Monthly Archives: March 2012

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I’ve written a book … now what?

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Categories: Research, Tags: , , , , , ,

Since I guest posted on David Gaughran’s blog here and here, I’ve been getting mail from other indie authors, asking for some advice regarding getting their own ball rolling, so to speak. A year and a bit ago, I got some excellent advice from indie author, N. Gemini Sasson, which I took, and perhaps I can pay that forward now.

I have some overall suggestions, and then some specific tips.  Nothing that’s going to work overnight, I’m afraid … but it’s what I’ve done.

Publishing in general can be overwhelming.  I honestly don’t know that indie publishing is any different from traditional publishing in that regard, it’s just that you, individually, have to take care of so many things yourself.  Not that traditional publishers have been wonderful in this respect, but at least there’s the illusion that you are more taken care of.  I thought so, too, back when I wrote this: (http://www.sarahwoodbury.com/?p=493) two years ago.  I still think writing the next book is the best thing you can do to promote your work, but there’s a bit more to it than that if you want to go the indie route.

I would say that as a first step, go to David Gaughran’s web page and download, “Let’s Get Digital”.  http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/  It’s a how-to guide for indie publishing.   He has also written a quick primer on self-publishing basics covering the essential steps (editing, covers, formatting, uploading, pricing, marketing) here – http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/basics/ – On that page, there is a PDF version too – it’s about 12 pages long. It’s free for anyone, and anyone can put it up for download on their own site if they like.  http://davidgaughran.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/self-publishing-basics1.pdf

David’s blog is only one of many great resources–along with others like Joe KonrathKris Ruschthe Passive Guy, and Dean Wesley Smith.  When I started, I was ignorant about publishing, but basically took the academic approach:  I read everything I could find about how to be an indie author and eventually took the plunge in putting up my first book–The Last Pendragon.

I recommend the Writer’s Cafe at the Kindle boards as an excellent resource, and a way to connect with other indie writers (if you haven’t already joined):   http://www.kindleboards.com/index.php/board,60.0.html  You can introduce yourself here:   http://www.kindleboards.com/index.php/board,3.0.html  Another, less organized resource because of the format, is Indie Writers Unite (on Facebook):   https://www.facebook.com/groups/indiewriters/

When you visit these sites, begin by reading the threads.  Believe me, there are a lot of them.  Any question you have has probably already been answered, at length, at one time or another.  Both groups are full of authors who are wanting their books to get noticed, of course, but there’s lots and lots of good ideas about how to go about doing that.  Besides which, writers do read, so some people might pick up your book there.  It’s a good way to educate yourself about this new world we’re living in, too.  It’s much better actually NOT to promote, but to participate in communities.  At the Kindle Boards, the author community is actually a very small part of the Kindle Boards as a whole, and is a great place to connect with readers AS A READER.  That all takes time, of course.  Lots of nice people out there, though.

Having suggested all that, many established writers recommend that you don’t bother promoting a book until you have three novels to sell.  From my own experience, It was the fourth book that launched all my others.  And I got lucky by hitting a chord at just the right moment.  Dean Wesley Smith  http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/ talks about this specifically.

Then there’s blogging.  Look!  You’re reading my blog!  But a blog is very time consuming.  At a minimum, you need to have a static web page with links to your books for sale, so that people who stumble upon your site can go straight to where they can buy your books.

My blog is really about dark age and medieval Wales and I mostly try NOT to write about writing.  Plenty of other people do that and they are a lot funnier than I am :)   I began this blog in November 2009, with no books to promote.  I just started writing 3 times a week about my research behind the books nobody had yet read.  It took about 9 months for Google searches to really find me.  Now, I get 300-500 hits a day, with an increasing number coming for my books, which is very exciting.  If you want to have a functioning blog, choose something you know a lot about and blog about that.  People will find you because of your content.  Book sales will come after.

I would also consider a professional cover ($150-$250, with stock art), if you have not already contracted for one.  It took me a year of indie publishing to realize that the difference between what I could produce, and what a professional could produce, was the difference between night and day (see http://flipcitybooks.com/ for my cover artist).

I also work at least 50 hours a week at this, between writing and blogging and participating in online communities.  I’m a full time mom, and we homeschool, but I’m on the computer the rest of the time.  I wrote at least part time for five years before I made any money at all.   Just something to keep in mind in terms of how much of your life you want to devote to this.  If your time is limited or you’re not that attached to your computer, I recommend focusing on writing every day and producing more work.  Perhaps choose one promotion avenue and ignore the rest.  If you mean to make a career of writing, then writing another novel is the best way to promote the first one.

________________

With that in mind, today is the release of my ninth novel, Crossroads in Time, the third book in the After Cilmeri series!

