Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The King's Anger

John de Mowbray started the barons rebellion in 1320. From the small incident of John seizing control of Swansea Castle, the barons' growing impatience with Edward II grew into direct action.

They didn't like the king's favourite, Hugh le Despenser the Younger, having such control over the king and getting away with his land grabbing. And they didn't like the king trying to assert his authority over the Welsh Marches, where the barons had had free reign ever since William the Conqueror. The king's interference in Hugh's dispute with John was the last straw.

At first, the barons were successful, and the king was forced to send Hugh and his father into exile. But the king wanted his favourite back and launched a fresh campaign, which ended with the king defeating the barons at Boroughbridge. Many of the rebels were executed, including the king's own cousin, Thomas of Lancaster and John de Mowbray. Because he started it all, the king was so angry with John that he refused to allow John's body to be taken down from the gibbet for years! It hung in chains in York until local friars eventually persuaded the king to let them bury it.

For more details, see my book, Alina, The White Lady of Oystermouth, coming out in print and ebook at Easter.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012


I have an illustrator at last! Her name is Carrie Francis. I will get information from her so I can tell you about her - she deserves promoting.

The three art students who were competing to draw my illustrations all produced some great work, and all produced at least one sketch I could use in the book, but in the end, I liked Carrie's style, and she had the best ideas. There was one drawing in particular which was of Alina's ghost at Oystermouth Castle, which I really love and am determined to give prominence in the book. Maybe I'll give you a sneak peek when it's ready.

So now we have to discuss details and Carrie has to get to work. I need the finished drawings in only a month's time, as the printer needs at least a week lead time, and Easter is at the beginning of April.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

First Illustrations

I met yesterday with Derek Bainton, the lecturer, and two of the three students who are competing to draw the illustrations for my book. The third one, unfortunately, is in hospital. I sent her my best wishes and a promise to wait for her preliminary sketches before making a decision.

I was very pleased with the sketches from Lee and Carrie. It is going to be hard to choose one person to do the job, but as there will only be a small number, it would not work to have multiple illustrators. Carrie produced a sketch of the ghost of Alina which would have made a lovely cover, if that was not already in progress. But I would definitely like to include it in the book, if she gets the job. I was also particularly impressed with Lee's drawing of Oystermouth castle.

It's a good job I will have Derek's help to choose, because it is going to be hard. Not just because the sketches so far have been so good, but because I have to disappoint two people by turning them down. But, life is like that, and if they hope to earn a living from their art, they are going to have to get used to it.

As soon as I have seen Lucy's work and we have made the decision, I will let you know. I'm really excited.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Formatting and Publicity

I am pleased to announce that I have finished formatting my ebook! I will be uploading to Smashwords, who give very detailed instructions for formatting, and will convert the file to virtually every ebook format and send it to Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble et al. They also offer books for sale on their site, and in PDF and Plain Text, so they can be read on any computer with no special software.

The same as for the print book, I am waiting for the cover art and the illustrations. More news about that on Monday. Meanwhile I am starting to plan my publicity. This has two major problems. I don't know what I'm doing, and I'm not used to bragging.

I have to write stuff that says this is an exciting book by a wonderful author. I am making lists of who to ask: to sell the book, advertise the book, let me give a talk, and anything else I can think of. And preparing the same sort of thing online. I have already moved my blogs from Blogger to Wordpress (here) and tidied them up, and started a Twitter account, with lists of things to tweet about Alina and writing. There will also be a Facebook page, but I'm still gathering material for it.