TUESDAY TALK: A Story of 1066...29th September

“Hello, I’m Alan Lancaster. I write as Alan Robert Lancaster. 

(To anyone familiar with the music world, that’s to differentiate with Alan C Lancaster, the former bass player of Status Quo who now lives in Sydney, Australia).


To put you in the picture, Helen asked me to write a few lines about my books. I am the author of the RAVENFEAST saga, a series of ten tales told by the Dane Ivar Ulfsson, kinsman of Harold Godwinson who takes you with him through the years of struggle from a little before the battle at Stamford Bridge near York.

The narrative is told in modern English with names of people and places as they appeared in the Peterborough Chronicle (E), complete with the terminology of the time. An historical background with annotated map from the time make an appearance in each book, some cropping up in more than one telling and background notes precedes each telling after an extract from the Chronicle of that year. Real characters from history appear with my own fictional characters as friends, associates and enemies of Ivar.


How did Ivar come into being? He is also fictional with a real background, and he has been introduced in episodes of ‘Hunding’s Saga’ on Hub-pages (see: Links). Beginning with Hunding’s Saga he was born to a sister of Knut ‘the Great’. On Wikipedia under ‘Sven Haraldsson (‘Forkbeard’) his family tree reveals an interesting gap amongst Knut’s younger sisters. A question mark appears instead of a name. I christened her Gunnlaug and ‘wedded’ her to Jarl Ulf Thorgilsson, brother of Gytha, who was the wife of Godwin Wulfnothson, Earl of Wessex and father of Svein, Harold, Eadgytha (queen to Eadward), Tostig, Gyrth, Leofwin and Wulfnoth. She dies shortly after childbirth (as many did) and Ivar is adopted by Knut’s (real) sister Astrid or Estrith, who historically weds Jarl Ulf and has three sons by him, Svein, Beorn and Osbeorn. After his death in Roskilde Cathedral the three sons revert to being called ‘Estrithsson’, except for Ivar. And that is why Knut has him packed off to his aunt, Gytha. Knut knows Ivar’s real father was his friend and shipmaster Hunding, but for Ivar’s sake the lad is led to believe his father was Jarl Ulf.


And so he goes on through the saga, and into RAVENFEAST believing this, but gradually references to Hunding as his real father will sink in...

Some of his friends last through into book 2: OVERTHROWN, some even make it beyond and new friends are introduced, as are Harold’s sons Godwin, Eadmund and Magnus; Book 3: OUTCAST takes you to Wales where Eadric ‘Cild’ and princes Bleddyn and Rhiwallon appear in the story, an old acquaintance Osgod reappears with his friend Harding and others; in Book 4: BETRAYED Ivar flees William’s siege of Exeter with Harold’s sons and family, sails to Dublin with his young kinsmen whilst the womenfolk seek shelter in Flanders. In Dublin they seek men and ships from King Diarmuid of Leinster to rally support in Wessex. North again after Godwin’s failure to raise men against their Norman masters, Ivar and friends meet Osgod and Harding in their bid to destroy the Norman shire reeve William Malet’s timber castle; 5: WAYFARER sees Ivar espouse the aetheling Eadgar’s cause and set out to Roskilde for men and ships from half-brothers Svein and Osbeorn (Beorn was murdered in 1050 by Svein Godwinson in a bid to regain his earldom). Ivar is taken captive near Whitby on his way north to tell Eadgar of the coming support. He escapes with the help of his woman, Braenda – more on her later. York is taken in late summer by an alliance of Northumbrians and Danes, the second timber castle badly damaged and then... news of William’s advance on York from where he had stayed in Lincoln.
LANDWASTER is book 6, still being written (18+ chapters, of 20), the Harrying of the North, flight to Roskilde and back again in the Fens to join Hereward near Peterborough. I hope to publish this volume in time for the 2015 Battle Abbey Weekend, 10-11 October.
I raised Braenda, Ivar’s woman – and more. He met the russet Mercian woman in Menai after Harold’s defeat of Gruffyd ap Llewellyn in Gwynedd in 1064. She was ‘keyholder’ to Gruffyd’s widow Aelfgifu, daughter of Earl Aelfgar, sister of earls Eadwin and Morkere – who wedded Harold after his kingship. He met her again in York after the battle at Stamford Bridge (Staenfordes Brycg), now wedded to the bully Sigurd, one of the young Earl Morkere’s huscarls. Little does he know she is a spay-wife (witch) and shape-shifter, ‘set free’ after the slaying of Sigurd. She follows him south with friends, safeguards him with her hwicca and battles with those ‘on the dark side’ on his and his friends’ behalf. 
      
