...in which I share some of my favorite medieval research resources and methods for the benefit of others interested in also writing about the Middle Ages

Monday, October 26, 2009

My First Week at Costco

I blogged about my first week of Costco book signings on my JDP NEWS blog today, if any of you would like to read about it.

Also, my future dates and locations are a bit up in the air, so I'm revising a number of previously posted dates to TBA's in my post below. I'll update my schedule as I receive it. Just click on the hand with the pen in my right hand sidebar to check out my dates as I receive and post them.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Winner of "Medieval Women"

Congratulations to Rachelle Christensen, winner of my book giveaway for Medieval Women, by Eileen Power. I hope you enjoy the book, Rachelle!

Thanks to everyone who entered. And for those of you who didn't win...I've stumbled across a couple more "duplicate" research books in my house, so there will be at least two more giveaways coming up...I just can't promise you when!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Illuminations of the Heart at Costco!

Remember that "new venture" I mentioned yesterday that will leave me limited time for blogging in the immediate future? Well, that's due to the fact that Illuminations of the Heart is hitting the big time...sort of! For the next two and a half months, I will be signing copies of my sweet medieval romance, Illuminations of the Heart, at various Costco's in Arizona. I'll be signing three days of the week, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday afternoons for four hours a day, rotating between four Costco stores in the Phoenix metropolitan area. However, though my book signings are only four hours each, my driving time back and forth to each of these signings will add another four hours to each of my days. So I'll be forced to cut back on some things such as email and...yes...daily blogging! If I have the energy, I'll try to share some of my Costco adventures with you along the way when I can. (If I have any adventures, that is.)

I'm posting my signing schedule below. If you live in southern Arizona, I would love to have you drop by and say "hi!", whether you buy a book or not. If you have friends or relatives who live in southern Arizona, I'd love to have them drop by and say "hi!" too! And if you drop by on Oct 22, 23, or 24, you'll also be able to meet my editor, who is flying all the way down from Utah to give me moral support my first week!

And remember, even if you already have a copy of Illuminations of the Heart...they make great Christmas gifts! :-)

Click on the city for each date for a link to the address and a map:

Thursday, Oct 22nd
1-5 PM             MESA 

Friday, Oct  23rd
1-5 PM             GILBERT 

Saturday, Oct 24th
1-5 PM             CHANDLER 

Thursday, Oct 29th
1-5 PM             TBA

Friday, Oct 30th
1-5 PM             TBA

Saturday, Oct 31st
1-5 PM             GILBERT

Thursday, Nov 5th
1-5 PM             TBA

Friday, Nov 6th
1-5 PM             TBA

Saturday, Nov 7th
1-5 PM             TBA

Thursday, Nov 12th
1-5 PM             GILBERT

Friday, Nov 13th
1-5 PM             TBA

Saturday, Nov 14th
1-5 PM             TBA

Thursday, Nov 19th
1-5 PM             TBA 


Friday, Nov 27th
1-5 PM             GILBERT

Saturday, Nov 28th –
1-5 PM             TBA 

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Medieval Word of the Day

Mural chamber: chambers built inside the thickness of a castle's wall

Though I didn't use this term directly in my story, my character Acelet got thrown into a mural chamber in Illuminations of the Heart. But you'll have to read the book to find out who threw him in there and why!

And now Medieval Word of the Day is going on hiatus, because I've used up all the words from my glossary in Illuminations of the Heart, and I will soon be starting a new venture that will leave me with limited time for blogging. More about that tomorrow!

Thank you to all those who have faithfully followed along with my Medieval Word of the Day. I've enjoyed sharing these words with you! Medieval Word of the Day will return when I bring out a new book with a new glossary full of terms.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Happy Norman Conquest Day!

Happy Norman Conquest Day! This year, Duke Wiliam (the standing knight, soon to be King William) is holding a council of war atop my cake, planning his invasion of England. (And yes, I know the armor and hair styles are all wrong for 1066. These knights are "representative", okay? Someday I'll track down some more authentic looking Norman and Saxon knights to put on my yearly cake!)

(And yes, someday I'm going to learn to take better pictures, too!)

