Medieval Monday: The Green Valley in February

Today’s post is actually a video that I really think you’re going to enjoy! It’s half an hour long, but well worth the time to watch! A small group of historians and archaeologists restored and brought back to life an abandoned village in Wales, re-creating over an entire year what life was like in the early 1600’s. This would be considered the Renaissance period, but the humble agricultural lifestyle really hadn’t changed a whole lot. Much of this would be applicable to the medieval period as well.

This episode is not the start of the series, but it is the video from February, so you can see what would have been happening at this time of year hundreds of years ago. Really, really fascinating stuff. I encourage you to take the time to watch. I will include one episode each month going forward until the year’s worth of videos run out. Aside from doing this type of thing yourself, I can think of no better way to really put yourself back in time, to see and vicariously experience life from another era. Hope you enjoy it!



Use the Medieval Monday Index to discover more topics relating to daily life in the Middle Ages.

 

Medieval Monday: Labors of January

winter-snowball-fightWinter had tightened its grip, and the most important labor of January was staying warm! With only hearth fires for heat, the cold was a very real danger for everyone, but especially the young, the elderly, and the poor. There were still several feasting days to be celebrated, which continued to be a blessing for those who needed help getting through winter. January 6th, the day after Epiphany, was the Feast of the Three Kings. Christian tradition was often blended with agricultural ceremonies rooted in pagan tradition, even though the Church frowned on these practices. The plow and distaff, symbols of male and female societal roles, were both honored. There might be plow races, or processions though villages. The plows might also be pulled around a bonfire to bring good luck for the new year. Actual plowing could not begin until after Candlemas (February 2nd) which was the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary. At that point, the winter respite from the fields was officially over, and they were tilled in preparation for spring planting.

harvestingclayThere were other things to do during the month of January. On the coldest days, medieval people completed any type of work that could be done indoors. Spinning thread, weaving, repairing hunting and fishing nets, making utensils, and repairing or sharpening tools were among them. With spring not so far into the future, all the necessary farming equipment would need to be in working order. On milder days, people could do some outdoor work, such as gathering firewood, mending fences, pruning vines, or using a hoe to harvest clay from riverbanks.


 

Enjoy one last “Tales from the Green Valley” episode. We’ve now followed this team of experts through an entire year on a medieval farm, and the information given has been amazing. Lots of really fascinating details in this one, including tending cattle, harvesting timber supplies, repairing tools, building work, hedge laying, breaking ice, mucking the cow shed, harvesting oak apples (for dye or ink), making ink, repairing shoes, preparing and using medicines, distilling water, preparing the field for spring, harvesting kale, winter foods and recipes.

Though I won’t be posting these at the start of each month anymore, you can still watch the videos anytime,  or read my labors of the months posts, by using the Medieval Monday Index.

Fantasy Art Friday

Get inspired with this week’s Fantasy Art Friday, where fun fantasy artwork is combined with a writing prompt to get your creative juices flowing.


Here’s a sight to stop your heart…a dragon’s head in the morning mist, rising above the tree tops. The swordsman looking up at it seems so tiny by comparison–this monster could easily eat him whole and use his sword as a toothpick afterwards. The headstone on the ground is not an especially good omen either. But heroes are made, not born, and legends are full of defeated dragons, so perhaps this brave warrior has some tricks up his sleeve.

Has he happened upon this dragon by chance? Or has he come prepared for the challenge? It’s up to you to decide his fate…

Dragon in the Woods_large

“Dragon in the Woods” by Simon Fetscher

 

Mystery, Magic, and Faith

Are you signed up yet to get my bi-monthly newsletter? It features insights into my writing, author updates, giveaways, lots of FREE book promotions and more. When you subscribe, you also get the second book in the Wind Rider Chronicles free. Below I’ve shared a section from my first January newsletter–check it out! Click to see the entire newsletter and browse this month’s free and discounted books.

In Journey to Aviad, Elowyn carries a little satchel with her initial on it that Morganne had made for her—it’s full of herbs meant to ward off evil. This was a common thing to do in the Middle Ages, as certain plants were thought to fend off everything from demons and witches, to just plain bad luck. Medieval people lived in a world full of danger and mystery, which was very often explained with superstitions.

The pervasive thought was that there were two kinds of magic. Black magic was demonic, and therefore harmful. Magic of this sort was feared and avoided, and was used to explain accidents, unknown illnesses, and other tragedies. White magic was supposedly based on the power of nature (God’s Creation). Using charms, talismans, and spells, performing sunrise rituals while sowing crops, or reciting incantations while weaving fabric, are just a few examples of white magic. The study of astrology and alchemy fell into this category as well.

The Church disapproved of them all, but pre-Christian paganism was still very much embedded in Medieval culture and had intertwined itself with Christianity. Folk-beliefs, like the belief in fairies for example, was everyday common sense in places like the British Isles—and had been for hundreds of years. Local priests could not convince people otherwise and eventually gave up trying, despite sharp pressure from the Catholic Church.