So, that is his background, kin to kings, lover to a spay-wife (later father to son Ulf and daughter Gunnhild by Braenda). 

Look into his background on the Bookshelf (page 2) of the Northworld site: 

see also http://alancaster149.hubpages.com/hub/THE-RAVENFEAST-SERIES - there are links on this page to my US Amazon Author Page, 
there is also an Amazon UK Author Page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Alan-Robert-Lancaster/e/B0062BSCU6


see also my Twitter Profile on @AlanRLancaster/Twitter.






Enjoy the read,
Alan R L 







           

previous post 'All At Sea'

All At Sea... (Part One)


 ....With Indie B.R.A.G and Anna Belfrage (and my own Jesamiah Acorne)
PART ONE

To celebrate Indie B.R.A.G's Book Blitz Week (where they are promoting some of their top B.R.A.G. Medallion Honorees) the author of the timeslip Graham Saga Series, Anna Belfrage and I have been asked to talk about sea travel in the late 1600's.


Indie B.R.A.G. 
"Our mission is to discover new and talented self-published authors and help them give their work the attention and recognition it deserves."


Because this post is somewhat long I've split it into two parts 
see details of  Part Two  below



1661 The second in Anna Belfrage's timeslip series, Like Chaff In The Wind features time traveller Alexandra Lind and her 17th century husband, Matthew Graham. Matthew committed the mistake of his life when he cut off his brother's nose. In revenge, Luke Graham has Matthew abducted and transported to the Colony of Virginia, there to be sold as indentured labour - a death sentence more or less. He arrives in Virginia in May 1661, and any hope of someone willing to listen to his tale of abduction is quickly extinguished. He also realises that no one has ever survived the seven years of service.


Fortunately, Matthew has a remarkable wife who has no intention of letting her husband die. Alex sets off on a perilous journey to bring him home. She prays for a miracle to carry her swiftly to his side, but what should have been a two month crossing turns into a year long voyage. Will she find him in time? If she does, will she be capable of paying the price to buy him free? And will she survive sailing across the Atlantic Ocean?
* * * 

An Interview With Anna Belfrage



Tell us, briefly, about the Graham Saga : The first book in the series is titled A Rip In The Veil and there are eight books in all. It’s the story of two people who should never have met – not when she was born three centuries after him. But once they do meet, it’s inconceivable to either of them to live without each other, and so Alex remains in the 17th century where she and her husband live through one harrowing adventure after the other.


What gave you the idea for it? : I wanted to write about the religious persecution in 17th century Scotland – after the Restoration. It wasn't supposed to be a series – even less to have a time-travelling woman as the female protagonist – but once Alex gate-crashed the party, Matthew was adamant: he wanted her, or he’d refuse to cooperate.



Alex is very feisty and capable – do you think she coped well with ‘Time Travel’ or was it always a bit of a nightmare for her? : I think falling through time was a terrible experience for her. And once she finds Matthew, she lives with the constant, niggling fear that Time may somehow attempt to reclaim her. But as to finding her feet in the 17th century, yes, it was difficult at first, but Alex is good at adapting.



Matthew is a handsome guy (I don’t blame Alex for falling for him) Would he have coped, do you think if he had been the one to fall forward in time? : No. Matthew is very much a product of his time – and he’d be utterly bewildered in a world he had no preparation for. It’s like Isaac says in one of the books, that a modern person falling backwards in time at least has some perception of what the past was like, while falling the other way is truly leaping into the unknown. Besides, Matthew’s skills are not ones we need all that much today, and he’d be uncomfortable living in such a secular society. To Matthew, God is a given – and boy, do he and Alex have heated discussions about that one…



What one of the series was the hardest to write? : None of the books have been hard. But some of the scenes - both in book three and six, as well as in book eight – there are scenes that have cost me more tears than there’s water in the Niagara Falls (ok; slight exaggeration)



What one the easiest? : The third book. Probably because this was the original storyline, and I’d spent so many years reading up on it.



Every author has a favourite scene. Yours? : I've several, but seeing as we’re on the topic of sea travel – and specifically Alex’s search for Matthew  I thought this would be a good choice:

