Where Romance and History Meet - www.heartsthroughhistory.com/

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas in Medieval England

Since my day to post fell on December 25th, highlighting some Christmas traditions in my favorite time period and location seemed appropriate.

The word Christmas: came from the Old English “Cristes Maesse” and Middle English “Christemasse,” or Christ’s Mass. St. Nicholas day was celebrated on December 6, but the popular saint had no connection with Christmas/Santa Claus during this period. On this day the “boy bishop” was selected in many churches. The chosen one would dress and behave like an actual bishop for three weeks, until Holy Innocents Day on December 28.

Entertainment: from Christmas to Twelfth Night (Feast of the Epiphany, January 6) included, music, caroling (singing and/or dancing in a circle), and mystery plays. The wealthy featured minstrels, costumed and masked tenants and/or visiting players. New Year’s Day was celebrated with music and gifts.

Someone low on the social ladder was chosen as the Lord of Misrule. He presided over raucous revelry and was permitted to subject those above him to his commands.

Gifts:  Exchanged on New Year’s Day, not Christmas. Lords often gave money to their servants. Servants made ‘offerings’ to people higher up the social ladder of items including gloves.

Lords and tenants gifted each other with food. The lord would either make arrangements for a communal meal or feed his tenants, but they might have to bring their own dining implements.

Food: People couldn’t eat animal products (even milk and cheese) during Advent. So by the time Christmas rolled around, they were ready to eat meat. The wealthy often dined on a variety including venison, goose or perhaps swan. Why not turkey? It wasn’t imported from America until the 1500’s.

Another popular dish was boar’s head, either real or a representation created from other foods. “Brawn en peverade,” a pottage (stew) made from dark, fatty meat of boar or poultry boiled with vinegar, onions and spices was also popular.

The poor would dine on the deer’s “umbles” (liver, kidneys and other innards) baked into a pie. Hence came the phrase,“eating humble pie.”

The plum pudding's association with Christmas takes us back to medieval England and the Roman Catholic Church's decree that the 'pudding should be made on the twenty-fifth Sunday after Trinity, that it be prepared with thirteen ingredients to represent Christ and the twelve apostles, and that that every family member stir it in turn from east to west to honor the Magi and their supposed journey in that direction. http://www.foodtimeline.org/christmasfood.html

Decorations: Churches and houses were decorated with greenery.

Ruth Kaufman
http://www.ruthjkaufman.com/

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Kissing under a parasite???


I posted this on the Cactus Rose blog last week, but since it is Christmas and this is a timely topic, I'm posting it here as well. Happy reading and Merry Christmas!

Mistletoe is one of the traditions of the Christmas Season. But did you know—

Mistletoe is an evergreen. The traditions of displaying evergreens at Christmas came about as a way to bring color and the green hope of spring into the home.
This plant however is a parasitic shrub. It grows on trees, living off the host plant. They are not full parasites, since the plants are capable of photosynthesis. But these mistletoe plants are parasitic in the sense that they send a special kind of root system down into their hosts, the trees upon which they grow, in order to extract nutrients from the trees.
Mistletoe has long been regarded as an aphrodisiac and fertility herb. It may also possess abortifacient qualities, which would help explain its association with uninhibited sexuality.
The unusual botanical history of mistletoe goes a long way towards explaining the awe in which it was held in the Norse myths. For in spite of not being rooted in the soil, mistletoe remained green throughout the winter, while the trees upon which it grew and upon which it fed did not (the European mistletoe often grows on apple trees; more rarely on oaks). The fascination this must have exerted over pre-scientific peoples is understandable.

Mistletoe was first hung in farmhouses and kitchens so young men could kiss the maidens while standing under it. Only they were to pluck a white berry each time they kissed and when the berries were gone so were the kisses. The berries are poisonous.

The Druids believed it was sacred and held medicinal and supernatural qualities. That is the mistletoe of oak trees. Other types of trees also have their own parasite or mistletoe but it is the Oak that was the most favored.

