MORE to BROWSE - Pages that might be of Interest

Tuesday 30 July 2013

Rare Link Access!

No Tuesday Talk today as I'm off to London for a couple of days & haven't got time to post - but here's a rare opportunity to log into my additional H2U zone on my website, where you'll find lots of interesting things.
Don't forget to bookmark the page - as that's the only way you'll be able to return!

H2U Zone link

Friday 26 July 2013

The Fun Thought.... for Star Wars Fans!

For all you Star Wars fans who remembers watching "A Galaxy Far Far Away..." FIRST time round....!

Tuesday 23 July 2013

Tuesday Talk: History is not what you thought... is what you can remember.

1066 and All That
Rose Hanna
(forwarded to me by James Hanna) 

The Norman Conquest of England: A Shift in Focus for Western Civilization

Some events in history are so significant that we can almost define everything else as happening either before or after. The Norman Conquest of Anglo-Saxon England, in 1066, was one such pivot point in Western Civilization. Pre-1066 England’s political interests and attention was focused on the happenings in Scandinavia.  Post-1066 the Normans wrenched England’s gaze towards toward continental Europe, which it is still in today.  But to understand how this shift happened, it is necessary to understand the players involved.

Who were the Anglo-Saxons?
         At the beginning of the 5th century Rome was no longer the superpower that it once had been.  Divided between the East, whose capital of Constantinople was in modern day Istanbul, and West Rome’s resources were simply stretched too thin to actively protect its furthest outpost; the island of Britain.    Geoffrey Hindley tells us:
The empire [Rome] was under general attack and in 410 Alaric the Visigoth actually occupied Rome; Britain’s military garrison was soon called back to Rome leaving the defense of the embattled province to the local Romano-British population… The Western Emperor Honorius sent word that thenceforward they would have to fend for themselves (Hindley, 3).
         With Roman authority now gone, it did not take long for local warlords to start fighting for land and power.  One such individual, named Vortigern, decided to borrow the Roman tactic of hiring mercenaries to fight for him.  So, led by the brothers Hengest and Horsa, three ships full of warriors arrived to first fight for the Roman-British against other Roman-British, and shortly thereafter against their former employers for themselves.  These warriors were the Angles, Saxons and Jutes and they had arrived in England to stay.

Fury of the Northmen
         For the next 400 years England would be carved up into as many as nine separate kingdoms whose rulers fought each other for power.  By the mid ninth century, however, what were once disorganized Viking raids had developed into a full scale occupation that was threatening to consume all of England. Hindley tells us, “It was the Wessex of Alfred the Great that prevented Anglo-Saxon Christian civilization from being submerged…  The Battle of Edington of 878 was the decisive turning point for England…”  (Hindley, 205). 
Vikings are nothing if not tenacious, so by the early 11th century, aided by the poor leadership of the King Aethelred II “the Unready”, the English crown passed to a Dane.  Cnut, who was already king of Denmark, would also in time be king of Norway and Sweden, formally shifted England’s focus towards the Scandinavian orbit.

Who were the Normans?
The Vikings were not only attacking England during the 9th century, France was a popular target as well.  In 911, Charles III of France gave land to one group of Northmen, by the mouth of the Rouen River, in the hopes that they would keep other groups from sailing further into France.  With regard to this arrangement, Francois Neveux states, “He [Rolo, leader of the Normans in 911] kept an effective watch on the lower Seine, which ceased to be the route through which Vikings penetrated the heart of the heart of the Kingdom”  (Neveux, 70).  Relatively quickly the former Vikings accepted the French language and merged French culture with their own; hence, the Normans were, quite literally, Frenchified-X-Vikings.  Neveux says, “They merged into the surrounding population, marrying local women and were quickly “gallicized” even abandoning the use of the own language by the middle of the tenth century” (Neveux, 194).
Over the next 150 years the Normans would become a force to be reckoned with not only in France, though they technically remained a vassal to the French king, but also in southern Italy and as far away as Byzantium in the Eastern Roman Empire. Their culture was violent and their leaders ambitions to acquire more power.  So, in 1066 when William, Duke of Normandy, decided on an all-out invasion of England he was very much acting in character.

