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Tag Archives: Time travel

FYI: I am still compiling the Risky Answers To Your Questions. Look for that next week.

In the meantime, in my usual roundabout and convoluted way, I came across a truly fascinating book: The Journal of a Georgian Gentleman, The Life and Times of Richard Hall, 1729 – 1801, by Mike Rendell.

Rendell is a direct descendent of Richard Hall, and Hall, it seems, not only extensively journaled his life, he was what we might call a highly organized hoarder. And because of this Rendell found himself in possession of an amazingly well documented life. Not just in journals but in collected ephemera. Hall saved just about every bit of paper he encountered. Pamphlets, broadsides, you name it, he seems to have saved and documented it.

He’s published this book (it’s a beautiful hardcover) and though I’ve only just started it, it’s wonderful. There are insights into daily life that I just don’t think exist anywhere else.

I’m going to pimp his book hard. It’s about $20 US, and I think any hard-core historical researcher would get a lot of use from this book. It’s worth having. Amazon

Anyway, what I want to mention today is this:

Richard recalled in his later retrospective jottings that his father had told him that when his father, Thomas, was a young man and required a bride, he had no choice but to go out on horseback and ride to the various villages within a journey of one day, visiting the homes of suitable persons and introducing himself to those with daughters of marriageable age. His whole world consisted of those parts of Berkshire, Oxford and Wiltshire as extended for a distance of perhaps thirty miles from his home. ‘Amazing then,’ Richard wrote, ‘to consider that in my lifetime we have seen horizons extend so markedly that a man may catch the express stage from Oxford and be in London later that same day!’ Journal, p 6

The passage about how Richard’s grandfather introduced himself to families with marriageable daughters is, to me, a reminder of how important calls were. Not just fun or polite, but serious business. Young men and women needed to meet a diversity of potential partners (church would NOT have been socially and geographically diverse enough) and without carriages or the express stage, you walked or rode within the limitations of your legs or your horse.

But it’s that last quote:

Amazing then to consider that in my lifetime we have seen horizons extend so markedly that a man may catch the express stage from Oxford and be in London later that same day!

that reinforces, for me, how much we have in common with the people who lived during the Enlightenment and the Age of Reason. They experienced the same technology driven transformation of their lives, and they, too, were fully capable of feeling and appreciating the changes wrought.

I can just imagine them saying things like, why, in my father’s day, it was two days travel from Oxford to London and it was uphill both ways! I don’t know why anyone would want to go to London anyway. Nothing but thieves and cutpurses and men as like to rob you as tell you how to find the White Horse Inn.

It’s why this idea among some people that the men and women of the Regency were in some fundamentally inscrutable and unknowable way DIFFERENT drives me nuts. They weren’t.

Just like today, not everyone followed the rules. There were liars and cheaters and people who were honest, good and caring. There were bad girls and good boys and sex felt as good then as it does now.

There will always be people who reflect on the past and how immensely things have changed since those days.

Just for kicks, according to Google Maps, it’s about 60 miles from Oxford to London. If you drive, it’s an hour and 20 minutes. If you take the train, it’s an hour and 11 minutes. 400 years from now, I suppose it will take 10 minutes.

I have resolved stuff because I am all 2013 that way.

Here’s a few of my resolutions for 2013

  1. Less refined sugar in my diet. I feel I am now well-positioned for this step as my diet over the last 2-3 weeks has been primarily sugar-based. Protein…proootein…..
  2. Have the first sequel to Lord Ruin on sale by June 30th
  3. Read more books by authors I know I’ll love but haven’t yet read.
  4. Less complaining about certain things and more actually doing something to remove the things I complain about.
  5. Invite some bloggers whose work I adore to guest blog here.
  6. More polls. They’re like cowbells. We just need more.
  7. When I read a really crappy eBook, I will return it THEN I will write scornful things about it.
  8. Ponder the role of zombies in literature.
  9. Write more.
  10. Write more risky stuff.

What am I missing? What are some of your resolutions?

Oh Hey! It’s the first poll of the New Year

You push the wrong button on some electronic device and end up swept back in time to 1815 and the bedroom of the notorious rake, the duke of Rhynoldensward. What do you do?

