Friday, 31 October 2014

Halloween treat from the WIP!

www.123rf.com
Happy Hallowe'en to one and all. 

This time last year I was part of a Halloween Blog hop. I spent a goodly while on the 30th writing a lovely post to put on this blog...but don't worry...I'm not repeating it here today - though it was a fun one to write. 

Of course, if you missed it then you can easily use the 'SEARCH' facility on the right sidebar and it will take you to last year's 'Thespian Nightmare' post.

On second thoughts- I dare you to!

That's because I've been very busy today creating new scenes to add to my wonderful time-travel novel for early teens set in Severan Roman Britain. Can you imagine being one of my super lucky adventurers who get to meet a real Roman Emperor and a bloody nasty one to boot!

www.123rf.com
It appears, from the scant historical records available, that Severus had a bit of a genocide thing going on in the Scotland of AD 210, in the very part where I live now. Would I like to be one of my characters who are meeting this butcher of the northern Britannic Celts? Absolutely, but it's also great writing about what they're doing as the book comes to a conclusion.since I've got a lot more to write this evening so I'll leave you with a little taster.

At this point in the story, 13 year old Aran has been dragged in front of Emperor Severus, Aran only one member of a large exchange of hostages being given to the Roman Emperor as part of a treaty between the local Caledon and Taexali tribes and Rome.



He flickered his eyes, just enough to get an idea of who was bent over him. Red feathers stuck up from the helmet in a wonderfully thick arc fanning from ear to ear. A centurion!
Multiple fingers dug into him as more than one soldier yanked him to his feet. The gibberish continued as he was swirled around to face the emperor who was still mounted.
Looking up at the seated man, he really did get his wish of earlier. The armour Severus wore was fantastic. The muscled bronze breastplate was polished to a mirrored gleam. Just below throat level was the gawping maw of a lion cast in gold, mathching other embellishments around the armour.
A deep bark of unintelligible words were as noisy as Tuach could make, but he understood none of them.
Raising his eyes to the emperor he couldn’t help but gasp. The man’s armour was amazing but the helmet he wore was even more so. It wasn’t like anything he’d ever seen on the internet or in books. The helmet was tight to the skull with slightly shorter earflaps than the one the centurion wore but it was the gilded decoration that was stunning. At the forehead was a raised crown-like decoration in gold with a little rampant lion statue behind it. The white plume of feathers behind the statue went right down to the back neck piece and were part of the skull cap, not like the ceturion’s which stuck up from a raised knob. All the decorative elements were incredible to look at but Severus’ helmet also had a lot of little dents in it as though the man had taken a lot of hits in combat.
Staring at the sight of the man on the white stallion was easy, answering the man was impossible.
  
...and do you know as I read what's above Ican see the changes I've still to make! 



The night has fair drawin' in here in Scotland and I'll wait and see if anyone is guisin' at my door. I didn't even need to get the make-up out though I had to rescue the crow from the chimney.

Have a happy time wherever you are.

Slainthe!

Thursday, 30 October 2014

A Deep South Read



Friendship Cemetery by Adele Elliott 

I've just finished reading this novel which was one of the stories on my 'buried' kindle To Be Read pile. When I started to use my Samsung tablet at the beginning of 2014, for reading my ebooks, I got myself in a bit of a muddle. I've now got lists of ebooks in 3 different places - on my Kindle for PC; on my actual kindle and on my newish tablet. Not all books have been loaded onto all 3 devices so I'm now finding books which have inadvertantly been in storage for some time. Friendship Cemetery is one of those novels, written by a fellow Crooked cat author, which I had intended to read ages ago. 

There are others which slipped into this 'almost buried' category I'm now writing reviews for. Of course, I've not mentioned that I also have PDF versions of some novels so I'm going to have to have a good clear out of those files, too, to see which of those I've stll to read. The plan is to do all that before I restock my kindle!