Three years have passed since the events chronicled in Prince of Time …

Anna has made a place for herself in thirteenth century Wales as a wife, mother, and healer.  David has taken more of the kingdom’s rule on his shoulders, even as his relationship with Lili has caused friction with his father, King Llywelyn.  The King wants his son to seek a political marriage that will benefit his country—and possibly place the crown of England on David’s head.

England and Wales have shared a border and an uneasy peace for three long years.

And that peace is about to be broken …

Crossroads in Time will be released on 29 March 2012. Buy at  Amazon  Amazon UK  Smashwords

It should arrive by May 1 in paperback and at all other venues.  Meanwhile for Nook/Apple/Sony users, it can be downloaded in epub format at Smashwords.

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Guinevere (in Welsh Gwenhwyfar)

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Categories: Research

Guinevere was King Arthur’s wife.  Everyone knows that.  But the role she plays has been embellished and augmented to the point that it’s actually not clear if she ever existed at all (assuming King Arthur existed at all, the exploration of which could fill a library).

“In the ancient Welsh Mabinogion (called Culhwch and Olwen), Guinevere is called ‘Gwenhwyfar’ or ‘Gwenhwyvar’. Her name may mean The White Phantom. Guinevere was the daughter of Gogrfan or Gogrvan or Ocvran. She is the wife of King Arthur. The tale also mentions that Guinevere had a sister, named Gwenhwyach.

The Mabinogion says that King Arthur had three sons: Gwydre, Llacheu, and Amhar. But there is nothing in the legend to indicate that they were Guinevere’s sons, too. Either King Arthur had another wife or partner, or, more likely, we can probably assume that they were her sons.”  http://www.arthurianadventure.com/guinevere.htm

“According to Giraldus Cambrensis, the inscribed cross from the royal grave at Glastonbury named her as Arthur’s second wife. Nothing is known of this first wife. Since the only surviving drawing of the cross only depicts one side and, presumably, any allusion to the queen was on the other, the claim of Giraldus is unverifiable. Those who believe Arthur died and was buried at Glastonbury generally accept that Guinevere was buried with him.”  http://www.pantheon.org/articles/g/guinevere.html

“Variously portrayed in literature, she is called the daughter of King Leodegrance (Lleudd-Ogrfan) of Cameliard by Malory, the daughter of King Ogrfan Gawr (the Giant) of Castell y Cnwclas (Knucklas Castle) by Welsh Tradition, the daughter of King Garlin of Galore by Germanic tradition, the daughter of a Roman noble by Geoffrey of Monmouth and wife of King Arthur by everyone. Her name is spelled differently depending on where you look. It can be either the traditional Guinevere, or Guenevere, or Guenievre, or Guenhumare or Ginevra. In Welsh, she is Gwenhwyfar; in Cornish, Jenefer.

In all cases, she is surpassingly beautiful and desirable, if morally lax from the time of the Vulgate Cycle (13th century) onward. She is either forced into or conceives and engineers an extra-marital relationship with Lancelot and is either condemned, according to law, or forgiven outright for her sins. She either was a willing accomplice to Mordred’s treachery against Arthur, as suggested in Wace and Layamon, or was forced into it against her will as stated in John Hardyng’s “Chronicle” (1457). Early mentions of Guinevere, in the Triads of the Island of Britain, give tantalising glimpses of her original relationship with Mordred: he is shown forcing his way into Arthur’s Court, dragging the Queen from her throne and striking her, but the reasons why are unknown. The incident may have been related to quarrels between Guinevere and her sister, Mordred’s wife, Gwenhwyfach, which are said to have been the eventual cause of the Battle of Camlann.”  http://www.britannia.com/history/biographies/guinever.html

At least we know that the morally lax element is a later, French addition, and not part of the original Welsh story.  Lancelot was added at that time as well (naturally), and as I’ve written elsewhere, according to the Welsh tradition, Arthur SURVIVES Camlann and his fight with Modred, so she is not to blame even for that (http://www.sarahwoodbury.com/?page_id=2539).

In the Welsh Triads, in fact, King Arthur has THREE wives named Gwenhywfar, which seems plainly impossible:  “In the poem known as the Welsh Triad, King Arthur has three queens … and all three wives are named Guinevere or Gwenhwyfar. The first is called Gwenhwyfar, the daughter of Gwent (Cywryd); the second is called Gwenhwyfar, the daughter of Gwythyr son of Greidiawl; and the third wife is Gwenhwyfar, daughter of Gogfran or Gogrvan the Giant.

This must have made for complex marital relations in Camelot, or perhaps this story tells us something about the near universal (British and Irish) Celtic love for the number three. Such ancient British or Welsh legends may suggest that the three wives of King Arthur (the three Gwenhwyfars) form a sort of female trinity which encompasses the personification of Britain as a Lady, the Land of Britain as a Mother, and the Sovereignty of Britain as a Queen.