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While I don’t have a new release out, I’m happy to announce the re-release of my 2013 Christmas novella, Christmas Past, with a brand new cover as part of Entangled’s Scandalous line.

Christmas Past cover

Time-traveling PhD student Sydney Dahlquist’s first mission sounded simple enough—spend two weeks in December 1810 collecting blood samples from the sick and wounded of Wellington’s army, then go home to modern-day Seattle and Christmas with her family. But when her time machine breaks, stranding her in the past, she must decide whether to sacrifice herself to protect the timeline or to build a new life—and embrace a new love—two centuries before her time.

I’ve always loved a good time travel story–I think the idea of getting to actually visit the past is just so seductive to me as a history geek. Christmas Past is my first attempt at the genre, but it won’t be my last. I’ve started work on a story I’ll talk more about in my December post that takes a magical approach to time travel rather than a scientific one. But for this week I thought I’d talk about some of my favorite time travel stories as a reader and viewer. In no particular order…


Outlander. (Though despite that lovely illustration, due to the lack of Starz in my cable package I’m far more familiar with the books.) It’s big and epic, satisfying that part of me that loves a decades-spanning saga. It’s romantic and sexy. And I appreciate how in the later books when most of the action moves to colonial and Revolutionary America, Gabaldon gives a much more nuanced portrayal of both sides of the conflict than your typical Plucky Liberty-Minded Colonists vs. Tyrannical Royalists.

Tempus Fugit

Sleepy Hollow, my current TV obsession, on the other hand, will never win prizes for its nuanced examination of the Revolutionary era–the British in many cases are literal demons. And technically it’s not even a true time travel show, since its man-out-of-time hero Ichabod Crane gets to the future by dying (or close enough to it) in 1781 and getting resurrected in 2013 rather than your traditional time machine or time travel spell. But in the Season 2 finale, Abbie Mills, his 21st-century cop partner in apocalypse-fighting, goes back to the 18th century to save Crane’s life, not to mention all the American history yet to come. Along the way she gets to meet Benjamin Franklin and her own ancestress who first got her family involved in the secret war against evil. (The show is 100% as crazy as it sounds, but at its best, as with this episode, it’s crazy-awesome. And frankly, I’m nervous about including it on this list, since I’m writing this post Thursday evening before the Season 3 mid-season finale airs, so I have no idea if I’ll be giddy and squeeing over crazy-awesome or grumbling, “Why, show, why?” over plain old crazy tomorrow morning when you’re reading this!)

First Contact

The Star Trek universe goes to the time travel well a lot, but I’m listing First Contact as my example because I have such fond memories of watching it in the theater when it first came out. It was everything I loved about Next Gen Trek, made big-screen and epic.

Everybody lives!

Doctor Who, of course, is all about time travel…so I’m just listing what remains my favorite two-part pair of episodes, The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances, wherein the Ninth Doctor, Rose Tyler, and Jack Harkness end up in the London Blitz…and just this once, everybody lives!

A Swiftly Tilting Planet

A Swiftly Tilting Planet was always my favorite of Madeleine L’Engle’s time quintet, probably because of the high stakes (stopping a nuclear war!) and dizzying leaps through multiple times.

What about you? Are you a fan of time travel in fiction? What are some of your favorites?

I’m normally the type who keeps all Christmas activities strictly confined to the six weeks or so between Thanksgiving and Epiphany. I never Christmas shop before Black Friday. I wouldn’t dream of putting decorations up before the first Sunday in Advent. But this year I spent a good chunk of February and June with Christmas on the brain–I was writing Christmas novellas!

My February project will be a Carina release in 2014. Since that’s so far away, and it doesn’t have a release date or title yet, all I’ll say about it for now is that it’s the story of star-crossed lovers reunited after a five-year separation at a Regency house party…with wassailing and mistletoe and a thick coat of snow on the ground.

But my June project, Christmas Past, releases in less than two weeks, on November 25!

