Historical Geography

Reddragon_gif
Pat Rice here:

Loretta complained the other day of researching subjects of which she knew nothing and in which she couldn’t even speak the language. I don’t know how bad Loretta’s historical Italy is, but I can tell you that France is a huge internet black hole. I visited the country once, chaperoning a bus full of teenagers, Wwexplodefirecrackergif
and learned far more about teenage hormones than the countryside. And now here I am, attempting to race my characters across not only the French landscape, but one that existed in 1791. You think our coasts are affected by global warming now? Do you have any idea how much difference a century or two makes?  LOTS.  I’m sitting here trying to compare my Rough Guide to Normandy with online travel sites to historical accounts and I’m going cross-eyed.  My suspicion is that the information I want is on all those sites in French.  Wikipedia may be questionable, but it’s a good basic start in English for the area I’m researching: Normandy geography . But beyond that and my guide, I’m rowing hard and going in circles.

And those on-line language translators are good only for a laugh. (this is one of the better ones: http://world.altavista.com/)  Monkeys might be able to put two words together and grasp a concept, but computers sure can’t.  My theory is that computers have grown up to be just like their parents—nerds who know machinery and logic but have almost no grasp of verbal skills. 

Example:
I copied the last three sentences of the first paragraph into Babel, had it translate my English to French, then copied THEIR OWN French translation back to English.  Here’s the result:

Do you have an idea how much difference per century or two marks? FATES. I rest the test here to compare my approximate guide of Normandy with the sites in line of voyage to the historical accounts and I am to go cross-observed. My suspicion is that information that I want find on all these French building sites

I rest my case. Cross-observed! I love it. And admittedly, even English hasn’t come up with a correct spelling for on-line, online, on line, so I’m sure “line of voyage” makes a good substitute. <G>

White_cliffs_of_dover
I seem to have an obsession with climatic scenes on cliffs for reasons only my subconscious can understand.  And cliffs are not static, as I have learned to my dismay.  The first time I wrote a cliff scene (a hundred or so years ago, the way I feel today), I couldn’t travel to the area to check it out personally until the book was done. To my great dismay, the area that had been described as cliffs in historical accounts was flat. Totally flat. No cliffs in sight. To this day I don’t know if the cliff disappeared or the writers lied.  Argh! So I make a conscientous effort these days to put my characters where there actually are cliffs, if that’s what the scene requires. I’m playing with links to see if I can make them work, so here’s one to the cliffs I’m exploring for the current WIP: Etretat cliffs

and for those of you too lazy to check the link (like me), here’s the photo:

Cliffs

Grand, aren’t they? Now try to figure out if I can send my villain out there.  Worse yet, I have to save the villain because he’s the hero of the next book, so he has to get back to safe land somehow! The things we do to complicate our lives.  How many of our readers have been to Etretat (I’m not going to persuade Typepad to put in the accent marks), France and can tell me if the arches are accessible?  Or are there other nifty places where I can drive my villain to the brink and over and not kill him? He has limited powers of earth, wind, fire, and water, but he can’t fly. Let your imaginations go! 

And as we near our first anniversary, the wenches will be playing with a new  blog format. We’re thinking of posting only on Monday-Wednesday-Friday-sometimes Sunday, which means I have no clue when I’ll be posting next.  But I’ll try to post to my personal blog at (http://patriciarice.blogspot.com/) Pat Rice’s blog    at least once a week, maybe more often, now that our duties here are less demanding.  One of these days, I’ll conquer the internet. Or maybe even make a book trailer. How hard can that be, right? (which is a topic for another time–do any of you pay attention to book trailers? Or even know what they are?!)

32 thoughts on “Historical Geography”

  1. No tea and toast every day with the Wenches? Mon Dieu! C’est horrible, but I bet you ladies have lots to keep you busy! Somehow the Wenchlings will survive.
    Pat, I say write your geography to please yourself and make it conform to your storyline. It’s YOUR world. Those people who nitpick over every inaccuracy really should have better things to do. So what if you’ve put a moraine in the middle of a non-existent plain? When I read, I don’t have my red pencil in hand!
    And maybe you need a French e-pal to help you “on the ground.” I’m sure your books will be wonderful no matter what.