Guinevere or Gwenhwyfar, if this reading of the ancient legends is true, is more than simply a queen, she is also a triple goddess. And thus her marriage to King Arthur is necessary in that she bestows blessings upon him, through their sacred marriage.”  http://www.arthurianadventure.com/guinevere.htm

Given that this is the ancient, Welsh tradition, from whence the legend of Arthur came, it leads one to question her existence at all.  Although one could also conclude that a single Guinevere did once exist, married to Arthur, and as his legend grew and was shaped by the needs of the story-tellers, so did hers.

 

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Slavery and Wales

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The title says Slavery ‘and’ Wales because the degree to which slavery existed in Wales is difficult to determine.  Without a doubt, many Welsh were forced into slavery–evidence points to Welsh captives on the continent of Europe as well as in Anglo-Saxon England.  St Patrick himself was Briton/Welsh (born 387 AD) and was captured by the Irish and made a slave.  The Celts were well-known slave-keepers, as were the Romans after them.  But were the Welsh themselves, after the Romans left?  Hard to imagine they weren’t when their neighbors all around were enslaving them.  But in all of the 767 pages of John Davies The History of Wales, he doesn’t mention slavery once.

However, Ron Wilcox writes in his book Between Romans and Normans:  “Living alongside the bondsmen were the slaves who worked as agricultural labourers or artisans. Most were born into slavery but it was possible to be condemned to slavery as a punishment. A slave could own property and save enough to buy his freedom but this was difficult for a family man since he would need to be able to free his dependants as well. Slavery lasted longer in Wales than elsewhere. In a landscape which required so much labour to wrest a living from it, there was need for intensive cultivation on those areas where it was possible to raise crops and this ensured the continuance of the system into the medieval period.”

David Mattingly, in his book, An Imperial Possession:  Britain in the Roman Empire writes:  “Roman Britain was a ‘slave-using society’, but not a fully ‘slave society’ in the sense the latter term can be applied to Roman Italy (where 10-25% of the population was of servile status) . . . Slavery operated in Britain in two ways.  Slaves were undoubtedly exported from Britain as part of the process of conquest and even at later times individuals were enslaved (or possible sold into slavery by impoverished families).  Many of these British slaves may have ended up being sold elsewhere, rather than within Britain . . .their availability and cost probably kept the proportion of enslaved to freeborn very low” (2007: 294).

In 2007, the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea put on an exhibition of Wales and Slavery to mark the anniversary of the abolishment of the slave trade in 1807.  Swansea was a center of copper production, used to make the shackles that bound the slaves.  Also on display, indicating the long history of slavery, was an Iron-Age four-person neck chain from Llyn Cerrig Bach, Anglesey.

For links to the later slave trade:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/northeast/sites/blackhistory/slavery.shtml

For a discussion of slavery in Europe:

http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Slavery_in_medieval_Europe

The Catholic Church strongly forbade slavery, which is why it had all but died out by the 13th century in Europe (only to be revived again later, of course, under Protestantism).

The most telling evidence that slaves were an important part of Welsh society are the Laws of Hywel Dda.  In them, he lays out the laws pertaining to slaves.  Tim Clarkson writes, again extrapolating from other Celtic societies (thus his use of the word,  ‘probably’):

“In Wales, the most comprehensive legal code is known today as the Law of Hywel Dda, a text that, although much amended throughout the Middle Ages, originiated during the tenth-century reign of King Hywel and seems to have preserved archaic laws from still earlier times.  Like contemporary Ireland, early medieval Wales was essentially a tribal society, and its legal systems were founded on centuries of custom and tradition.  Close similarities therefore exist between the law codes of the two areas.  Just as the Irish grouped the unfree members of their society into various grades, so a similar grading process probably operated in Wales, at least for female slaves, who were graded according to the nature of their work.  A higher-grade slave woman was described as gweinyd-dol (servant) and was defined as [someone not engaged in agricultural labor].

“In Wales, slaves seem to have been afforded certain basic rights, rights that were denied to Ireland’s fuidhir.  Thus, a Welsh slave suffering insult or injury could claim sarhaed (compensation) in the same manner as a freeborn person, although, of course, the sarhaed for a slave was less than that for a free individual.  Another important right was that the slave was protected by law from being killed after a first offense of theft, although subsequent offenses were in some instances punishable by amputation of a limb . . . any freeman who made a slave pregnant was obliged by law to provide her lord with a woman to perform the slave’s duties until the child’s birth . . .

“Welsh law codes seemingly imply that slaves in early-medieval Celtic society had little freedom but few hardships and, being rather akin to serfs of a later period, were unlikely to suffere the severe and punitive conditions that were the norm for slaves in other cultures.”

