Thursday, November 24, 2022

November 2022 update


I'm finally getting a little writing done again on "The Old Gods Endure" - 1,075 words today on chapter 9. Late September and October were crazy, and it's taken me this long to get going again. There was also the usual research pause, with interruptions. Hopefully I'll finish this chapter in a few days and move on.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Old Gods update 8.1

 Writing has been slow this month, but I finally finished Chapter 7 a few days ago, and after spending more time researching, map reading, and generally fiddling with the planned order of the next few chapters, I finally started Chapter 8 yesterday. This takes Gwernin and his friends to Aquae Sulis (Bath). It seems pretty clear that a lot of that Roman city was in ruins by our story date of 562 AD, but the hot springs were still there... and perhaps other interesting things.

Some nice cool damp weather here in Denver today, which matches the weather I'm describing in the story for a change. :)

Monday, September 5, 2022

Old Gods update 7.2


No writing progress for the last week while I researched this chapter, trying to decide what Gwernin will see when he gets to Aquae Sulis. As usual, I will just have to go with the flow, inevitably inventing a good bit. There's also the question of what we might see between Corinium and Aquae, specifically at Nettleton... And it's supposed to be hot again this week here in Denver, which won't help.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Another publishing update


The ebook version of More Mac Criomthann Tales is now available at Smashwords: More Mac Criomthann Tales. I expect to have a paperback version on next month, and eventually on Amazon etc. In the meantime, here is the TOC: 

     Table of Contents
How Mac Criomthann First Came to Ériu
Mac Criomthann and Mount Airecal
Mac Criomthann and the Need for Light
Mac Criomthann and the Words that Kill
Mac Criomthann and the Men Who Disappeared

 The first, second, and fifth stories appear in slightly different forms in The Fallen Stones, but the third and fourth are new stories, written for this volume. There will be more.


Monday, August 29, 2022

Publishing update

I've spent the morning editing the Smashwords ebook into a Lulu paperback version, and it should be available now on the Lulu store. I'm not sure when it will be on amazon, but in the meantime: Ten Years A Bard is the Lulu link.


Sunday, August 28, 2022

Update 7.1

 Aside from the usual weekend activities, I've been doing more research as to what, if anything, Gwernin will find at Aquae Sulis when he gets there. Conclusion: lots of hot water, but not much in the way of Roman remains. Time to start writing again...

Regarding the 6th book, I have a good idea what will happen in the first third, vaguer ideas about the rest. This will involve another set of initiatory experiences for someone, another meeting with Fráechán mac Tenusán, and the death of King Díarmait mac Cerbaill.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Update 7.0

 Not much writing today; mostly research for Gwernin's next stop. I also spent a little while designing a cover for book #6, which will be the 3rd in the "Gwernin's Quests" Trilogy. I'm hoping to have that one done by the end of next year. The water, by the way, is the Boyne at Newgrange.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Writing update, chapter 6.1

 1,150 words today, and essentially the end of chapter 6, bar a little editing. This was the story of Gwernin's visit to Prince Condidan's town of Corinium (Cirenchester). As usual, what I write about places is based on the history and archaeology as well as my own travels, although I had to invent a little more than usual this time. Next stop: Aquae Sulis (Bath). There is a bitter-sweet flavor to some of this section of the book for me, as we are about 15 years before the Saxon victory at Deorham.

Monday, August 15, 2022

writing update, chapter 6.0

 I haven't got much writing done in the last week due to the hot weather, which makes it difficult to imagine I'm in Wales in May, but I've started chapter 6 in The Old Gods Endure. Chapter title: "The Town Outside the Walls". It begins near the burial mound in the cover photo...

Passing a mound of the old ones not unlike the one I had once seen at Bryn Celli Ddu on Ynys Môn, I asked Taliesin if he knew this one’s history, but he only smiled. “We are not going to investigate it today, Gwernin,” he said. “Better not to disturb… those who dwell there… in any case. Although I believe the local people still leave offerings for them at certain times of the year.”

“At Samhain?” I asked, and he nodded.

“Just so.”