The Druid priesthood held a ceremony around Christmas time or five days after the New Moon following the winter solstice. They cut the mistletoe from a holy oak with a golden sickle, catching the branches before they hit the ground. The branches were divided into sprigs and given to the people to hang above their doorways for protection against thunder, lightning, and other evils.

The folklore, and the magical powers of this plant, spread through the centuries It was thought placing a sprig in a baby's cradle would protect the child from faeries. Giving a sprig to the first cow calving after New Year would protect the entire herd.

Celts believed that because mistletoe received sustenance from the host tree it also held the soul of the tree.

Ancient Scandinavia and the Norse mythology is where the tale of kissing und the mistletoe started. It was considered a plant of peace in Scandinavian history. If enemies found themselves under mistletoe in the forest they laid down their weapons and called a truce until the next day.

Most say kissing under the mistletoe is an English custom there is a story that dates back to Norse mythology. It is about an overprotective mother.

The Norse god Balder was the best loved of all the gods. His mother was Frigga, goddess of love and beauty. She loved her son so much that she wanted to make sure no harm would come to him. So she went through the world, securing promises from everything that sprang from the four elements--fire, water, air, and earth--that they would not harm her beloved Balder.
Leave it to Loki, a sly, evil spirit, to find the loophole. The loophole was mistletoe. He made an arrow from its wood. To make the prank even nastier, he took the arrow to Hoder, Balder's brother, who was blind. Guiding Holder's hand, Loki directed the arrow at Balder's heart, and he fell dead.
Frigga's tears became the mistletoe's white berries. In the version of the story with a happy ending, Balder is restored to life, and Frigga is so grateful that she reverses the reputation of the offending plant--making it a symbol of love and promising to bestow a kiss upon anyone who passes under it.

Is hanging mistletoe a tradition in your family?

www.patyjager.net
www.patyjager.blogspot.com

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Pen Is Mightier Than the Sword(And Just As Old, Too).



I’ve always had an interest in the pen. In junior high school, I started studying calligraphy and my best Christmas present one year was a beginners set of calligraphy pens. Over the next few years, I spent my allowance buying dozens of different pen nibs (the part that does the actual writing in calligraphy), special calligraphy paper and inks.

As I was writing my debut release, Widow’s Peak, someone told me that the word “pen” was anachronistic to the middle ages. That made me wonder about the history of pens as writing implements.

As to the word “pen” itself, it seems to come from penna, the latin for feather, or pinna the Olde English form of the word. It seems use of the word was first recorded around 1300.

A pen is defined as a writing implement with a chamber that holds ink. Historically, the main body of the pen was made from dried material carved in various ways to make a chamber that would hold liquid ink. Most held a very small quantity of ink, in many cases, no more than enough to write a few words.


Historically, pens seem to fall into three main categories, quill pens, reed pens, and dip pens. Quill, or feather pens seem to be the first recorded use of a pen. Texts mention use of bird feathers for writing on the Indian subcontinent in about 5000 BC. They were the pen of choice in Western culture until the end of the 19th century.


Reed pens were carved from dried river reeds or bamboo. Their first recorded use is in Egyptian Texts at around 3000 BC. They are still used today in some parts of Pakistan to teach handwriting in schools.


Dip pens have a metal nib or tip rather than a carved tip like reeds and quills. A bronze nib was found in the ruins of Pompeii and it is suspected that the Romans may have used them as well. Other types of pens did exist historically, but were often awkward to use and produced less than ideal products.


The earliest known fountain pen dates back to 10th century when a caliph demanded a pen that would not stain his hands or clothing. A reservoir pen was devised that served the caliph’s needs. In 1827, a student studying in Paris, reinvented the fountain pen and the French government immediately patented the new device. By the 1850’s, several other fountain pen patents had been filed and the first mass produced pens began to appear. However, the quill pen was still the pen of choice until nearly 1880.


The first patent on a ballpoint pen was issued in 1888. In 1938, the Biro brothers designed a pen with a free rolling ball tip that distributed ink evenly and gave a uniform writing line with minimal skipping and blotching. World War II pilots popularized the use of the ballpoint pen and it remained the pen of choice well into the seventies.