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Population in Wales

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The population estimate for Wales in the early Middle Ages, at the Norman Conquest in 1066, is 150,000. This is squarely in the ‘medieval warming period’ which began around 950 AD, in which Wales experienced a warmer climate than between the 13th and 19th centuries. This site indicates that the population doubled by 1350 to 300,000, but then was cut by 1/3 with the Black Death. It didn’t reach that total again until the 16th century.

As of 2008, the population of Wales was roughly 3 million, creeping slowly up from 2.8 million in 1991.  Cardiff, the capital, is by far the biggest city, with slightly fewer than 300,000 people.   http://www.citypopulation.de/UK-Wales.html.  In the Middle Ages, Cardiff’s population was between 1500 and 2000 people–and was one of the few, and certainly one of the largest–towns in Wales.  http://www.localhistories.org/Cardiff.html

This population is spread over an area of 8018 square miles.  This is roughly the same size as New Jersey (8722 square miles) which has a population of 8.6 million.  In contrast, Umatilla County, Oregon at roughly half that size, has a population of 73,000 and the state of Oregon (96,000 square miles) has 3.8 million.

The vast majority of the increase from then until now came in the 19th century.  In 1801, the population of Wales was just over 587,000; by 1901, it was 2,012,000.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Wales

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Could Time Travel Happen?

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Categories: Research, Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Exiles in TimeWe are all time travelers of course–we travel through time every millisecond of our lives.  It’s just we only move in one direction, into the future.

Conceptually, time travel into the future and into the past are two distinct concepts.  Traveling into the future could happen merely by slowing down your own time, rather than popping in and out of the future like in Primeval.

“If you want to advance through the years a little faster than the next person, you’ll need to exploit space-time. Global positioning satellites pull this off every day, accruing an extra third-of-a-billionth of a second daily. Time passes faster in orbit, because satellites are farther away from the mass of the Earth. Down here on the surface, the planet’s mass drags on time and slows it down in small measures.

We call this effect gravitational time dilation. According to Einstein’s theory of general relativity, gravity is a curve in space-time and astronomers regularly observe this phenomenon when they study light moving near a sufficiently massive object. Particularly large suns, for instance, can cause an otherwise straight beam of light to curve in what we call the gravitational lensing effect.

What does this have to do with time? Remember: Any event that occurs in the universe has to involve both space and time. Gravity doesn’t just pull on space; it also pulls on time.

You wouldn’t be able to notice minute changes in the flow of time, but a sufficiently massive object would make a huge difference — say, like the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A at the center of our galaxy. Here, the mass of 4 million suns exists as a single, infinitely dense point, known as a singularity [source:NASA]. Circle this black hole for a while (without falling in) and you’d experience time at half the Earth rate. In other words, you’d round out a five-year journey to discover an entire decade had passed on Earth [source: Davies].”  http://science.howstuffworks.com/science-vs-myth/everyday-myths/time-travel1.htm

Travel to the past is another thing entirely.  As David comments in Footsteps in Time, if it were possible, why aren’t people from the future stopping by to see us?  The esteemed Stephen Hawking says pretty much this in a long discussion on time travel to the past (holding open the idea of time travel to the future, as described above):  “Any kind of time travel to the past through wormholes or any other method is probably impossible, otherwise paradoxes would occur. So sadly, it looks like time travel to the past is never going to happen. A disappointment for dinosaur hunters and a relief for historians.”

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1269288/STEPHEN-HAWKING-How-build-time-machine.html#ixzz1pOekDSod

However, the idea of a multiverse, or a multiple parallel universes is one that holds more credence than you might think:  “the idea that any given person can exist at the same time in more than one place. If, as humans, we were able to tap into the power of traveling to these other universes, we would be able to ‘meet’ our other selves. While this is a truly powerful thing to think about, one can imagine the possibilities it holds. If your own individual beings could meet and each one had different experiences, think of the intelligence and knowledge you could pass from one to another. Each one would have different experiences and different outcomes. In one world you could be a doctor, in another world a politician, in another world a drug addict. The options would be virtually limitless.”  http://www.quantumjumping.com/articles/parallel-universe/parallel-universes-theory/

“The existence of such a parallel universe “does not even assume speculative modern physics, merely that space is infinite and rather uniformly filled with matter as indicated by recent astronomical observations,” Max Tegmark, a cosmologist at MIT in Boston, Massachusetts concluded in a study of parallel universes published by Cambridge University.

Mathematician Hugh Everett published landmark paper in 1957 while still a graduate student at Princeton University. In this paper he showed how quantum theory predicts that a single classical reality will gradually split into separate, but simultaneously existing realms.

“This is simply a way of trusting strictly the fundamental equations of quantum mechanics,” says Barrau. “The worlds are not spatially separated, but exist as kinds of ‘parallel’ universes.”

