My treasured possession is serving its purpose. It is Dr. Kenneth Madison's doctoral dissertation: "The Wydevilles, 1086-1491: The Background and Rise of a Family in Medieval English Politics."
This month, it is naming places in the Stafford legacy in South Wales. As a guardian of Henry Stafford, the boy duke, the Earl of Warwick had been drawing troops from Stafford lands. "These troops combined with the Nevilles' levies from Yorkshire and the Welsh Marches made the earl the greatest single military power in England." *
Wheew! Warwick, called Kingmaker, should cast a shadow over this novella like a moose dressed as Darth Vader.
* Dr. Kenneth Madison
I've been fogging around in Wales according to Google. I realized that land I was interested in was not so far from Saint Donat's Castle. Albin went there with Gilbert in Entering the Castle. Now I have Gilbert delivering letters—so—I wrote a short scene for them. (Writers as disorganized as I am can, and do, get surprised.)
In England, I made a point of taking pictures from castle walls and towers. I wanted to make sure that my characters didn't see hills that don't exist or miss those that do. (I am posting the view from Carisbrooke IOW in my gallery.)
Ah! It feels so good to turn away from the 21t century and write the 15th. When I say my hero rode—you can assume a horse.
Brian painted the ten covers for Albin and the Jouster novels. Many tell a story. Can you figure out what is happening on numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 10? [See list of works.] Who do you think the people are on numbers 6, 7, and 8? Finally, what is that on #9? Brian carefully included the necessary parts.
I'm not sure why my head is spinning. Is it because that simplified website of the House of Nevil is so complex? It doesn't even include all the many siblings of Richard of Salisbury or his many children.
Some of Warwick's siblings, or possibly cousins, need to be sources of Albin's information in Risky Favor. (I did find hints of places they controlled.)
Or is it because I read the agreement and signed on to Author Central at Amazon UK? For my next trick, I need to get my two latest books posted there.
Everybody seems to be talking about Game of Thrones. This gave me a chance to learn some things about it without taking the time to actually watch it. After all, I have the history of the Wars of the Roses to deal with.
A threat hovers in the background of volume 11, Risky Favor. Richard Nevil may be the richest man in England. He has a great army and an even greater thirst for power. All the time he was growing up, he saw royal advisors playing puppeteer with King Henry VI. (Henry was totally miscast as a king.)
For a time in his twenties, Richard Nevil lived with the Duke of York. The duke's heir, Edward of March, was about nine. He followed Richard around. Even before he was a teen Edward learned things from Richard about horsemanship, hunting, and fighting. Later, Richard fought in the battle that won Edward of March the throne as King Edward IV.
To Richard's horror, his student acted like he knew more than his teacher. He not only had a will of his own, but ideas of his own.
Suddenly, almost from out of nowhere, the Woodville family appears in Edward's royal court. The Woodvilles have the king's attention. They get the important appointments. Their many daughters marry important lords. Worst, they have convinced the young king to ally England with Burgundy instead of France.
So Richard Nevil, Earl of Warwick, has been worse than wasting his time in the court of the French king. He has given the French king promises of co-operation and Edward has embarrassed him by refusing.
Back in his English castles, Warwick has not only plenty of time to grow his anger but a chorus of followers agreeing and calling him 'kingmaker.'
So, like rumblings in a volcano, Warwick glowers over King Edward's cozy family making the royal favor risky.
On the day when everything requires extra scrutiny, I am confronted with half a dozen blue-word invitations.
Velvet, Fur, and Cold Steel is live both on Kindle and as a print-on-demand paperback. J My Amazon page needs updating. I am eager to share some drawings with you and my Facebook friends. (Brian outdid himself on this one.) Clearly it is also time to purchase copies to hand-sell.
But, in progress, there's the mission to send copies of volume 2 to some schools. Hovering behind all this is the oldest among my project: researching and writing the next book. The working title on volume eleven is Risky Favor. Competition for the king's attention is fierce.
So is competition for my attention. Yikes!
I have realized the value of the gallery. I can post pictures there of places Anthony Woodville Lord Scales visited—or even governed. Yesterday, I posted a picture of the model on medieval Carisbrooke, that is now in the castle's museum. It shows what Lord Anthony found and considered unacceptable.
I didn't do any of the things listed on 3/4. A friend loaned a music stand for the guest book and gave me an easel for the big poster.
In fact, the party was a success thanks to very good helpers. They made chairs and tables appear like magic, managed the food, sold books, and finished the flowerpots.
Flowerpots? Those served as 'ballot boxes' because they are small and opaque. I started covering them with paper with a slit. I tied the paper lids on as if they were on jelly glasses. The 'players' read ten numbered statements and then 'voted' for the ones they thought were historical. At the end of the party, I opened the flowerpots one by one and announced whether or not the statements were historical. (The folks didn't do very well.)
Here is an example: 'Flooding, took out the Castleford bridge just before the Battle of Towton.' Actually, although there was flooding, it was the Lancastrians who took out the bridge.
But at cleaning up the room, my friends were champs. J
While I was cooking breakfast, I was also studying my furniture. Could I nip my bedside table to hold a guest book? Could the fan chair serve as an easel? If we are celebrating Velvet, Fur, and Cold Steel, might I actually drape Grandma's mink stole somewhere? I'm pretty sure my velveteen bathrobe will get pressed into service.
p.s. Woodvilles Rising has yet to arrive.
Six weeks after Woodvilles Rising "went Live" on Amazon, a much awaited smiling carton appeared at my door. It contained sixteen copies of A Hollow Vow and sixty copies of Battle in Spring Sleet. So I, the author, have still never had a paper copy of Woodvilles Rising. Maybe next month?
Now I'm waiting for Brian's masterpiece cover for Velvet, Fur, and Cold Steel. I'll order them together.
Bah! I think I'll go read Elizabeth Wydeville, the Slandered Queen—which I bought through a local bookstore.
The difference between my view of 1483 and that of Dan Jones in Britain's Bloody Crown, is a bit subtle. It centers mostly on Edward V. In the t.v. series, his is not a speaking role. The actors in that t.v. series rarely speak anyway, but he seems as mute at Henry VI.
In life, this young prince was surrounded by servants and surely had a well-established habit of demanding, and getting, what he wanted. When Richard of Gloucester was promising his allegiance to the new king, the twelve-year-old would ask after his beloved uncle, Earl Rivers. Within hours he would probably be demanding the return of his uncle and his life-long valet Thomas Vaughn. Edward's very loyalty to his men may have sealed their fate and his own.
It would not take Richard long to realize he had in his hands a king who would never trust him. (He had a bear by the tail.) Dan Jones and I entirely agree that that Richard believed the best defense is a strong offense. He had his problems disposed of and took the crown himself.
Suddenly, we are a week into the year and I have three governments needing attention. (At least the two counties I deal with don't need anything just now.) And then there's the federal. I was giving thanks the other day that I have no responsibility for what they are up to.
I just got a call back from the City of Lynwood, where I live. It seems they will be easy enough to please.
So what was it like 550 years ago? 'Tis said that owners could get to fighting over a property and the poor renters didn't know who to pay. Some must have been evicted for guessing wrong. For lords, the stakes were much higher. Giving allegiance to the wrong king cost some their heads.
During Velvet, Fur, and Cold Steel; King Edward was eager to marry his sister, Margaret of York, to the duke of Burgundy.
Did King Edward recommend the duke's half-brother as Anthony's opponent for a great tournament? Once that jouster was settled on, Anthony was probably practicing daily. Suddenly the king seemed to see no one but Anthony for career-sized tasks like going to the Burgundian court and taking charge of the Isle of Wight.
Last week, it suddenly occurred to me that the king was afraid Anthony would win. He might even damage the half-brother of the duke's heir that the king wanted for a brother-in-law. Were those jobs meant to keep Anthony from winning?
Friends agreed with me that it might be unwise to send a defenseless carton out in the mail this week. I will get Woodvilles Rising and restock my store later. However, Woodvilles Rising is available from Amazon.
A griffon seems to have taken over this ninth volume of the Albin and the Jouster series! But you know these books are firmly history based.