“Graham!”
    Matthew turned towards the voice. Obey, he reminded himself, always obey. After the flogging he had become pathetically docile, a beast that went wherever he was pointed, and now he shuffled towards Jones hoping that it wouldn’t be too much additional work, because he was too tired, too hungry, and some days all he wanted was to lie down and never rise again.
    He no longer allowed himself to hope, never looked in the direction of the road, and every now and then he asked God to take him soon, not leave him to die piece by piece in this unbearable existence. And yet... there were still moments when his head rang with her laughter, when she danced before his eyes, and in her blue, blue gaze he could see just how much she loved him. These fragmented images filled him with quiet joy, a conviction that he had to live through at least one more day, a week, a month.
    Matthew came to a silent stop in front of Jones. His foot throbbed, and he threw a look at the soiled bandage that he’d wrapped around it in an attempt to protect the gash where a hoe had sunk into it, just below his ankle.
    Jones flicked his riding crop against his buck hide breeches. Once, twice, thrice the leather cracked, and every time Matthew had to force himself not to flinch.
    “You have a visitor,” Jones informed him.
Matthew kept his eyes on the ground. He’d seen Jones play this particular game far too many times to fall for it, and he wasn’t about to give anyone the pleasure of seeing first hope, then disappointment, wash across his face.
    “Your new owner,” Jones clarified and lifted his whip in the direction of the curing barns. A new owner? Apprehension rushed through him, and he raised his face to look in the direction Jones was pointing.
    Had he been alone he might have tried to call her name or even broken into a run. Now all he could do was stand absolutely still as the ground under him seemed to sway and fold, praying silently to the good Lord that she not be a mirage, please God, not that.
    “Go on!” Jones barked, unfreezing him. “Get yourself over to her, now. I have instructions to see you off the property immediately.” At Matthew’s continued immobility, he raised his hand in a threatening gesture, and Matthew, to his shame, cringed and began to move.
    He was acutely aware of how he must look through her eyes; dressed in rags, dirty and unkempt, his hair and heavy beard crawling with lice. And that was only on the outside, the damage to his inside was far, far worse.
    He stumbled towards her. He must seem a scarecrow, stick thin limbs protruding from what little was left of his breeches and shirt. He tried to lengthen his stride, swayed like a reed, and almost fell.      His knees buckled, he had to stop, take a breath, take two.
  He looked at her from under the fringe of matted hair, and she was just as he remembered her, all the way from the unruly curls escaping constraints of cap and braid, to the way she smiled, arms held out. She had come! His Alex was here, her eyes uncommonly dark and brimming with tears.
   Matthew lifted his face, stretched his uncooperative lips into a smile. He heard her loud intake of breath, and here she came, the lace cap fluttering to the ground as she ran towards him. She crashed into him, and only her quick reactions saved them both from tumbling to the ground. His Alex; so warm, so strong and full of life. Her arms wrapped themselves around him, she said his name, she wept and laughed. Matthew closed his eyes, stuck his nose in her hair and inhaled.



So what’s next now that the falling star (the last book in the series is titled Catch A Falling Star) has been caught and the Graham Saga has ended? : *sniffs loudly, reaches for a tissue* Well, as a matter of fact, Matthew and Alex are not quite done with me – and thank heavens for that! But other than that, my next series is halfway done and the first book of four (I think it’s four) will be published on November 1st 2015. This series is set in 14th century England, my hero being a fictional character named Adam de Guirande who is one of Sir Roger Mortimer’s more capable and loyal knights. As we all know, things did not end well for Mortimer. I sure hope Adam will not share his fate…




The Time : The Golden Age of Piracy - 1716. 
The Place : The Pirate Round - from the South African Coast to the Islands of the Caribbean.

    Escaping the bullying of his elder half brother, from the age of fifteen Jesamiah Acorne has been a pirate with only two loves - his ship and his freedom. But his life is to change when he and his crew mates unsuccessfully attack a merchant ship off the coast of South Africa.
    He is to meet Tiola Oldstagh an insignificant girl, or so he assumes - until she rescues him from a vicious attack, and almost certain death, by pirate hunters. And then he discovers what she really is; a healer, a midwife - and a white witch.
    When the call of the sea and an opportunity to commandeer a beautiful ship - the Sea Witch - is put in Jesamiah's path he must make a choice between his life as a pirate or his love for Tiola. He wants both, but others want him dead. In trouble, imprisoned in the darkness and stench that is the lowest part of a ship, can Tiola with her gift of Craft save him.
    But first she must brave the ocean depths to confront Tethys, the Spirit of the Sea, an elemental who will stop at nothing to claim Jesamiah's soul and bones as a trophy.

Buy Like Chaff  In The Wind 
On Kindle: Amazon.co.uk £3.49 ...  Amazon.com  $5.41
In Paperback: Amazon.co.uk  ...  Amazon.com

Buy Sea Witch

On Kindle: Amazon.co.uk £3.48  ...  Amazon.com $5.43
In Paperback: Amazon.co.uk ...  Amazon.com

Anna's Website  : Blog Facebook  : Twitter @Anna_Belfrage

Helen's Website : Facebook : Twitter @HelenHollick

Indie B.R.A.G.  Website  :  Facebook



End of Part One
click HERE for Part Two

 *A brief look at Life At Sea
* A very special additional 'story'!



