Tag Archives: Writing

Christmas Blog Hop!

2014-ChristmasPartyBlogHop

I’m very excited to be involved in this year’s Christmas Blog Hop, hosted by the magnificent Helen Hollick. A host of writers will share Christmas-themed work with you; come back on Saturday 20th when all will be revealed!

(Sneak hint on my piece; it’s from Wimer, involving King Henry ll…)

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Viking eye candy!

I have been having a lovely time researching images for the next thing that Henry draws with his magic pencil – it’s going to be a scale model of a Viking ship prow, which gets him into all kinds of trouble!

I’d like to share some of the amazing things I stumbled across today, but I don’t know the copyright owners for any of them – the perils of Google Image-ing! So here are a collection of links; I hope you enjoy the images at the end of them.

A wonderfully engraved axe – I saw this at the British Museum expo, and it was outstanding. Not a prow, though!

Now THIS is a prow! How evil is this! Too creepy, though, it would give Henry nightmares.

These are cool, and so is this and this; but all a bit complicated for my lad to draw.

This is doable – but he’s trying to stay away from things that might bite 🙂

Now this beastie really, really wants to be chosen – its image kept on popping up. It’s cute, and sad – but maybe too complicated; I might go with this or this instead.

And this is the trouble that will show up 😀 His name is Snorri Snorrisen.

This is the last story to be completed of the next book, which should be ready to release just after Christmas.

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Filed under Detecting, Henry, History

Reliquaries

I have been researching reliquaries at the moment – well, the current endpoint of the research is reliquaries, which are delightful! Serendipity may still take me elsewhere…
The trail led from a procedural question over the ordination of a deacon – which Wimer became, before becoming a priest – to a realisation that he would have loved the deaconate, because of its association with the Gospels, and the Deacon’s role in reading the Gospels to the people. He would also have hated the requirement to sing part of the sermon, so would have wanted to become a priest as soon as possible!
Then I moved on to his ordination as a priest, and discovered as part of the reading around that, the requirement for every Catholic altar to have within it a relic from a saint – preferably a martyr. This holds to this day, which I am amazed by.
Relics led on to reliquaries – and what lovely things some of them were! The first one I fell in love with was this beauty, made at exactly the right time. I loved its colours and vivacity first, then realised that it was made to hold relics from Thomas a’Beckett – whom Wimer could not stand. Being excommunicated twice by someone does that to you…

So of course the casket, and its relics, had to fall into his hands; and then he had to swap it somehow for a set of relics from someone he’d be comfortable with. I found this nice shape:
http://www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvre-notices/reliquary-casket
And then discovered the right saint. Meet St Walstan, the Saxon-born patron saint of crops, healer of animals.

This is beginning to come together… I’ve now stopped trawling the web for images of reliquaries, and am off to write the scene when he discovers the right reliquary for his Priory-to-be!

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I love this editor…

Work gave me a prorata’d bonus this year – the amount wasn’t enough to do any of the big projects I’d like to do. Also tipping the balance was the fact that yet another agent had inhaled the query and first few pages of Wimer, and then faded into a black hole once they’d had the full manuscript. So, I blew my bonus this year an a editor.

The next issue, of course, was which one? And having chosen one, what’s the name for the kind of editing I needed? I liked the look of one recommended by, I think, Writers Village – although don’t quote me on that – and sent her an email. The response was quick, friendly, professional; she asked enough questions for us to decide that I didn’t need a copy editor, nor anyone to check the historical facts, and that she could help me.

So, I sent my baby off into the void, and contemplated my fingernails. On time, the report came back; 11 pages of carefully reasoned advice, interspersed with humour and compassion. The verdict; I can write – but the story is lacking conflict and is often from the wrong POV. These things I can fix – and I’ve never had the experience of laughing out loud whilst being clipped around the ear before!

This lady will get more of my custom:https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Hilary-Johnson-Authors-Advisory-Service/135740463266239

www.hilaryjohnson.demon.co.uk

Thanks, Hilary!