Woodvilles Rising (Albin and the Jouster volume 9) has gone to CreateSpace. It should appear on Amazon within ten days. Sorry if it can't make it to your door by Christmas. It can, however, arrive by Twelfth Night, the main date for 15th century gift exchanging.
Brian has a lot more confidence in the dowager Duchess of Norfolk's people to make a griffon. Far from being cobbled together by amateurs, it looks like a real griffon.
Before sending a book to my great nephew, I checked with his dad. He doesn't need an easy read for a little boy. The kid is reading fat books and is one of the best readers in the whole grade school. So I'll send The Rescued. (Don't tell him. He would probably look it up on Amazon.)
Do you know how the medieval archers got their arrows so high? They strung their bows with cannibus.
On Thanksgiving, we ate several of the foods North America added to the world menu. Our hostess and host, provided turkey, cranberry sauce, and potatoes. I guess squash was represented by the pumpkin pie. I took a pan of cornbread.
Corn, yum! I have read that the Patuxet people taught the pilgrims how to pop corn.
Albin, my fictional hero, lost the use of his right arm in the great battle of Towton. Nevertheless, so many men were killed, that he gets plenty of attention from women. His sister, on the other hand, is practicing her singing in the hope that it will help land her a husband.
The Earl of Warwick would say that the greedy Woodvilles wheedle King Edward out of important posts and titles. Might Lord Rivers, the head of that family, agree that the king gives them far too many jobs to do? Did one of them have to point out to the king that he cannot be in both ends of England in the same week?
Welcome to the Renovated Prose By-roads website!
Hasn't Brian Ladlee done a great job on it?
The gallery is now open with pictures of book covers--and one stray photograph from England.
Perhaps today, I will finish going over Volume 9, Woodvilles Rising. (It is already sitting for its portrait with Brian Ladlee.)
Then I intend to work on Medieval tales. Travelers are all over this road and in need of signs. The tales need to be organized and labeled so that readers can avoid spoilers.
We've had some foggy mornings—perfect for fogging around on Google maps. I fogged around Pevensey for a convenient river. Then I fogged around in the neighborhood of Fotheringhay and Nottingham and listed distances—as the Google flies. I can't have my characters covering ninety miles a day or fail to cover sixteen—even on foot. (One day in a world hunger walk-a-thon, I walked seventeen miles in Berkeley and Oakland. So even a amateur can do it.)
For the cover of Woodvilles Advancing, I envisioned Daphne showing Albin a griffin they were making for a play. It would be nice, but clearly amateur work. When I saw Brian's sketch, it was a real griffin—except for the ring to suspend it by.
It occurred to me that Brian's sketch doesn't tell me how big the griffin is. I phoned.
We talked about what would indicate size. The next thing I knew, Brian was researching on line. He was preparing to fill the room in his picture with all kinds of medieval gear. It's going to take longer, but he will learn some medieval things. Better, he was already having fun.
I have thought of Stealthy Waters as dangling from two or three historical facts. Last night I did a count and found eight! Most of them come from the second Battle of St. Albans. Although Albin only heard the battle, I actually let him influence history by capturing a Yorkist spy.
I may be more surprised to find fewer known facts in some of the later books. IWith volume 9, feel like I am writing mostly history now. I even have the name of the herald who took the emprise to Brussels.
An article I read shows the difference between serials and series novels. Albin and the Jouster is clearly a serial telling the tale of Anthony Wydeville's varied and dramatic life.
I have tried to make each book a possible place to begin—but it is getting harder. As with modern life, each book introduces new characters. Meanwhile, I want to at least give series readers a "Christmas letter" update on characters from earlier books—mainly Birdface. Now that he has his given name back, it is easy to miss Edmond in the crowd.
Also, there is the matter of tone. In an earlier draft of the book in progress, I killed Master Inkster, a likeable character who has been with us for several books. But it would have given a sunny book a tragic finish. That would be unnecessarily jarring.
Clearly, one way fiction differs from real life, at least for many of us, is the limited cast list.
When I spoke with Brian Ladlee Saturday, he was reading the Paston letters. He started telling me his discoveries. They gave me the feeling of being on a roller coaster. Wheee!
Today, by contrast, we got down to the business of the cover and interior pictures for volume 9. This may have the most playful cover of the whole series.
Anthony Wydeville's two 'deployments' with the organized-it-himself navy can easily be confused. The first time they were
ordred to join the Duke of Brittany's war with Louis XI of France. But those two made peace. (Shall I let my characters do some touring in Brittany?) The second time, the action was against the Earl
of Warwick who, remarkably, joined forces with Margaret, the Lancastrian queen.
Currently (September 1468), Sir Anthony Wydeville, Lord Scales, is cruising the English channel watching for enemies. He set Albin, my fictional hero, ashore with a report for King Edward. Albin has no arranged place to rejoin his lord, and the fleet. So he is guiding Elizabeth, Lady Scales, on a tour of her property.
I am not sure I can get her home to Middleton (near King's Lynn in Norfolk) by Michaelmas. I have names for four other manors inherited from her father, Sir Thomas, Lord Scales. The spotlight quickly goes to Sandringham since it is now celebrity place. But in the 15th century, there was a manor and village of so little note that Wikipedia knows nothing about it.
Something else Wikipedia doesn't know is when or where Lady Scales's mother died. She could have inherited it from her husband. 'Tis easy to imagine her spending her last years enjoying the natural beauties of Sandringham.
It is almost as good as a vacation to study the geography and history of the Isle of Wight. That is the next stop in volume 10. In fact, Albin just landed at Cowes.
Meanwhile, Woodvilles Advancing (volume 9) is ready for a cover. We have to save the jousting for the great tournament in volume 10: Velvet, Fur, and Cold Steel.
Old stories are making new headway for Prose By-roads. The Secret of the Other Window has roots in two very different stories of mine. In one pirates fail to recognizing a treasure. In the other, a young woman squeezes through clothes into the back of a neglected closet—long before I ever heard of Narnia.
Brian Ladlee has now provided faces for the family in the story as well as a really cool house.
The Secret of the Other Window, intended for grade school children, will now be available through Amazon, print on demand, as well as on Kindle.
For my next trick, I need to write a beginning for Risky Favor. A major problem is introducing many characters one by one so as not to choke the readers.
Several years ago, I made a checklist of things that would serve well at the beginning of a novel. Donna Andrews wrote my overall favorite beginning for The Penguin Who Knew Too Much. It covers twelve, of the sixteen on my list, including these first four plus a major dose of #6: humor.
1. Does it surprise?
2. Does it introduce a character?
3. Does it show a feeling?
4. Does it show interaction between people?
Enter Sir Geoffrey Gate. I guess he is too important to pass off with a comment. In fact, he could appear in four of my books. (So I just manufactured him an appearance.) He is one of the people the Wydevilles get accused of cheating. However, Susan Higginbotham and Dr. Madison…
Monday, I rediscovered my treasure. A note, with a page number, in my draft of Risky Favor led me back to Dr. Kenneth Madison's doctoral thesis on the Wydeville family. (There's something nostalgic about type-written pages.)
More to the point, Madison has activities of Wydeville in-laws and lists of property.
He found these in English government records. Dr. Madison demonstrated that the Wydevilles neither tried hard for, nor received, special wealth from the king. He also contends that Warwick did not get upset by the royal marriage or the marriages of the new queen's sisters. What upset him, eventually, was the blocking of his hopes for a treaty with France.
So far, I've been reading and making an index on the computer. Let's be glad of electronic searching.
Arlene Okerlund's Elizabeth Wydeville: the Slandered Queen is indispensible for writing about the great tournament of 1467. It is rich in description. I am squeezing as much as I can into my fiction. I am sure Dr. Okerlund has been faithful to her excellent sources. I question them as a bit sketchy.
Entertaining questions arise: If Lord Scales was riding between two other lords leading the procession—just ahead of King Edward, how did he manage to pause and turn his horse when he came to Count Antoine in the crowd? Where was Lord Scales the night before his entrance into the London from Greenwich? (I've always assumed he had a home in Westminster.) He didn't fly over the city like Queen Elizabeth heading for the Olympics.
