Lost at Sea Scavenger Hunt Stop #14

Welcome to the Lost At Sea Scavenger Hunt where we are helping the Kinsman people find a new home. If you’ve just found us, be sure to start the adventure at Stop #1, which is Jill Williamson’s blog. 

 Collect all the clue words in order so you can enter to win the Kindle. If you want to enter to win the second Kindle, you’ll have to take a quiz at the end, so take your time and read each post carefully. The main prizes in the hunt are open to international entries. Individual author contests, however, might have different rules, so please read the parameters on each site. You have until Sunday night, February 19, at midnight, Pacific time to finish.
 
If you need help, or get lost along the way, click here for assistance.
 

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There was something alive in that forest that Wilek didn’t trust. He led his people southwest, along a river, hoping at this point he might find the sea and his fleet waiting. They came upon a castle on a grassy plain, Stop #14, Acktar, from Tricia Mingerink’s novel Dare, the first volume in The Blades of Acktar series.


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Tricia Mingerink is a twenty-something, book-loving, horse-riding country girl. She lives in Michigan with her family and their pack of pets. When she isn’t writing, she can be found pursuing backwoods adventures across the country. Visit Tricia on her website at www.triciamingerink.com.

 Here’s a closer look at Dare, the first volume in The Blades of Acktar series. 
 
Dare Ebook CoverCourage could cost him everything. Third Blade Leith Torren never questions his orders or his loyalty to King Respen until an arrow wound and a prairie blizzard drive him to the doorstep of the girls whose family he once destroyed. Their forbidden faith and ties to the Resistance could devastate their family a second time. Survival depends on obedience, but freedom beckons. How far does he dare go to resist the king and his Blades? No matter what Leith chooses, one thing is certain. Someone will die.
 

Welcome to Acktar
 

Map of Acktar PictureIf you’re looking for the ocean, you won’t find it anywhere near Acktar. It’s a land-locked country of rolling prairie for hundreds of miles in nearly every direction. Its northern border is the Sheered Rock Hills, a stretch of mountains covered in scrub pine and juniper. The Spires Canyon, a deep trench with the Ondieda River at the bottom, marks the eastern border. Beyond the northeastern corner of Acktar, a desert known as the Waste stretches in miles of dusty earth where even the water is too contaminated to drink.

Acktar’s culture is a mix of American West meets Medieval. There are lords, ladies, and manor houses, but also western saddles, rattlesnakes, and mountain lions.

Nalgar Castle, the only castle in Acktar, rises from the prairie near the center of Acktar. King Respen, a usurper and murderer, rules here with his Blades, his group of highly-trained assassins.

Image from www.castlewales.com

Acktar is in the midst of a war between King Respen and the Resistance. If you’re looking to settle here, be prepared to pick a side and fight for it.


You can order Dare and the rest of The Blades of Acktar series in paperback on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, or your favorite online retailer. They are also available on Kindle ebook and audio
CLUE! Write down this clue: sea
 
Before you move on, I am giving away your choice of a signed copy of one of the books in The Blades of Acktar to three lucky winners. This giveaway is open to international entries, but the books will not be able to be signed if international. Winners will be announced February 21. 
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Follow the Rafflecopter link to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for visiting my blog. Enjoy the rest of the scavenger hunt!

 

Posted in Announcements, Book Recommendations, The Blades of Acktar and tagged , , , , , by with 99 comments.

Bonus Short Story #3 Released!

I have decided 29 reviews is close enough to 30. And Deliver (The Blades of Acktar #4) is at the editor, so that calls for celebration!

This third short story is technically a cut scene…from Deliver. Yes, you read that right. You’re getting a sneak peak at something that used to be at the beginning of Deliver. In editing, I had to cut out the scene and, rather than let it languish forever unread, I changed the POV to Shad’s, added a few beginning scenes, and turned it into a short story.

Actually, this isn’t the first cut scene from Deliver that I’ve released. The coronation scene at the end of Destroy used to be in the beginning of Deliver and in Renna’s POV. I cut it from Deliver, knowing that it really belonged as part of Keevan’s story.

