Friday, June 29, 2012

Research Trips!

I love to travel, and part of the fun for me is visiting libraries, old historic homes and sites, and museums. I always research museums before I leave, even looking at exhibits on-line, signing up for special tours and timing the visit.

One of my favorite museums ever was in Bath, England. When my friend Saralynn, (Sheryl) Hoyt offered me a free companion fare to Europe, I promised to take her to Bath. I confess, she's a bigger Jane Austen fan than I am. I've seen the movies and read "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" -- but otherwise, the books don't do it for me.

But, a deal is a deal. I bought the train tickets and said there was only one rule. I wanted to visit the Fashion Museum.

Now, you have to understand that Sheryl is not only my best friend, but she's my critique partner. So, she took the "architectural" tour of London and Paris, and I took the "fashion" tour. She loves historic sites just as much as I do, but the photos of the trip prove our diverse interests. Hers are of buildings and mine are of shoes and dresses.

I think that's what makes us such good critique partners. My weakness tends to be her strength. She loves introspection, my fingers fly through pages of dialogue and description. She understands emotion and I have to be reminded, "what is she/he feeling?"

But the important thing about our friendship is how we understand each other. When I beg to take a photo of boots on the Champs Elysee, she just laughs and helps me convince the saleswoman I'm not totally crazy. When she says we're going to the Tower of London for the "Ceremony of the Keys", I say "that sounds awesome!"

And we both agree that seeing "A Christmas Carol" in London just 12 days before Christmas is something we'll never forget.

Museums, houses, libraries and good friends. All the main ingredients for an incredible research trip.

Sibelle Stone (Deborah Schneider) is the author of historical romance and paranormal romance books.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Finding a Roman Legion near YOU

As you can see from the video...Rome is alive and well...even in the USA.
Would you like to see such an event? Would you like to share such an experience at home, near you? Would you like to be a part of this history. It's possible. Did you know there are Roman Legions near YOU?

I'm not kidding. These wonderful 'living historians' have been a backbone to my research. In other words, they have kept me possible. That means, when I think I have understood what I've read, they explain it and even add details  

Scan the list below and find a legion near you. Check out their website for a campaign, event, experience they share. What a great family experience. You won't believe how fantastic this is until you experience this yourself. Big kids and little kids welcome.

The Senate and People of Rome (Combat Simulation Organization)
Falls Church, VA 22041
Covina, CA 91723 USA
Spartacus @ RomeGiftShop. com
Legio I Italica (National Military History Association)
Atlanta, GA

Legio II Augusta
Portland, OR 97212

Legio II Traiana Fortis, Cohors II
Arvada, CO

Legio III Cyrenaica
New England
FeldTrp419 @ aol. com 
Legio III Gallica
New Orleans, LA 70150-0893

Legio V Alaudae
Fort Bragg, NC

Legio V Macedonica
Hanover Park, IL 60103-6106
LegioV @ yahoo. com
Legio V Macedonica
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Legio VI Ferrata Fidelas Constans 
Hanahan, SC 29406

Legio VI
Albany, New York
Legio VI Victrix
Stevenson Ranch, California

 Legio VIII Augusta
San Antonio, Texas

Legio VII Claudia Pia Fidelis
Canton, OH 44709-2535
Legio IX Hispana
San Diego, CA USA

Legio IX Hispana 
Austin, TX

Legio Decima (Caesar/Octavian)
Detroit, MI
msdoo1 @ msn. com

Legio X Fretensis
American Canyon, CA 94503-1445
Legio X Fretensis, Cohort VIII
Auburn, MI 48611

Legio XI Claudia Pia Fidelis
Athens, GA 30605-5515
Legio XII Fulminata
Orlando, FL 32812


Legio XII Fulminata
Ozark, AL 36360
blakhawk @ snowhill. com
Legio XII Fulminata
Quebec, Canada
Legio XIII
Edgerton MO 64444
jsnookiii @ yahoo. com

Legio XIIII Gemina Martia Victrix
Homer, NY 13077
Legio XIIII Gemina Martia Victrix
Shorewood, WI 53211-2449

Legio XX
Laurel, MD 20707
Also see Asellina's Caupona--
Legio XX Roman Days email discussion group