King Edward officially okayed the venue eight days before the tournament. Workmen cleared what I gather was a stock yard and hauled in a thick layer of sand. They built three-story viewing stands including a fine box for the king and his party. Apparently they surrounded the ninety by eighty yard tiltyard with a high wooden fence. They did all this in a week?! I don't think I know anybody who could do that with modern equipment. I have to suppose they either started well before the formal okay or they had everything nearby ready for a twenty-four/seven effort—by torchlight.
For his birthday, King Edward threw himself a tournament. He donned his armor and fought to defend a (stage set) parapet. Three others were on his team: Anthony Wydeville gk, Sir Thomas St. Leger, and Sir John Paston. The attackers were his best friend William Hastings, Anthony's brother John Wydeville, Sir Thomas Montgomery, & Sir John Aparre.
Anthony is, of course, my historical hero. John Paston is well known because somebody saved the letters his family wrote one another. I looked up Thomas St. Leger whose coat-of-arms is unusual and easy to spot. A decade later, he was married to King Edward's sister, the Duchess of Exeter. At this time, it is commonly supposed that they were already lovers.
It's such a treat to find a ready-made story like that. J
Miraculously, I was about to write of two weddings at Windsor Castle. In 1467, the Herberts did a two-fer. On January 19th, Margaret Herbert married Thomas Talbot, Viscount of Lisle. The next day, Will Herbert Jr., the heir of the Earl of Pembroke, married Mary Wydeville. I wonder if the guests were all the same people. It could spark hard feelings if they weren't.
My fictional hero is not invited to such ceremonies. So, I was writing mostly about the jousters outside.
My notes for chapter 15 of Velvet, Fur, and Cold Steel read like a social calendar. How could four such items be interesting?
Gilbert. Back in volume 3, Gilbert loaded Albin down with superstitious advice. Now he and Albin both have loads of news. The exchange develops into something of an information duel. (Is this what CBS & NBC do?)
I am adding another historical knight to the cast of Velvet, Fur, and Cold Steel.
Lord Anthony Wydeville was the new governor of the Isle of Wight with plenty to do. Nevertheless, King Edward appointed him to lead a delegation to the court of the Duke of Burgundy. They were proposing a marriage between the widowed heir of the duke and King Edward's sister Margaret. Both Lord Hastings and the Bishop of Salisbury were quite a lot older than Anthony and might have taken offence at the appointment. Six others are said to have gone.
Who else might have gone with the group to Brussels? Who would be important enough to be counted but not too important to go unlisted by the historian. (I assume each of the nine took servants along making a group of at least forty.) Thomas Vaughn seemed an available courtier of the king. I also realized that, if King Edward is going to send Thomas Vaughn onto the field after the disaster at the great tournament, he needs to appear ASAP.
I went through my paper files and found some description I had invented. Then I went to Wikipedia and found a nice, long page about Sir Thomas Vaughn. It said that he went to Burgundy and France to make a deal for the marriage of Margaret of York. J
I almost didn't go to the school district's STEM expo. That would have been a mistake.
At the first display I came to, the girl told me about gene splicing. Wow! There were many presentations about physiology and medicine. I felt much more at home with the botanists.
In another room, some girls were playing electric guitars they built themselves. One told me they are even more fun to make than to play. In her senior year, she intends to build an acoustic guitar.
But the fun display was robotics. One team had put in thirty hours a week—extracurricular time—to build a robot capable of picking up large cubes and stacking them. A different school's remote-controlled entry was scramming around the floor picking and stacking cubes. The winner was not there, it was still making its way home from the world competition!
A mom, reading a paperback, offered a seat. We struck up a conversation and I learned that she teaches challenged students. She agreed that the students need material that they can both read and find interesting. (Much of the truly simple material is suitable for kindergarteners.) Of course, she got a couple brochures. I hope we do some email dialoging too. J
It is almost as good as a vacation to study the geography and history of the Isle of Wight. That is the next stop in volume 10. In fact, Albin just landed at Cowes.
Meanwhile, Rivers Rising (volume 9) is ready for a cover. It will show the effect of a joust. We have to save the oncoming jouster for the great tournament in volume 10: Velvet, Fur, and Cold Steel.
I've had a unique week. Encouraged by Brian Ladlee, I edited both Secret of the Other Window and The Rescued. For years, Secret of the Other Window has been something of a ghost on Amazon. The cover looks like a pencil sketch. (I photo-shopped it myself.) It has existed only on Kindle. Now it is about to come out in paperback with the whole family and the house on the cover. And what a house! It may be a fixer-upper, but it should be well worth the effort.
This indoor treasure hunt is a puzzle for, second to fifth grade, children to solve along with Doug.
Brian is also replacing the cover on A Hollow Vow. The new version is something of a story in one picture. His squire his handing up his helmet to the Duke of Somerset. The Duke is dressed for jousting. But he refuses the helmet and seems satisfied to wear his warn straw hat. (Honest, this is the story the historians tell us.)
The hour I just spent on notes about William Lord Hastings produced a story.
His Lady, Katherine, (nee Nevil) was expecting at the same time as the queen.
A daughter could become the queen's daughter-in-law. Just before she married King Edward, Elizabeth had promised Thomas (her son by her first marriage) to a yet unborn daughter of Will and Katherine Hastings. Now Katherine was about to give birth. Was the queen praying that they would have a boy and she would have longer to find a way out of the agreement?
Lady Hastings gave birth to a boy who died—perhaps at once. (Eleven months later, she gave birth to another son.)
By then the queen and her sister-in-law Lady Ann had announced the engagement of their children: Ann Holland and Thomas Grey.
The Albin and the Jouster stories started with a tiny historical cast among the fictional characters. Volume 6 The King's Beloved is the turning point. Even the title hints at that. Now historical characters multiply. After all, each one has a pack of relationships.
Of course, the Woodvilles are the chief producers. Now most of Lord Rivers's thirteen children are married adding a throng of in-laws. Moving about also acquaints them with new people including some that become essential.
These people also come equipped with lords, friends, relatives, and enemies. Fortunately, I don't know the stories each of these historical relationships produced. Wheeew!
In short, this explosion is demonstrating that everything is connected to everything else.
The matter of chines is settled to my satisfaction. I found pictures of Whale Chine. It is only accessible to agile adventurers with ropes. From that, I concluded that Shanklin and Black Gang chines were not accessible either until people decided it was worth the work to make a 'floor.' So, in Rivers Rising some of the party can scramble in a ways. But Albin has only one useable arm and must settle for what he can see from the beach. There is time to correct me on that if you have better information on chines.
Why did I call my series Albin and the Jouster?! The jousting I have seen has been show biz. Now I need to write yet another encounter for Rivers Rising. My next book Velvet, Fur, and Cold Steel can hardly avoid being full of jousting highlighted with the great encounter between Anthony Wydeville and Antoine, Bastard of Burgundy.
Yikes! How can I keep from repeating myself endlessly? Much of what I've seen consisted of poor attempts on reluctant horses. The one time I held a sword, I didn't even get a picture. As for a lance—there's no way I could lift one.
(sigh) So I continue reading.
I'm back. It's nice to return to Westminster 1466 on the computer. It was a rather confusing ten days of Olympics on television. Often I barely knew what I was watching, much less who from where.
I came away saying, "Look! up in the air. It's a bird. It's a plane. It's Sean White." The halfpipe rather fascinates me as does pairs skating.
Enough! My next event will be jousting and knights wear their identity. J
Edward IV had three sisters who married dukes. Unlike his brothers, they get little attention. But they were children of Richard, Duke of York and royal contender for the crown.
For me, Ann has stepped out of obscurity into my next book. At eight, she was married to the Duke of Exeter—before the Wars of the Roses. He maintained his loyalty to King Henry VI and was a Lancastrian leader in the huge Battle of Towton. After that disastrous defeat, the Duke of Exeter fled and joined Henry's followers in France. He and his wife were never reunited.
King Edward claimed the duke was a traitor and took his lands and homes. He gave them to his sister, the Duchess of Exeter, and her little daughter Anne.
For my fiction, I have had the queen invite the Duchess of Exeter to be one of her ladies during her confinement. Shut up together during the month before the queen gave birth, they had plenty of opportunity to play matchmakers. Can't you picture them in a nest of fine fabric with musicians playing love songs. They have their heads together whispering excitedly.