    Reply
  2. No tea and toast every day with the Wenches? Mon Dieu! C’est horrible, but I bet you ladies have lots to keep you busy! Somehow the Wenchlings will survive.
    Pat, I say write your geography to please yourself and make it conform to your storyline. It’s YOUR world. Those people who nitpick over every inaccuracy really should have better things to do. So what if you’ve put a moraine in the middle of a non-existent plain? When I read, I don’t have my red pencil in hand!
    And maybe you need a French e-pal to help you “on the ground.” I’m sure your books will be wonderful no matter what.

    Reply
  3. No tea and toast every day with the Wenches? Mon Dieu! C’est horrible, but I bet you ladies have lots to keep you busy! Somehow the Wenchlings will survive.
    Pat, I say write your geography to please yourself and make it conform to your storyline. It’s YOUR world. Those people who nitpick over every inaccuracy really should have better things to do. So what if you’ve put a moraine in the middle of a non-existent plain? When I read, I don’t have my red pencil in hand!
    And maybe you need a French e-pal to help you “on the ground.” I’m sure your books will be wonderful no matter what.

    Reply
  4. No tea and toast every day with the Wenches? Mon Dieu! C’est horrible, but I bet you ladies have lots to keep you busy! Somehow the Wenchlings will survive.
    Pat, I say write your geography to please yourself and make it conform to your storyline. It’s YOUR world. Those people who nitpick over every inaccuracy really should have better things to do. So what if you’ve put a moraine in the middle of a non-existent plain? When I read, I don’t have my red pencil in hand!
    And maybe you need a French e-pal to help you “on the ground.” I’m sure your books will be wonderful no matter what.

    Reply
  5. Perhaps if the villain-soon-to-be-hero has power over earth, you can blame any mistakes you make on his changing the landscape to suit his needs.

    Reply
  6. Perhaps if the villain-soon-to-be-hero has power over earth, you can blame any mistakes you make on his changing the landscape to suit his needs.

    Reply
  7. Perhaps if the villain-soon-to-be-hero has power over earth, you can blame any mistakes you make on his changing the landscape to suit his needs.

    Reply
  8. Perhaps if the villain-soon-to-be-hero has power over earth, you can blame any mistakes you make on his changing the landscape to suit his needs.

    Reply
  9. Oooh, I like Maggie and Susan/Dc’s approach. It’s your world, and your mystic villain, so play with it! Though those cliffs are certainly spectacular.
    We do have a French regular here. Joelle, are you lurking out there?
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  10. Oooh, I like Maggie and Susan/Dc’s approach. It’s your world, and your mystic villain, so play with it! Though those cliffs are certainly spectacular.
    We do have a French regular here. Joelle, are you lurking out there?
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  11. Oooh, I like Maggie and Susan/Dc’s approach. It’s your world, and your mystic villain, so play with it! Though those cliffs are certainly spectacular.
    We do have a French regular here. Joelle, are you lurking out there?
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  12. Oooh, I like Maggie and Susan/Dc’s approach. It’s your world, and your mystic villain, so play with it! Though those cliffs are certainly spectacular.
    We do have a French regular here. Joelle, are you lurking out there?
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  13. First I must echo Maggie’s sentiment. Mon Dieu, what will I do w/o my daily WW’s fix? My family won’t be able to send me “wenching” any more. (“Did you wench today?” is a common question at our family dinner table.)
    To Pat I say…
    …don’t worry about the cliff. If you say it’s there in your world, it’s there.
    … as to the French translator, I use http://www.freetranslation.com. It works fairly well. When I’ve copied in French passages from books and web-sites, the results are understandable. But, I too could use a French e-pal. (Actually, I want to hear the words spoken so I guess that wouldn’t work too well.)
    … as to your character’s trek through France, check out JOURNAL OF THE WATERLOO CAMPAIGN by Cavalié Mercer. True, the account surrounds an 1815 back-water trek from Ostend to Strytem to Brussles, to Waterloo to Dan and ultimately to Paris, but the land, climate and customs have probably changed very little. Mercer’s account provides very vivid detail of all three. He can tell you what the washerwomen wore, which crops were most often found and even the custom for ordering a meal in a Prussian run restaurant. He also has an excellent command of French and provides useful commentary in that language as well. I’ve nearly memorized to book, (long story there) so if you have some specific questions about detail, maybe I can help. Or you can just buy it for yourself. (I got mine at Abebooks) The book is a very fun read.
    Hope this helps a little.
    Nina

