Our generation has lost so many important talents and skills. Technology makes it easier for us, but in some ways, it takes away our independence. Maybe that’s one reason we love to read (and write!) historical romance. We can go back in time vicariously without having to live through all the hardships and trials of everyday life, experiencing only the top layer of what must have been difficult, by our standards, every moment.
Does anyone know how to cut up a chicken anymore? My mother did. I remember her getting out the wickedest looking knife I’d ever seen every Sunday and cutting up a chicken to fry. They had started to sell cut-up chickens in the store, but they were more expensive. Mom wouldn’t have dreamed of paying extra for that. By the time I began to cook for my family, I didn’t mind paying that extra money—I couldn’t bear to think of cutting a chicken up and then frying it.
It’s all relative. My mom, born in 1922, grew up in a time when the chickens had to be beheaded, then plucked, then cut up—so skipping those first two steps seemed like a luxury, I’m sure. I wouldn’t know how to begin to cut up a chicken. I never learned how.
Hog killing day was another festive occasion. Because my husband was raised on a farm, he and my mother had a lot of similar experiences to compare (this endeared him to her in later years.) Neighbors and family would gather early in the day. The hog would be butchered, and the rest of the day would be spent cutting and packing the meat. When my husband used to talk about the “wonderful sausage” his mother made, I was quite content to say, “Good for her. I’m glad you got to eat that when you were young.” (There’s no way I would ever make sausage.)
Medical issues? I was the world’s most nervous mother when I had my daughter. But being the youngest in the family, I had a world of experience to draw on. I also had a telephone and I knew how to use it! I called my mom or one of my sisters about the smallest thing. I can’t imagine living in one of the historical scenarios that, as writers, we create with those issues. The uncertainty of having a sick child and being unable to do anything to help cure him/her would have made me lose it. I know this happened so often and was just accepted as part of life, but to me, that would have been the very worst part of living in a historical time. I had a great aunt who lost all three of her children within one week to the flu. She lost her mind and had to be institutionalized off and on the rest of her life.
My mother was the eldest of eleven children. She often said with great pride that her mother had had eleven children and none of them had died in childhood. I didn’t realize, when I was younger, how important and odd that really was for those times. My father’s mother had five children, two of whom died as children, and two more that almost died, my father being one of them.
It was a case of my grandmother thinking he was with my granddad, and him thinking three-year-old Freddie was with her. By the time they realized he was missing, the worst had happened. He had wandered to the pond and fallen in. It was a cold early spring day. Granddad had planted the fields already, between the pond and the house. A little knit cap that belonged to little Freddie was the only evidence of where he’d gone. It was floating on top of the water. By some miracle, my granddad found him and pulled him up out of the water. He was not breathing. Granddad ran with him back to the house, jumping the rows of vegetables he’d planted. The doctor later told him that was probably what saved Dad’s life—a very crude form of CPR.
Could you have survived in the old west? What do you think would have been your greatest worry? What would you hate to give up the most from our modern way of life? I’m curious to know, what skills or talents to you think we have lost generationally over the last 100 years? I’ve written two time travel stories where the heroine found herself living in the old west, 1800s Indian Territory. They both faced issues that were daunting, simply because of the time period…would they stay if given a choice, or go back to their present-day living? Does love REALLY ‘conquer all’? In my time travel novel, TIME PLAINS DRIFTER, the heroine must go back in time, but in the sequel, I’m turning the tables. The hero of that book is going to go forward. Once he gets there, will he ever want to go BACK to his time?
I’m not sure I would have lived very long, or very pleasantly. I know one thing—my family would never have eaten sausage, unless they had breakfast at the neighbor’s house.
Robin Mallory is facing another Christmas all alone when she decides to surprise her aunt and uncle several hours away. She becomes stranded near a desolate section of interstate. With a snowstorm on the way, Robin has no choice but to walk, looking for a house to provide shelter.
Jake Devlin is shocked when the “spy” he jumps turns out to be a girl. She’s dressed oddly, and talks like a Yank. Where did she come from, and what is he going to do with her?