Today, we have all kinds of pens. Fountain pens, ballpoint pens, felt-tip pens, roller-ball pens, gel pens. From the inexpensive stick pen to outrageously priced fountain pens. Though computers, pda’s and smartphones have changed the way we write in the last twenty years, I’m sure that we will always be able to find a pen to jot down that phone number or sign that contract.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Games before Electronics: Yes, Virginia, There Were Games That Didn't Require Plugs or Batteries

Christmas 2009 - Americans are bombarded with commercials for the newest, most technologically advanced electronic gaming. Playstations, X-boxes, Wiis - surely I've left something out - people today rarely play any games that don't involve expensive electronics and graphics that rival what you'd find on a movie screen. But the equipment, buy the game, buy the guides to cheat codes - the opportunity to buy amusement is endless. But is all this technology and expense really necessary to have fun?

Americans of years past would disagree. Even when I was a child (and I'm not that old), board games and card games provided hours of fun. Sorry. Monopoly. Mystery Date - I always wanted the guy in the suit when I was a girl, but now I know I'd go for the bad boy. We had fun without expensive games that took a team of engineers to design.

Amazingly, even during a tragic time in America's history, the Civil War, games provided an escape from monotony and troubles. Civilians and soldiers alike passed time playing games of all sorts - games that relied on skill, luck, and interaction with fellow players.

Card games were especially popular with military men. Poker was a popular favorite, while faro, keno, and twenty-one were also common choices. Manufacturers even produced card decks with military icons such as stars, flags, and generals.

Dice games such as craps were also popular. Since dice were often homemade, some were actually designed to enhance a cheater's ability to do just that.

Chess, checkers, and backgammon were popular board games of the time. Small, handmade checker boards were even carried by soldiers into the field.

Americans during the Civil War managed to enjoy life on the home front and in the field. Simple amusements and games provided welcome distractions from the ugly realities of life during a monumental crisis in America's history.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Pony Express



Well, I knew all week that I was to blog today (I have the 19th of every month). But the time got away from me, so here's a post from my own blog, Chatting with Anna Kathryn, that first appeared in August, 2009.

For today's blog, I'm once again turning to Mike Flanagan's book: IT'S ABOUT TIME: How Long History Took. I've done several blogs using this little book since I started The Friday Record and I recommend it for a quick look at history. The back blurb says that IT'S ABOUT TIME “chronicles nearly two hundred key events” which “offer an utterly unique and fascinating perspective on human history.”
(Left: Frank E. Webner)

On page 94, Flanagan reports on The Pony Express, which existed in 1860-61 for 1 year, 6 months, 22 days. With the Westward Expansion off to a pretty good start and large settlements established along the west coast, it was important for business to be conducted in a timely matter. Back then, timely manner meant twenty days by coach from St. Louis, Missouri to Sacramento, California or thirty days by ship from New York City to San Francisco, California . So, William Russell, Alexander Majors and W. B. Wendell devised a plan to send mail via horseback, a much faster mode of transportation, which cut the time in half to only ten days. The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco has posted a reprint of the San Francisco Newsletter, September 1925, which says,

Six hundred broncos, especially chosen for fleetness, toughness and endurance, were purchased. Seventy-five men, none of them weighing over one hundred and ten pounds, were engaged as riders, being selected on account of their bravery, their capacity for deprivation and their horsemanship, as well as for their shooting abilities and their knowledge of the craft and the manner of attack of the Indians. One of these, Henry Wallace**, was selected for the signal honor of inaugurating the Pony Express on April 3, 1860. In one of the laced pockets of his mochilla (Mexican saddlebags) he carried a message of congratulation from President Buchanan to the Governor of California, the words having been telegraphed that very morning from Washington to St. Joseph.

**This is in dispute. On the City of St. Louis, Missouri website, it says “Historians have never fully agreed whether Johnny Fry or Billie Richardson was the first rider...” So, I have know idea who Henry Wallace is...
(right, rider Billy Fisher).

One hundred ninety (190) stations were set up over the 1,966-mile trail. The riders were given six hours to ride sixty miles on six different horses, which were traded at the stations, for the first transcontinental trip. Other information shows that the riders were allowed to travel up to 75 miles before trading off with another rider.