Saturday, August 6, 2022

More Mac Criomthann Tales (2)

Chapter list for this collection:

1. How Mac Criomthann First Came to Ériu
2. Mac Criomthann and Airecal
3. Mac Criomthann and the Need for Light
4. Mac Criomthann and the Words that Kill
5. Mac Criomthann and the Men who Disappeared

The third and fourth stories are the new ones, which I wrote for this book. There will eventually be a paperback (Lulu) version, probably by Samhain.

Friday, August 5, 2022

More Mac Criomthann Tales...

 Haven't done much writing this week because it's been too hot. However, I've finalized my second collection of Mac Criomthann tales on Smashwords. It's officially published on September 1st, but here is a pre-sale link:

There are 5 stories in this collection. Three of the tales and one in its predecessor appear as interior stories in the fourth Storyteller book, The Fallen Stones, but two of the others are new. There will be more.

A taster:


Many are the tales which were once told of the Druid called Mac Criomthann and the adventures which befell him in the years he wandered Ireland. For it was not a man of Ériu that he was, but a Briton, and how he came by his name and his nature in that great island I have told elsewhere. Most of his tales are lost now, or attributed to other heroes and magicians, but these few I have salvaged. I heard them once from an ancient Storyteller, long ago in a distant land. Now I share them with you here…

Tuesday, July 26, 2022


 My writing got unstuck in a big way yesterday: 1,600 words. My tracking spreadsheet estimates a completed manuscript by next year's Imbolc (February 1st), but there will no doubt be interruptions. In the meantime, this is a good start.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Gorffennaf 2022

 The Welsh word for July is "Gorffennaf" - "Summer's End". This partly reflects the fact that grain harvests traditionally began at the end of the month, with Lammas (August 1st) marking the end of the growing season. I'm looking forward to slightly cooler weather soon; I find it hard to write when it's too warm. I have at last managed a little new work on the next Gwernin book ("The Old Gods Endure"), and hope for at least slow progress now, although it's clearly not going to be done this year after all. In the meantime, here's a teaser:

Chapter 1 – Llys-Tyn-Wynnan

I stood on the ridge above Llys-Tyn-Wynnan on a cold spring morning and waited for the sunrise. Beside me were my student Llacheu and my elder son Ieuan, called Ianto. Before me burned the small wood fire which we had lit earlier, and behind me at the foot of a tall gray standing stone lay the mound which covered my teacher Talhaearn’s grave...

More later :)

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Another Snippet from Ten Years a Bard

"King Arthur's Raid on Hell", as I said in my previous post, was written for an SCA competition. This piece, however, was written for my own satisfaction. It retells a story from the Fourth Branch of the Mabinogion from a different point of view. As before, this is only the beginning of a much longer poem.

Pryderi’s Pigs

From purple twilight full of mist and rain
into the torchlight at my gates they came,
twelve men in sodden cloaks, mud-splashed and cold,
and to my Porter said, as I was told,
that they were bards from Gwynedd in the north.
He did not ask their names, or state, or worth –
all peaceful men were welcome in my halls.
He lodged them well, brought water, wine and all,
and sent a boy to bring them to the feast.
They took their seats, and when the noise had ceased
I asked their chief if one of his young men,
to entertain us, might some story spin,
or sing a song, perchance, to make time fly.
He smiled and rose, and looked me in the eye,
and said the custom of their company was
the first night they arrived at some new house
the Chief Bard was the one who should perform,
and so he would.  In mellow voice and warm
he started then a story to unfold.
Tale followed tale until the night grew old,
and laughter, wonder, fear and even joy
he conjured up.  I never heard a boy
or man could any better story spin,
and when at last he came unto the end
I bade him join me at my table high.
He gladly sat, and heaved a weary sigh.
With mead I filled his cup, and merrily
we did converse, and pleasure ’twas to me.
His beard was black; to me he seemed full young –
a green-eyed lad, born with a silver tongue.
“Chieftain,” he said at last, “I’ll tell my task –
I’ve journeyed here, a boon of you to ask.
I’ve heard you own strange beasts: ‘pigs’ they are named –
not like wild boar, but creatures small and tamed.
I ask their gift.”  I sighed and shook my head.
“Alas, my friend, though I myself were glad
to give them you, I cannot – not my own
are they to give.  They came from dark Annwn,
whose lord was years ago my father’s friend,
and them I may not give or sell or lend
’til twice they’ve bred their number in this land.”
The stranger smiled.  “O lord, leave my demand
unanswered, ‘til tomorrow morn we meet,
and then I’ll show you how an answer sweet
to find, for when you see what I shall bring,
you may exchange them for some better thing.”
I laughed – it seemed a joke – no more was said.
We drank our mead, and off we went to bed.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Snippet from Ten Years a Bard...

