Public service announcement: how to kill someone by anal impalement

A few years ago I achieved minor internet infamy by writing about how to kill someone by anal impalement.  It was an ancient form of execution used by the Hittites and Persians.

Soho Press have picked up the original post as part of their own blog.  So if you missed it the first time, then here is the step-by-step guide.

The Page 69 Test!

The Page 69 Test.  What does page 69 tell us about The Marathon Conspiracy?

I can't imagine why Marshal picked the number 69, but this is a test where an author compares whatever happens on page 69 to the rest of the book.  Enjoy.

Writers Read, and Campaign for the American Reader

Marshal Zeringue is an indefatigable promoter of books and reading across a number of web sites.  I think by now he must have interviewed or recommended hundreds of authors.  Many hundreds!

He asked me what I'd been reading recently.  My replies are at Writers Read and Campaign for the American Reader.

Thanks Marshal!

So now I'm listed in a book of quotations

Here’s an odd thing.  I am now listed in a book of quotations.

It Was a Dark and Stormy Tweet: Five Hundred 1st Lines in 140 Characters or Less is a compilation of opening lines of various novels.  

The opening line of The Pericles Commission is included. She’s also used it as one of three samples in her book description.  (along with John Scalzi and John Miller; I am in good company).

What's the line?  Well, if you read this blog, then you've already seen it once or twice.  The first line of my first book was

"A dead man fell from the sky, landing at my feet with a thud."

When I created the blog, I was stuck for a title.  I used the opening phrase, intending to change it later.  I did change it later.  But people said that they preferred the dead man, so I put him back.  And that's why this blog has such a funny name.

Soho International Crime Club! Plus, that duel in hot air balloons.

If you're a fan of mysteries, thrillers and crime, then let me advert you, as the Duke of Wellington would say, to the Soho International Crime Club.  It's a subscription system where they feed you a mystery a month.   It's an even better deal if you're fond of global death, because a lot of the books are set in exotic locales, such as (ahem) classical Greece.

While on the subject of global death, I previously wrote about the most unusual duel in history, which took place in Paris, France, in 1808.  If you missed it, Soho has reproduced the article for their own web site.  Hop on over if you'd like to read about blunderbusses and hot air balloons.

Rockstar Egyptian Women

Stephanie Thornton writes historical novels about women in tough leadership jobs.  Like, for example, being Pharaoh of Egypt, or Empress of the Byzantine Empire.  Her first release was The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora.

Her most recent book is Daughter of the Gods: A Novel of Ancient Egypt.  It's about Hatshepsut, the first woman ruler of Egypt.

As it happens we both also run blogs.  So we've decided to swap jobs for a day.  Stephanie's writing a post for my blog, and I'm writing a post for hers.

Here is Stephanie on women rulers.

The number of women in history who ruled without a husband by their side or as a placeholder for a younger son can fit on one side of a wooden measuring ruler. (I know because I have one…)

Women in ancient Egypt—both queens and commoners—enjoyed more gender equality than many of their historical counterparts. They could own and manage property, divorce their husbands, and work as priestesses and even physicians. They could leave their houses to shop in the market, attend festivals to the gods, and hunt ducks in the Nile’s marshes. And lo and behold, they also ruled Egypt several times throughout the country’s history.

Nitokerty. Hatshepsut. (Possibly Nefertiti as Smenkhare.) Cleopatra.

(Let’s ignore for a moment that Cleopatra lost Egypt once and for all to the Romans. I’d have a few choice words for the nefarious queen if I ever came face to face with her.)

Granted, these women were only tolerated because there was no royal male available to keep the throne warm, but it was only due to Egypt’s relative equality between the sexes that a female pharaoh was seen as a viable alternative. Sadly, for whatever reason, the Egyptians attempted to erase the success of these women’s reigns from the historical record.

Nitokerty faded with time.

Hatshepsut’s monuments depicting her as pharaoh were destroyed.

We still don’t know if Nefertiti ruled after her husband Akhenaten died.

Cleopatra was reviled as a harlot.

The moral of the story? Egyptian women had more freedoms and opportunities than the majority of women in the ancient world, but they still faced an uphill battle to find level footing with men when it came to wearing the Double Crown. Fortunately, some of them proved more than equal to the task and modern scholars are now dusting off their stories so we can appreciate their accomplishments.

With the exception of Cleopatra, of course. J

About the Author: Stephanie Thornton is a writer and history teacher who has been obsessed with infamous women from ancient history since she was twelve. She lives with her husband and daughter in Alaska, where she is at work on her next novel. Visit her website at