It’s easy to see how the medieval period lends itself so well to fantasy literature, which often relies on various forms of magic to add intrigue and to move the story. I have included some of these elements in my series for the sake of flavor and authenticity, like Elowyn’s little bag of herbs and the superstitions held by the people of Minhaven. But since I am writing Christian fiction, I have been very careful about the way I handle magic so that there is a true distinction between what is demonic, what is divine, and what is merely misguided belief. Hopefully my readers noticed that when Elowyn gave away her little bag of herbs, she did not seek to replace it with another. It was a small milestone on her journey to spiritual maturity, as she replaced her belief in the empty “magic” it contained, with a much stronger faith in Aviad and His ability to protect her.

_________________________________________________

Elowyn was convinced that by removing the coin so soon after the man’s brutal death, she had somehow interfered with his ascension into the afterlife, causing his spirit to appear before her in the night. How else could she explain it? He had sought her out from beyond the dead, and pointed directly at the pouch that held the coin. It was quite obviously an object not meant for her to keep, and it had to be returned at the proper time of day.

Elowyn knew very little about the workings of magic, but it was common knowledge that the rites of good magic were most effective at sunrise. That was usually when cures were tried, when newly planted crops were blessed, and when pilgrims to the shrines petitioned their most desperate prayers. Nearly any ritual of importance, even the harvesting of garden herbs, was best performed at sunrise. If she did not make it before then, she would have to wait another day, and perhaps risk another terrifying vision in the night.

~ from Chapter 2, Journey to Aviad

Medieval Monday: The Labors of December

winter-scene-2In the cold days of December, the fields were finally quiet, with the ground too frozen to work. Animals were taken care of, to ensure they would not only survive the harsh months to come, but that they would be healthy on spring’s arrival. After all, they would be needed to work. In bad weather, animals would need to be brought indoors and fed straw mixed with other nutrients such as corn stubble, or pea pods.  Other outdoor work consisted of mostly repair and reconstruction. Timber was cut, and fences and walls mended. If autumn rains had eroded the banks of the mill pond, they would need to be fixed as well.

cooking2

 

Most work had to be done indoors. Carving wood became a common winter activity–people made useful items like bowls, spoons, and cups. They repaired farming tools and household equipment. Baskets, nets, and harnesses were woven out of rushes or reeds. Women spent a good amount of time spinning thread, weaving, and sewing–making new garments and mending torn ones.

Women would also be carefully managing supplies of food; doing their best to feed hungry families even though the fresh foods gathered or harvested in autumn were now beginning to run out. Most peasant families were surviving on bread and pottage. The kettle was kept going over the fire day after day, the culinary monotony broken up by subtle changes to what was thrown into the pot. Common ingredients would have been beans, leeks, lentils, peas, onions, and herbs like parsley. Meat stock might be used for added nutrition, and possibly salted meat or dried fish on occasion. Eggs, cheese, and butter rounded out the winter diet on days when fasting wasn’t required.


Below I have two videos to share. One is very short and shows how bowls were carved using traditional medieval tools. He makes this look so easy, but I’m sure it takes a lot of practice to learn this skill. The other is December’s Tales from the Green Valley in which the team covers the topics of making preparations for Christmas, building a wood storage hovel, sewing, clothing, threshing peas, making mince pies and other Christmas foods, and decorating for Christmas. Some of the Christmas traditions (like the Yule log) are from a bit beyond the medieval period, but many of the other things they describe would have been the same. Enjoy!

 

Author Interview with Katie Holland

Happy Tuesday everyone. Hope you are having a blessed day. Today I am sitting down with YA Fantasy author Katie Holland in her very own interview. Hope you will stick around to get to know this very talented author. Happy reading :).

Author Interview

Tell us about yourself?
I’m lucky enough to be a full time author right now. I also take care of my family and two very spoiled dogs. I love baking and taking pictures. Popcorn is my favorite snack and love anything sweet! I started writing in elementary school but didn’t get serious about it until 2015.

What genre do you write? Why?
I write YA fantasy and paranormal romance as well as adult contemporary, NA and paranormal romance

How does your normal day look like?
After finally getting up later than I planned, I start writing or editing. I try to do that most of the day while still doing boring things like laundry and cleaning. After dinner I try to read (that is when my hubby isn’t needing something (lol).

What books do you like to read?
All kinds of romance and YA.

Who is your favorite character you have created?
Alix. She was my first and I’ve loved seeing her evolve in the Nykara series.

Who are your top favorite authors?
Abbi Glines, Laurell K. Hamilton, Cassandra Clare

What do you have in the works right now?
I’m editing the fourth and final book in the Nykara series which will probably be out early in 2020.

What should we expect from you in the coming months?
I plan on writing the second book in the Bay State University series. After that I think it’s going to be the start of a shifter series by various Kingston Publishing authors. And I’m working on a couple of children’s books.