The Issue
         By 1066 England and Normandy had ties going back over fifty years.  David Douglas says, “The long developing relationship between Normandy and England had thus at last produced a situation which involved the medieval destiny of a large part of northern Europe” (Douglas, 180).
A significant player in the Anlgo-Saxon-Norman relationship was the twice queen of England, and mother of two English kings, Emma of Normandy.  Emma, sister of the then Duke of Normandy, married King Aethelred but, as Pauline Stafford tells us, “Her first significance was as a Norman” (Stafford, 7).  Emma would eventually return to England, but her two of her sons were raised in Normandy. One of these sons, Edward, was so familiar and comfortable with Norman culture that when he became King in 1042 he brought many Normans with him to the English court.
         In 1051 Edward, supposedly and without the consent of his Earls, promised the crown to William of Normandy.  This, along with a distant tie by marriage to the English crown and a heated dispute over if Harold Godwinson has promised to support his claim, gave William the pretense he needed to invade England and fight for the crown when he was not selected as Edward’s heir in 1066.  On the speed that the English chose a king other than William, David Howarth says, “Edward was buried in his abbey the morning after he died, and the same afternoon in the same place, Harold was crowned”  (Howarth, 56).

Under New Management
         How 1066 unfolded is a very complex story whose climax was the Battle of Hastings between King Harold and Duke William.  The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle has a lengthy entry for 1066, and about Hastings it says:
William came upon them unawares, before they had gathered; the king, nevertheless, fought very hard against them with those men who would stay with him, and there were many killed on both sides.  There King Harold was killed… and many good men.  The French held the field of the dead as God granted them because of the people’s sins (Pick, 195).
Robert Lacy remarks, “…the Battle of Hastings was one of the longest-recorded military encounters of the Middle Ages, and its outcome changed the course of English history” (Lacey, 62).  The Anglo-Saxon ruling class was systematically replaced with King William’s loyal Norman and French followers.

The Effect
         The Norman Conquest had the immediate impact of wiping out the entire Anglo-Saxon ruling class in England and replacing them with a new, French speaking, group.    Also, significantly, it gave birth to Middle-English as Old-English, of the Anglo-Saxons, and the French, of the Normans, started to combine.  Most significant by far, however, was the fact that England’s primary interest was no longer Scandinavia; it was Europe.
When William got to trade up his title of Duke to King, as well as upgrade “the Bastard” to “the Conquer”, it immediately created tension with France.  This was because even though William might be King of England, he was still Duke of Normandy and thus technically a vassal of the French King; thus the King of England was also a subject of the King of France. 
Disputes over the English king’s claims to lands in France, all originating from the conflict of the dual role of king and duke, played a major part in English-French conflict over the next 350 years. 

Before the Norman Conquest England’s involvement with continental Europe was a distant second to its interest in Scandinavia.  William of Normandy’s victory at Hastings, however, brought England squarely into the mix of all things European and was thus an extremely significant event in Western Civilization. 
It is worth nothing than even though England was changed forever after the Norman Conquest, and all of Europe with it, some things remained and have endured.  Helen Hollick brilliantly sums this up in the final words to her book Harold the King:
1066 is known as the Norman Conquest, but it is still worth remembering that although William had himself crowned king, and while most of the male aristocracy were replaced by Normans, the ordinary English – the Saxons – remained English.  England was ruled by Normans but never became Norman – if that had happened we would be speaking French, not English… (Hollick, 690).

The Battlefield, Battle, Sussex

Works Cited
Douglas, David C., William the Conqueror.  Berkley:  University of California, 1966.
Hindley, Geoffrey.  A Brief History of the Anglo-Saxons.  New York:  Carroll & Graf, 2006.
Hollick, Helen.  Harold the King.  Great Britain:  Silverwood Books 2011.
Howarth, David.  1066 The Year of the Conquest.  New York:  Barnes & Nobel, 1977.
Lacy, Robert.  Great Tales from English History.  New York:  Back Bay Books, 2003.
Neveux, Francois.  A Brief History of the Normans.  London:  Running Press Books, 2006.
Pick, Christopher, ed.  The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles.  Great Britain, 1983.
Sellar, W.C. and Yeatman, R.J.  1066 and All That, A Memorable History of England. Phoenix Mill:  Sutton,    1993.
Stafford, Pauline.  Queen Emma & Queen Edith.  Malden:  Blackwell, 2001.

James Hanna on Facebook
Helen Hollick website

Harold the King (UK edition title)
 I am the Chosen King (US edition title)

##thank you Rose (and James) for sharing!

Tuesday 16 July 2013

Tuesday Talk - Dilemmas?