So here you have it, the third short story and a small taste of things to come in Deliver:

Taking out the Stitches (cut scene from Destroy) 4 pages: 10 Reviews: PDF Cut Scene

The Perfect Plan (backstory about Laurence & Annita Faythe) 25 pages: 20 Reviews: PDF The Perfect Plan

The Wedding (story about Shad & Jolene) 24 pages: 30 Reviews: PDF File The Wedding


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Bonus Short Story #2 Released!

destroy-cover-121216Destroy has reached 20 reviews! Woot! Woot! Time to celebrate!

Of all the short stories to be released, this one is my favorite. It is a bit of backstory telling how Laurence and Annita met. Annita is just…she’s fun. She’s Brandi’s mom, so her voice is kind of similar, yet she’s even a bit more reckless, if you can imagine that.

It was also fun to write a few well known characters at a completely different time in their lives. Lord Alistair as a nervous young man before his wedding, anyone?

Without any more introduction, click the link below to read the free short story:

Taking out the Stitches (cut scene from Destroy) 4 pages: 10 Reviews: PDF Cut Scene

The Perfect Plan (backstory about Laurence & Annita Faythe) 25 pages: 20 Reviews: PDF The Perfect Plan

The Wedding (story about Shad & Jolene) 24 pages: 30 Reviews

 


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Bonus Short Story #1

Yay! Destroy has reached 10 reviews! That means I can release the first bonus short story/cut scene.

Technically this isn’t a cut scene. I had finished the novella and I wrote this scene thinking I might add it into the novella when I revised. In revision, I realized that adding this scene would throw off the flow and rhythm of the early chapters. So it was cut before ever getting added.

Click the link below to read the free cut scene:

 

Taking out the Stitches (cut scene from Destroy) 4 pages: 10 Reviews: PDF Cut Scene

The Perfect Plan (backstory about Laurence & Annita Faythe) 25 pages: 20 Reviews

The Wedding (story about Shad & Jolene) 24 pages: 30 Reviews


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Destroy Releases + Free Short Stories!

Ta da!

Today, Destroy (The Blades of Acktar 3.5) releases as a Kindle ebook on Amazon! destroy-cover-121216

This companion novella gives a sneak peek at the backstory of the events of Dare as well as some of the aftermath of Defy. Actually, time wise, it covers the most time of any of the books (nearly 6 and a half years).

You can buy it here on Amazon.

So far, the early readers have enjoyed it, which was something I was biting my nails about. The main character in this one is a character that was nearly universally disliked in Defy (as he was supposed to be).

Yet, somehow, this new main character stole a corner of my heart, and hopefully does the same for a few readers.

I really enjoyed giving the backstory and messing with perceptions in this one, even my own. There were times, I’d catch myself writing something where a character struck back against the Blades and I’d start cheering…only to realize my poor darling Leith was in for a horrible time of it. That’s the nature of backstory, I guess.


Short Stories

I mentioned free short stories. Here’s how they are going to work. When Destroy reaches a certain number of honest reviews on Amazon, it will unlock a short story or cut scene that will be posted for free on my website. Kind of like we all get to celebrate together when Destroy hits a milestone.

Taking out the Stitches (cut scene from Destroy) 6 pages: 10 Reviews

The Perfect Plan (backstory about Laurence & Annita Faythe) 25 pages: 20 Reviews

The Wedding (story about Shad & Jolene) 24 pages: 30 Reviews


I’ve never done this kind of short story giveaway before. I’m excited to see what you guys think. 🙂

I hope you enjoy the book!


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Destroy Cover Reveal & Release Date

This is the moment you have all been waiting for. Information on the next Blades of Acktar release.

Destroy (The Blades of Acktar #3.5)

Release Date: 12/30/16 (Kindle only)

Yes, that’s two weeks from today.

Ready for the cover?

*drum roll*

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Back Cover:

Before the war, before the Blades, before the Leader…

There was a boy and a scullery maid and a secret shame.

One moonlit night of blood and knives destroyed their country and their lives forever.