While The Pony Express was a huge and instant success, its days were numbered from the start. Already, transcontinental telegraph wire was being strung and railroad tracks laid. In addition, the cost of sending a letter was prohibitive, $5 a half-ounce (compare with our 44 cents for the first ounce). The founders, who already owned a freighting business, envisioned government contracts to be big money-makers. Unfortunately, that never came about and when the telegraph was finally finished, The Pony Express met its doom. So did the financial situations of its founders. All three died in poverty, having lost half a million dollars in the venture.

However, during its short-lived life, The Pony Expressed covered over 650,000 miles and delivered 34,753 pieces of mail. Information in that mail included the election of Abraham Lincoln as president and the taking of Fort Sumter by the Confederates.

Anna Kathryn Lanier
Holiday Cheer
A New Recipe Every Day at:
http://annakathrynlanier.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday Cooking

History, especially of foods and how they relate to some of our holidays, have always fascinated me. Some of my ancestors came from Holland, so the early
Dutch customs were of special interest. The housewives in New Amsterdam were great bakers. The holidays were times when fabulous spreads of food, especially cakes and pies appeared on their tables. On New Year’s Day neighbors, at least the men, went from house to house, sampling and drinking.
One of the delights the women served sound much like something served in New Orleans. The recipe, with modern ingredients and directions, will follow.

The Dutch often cut these into different shapes, not just the little puffs we know today. One of the favorite ways to fix these was to cut the dough into strips with a little slit in the middle. One end was pulled through the slit and then they were fried. They had a name for the pastries fixed this way - Tangled britches.

Along with a number of cakes, these crullers were beloved and helped provide a
variety on the table. They went well with the tea they served - tea usually laced with rum. I can just see the men standing around a table which was groaning with food, drinking, smoking their pipes and eating Crullers as they wished each other a good “New Year!”

Dutch Crullers.

1/3 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup butter (don’t use margarine)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 ¾ cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon mace (I’ve been known to cheat and use ½ teaspoon cinnamon)
Fat for frying and Powdered sugar

Cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time beating after each addition. The fluffier the mixture the better the pastry. Add the milk. Sift the flour and spices together and stir into the creamed mixture. Mix well, but don’t beat the mixture to death. Chill for at least an hour. Roll half the dough on a lightly floured board (Roll only in one direction or they’ll be chewy) until you have a sixteen by eight inch rectangle. Cut into two inch squares. A pastry wheel works well. I’ve even used cookie cutters. Repeat with the remaining dough. (Caution - don’t rework the dough if you use cookie cutters.) Fry in deep fat at 375 degrees until golden on both side. (about 1 ½ minutes) Dust with powdered sugar. Serve warm. If you cut these into squares you should have about 5 dozen.

Enjoy, and Happy New Year!

Allison Knight

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I (heart) reserch



I confess I love to do the research for writing historical romance.

History had always been part of my life. I was lucky enough to grow up in an extended Midwest family with a rich oral tradition. Family reunions were filled with tales of adventures of frontier life that they’d heard from their families, as well as stories when they were children in the early last century.

So I’ve always felt connected to the past. The stories of who we are and where we come from is something I wanted to past on to others who weren’t as luck as I. I did this as a college instructor of US History and Western Civilization. Telling these stories carried over to writing historical romance. Because of my teaching, I wanted my stories to be as authentic as possible.

Which leads us to research.

My first historical romance, KENTUCKY GREEN, is set on the frontier of 1794 in Ohio and Kentucky. Because of my history degrees, I already had the general political, social and economic background. The first research I did was on the costumes/clothing, as that is not something they cover when you’re studying for your BA and MA.
Once I had the general plot line of my story, I started researching. The hero is a civilian scout for the Army who is coerced into escorting my heroine back to her childhood home in Kentucky. He and the heroine travel from Philadelphia to Pittsburg via a wagon train. So I had to find their route and how long it would take. Thanks to the WPA, I found a travel guide to Pennsylvania that listed not only the original main road from Philadelphia to Pittsburg, but listed all the little towns, how far apart they were, when they were founded, and even their elevation. So I found the original name and about the ferry my wagon team to use to cross the river.