Some while ago I wrote two blogs The Lure of Pirates and Fix it or Ditch It which were along the same theme - well, this one is also sort of linked.

Indie authors have a tough time throughout the writing process. OK, I know, so do mainstream authors - but most traditional published writers have an agent, and all have an in-house editor, which means they have access to someone to discuss hitting brick walls with. Many Indie and Self Published authors have no professional, experienced, personal mentor to fall back on. We have to make all the decisions, even when that brick wall looms solid and apparently immovable ahead.
I'm not, thankfully, at a brick wall, but I am dithering, undecided, at a cross roads. The question is: "Which road do I take?"
I've several ideas for my next book. A spin-off to my Arthurian Trilogy - the first of what will one day be the Madoc the Horseman Series. A follow-on to Harold the King (probably involving Hereward and Harold's Queen, Alditha - and Maybe Duke William's wife, Matilda) or do I write another Jesamiah adventure?
I have rough ideas for all three - even a few chapters written, but I can't decide which one to proceed with.

The Harold follow-up makes sense because I ought to get back to writing serious historical fiction (and conclude the trilogy) but I don't feel up to doing that amount of in-depth research that will be needed (nor do I really want to encounter Duke William again - I think most of you, by now, know I loathe the man!)

 Madoc is waiting in the wings to step forward. I have a good, basic, plot - but nothing in detail. I started writing but foundered as the ideas I have do not seem strong enough to carry the novel through. I need a major re-think, I think.

And Jesamiah? I am, I admit, hooked on the guy. I want to set sail with him again - so where is the problem I hear you say?

Not exactly a problem, let's say it is a dilemma.
Do I write the follow-on to Ripples In The Sand, the fourth Voyage in the series - or do I run with an idea I had for writing a set of short novellas (maximum 50,000 words) about Jesamiah's early life?

It has been suggested I do these for young adults. So that is another dilemma - can I "downsize" Jesamiah's more (ahem) adult nature?

Ah, decisions, decisions.....

Thursday 11 July 2013

Thursday Fun Thought

I'm off to a book fair in Nottingham so won't be around until Monday - and I'm not taking a lap top or i-pad. I've decided to have an Internet Break.
Downside to this will be the hundrds of e-mails awaiting me! :-(

Have a good weekend my friends - take time to chill.....

Tuesday 9 July 2013

Bit of a cheat for my Tuesday Talk

I am  a guest for Cathy Helms' Ice Cream Social on Avalon Graphics Blogsite


( and what is your favourite ice ceam flavour?  )

Thursday 4 July 2013

The Thursday Thought

This was sent to me in one of those "Round Robin pass it on to 5 people" things. I don't participate in them, but these words are actually worth reading and thinking about - and perhaps passing on....

~  ~  ~ 

               IF I  HAD MY LIFE TO LIVE OVER 

               I would have gone to bed when I  was sick instead of
pretending the earth would  explode if I weren't there for
the day.

               I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose
before it melted in storage.

               I would have talked less and  listened more.

               I would have invited  friends over to dinner even if the
carpet was  stained, or the sofa faded.

               I would have  eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room
and  worried much less about the dirt when someone  wanted to light a fire
in the fireplace.

               I would have taken the time to listen to  my grandfather
ramble about his youth.

               I  would have shared more of the responsibility carried by
my husband..

               I would never  have insisted the car windows be rolled up on
a  summer day because my hair had just been teased  and sprayed.

               I would have sat on the  lawn with my grass stains.

               I would have  cried and laughed less while watching
television  and more while watching life.

               I would  never have bought anything just because it was
practical, wouldn't show soil, or was guaranteed  to last a lifetime.

               Instead of wishing  away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have
cherished every moment and realized that the  wonderment growing inside me
was the only chance  in life to assist  in a miracle..

               When  my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have
said, 'Later... Now go get washed up for  dinner.' There would have been
more 'I love  you's, more 'I'm sorry's.'

               But mostly,  given another shot at life, I would seize every
minute; look at it and really see it; live it  and never give it back.


               Don't worry about who  doesn't like you, who has more, or
who's doing  what.
               Instead, let's cherish the  relationships we have with those
who do love  us...

~ ~ ~ 

on the other hand.....

Tuesday 2 July 2013

Tuesday Guests: Connie Jensen and Kathleen Herbert

Connie is the publisher of Trifolium Books, and is about to re-release the wonderful 'Heroic Age' novels by Kathleen Herbert.