Legio XX Valeria Victrix Ballistaria
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Legio XXI Rapax 
Calgary, Alberta T3H 3H5
Legio XXII Primigenia
Cincinnati, OH 45231
Legio XXIII 
Lexington, NC
b17_gpilot @ yahoo. com

Legio XXIV
Newtown Square, PA 19073
Legio XXX Ulpia Victrix, Coh. I
Fonthill, Ontario

Legio XXX Ulpia Victrix

Cohors I Praetoria
Orland, FL 32807
ChillyD_ @ msn. com
Cohors III Praetoria
Conway, Arkansas
Charles.Muller @ acxiom. com

Cohors V Praetoria
New Mexico:
Gladiatorium Academia
East Hampton, NY 11937
gladius1 @ optonline. net
Keltica Iron Age Village--To be built in 2005, with a Roman fortress as well
Fredericton, New Brunswick
E3A 5V7 Canada
kelticaironagevillage @ yahoo. ca

Nova Roma
Wells, ME 04090
Segontium--Email group for Late Roman and Arthurian reenacting
Tucson, AZ 85747
Terra Incognito (Late Roman and other periods)
Peoria, IL
marcbrit @ elmnet. net

For more information this is where to go.

Now don't miss another day without Rome.

Coming in July 2012 to Amazon

Friday, June 22, 2012

Menu-planning in Historical Fiction

L.G.C. Smith

Judy’s post about food in Roman Britain inspired me. We know about what people ate in the past from different sources: archeological remains, texts, art, and even things like pollen analysis and field system patterns. Climate and trade routes are important. I take all those into consideration, and then add that one thing writers can’t resist—imagination.

 Pear tree and drying onions in a Yorkshire garden

When it comes to research, imagination can get a writer into trouble. Other fiction writers can be so evocative it’s easy to let their work seep into the imaginary meals my own characters eat. This is where historical fiction is more demanding than some genres. We have to stick fairly close to the world as we know it was. If I let Tolkien’s visions of The Shire with Sam’s gaffer tending his ‘taters override what I know about food history, namely that potatoes were a New World import to Britain in the 16th century, I risk serving a time-traveling meal in 600 AD. Since almost all North American school kids have at least three study units on Native American foods by the time they finish high school, readers notice. Historical writers learn to sweat the small stuff. 

 Anglo-Saxon demonstration garden at Bede's World

I almost always include scenes in my books that show people eating together because it’s a way to simultaneously draw readers into the past and to mark some of the distinctions from our own lives. Imagination plays a big part of defining each character’s life, and this holds true for what’s on their tables as much as for what’s in their hearts. In “The Renegade’s Secret Bride,” which will be out later this summer, the hero, Gus, has a wicked sweet tooth. There aren’t a lot of ways to indulge it in Nebraska Territory in 1863, but the heroine, Genny, has a stash of jam. Gus gets his fingers right into it (and a lot of other things). A jar of jam isn’t a big deal for most of us, but it was a rare luxury in Gus’s nomadic life. His response—stealing it and eating the whole thing in one sitting—tells readers a lot about him.

 A nice pig at Bede's World

Sometimes I veer off the strictly documented details of what a character might have in their pantry. In my historical fantasy novella, “Eve of All Hallows,” Gwyn is a secret druid queen who lives in a remote valley in the Welsh mountains. In the seventh century, history tells us her diet would have been drawn from mainly bread and porridge made from wheat, barley, oats and rye. She's have also had lots of dairy products, eggs, fish and meat, along with peas and beans (often dried). 

Good-looking British chickens (not from Chatsworth)

She’d have had carrots, turnips, parsnips, onions, garlic, leeks, cabbage, lettuce, nettles and various wild greens. She would have had nuts, fruits such as sloes, crabapples, pears, medlars, rosehips, and berries. Honey was the only sweetener, but she might have used many herbs and spices: cumin, cinnamon, coriander, dill, rosemary, thyme, mint, parsley, pepper and others, some fresh, some traded over long distances. Food was local and seasonal, but Gwyn has some special items because she travels widely, and is frequently sought out by visitors from other lands. When those special items, such as fine wine and olives, make their way to the islands they often come to Gwyn as payment for the unique work she does. 

reconstructed Anglo-Saxon oven at Bede's World

Here’s a short description from “Eve of All Hallows” of the meal Gwyn offers the young Bernician king, Æthelfrith, when he comes seeking a boon.