Christmas Past cover

As the title hints, it’s a time travel story. The heroine is from my own adopted hometown of Seattle in 2013–only in her version of the present, time travel has been invented and is largely used for medical and other scientific research. Sydney is a PhD student in historical epidemiology, making her first trip to the past to collect blood samples from soldiers in Wellington’s army for her mentor’s study on the epidemiological impacts of the Napoleonic Wars.

Time-traveling PhD student Sydney Dahlquist’s first mission sounded simple enough—spend two weeks in December 1810 collecting blood samples from the sick and wounded of Wellington’s army, then go home to modern-day Seattle and Christmas with her family. But when her time machine breaks, stranding her in the past, she must decide whether to sacrifice herself to protect the timeline or to build a new life—and embrace a new love—two centuries before her time.

Rifle captain Miles Griffin has been fascinated by the tall, beautiful “Mrs. Sydney” from the day he met her caring for wounded soldiers. When he stumbles upon her time travel secret on Christmas Eve, he vows to do whatever it takes to seduce her into making her home in his present—by his side.

I had a lot of fun writing this story, particularly going back and forth between Sydney’s contemporary voice and Miles’s Regency voice–and I’m so used to shifting into Regency vocabulary and diction the instant I open a manuscript file that Sydney’s was far more challenging to achieve!

When writing my Christmas novellas, I found myself imagining reader busy with everything that makes November and December such a joyous yet challenging time of year. Maybe she’s flying home to her family and wants a good story to take her mind off a crowded, turbulent flight. Maybe she just put her pies in the oven and wants to put her feet up and read while her house warms with the aromas of pumpkin and spice. Maybe she’s snowed in, unable to make it to work or school, and is elated to finally have time to escape into fiction.

What about you? When do you read holiday novellas? What are some of your favorites? And when do you put up and take down your decorations?

Christmas Past is now available for preorder from multiple sources, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and Google Play.

A novel requires some measure of structure to hold it together, a plot tends to work nicely for this. To deconstruct a bit, traditionally, a novel is divided into chapters and at one time was even commonly divided into physically separate volumes. Over time, the result of the separate volumes has been the unhappy event of missing volumes. If I had only volumes 1 and 2 of the original Pride and Prejudice I think I would be very sad. (I don’t have any, by the way.) But I do have single volumes of other very old books.

I’ve heard only anecdotally that the reason for separate volumes stemmed from the convenience of being able to pass on volume 1 to the next reader while proceeding with volume 2. I’ve never come across this as any more than speculation. Personally, I suspect the volume decision was a financial one and/or a limitation of the materials at hand, and the fact that the separate volumes could be passed on so that readers didn’t have to wait for someone to finish the entire book was simply fortuitous for the customer. Perhaps in my copious spare time I’ll try to track that down.

The historical practice of physically separate volumes has gone by the wayside, thank goodness, because imagine the horror of your TBR pile if your favorite historical romance (let’s say it’s Scandal by yours truly) came in three volumes and now that you finally have time to read this lovely book, you discover you’re missing volume two. Or the book eating cat (we have one of those) has managed to drag volume three under the bed for a nice snack of the opening chapters. Or that you picked up all three volumes on your way to the airport but only when you’re at 40,000 feet do you discover you have the volume one of some other book.

If books today still came in separate volumes, would each volume have different cover art? This, of course, was not an issue back in the day. You either went cheap and kept your books in their original boards (what would the neighbors think of that?) or you bound them yourself, probably in Morocco leather. And since Carolyn Jewel of 1815 would surely have been Lady Readerham (married to the dashing and wholly reformed rake the earl of Readerham— I assure you, we had quite the tumultuous courtship and that the story about how he got that scar is completely false. There were never any crocodiles in the moat.) At any rate, I would have a nice little coronet to have embossed on the covers of the books in my library.

But that was then. (Would have been then?) What about today? Would bookstores today even allow you to buy single volumes of a multi-volume work? Or would there soon be a healthy after-market source for orphaned volumes? Maybe there’d be special deals, Buy Volumes 1 and 2, get Volume 3 for half off!

What do you think? And if you lived in 1815, who would you be and what would be in your library? Sorry, Lord Readerham is taken.

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