All At Sea... (Part Two)


 .... With Indie B.R.A.G and Anna Belfrage (and my own Jesamiah Acorne)

PART TWO

To celebrate Indie B.R.A.G's Book Blitz Week (where they are promoting some of their top B.R.A.G. Medallion Honorees) the author of the timeslip Graham Saga Series, Anna Belfrage and I have been asked to talk about sea travel in the late 1600's.


Because this is a somewhat long post I've split it into two:
click here for Part One (an interview with Anna)





Life At Sea
Before 1700, Europe’s mariners and mapmakers knew only about half the Earth’s surface with any detail. Australia had not been ‘discovered’ as a continent, and only a handful of sailors had successfully circumnavigated the globe.


Shipping in the sixteenth and seventeenth century was precarious although the later 1600’s were an age of advancement. Various wars and the boom in trade from the islands of the Caribbean and the east coast of North America (no ‘white man’ had travelled into the interior before 1700) resulted in an improvement in ship design. By the mid 1700's the shipyards of Deptford and Woolwich were producing bigger and better warships which sailed more efficiently, and were more effective with firepower. The capacity for carrying provisions and guns improved. Masts and yards became taller and longer, giving more spread of canvas sails – and therefore more speed and manoeuvrability.
   Navigation also improved. Samuel Pepys, in charge of Charles II’s navy stressed in his diary the need for a 'scientific and mathematick approach to navigation'. The foundation of an observatory at Greenwich and the study of the stars helped develop new sea routes and greater accuracy in sailing but it was not until well into the eighteenth century that navigation improved. Alex was quite right to be afraid of the ship taking her across the Atlantic being wrecked by storms, although the greatest danger at that time was getting lost. Finding latitude at sea was routine and accurate, but longitude was done by experience, guesswork, and a knowledge of observing the stars. The solution was to develop a reliable sextant and a seaworthy clock, but no such clock existed.
    The task of developing something which could be used at sea began after a naval disaster in 1707 when four ships ran aground due to navigational mistakes. In consequence, the British government offered a prize of £20,000, (several million pounds sterling today) for anyone who could determine longitude accurately. John Harrison a Yorkshire carpenter, eventually claimed the reward in 1761. His marine chronometer was trialled by his son and at the end of a ten-week voyage the clock was discovered to be in error by no more than five seconds.


Conditions aboard ship were poor at best, appalling at worst. There was little room below deck – warships gave preference to their guns, not the men who handled them. Merchants to cargo. Food was salted or dried and stored in barrels – rats were a problem, as were weevils. On long voyages without fresh fruit or vegetables men developed scurvy. Water was precious – there were no provisions for washing in anything except salt or rain water. Injury and illness were always an unwanted companion aboard ship. Accidents were common. If a man fell from the mast it was better if he fell into the sea and drowned quickly rather than suffer a lingering death.
    Fights at sea were brutal. Cannons could do a lot of damage to a man and a wooden ship – fire was the dread of every sailor. The life of a ‘tar’ or a ‘foremast jack’ was often short – especially for pirates like Jesamiah Acorne who took the law into their own hands. If disease, food poisoning or dying of thirst didn’t get you, then storm and shipwreck would; or maybe for the pirates, dancing a jig on the hangman’s noose. It was not death that these men feared, but the nature of it. 


* * * 
1661 The second in Anna Belfrage's timeslip series, Like Chaff In The Wind features time traveller Alexandra Lind and her 17th century husband, Matthew Graham. Matthew committed the mistake of his life when he cut off his brother's nose. In revenge, Luke Graham has Matthew abducted and transported to the Colony of Virginia, there to be sold as indentured labour - a death sentence more or less. He arrives in Virginia in May 1661, and any hope of someone willing to listen to his tale of abduction is quickly extinguished. He also realises that no one has ever survived the seven years of service.

Fortunately, Matthew has a remarkable wife who has no intention of letting her husband die. Alex sets off on a perilous journey to bring him home. She prays for a miracle to carry her swiftly to his side, but what should have been a two month crossing turns into a year long voyage. Will she find him in time? If she does, will she be capable of paying the price to buy him free? And will she survive sailing across the Atlantic Ocean?

The Time : The Golden Age of Piracy - 1716. 
The Place : The Pirate Round - from the South African Coast to the Islands of the Caribbean.