    Reply
  14. First I must echo Maggie’s sentiment. Mon Dieu, what will I do w/o my daily WW’s fix? My family won’t be able to send me “wenching” any more. (“Did you wench today?” is a common question at our family dinner table.)
    To Pat I say…
    …don’t worry about the cliff. If you say it’s there in your world, it’s there.
    … as to the French translator, I use http://www.freetranslation.com. It works fairly well. When I’ve copied in French passages from books and web-sites, the results are understandable. But, I too could use a French e-pal. (Actually, I want to hear the words spoken so I guess that wouldn’t work too well.)
    … as to your character’s trek through France, check out JOURNAL OF THE WATERLOO CAMPAIGN by Cavalié Mercer. True, the account surrounds an 1815 back-water trek from Ostend to Strytem to Brussles, to Waterloo to Dan and ultimately to Paris, but the land, climate and customs have probably changed very little. Mercer’s account provides very vivid detail of all three. He can tell you what the washerwomen wore, which crops were most often found and even the custom for ordering a meal in a Prussian run restaurant. He also has an excellent command of French and provides useful commentary in that language as well. I’ve nearly memorized to book, (long story there) so if you have some specific questions about detail, maybe I can help. Or you can just buy it for yourself. (I got mine at Abebooks) The book is a very fun read.
    Hope this helps a little.
    Nina

    Reply
  15. First I must echo Maggie’s sentiment. Mon Dieu, what will I do w/o my daily WW’s fix? My family won’t be able to send me “wenching” any more. (“Did you wench today?” is a common question at our family dinner table.)
    To Pat I say…
    …don’t worry about the cliff. If you say it’s there in your world, it’s there.
    … as to the French translator, I use http://www.freetranslation.com. It works fairly well. When I’ve copied in French passages from books and web-sites, the results are understandable. But, I too could use a French e-pal. (Actually, I want to hear the words spoken so I guess that wouldn’t work too well.)
    … as to your character’s trek through France, check out JOURNAL OF THE WATERLOO CAMPAIGN by Cavalié Mercer. True, the account surrounds an 1815 back-water trek from Ostend to Strytem to Brussles, to Waterloo to Dan and ultimately to Paris, but the land, climate and customs have probably changed very little. Mercer’s account provides very vivid detail of all three. He can tell you what the washerwomen wore, which crops were most often found and even the custom for ordering a meal in a Prussian run restaurant. He also has an excellent command of French and provides useful commentary in that language as well. I’ve nearly memorized to book, (long story there) so if you have some specific questions about detail, maybe I can help. Or you can just buy it for yourself. (I got mine at Abebooks) The book is a very fun read.
    Hope this helps a little.
    Nina

    Reply
  16. First I must echo Maggie’s sentiment. Mon Dieu, what will I do w/o my daily WW’s fix? My family won’t be able to send me “wenching” any more. (“Did you wench today?” is a common question at our family dinner table.)
    To Pat I say…
    …don’t worry about the cliff. If you say it’s there in your world, it’s there.
    … as to the French translator, I use http://www.freetranslation.com. It works fairly well. When I’ve copied in French passages from books and web-sites, the results are understandable. But, I too could use a French e-pal. (Actually, I want to hear the words spoken so I guess that wouldn’t work too well.)
    … as to your character’s trek through France, check out JOURNAL OF THE WATERLOO CAMPAIGN by Cavalié Mercer. True, the account surrounds an 1815 back-water trek from Ostend to Strytem to Brussles, to Waterloo to Dan and ultimately to Paris, but the land, climate and customs have probably changed very little. Mercer’s account provides very vivid detail of all three. He can tell you what the washerwomen wore, which crops were most often found and even the custom for ordering a meal in a Prussian run restaurant. He also has an excellent command of French and provides useful commentary in that language as well. I’ve nearly memorized to book, (long story there) so if you have some specific questions about detail, maybe I can help. Or you can just buy it for yourself. (I got mine at Abebooks) The book is a very fun read.
    Hope this helps a little.
    Nina

