Many writers of historical fiction love to resurrect the past by experiencing aspects of it firsthand. Some make and wear period clothes. Others bake Johnnycakes at a hearth or cook a venison roast in a fire pit. We want to live history, which enriches our writing, because in a sense, we’ve “been there.”
I am no different. As I look around my writing space, I see two Viking shields, a Viking helmet, an old powder jug, an Indian war club, the plans for an Isaac Haines longrifle, and six—six!—tomahawks. (I may have a problem.)
Several years ago, FedEx delivered a tall box from England that I ripped open in my elderly mother’s living room. When I saw the birthday present inside, I let out a squeal that sent Mom’s decrepit mongrel racing into his crate. I couldn’t believe it. There it was, a dream come true—a longbow.
I laid the bow on the carpet next to its accoutrements: a stringer, a three-fingered glove, a leather armguard, a quiver, and six gorgeous, wooden arrows. The first thing that struck me was how sleek and pretty the bow was. The second was that I had no idea how to use it. Of course, that didn’t stop me from prancing around the house wearing the armguard, glove, and quiver. They felt and looked awesome, but I wanted to shoot my bow, and that meant learning how to string it.
The kit included a waxy, twisted string with a single looped end. Clearly, I was supposed to tie a loop at the other end of the string, but where? Six inches back? A foot back? What type of knot was I supposed to use?
I called the manager of my local archery store, who said he’d be glad to teach me how to string my bow. Thirty minutes later, I and my longbow parted a crowd of gawking sportsmen loitering just inside the door.
“Well, what have we here?” a cheery man behind the cash register asked.
I grinned and held out my new bow.
I felt the heat of the men gathering behind me, clearly amused by the tiny woman and her polished stick. I wanted to turn and shout, “Ever heard of Agincourt?”
An hour later, after many tries and much advice, my bow remained unstrung. Nobody wanted to bend it far enough to slip the loops over the horn nocks. It is, after all, an expensive item.
I left disheartened and thinking that my bow and I share certain qualities. We are tall and slender, which means others underestimate our strength. We look rigid, but we are not. And so, by the time I got home, I thought perhaps I should be the one to string the bow. After all, I understood it.
With my mother watching from her power lift chair, I slipped the stringer’s leather pouches onto the bow’s horn nocks. “You’re going to hurt yourself,” Mom squealed, peeking through her fingers.
I stood on the stringing cord and pulled. The bow creaked and bent, and Mom’s voice went up an octave. “You’re going to break it!”
I don’t snap when life throws challenges, and neither did the mighty bow. I winced, bit my lip, hauled harder . . . and slipped the free loop over the nock. At last! My bow was strung!
While Mom went for her blood pressure cuff, I raced outside and nocked an arrow. The bow groaned as I drew the bowstring back to the corner of my mouth. I aimed for—and missed—an old plastic flower pot . . . and instantly wished I had worn the armguard. (I thought archers only wore those to look cool. They don’t. Ouch.)
Wow! Excellent shooting!Thanks, Julie for sharing your hobby with us. Determination and courage are also themes in your book, Scent of The Soul
It’s a bad time to fall for Breagha, a torc-wearing slave with a supernatural sense of smell.
Somerled resists the intense attraction to a woman who offers no political gain, and he won’t have a mistress making demands on him while he’s negotiating a marriage his people need. Besides, Breagha belongs to a rival king, one whose fresh alliance Somerled can’t afford to lose.
It’s when Breagha vanishes that Somerled realizes just how much he needs her. He abandons his marriage plans to search for her, unprepared for the evil lurking in the shadowy recesses of Ireland—a lustful demon who will stop at nothing to keep Breagha for himself.
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Julie is a member of Romance Writers of America and Central PA Romance Writers. When not writing, she enjoys antiquing, shooting longbow, traveling, and cooking over an open fire at her cabin. She lives in Pennsylvania with her Irish husband, who sounds a lot like her characters.
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Thanks, Julie for sharing your Long Bow and Scent of the Soul with us!
I'm camping with my family this weekend. I don't have a cool long bow to shoot, but my pole may catch a fish or two.