Around the turn of the millennium, I got fed up with people arguing about the nature of Christmas. So I wrote a play called Five Ways to Ruin Christmas. It is all about a family of five with only the youngest, Misty, still in high school. Then I wrote lyrics to make it a musical.
That's about the last that was ever seen of it—until now. I'd like to share it with you.
Jason, in Five Ways to Ruin Christmas, is a college freshman. He has no use for secular Christmas. Bob, his dad, interrupts his song now and then.
Presents and parties
Are a distraction
From God's descending,
If you don't want any presents, I think that can be arranged.
Trees full of lights
And nostalgic bells
Outshout good news
The scripture tells.
It's selling those presents.
The profits are great.
We grab without thinking
Because we are late.
I gave your gift a lot of thought—one of a kind just for you.
The feasting is special
We almost compete
To see what more we can
Manage to eat.
Not likely with your mom around.
That jolly old elf
Gets credit and love
When real affection
Comes from above.
Our Christmas carols don't reflect the Bible's homeland but Europe. In the play Jessica has something to say about that.
You'd think that the nativity
Took place in northern Germany.
Joseph never tracked the snow
Nor ice impede the Jordon's flow.
Mary never lighted candles
She ran around all year in sandals.
In what the Bible tells us clear
Holly and Ivy never appear.
The fir tree and the mistletoe
Come from northern folk, you know.
The Vikings made the Yule log blaze
To light up winter's shortest days.
Amid the palms and bright sunshine
Our Lord was born in Palestine.
Here is Bob, the dad, straightening out a few misunderstandings about his childhood.
We went and cut a fir tree—
Our winter forest trips.
And gently hung glass ornaments
With slender, fragile tips.
With lots of little candles
You lit the Christmas tree.
How old do you think I am?
Our tree was bubble-lighted
We'd loose a single light-bulb
So not a one would shine.
And guess which bulb to twist
To bring them back on line.
You got a little race car
That wound up with a key.
You strung a lot of popcorn
To hang upon the tree.
Bob (shaking his head)
The tinsel and the icicles
Were made of metal foil.
We saved it all for next year
Because it didn't spoil.
Our bows were quite distinctive.
We tied each one from scratch.
They didn't come from factories
A million in a batch.
Your bunch went out a wassailing
And wished your neighbors luck.
Bob (shaking his head)
The youth group went out caroling
Riding on a truck.
We baked and frosted cookies
That we could tell apart.
We sometimes cut one free-hand
And made a work of art.
We hung up real stockings
Before we went to bed.
And Santa always topped them off
With canes of white and red.
I'd like to show you Christmas
That I saw as a boy.
Let's have some fun the old way
And share some Christmas joy.
This is almost the last dark house on the block. We have those red bells for the gables. I think we should add a couple strings of lights in the maple, don't you?
If you're not interested, I can ask Jessica.
There's no point in asking Jessica. Lights cause global warming! It wouldn't surprise me if she kept turning them off.
You think so?
Absolutely, she's no fun at all any more.
I'm sorry you feel that way. We could have a lively game of stadium checkers.
What would you like to do?
'Tis the season when we sing.
We could all go caroling.
Down the street
Oh, how sweet.
Think of all the joy we'd bring!
Make the world a better place.
That puts smiles upon your face.
Joy to share
That expresses love and grace.
Giving help to one and all.
That's the greatest fun of all.
Next to that, a party's small.
I'm getting into volume nine. Brian asked what I could use since there was peace just then. Yes, there was peace and superficial harmony. There were also weddings, but I think readers have read enough about those. There are also investitures. Can anybody fill me in on how that was done? Finally, there is preparation for a great tournament: practice, practice, practice.
How do you like the Prose By-roads logo?
When I saw the logo of North Creek Presbyterian Church yesterday, I recognized the curve of the creek and the shape of the trees as the what I had pictured for my business. Of course a creek coming from is totally different from a road going to.
The church chose colors that look suspiciously like those of the Seahawks. (Every week, somebody is wearing Seahawks gear. That's just the way it is around Seattle.)
Lilarhodes.com should have a man-working sign. Brian has created a logo for Prose By-roads and is attaching it to the trailer. J
I wanted the logo to emphasize the byroad .Perhaps 'tis like the one Betty, Mom, and I finally found in the Forest of Dean and followed to Goodrich castle.
Brian is working on a logo for Prose By-roads. I'm trying to accentuate the way less taken.
Meanwhile, have you ever heard of Davy Gam? He was a Welsh war leader and a squire-of-the-body to Henry V—who described himself as Welsh—at least in Shakespeare's representation. That is also where Davy Gam is named as one of the few fallen of Henry's troops. Davy, or Dafydd, was great-grandfather to Will Herbert, one of Elizabeth Woodville's brothers-in-law. Her grandfather would have known him well being another of Henry V's squires-of-the-body.
I've been going back through website material for the same reason I have been known to go through my sewing box—it got upended. Yesterday afternoon, I saw nothing here but the heading. Yikes! But Brian had it in hand and soon everything was in place. How do you like it?
The cover of volume 8 shows Anthony Woodville with his Gift of Peril. What is the queen expecting him to do? I think England was flat out of dragons by then.
Have you any special plans for October 31st—the 500th anniversary of the day Martin Luther nailed his theses to the door?
Being Presbyterians, our church is commemorating the event with a course on the reformation. Yesterday's class was on the counter-reformation. It included a list of some Jesuit universities. We seem to have a common inclination for learning.
During the worship service, a score or so of children read Martin Luther's four main points and sang songs about them. Then we had an special speaker: Martin Luther. He delivered an English translation of one of Luther's actual sermons.
We did it! A Gift of Peril has gone to CreateSpace.
Brian Ladlee spent hours researching the 1460's and its fashions. He spent many more hours painting his portrait of Anthony Wydeville. Yesterday, we went over the interior including the glossary. I even tweaked the back cover this morning. (I am less than thrilled with the photo of myself that ended up on it.)
How do you toast an achievement when you're half a continent apart?
This one is real to me. I watched three hurricanes with interest and cheep mass-produced sympathy. But Napa Valley! Santa Rosa! In Flames! I lived more than two years in Napa. The first one, I commuted to Yountville to teach deaf-blind children. It was beautiful.
I lived in a darling one-bedroom house. The previous owner had lavished great attention on it intending his daughter to live there. (Oddly enough, she didn't want to live across the street from her parents.)
Santa Rosa is burning—including hotels and large stores. I have always felt safe tucked up in a town where forest fires never enter.
A woman on television was searching through the ashes for her wedding ring. She may find a puddle of gold. This is far more devastation than the hurricane floods. The loss of life is likely to climb past the combined total in the paths of Harvey and Irma.
I am inclined to tell folks at my church, "Never mind Houston, we have a bigger disaster here on the West Coast."Actually, a group of our members have been building Habitat houses here in Washington to replace homes taken out by wildfires.
Is it time to rush back now to 15th century England where it is wetter?
I have seen Anthony Wydeville—or, at least, Brian Ladlee's portrait of the man. He looks very earnest. The scene is lighted only by one modest-sized candle because Brian is a fan of Chiarroscuro.
In Blood and Roses, Helen Castor gives us a detailed look at the life and tough times of the Paston family. King Edward and his Wydeville in-laws are no help. I am relieved that she mentions that they had many more national things on their minds. They were surely well practiced in politely fobbing off even lordly beggars.
Welcome to fall—and some sunshine here.
Otherwise, the state of the world and the state of John Paston in 1462 are both downers. So I took a quick break on Google images of "cats at play." Among many leaping housecats, it includes leopards, lions, and tigers!
Over lunch, I debated: should I leave well enough alone or reverse the last two chapters of A Gift of Peril? Reversing it ends with Albin and his baron instead of with Albin and his girlfriend. What could the lovers do that isn't trite? Who received the gift of peril? And—mainly—would I always regret not making changes?
Of course, marketing a book with regrets instead of enthusiasm is a non-starter. I called to alert—warn?—Brian that changes were on the way. Then I got to dig into the pleasure of rewriting and avoid marketing for another day.