Medieval Word of the Day

Mural tower: towers built into the castle walls

See all those towers along the wall? Each of those is a mural tower

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Medieval Word of the Day

Gatehouse: the heavily fortified entrance to the castle complex

See those two towers with the "opening" at the end of the bridge? You'd have to fight your way through that gatehouse to gain access to the castle bailey and keep

(This is a picture of Bodiam Castle in Sussex, England)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Medieval Word of the Day

Mead: a medieval garden designed to imitate a small meadow

The low-lying flowers this woman is sitting in is an example of a medieval "flowery mead"

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Medieval Word of the Day

Parchment: material made from animal skin used for the pages of books or other writing

Vellum: a very thin, fine form of parchment made from calf-skin ("veal-parchment", i.e., vellum)

Parchment was made from the skin of various animals, but vellum only came from calf-skin

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Medieval Word of the Day

Crespin: a decorative hair net worn by women

And while we're talking about medieval women, don't forget that my drawing for a copy of Medieval Women, by Eileen Power is still underway! Click here to see how you can enter to win a copy of this book.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Medieval Word of the Day

Tunic: a sleeved, loose fitting outer garment worn by both men and women; could be worn alone or under a surcote; for the man, could be knee or ankle length

Surcote: also known as the surcoat or super-tunic; a secondary tunic worn over an under tunic, usually more elaborately decorated.

Here is a woman wearing a green tunic, with a sleeveless reddish surcote layered over it.

Here is a man wearing a long tunic, with a shorter, decorated surcote over it. 

Monday, October 5, 2009

Norman Conquest Day is Coming!

October 14 is Norman Conquest Day! So I'm re-reading The Conqueror by Georgette Heyer to begin my celebration.

Medieval Word of the Day

Smock: A loose, blouselike undergarment  

The woman in this picture is wearing a smock

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Medieval Bestiaries

On September 10, 2009, my Medieval Word of the Day was Bestiary: a collection of drawings or paintings of animals, real or imagined, accompanied by their physical and allegorical descriptions.

Medieval bestiaries play a small role in my medieval romance, Illuminations of the Heart. My heroine’s brother “illuminates” a bestiary to prove to his illuminator father that he’s ready to be advanced from apprenticeship in their shop. My heroine, Siri, practices her own drawing skills in the gardens of her new guardian, Triston de Brielle, while sitting with Triston’s young son Perrin and cousin Acelet. While conversing with them both about her new home, she draws a bee with a crown hovering above it in the air, and explains to Perrin that swarms of bees are led by a king bee. Yes, it’s the very opposite of what we know about bees today, and a friend who read my book challenged my writing of this scene. But because I had read Medieval Beasts, by Ann Payne, I was able to explain to my friend that in the Middle Ages, people not only believed that bees were lead by a king rather than a queen, but that bees, like most of the animal kingdom, represented some kind of allegory, or moral story, to the people of the Middle Ages. The allegory of the bee, as my heroine explained to her companions, went like this:

“Bees are led by a king, as are we," she said, ignoring the resentful glance Acelet sent at the boy. "He is a most benevolent ruler, leading by example and never turning his sting upon malefactors. He has only to demonstrate to them the error of their ways, and in shame they will turn their own sting upon themselves.” (Illuminations of the Heart, p 76)

In the medieval world, each animal, like the bee, represented some sort of moral example or symbolism that humans were encouraged to follow if the symbolism was good (like the bee), or avoid if the symbolism was bad (like the crocodile, which represented hypocrisy with the “false tears” it shed after eating any unfortunate human who stumbled across its path).

In her book, Medieval Beasts, Ann Payne recreates a medieval bestiary complete with over seventy full-color illustrations borrowed from actual medieval bestiaries found in The British Library. She covers animals (lion, tiger, elephant, camel, hedgehog, ants, the mythical leucrota—bred from a hyena and a lioness!—and more); birds (eagle, vulture, ostrich, phoenix, siren, bats and bees—yes, the latter two were considered to fall into the “bird family”—and more); reptiles (viper, asp, boa, salamander, dragon, basilisk, and more); and fish (fish, sera, dolphin, and whale).

If you are interested in sampling a modern reproduction of a medieval bestiary, Medieval Beasts by Ann Payne is a delightful place to start!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Medieval Word of the Day

When we think of a romance today, this is what we usually think of:

But in the Middle Ages, a Romance was: a long, narrative tale recounting marvelous adventures and deeds of chivalry. While some romances had heroes and heroines falling in love, not all of them did. "Love" was not what made a romance a romance in the Middle Ages!

Win a copy of Medieval Women, by Eileen Power! Click here!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Medieval Word of the Day

Now that you can picture in your mind the high table on the dais in the castle hall, what are you going to put on that high table? What else but a...

Trencher: large slices of stale bread, cut either round or square, and used for "plates" for medieval dining

Click here to see a trencher.