She hadn’t known such uncertainty for many years, in truth, not since she had been a girl. These old magics of breeding kings and queens and heroes for future needs were a little wild. Difficult to fully fathom. Otherworldly, they were wrought in times and places beyond the reach of even the most powerful among the Tiluith Teg. If the Fair Folk could not master them, Gwyn knew better than to expect to understand it all. And still, she had to work them, as best she could.
To that end, she finished laying the table with a generous slice out of one of her best wheels of cheese. She had a nice piece of ham and a delicate bit of smoked fish. A plate of sliced sweet onions and fennel covered with parsley and mint and a drizzle of cream. Olives from Spain, walnuts from her uncle’s farm, apples and honey from her own orchards. And rich red wine from Occitan, poured out into fine goblets. It was a feast when all he had a right to expect was pease porridge and maybe a cup of milk.

Apples grown on a trellis against a garden wall in Wales

Three hundred years earlier the olives and wine wouldn’t have been as unusual in Britain, but times had changed. Trade was more erratic. The climate had shifted into a cooler, wetter phase, and not as many crops could be grown as widely as during the Roman period. With grass as the most reliable crop in marginal lands, sheep and cattle were easier to raise than wheat. 

Black sheep on a Yorkshire small holding

Despite so many changes, the specter of Roman times still defined luxury and plenty for many Britons. As I imagine him, Æthelfrith seeks to recreate the order and grandeur of that Roman past, so finding olives and French wine on Gwyn’s table brings his goals forcibly to mind. And that’s exactly what I want when Gwyn is there to challenge them. What looks at first glance to be a simple meal captures a moment in history wedded to an imagined clash between Anglo-Saxon and British cultures.

Whew. That’s some complicated menu-planning. I think we’ll be having popcorn for dinner at my house tonight.

 Leeks in a kitchen garden

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Eatin' in Roman Britain

The Britanni were a farming society rich with cattle, sheep, and dogs. The crops raisd were mostly barley and wheat, which Romans referred to as 'corn.' The Britanni also had a wide variety of seafood the Romans enjoyed during their visit. In fact, oysters from Camulodunum/Colchester were so loved they were exported back to Rome. The Britanni also had plenty of wild boar to hunt and to send back to the games in Rome. Nature provided the rest of the Britanni diet as wild berries and roots. 

That is until the Romans came.

Over the nearly five hundred years Rome ruled in Britannia, the Romans improved not only the agriculture of this territory, put in roads, and a healthy means to taxation, etc., they brought new foods to this island as well as other regions of the Empire.

New varieties of vegetables: cabbage, onion, leek, shallots, carrots, endive, globe artichoke, cucumber, asparagus, parsnip, turnip, radish and celery.

New fruits: grape, medlar mulberry damson plum, cherry, and apples (not crabapples though.)

New nuts: walnut and chestnuts

New herbs: parsley, borage, chervil, coriander, dill, fennel, mint, thyme, garlic, rosemary, sage, savory, sweet marjoram, ginger, pepper and cinnamon bay, basil.

New animals: chickens, pheasants, peacocks guinea fowl, and some say the fallow deer.
The Romans imported dates, almonds, olives, olive oil wine, pinecones and garum (a fishy sauce for dipping food)And dormice. Yep, these little critters were fattened up and stuffed with minced meat and cooked.  They weren’t small as the British field mice, but much larger. And they still remain I'm sure alive and well in Britain.

Romans also introduced the idea of keeping birds in a columbaria or a place to raise birds for dinners.

Along with all these entrees they entertained the Britanni with ideas of fancy sauces to dip morsels into, smother with or marinate. And since Romans always enjoyed a good show, they shared ideas of presentation as stuffing a wild boar with small living birds that few out when carved open. Anyone else recall the ditty:

Sing a song of sixpence a pocket full of rye,
Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened the birds began to sing,
Oh wasn't that a dainty dish to set before the king?
The Romans also started the game park idea for the red roe and fallow deer as well as for rabbits/hare gardens thus to keep plenty available for dinners as well as for the fine sport of hunting. I believe the various British kings enjoyed many such parks over history. And many authors have used this to enhance plot lines of their stories and books.  

So Rome certainly has left a legacy in so many ways...even today.
Oh and don't Of course!!!