    Escaping the bullying of his elder half brother, from the age of fifteen Jesamiah Acorne has been a pirate with only two loves - his ship and his freedom. But his life is to change when he and his crew mates unsuccessfully attack a merchant ship off the coast of South Africa.
    He is to meet Tiola Oldstagh an insignificant girl, or so he assumes - until she rescues him from a vicious attack, and almost certain death, by pirate hunters. And then he discovers what she really is; a healer, a midwife - and a white witch.
    When the call of the sea and an opportunity to commandeer a beautiful ship - the Sea Witch - is put in Jesamiah's path he must make a choice between his life as a pirate or his love for Tiola. He wants both, but others want him dead. In trouble, imprisoned in the darkness and stench that is the lowest part of a ship, can Tiola with her gift of Craft save him.
    But first she must brave the ocean depths to confront Tethys, the Spirit of the Sea, an elemental who will stop at nothing to claim Jesamiah's soul and bones as a trophy.
* * * 

Anna and Helen
(HNS Conference Denver 2015 photo Cathy Helms)
Anna and I wondered what would happen if Jesamiah were to meet Alex 
as she was crossing the Atlantic in search of Matthew. 
As a special, exclusive treat  here's what we came up with
* * *
Somewhere in the Atlantic 1661...
“Who are you?” Alex wiped at the wet hair that was clinging to her face. She knew for a fact she’d not seen the man standing beside her before on the Regina Anne – Captain Miles would never tolerate a sailor who looked so…so…dangerous? Her gaze slid over his cutlass – cutlass! – and the pistol tucked through his belt…up to his dark eyes. He was grinning, his gold acorn-shaped earring glinting in a sudden flash of sun. Beneath his three-corned hat he had thick, black hair, tied back with a sea-blue ribbon. Poncy, Alex thought, but then men in the here and now had a predilection for lace and ribbons. Not like the men of her time, who thought they were daring if they wore a pink shirt with their business suit.
   The man removed his hat, made a slight bow. “Captain Jesamiah Acorne, at your service, ma’am. And who might you be?”
   Captain? Alex thought boats only had one captain. And this captain didn’t exactly look like the sort of person Captain Miles would comfortably work alongside. Fight against maybe…?
   Swallowing another threat of rising bile, Alex attempted to be polite. “I am Mistress Alexandra Graham, wife to Matthew Graham who has been abducted and sold into indentured slavery.”
   “That was careless of him,” Captain Acorne quipped, taking a small silver container from his pocket. Un-stoppering it and putting the spout to his mouth, he took a long swig of whatever was inside it.
   “It was not carelessness at all!” Alex bridled, angry, her fists bunching. “He cut off his brother’s nose. In revenge, the bastard has had Matthew transported to Virginia to be sold into indentured labour – a death sentence. I am intent on not letting my husband die, either there or bound in chains aboard one of these, these,” she whirled her arms around indicating the ship, ”floating coffins!”
  Acorne wiped the top of the flask and handed it to her. Alex shook her head.
  “It’ll do your stomach good,” he said, offering it again. “And if his brother is anything like mine, I think I like the sound of your husband.”
   Alex took the flask, wiped the spout again with the corner of her cloak and took a tentative sip. Spluttered at the taste of very strong rum. He was right, though, it was warming. Tasted good. She had another sip, said quietly, “I cannot bear to think of Matthew chained in dark squalor below deck.”
   “Ah.” Jesamiah Acorne nodded. “I’ve no liking for men who carry their enchained brethren like so much cattle across the sea. I’ve suffered such myself.” He took the flask back, gulped a mouthful of the contents down.
   "You have?” Alex supposed she should commiserate, ask him about his experiences, but the man just shook his head, indicating these were matters he refused to talk about. The deck tilted. It tilted again, and Alex clung to the railing, cursing the wind, the sea, the goddamn boat and, most of all, Luke Graham.
   “I am no sailor,” she admitted. “I hate this bloody boat. I hate picking weevils out of bread that is as hard as iron, I hate having no private place to relieve myself, no fresh water to clean my hair or teeth – to wash. Nowhere warm or dry to sit or sleep. I hate the squalor, the stink, the fact that the bloody boat itself is as fragile as a walnut shell and might fall apart the next time the wind blows up!”
   “Ship,” Captain Acorne corrected. “She’s a ship.” 
  He pointed to the masts soaring overhead into the grey-blue sky, the wind-filled canvas sails creaking and groaning, the rigging humming like a discordant, badly rehearsed string section of an orchestra. “Three masts, fore, main and mizzen. That makes her a ship, not a boat.” He leant back against the rail, looked about with a critical eye - completely at ease with the ship’s perpetual rise and fall and roll motion. "Sails set fair, cordage coiled and stowed neat, decks clear and tidy." He pointed to a nearby hatch that had been partly swung open to let light and air down to the deck below; "Secured correct. Looks like this vessel has a captain who knows what he’s about, and a crew not made up of mithering landlubbers who don’t like to get their fekking hands dirty. She’s smaller in length and width than my ship, and her quarterdeck is higher. I don’t have any poop deck aboard Sea WitchMy father had a ship like this one when he sailed with Henry Morgan. She was a sound vessel, from what I gather. As fast as a greyhound. Regina Anne won’t be as good if she needs a turn of speed, but she seems seaworthy enough.”
   “I don’t care if she’s not the bloody HMS Victory,” Alex retorted. “As long as she’s not the Titanic! I hate the sea. I hate the way it goes up and down; I hate the cold, the wet!”
He looked at her quizzically, not recognising the ships' names. “The sea can be fickle, I grant, and you must treat her with the greatest respect. She can be all those things, but the sea and a ship, to some, mean freedom and dignity. You treat sea and ship like a mistress, with care and attention. And you put up with their squalls and the tantrums for what they offer in return.”
   Alex nodded, pretending she agreed. For all the passion he was expressing, to her mind he was talking fool nonsense. She did not care a bent binnacle, or whatever the nautical words were, for this ship or any ship, and she had no idea why she was listening to this rag-tag ruffian. She had no idea who or what he was, although that cutlass and pistol reminded her of the appearance of a pirate. Whoever, whatever, she had a suspicion that he did not belong to this boat – ship. There was something about him, something different yet familiar? He does not belong to this ship or this time, she thought. Like me. He shouldn’t be here.
   Somehow that helped, and she suddenly found herself talking and talking, letting loose all the fears that had been churning, heavy in her stomach – and had refused to be spewed up over the side with her seasick vomit. It all poured out, the whole story of Matthew and Luke, finding a ship to take her as passenger, the misery of seasickness, the horror of it all and the fear that any moment may be her last.
Embarrassed at her outburst she ended with the truth. “What if this ship sinks? I’m scared shitless!”
   He answered her with a smile and equal truth. “Ships do sink – more often than us sailors want to think about. Wind, tide, storms, current, they can all take their toll.” He gave a low, deep-throated laugh. “And then there’s pirates.”
   Alex decided to ignore his last remark. She had enough on her over-full plate as it was. “Not the ship Matthew is on.” She gave him a despairing look. “Not the ship with my Matthew. His ship is sturdy and fast and safe. He is safe. He is!”
Jesamiah, Captain Acorne, did not reply. He just looked at her, and something in his eyes made her want to cry. “He must be safe,” she said. “Without him, I…” Would die. Just like that. Alex bit her lip in an effort not to wail out loud.
   The man, Captain, Jesamiah Acorne, put his arm around her shoulders and drew her to his side. For that brief moment Alex felt warm and comfortable. Safe. Despite the fact that he stank of unwashed clothes, sweat and tar. Matthew smelt the same, although without the tar. Tears of lonely grief filled her eyes, her heart and her soul.
   “Believe in yourself, sweetheart,” Jesamiah said as he kissed the top of her head. “And keep that vision of freedom in your mind. The blue sea, the white-capped rollers, the wind that is filling the sails. Touch a stay every morning for luck. And never give up hope. Once you do, you might as well head for the horizon with your arse on fire.”
   She blinked back the tears, shut her eyes, gripped the rail. When she opened them again, he had gone. But there, on the deck beside her foot was a tightly stoppered silver flask, and wound about it, a blue ribbon.
Anna Belfrage & Helen Hollick