What would you like to say to your fans?
Thank you, thank you, thank you. You have no idea what it means to me that people like what I write. Becoming a published author was a dream come true and because of you I can keep doing it. Also, it’s crazy that I actually have fans!


About the Author

Web Resolution Headshots-4Katie is an author of Young Adult and Romance books. If she’s not writing you can find her reading, cooking or baking for her family. Her love of writing goes back to elementary school and her love of books goes back even farther than that. She takes inspiration from the everyday and lets her imagination take over. She loves seeing new places and enjoying what nature has to offer.

Connect with the Author

Website | FB | Twitter | Instagram | Amazon | Bookbub | Goodreads


The Book

417EBtqb0nLBorn the most powerful witch in a century, Briar’s power is potentially limitless. With her mother coveting her power, Briar will do anything to stop her mother from using it for her own evil purposes. On Briar’s eighteenth birthday she manages to escape the coven she was raised in. She spends the next two years on the run, hiding her power and hoping her mother doesn’t find her.

Mystic Haven, Louisiana was supposed to be just another stop, but she was offered a job at the nearby school for witches and warlocks. Since Waverly Academy placed the security of it’s staff and students as their top priority she felt safe enough to stay. Briar slowly let her guard down and allowed people into her circle. With the help of her best friend and new boyfriend she begins to find out who she really is. But will living as her true self allow mother find her and drag her back into the life she wants nothing to do with?

Purchase Today for $2.99!

Author Interview with Karin Beery

Welcome to another wonderful Tuesday. Today on my blog I am sitting down with Contemporary Romance author Karin Beery in her very own interview. Check out what she has to say below. Happy reading everyone!


Author Interview

Tell us about yourself?
I’m one of three daughters raised in a small town in central western Michigan. My sisters have moved out of state, but I’m still living in small, Michigan towns (now in northern Michigan). I have a degree in English from Hillsdale College. I love watching football and hockey (though I rarely get to watch hockey anymore because the games are on so late). My husband and I are truly an odd couple — we don’t have much in common, but we both love country music and God, so it works. Really though, it works because we both put God first in all things, including our marriage. That sounds contradictory, but it’s kept us together for more than a decade, and we couldn’t be happier.

What genre do you write? Why?
I write contemporary romance or women’s fiction with a lot of romance in it. I write contemporary novels because I have no desire to do the research needed to write historical novels (though I enjoy reading them). I write romance because, for me, fiction is an escape. There’s enough drama and hardship in the world; I want to know that at least one thing is going to work out well (even if it’s made up).

What is your favorite hobby?
Hanging out with friends. I work from home, which can be lonely. I like doing anything with friends — going out or hanging out at home.

If you could be one person who would it be?
Me. 🙂

What is your favorite type of fantasy creature? Why?
Pegasus. That way I could fly wherever I want without having to go through TSA.

What does your writing process look like?
I like characters, so I start by creating detailed characters. I figure out their personalities and quirks, then I ask, “What would they do in this situation?” Then I keep putting them in situations until they end up together at the end.

What do you have in the works right now?
I’m working on the third part of a trilogy (my first series). It’s about three sisters, with one of them actually based on one of my sisters. I’ve already written book one (a novel) and book two (a novella). I’m excited to see how book three plays out.

Tell us an interesting fact about the world your books revolve around.
With the exception of my first book, the rest of my novels take place in a world built on biblical principles but without any salvation message or preaching. I wouldn’t be able to write believable characters outside of my belief system, but I know that it’s absolutely possible to write sweet, romantic stories that don’t contradict my beliefs.

What should we expect from you in the coming months?
When I’m not writing, I’m editing and reading. Look for news about new book contracts (fingers crossed!) as well as lots of book reviews and plenty of tips to help other writers figure out how to put together a well-written story.

Do you have any special closing statement you would like to share with your fans?
Please don’t hesitate to say hi! I love getting feedback and meeting people, so please don’t hesitate to contact me on social media or by email.


About the Author

Beery, Karin_417x625Karin Beery grew up in a rural Michigan town, where she wrote her first novel in high school. Today, she writes contemporary stories with a healthy dose of romance. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s reading, editing, or teaching it. In her free time, she enjoys watching University of Michigan football and action-adventure movies with her husband and fur babies.

Connect with the Author

FB | Twitter | Instagram | Amazon | Bookbub | Goodreads


The Book

51HZx04YseLAshley moves to a new town to marry her fiancé. Instead, she buries him.

Ashley Johnson moves to northern Michigan to finally meet her fiancé face-to-face, but she arrives in time to go to his funeral. With no home back in Ohio, she decides to stay in what would have been their house, except his cousin Russ lives there too, and Russ has never heard of Ashley. To complicate matters, her fiancé accidentally willed her the family farmhouse. Eager to please everyone and desperate to disappoint no one, she proposes a marriage of convenience that could solve her and Russ’s problems, if they can get past her aunt, his sisters, and an ex-girlfriend.

FREE on KU or $3.99!