth – and fell in love with historical fiction and with the history of Great Britain. She has been one of my favourite authors ever since. Her writing is so vivid and her imagery so strong that I still remember scenes from books I read 25 years ago. And one of the last sentences in Blood Feud has such a great emotional impact that it has remained with me since I first read the book at age thirteen or fourteen:

I have been sitting here in the twilight, remembering, as old men remember the days when they were young, and the men who were young with them.

A few weeks ago, I picked up The Sword at Sunset, one of Sutcliff’s few historical novels for adults. It’s a retelling of the Arthurian legends, but it is more grounded in history than most other retellings. I hadn’t read Sutcliff for a couple of years, and reading her now was like coming home. There was this instant familiarity with her prose, an instant connection with her characters. It was wonderful! (However, I had to stop reading when Artos’s illegitimate son Medraut turned up because from that point on it’s basically all downhill – that’s one of the problems with retellings of Arthurian legends: they are so very depressing!)

I found reading this novel deeply nourishing, so naturally I picked up some of her other novels (most of them are now also available in digital formats…. *coughs* ….um….): Frontier Wolf and The Silver Branch (the sequel to The Eagle of the Ninth). Both of them are set in Roman Britain, and, indeed, I think Sutcliff particularly excelled at writing about Roman Britain. She brings history to life in a way I’ve seen it rarely achieved by other writers, and she makes you curious about history. Inevitably, you want to learn more about this time period.

And this is where things become problematic.

Especially when you are a writer.

So I was driving to university this morning, and I thought about how much fun it would be to write a romance set in Roman times.

In Roman Britain?

Well, not bad, but… hm…

The highway stretches along the edge of the Taunus, until eventually, you cross the river Rhine to reach Mainz – the old Roman camp Mongontiacum. And I’m reminded that this has once been the edge of the Roman empire, with the Limes, the large frontier wall, separating the empire from the lands of the barbarians.

And I thought, “Now, wouldn’t it be fun to write a romance set here, in the region where I live. And we have this wonderful reconstructed Roman frontier fort – what could be better for doing research?!?! And…. just think! It would be awesome!!!!”

Oh dear.

Thinking things like that is rather… um… dangerous because it leads me to online bookstores and…. um…. searches in online bookstores.  (Bad, bad things, searches!) And then I end up with something like this:

cover of The Complete Roman LegionsThe Complete Roman Legions.

Goes well with the map of imperial Rome that I’ve had for a couple of years.

And with the Roman games I bought at the Roman museum in Canterbury a few years ago. (Underground museum + I was the only person in the museum = SUPER-SCARY!!!!!!)


Test, test, test, or, Oy, Google! Do you hear me?

In the past few days I’ve been doing battle with WordPress, trying to find a theme that would suit my needs better and, more importantly, trying to find a way to make this dratted blog visible for Google. Ever since I’ve migrated my blog to this self-hosted WP version, it has been invisible for Google searches. I finally figured that this was probably due to the fact that my old blog was still visible, and, apparently, Google doesn’t like duplicated content. (*quietly sobs into her keyboard* After I’ve gone to all the trouble of transferring all of my old content!!)

Found out that I make old blog invisible to Google searches. New blog now shows up in searches for “Sandy’s Chatterblog.” Yay!

Now, how to make new posts come up in Google searches for “Sandra Schwab”?

Create tag “Sandra Schwab.”

Nope. Doesn’t seem to do any good.


On some WP forum somebody recommends activating the “Sharing” option under “Settings” and connecting one’s Google Plus profile to WP.

Excellent idea! But where the heck is that dratted “Sharing” option?!?!?!

Finally figured out that this option is only available for WP-hosted blogs, not for self-hosted WP blogs. *head desk*

Back to Google.

Aha! Apparently, I have to add a html line to the header of my blog! Easy, right?


Where the heck do I find the index of the blog?

Back to Google. (Again.)

Aha! Apparently, there is no index file in a WP blog.

Um…. What?

Back to friend Google.

Aha! Apparently, the header file can be found in the folder of the activated WP theme. That should be easy to find, right?

Um… It’s not a html file, btw, but a php file.

*panic ensues* How do I change I php file?!?!?!?!

Finally figured that one out. Inserted relevant line. Saved file. Uploaded file. Added blog to Google Plus profile.

And now… *drum roll* …let’s find out whether I’ve managed to make this blog show up in Google searches.

Exam Time

Sketches on an Exam
Today the students in one of my classes had to write their end-of-term exam. It was so hot and humid in the classroom that I feared either one of my students or I myself would keel over. To prevent myself from swooning, I not only drank one liter of water (which was not such an excellent idea given that I couldn’t go to the restroom for 90 minutes…), but also sketched a couple of unsuspecting students. On the exam. I thought that was fitting. 🙂

(And because my people sketching skills are beyond awful, I can post this sketch here, because those poor students are completely unrecognizable anyway…)