Buy Like Chaff  In The Wind 

On Kindle: Amazon.co.uk £3.49 ...  Amazon.com  $5.41
In Paperback: Amazon.co.uk  ...  Amazon.com

Buy Sea Witch

On Kindle: Amazon.co.uk £3.48  ...  Amazon.com $5.43
In Paperback: Amazon.co.uk ...  Amazon.com

Anna's Website  : Blog Facebook  : Twitter @Anna_Belfrage

Helen's Website : Facebook : Twitter @HelenHollick

Indie B.R.A.G.  Website  :  Facebook



GIVEAWAY - Two WINNERS: Two BOOKS
(competition closed)
our winners were Christine and Lara
unfortunately I haven't got a contact for Lara ...
 please message me via the contact form Lara and Anna and I can ship your prize!


choose Book One 
or Book Three
AND




Genesis, Labor, Triumph

My Tuesday Talk Guest: Robert Nordmeyer 
The Other Side of Courage


As every writer knows, the subject for a book can suddenly appear from out of nowhere and often from the most unlikely sources. Thus it was for my forthcoming book, The Other Side of Couragethe Saga of Elizabeth Blackwell.
I, like so many others, knew nothing of Elizabeth Blackwell; that is, not until January 11, 2010. She came into my life at breakfast and we have been close companions ever since.