From Pittsburgh, our hero and heroine travel by river boat to my fictionalized town in Kentucky. This I based on Lexington. Researching Lexington, I found that an Englishman had visited there in the 1790s and written a book listing every business there along with the price of timber, candles, eggs, molasses, etc. as an advertisement for immigration to Kentucky.
The key to research is to give the writer a sold background in which to place the story. Research should be like an iceberg, only the very top part shows. So I didn’t use the price of timber, candles, eggs or molasses into the story as it wasn’t needed.

Since my hero is a crack shot with this Kentucky long rifle, I did some research on that rifle. One help was that years ago my husband had replica black powder rife, so I knew what is sounded and smelled like when it fired. And in the course of the story, the hero teaches the heroine how to shoot the rifle, so all that detail was useful.

I did use some of my grandmother’s stories. On one scene in KENTUCKY GREEN, the heroine is churning butter, one of my grandmother’s chores as a child. I gave the rhyme my grandmother used to keep time while moving the dasher up and down to my heroine. Passing along history give authenticity to the story.
One of the reason I chose this time and place for my first novel was that I so loved Janice Holt Giles novel THE KENTUCKIAN which I read when in high school. I later learned that Giles used as a background a Mater’s Thesis, The Life and Times of Benjamin Logan. Logan is a secondary character in the book. And, of course, her book rang with authenticity.

For my second story, I chose Durango, Colorado as the setting. Years ago on a cross country trip we traveled through Durango. First thing was to get a history of the city and go from there. Not only did this give me background, it gave me the historic fire that provides the climatic action for the book.


The hero in COLORADO SILVER, COLORADO GOLD is an undercover agent for Wells Fargo. A book on the history of Wells Fargo confirmed that they did, in fact sometime employ an undercover agent. The main business in Durango at that time was mining and smelting. I end up researching the smelters and mining in Durango. Again, I end up using a lot of this information as the hero explains some of the works of the smelter to the heroine as he wants to impress her.

Researching 1880 Durango was much easier that 1794 Kentucky due to the amount of information actually available. As this was a real location, as apposed to my fictional town in Kentucky, and much more current in time, some of the actual buildings as well as the narrow gage railroad still exist. This railroad brings both the hero and heroine to town in the story.

My big find was something I learned from a writer’s workshop, the Sanborn Fire Insurance maps. These historic maps were made by the insurance company that showed all the main streets and also gave the location of all the business. So while the book on Durango history said where the main concentration of saloons was located, on the insurance maps, there they were, one whole block of solid saloons.
The map gave me a good mental image of Durango so I could easily picture my characters there. It also gave me a soda fountain where my hero bought the heroine a sarsaparilla. One of those instances where the research gave birth to a scene.

Today there is a lot more information on the web than before. I still usually start out with a book on where I’m writing the story. This gives me a foundation, and as the story line takes shape, then I know what else I might have to research.

This does not mean I can find everything I want. Some things a writer just has to make up, but with the research I’ve done, I can be reasonably sure that what I fictionalize will be within the realm of authenticity.

I know that an author can’t always do accuracy, but I try for authenticity. I always include author’s notes in the back of my books in case the reader wants to know more, or know if everything was accurate.

As an author, do you like to research? What was your best find?

As a reader, do you like the historic romances to have authenticity?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Texas and Werewolves and Vamps, Oh My!


The title of this blog was inspired by a line in the movie, The Wizard of Oz. Wonderful characters and imaginary animals filled the screen during the movie. We haven’t lost our love for imaginary characters and animals, have we? The movies prove that every year, and now werewolves have hit the screen in a big way. The current popular movie, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, features both the villain and the hero as werewolves.