The set up: Jake, a Confederate soldier, has been seriously wounded by a Cheyenne arrow as he tries to protect Robin from the attack. His only hope is for her to be able to go back through the “portal” in the woods to her old truck, parked along the interstate, and get the medicine from another time that he so badly needs. With Cheyenne in the woods along with a platoon of Yankee soldiers, what chance will she have of survival? Can she even find the rift in time again…twice?
Robin turned her back on the pickup and started down the gravel road. Doubt assailed her. Was she crazy to go back to a time she didn’t belong in?
But she did belong. She’d been…alive. More so in that time than here, in her own. And could she possibly hope for a future with Jake? It was too soon for commitments…but wasn’t she making the biggest one of all?
Her steps slowed. If she took the medicine back to him, what guarantee was there that, should she want to come back to her time, she’d be able? She may be stuck in Indian Territory of 1864 with no way back, ever.
She couldn’t let Jake die. How could she live with herself in either time if that happened?
What if she was misreading his intentions? He seemed—interested—in her. Her heart shrank at the thought of another rejection. She wouldn’t be able to handle that. But…that fear might also be keeping her from letting herself fall in love with the kindest, most decent man she’d ever met—in any time. Trusting was so hard.
Yet, he’d trusted her, hadn’t he, with much more to lose than she had. He could very well die if she didn’t take the antibiotics back to him.
And…another thought, too awful to bear, rose up, refusing to be ignored. What if he died in spite of the antibiotics? She might be trapped in a time that wasn’t hers, without the man she’d fallen in love with.
Oh, dear God. She stopped walking as the reality hit her full force. She was in love with Jake already. How could this have happened? The damn magical doorway through time had to have some other influence. There was no other explanation. But…it felt real. And if she lost Jake, the heartache would be very real, she already knew. She’d sworn, after her last romantic fiasco, that she wouldn’t jump into anything again. Yet, here she was, in love with Jake Devlin after only twenty-four hours. And worried sick. She began to run. What if she couldn’t get back through the portal? What if the medicine doesn’t work?
What if Jake doesn’t love me? Her mind seized on the question, mocking her, taunting her, throwing it back to her again and again.
He loves me, her heart answered, remembering the way he’d reached to pull the blanket over her, and the gentle touch of his hand on her cheek in the night when he thought she was asleep.
Remember, her heart reminded her, as she thought of the way he’d put himself between her and their attackers. He would have died for her. He still might.
She stopped running, trying to catch her breath. Her side hurt, and she noticed the sky seemed to be darkening more than normal, which probably meant they were in for more snow.
Nothing else had changed, though. Panic gripped her. The road remained graveled and wide, never narrowing in the least as it had before. The trees weren’t nearly as thick as they had been a scant half-hour earlier when she’d come this way.
With her heart pounding from fear as much as exertion, Robin looked behind her. She could still barely see the top of the rise that hid her truck. Maybe she hadn’t come quite far enough! She couldn’t remember. It had all been so gradual before. But now, everything looked the same, unchanged. She held her breath listening for the far-away sounds of the interstate traffic. She couldn’t hear anything, but maybe it was just because there weren’t many cars. It was Christmas Eve. Everyone would most likely be at their destinations by now, so late in the afternoon, the day before Christmas.
“Oh, please,” she whispered, starting down the road again. “Please.”
The wind whipped up, and the first flakes of snow began to fall. She was so close—so close to getting the medicine back to Jake—how could everything go so completely wrong? She fought back angry tears of frustration, her throat raw from the cold. It would never do for her to really get sick now—now that Jake was in such need of her medication.
She lifted her chin determinedly. She was going to get it to him. Somehow, someway. And she prayed it would be strong enough to heal him. Christmas was a time for miracles. She needed one right now.
The 2011 Christmas Collection anthology containing MEANT TO BE, my novel TIME PLAINS DRIFTER, and all my other work can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson or at Barnes and Noble.