    Reply
  17. I am going to be in the north of France next week, so if Etretat turns out to be in the neighborhood, I will check it out and let you know. It looks like the sort of place that would be worth a visit.
    On the other hand, if you just make it up, who’s going to know? Or care? It is, after all, FICTION!

    Reply
  18. I am going to be in the north of France next week, so if Etretat turns out to be in the neighborhood, I will check it out and let you know. It looks like the sort of place that would be worth a visit.
    On the other hand, if you just make it up, who’s going to know? Or care? It is, after all, FICTION!

    Reply
  19. I am going to be in the north of France next week, so if Etretat turns out to be in the neighborhood, I will check it out and let you know. It looks like the sort of place that would be worth a visit.
    On the other hand, if you just make it up, who’s going to know? Or care? It is, after all, FICTION!

    Reply
  20. I am going to be in the north of France next week, so if Etretat turns out to be in the neighborhood, I will check it out and let you know. It looks like the sort of place that would be worth a visit.
    On the other hand, if you just make it up, who’s going to know? Or care? It is, after all, FICTION!

    Reply
  21. Ooo, I like the idea of changing the landscape to suit his needs. It’s not my fault if it wasn’t there then!
    Sounds like a wonderful book, Nina, I’ll have to hunt it down, thank you! although if I get too involved in details, the book never gets finished. sigh.
    the wenches will be here. we’ll be posting odds and ends in between our pithier tomes. We’re hoping it gives readers more time to catch up with us. We do write an awful LOT. “G”

    Reply
  22. Ooo, I like the idea of changing the landscape to suit his needs. It’s not my fault if it wasn’t there then!
    Sounds like a wonderful book, Nina, I’ll have to hunt it down, thank you! although if I get too involved in details, the book never gets finished. sigh.
    the wenches will be here. we’ll be posting odds and ends in between our pithier tomes. We’re hoping it gives readers more time to catch up with us. We do write an awful LOT. “G”

    Reply
  23. Ooo, I like the idea of changing the landscape to suit his needs. It’s not my fault if it wasn’t there then!
    Sounds like a wonderful book, Nina, I’ll have to hunt it down, thank you! although if I get too involved in details, the book never gets finished. sigh.
    the wenches will be here. we’ll be posting odds and ends in between our pithier tomes. We’re hoping it gives readers more time to catch up with us. We do write an awful LOT. “G”

    Reply
  24. Ooo, I like the idea of changing the landscape to suit his needs. It’s not my fault if it wasn’t there then!
    Sounds like a wonderful book, Nina, I’ll have to hunt it down, thank you! although if I get too involved in details, the book never gets finished. sigh.
    the wenches will be here. we’ll be posting odds and ends in between our pithier tomes. We’re hoping it gives readers more time to catch up with us. We do write an awful LOT. “G”

    Reply
  25. Oh, Pat, I get a brain cramp at the mere thought of trying to determine landscape from several hundred years ago. A good story trumps minor historical detail each and every time IMHO!

    Reply
  26. Oh, Pat, I get a brain cramp at the mere thought of trying to determine landscape from several hundred years ago. A good story trumps minor historical detail each and every time IMHO!

    Reply
  27. Oh, Pat, I get a brain cramp at the mere thought of trying to determine landscape from several hundred years ago. A good story trumps minor historical detail each and every time IMHO!

    Reply
  28. Oh, Pat, I get a brain cramp at the mere thought of trying to determine landscape from several hundred years ago. A good story trumps minor historical detail each and every time IMHO!

    Reply

Leave a Comment