Kathleen Herbert
Anyone back in the 80's who was reading historical fiction set in the 'Dark Ages', who was passionate about the 'Arthurian' period and the early years of English settlement should remember Kathleen's beautiful and inspirational novels. She entertained with her gift of tale-telling - and her extreme knowledge of things Anglo-Saxon - and encouraged those of us who wanted to write. 

I am one of the wannabes who dear Kathleen helped. Way before I had even started dreaming of actually being published she told me to go away and get my novel written.
We met at an Arthurian lecture-day that was somewhere or other (I think, probably, London, but I honestly can't remember). It must have been back in the early 80's. I sat next to this lovely lady who smiled and said hello and made me giggle when she murmured various corrections out the corner of her mouth when the lecturer made a few errors. In the break we got talking and I confessed that I wanted to write an Arthurian novel. She berated me, and told me to go home and get on with it. She told me that it might never get published, but it certainly wouldn't if I didn't write it. 

Several other authors have helped me up the ladder since then - Sharon Penman for one, Elizabeth Chadwick, another, but it was dear Kathleen who gave me the confidence - and the boot up the backside - to actually get started. 

In 1994 Kathleen had a massive stroke. Her tenacity, strength and humour enabled her to rebuild her life and carry on for a while, but much damage was done. She is now elderly and frail, and I am sad to hear that her physical and mental health is declining, but equally, I am so delighted that her laughter, her knowledge, and her huge love of the written word are going to continue because of Connie's fine care of her books, which are all to be re-published by Trifolium Books.

Thank you Connie, for myself and for all readers who love well-written, fabulous historical fiction. And who remember Kathleen with such fondness.

To tell you about this project, please welcome Connie, and in spirit, Kathleen herself: 

~ ~ ~ 
~ ~ 
I often wake up astonished. I rub my eyes, stretch, make my first cup of coffee, and I'm still astonished: I'm a publisher.

One choice leads to another. The first choice automatically closes down many others and with each successive choice you make you find yourself propelled along an ever narrowing channel until you arrive at a point of no return and think: How did I get here? At what point did I make the decision that led me to this place?

When I retired a few years ago, I didn't expect to be idle: I would read, garden, travel, make jewellery, and above all see much more of family and friends. The pressure, however, would be off. And now, the pressure is always on - to write a new blog post, edit the website, contact reviewers and book sellers, all in the name of promoting my authors. That's the everyday pressure - then there is the more intense and exciting pressure of bringing out a new title, with so many choices to make: internal design - typeface, margins, gutter size, running heads, chapter heads; and above all, the cover: the element that decides whether the book sells or sits on the shelf!

And this is the place I find myself today, so when my lovely host Helen invited me to write a guest blog, I was delighted to have the chance to ask more people what their choices would be. Above all, I want there to be no nasty surprises when a reader opens Bride of the Spear.

Many choices have already been made as you can see from this rough draft, but there are many more decisions still to make. You have an opportunity to influence this cover design- and a chance to win one of the first copies of the book hot off the press.

Let me tell you something about this book, its history and place in the trilogy, and its remarkable author.

Kathleen Herbert:
Queen of the Lightning and Ghost in the Sunlight
In the 1980's Kathleen Herbert was a popular and successful author, winning the Georgette Heyer Memorial prize for Queen of the Lightning in 1983.  She retired from her teaching job a year later to dedicate her time to writing and research. Ghost in the Sunlight was published in 1986 as a sequel to Queen of the Lightning. Both books were highly successful, being translated into several languages and running to many editions.

Bride of the Spear
In 1988 Bodley Head published Bride of the Spear, calling it the "third of Herbert's trilogy set during the Dark Ages of Britain". Now this was very misleading: some readers were caught by this and found the books disjointed. A respectable publishing house should have known better! It may have been published last, but it was the first to be written and it is set earlier than the others. Each can be read on its own, but you gain a richer experience from reading them in sequence.

The original title was The Lady of the Fountain, and it was privately published as a slim little book in 1982. The story of how Kathleen had to cut it is told on Trifolium Books' blog, where you can read more about the book itself, as well as its misleading earlier cover design.