The work has another strange implication. The idea of parallel universes would apparently side-step one of the key complaints with time travel. Every since it was given serious credibility in 1949 by the great logician Kurt Godel, many eminent physicists have argued against time travel because it undermines ideas of cause and effect. An example would be the famous “grandfather paradox” where a time traveler goes back to kill his grandfather so that he is never born in the first place.

But if parallel worlds do exist, there is a way around these troublesome paradoxes. Deutsch argues that time travel shifts happen between different branches of reality. The mathematical breakthrough bolsters his claim that quantum theory does not forbid time travel. “It does sidestep it. You go into another universe,” he said. But he admits that there will be a lot of work to do before we can manipulate space-time in a way that makes “hops” possible. While it may sound fanciful, Deutsch says that scientific research is continually making the theory more believable.”

http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2009/05/parallel-univer.html

So it could happen, right?  Maybe not time travel to the past, per se, but traveling to an alternate universe … What do you think?

 

 

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Ebook Sale! 26 Authors: 30 Books

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David Gaughran is advertising an ebook sale of 30 books at 99 cents, including my own, The Last Pendragon!  Find links to all the books here:  http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2012/03/16/st-patricks-day-blowout-30-great-books-by-26-authors-reduced-to-99c

–Sarah Woodbury weaves a tale of Myth and Magic in The Last Pendragon … I could not put this book down –Darkiss Reads (darkissreads.com)

He is a king, a warrior, the last hope of his people–and the chosen one of the sidhe . . .

Set in 7th century Wales, The Last Pendragon is the story of Arthur’s heir, Cadwaladr ap Cadwallon (Cade), and his love, Rhiann, the daughter of the man who killed Cade’s father and usurped his throne.

Born to rule, yet without a kingdom, Cade must grasp the reins of his own destiny to become both Christian king and pagan hero.  And Rhiann must decide how much she is willing to risk to follow her heart.The Last Pendragon is a 98,000 word (430 page) historical fantasy set in Dark Age Wales.

Click on the cover to link to Amazon or find it here:  http://www.amazon.com/Last-Pendragon-Saga-ebook/dp/B004HFS448/ref=pd_sim_kinc4?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2

Or Amazon UK:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B005SZ15WY/ref=s9_simh_gw_p351_d0_g351_i3?pf_rd_m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=0P5087K9GQTM900XABCY&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=467128533&pf_rd_i=468294

Or at Smashwords with this coupon:  QC65T  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/25340

 

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Kingdom of Heaven (movie review)

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Since any movie with swords garners my immediate attention, Kingdom of Heaven was on the top of my list to see when it came out a few years ago.  Starring Orlando Bloom, Jeremy Irons, David Thewlis, and Liam Neeson, and directed by Ridley Scott, what could go wrong?

Confession:  I love this movie.  That doesn’t mean it deserves five stars, because it doesn’t.  Maybe 4 on a good day, but I still love it.  I love the character of Balian (played by Bloom), I’ll watch Jeremy Irons in anything, even slumming in Eragon, and all the medieval crusade material makes my mouth water.

That said, the history is terrible, and for the purposes of this blog, that’s what I’m going to talk about.

First, the good:  The Kingdom of Jerusalem did have a King Baldwin who gained the throne as a young man and suffered from leprosy.  He did have a sister named Sibylla.  She married William of Montferrat, who died a year later, leaving her a son, Baldwin V.  This is alluded to in the Director’s Cut of Kingdom of Heaven, which I recommend for clearing up some oddities in the screen version of the movie.

Then things kind of fall apart for accuracy.  Sibylla was in line to the throne with a co-heiress, Isabella, the daughter of her father’s second wife, Maria Comnena.  Sibylla married Guy de Lusignon (as in the movie) whom Baldwin favored to take the throne until he removed him from the line in 1183.  He then crowned Sibylla’s son, Baldwin, as his co-ruler, passing over Sibylla’s rights, and “went so far as to offer the overlordship of the kingdom to the kings of France and England.”  (The Crusades, Jonathan Riley-Smith, 2005:101).

Then Baldwin IV died in August of 1185, after which Baldwin V (Sibylla’s son) also died, in August 1186.

Saladin invaded in 1187.  “Just before it occurred, the political crisis came to a head.  After Baldwin V’s death . . . Raymond of Tripoli, the regent-elect, lord of Galilee through marriage and leader of the claimant Isabella’s partisans, was persuaded to go to Tiberias while the little king’s body was sent to Jerusalem in the care of the Templars.  Acre and Beirut were seized in Sibylla’s name, while she and her knights hurried to Jerusalem, where they were joined by Reynald of Chatillon, the lord of Transjordan.  Sibylla, who also had the support of the master of the Templars and the patriarch, was crowned in the Church of the Holy Spulchre and she herself then crowned her husband, Guy of Lusignan.”  (Riley-Smith p. 109).