Here is the beginning of my long poem "King Arthur's Raid on Hell". It's based, by the way, on material from Medieval Welsh poetry and stories, and was written for a competition at the SCA's 2000 AD Estrella War - which I won.

King Arthur’s Raid on Hell

The King was sitting in his winter hall
and for some song or story he did call
to cheer the evening and make waiting sweet
until such time the company sat at meat.

Of all his bards the eldest then stood up
and said, “My Lord, by Jesus’ Sacred Cup,
there is a story that in Wales men tell
of how King Arthur led a raid on Hell

to free a prisoner and great treasure bring
back to his court.” — The King commanded, “Sing!”

“In Winter’s darkness, e’en as now we are,
my tale begins.  One night there shone a star –
a burning dragon in its form and flight –
whose awful radiance reddened all the night.

The Porter came, the watchmen from the walls,
and all who saw it, into Arthur’s halls
to bring the news, and cried, ‘My lord, come see
this fearful sight, and tell us if it be

the Day of Judgment, for afraid we are.’
Then all within came out to see the star
which burned above them.  Arthur gazed full long
upon it, then spoke to his courtly throng –

‘Who reads this riddle, let him prove his worth!’ —
And Taliesin Chief of Bards stood forth.
‘My King, last night I dreamed a curious dream.
I stood beside a fortress, as it seemed,

and heard within a voice lamenting long
his heavy chains and most enduring wrong.
Then I awoke.  My lord, the only one
can read this riddle is Madrona’s son.

Mabon they called him – he’d no time to grow
into a longer name, as all men know,
for on the third night following his birth
he vanished –  none knows where on middle-earth

he is, or if he lives, or if he’s dead.
But he must read your riddle.’ — Arthur said,
‘Then who will find him?’ — Taliesin smiled
and said, ‘My Lord, I know of tame and wild

all that a man may know twixt earth and sky,
but there is one knows more of lore than I.’
Arthur then bade him, ‘Go, and bring me word
where Mabon lies, and when your tale I’ve heard

 I’ll forth and free him, I and all my men!’
And so the Bard his journey did begin.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Language studies...

 After playing with Duolingo for about a month in May (involving Russian, Latin, Modern Greek, and Welsh) I have moved on the the Cambridge University Classical Greek course. I bought the books and CDs a couple of years ago, but got diverted into other pursuits. The course involves 3 books - Reading, Grammar, and Independent study material, supplemented by listening to the CDs. I'm enjoying it. I'm also involved with Cymdeithas Madog's monthly Welsh chats and am looking forward to their virtual summer course next month. I haven't got much writing done lately, however - sigh.

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

And coming soon...


Publication date: Sept. 1st:

It includes 3 Mac Criomthann tales from The Fallen Stones plus two new ones:

  • How Mac Criomthann First Came to Ériu
  • Mac Criomthann and Airecal
  • Mac Criomthann and the Need for Light
  • Mac Criomthann and the Words that Kill
  • Mac Criomthann and the Men who Disappeared
Check it out now!


Wednesday, June 1, 2022

New poetry collection

 My new collection is now available in ebook (mobi & epub) and pdf formats at You set the price :)

This is a combination of my two earliest collections - King Arthur's Raid on Hell and Pryderi's Pigs.

I'm currently working on the fifth Storyteller book (The Old Gods Endure) and a new collection of Mac Criomthann short stories (More Mac Criomthann Tales). The latter should  probably be on Smashwords on September 1st.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Something old is new

 I've combined my first two poetry collections (King Arthur's Raid on Hell and Pryderi's Pigs) into one ebook, which will be available on Smashwords on June 1st.