The cost was hard, but forgiveness is harder.

The Leader failed to die, but will he also fail to lead?


I’m actually a little nervous for this one. It is the first Blades of Acktar release without Leith or Renna as a main character. And the new main character’s sins and struggles aren’t Leith’s sins or struggles. Everything is kept clean, but parents might want to read the first chapter before handing the book to their ten-year-olds just to make sure it isn’t anything their child isn’t ready for.

But plenty of your favorite characters still make an appearance. New characters will steal your heart. And I might have a new favorite cinnamon roll character to huggle.

What do you think? Are you excited for this one?

 

 


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Fandom Merchandise

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This Friday, I’ll post the cover reveal and release date for Destroy (The Blades of Acktar #3.5), but until then, I have another announcement.

I set aside the first week of December and put together a few designs for Blades of Acktar fandom merchandise. I’ve seen other authors do this (and I’ve bought several things as a result because, let’s face it, fandom merchandise is so much fun).

I thought about making the merchandise only available as part of a street team. I’ve seen other authors do this. But, I decided I don’t have the time right now to run a street team, not without taking away from the little writing and editing time I have. Besides, all of you essentially ARE my street team. You do such a great job of getting the word out. You all deserve a way to shout your love of the Blades of Acktar fandom.

Right now, I have two sites where you can get Blades of Acktar merchandise.

  • Zazzle.com – this one has more designs available since its rules on picture sizes are less strict and I had less trouble uploading designs. I believe I left most of the items as open as possible so you can customize colors and sizes. For the clothing, the women’s version is pictured, but they should all be available in youth and men’s sizes if you customize them.
  • Society 6 – this one has more options for housewares items (such as pillows and clocks), but fewer designs available at the moment since this site demands higher pixel counts than Zazzle. Currently I don’t have any apparel set up, but I will be working on that in the future.

Here’s what the Zazzle site looks like and a few of the options:

I have personally purchased items from both of these sites before and have been pleased both times. Currently, both sites are running a lot of promotions for the holidays, which is always nice for saving money if you would like anything (or you can convince a family member to get it for you for Christmas).

Have fun looking through the designs and options!


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Upcoming Publishing Schedule

It’s been a while since I’ve updated you all on a few things. I apologize in advance because there is going to be a flurry of activity this week, but it all good stuff and I think you’ll be excited.

Deliver Update

I have had a lot of people ask me when Deliver (The Blades of Acktar #4) will release.

The short answer: I don’t know yet.

Sorry. *wince* *ducks flying books*

The long answer: The first draft is written. That’s the first big step. Now that November is over, I plan to spend December revising. The revised draft should go out to my editor and early readers in late December or early January. Then it all depends on how long it takes for my editor and early readers to go through it and send it back to me, and how many changes I have to make in the second revision. Then all the publishing stuff and proofreading. Right now, I’m hoping for a March release, but I’m making no promises. I don’t want to rush and give you a sub-par book.

Before you despair too much, keep reading for an update on everything I plan to publish in the next few months.

I Won NaNoWriMo!

In case you don’t know what that is, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. In November, authors all over the world commit to writing 50,000 words in 1 month. Yes, it is as crazy as it sounds, especially for writers like me that also work a day job. To put this in perspective, since working my current full time job, I have never written 50,000 words in a month. My highest word count was roughly 30,000. Somehow, I needed to find time to write an extra 20,000 words.

I did it. Not really sure how. Actually, I do know how. I pretty much did nothing but write and work the entire month of November. But, it was worth it.

What does this mean for you, my amazing readers?

Well, obviously, I wrote 50,000 words of new Blades of Acktar stuff. That’s a lot of words that will be coming your way.

Stuff I wrote during NaNo:

  • I finished the novella about the Leader titled Destroy
  • An extended ending short story for Deliver
  • A short story about Shad and Jolene
  • A few backstory scribbles of scenes in Dare from Shad’s POV
  • A short story about Laurence & Annita Faythe, Renna and Brandi’s parents
  • A short story set 10 years after the end of Deliver
  • A few scenes set 8 years after the end of Deliver that could turn into a novella down the road (but not right away.)