Here is where it gets (more) complicated, especially in light of the movie.  Raymond of Tripoli had already made a treaty with Saladin in April 1187 (as was his right as regent) and allowed a Muslim reconnaissance force to enter Galilee.  At the same time, Guy sent a mission to the same place, led by Balian of Ibelin, who was the second husband of Maria Comnena (Isabella’s mother, Sibylla’s step-mother).   “Despite Raymond’s warning to stay behind the walls of the castle of ‘Afula until the Muslim troops had left the area, the Templars and Hospitallers rashly attacked them and were cut to pieces” (Riley-Smith p. 110).

As in the movie, Reynald de Chatillon was incredibly aggressive towards the Muslims and attacked a caravan traveling from Cairo to Damascus, engendering Saladin’s ire and caused him to marshal one of the largest armies every put together:  30,000 men.

The Christians managed to put together an army of 20,000 to counter him at Tiberias.  They camped 6 miles away from the city.  When Raymond of Tripoli recommended that Guy not move his troops and let Tiberias fall, Guy ignored him.  They ended up surrounded, far from water, at the ‘Horn of Hattin’.  Guy was captured, along with the True Cross, which was “paraded through Damascus fixed upside down on a lance” (Riley-Smith p. 111).

Balian and Raymond of Tripoli escaped.

Saladin stormed through Palestine and Syria, finally taking Jerusalem on 2 October 1187, after a two week seige countered by Balian who “had taken charge of its defense . . . [he] resorted to the knighting of all noble boys over sixteen years of age and thirty burgesses” (Riley-Smith p. 111).

So, sadly, no blacksmith-turned-knight in this story.  Still.  4 stars :)

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The First Welsh Parliament

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The first Welsh parliament was established by Owain Glyndwr (Owain Glendower) in 1404 in Machynlleth, a small town on the northwest coast of Wales.  “In 1404, Glyndwr assembled a parliament of four men from every commot in Wales at Machynlleth, drawing up mutual recognition treaties with France and Spain.”  http://freepages.history.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~bowen/owainglyndwr.html

The Owain Glyndwr Centre exists now on the site of the building where this was established and Owain was crowned Prince of Wales.  http://www.canolfanglyndwr.org/

Background:

“Glyndwr was a member of the dynasty of northern Powys and, on his mother’s side, descended from that of Deheubarth in the south. The family had fought for Llywelyn ap Gruffydd in the last war and regained their lands in north-east Wales only through a calculated association with the powerful Marcher lords of Chirk, Bromfield and Yale and the lesser family of Lestrange. They thus rooted themselves in the Welsh official class in the March and figured among its lesser nobility …

In 1399-1400 Glyndwr ran up against his powerful neighbor, Reginald de Grey, Lord of Ruthin, an intimate of the new king, Henry IV. The quarrel was over common land which Grey had stolen. Glyndwr could get no justice from the king or parliament. This proud man, over forty and grey-haired, was visited with insult and malice. There are indications that Glyndwr made an effort to contact other disaffected Welshmen, and when he raised his standard outside Ruthin on 16 September 1400, his followers from the very beginning proclaimed him Prince of Wales.

The response was startling and may have even startled Glyndwr himself. Supported by the Hanmers, other Norman-Welsh Marchers and the Dean of St Asaph, he attacked Ruthin with several hundred men and went on to savage every town on north-east Wales. There was an immediate response from Oxford, where Welsh scholars at once dropped their books and flocked home. Even more dramatic was the news that Welsh laborers in England were downing their tools and heading for home. The English Parliament at once rushed ferociously anti-Welsh legislation on to the books. Henry IV marched a big army right across north Wales, burning and looting without mercy. Whole populations scrambled to make their peace. Over the Winter, Glyndwr, with only seven men, took to the hills …

For the Welsh, it was a Marcher rebellion and a peasant’s revolt which grew into a national guerrilla war. The sheer tenacity of the rebellion is startling. Few revolts in contemporary Europe lasted more than some months; no previous Welsh war had lasted much longer. This one raged in undiminished fury for ten years and did not really end for fifteen.”  http://freepages.history.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~bowen/owainglyndwr.html

“In the early 15th Century the Welsh were fired by anti-English feeling after much of the country had been subjected to centuries of their rule and Glyndwr mobilised this national sentiment  … Backed by French military aid, Glyndwr took Carmarthen and Cardiff in 1403 from the English and Harlech and Aberystwyth in 1404.”  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/north_west/3698635.stm