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Description—How to Make Readers Fall In & Never Escape

If you’re a writer and don’t read Kristen, you should; this post is a classic example of why.

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Kristen Lamb's Blog

Sidewalk chalk art near Regent’s Canal in London. Sidewalk chalk art near Regent’s Canal in London.

Today we’re going to address a topic that—GASP—I don’t believe we’ve ever covered in almost 800 blogs. Namely because it is a tricky one to address. We’re going to talk about description. For those who never use description or very sparse description? Don’t fret. That’s just your voice. Readers like me who looooove description will probably gravitate to other books and that is OKAY.

Personally, I’m not a fan of austere modern houses with stainless steel everything and weird chairs no human could sit in and most cats would avoid, but? There are plenty of people who dig it. I also don’t like a lot of knick-knacks and clutter. Makes me want to start cleaning.

Same with books. Not too little or too much. Yeah, I’m Literary Goldilocks.

Plain fact? We can’t please everyone. Description (or lack thereof) is a component of…

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Busyness subsided.

YaY! Whoop! <turns somersaults> I’ve finished mapping that finds-mountain from last year, only a week into the new season 🙂 Go me 😀

OK, so I still have a couple of bags of stuff to wash, and the PAS Finds Liaison Officer can expect another visit from me at some point, but I have largely finished with last year’s digging writeup.

My main site last year was a tale of Bronze Age settlement, and pre-enclosure paths, which has produced some amazing flints, again. Also, I was very surprised to see the paths bracketed by little clusters of thumb-scrapers – which clearly mark hut patterns; you don’t take a tool used only for preparing hides on a hunt. These paths were strip villages, 3,000 years ago! Bang go all my preconceptions about a violent, inward-looking society!

(There’s another lovely by-product of my metal detecting. I have a story about a boy learning to be a BA smith bubbling away in my head. I suspect I need to go on one of Will Lord’s fabulous bronze casting workshops to complete the research; but the story will come.)

My winter digging this year was mostly just across the valley from my summer site. There is an at least 3,000yo main N-S footpath, whose onward travel is unclear; I wanted to nail it down over the winter. Unfortunately, nothing conclusive came up; there were still three possible routes.

Then the shooting season finished, and I moved back across the valley, just to the North of where I finished last year. Bang! There’s my route; and the spring that people stopped at before crossing the stream. I can now trace the route another 3-4 miles northward – and a little further on, there’s that peculiar arc of fields that designates a Saxon settlement. Very satisfying when things come together like that! I shall have to see who owns those fields next winter, and see if they fancy a resident metal detectorist for a few months! I shall also have to set out my evidence for the local Archaeological Unit, I think it will be new evidence for them, or they might be able to add to it.

So now I’m happily engaged in building this year’s finds mountain 😀

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Filed under Archaeology, Detecting

Castling

I have been on holiday this week, mostly to celebrate the close of the shooting season and the consequent opening of the archaeology season (Yay! The Glorious 2nd!). Not, to be fair, that I have lacked archaeology over this winter. Anyway, Saturday – the last day of the shoot – was a glorious day, and I decided to get well out of the way, and visit Framlingham and Orford castles.

Orford I have visited several times whilst researching Wimer, but I have been sniffy about Framlingham, because what remains is later than I’ve been interested in. However, the Wimer sequel is in the right timeframe, so I decided to go along; then to drive from Framlingham to Orford, a direct trip I haven’t made before.

Visiting Framlingham was useful for scale, and for viewpoints. The encircling ditches were never filled with water, being a dry route for soldiers to move unseen around the perimeter; I wouldn’t have known that without visiting. Also, the River Ore forms a large mere on the North side – I think that was a conceit of the Howards, centuries later, but when I was there the whole river valley was flooded; I think, in the same weather conditions, it would have been just as defensive in 1216, when John attacked the castle. They surrendered after two days – Roger Bigod was away; I bet he swore!

