Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Blogging End, A Blogging Beginning

After three years, I'm leaving Novel Spaces as a blogger. I'll still be around as a lurker and occasional commenter, but this is my last post here.

Thank you, fellow Novelnauts, for having me as one of you. Thank you, readers, for your visits and comments.

 2012 has brought several exciting new projects, and I have not kept up with them, partly because of illness, partly because of bad time management and underestimates of the time required by projects. For example, I mentioned in a February post that I would be putting out my dissertation as an ebook within the week. Here it is, the first day of summer, and my dissertation only went live on today.

Although several projects need more of my time, I'm leaving Novel Spaces because of one particular project, a new Website meant to build an audience for a book still in the conception stage. As you may remember from earlier posts, my publisher, Hadley Rille Books (HRB), has a series of novels set in archaeologically interesting times. HRB publisher and editor Eric T. Reynolds came up with the idea of publishing a cookbook that ties in with past and future books in the Archaeology Series. It will stand on its own as a cookbook, and it will also increase awareness of HRB and its Archaeology Series among people interested in history and archaeology.

Such a cookbook, though, will take time to create because of the huge amount of research needed in a wide variety of fields. In the meantime, Eric of HRB, Classical scholar Jenny Blackford (another HRB author), and I are starting a blog: "Meal Times: Ancient Foods for Modern Cooks" at It will be a food and cooking blog with a wide scope, from recipes to photo essays, from novel excerpts to posts on archaeology, history, ethnobotany, and more.

Eric, Jenny, and I love history, cooking, and eating, so this blog will be a fun project for us. But it will also help us with the cookbook in several ways:
  • I always research more broadly and deeply than the scope of my article, short story, or book. I think it essential to understand my subject in its historical and cross-cultural context. The blog is a place where we can share some of the interesting things we learn in our research that is beyond the scope of the book.
  • As we research and process what we learn, we can use the blog for drafting possible sections of the book, both to try out ways to organize the material and to gauge readers' interest. The development of the cookbook thus will be an interactive process with the blog readers.
  • Over time, the blog will build an audience of people interested in history, cooking, and eating—the perfect audience for the eventual cookbook.
  • As the cookbook's publication date nears, we can use the blog as one of our marketing tools.
  • Once the cookbook is published, the blog posts—past and future—become supplements to it, expanding its value. For example, blog posts can have color pictures of unusual ingredients, food plants, and steps in the preparation of a recipe; interviews with or guest posts by scholars and people who are experts in their ancestors' food traditions; cross-cultural comparisons of uses of foods or dining customs; and posts that enhance the cookbook owners' enjoyment of the cookbook, such as posts on historical gardens, food in ancient art, the history of pottery, and other topics related to the cookbook but outside its scope.
I don't know what Jenny and Eric have in mind for their first posts, but I will start with some posts about recent research on the first farms in Europe, the domestication of cattle and horses, and how scientists can learn what ancient people ate by studying the calculus built up on their teeth.

I invite you all to visit the new blog. Later in the summer, once it has some posts and some followers, you are welcome to contact me at if you are interested in writing a guest post or want me to be aware of your own food blog or your research.

Thank you for three good years.

—Shauna Roberts


Charles Gramlich said...

Understandable. I'll miss your posts here, but I can see you'll have your hands full. Luck!

Jewel Amethyst said...

Shauna, it's sad to say goodbye, but considering your new ventures it's not really goodbye, but good transition.

It was great having you on Novel Spaces. I do wish you success with your new venture and will definitely be checking out your new blog. Yes, I love food too... both preparing it and eating it.

Good luck and God Bless.

Liane Spicer said...

You'll be missed around here, Shauna. Best of luck with your new project(s). Be sure to keep us appraised of developments!

Shauna Roberts said...

Thanks, CHARLES, JEWEL, and LIANE. I'll miss being blogmates with you all.