At that time my wife and I enjoyed a small ritual following our breakfast by reading from a page-a-day notepad-calendar. Each page had a quote or historic event that occurred on that day, and this is where my acquaintance with Elizabeth Blackwell began: 

1849: Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States (It was actually in the whole world). Hospitals, clinics and landlords in New York refused to associate with her so she opened her own dispensary, the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children in the city’s slums. She was joined by her sister Emily who earned a medical degree as well.”

What inspired me the most about that short clip was that besides being the first woman physician, Elizabeth dedicated her work to the poor living in the slums of New York City. That fact leaped out at me and exposed exactly what kind of woman Elizabeth Blackwell was. It was absolute fodder for an exciting story. And once I began my research into her life I did indeed find not only an exciting story but a huge inspiration for courage, determination and humanitarian zeal.

So what is the story of Elizabeth Blackwell?

In the winter of 1849 this one woman shattered the glass ceiling of medicine and in doing so destroyed its male dominance. This determined action by Elizabeth also established the essential foothold that eventually changed the lives of women everywhere. 



Yet this grand achievement was not without its scars of harsh resistance, ridicule and bitter resentment. Elizabeth Blackwell, in becoming the first woman in the world to receive a degree in medicine and who became the first practicing female doctor, suffered the constant throes of anger and antipathy from the medical profession. Here is an excerpt from the book that reflects the impossible task she faced:

It was the summer of 1846, a time of much discontent for Elizabeth. She had exhausted most of her financial resources, had reached the end of her list of medical schools and saw her determinate quest begin to wither and rot away. Where once there were encouraging words from those physicians who were friends of the family now there was only a reiteration of earlier cautions that the medical profession was wholly resistant to admitting women into their sacred ranks.

Yet there remained a determination in her, a force that some of her siblings and friends felt was bordering on insanity. The impenetrable wall Elizabeth encountered appeared to grow as word filtered among those in the medical field of this impudent young woman who was bringing chaos and trouble to their domain. Still she persisted, at times having no directions to follow. She walked a blind path with only imperfect grit guiding the way.

The Other Side of Courage – the Saga of Elizabeth Blackwell is a fictional account based on a real life dominated by sheer persistence and eventual reward. The many trials and successes of Elizabeth Blackwell are vividly portrayed, helping the reader live through Elizabeth’s early warfare with physicians, follow her through her college experiences, suffer with her during the medical disaster that nearly destroyed her achievement and share in the joy as she establishes a hospital for the poor in the slums of New York City. Again, I share an excerpt from the book that paints the flavor of that historic moment on a January day in 1849:

Hesitating momentarily, then in a slow, deliberate motion, Elizabeth rose from her seat and began the short walk to the stairs. She could feel the same tingling in her finger tips she had felt before whenever the moment was electrified by a significant occasion. It was necessary to inhale deeply several times to distill all signs of nervousness. Continuing to move with deliberate caution she ascended the steps and headed to where the President sat. Positioning herself in front of the President she was suddenly caught completely by surprise as he leaned forward and stood.  For several seconds the church grew still. Gradually a slight murmur began to waft through the crowd, for the President of the College had just broken a long-standing precedence as he rose to award a diploma.


From a calendar page to a historical fiction book, indeed a fascinating journey for Elizabeth Blackwell.


LINKS:
Author's website
Buy from Amazon.com 


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LIGHTS! CAMERA….

Er… No Action.... Cut

Romancing Sept / History, Mystery and Derring-Do/
 Sea Witch Drama / Indie B.R.A.G.
Several years ago now I had an email out of the blue to the effect of “I like your Harold The King novel. I would like to use it as a basis of a script I am writing for a potential 1066 movie. I wonder if I might trouble you for some further information?”
I had two initial reactions. One was to dance round the room in delight – it is every writer’s dream to have their book made into a movie - the other was,‘Yeah right, is this a wind-up?”

I had an agent at the time. I phoned her, forwarded the email. Got the reply:
“He’s after free information. Don’t tell him anything that isn’t in the book.” (good, helpful advice.) Then, “but I wouldn’t bother doing anything, seventy-five percent of these things never go anywhere.” (poor, useless advice.)

My response of “yes but what about the other twenty-five percent?” Fell on deaf ears.
(I now realise said ex-agent was not looking after me and wasn’t interested in me or my books – which explains why she later dumped me.)

I politely answered this stranger – and to cut a long story short RobinJacob  turned out to be 100% genuine and legitimate. I met with him, talked, became friends – realising we both had a huge passion for the English point of view of what is probably the most famous date in English history – 1066 and the Battle of Hastings.

