John Maddox Roberts

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About John Maddox Roberts

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  1. 1/2 a century !!

    Just wait a bit, it'll come to ye.
  2. Review of Black Sails pilot

    If we're down to complaining about scarf joints, that's a sign we don't have much to complain about. I'll be watching this tomorrow night and from what I've read here, it sounds really good. By the way, I've examined many skulls from this period and earlier, and often they have fine teeth, better than most peoples' now. It was the 19th century, with abundant cheap sugar and generally poor dietary habits brought about by industrial-era urban squalor that caused severe tooth problems, so pirates with good teeth don't cause me distress, though they should be stained by tobacco, tea and infrequent cleaning. In fact, gum problems would have been more distressing than teeth problems, but these would have affected older people, and pirates were mostly young men.
  3. Rude Gestures of the Era

    The first recorded case of mooning is from Flavius Josephus's "The Great Roman-Jewish War." Josephus says that in 66 AD a Roman soldier on the temple steps in Jerusalem turned his back, bent over and flipped up his tunic hem, exposing his buttocks to a large crowd of Jewish pilgrims in Jerusalem for a festival. This touched off a riot in which several thousand people were killed. They really knew how to have fun back in those days.
  4. It's a real sword. Is it valuable?

    The handle is pretty standard for a Russian/Caucasian kindjal. The blade could go either way. The Russian long kindjal was usually curved, but straight, single-edged blades like this one were common. I'd say Russian, 19th-early 20th century. Scabbard and hangar are pretty similar to a Czarist era military kindjal.
  5. Pistol shooting technique in our period

    I should amend what I wrote above. While we never see people prior to the mid-20th century holding a pistol with both hands on the butt or one hand supporting the other, we sometimes see or read about a person making a long shot resting the pistol barrel across the left forearm (assuming he's right-handed). This is two-handed shooting of a sort.
  6. Pistol shooting technique in our period

    I remember when two-handed pistol shooting first appeared in the movies and television. I believe the first instance was when James Coburn made a long-distance pistol shot in "The Magnificent 7." Soon it was standard in the Bond films and tv spy shows like "I Spy" and "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." I don't know of a single art work showing a handgun being used with two hands from before that period. As to the famous inaccuracy of the Brown Bess, even period writers said that it was due to the very poor and crooked bores of the government contract arms, and that it would shoot quite accurately when "true-bored" which was a rarity.
  7. The Motley Crew: how did multinational crews arise and work?

    American whaling ships (ref. Moby Dick) often sailed from New England ports with no more than a half-crew and picked up sailors on islands in the Caribbean, Polynesia, or wherever they sailed. The temporary sailors were dropped off at home on the way back. Many of these islands had a tradition of supplying sailors so there must have been a tradition of understanding simple orders, hand signals or the like. After all, you don't have to be fluent in a language to understand "all hands aloft!," "Shorten sail" or the like. When in the Army in the '60s, I knew many Puerto Ricans and others whose English was very shaky but had no trouble absorbing standard orders, drill and so forth. And probably, a few swift smacks from a rope's end helped.
  8. Rebirth of a Cutlass

    The tulip makes an elegant variation on the shell-guard, which has always been one of my favorites. Is there a historical precedent or was this personal inspiration?
  9. The Jonah

    This concept was used in the novel "The Sand Pebbles." Granted it took place on the Yangtse River Patrol in the 1920s, the concept goes back a ways. The character Jake Holman (played by Steve McQueen in the movie)boards the boat and soon things start going wrong. The sailors conclude he's a Jonah. So: New crewman boards a ship where life was previously uneventful, bad things start to happen, and the new guy gets blamed for it, He's a Jonah. Understandable sailors' superstition, plus it has Biblical precedent.
  10. Blackbeard’s True Treasure

    It makes me wonder if many African pirates managed to escape hanging by claiming to have been slaves.
  11. Antique Navaja Knife

    What is the nonwhite handle scale material? I love these knives.
  12. Blackbeard’s True Treasure

    250,000? There were a quarter of a million artifacts found in the wreckage? Man, that Blackbeard was one acquisitive dude!
  13. Birth of a blunderbuss

    Is there historical precedent for a copper buttplate? I've seen iron and brass. Sure looks cool in any case.
  14. Published Authors

    I should have made myself clearer. My meaning was that, if you can interest an editor, he or she will be willing to work with you in finding a ghostwriter. It is the publishers who issue the checks, nobody else. It is almost impossible to get the services of a decent agent of you aren't already published. I had to sell my first novel on my own. Many people these days don't use agents anyway, preferring intellectual property lawyers or just representing themselves. When I started more than thirty years ago the publishing business was located almost exclusively in New York and if you didn't live there yourself, you about had to have a NY-based agent to do business. That is fast changing. E-books are the wave of the future, but I've never done that and don't have any advice. I highly recommend Kristine Kathryn Rusch's blog ( Nobody keeps on top of the publishing industry like Kris and you have to be very careful about contracts these days. They've gotten really cutthroat and they weren't exactly benevolent to begin with. Good luck.
  15. Published Authors

    Do not, under any circumstances, trust anyone who takes money to work on or market or in any way have anything to do with your book. They are all, without exception, scammers. I'd suggest going to writer's conventions of which there are many, national and regional. These are attended not only by writers but by editors, agents, publishers, etc. For instance, Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention, will be held September 15-18th in St. Louis. there are many others but the national cons have the most professionals. It's editors you want to interest. Don't be shy, just walk right up to them and tell them what you've got. If you get their attention, they'll want to hear more. You want to talk to writers, offer to buy them a drink. Look for panels on subjects similar to your material. At a mystery con, there are always True Crime panels, which is where whistleblowing would come in. Check and see what sort of literary conventions are held in your area. It's a worthwhile investment and if nothing else you'll have a good time.