"Because in Amalfi you live by your heart....not by Rome's laws."
for more  about  Vows of Revenge
. Coming 2012 at

Friday, June 15, 2012

A List Of Regency Servants

Upper Servants: 
Upper servants were referred to by their last names, were paid more than lower servants, and dressed in regular clothes. In large households, upper servants usually ate in their own room, separate from the lower servants who ate in the 'servants hall'. 

Steward - managed the estate.

Butler - answered the door, delivered messages, tended the candles, wine cellar, and the silver. Butlers supervised the footmen and were also in charge of the serving of food and beverages.

Housekeeper -  supervised the maids, purchased provisions for the house and was the go between between the mistress of the house and the cook.

Cook - separate from the usual staff.  Cooks were paid more than other servants and male cooks earned more than female cooks.  In large households specialty cooks were often employed to help the head cook/chef. 

Valet - tended to the Master of the house (his clothing, cravats, etc.) Did not mingle with other servants.  Valets often traveled with their master.

Lady's Maid - tended to the Lady of the House (styled her hair, cared for her clothing and jewelry.)  Often they were given the Lady's cast off clothing to keep as their own or to sell.  

Governess - separate from the usual rank of servants.  Governesses cared for the children. They did not associate with the lower household servants.

The Lower Servants:
Lower servants: were referred to by their first names, dressed in livery and paid low wages, some as low as 6 pounds a year. 

Footmen - waited at the table, served tea, did whatever was needed inside the house. They accompanied the ladies of the house on shopping trips to carry the goods purchased.

Chambermaids - tended to the bedrooms. The chambermaids were the highest of the lower female servants.

Housemaids - Followed the chambermaids in rank, cleaned the house from top to bottom.

Scullery maids - lowest of the lower female servants.  Worked in the kitchen and pantry, washed the dishes and pots. Also cleaned up after the servants meals.

References:  The Jane Austen Handbook by Margaret C. Sullivan, All Things Austen by Kristen Olsen, The Regency Companion by S Laudermilk and T L Hamlin, Georgette Heyer's Regency World by Jennifer Kloester 

by Angelique Armae

Regency Vampire Romance
Available:  Kindle or Print

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Norman Conquest and the Welsh Language by Anna Markland

"The Winds of the Heavens" is FREE on Amazon for two days only, June 13 and 14. Set in Wales in the aftermath of the Norman invasion, it tells the story of twin Welsh patriots, Rhun and Rhydderch. They face a dilemma—both have fallen in love with the same woman. They’ve always shared everything, but can they share a woman?
"Passion in the Blood" (from The Montbryce Legacy Series) is also FREE for the same two days.
Check out the list of FREE kindle books available at Summer Sizzle Free Partay. 

Here is an article about the effect of the Norman invasion on the Welsh language.
The Francophone Normans conquered Wales by a process of raids and colonisation over two centuries. It was their English-speaking followers who brought their language to everyday Welsh life.
The Battle of Hastings in 1066 was the decisive event in the conquest of Saxon England. Within a year, the Normans were building a castle at Chepstow and had begun their piecemeal conquest of Wales, a process which took well over 200 years.
The conquest started with a series of devastating raids which by the end of the 11th century had affected almost every part of the country. Native rulers were either killed or sought refuge in Ireland. In December 1282, the last native Prince of Wales, Llewellyn the Last, died at the hands of Edward I's forces.
Near this place was killed Llywelyn our last leader
The Welsh had not experienced anything like it since the Roman invasion. This time the invaders brought with them two languages: French and English. The Norman leaders spoke French; indeed the Welsh chroniclers of the period write not of fighting the English but of fighting the French. French words absorbed by Welsh at the time are evidence of the new powers: barwn (baron) and gwarant (warrant).
However, it was the Normans' English-speaking followers who colonised the conquered lands and brought their language to Wales. One well-known example is south Pembrokeshire, long known as Little England Beyond Wales.

The Chronicle of the Princes (Brut y Tywysogyon) states a colony was established in 1105 when Henry I allowed a number of Flemings from modern-day Belgium to settle in the area around Haverfordwest. They were later joined by English settlers—the Flemish and English languages were similar at the time.
ALSO FREE on June 13 & 14 ONLY
This led to the extinction of Welsh in the area, and a legacy of aggression towards the language which has only softened in recent times. However, the invasions also caused a rallying of a Welsh identity and culture under threat. This is the background for The Winds of the Heavens.