“In 1404, to demonstrate his seriousness as a ruler, Owain held court at Harlech and appointed the brilliant Gruffydd Young as his Chancellor. Soon afterwards, he called his first Parliament (or more properly Cynulliad or “gathering”) of all Wales at Machynlleth where he was crowned Prince of Wales and announced his national programme. He declared his vision of an independent Welsh state with a parliament and separate Welsh church. There would be two national universities (one in the south and one in the north) and return to the traditional law of Hywel Dda. Senior churchmen and important members of society flocked to his banner. English resistance was reduced to a few isolated castles, walled towns and fortified manor houses … http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Owain_Glynd%C5%B5r

Shades of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, who had planned to divide up England and Wales between himself, Simon de Montfort, and Gilbert de Clare in the 13th century, “Owain demonstrated his new status by negotiating the “Tripartite Indenture” with Edmund Mortimer and Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland. The Indenture agreed to divide England and Wales among the three of them. Wales would extend as far as the rivers Severn and Mersey including most of Cheshire,Shropshire and Herefordshire. The Mortimer Lords of March would take all of southern and western England and the Percys would take the north of England.[7] Although most historians have dismissed the terms of the Indenture as being highly ambitious and fanciful, R. R. Davies noted that certain internal features underscore the rootedness of Glynd?r’s political philosophy in Welsh mythology: in it, the three men invoke prophecy, and the boundaries of Wales are defined according to Merlinic literature.”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Owain_Glynd%C5%B5r

A timeline for the revolt is here:  http://www.timeref.com/thr00005.htm

 

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Over at Writer Unboxed!

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At the end of last month, Anna Elliott asked me to answer some questions about being an indie author, along with N. Gemini Sasson and Jennifer Becton.  Here’s a sample:

What advice can you give to anyone just starting out on the indie path? 

Sarah:

I would suggest to anyone who has written only one book to write at least one other before you indie publish the first one. The process of writing that second book will tell you a lot about how to make your first book better. My first book will never see the light of day, but Footsteps in Time was my second, and although it took me 4 years to make it right, by writing other books, I was able to go back to it and finally create something of which I’m really proud. For the author, the difference between indie publishing and traditional publishing is that you don’t have someone looking over your shoulder and telling you hard truths. So you have to tell those truths to yourself.

Read more at:  http://writerunboxed.com/2012/02/23/advice-for-indies/

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Geoffrey of Monmouth

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Geoffrey of Monmouth was born sometime around 1100, probably in Monmouth in southeast Wales. “His father was named Arthur. Geoffrey was appointed archdeacon of Llandsaff in 1140 and was consecrated bishop of St. Asaph in 1152. He died c. 1155.

Geoffrey is one of the most significant authors in the development of the Arthurian legends. It was Geoffrey who, in his Historia Regum Britanniae (completed in 1138) located Arthur in the line of British kings. Such an action not only asserted the historicity of Arthur but also gave him an authoritative history which included many events familiar from later romance. Geoffrey also introduced the character of Merlin as we know him into the legends. Geoffrey’s Merlin, a combination of the young and prophetic Ambrosius in Nennius’s history and the prophet Myrddin who figures in several Welsh poems, first appears in a book known as the Prophetiae Merlini (The Prophecies of Merlin), which was written about 1135 but then incorporated as Book VII of the Historia. This book contains the prophecies made by Merlin to Vortigern, which foreshadow not only the downfall of Vortigern but also the rise and fall of Arthur, events subsequent to the end of the Historia, and events of the obscure future.”  http://www.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/geoffrey.htm

“Modifying the name of the northern bard Myrddin, Geoffrey uses Welsh predictions of a Celtic revival and many of his own probable invention and ascribes them to the prophet. This work was followed toward 1136-1138 by the Historia Regum Britanniae that incorporated the prophecies in it. Near the end of 1150 he composed a long narrative poem expanding on Welsh traditions about the prophet entitled, Vita Merlini (“Life of Merlin”).”  http://www.pantheon.org/articles/g/geoffrey_of_monmouth.html

By his late twenties, Geoffrey certainly seems to have travelled eastwards to work at the Collegiate Church of St. George at the castle in Oxford.   He remained there, as a tutor of some kind, for at least the next twenty years  and began writing not long after he arrived.  The Prophecies of Merlin appear to have been a series of ancient Celtic prophecies which, at the request of Alexander of Salisbury, Bishop of Lincoln, Geoffrey translated into Latin, perhaps with some additions of his own. “Whether they had previously been attributed to the Northern British bard, Myrddin, is unknown. As with all his works, Geoffrey hoped the prophecies might bring him a lucrative preferment in the Church, and he used its dedication to ingratiate himself with Alexander who was Bishop of his local diocese. Geoffrey made a more appreciative acquaintance while at St. George’s, in the person of Walter the Provost, who was also Archdeacon of the city. In his writings, Geoffrey tells us that Walter gave him “a certain very ancient book written in the British language” and, probably because he was unable to read Welsh (or Breton) himself, the Archdeacon encouraged Geoffrey to translate it into Latin.”