FramlinghamI am left with a puzzle, though. Henry II had Hugh Bigod’s motte and bailey at Framlingham destroyed, after the Young King rebellions in the 1170s. However, the English Heritage people were insistent that the stone chimneys visible in the curtain wall of the 13th C castle were remnants of the earlier castle – in fact, of the Lord’s chambers. How, if the motte was demolished? There’s no sign of it now.

They also suggested that the castle’s orientation has flipped 180 degrees, with Hugh’s castle oriented South, and his son Roger’s, to the North. Here’s a sketch, using Google Maps.

There were some interesting facts on how the castle was provisioned; in 1386 the dovecote produced 431 pigeons, and there were a team of falconers employed to fish from the mere!

I also loved the drive between Fram and Orford, through Parham, Campsea Ashe, and Tunstall. I indulged my church bent, and went into them all 🙂 Something I hadn’t realised is that the route runs alongside the River Ore – now not much more than a stream, but was it bigger then? Even navigable, or suitable for poling a boat up? The other major impression was how dark and huge Tunstall Forest is, even now. The river route might have been much safer!

Finally I had a nice visit with my favourite castle in the world, Orford. I had Wimer’s chapel to myself in the evening sunshine, and it was such a pleasant place to sit and write. I remembered to count this time; there were 12 seats in the chapel, another numerological reference! And I confirmed another hunch – Wimer’s bedroom is the only one in the castle with a private loo, he really did have a thing about them 😀

A most enjoyable outing.

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Filed under Henry, History, Wimer

Connections 2

Second attempt at this story, with the first few paragraphs amended. Which is better? How could I improve it? All comments welcome!

She popped her head into the cathedral on the off-chance. She liked the tall ceilings, and the echoes of past lives; but it felt empty now. She turned, and scraped a foot against a loose tile. The atmosphere changed.

Mike froze, trying not to alter his breathing. Julie and the kids were still asleep, huddled under their space blankets. He grew aware that his head was poking out of his. He would be radiating like a furnace… He opened his eyes. It was still deep night, the cathedral’s ruined spaces lit only by the moon. They said that you mustn’t look at them, or they could always hunt you down – but he was desperate to see.

From where she had settled, high up on a wall, she watched his bright aura blossom as he came to a crouch. Beside him was a diffuse glow, several life forces, promising bright, delicate tenderness. She rubbed her mandibles together indecisively, and tapped her forefeet, dislodging dust. The treat, or the more complex meal? The decision was made as he looked up and around. The connection between them snapped into place.

<about 1000 words more…>

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Connections

She popped her head into the cathedral on the off-chance. She liked the tall ceilings, and the echoes of past lives; but it was empty now. She turned, and scraped a foot against a loose tile. The atmosphere changed.

Mike froze, trying not to alter his breathing. Julie and the kids were still asleep, huddled under their space blankets. He grew aware that his head was poking out of his. He would be radiating like a furnace… He could hear nothing. He opened his eyes. They said that you mustn’t look at them, or they could always hunt you down – but he was desperate to see.

From where she had climbed, high up on a wall, she watched his aura expand as he came to a crouch. Beside him was a diffuse glow, several life forces, promising bright, delicate tenderness. She rubbed her palps together, and tapped her forefeet, dislodging dust. The treat, or the more complex meal? The decision was made as he looked up. The connection between them snapped into place.

<about 1000 words more…>

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I hope you enjoy my books as much as I loved writing them! Here’s my Amazon page.

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This is what my brain feels like…

This is what my brain feels like...

I’ve been beating my brains against any handy rocks, walls, or fists for the last few days, trying to get a couple of short short pieces ready for the next Mslexia mag deadline on the 20th. Now complete and submitted; one 4-line poem, ABAB rhyme, plus a 200-word pen picture of a widow, and I can relax! (Well, sort-of. My brain now wants to go and play with a different opening to my historical novel. Glutton…)
Image by A. Pollock [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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I hope you enjoy my books as much as I loved writing them! Here’s my Amazon page.

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January 15, 2014 · 9:26 pm