Publishing Schedule

If you’ve been keeping track, I have first drafts of Book 4, a novella, 4 short stories, and a few random backstory scribbles waiting in line to be published. You might be wondering when in Acktar all this cool stuff will finally make it your way.

Here’s the tentative schedule. Things might change, and I’m making no promises.

Late December

  • Destroy (The Blades of Acktar #3.5) releases as Kindle only – this is the novella on the Resistance Leader that gives both backstory for when Respen took over and some new information on what happens immediately after Defy ends. This novella is something of a prequel-sequel that spans about 6 years of time. It isn’t necessary to read this book before Deliver, but it gives more insight into certain characters.
  • short story about Shad and Jolene (to be titled yet) – this will be posted as a freebie on my website as part of launch stuff for Destroy
  • short story about Laurence and Annita Faythe (to be titled yet) –  this will also be posted as a freebie on my website as part of launch stuff for Destroy 

March

  • Deliver (The Blades of Acktar #4) releases – remember, this is a tentative release date. Subject to change
  • extended ending short story for Deliver (to be titled yet) – this will be posted as a freebie on my website as part of launch stuff for Deliver
  • short story set 10 years after Deliver  –  this will also be posted as a freebie on my website as part of launch stuff for Deliver

April 

  • Destroy releases as paperback with all the short stories released as part of the launches for Destroy and Deliver included as bonus content.

Some of the other random backstory scribbles will probably also be released during one of the launches as freebies on my website.

Yes, you read that right. The next Blades of Acktar release is planned for the end of THIS MONTH. It’s a novella (though technically long enough I could call it a short novel) and releasing as a Kindle ebook only at this time, but still. That’s only a few weeks away. I might be kinda freaking out at this point.

Later this week, I’ll have a cover release for Destroy and give out an official release date so you can count down the days. There will also be more information about Destroy then.

So stay tuned. 😉


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Turning Points – A Time to Rise Blog Tour

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I’ve been thinking a lot about turning points lately. It has been about two months since I posted on this blog, and most of that is due to stumbling across and purchasing a fixer upper house, moving, and making do without internet. A new house, a new turning point.

As I’ve posted about before, I’ve been into listening to history courses through the Great Courses lately. If you get them through Audible, they are pretty affordable. Recently, I listened to one on Turning Points in Medieval History, done by an English professor, not a history professor. Her perspective took on history as one big story, showing how each turning point isn’t a separate event standing all by itself, but interconnected with all the past turning points and influencing all the future ones. As a Christian, I could appreciate this even more because I believe the reason history is so interconnected and seems to be one story is BECAUSE it is one story. Christ’s story. God’s story.

Our own lives are also filled with turning points. Days and events that stick out to us as the moment something changed and set us on a new course. Often, these turning points are tragedy. But not always.

And sometimes, someone else’s turning point affects your own turning point.

Nadine Brandes has talked about several times how a turning point in her life started her on the path to writing her debut novel A Time to Die. In this novel, the main character Parvin experiences her own turning points when, with only a year left to live, she realizes she’s wasted her life, and she sets out to change that.

This was all a good three years before I even knew Nadine Brandes existed. I was partway through college, getting my degree in writing and dreaming about being a published author.

Fast forward a few years. I graduated college, was a year into a full time job, and was submitting a nonfiction manuscript I’d written and getting nowhere with it. I was frustrated that my dream of graduating college and having the time to write books hadn’t worked out. I felt like I had no time and would never have the time I wanted.

Honestly, I don’t remember what made me sit down and give myself a good shake from my pity party. One day, I realized that the reason I wasn’t a writer and wasn’t finishing books was that I was wasting time whining about my lack of time.

This was March 2014. That same month, I started writing Dare. Three months later, I had a completed book. I set it aside and started Deny.

During this time, I also turned my attention away from researching nonfiction publishing toward fiction publishing. I read blogs, books, articles. Traditional publishing. Self Publishing. All of it.