Farmers are telling me that marketing is the hard part of their careers. Certainly it's the hard part of mine. After battling the internet for while, I get to return to yesteryear… Um, return to A Gift of Peril and continue going over the proof-reader's work.
Brian sent the finished trailer. : ) I've started sending it to a few friends. (The rest of the world is Brian's territory.)
Brian Ladlee, illustrator extraordinaire, pointed out to me that I have a title problem. Calling volumes 6 The King's Beloved and 7 A Winter Bride makes it sound like a series of romances. (Characters do occasionally fall in love, but the series is about the history.) So the title A Golden Forget-me-not would just add to the problem. After a chat with a friend about the advantage of contrasts, I've got a title: A Gift of Peril. Presumably the forget-me-not will be in the cover picture—hopefully recognizable as a gift.
How do you like the title A Golden Forget-Me-Not? Does it have a slight tang of mystery?
I meant to go back through it to proof read but I find myself changing things.
Just now, I mentioned Pastons on my Facebook Page. I have not written anything about them, but they could take over my next book. Imagine! writing letters to one another—and keeping them—has given this family a place in history. (There is even a letter including instructions to burn it.)
Finding an ending I am happy with, for A Rose of Gold, has been a project. It could be a rerun of A Winter Bride or look like a 1940's movie—smooch, smooch.
The new scene concerns the relationship between Lord Scales and Albin. I guess it does make sense for the baron to take a dependant for a confidant. This will enable Albin, and readers, to see something of the thinking of Anthony Wydeville. Shakespeare and subsequent writers tend to see him as a philosopher. My challenge is to present that developing over twenty years.
Well, I'm at home in an excellent 73°. Outside it's a scorching 70°. Huh? Okay, so I don't actually need "G" which promises me no fruit juice. I don't recall the label on the apple promising anything.
I'm reading Battle Royal by Hugh Bicheno and reworking A Rose of Gold.
Restarting the word games feature may work if I combine it with trivia. I've got a bunch of that cluttering up my brain.
Today is the anniversary of the procession to Westminster. Tomorrow is the anniversary of Elizabeth's 1465 coronation.
Yesterday, I wrote the ceremony chapter. The rose of gold has made its appearance in A Rose of Gold. This historic event in the queen's court is Anthony's show. That is special because we have Anthony's own description. I was even able to use some of his words.
But in the next chapter, fictional Albin gets to suggest, by counter argument, a non-English opponent for the tournament.
It must be a script-writing error in The King's Speech. George VI surely knew that, once in a while, kings have a living predecessor. Henry VI lived a whole decade into the reign of Edward IV. How many other kings were still around depends on the definition of 'king.' Can you count uncrowned kings? By the way, what ever became of King John's nephew?
Volume 8 could be a very confusing book with the weddings of Catherine, the old duchess of Norfolk, and Katherine, the very young duchess of Buckingham.
Before diving into A Rose of Gold, I want an idea of the closing scene. That way I have a destination to write toward. I read an article about good endings. It was pretty philosophical: the ending should give one something to contemplate. I phoned a couple friends. The conversation with the second opened a plan for the book.
When we met Albin back in Stealthy Waters, he was a barefoot peasant. Book by book he has seen more of England—and a little of Wales. He has met impressive people the biggest surprise being King Edward's marriage to somebody Albin knew.
In A Rose of Gold, Albin will be traveling to Brussels. So this enlarging world is my theme. That will probably lead to a conversation with someone who has truly been far away—like Jerusalem.
Volume 8, A Rose of Gold, is still in the research stage. But a story is beginning to emerge. An important thread has put in her appearance.
In The Slandered Queen; Dr. Okerlund lists six palaces the new queen spent time in. Trying to get to all of them would make A Rose of Gold twice as long and half as understandable.
For many years, I wandered in and out of jobs and even careers. (Hmm, sounds like a good board game.) But I must not have been lost.
During those years, Alison Weir, Susan Higginbotham, and Arlene Okerlund, among others, were researching and writing non-fiction about the era of Edward IV. Englishmen were restoring medieval buildings and taking up arms to re-enact the Wars of the Roses. Large companies on the internet brought publishing out from behind closed doors.
Meanwhile, I researched the Wydevilles and their era and drafted a couple plays and sixteen novellas. When it was time, I was on the runway. Now with eleven books on Amazon four of which are on Kindle—takeoff!
Battle Royal by Hugh Bicheno is getting very interesting. That dense 1450's material about many lords—and queen Margaret—was more for research than casual reading. Of course it includes a lot of material I need. Now Chapter 16, "Here Be Dragons," gets me into Welsh history—at last! J
Having read that Richard Wydeville led a Welsh army in the Battle of Towton, I have never learned how this happened to a knight from the south midlands.
To me Caernarvon is a storied place from an entirely different story: space flight. That was the first tracking station east of the Atlantic. We could take a deep breath when we heard from there of our earliest astronauts.
I don't like to see neighbors' packages sitting in the hall. So I kicked the heavy box into my entry and left them a note. When somebody knocked on my door, I knew who and why. He commented that the box was heavy and took it home.
In a few minutes he was back showing me that my name was on it. It had been misdelivered.
It could only be one thing. Of course, I invited my neighbor to share the moment. I chucked the packing paper aside and handed him a copy of A Winter Bride.
Saturday, I went to the Society for Creative Anachronism event called Ursulmas. It seemed like "Every duke and earl and peer is here." There was a lot of fighting in armor. I was told that the king was easy to spot because he had the most beautiful armor. (That seems appropriate.)
One could play 'nine man morris' and other medieval board games.
I spent most of my time with the craftspeople. They were working not only with thread, wood, and paint but leather and metal. One could also buy arrows and chainmail. Wooden signs in many booths announced that Master Card and Lady Visa were accepted.
The unique thing was the finalists in a competition for the best-dressed teddy bear. Chatting with the folks was fun and I might have stayed longer if another group hadn't been driving race after race in go-cart sized cars. What a racket!
Yesterday was something else! A Winter Bride appeared on Amazon in the morning. To celebrate, I wore my big, red skirt to folk dancing and requested a dance with lots of turns.
I had been in bed briefly when I noticed a sound like a huge engine outside. I punched the button on my bedside lamp—and nothing happened. By flashlight, I could see the clock had stopped. Curious, I wrapped up in my robe and walked down the landing. The emergency lights were on in the hall. From the landing, I saw a couple dozen cars and a lighted baton directing traffic. (Presumably a policeman was waving it.) The huge engine sound must have been the chorus of cars.
My next-door neighbors appeared with their cats in carrying cases. The man told me there was a huge fire to the west and they were going to his parents' house. All those people in cars had to be evacuating.
I put a layer of clothes, including my beloved red skirt, over the pajamas and a coat over that. I also put on my new boots—as much to protect them as my feet. I grabbed my purse and the grab-and-go bag. I had prepared it as recommended months earlier. I took a lighted candle in its nice carrying holder. I needed it in the stairwell.
Fire engines were a little over a block up the street and pedestrians wandered about. They didn't know much. But, through the trees, we could easily see not just a glow but flame.
I went back upstairs and knocked on a neighbor's door. (She is in her nineties and I wanted to be sure she was ready in case we needed to evacuate.) Being on the west side of the third floor, she had the 'front row' view of the fire. From her balcony, we could see water arcing into the inferno without visible effect. Sometimes a flame possibly as tall as some evergreen trees shot up over them. I said, "If those trees go up, I'm out of here."
'In that case, the police would evacuate us,' she responded casually.
I went back down and asked for information from people on the sidewalk. They didn't really have any. A 'living-room-on-wheels' came along. The people set up a table and started making coffee "for anybody who needs it." I didn't. I went back up to my apartment. But before I actually turned in again I had a conversation with three neighbors on the porch and one with a policeman setting out flares.
By then the augmented fire department was winning and people said that the damage was limited to a huge apartment building under construction. The good news, such as it is: there were no residents to lose that home. It did get about a minute's coverage on the morning news.
During lunch, the helicopters were circling on and on. What a racket! I walked up as close to the smoking ruins as the tape allowed. At least two streams of water were still being played on them. I dusted ash off my car and dumped about a gallon of water on the windshield and other windows.
