Monday, 27 October 2014

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)

If I don't post regularly for a few weeks, it's because November is National Novel Writing Month.

Known for short as NaNoWriMo, this began as a challenge between friends to write a novel in a month. The idea spread and was put online as a means of keeping everyone in touch. Now, hundreds of thousands of people all over the world take part every year.

I have taken part several times, but only succeeded last year, with the rewrite of my science fiction novel Flight of the Kestrel: Intruders. However, I have several partly-written novel drafts to work on. I am preparing to take part again this year, with another science fiction novel called Rayt.

The challenge is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. You are allowed to plan, outline, research, build characters etc., in advance, but you don't write one word of the novel until 1st November.

Then it's an average of 1,666 words a day, every day. So I'm going to be really busy.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Fascinating Facts: William Rufus

What do you know about William Rufus?


William Rufus was the son of William the Conqueror, and succeeded him as king.

Fascinating Facts: William II (Rufus) [1087-1100]
William Rufus seal
  • Third son of William the Conqueror, he was never expected to rule. He ruled England and his brother Robert Curthose inherited the dukedom of Normandy.
  • He was rough, outrageous and immoral, and probably bisexual.
  • He dressed like a dandy and grew his red hair long down his back like a woman's. His red hair earned him the nickname 'Rufus'.
  • In memory of his father he raised a costly monument in gold and silver studded with jewels.
  • When he moved from place to place with his huge entourage they stripped the countryside of food and wagons, and raped and pillaged like it was enemy territory.
  • When he was 33 he became dangerously ill and thought he was dying. He confessed his sins and promised to change for the better. He got better and forgot it all.
  • One day he went out to shoot game, and was struck in the heart by an arrow, dying instantly. It was speculated that a hunting death a few months before had given assassins the idea, but it was never proven.
 The plaque on this monument reads: "Remember King William Rufus who died in these parts then known as Truham whilst hunting on 2nd August 1100"

Monday, 13 October 2014

New Book: Magna Carta Demystified

I mentioned on my other blog in July that I had submitted a book pitch to a publisher. I was really excited. 

Although their website said submissions would be acknowledged and decisions given in 3-4 weeks, I heard nothing. I resubmitted, and still heard nothing. Now I have discovered that their Twitter account has not been used since July. Just my luck!

They were a very good fit with my proposal, too. They have (had) a series called Bitesize History, and my proposal was a book about the Magna Carta for the layman. I have now sent the pitch to another publisher, but I haven't had an acknowledgement from them either. Oh well.

It's not all bad news. The idea for the book has taken hold, and I've decided to write it anyway. It will be released as an ebook. 

June 15th 2015 is the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. Any place that can lay claim to a connection to the occasion is organising events. There will be UK-wide events to celebrate this anniversary, preparations are already being advertised in the press. There is also a market outside the UK, as Magna Carta was the foundation of many nations’ constitutions and legal systems worldwide, such as the United States Constitution, the Canadian Charter of Rights and throughout the Commonwealth.
My book  Broken Reed: The Lords of Gower and King John is about the rise and fall of William de Breos (or de Braose), who was a close confidant of King John. When William’s wife revealed John’s greatest secret, John’s revenge was brutal. His treatment of the family was the final straw which led to Magna Carta.
Because Broken Reed was written mainly as a local history book, it views the events surrounding Magna Carta from a Welsh point of view. I plan to expand it to cover the wider aspects to produce a book of interest to everyone.
So, in between interesting bits of medieval history, I'll be posting news updates about the new book. Oh, and any ideas for a better title? Leave your ideas in the comments, please.

UPDATE 27 FEB 2015: The book is now called The Magna Carta Story and will be out in March 2015

Monday, 6 October 2014

Fascinating Facts: William the Conqueror

What do you know about William the Conqueror?

Coin of William the Conqueror

Probably just a few dry facts and the general impression that he was one of the bad guys. You may be surprised to find he was deeply religious, faithful to his wife, and convinced his claim to the throne was valid. Here are some more fascinating facts:

Fascinating Facts: William I (The Conqueror) [1066-1087]

  • His father died when he was seven and his life was continually under threat. His uncle repeatedly smuggled him out of the castle and hid him in a peasant's hut to keep him safe.
  • He married Matilda, daughter of Baldwin V, Count of Flanders, and had four sons and five daughters.
  • He was a distant cousin to Edward the Confessor, King of England, who named him his heir.
  • Harold swore an oath of loyalty to William and sealed the pact by marrying his daughter Agatha.
  • He had remarkable self-control and self-discipline, and was faithful in his religion and his marriage.
  • The pope gave William his backing in claiming the throne.
  • He tried to learn English, but spoke only French.
  • He spent over half his reign in Normandy, keeping control there.
  • He had trouble keeping control in England. Every time he put down a rebellion, he built a castle!
  • When his subjects heard he was dead they cowered in fear. He was so superhuman that they expected natural catastrophes to follow.

I think he was actually quite a guy!