And this is where the turning point thing starts getting cool. I stumbled across Jill Williamson’s Replication as a free ebook. It was the first time I’d discovered the whole Christian speculative fiction world out there. I then went on to read her other books, and the Blood of Kings trilogy showed me that there was still such a thing as Christian fantasy besides Lewis and Tolkien.

Since I was researching publishing, I tracked down the publisher. It was Marcher Lord, right when it was transitioning to Enclave Publishing. I explored every inch of that website, and of course read the blog. Guess who had posted on the blog promoting the release of her debut book?

Yep, Nadine Brandes. nadine-early-release-2

The book sounded really cool, so I stalked her site. Learned she was an editor. Submitted Dare to her for editing. I was too late to officially join the blog tour for A Time to Die, but I unofficially joined it with a post of my own. It had to have been one of the first two or three posts I did on my blog, since I started my blog in August of that year, and that post is from September.

When I was finally able to read A Time to Die in October, Parvin’s realization of wasting time mirrored my own realization from a few months before. Wasting time. Waiting for something to plop out of the sky instead of actively pursuing God’s will.

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That idea of being active in pursing God’s will and glorifying Him stuck with me. It still resonated when, early in 2015, I sat down and had to decide how I should publish Dare. Traditional or indie? Through all my research, the indie route had tugged at me, but I wasn’t sure I dared do it. What did I really know? What if I messed all this up and Dare flopped and…and…

It was all my fear talking, and finally God made it clear indie was the route to go with these books. That moment I hit the publish button, I gave it all to Him. I’d sown the seed. The increase was His, no matter how large or small or whatever it might be.

But I wasn’t wasting time anymore. I was doing my best to actively pursue His will in a way I hadn’t before.

And He did bless the increase way beyond anything I had dreamed for that book.

Then the fall of 2015 came around. I was drained from the rewrites of Deny. Wondering if it would ever measure up to everyone’s expectations. Scared because everyone HAD expectations now, when they hadn’t with Dare.

Then A Time to Speak, Nadine’s next book, released. It was Parvin’s time to speak, to draw on the confidence of the lessons she’d learned in the first book. atimetospeak5

But it also pushed me to speak. To stop stuttering and stammering and hoping someone would change the topic when they asked about my books. To figure out how to keep giving it all to God now that this crazy ride was set in motion.

It’s strange to look back now and see how much a year and a half can change a person. In the year since publishing Dare and reading A Time to Die, I’ve become much more confident in how I interact with people. I’ve signed books at a craft sale. I spoke at a small Christian school. I’ve gone to two writer’s conferences and was able to relax instead of remain a bundle of introverted nerves in the corner. All of that confidence, those turning points, led to the turning point I started this whole post with: buying a house, moving. It wasn’t something I would’ve been ready to handle a year ago.

Looking back, I’m amazed at the way God used the turning points in my life to bring me to this point.

If I hadn’t gotten Replication as an ebook…

If A Time to Die hadn’t been releasing…

If I hadn’t stumbled across Nadine and found an editor and friend…

If A Time to Die and A Time to Speak hadn’t given me pushes when I needed them…

Would I have published Dare? Would I have gone to the writer’s conferences and made a whole bunch of writer friends?

And now, another turning point. A Time to Rise, the third and final book in the Out of Time series releases officially in 10 days, though Amazon is shipping it early if you want to order it now. You can read my review (also known as flailing fangirling) of the book here.

Yes, you all totally have the Out of Time series to thank, in part, for the fact that I ever published The Blades of Acktar.

Have you experienced turning points in your life? How have they affected you?

 

Want to connect with Nadine yourself? Because, after all, she’s an awesome human being.

Nadine is also the queen of Facebook parties, so you won’t want to miss the one she is hosting on October 18

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Want to check out the Out of Time series for yourself?

A Time to Die

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A Time to Speak

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A Time to Rise

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Posted in Book Recommendations, Christianity, The Blades of Acktar, Writing Blogs, Writing Life, YA Authors and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , by with 6 comments.

