Making History (abbreviated version)Well, two geeks have pronounced my situation with the memory chip unresolvable until I get home, or unless I want to spend some bucks to buy a new camera cable- if one can be found. We'll see what we can do later today to add photos in a separate blog. And if nothing else, I'll get the pics up on my own blog next week. I'll let you know so you can go check them out.
On Wednesday, the Beau Monde chapter and the Hearts Through History chapters of RWA had a combined conference. Workshops were fantastic for anyone interested in writing history. Other duties and a bad back robbed me of two sessions, but in the afternoon I managed to make it to the Arms and Armour and Roman Hand-to- Hand Combat. I know, sounds strange for a Regency author, but I do write in other periods too, and I'm going to Rome in the fall. And I've been to many Regency workshops over the years so I thought I should take my opportunity to see things I've never seen before. I did.
A few surprises in the Arms and Armour workshop. Although I saw no Claymores, I handled a 16th century broadsword and a 17th century bastard sword. No, not one for slaying bastards-- its hilt is set up to be used with either hand, despite the fact that it has a "basket" around the grip. Blades were dulled of course because people can be idiots and drop them on their toes. But the surprise is that even though I am not a strong person, I could have handled it without severe effort.
Not so the chain mail. I knew it was really heavy stuff, and I have to figure out a way to keep my hero out if his chain mail before I plunge him into a river. But until I handled it, I just didn't comprehend. Now I wonder how a man could even walk with it. Plate armour, on the other hand, surprised me with its lightness, in comparison, and I was surprised be the ingenious linking of the plates and the way they articulated to allow movement. I've always imagined knights walking almost like zombies, but the flexibility in the armour showed they likely could move shoulders into most positions, and even bend at the waist, because the armour flexed there, too.
The real surprise, though, was the beautiful wheel lock pistol, because I've never seen anything more than pictures of them. I think because the wheel lock was not as successful as other kinds of firing mechanisms so there aren't nearly as many examples, but it was a real thrill to handle it, even though I'm not likely to ever put one in the kinds of books I write.
I really loved the Roman demonstration, which had extremely accurate 1st century reproduction costumes. Essentially our demonstrators showed us why the smaller Romans were able to succeed in combat over their larger foes, the various barbarian groups. The Romans were a very practical people, and they had an amazing ability for organization. One of their greatest successes was in the way they organized their army into an efficient machine, every step of the way taking what others knew and improving on it. I won't go into further detail. There's far too much of it. But I'll post pictures when I can.
The soiree in the evening is always the crowning event, and here's where I really feel bad about not having pictures. Several of the re-enactors for the workshops used our room for dressing, and they came to the soiree in their costumes, too, so I have some photos of costumes going on. In the evening, we always have country dancing with callers. Several people who had not attended before remarked how much it is like square dancing. Yes, it's really the same thing, just with a touch of elegance. Most of us perform the dances the way they were done in Pride and Prejudice, but there is a lt of evidence that country dancing was considered something for the young in body for very good reason. It was as energetic as modern square dancing.
For me, a major part of the fun was giving away the Royal Ascot awards, especially after having spent so many months coordinating the contest. All three of our first place winners were present, as well as two of the third place winners.
And one more thing made the evening special. Being with friends, many of those I correspond with online, but actually only see once a year. That's really the biggest thrill of conference for me. I spent some time with one of my editors, Jennifer Miller, and the Samhain editor who judged one of our categories, Lindsey McGurk. They're both really fascinating as people as well as editors.
And on Thursday morning, ten of us Wet Noodle Posse members gathered for breakfast. I think that is one of the most important reasons for going to conference, and I was so glad to see some of them who I haven't seen in four years.
Wish I could have stayed longer, but it just wasn't a good idea this year. But at least I could be there for a few days, and I'll have a little bit of spending money when I hit Rome in September.