Geoffrey began writing History of the Kings of Britain’ dedicated to Robert, Earl of Gloucester, and Waleran, Count of Mellent in 1136. “At the time, the work was taken at face value and accepted by most as a true history of the Welsh nation from around 1100 bc to around AD 689. Merlin appeared again, as an advisor to Kings Ambrosius and Uther, but the work was most notable for its extensive chapters covering the reign of the great King Arthur. Since the 17th century, however, its author has been largely vilified as an inexorable forger who made up his stories “from an inordinate love of lying”. Modern historians tend to be slightly more sympathetic.

At the end of 1150, Geoffrey appears to have come into the possession of further source documents concerning the life-story of his original subject, the bard, Myrddin (alias Merlin). Unfortunately, these did not line up terribly well the information he had given about this man in his History of the Kings of Britain – perhaps indicating that this part was either invented or, more probably, that Merlin’s name had been rather over-eagerly attributed to an otherwise unknown Royal adviser. Keen to put across the true story, without losing face, Geoffrey wrote the Life of Merlin, correctly placing its events after the reign of Arthur, but thus giving his title role an impossibly long lifespan. It was dedicated to his former colleague at St. George’s, Robert De Chesney, the new Bishop of Lincoln.

“The following year, Geoffrey’s sycophancy at last paid off. He was elected Bishop of St. Asaphs, for good service to his Norman masters; and was consecrated by Archbishop Theobald at Lambeth Palace in February 1152. As a Welsh-speaker, he was probably chosen in an attempt to make the diocesanal administration more acceptable in an age when Normans were not at all popular in the areas of Wales which they controlled. However, the strategy seems to have been unsuccessful. Owain Gwynedd’s open rebellion was in full swing and Geoffrey appears to have never even visited his bishopric. He died four years later, probably in London.”   http://www.britannia.com/history/arthur/geofmon.html

“Whenever his dates are checked, as in the Roman period, Geoffrey emerges clearly as a writer of fiction and cannot be relied upon for facts. Following medieval tradition, he fully modernizes Arthur’s court to the 12th century. Later, however, from Caesar on he is using what passed for real history at the time and some of his source materials can be identified – the Historia Brittonum, Bede and Gildas in addition to Roman historians.

For the most part he is creating and aggrandizing very little data but in his preface he claims to be translating from a much fuller source, one “ancient book in the British language” (maybe Welsh but probably Breton) bestowed upon him by Walter, archdeacon at Oxford. This claim remains dubious as no copy of this source is extant. But the tale of Arthur scribed by Geoffrey cannot be fully accounted for from the aforementioned sources hinting at some unknown text of some kind. There is a possible tie to the Continent from the resonance with 5th century events in Gaul. Traces of a similar source are found in the preface to the Breton Legend of St. Goeznovius.”  http://www.pantheon.org/articles/g/geoffrey_of_monmouth.html

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Winds of Time now available!

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Categories: Research

Winds of Time (A Novella)

Winds of Time is a 20,000 word (100 page) novella from the After Cilmeri series.  I started this story nearly five years ago, as part of Footsteps in Time.  When it came down to it, however, the story didn’t fit with what was happening with David and Anna, and I very reluctantly put it aside.  Several months ago, I pulled it out again, and it occurred to me that my readers might very much like to know what happened to Meg when she returned to the Middle Ages–and thus, in honor of St. David’s Day, I am finally able to share the story with you today in ebook form:

Meg had thought that taking a commuter flight from Pasco, Washington to Boise, Idaho would be a simple matter. But nothing is simple for Meg when it comes to travel, and especially not when she finds herself in the Middle Ages again instead of in a plane crash on a mountain side in Oregon.

And when the pilot takes off without her in a quest to return to the twenty-first century, Meg will need every last bit of maturity and knowledge she gained in the sixteen years she spent in the modern world—-to survive even a day in this one.

A further note from Sarah: Winds of Time takes place between Part 1 and Part 2 of Footsteps in Time, Book One in the After Cilmeri Series. I think you will enjoyWinds of Time more if you read Footsteps in Time first. Diolch yn fawr (thank you)!

At 9:09 pm (PST) on February 29, Winds of Time has just been published to Smashwords in all formats, including Kindle, Nook, Sony, Apple, etc.:  http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/137698

It is available at Amazon here:  http://www.amazon.com/Winds-Time-After-Cilmeri-ebook/dp/B007FMJ296/ref=sr_1_11?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1330616437&sr=1-11

Amazon UK:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Winds-Time-After-Cilmeri-ebook/dp/B007FMJ296/ref=sr_1_19?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1330616594&sr=8-19&al_rs=#al_rp

And to other outlets in a few days.  Enjoy!

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Below is a video my husband took of me at the mouth of the Clwyd River, where Meg and Aaron are beached after the storm in the Irish Sea …