How to Horribly, Epically Lose a Battle

I happen to really love history, especially military history. When on vacation, I drag my less-than-enthusiastic friends to obscure Civil War battle sites and get WAY too thrilled by accidentally stumbling across a house that was once used as a Civil War hospital.

Recently, I got my hands on a series of lectures about great military disasters. I’m talking about battles that went so horribly wrong that entire armies were wiped out and empires fell because of it. The losing side in some of the battles in the lectures had something like 80-100% casualties.

Interestingly enough, the SAME problems kept popping up in almost every battle that went horribly wrong. And, as a writer, I started paying attention. If I wanted to write a battle scene where the villain lost a battle in a horrific, defining way (or the hero, though this is more rare because battles that are lost this spectacularly are hard to recover from) , history gives LOTS of examples on exactly how that should be done.


Here it goes. A set of instructions on how to Horribly, Epically Lose a Battle.

Military disasters

  1. Be as Overconfident as possible. 

If you want to lose a battle as disastrously as possible, this is the number one thing to keep in mind. Almost every horrible, tragic defeat stems from this.

Overconfidence leads to a host of other errors such as underestimating the enemy’s intelligence and numbers (preferably coupled with a healthy dose of prejudice that the other side can NEVER be as awesome as your own men), ignoring basic military tenants (such as scouting the land and the enemy’s position before engaging in battle), not knowing when to retreat, pouring more resources into an already lost battle and thereby making the loss even worse than it would’ve been, and even ignoring your own orders (such as ignoring your own order to fortify your position when encamped in enemy territory and instead letting your camp sprawl out in all disorganized directions).

This number one error will ultimately cause a compounding of several errors and lead to an epically horrible defeat that will probably end your life or at the very least bring down whatever empire you were hoping to build.

2. Put People in Leadership Positions who Hate Each Other. 

If your commanders, especially your top commanders, cannot work together, you will be well on your way to a massive military disaster, especially if you’ve stuck to advice #1 and cling to overconfidence.

If your commanders hate each other, they won’t communicate on the battlefield, leading to mismanaged charges, missed opportunities, and strife within the ranks. They might even get so caught up in verbally fighting each other that they forget about actually fighting the enemy, or they will actually hinder each others ability to fight the enemy.

Better yet, make sure one or both of these commanders are incompetent as well as argumentative. Epic military disaster will ensue.

3. Make as Many Tactical Errors as Possible

Usually, these tactical errors will automatically arise from overconfidence, and that overconfidence will also prevent you from correcting them when they do occur.

Best blunders to make:

  • Not scouting the land or enemy position. This sets you up for getting your entire army trapped in an ambush and wiped out.
  • Fighting the current war with the tactics of the last war. This always has horrible consequences, especially when advances in technology have occurred. Even if no technological advances have happened, always using the EXACT SAME tactics in every battle usually gives the enemy a chance to figure out a way to counter them.
  • Having advances in technology, but not using it to its best effect.
  • Not sending in enough men to turn the tide of battle at the crucial moment.
  • Not retreating when the battle has already been lost. Even better, keep sending in men into a losing battle. This maximizes casualties and guarantees the worst possible outcome.
  • Sending out unclear orders to your commanders. This will send them into chaos and confusion, especially if they are arguing with each other.
  • Having unclear reasons for even engaging in that battle in the first place so that the cost of the battle, even if you won, would outweigh the benefit (such as using a whole army to capture an outpost that a small group of commandos could capture just as easily).

If you follow these three instructions and compound all of these errors one on top of another, you will lead you, your men, and your empire into a disastrous military defeat that will probably lead to your death.


 

All joking aside, while this list seems like a rather hyperbolic list, in the lectures I listened to on military disasters, this is exactly what happened through 23 major military disasters across thousands of years of history all over the world. Some of the mistakes that were made were so foolish, a writer would hardly dare have a villain make that mistake because they would appear too foolish to live (and that is usually exactly what happened in history). Some of the battles were hard to listen to knowing that much of the bloodshed was unnecessary.

Anything else you would add to this list?


Posted in Fun History Facts, Writing Advice, You Know You're a Writer If... and tagged , , , , by with 5 comments.