Here's what I thought about Friendship Cemetery:
This was a captivating mix of a slowly revealed almost paranormal story, a light mystery and a book with local humour which travelled well worldwide. The restrictive nature of small towns like Columbus, full of cliques of ‘busy’ people who know everyone’s business, is replicated in other parts of the world but not all would be so well depicted as Adele Elliot has done in Friendship Cemetery. Though a work of fiction, I feel I learned quite a bit about the Deep South and in particular a city like Columbus, Mississippi. It’s not often a graveyard is the main setting for a novel but what we glimpse of Friendship Cemetery is just sufficient to bed the characters into place in the story. There were sufficient clues along the way for the reader to work out about the mystery of Emma Grace’s father though the denouement of why it was a mystery is harder to work out. At nineteen-ish Emma Grace seems such a sheltered ‘almost-innocent’ at the beginning and, for me, remains the same at the end. Her coterie of unusual friends are very well portrayed, none of whom initially fit the ideal that Emma’s mother has for her daughter, though if any character developed and matured in the story I believe it was Emma’s mother who did most of that. In Friendship Cemetery, there’s an interesting writing style which flows at an even pace throughout, the humour making it a very pleasant easy read. 

About Adele Elliott...
Adele Elliott is a painter and designer of fantasy tiaras. She is a New Orleans native who has been exiled in Mississippi since her home, and most of her sanity, were blown away by an evil wind named Katrina.

Adele writes an opinion column for The Commercial Dispatch. She also hosts two internet radio shows: "Dialogue", a conversation with creative people (mostly writers), and "Ask the Psychic".

She has recently finished her first novel (writing, not reading), "Friendship Cemetery", which has been released by Crooked Cat Publishing.

She lives in a big purple house with her wonderful husband, Chris Hannon, and three "children": Charlotte Ruse (the wild dingo dog), Freda Jolie (lady-dog), and Loa, a magical boy-cat.

Slainthe! 

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Regan Walker is my guest today! (Mini-Series Weapons 3)



It's my Welcome Wednesday slot and today I'd like to say a huge hello to Regan Walker, author of historical romance. Her novel 'The Red Wolf's Prize', set just after the Norman Conquest in England, has recently been launched and is kicking up a storm on Amazon. 

Regan has kindly agreed to add to my series of 'Weapons Through the Ages' and has brought information on Norman and Saxon weapons to share with us. So, over to Regan...
Wikimedia Commons



The Weapons of Norman Knights and Saxons at the time of the Conquest

by Regan Walker

We know from the Bayeux Tapestry that the Norman knights who sailed for England in September 1066 wore knee-length chain mail hauberks with elbow length sleeves, much lighter in weight than the heavy ones that followed many years later. On their heads, they wore conical helmets with a nasal bar. Under their mail, they wore a tunic to their knees with hosen and leather shoes to which they affixed simple spurs. They carried long, kite shaped shields, often decorated.
For offensive weapons, the Normans carried a sword (longer than those the Saxons used) and a lance. They had archers, too, which became important in the Battle of Hastings. And they rode warhorses, the powerful destriers they reserved for battle, trained to kick and bite, weapons in themselves.

The Saxons, on the other hand, wielded shorter swords (about 3 feet in length), and carried spears, and battle-axes. They also carried smaller, round shields. They wore a woolen tunic and linen braies (reaching to the ankle) along with woolen hosen. Over their tunic, they might have worn a chain-mail hauberk (though none is pictured here). And they wore a cloak fastened at the neck with a brooch. Of course, the wealth of the Saxon would determine what they wore, too.
 
Wikimedia Commons
The Saxons/English were famous throughout the dark ages for the quality of their metal work, and nowhere is this more apparent than in their swords. Both edges were sharpened down at least two-thirds of the blade, giving it a tapered ultra sharp point. The finished sword would be light but strong with the flexibility to bend the blade past 60 degrees.

The Normans’ longer swords were necessary because of the way they fought. Unlike the Saxons who rode their horses to battle and then fought on foot, the Normans were primarily a mounted force. They introduced a slightly longer sword with a heavier, less flexible blade to allow them to fight from horseback. The most common sword stroke of a mounted man is the over arm downward slash onto the head and shoulders of an opponent. Hence, they needed a heavier blade and longer lighter handle.