The evening news added the information that fifty people had been rendered homeless. I gather that they lived in the apartments nearest the blazing ruin and the fire department declared their homes uninhabitable. Some were sheltering in the Lutheran church a couple blocks away.
It is time to have a presentation here about disaster preparedness.
Twenty-three is a special number for me. Yesterday certainly was special. I was trying to get through to Frontier when I got a phone call.
It was the newest past president of the International Dyslexia Association of north Ohio. She had received my email and asked what it was about. That enabled me to tell her about Albin and the Jouster with lots of points on what makes it readable on a third grade level. (Most high interest/ low vocabulary books are on a fourth grade level—as are most newspaper stories.) She got excited and so did I. Later, I received a copy of her email about these books including: "Her mission is to engage our struggling readers."
Later, Brian lofted A Winter Bride to CreateSpace. Who says things don't all happen at once?
A Winter Bride is coming together. I just named the first section "Desirable Misses." That seems a logical place to start.
Besides the available ladies, Brian is drawing Lord Scales tussling over an oar. Such motion is a challenge to draw.
A Winter Bride will have a royal Christmas celebration complete with a medieval version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas." The two gifts that are actually recorded by history were probably the most elegant. Of course they were for the king and queen. I wonder if they got a lot of use out of them.
Just now, I inserted a fiction into the first chapter of A Winter Bride. It is my long-held explanation: a childhood influence that made Anthony Wydeville who he became.
My own childhood included a lot of pretending to be various women from fiction and imagination. I was, depending on the circumstances, a shopkeeper, a pioneer, a famous swimmer, a newspaper reporter, or the owner of the saloon. The influence of the movies is pretty obvious, isn't it?
This is a great trip—on Google. I spent a couple days on the geography and history of the Netherlands. I even learned some cool things about the weaving of tapestries. (I was glad I had once taken a weaving class and had some notion of what this was all about.) This morning, I have been touring the tidal Thames. J
This morning, I am eager to write one of those medieval tales. It cannot fit into the Abin and the Jouster series because it is about Agatha and Hannah instead of Albin. These young women both serve the Duchess of Bedford at Grafton & Westminster. It is April of 1461 and the men have just lost the great Battle of Towton.
8/12/16 was special: Brian and I now have Stealthy Waters and Battle in Spring Sleet launched on Kindle. It should be an easy date to remember because I grew up at 812 Hastings Ave. (I'm not making this up.) I don't think either of my parents were aware of Edward IV's special buddy, Lord Hastings. Neither was I until I had moved from there. Tell that to your interpreter of signs.
In any case, those of you whose interests are overtaxing your shelf space are now able to have up to four of my books requiring none at all. Now that's magic!
Yikes! In my own notes, I found an action by parliament in June of 1463. Clearly parliament was still in session and Lord Scales and Lord Rivers would not have rambled off to the country for the summer.
That upends the June timeline of my story. Maybe, Lord Scales can make a quick trip to Middleton and back. [Quick being about a week.] He definitely wants to be in Westminster with his sister's case pending at the chancery court. Maybe Lady Scales will go to Middleton and oversee farm work while her husband is busy being an M. P. and a supportive brother.
We are told that Richard Wydeville, Lord Rivers, paid 200 marks to Sir Edward Grey for the marriage of his daughter Elizabeth to John Grey—and didn't get a receipt. Richard seems to have been a trusting sort with a disinclination to concern himself with business. It also suggests to me that he was a breezy optimist. Maybe marrying a beautiful, loving duchess makes a man feel singularly blessed.
A Hollow Vow is on Amazon. This one is illustrated by Michael Axt.
Who is that crazy dude on the cover jousting in a straw hat? I'm not making this up. The historians tell us that this duke actually jousted in the royal tournament in a straw hat. (Can you see officials allowing even skateboard competitors to leave their helmets behind?)
Albin Hayward finds himself investigating this duke. Will he be loyal to King Edward IV who is treating him like a long lost brother?
[Lost brother comes later.]
Attempting a tricky thing has me about to tear my hair. A Hollow Vow, Volume 5 of the Albin and the Jouster series, is off to a formatter and CreateSpace. That means the dates between January 6, 1463 and July 1463 are set. But volume 6, The King's Beloved, needs to start in mid-February 1463 and runs until fall 1464. Since every page of the series is seen through the eyes of Albin Hayward, he must be—in two places at once?!
Cecily: Mirror, Mirror, on the wall
Who is fairest of us all?
Mirror: What can an honest mirror say?
None is more fair than widow grey.
Fictionalizing the historical record started immediately as people told their friends what they thought had happened. (You have heard how diverse even eye witness testimony can be.) Here is a sample from the presentation I am working on called 'Tricks and Traps in Historical Fiction.'
The romance comes down to us that King Edward IV met Elizabeth Wydeville Grey under an oak tree. Sure, why not? Oaks were plentiful. But the legend suggests that they had never met before. Come on! As children of leading duchesses, they moved in the same regal circles. His mother had a townhome in London. Hers probably had one as well. They would have met if they went along when their fathers attended parliament, weddings, and other state occasions. (I was pleased when Anne Easter Smith had Elizabeth as a toddler seeing the newborn Edward.)
In the spring of 1463, Edward IV 'threw a tournament' for his friend Henry, Duke of Somerset. Now I am into writing rewriting about this event. (Somerset is even slated to star on the cover of the novella.)
Much as I enjoyed a fiction on line describing a tournament as an elimination series like American basketball, I don't think it was like that. It could have been formal spear running the first day and a melee the second. I imagined it as spear running between nobles the first day, other knights the second, and squires the third. (I have seen no evidence that they saved the most dramatic for last.)
Renee of Anjou assumes a melee when he invites tying ones sword to ones arm so it won't escape entirely. He also advises short spurs so they won't get hooked on things.
I think the swords 'got away' in every sport sword fight I saw in England. The fights turned into wrestling matches.
I got up excited Monday morning thinking about the program I am preparing called "Tricks and Traps in Historical Fiction." I divided up the history of Western Civilization into five eras: oral, handwritten, printed, broadcast, and computerized.
I will warn would-be historical fiction writers to be clear about their era. The way people communicate and travel affects their family life and their thinking. I have just read three well done historical novels by Gilbert Morris, Peter Tremayne, and P.C. Doherty. Oh, yes, I'm also watching a Cadfael video based on Ellis Peters's good research.
Folks used to need to carry as much useful information in their head as possible because books, if available, were expensive and cumbersome –even a century ago. (So we memorized state capitals.) Now Wikipedia has the world at our fingertips. We just need to know, at least approximately, how to spell it.
Perhaps what we need most is good frameworks. I have realized that I mentally file my friends on a map. If I don't know where they live, they are filed by where we meet.
Growing up in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, with a history fan, gave me a curious framework. The oldest history I heard about was in Mesopotamia. From there we move west to the Holy Land for Bible stories. (Did God tell Abram, 'Go west, young man, go west?') A little farther west, we come to the golden age of Greece. It is followed by the Roman Empire. Mom's interest in medieval history combined with the fact that we read in English, moved us west to England. In the 17th century, the history leaps the Atlantic and, especially for me, takes up in Massachusetts. Of course, from there, it moved west to arrive at here (Idaho) and now (mid-20th century.)
Certainly that is an inadequate framework for dealing with other continents. I was into my forties before I fully realized that many people live among the remains of ancient civilizations. In fact, the Pacific Northwest is unusual for not having ancient ruins. The oldest building in Idaho is less than 200 years old. (The people here built with wood.)
So, instead of a puzzle, here is something to reflect on. What kind of frameworks work best and can they be taught in school?
Here are some 15th century Elizabeths.
John de Mobray, a 14th century Duke of Norfolk had a daughter and a granddaughter named Elizabeth. Then his great-grandson and namesake married Elizabeth Talbot.
One family tree I found gives Richard Wydeville, Lord Rivers, a grandmother Elizabeth, a sister named Elizabeth (who named her daughter Elizabeth), and an aunt named Elizabeth.
His son, Anthony Wydeville, my historical hero, married an Elizabeth, Baroness Scales.
One ingredient of the Wars of the Roses was bad blood between the first and second families of Ralph Neville. His heir from his first family married an Elizabeth and named a daughter Elizabeth. Somebody's heir, John, also married a Elizabeth.