The three books have been variously known as The Northumbrian or Cumbrian Trilogy. They have a much wider geographical setting than either suggests, ranging from Lothian and Strathclyde, through modern Yorkshire and North Wales to the Midlands, hence the new title: Northern Kingdoms. They were originally published in a haphazard way too- the disparate designs conveyed no sense that they belonged together. I intend not only to publish them in correct sequence, but to design all three covers with similar iconography: the moon pendant which will appear on the back cover is a piece I made for Kathleen in the 1980s (remember I mentioned jewellery?) It is my interpretation of the triple moon necklace worn by heroine Riemmelth, the last princess of Rheged, in Queen of the Lightning. The three phases of the moon represent the three aspects of the Goddess- the Virgin, the Mother and the Crone. The Mothers, and the conflict between the old religion and the new are important in all the books, and so the moon pendant will appear on all three.

Other changes in the new versions will be the addition of extra historical notes and comments from Kathleen's letters and papers.

And the story? Arthur, the last High King of the once civilised Roman province of Britannia, has been dead for fifty years. The last British kings of the North are fighting for survival in a welter of feuding and treachery.

Taniu, neglected and unloved daughter of King Loth of Lothian, is out gathering herbs when she meets a handsome young huntsman, unaware that he is Prince Owain of Cumbria. The two promise to meet in the spring, but when the awaited time comes and the King of Cumbria applies to Loth for the hand of his daughter, Taniu refuses, never connecting huntsman and prince.  Tragedy, bloodshed and separation follow, but there is a satisfyingly upbeat ending.

Competition #1
Connie: I am running two competitions: the first is a draw for a copy of Bride of the Spear. All you have to do to enter is to comment on the cover- let me know how it makes you feel, and what you think about the colour and positioning of the title etc. I originally had these in hot colours, but have used blue/greys for my latest version, following a suggestion from a reader.
(enter the competition at the link HERE - not on this page!)

When all the books are published, I intend to have another draw: a copy of the moon pendant, in sterling silver, will go to the winner, who will need to show me receipts for the purchase of all three books in order to enter. There will be more details on my blog and website in due course.

competition #2
Helen: As my own contribution to say thank you to Connie, everyone who leaves a comment beneath this blog post (on main blog only please, not FB or Goodreads) will be entered in a draw to win a copy of The Kingmaking - which would not have been written if it wasn't for Kathleen.

Historical Novels from Trifolium Books

The story of how I came to publish Moon in Leo appears here on Deborah Swift's excellent blog, Royalty Free Fiction and there is more about Kathleen on  Trifolium Books' Blog here

I have two other writers at present: Carla Nayland, whose gritty and atmospheric story of Eadwine of Deira- is set, like Bride of the Spear, in Britain's Heroic Age after the Romans; and Julia Newsome. Julia's Young Adult time-slip novel is about a young Athenian athlete from 432 BC who exchanges conscience with a modern girl. I am hoping to publish the sequels of both novels some time in the near future! 

In order to celebrate the imminent publication of Bride of the Spear, I am reducing the prices of all three e-books on Amazon- check my blog for details

After Northern Kingdoms, what next?
A note from Trifolium Books' editor Mike Jensen

Kathleen's latest novel project was one to show the breaking down of the feudal system 'and the violence, muddle, treachery and suffering that came with that breakdown.' At the same time she wanted to explore the use of the Arthurian legend in 14th century England: how the Norman aristocracy, 'in their spare time, liked to decorate their lives with the beauty and glamour of romance ... and liked to see themselves as the chivalry of Camelot.'
She also wanted to show the beginnings of 'the revival of English as an international medium.' 'It so happens that in my novel, Thomas of Kendal (an Oxford scholar and poet) has seen a copy of the ms of Layamon's Brut (it's now about 150 years old) and quotes it to a sceptical Welsh girl who thinks that English is what the proles sing in pubs.'
That "sceptical Welsh girl" is the central character, on her own heroic journey from hatred to love, from indoctrination to autonomy. Kathleen wrote 50,000 words and left lots of research notes, plot lines and incidents. I am doing my best to complete the work as she would approve.
Thank you Helen for this opportunity to write about Kathleen and my other authors, but above all, thank you for your friendship and support in my attempt to bring the work of some excellent writers to a wider audience.
Trifolium Books UK, Website and Blog:

Connie Jensen
My greatest pleasure Connie - it is an honour to be hosting Kathleen's talented writing here on my blog. I still have the original copies of her books - and let me conclude with this: 

Above, I refer to the 'Dark Ages'. Kathleen prefers the term 'Heroic Age'.
I agree with her.