Fortunately, our entertainment doesn’t have to stop with movies. Werewolf fans can find plenty of exciting fiction books featuring werewolves. As a romance writer, I find werewolves make for both tragic and heroic characters. I can let my imagination run wild. I can envision the story with things I’ve seen and experienced in my own life. I’ll always remember following the narrow dirt road from the family cabin to the fishing hole, and the tree root which formed a menacing claw at the edge of the thick woods I had to walk through to reach the stream. When I was young I imagined the claw shaped roots to be a warning of danger which lurked in the trees’ shadows.

I remember a trip with my family across Texas, trees covered with moss at the shadowed edge of a river at dusk. We drove through the darkness of night and saw a flock of huge birds which flew in front of our car as we crossed a bridge over a river. I’d never seen anything like those giant birds before and had no idea what they were or why they were flying at night. I know they weren’t owls. They’ve become an important part of one of my romance stories about shape shifters which includes werewolves.

Adding romance to a shape shifter story heightens the stakes for the characters. A hero with an emotionally monumental past to overcome is perfect for a werewolf, a larger than life alpha male. He must not only overcome the evil villain, but he must face sacrificing everything, and put his life on the line to protect the woman he loves. Such actions endear him forever to a romance reader's heart.

Following is the story blurb for Moonlight Desperado :

In Texas after the Civil War, Mary Ann Beauclere is imprisoned by soldiers turned raiders. Outraged when Captain Craig Wolfe steals a kiss, and more, in front of the men, she follows his orders, desperate to protect her little sisters asleep upstairs. The outlaws demand bedding and food. Captain Wolfe helps her, and she softens toward the desperado, allowing his kisses, drawn to him as to no other.

Confederate spy, Craig despairs of finding his life mate. Hiding his assignment from the raiders, he only intends to protect Miss Beauclere, until he recognizes Mary Ann as the woman he will love forever. Her courage tempts him to dream of a future together. Will she love him, a werewolf? If not, he’ll spend his life alone.

When Craig claims her as his life mate, secret identities and a vicious pack member threaten their future and their lives. Can they save each other?

I hope you’ll enjoy reading Moonlight Desperado, my latest werewolf romance story, available soon, late December or early January, from Siren-Bookstrand Mainstream.

Jeanmarie Hamilton
www.JeanmarieHamilton.com

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

History of the Caber Toss


The hero of my latest release, Kilted Lover, tosses cabers at the Scottish Games. I thought it would be fun to take a look back at the history of the caber toss and see why it was invented.

But first, what is the caber toss? It is a heavy athletic event at Highland/Scottish Games. A caber is a 15 - 23 feet long log, usually peeled, weighing between 70 and 200 pounds (depending on who you ask, and the type of tree). The athlete squats with his feet flat on the ground and wedges the caber between his shoulder and neck, pushes upward with his hands, and lifts it slightly, just enough to slide his interlocked hands beneath the smaller end. (During the event, no one can assist him in lifting it.) Then, with the caber resting against his shoulder, he lifts and stands upright. He must balance the log in the air. Remember, the heavier, larger end of the log is up, so he may stagger around a bit until it is balanced. He takes a short run forward and flips the log in the air. He must make the large end hit the ground and the small end flip over and land straight ahead, away from him. This is an event of accuracy rather than distance, so it doesn't matter how far he throws it. For the best score, the small end of the caber needs to land at the 12 o'clock position, straight out from the thrower.

Caber tossing, also called turning the caber, or the "tossing (or casting) of ye barr" was first recorded as an athletic event in Scotland at a 1574 "wappinschawes" (weapon-showings) which were sporting contests of strength, agility and speed which related to military prowess.

As for the history of caber tossing... Round Hill Highland Games website says: "The history of the caber is elusive. The term 'caber' derives from the Gaelic word "cabar" or "kaber" which refers to a rafter or beam. The most prominent legend surrounding the origin of the caber toss is that of breaching barriers or crossing streams during wartime. In the Scottish highlands, you often have freezing-cold streams that you need to cross. During battle, the caber was tossed from one side of the stream to the other to quickly make a bridge, allowing fellow Scotsmen to cross and continue on to chase rival clans. This is why the caber is tossed for accuracy, rather than distance."