A generation later, Richard Neville led his second family. This Earl of Warwick, better known as kingmaker, had an aunt Elizabeth.
Lord Hastings [unless I misread the chart] had a sister Elizabeth and married one.
I haven't figured out who Elizabeth, Lady Bergavenny was, but she has a connection to the kingmaker. Lord Beaumont married one too.
Elizabeth Wydeville (now we're getting to the point) married John Grey, the son of Elizabeth, Lady Ferrers. Their son Thomas (surprise, surprise) named a daughter Elizabeth. His aunt Catherine Wydeville, Duchess of Buckingham, named a daughter Elizabeth.
As a widow, Elizabeth Wydeville married Edward IV. He had a sister named Elizabeth and they named their first child Elizabeth. (Even the king's famous mistress 'Jane' Shore was really an Elizabeth. Huh?)
Edward's princess, Elizabeth of York, married the victor of Bosworth and founded the brief but famous royal house of Tudor. Is it any surprise that their son Henry named his daughter Elizabeth? (Oops 16th century—out of bounds.)
Is the lady of the Duke of Brabant also off this chart?
I counted 22 in England. Who did I miss?
I'm trying to imagine Elizabeth Wydeville's thinking in the spring of 1464. Was King Edward frightening? If so in what way? How did the future of her sons Thomas and Richard Grey factor into her decision? Did she truly involve a dagger in her response?
Here is something that confuses a lot of us:
What did Richard III have in common with his father the Duke of York, his grandfather the Earl of Cambridge, his uncle the Earl of Salisbury, his cousin the Earl of Warwick. Also his brother Edward IV's son the Duke of York, his father-in-law Lord Rivers, his brother-in-law later third Earl Rivers, his step-son, and an very army of other men.
The biggest challenge for writing about history probably is deciding what to believe. Contemporary sources are not necessarily factual. Fifteenth century people were far less likely to have the facts about events than we are about ours. Nevertheless, we have ongoing debates about what happened: Was the official out of line? Who was the aggressor? What caused the damage? Who has the rightful claim? And we have millions of people out there using cameras!
Fifteenth century people had to rely on hearsay. Often those who were speaking had an axe to grind. Or they may have been eager to collect and hold an audience. Stories may or may not have begun with a kernel of truth and grew to please the audience. So I am adding another layer on a already fictionalized tale.
We are blessed to have Susan Higginbotham's The Woodvilles in which she takes on the slander against the family with proper legal style and a great deal of digging into the legal papers of the time. Arlene Okerlund's Elizabeth Wydeville: The Slandered Queen is also an excellent and interesting source.
I am writing my fiction entirely from Albin's point of view. He sees a lot—and misses even more. For example, whether or not Elizabeth Grey waylaid the king under an oak is irrelevant because Albin wouldn't have seen her there anyway.
Many mysteries are mysteries to him as well. However in The King's Beloved, he will put an unlikely one and one together to suspect what the king has done.
Mainly, I want to stand against the clearly absurd attacks on the Wydevilles by their contemporary enemies. Otherwise, perhaps it may be best to go with the flow of informed opinion even though it cannot be substantiated. I have even accepted the Woodville spelling so my stories can be found by search engines
"My Favorite Things" might be Maria's or Hammerstein's. They are not mine. I began to work on my own list. These can be sung to Richard Rogers's music. [Yikes! another Richard]
Peach-colored roses and calm summer scenes;
Iced buns and weird puns, and ham with white beans;
Oars in calm lake water trailing out rings
These are a few of my favorite things.
Long, satin ribbons that ripple and curl;
Skirts that flair out when I dance and I whirl;
Flying in airplanes with red canvas wings
These are a few of my favorite things.
Sea otters' whiskers and heroic tales,
Friends' chats and soft cats and boats with tall sails,
Mid-winter reading and mid-summer flings
These are a few of my favorite things.
I spent most of an hour seeking a home for a dowager duchess. Framlingham Castle is irresistibly lovely, but I'm pretty sure the duke lives there—at least half the year. I suppose she could be visiting her grandson.
August 12 was special: Brian and I launched Stealthy Waters and Battle in Spring Sleet on Kindle. It should be an easy date to remember because I grew up at 812 Hastings Ave. (I'm not making this up.) I don't think either of my parents were aware of Edward IV's special buddy, Lord Hastings. Neither was I until I had moved from there. Tell that to your interpreter of signs.
In any case, those of you whose interests overtax your shelf space are now able to have up to four of my books requiring none at all. Now that's magic!
Many novels are written in defense of historical people. None are more obvious than the books by the Richard III Society folks. Their enthusiasm has encouraged them to buy into Warwick's attacks on the Wydeville family.
My Albin and the Jouster novellas set about defending Anthony Wydeville, Earl Rivers, and his family. In this, I am following Susan Higginbotham and drawing from her research as presented in The Woodvilles: The Wars of the Roses and England's Most Infamous Family. Being a lawyer, she has taken their case and answered the charges one by one.
In my sixth volume, The King's Beloved, Elizabeth Wydeville Grey is presented as a gracious and charming woman who needs no other magic to capture the royal heart.
The next book covers the months that followed King Edward's big revelation. I have several marriages to consider. They offer me a choice of focus from the best known of these couples, about which we have some information, to some about which we have virtually none. The former offer more guidance but the latter offer more freedom for fiction. Which do I prefer? Then there is the question of unsuccessful suitors. Who might they have been? This could take some time.
This is a 'the story so far' update. Mainly it is meant as a refresher for people who have read the first four or five novellas. I recommend reading Arlene Okerlund or Susan Higginbotham instead of rereading my fiction. So, here are notes on the first five novellas.
1. Lord Scales arrives with his bride at Middleton, her family's home-place. Albin Hayward, a teen-aged peasant worries that this handsome new baron will seduce Genovefa, the village girl Albin desires.
A rain-flood brings down the Hayward's home. Because the cottage belonged to Lord Scales, he hires Albin and his father to rebuild it. He also hires Albin for other tasks that require him to learn to ride and to drive a horse. Cart driving takes him to the campsite for the Second Battle of Saint Albans. On the way, he happens to capture a spy of Warwick's, preventing that earl from learning where the queen's army is.
2. Albin and his cousin Birdface fight, as Lancastrian archers, in the Battle of Towton. When their army loses, Albin is unable to use his right arm. But he has the good fortune to find Birdface and connect with two other men. One is George, Albin's rival for Genovefa.
They must cooperate to get across the Aire River. They are captured and held as prisoner/workers until they devise an escape.
Albin's photographic memory helps them find the way home.
3. Albin arrives home to an unfinished cottage. Having only one usable arm, he can do little to help. But Lady Scales is short-handed and hires him to carry a message to Grafton. From there, Albin gets drawn into the Woodvilles family's activities.
This leads to writing a letter to Anthony Woodville (a POW) advising him to accept Edward as king. Once he does so, his title and land are restored.
4. Albin is now established as Lord Scales's messenger. He finds himself carrying a notable sum of money to a Welsh Castle. Before long, he is heading north with Lord Scales and his men to help besiege a Northumbrian castle. That involves various challenges that climax in building a trebuchet. (Perhaps that out-of-date catapult has the needed psychological affect on the garrison.)
5. Albin rides south with a message for Lady Scales. She also has messages for him to deliver. Along the way, he picks up news including the capture of the Duke of Somerset. The duke vowed allegiance to King Edward. Albin doesn't believe that the promise of a captive is worth much. He seeks evidence against Somerset.
Meanwhile, Albin also serves as an announcer at several events including part of a royal tournament.
Finally, he shows his evidence to friends in Northampton sparking a riot that nearly gets Somerset killed and forced King Edward to send that duke away.
Okay, I believe that is adequate groundwork for enjoying volume 6, The King's Beloved.
Yesterday, I read Conn Iggulden's version of the Battle of Northampton. He has Grey and Warwick colluding in advance for Grey to change sides during the battle. He also has Warwick's troops in blood lust after Scales's deadly attack on their people in London. They were -- a mob.
How on earth could a change of sides be done during a battle even if bloody vengeance was not a factor? You wear "I'm with you" placards? You shoot Styrofoam arrows?