The Saxons being a foot force and fighting in a shield wall (a densely packed battle tactic) with no space for swinging, needed a blade capable of delivering a thrust from the elbow over the rim of the shield directly into the face of their enemy.

In my new medieval romance, The Red Wolf’s Prize, there is an exchange of swords in the wedding scene:

He turned and, with his palms outstretched, accepted from Mathieu the long Norman sword of his family, the hilt carved with intricate designs and decorated with rubies, emeralds and sapphires.
Looking into Serena’s eyes, more violet because of the cloak she wore, he said, “I give you this sword to hold for our sons.”
She solemnly thanked him and accepted the sword onto her own palms and handed it to the tall blond Theodric, who now served Renaud. Since Exeter the English guard had cut his hair in the Norman style and now looked like one of them.
Serena faced Jamie who held in his palms the same sword Renaud had seen him holding earlier, a shorter Saxon weapon.
Laying it carefully across Renaud’s welcoming palms, with tear filled eyes, Serena said, “This was the sword of my father. It represents the honor of the thegn and that of the people he loved. With this sword, keep our home safe.”
Meeting her gaze, he promised, “I will.”
With the words spoken, Renaud handed the sword she had given him to Geoff. Then he took her hand and led her from the church back to the manor. Along the way, they were greeted by the smiles of the people of Talisand who were pleased with the marriage. He snatched glimpses of her smiling at the villagers and his men and rejoiced that his beautiful bride loved the people of Talisand, now his people.
If he could only trust her, she would be a worthy helpmate.

You can see the Norman and Saxon weapons employed in this re-enactment scene from the Battle of Hastings:
 
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Battle_of_Hastings_8.JPG?uselang=en-gb

(The scene above is a recreation  of the battle)  
 
While my story is set in 1068, two years after the Conquest, it does include two significant battles that occurred that year: the Siege of Exeter and the Battle of York. And, of course, my hero, Sir Renaud (“the Red Wolf”) is at both. His reluctant English bride, a famed archer, shows up in York for an exciting scene near the end.

Here's more about Regan's novel...

HE WOULD NOT BE DENIED HIS PRIZE
Sir Renaud de Pierrepont, the Norman knight known as the Red Wolf for the beast he slayed with his bare hands, hoped to gain lands with his sword. A year after the Conquest, King William rewards his favored knight with Talisand, the lands of an English thegn slain at Hastings, and orders him to wed Lady Serena, the heiress that goes with them.
SHE WOULD LOVE HIM AGAINST HER WILL
Serena wants nothing to do with the fierce warrior to whom she has been unwillingly given, the knight who may have killed her father. When she learns the Red Wolf is coming to claim her, she dyes her flaxen hair brown and flees, disguised as a servant, determined to one day regain her lands. But her escape goes awry and she is brought back to live among her people, though not unnoticed by the new Norman lord.

Deprived of his promised bride, the Red Wolf turns his attention to the comely servant girl hoping to woo her to his bed. But the wench resists, claiming she hates all Normans.

As the passion between them rises, Serena wonders, can she deny the Norman her body? Or her heart?

Twitter: @RegansReview (https://twitter.com/RegansReview)


As a child Regan Walker loved to write stories, particularly about adventure-loving girls, but by the time she got to college more serious pursuits took priority. One of her professors encouraged her to pursue the profession of law, which she did. Years of serving clients in private practice and several stints in high levels of government gave her a love of international travel and a feel for the demands of the “Crown” on its subjects. Hence her romance novels often involve a demanding sovereign who thinks of his subjects as his private talent pool.
Regan lives in San Diego with her golden retriever, Link, whom she says inspires her every day to relax and smell the roses.

Image attributions:
Saxon  -  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Battle_of_Hastings_5.JPG?uselang=en-gb
Norman - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:NormanKnight_Best.jpg?uselang=en-gb

Thank you, Regan, for sharing such an interesting post with us - the time of the Norman Conquest is such a great era to write about. I wish you the very best with 'The Red Wolf's Prize. 

Look out for more posts on 'Weapons through the Ages'...coming very soon. 

Slainthe!