This makes perfect sense. Scotland is a very wet place, with many lochs, bogs and streams. It would take lots of practice and great skill to put the caber exactly where it needed to be, across the stream, and not in the stream where it might float away.




Now, the change the subject slightly, I'm thrilled that the book video for Kilted Lover placed first in the You Gotta Read Video contest! Thanks again to everyone who voted!



Here is a chapter 1 excerpt from Kilted Lover where the hero, Scott, tosses the caber.
Thanks!
Nicole

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Facts, Fiction, Research...oh my...

Readers often email me to ask me about research. Sometimes they simply want to know if I hold a Masters in history and sometimes they want to point out what I did wrong.

Well, I don't hold a Masters in history. In truth, I never like history in school, but I do enjoy researching now. Partly because it is a means to procrastinate and partly because I find it fascinating. I recently had a woman email me to tell me how much she enjoyed my latest release, HIGHLAND DRAGON, but also pointed out that my heroine was liable to make the hero and his kin sick because she had picked rowan berries and they ate them. Apparently raw rowan berries will give you a stomach ache. I didn’t know that. Which is what I told her. LOL She was so tickled to discover that she had taught me something, that she dug out the newspaper article she had read on the subject and mailed it to me. FROM SCOTLAND!

I didn’t mind. Actually I thought is was kind of cool. We writers have so much to worry about that sometimes, yes, we can get the research wrong. For example, in HIGHLAND DRAGON, I also used the scent of honeysuckle to describe my heroine. Prior to publication, one of my critique partners pointed out that honeysuckle was not native to Scotland. Sheesh! What’s a girl to do? So I changed the name of the flower to the Gaelic word for sugar: siùcair.

Is it really that important to get it all right? Well, there are some readers out there who would say yes. I for one, like to focus on the romance and hope for the best, but if you are one of those crazed-diehard-must-get-it-right people, then here are a few website to assist you with your research…Enjoy!

COSTUME:
12th & 13th Century Clothing - Definitions
18th Century Costume Terminology
By the Sword
Historical Clothing Terms
Crinolines Fashion History
Deb's Historical Research Page
Measurement in the Middle Age
Medieval Clothing Terms
Medieval Fashion Glossary-Images
Noble Ware
The Tudor Shoppe
Clothing Of The Fifteenth Century

SCOTLAND
History of the Scottish Kilt
History of the Tartan
Reconstructing History — Scottish Historical Clothing Research
Scottish Women's Clothing

ITALY
Italian Dress
Italian Renaissance Clothing 1420-1520
Italian Renaissance

DICTIONARIES / GLOSSARIES:
Arms and Armour Terms
Emotion Thesaurus
Color-terms
Dictionary of Baby Names, Meanings and Origins
Dictionary
Etymology Dictionary
English/Irish Dictionary
Herb & Spice Dictionary
Merriam-Webster Dictionary
MSN Encarta
Navy Slang
One Look
Pirate Glossary
Regency Cant and Expressions
Regency Lexicon
Renaissance Faire Glossary
Scots Dialect
Scots Terms
Scottish Vernacular Dictionary
Sex-Lexis.com
Ships Glossary
Slang

MEDIEVAL:
Terms for Castle, Armor, Weaponry
Clothing Terms
Job Listing
Insults and Slang of the 15th Century
Medieval English Towns
Knighthood, Chivalry & Tournament
THE MIDDLE AGES-Lots of Links

FOOD:
Medieval-Themed Restaurants
Medieval and Renaissance Food
The Medieval Kitchen

MONEY:
Historical Money
The DiCamillo Companion
Money in Florence, Italy
Measurement in the Middle Ages

NAMES:
Baby Names
Fake Name Generator
Regency Names
Medieval Names
Medieval Naming Guide
Scottish Boy Names
Scottish Girl Names
Scottish Names 101
Victorian Era Names

****************************

If that isn’t enough to make your eyes cross, feel free to visit my writers page for more...

Huzzah!
Kimberly Killion
______________________________________________________________
HIGHLAND DRAGON ~ ON SALE NOW!
4-STARS from RT Book Reviews "This is a tale to cherish."
www.kimberlykillion.com