Conn Iggulden has the good fortune to be writing after Richard III's skeleton was unearthed. (His Wars of the Roses: Margaret of Anjou came out last year.) Consequently, the unfortunate who became Richard III is represented in a brand new light. No doubt, Conn looked at pictures of Richard's skeleton and read about the affect of such a curvature on body, activity, and a spirit. Iggulden has the baby's mother carrying him around even though he cries, lustily, all the time. His father would like to take the baby out and drown it, but Cecily champion's her unfortunate infant like the iconic mama grizzly.
Richard of Gloucester will probably put in an appearance in my next book. By then he is twelve and seems to have found a way to live with his deformity. Surprisingly, he became an able soldier. Edward IV gave this kid brother many high-priority posts.
The chapter I want to insert into The King's Beloved, can be seen as a 1464 problem or a 2016 one. Albin's time and Lord Scales's money can do something for some refugees—but what? That search sounds like a project for the week end.
I couldn't resist phoning Brian to ask if he knows any Irish wolfhounds. At once, he was on-line looking at pictures of them. Inspired by Donna Andrews's character, Tinkerbell, I have added an Irish wolfhound to the scene. Will Limerick become an ongoing character? These wolfhounds are so easy going that it won't really matter to the dog.
I remembered Ken Madison's doctoral dissertation. I opened the box. The first whole sentence I laid eyes on tells us that King Edward admitted Lord Rivers to his council in March 1463. The next pages takes up the matter of Lady Ferrers and her royal husband, a first cousin of King Edward.
'Tis an exciting complexity to toss into a book.
Brian Ladlee gave me the worrying news: readers of Kindle books can click straight into, not only an online dictionary, but Wikipedia. Yikes! when I put a book on Kindle, I'll have people reading over my shoulder able to recognize any factual errors. (Hey! Guys! I'm writing fiction.) But, you can bet, I will increase my effort to align it with the facts—or, at least, Wikipedia.
For a quick vacation from the 15th century, I'm reading David Livingstone: The Truth Behind the Legend by Rob Mackenzie. I showed the photo on the cover to some friends to give them the opportunity to say, "Doctor Livingstone, I presume."
Do you think it is more refreshing or confusing to read stories from various centuries?
In Women of the Cousins' Wars Philippa Gregory suggests that the Wydevilles may have been acquainted with Thomas Mallory because he was imprisoned near by. She believes he was permitted to use a library. What more likely place to find Lord Anthony? Did Galahad become Sir Anthony's model? What conversation would the man who wrote about shining chivalry have had with a man who lived it?
Yesterday afternoon, Brian Ladlee (with me kibitzing on the phone) got the 'colorized' edition of How\not/to Visit 15th Century England to Kindle. Wow, such speed!
Last Saturday was a run: 12/13/14. Since that's all the months we have, it cannot happen again in this century.
Today on Medieval tales, I am posting a mid-twentieth century fiction: background material about Nabby Avery. Where was she for a dozen years before Leona saw a portrait by stormlight?
Saturday, I got a phone bank call from a man seeking a donation. I changed the subject and he ended up advising me on publicity. He also said the novellas are in style. J Everything is coming together miraculously. What were the odds of having the Seattle Knights jousting nearby and a medieval theme park within an hour's drive?
What happened numerically on Saturday that will not be repeated in this century?
Yesterday, Alderwood Mall threw a party. I decided to attend armed with three books and a sheaf of brochures. I hiked in through Macy's and gave a brochure to a clerk. As soon as I stepped into the mall, a woman hailed me. She and her husband not only took an interest in my books but bought both A Portrait by Stormlight and Stealthy Waters. Oh, this is the way to start a campaign. (I had more copies in my car.)
I served the bun to friends with this rhyme: "This isn't a muffin, a roll, or a crumpet. It's a bun G you can eat it or jump it." [Bungee jumping was a major novelty at the time.]
I once used a cheese shooter to write a 'g' on the bread meant for a hamburger. I served it to friends with this rhyme: "This isn't a muffin, a roll, or a crumpet. It's a …" Can you figure out the pun?
Perhaps my copies of Portrait by Stormlight arrived Friday night. I thought I heard a knock at the door, but saw no one through the peep hole. It was rather late and I decided against opening the door. Saturday morning when I opened the door to take the laundry downstairs, there was the carton. It might have been there over night.
I took some to church and found three impulse buyers including the clerk at the bakery. Others may buy from Amazon.
This morning, I did a U turn to hear what they were saying on the radio about Richard III. His DNA shows a break in the royal line. He certainly tried to claim that his brother was illegitimate. But the break isn't there. The queen I thought of at once was Isabella whose infidelity to Edward II is notorious. But the BBC article is about descendants, not ancestors.
Oh, 'TW' words. The first you probably met was 'two.' Twelve, twenty, twice, and twin probably come soon to mind. Clearly, all of these are about two. Some other words including 'between' and 'twine' have something duple about them too.
A re-enactor in England sent me some excellent pointers on 15th century jousting. Now I am ready to write about King Edward's 1463 tournament.
Meanwhile, I am waiting eagerly for the hard copies I ordered of A Portrait by Stormlight to appear at my door.
Yesterday, I asked a twelve-year-old what makes Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, and Minnesota (but not Oregon) a list. He said the have A's in their names. He was right, but that isn't the answer I have in mind.
Here's the cover! The book is for upper grades children and has an eighth grade heroine. Being set in Coeur d'Alene Idaho in 1955, the children will probably see it as historical fiction. (Doesn't that make me feel old!)
Answer to this week's puzzle:
What do these movies have in common that Kismet lacks?
Wizard of Oz
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
In all these movies people fly by impossible means including bubble, bicycle, broom, and carpet. (Later, Harry Potter also flies by hippogriff and thestral.) Can you think of others?
Poking about on the hard drive, I came upon this information about my heroine in A Portrait by Stormlight.
She and Wilma, her single mom, lived, formerly, in Salt Lake City. Here's what I found.
Wilma managed to rent a fixer-upper with broken linoleum, patchy wallpaper, and a sink where a drip had worn clear through the enamel. But it was a short walk to the school and Robinsons were two doors away. Their small, brick houses had commodious yards. Nabby spent many hours on Robinsons’ swing set, even when she was not officially in their care.
The prettiest thing on the place was Nabby. Her chestnut-colored hair grew thick and long. Mrs. Robinson was the one who kept it braided.
Nabby became an early contributor to the household because Wilma had to work full time. When she was not in school, she stayed with Mrs. Robinson, a straight-laced Methodist neighbor. Her two children were 3 & 8 years older than Nabby. At first, Margaret, the older girl treated Nabby like a special doll. She was a pet of the family, but taught strict rules.
From their residential neighborhood, it was six blocks to the nearest store. She went there with Margaret for years. Nabby also fell heir to some of Margaret's dresses. After adding a ribbon or making some other minor alteration, she didn't mind wearing them to school.
Gradually, Nabby became aware that many people lived in nicer homes, drove cars, and took trips. This was a matter of curiosity and didn't cut into her basic contentment.
I'll surely come up with a riddle by Monday. For now, here are a few more mixed sayings:
Don't cross your bridges before dawn.
When it rains, the mice will play.
That's the way the cookie sweeps clean.
You can lead a horse from a turnip.
A penny saved catches the worm.
I hope I will have a riddle tomorrow.
Meanwhile, during the night, I stirred up some more old sayings:
A bird in the hand washes the other.
Don't count your chickens before dawn.
Too many cooks get up with fleas.
Last year, I got to mixing old sayings. Some are silly like changing " People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones," to "People who live in glass houses are only skin deep." Some turn out very well: changing "Curiosity killed the cat" to " Curiosity is golden." How about, "Home is worth a pound of cure"?
Here are a couple new mixtures: Charity begins on the other side of the fence, or waste not—spoils the soup.
There are three messes in my apartment: paper stuff in the office, clothing in the bedroom, and dishes in the kitchen. All of these multiply.
I'd better keep the doors closed. What if these things started interbreeding! Would fabric dishes begin wilting in the sink? Would the printer start turning out coffee mugs with my nonsense on them? Would little paper clothing tumble about on my bed like playful puppies?
Yikes! I saw a paper plate in the living room!