1066
 I was invited to assist with the script and officially became co-scriptwriter. 
 I might get paid for my contribution one day, but to produce movies cost money. To produce BIG movies costs even more money. For quite a few years now Robin has been trying to get the funding to start production – with the caveat of if this movie is to be made it is not going to be a ‘Braveheart Hollywood" version.

Meanwhile if you’d like to know what 1066 the movie is all about, our ideas and anticipations… well, read the novel


We will not give up on this project, not until, every potential funding stone has been upturned, and every brick wall has been reached.

Husband Ron, me, Robin Jacob
So while 1066 was chuntering away in the background I continued writing and getting dumped by said agent – who, incidentally, showed no interest whatsoever in the exciting potential prospects of 1066. I went self-publish with the books that were returned to me by Heinemann of Random House (who very coincidentally dropped me on the same day as did ex-agent.) And also Indie Published Sea Witch, a pirate-based nautical adventure for adults with a touch of fantasy. The one book exploded into a series – Voyage Five On The Account will be ready for publication soon.

And then, a couple of months ago another movie-based excitement. Another company was interested in Sea Witch and my  Pendragon's Banner Arthurian Trilogy. Now this was getting exciting!

But the bubble soon burst. They were a very small company, couldn’t afford any advance fees, and then decided: “Could we turn your Arthurian books into a fantasy cartoon for children?”
Er. No.
So that was the end of that.

Except yet another offer came along! This time for a potential TV drama series.
 I was really excited as I was even told “I’ll send you the contract to look at.” And this time the offer was for my darling Sea Witch Voyages – all four of the already published AND the additional two that I plan to write.

I was over the moon. Not least because - and I don’t want this to sound boasting or egotistical or anything but  Sea Witch and my protagonist, Captain Jesamiah Acorne are ideal for TV drama. (Not a movie – Sea Witch is the stuff of an ongoing TV series)
Think Poldark or Sharpe ... but at sea.
Think Hornblower but with a touch of fantasy a quite a bit more romance involved.
Think Indiana Jones or James Bond – but as pirate-based adventures.
Think Pirates of the Caribbean movies ... my Sea Witch Voyages are much better.
Black Sails? The Sea Witch Voyages are much better.
…. Well you get the drift.

The contract arrived, and my heart sank. It was far too brief and far too much not in my favour. Still, I sent it to the Society of Authors for their opinion. They kicked it out as completely unsuitable, but suggested alternative options. All of which I put to this producer. Sadly for me he did not want to know (I never had a reply to my last e-mail where yet again I asked for a draft of a proper contract.)  And  nor was I prepared to hand over 100% of all rights to him.
So that was the end of that.

BUT…

I listened to an excellent talk by Diana Gabaldon (Outlander) ... (and yes Sea Witch would be better) while at the Historical Novel Society Conference in Denver. She said that she had been given several not very good options for her books before finally being offered the present deal - and she added that she was glad she waited for ‘the right one’.
Which cheered me up.

To have two different producers contact me to explore possibilities has given me the confidence that I am right about Sea Witch – the books will make a fantastic TV drama series.

And it has also boosted my one, as yet unresolved ambition - to prove  my ex-agent wrong when she  set Sea Witch aside (and said that Jesamiah Acorne was a ridiculous name.)

If Diana Gabaldon can have previous disappointments and let-downs with her Outlander series… and then ‘Make It’....then so can I!

www.helenhollick.net
If you are approached by a potential producer interested in your book/s….
 If you have an agent – probably any approach would have been made through him/her, but if, like me, you do not have an agent here are a few tips:

·        Get excited by all means – but remember that most approaches come to nothing
·     Keep the news to yourself (apart from close friends). Don’t go shouting about it on Social Media… save it for when the contract is signed.
·        Respond politely and with interest, but ask for full details and a draft contract.
·        Run the contract past the Society of Authors or the Alliance of Independent Authors (if you are a member.)
·       If it all looks kosher GET A FILM AGENT. Do not even attempt to sort a movie / TV deal on your own.

·        Never sign away 100% of your rights in any area.

Sailing through the September Blogs:

Sept 2nd  'Romancing September' … Jesamiah Acorne and I join a Romantic Romp


Sept 4th-6th 'History, Mystery and Derring-do' an exciting Blog Tour via Alison Morton #histmystderringdo
Sept 8th My blog post – on the excitement of movie and TV deals! (this page)
Sept 21st-26th Indie B.R.A.G Book Blitz. On Tuesday the 22nd I will be interviewing Anna Belfrage on my blog about her timeslip Graham Series and sea travel in the seventeenth century. (VERY exciting post!)