What is this blog about?
I wish I could answer that question in one concise sentence. Problem is, if I give you the short answer–history, gardening, survival, cooking, and writing–I’ll sound indecisive. I mean, pick a topic, right? And what do any of those things have to do with time-travel?
Allow me to explain…
It begins with my back. Two years ago, I was the lucky recipient of not one, but two back surgeries (How else is a stay-at-home mom supposed to get a vacation?).
I didn’t squander my new found free-time. Oh no. I binge-watched the hell out of Netflix. I bombarded my husband with unreasonable requests for ice-cream sundaes and grilled cheese sandwiches. And I read. Or perhaps I should say, I re-read. I made my way through all my favorite books, starting with Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicles and ending with Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series.
If you haven’t read Outlander, it’s about a WW2 nurse who goes back in time to 18th century Scotland. It’s freaking amazing. And seven books later, I still wanted more.
Unfortunately, Gabaldon’s most recent book, Written in My Own Heart’s Blood hadn’t been released yet, so I had to look elsewhere to get my fix.
I should have known better. I’d been down that path before. There are hundreds of books about time-travel and Scotland out there, but few are worth the paper they’re printed on.
Fool me a hundred times, shame on me…
Like I said, I should have known better. The book I downloaded might as well have been named Fifty Shades of Tartan. It was about a model/surgeon/virgin/insert cliché here, who had traveled back in time to 8th century Scotland. By a happy coincidence, she looked exactly like the dead wife of her love interest, a broody, misunderstood Laird who just needed someone to love.
But garbage that changed my life.
It happened during dinner—not mine, but our model/surgeon’s meal with her brawny Laird. I could have forgiven the whisky they drank together (unlikely before the 15th century), but I could not forgive the fork. She was eating with a fork. A fork! I’d never been so insulted by an eating utensil. Knives or fingers, sure. But a fork! Not in 8th century Scotland. No way.
I could write something better than this! I scathed in a fit of naive arrogance, all the while muttering fork like it was a different sort of four-letter word.
I decided then and there to write my own book. Why not? I had a month of lying in bed, waiting for my spine to fuse together, ahead of me. Might as well spend it writing the Great
Scottish Time Travel American Novel.
There will be no forks in my novel! I shouted in a manic fit to my pillows.
And so I began my research. I scoured the internet, cleared the shelves of the public library, and tore through academic journals. I e-mailed professors, museums, and archaeologists. Documentaries replaced my prime-time lineup (God bless you, Mike Loades).
And with each new bit of information, scenes began forming in my head. By the end of my recovery, I had the first draft of my book.
And it was awful.
It turns out writing is hard. Damn hard. It’s an art founded on technique, and I had no technique. At that point a fork would have been the least of my problems.
So I joined a writing group (http://toledowriters.com) and with their gentle form of constructive criticism, I began to learn the art of writing.
Writing is Rewriting
And I’m still rewriting. But I think I have the makings of something really special.
But until then…
I’d like to share what I’ve learned about the Middle Ages. I can’t be the only one who finds it fascinating they used to set dye with urine (please tell me I’m not the only one).
My plan is to pick a different topic each week: What kind of foods did people eat? How did they make ale? What kind of herbal medicines did they use? What about toilets and cleanliness and dying their own clothes? I might even try things out for myself (maybe not the pee dye…) and document it for you. There will be a little bit of everything, some things you might even find useful (in the event of the apocalypse).
So if you love history, or just want to learn how to avoid doing dishes by eating off trenchers, join me each week as I journey back in time. I promise there will be no forks.