Thursday, November 30, 2023

November 2023 - Update #5

 Finally a little writing - chapter 3 is more or less finished at last. Now things should start moving, as Gwernin and company set off on a new adventure. The first part will be similar (but not identical) to the beginning of The Ash Spear - a sort of mirror, but twelve years later, involving the initiatory ritual called "the dark path". We'll be seeing Gwernin's friend Neirin again for the first time since that book. Hopefully he won't take over the entire story line, as he is prone to do!

Most of last week's snow has melted, but not all, because the weekend was very cold. It's definitely winter now. I'm looking forward to getting out of November - it's been a month with too many losses over the years.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

November 2023 - Update #4

 A cold grey morning with snow predicted tonight. The last two days were mild and sunny - what we call "the warm before the storm" - but that's over. I spent part of them doing garden stuff - planting crocus bulbs before the ground freezes, coiling a hose, giving the rosemary plants a last couple of days of outdoor sun. Now it's time to stay indoors and try to write. I have at least been considering plot and plot problems from time to time. Now it's time to put words to them.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

November 2023 - Update #3

 I don't usually start with vodka for breakfast, but this has been a horrible week.

A good friend (Elis Owens) with whom I had worked on the local Welsh language course for the last 24 years died abruptly last Thursday night. I heard about this in  an email two days later, and was just beginning to recover and start to write again when my Gray cat was hit and killed by a car yesterday morning.

The combined loss is almost more than I can stand. I keep reminding myself I have 3 young cats and at least 2 more books to write. But I've never felt more suicidal in my life.

Friday, November 10, 2023

November 2023 - Update #2

 Only a little progress in the last week. I did finish chapter 2 and started chapter 3, but that was mostly because chapter 2 was getting too long and I moved the last 1,000 words into the next chapter. I also spent some time thinking about plot development, and took 2 days off to work on the next issue of Oak Leaves. Hopefully I'll get back on track now. I always seem to have at least three major balls in the air, so to speak -- writing, Oak Leaves, and other druid activities (the last now in two flavors, so to speak), plus assorted daily mundane stuff.

Winter is settling in, with cold nights and heavy frosts the last two days, but we're still getting mild stretches. I need to use some of the milder days to do yard work, especially plant some bulbs and repair the cold frame. Ruay caught a mouse in the yard the other day, but I took it away from him and exported it. This led me to set the live traps in the garage, and I've caught two there so far. I need to get them out now, before the population explodes like it did last year.

Thursday, November 2, 2023

November 2023 - Update #1

 Winter is here. Over the last weekend, I got about 8 inches of snow, followed by overnight lows in the low teens F. A lot of the snow has melted so far, since the ground wasn't frozen, but it's still taking its time. I got all the garden tasks done beforehand; geraniums and rosemarys are in the garage, a few other freeze-tolerant plants in the cold frame. Still lots of garden cleanup to do, but no hurry now.

I've actually got some writing done this week. It took a bit of thought and re-reading of things after such a long break, but I'm hopeful of making fairly steady progress now. I've almost finished chapter 2 at last, and have been mentally grappling this morning with what comes next. The next few chapters will take Gwernin et al to Ynys Mon, where Taliesin's student Mael is going to undergo the initiatory experience called the Dark Path. Some of this I'll be cribbing from The Ash Spear, but some will be new and different. After that - Ireland again.

Thursday, October 26, 2023

October 2023 - Update #4

No writing in the last week either - weekend errands plus an intensive on-line course I'm taking with the Anglesey Druid Order took care of Saturday and Sunday; problems have reappeared with my laptop, which I like to write on while looking out the garden window; Wednesday was errands again, plus moving my geraniums from their summer home in the cold frame to the garage; today more garden work - moving rosemarys inside and four frost-tolerant plants to the empty cold frame, and harvesting the last of the current tomatoes and some still-healthy catnip (the latter to dry). Probably frost tonight, then snow Saturday night and Sunday, w/ a forecast low of 13 F Sunday night. Winter is on the doorstep. Next weekend we'll celebrate Nos Galan Gaeaf.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

October 2023 - Update #3

 Our retreat is finally over, and I hope to start writing again. Certainly I made no progress for the last week though - prepping to hold it at my house had kept me very busy, and I spent most of the weekend managing the Zoom sessions. After that it took me a few days to recover. Next year we expect to be back at La Foret, with more room and facilities, and that should be easier. We will also be a week later in October - the third weekend rather than the second, in part to avoid some conflicts which developed this year. Since we'll be so close to Samhain, I'm hoping our overall topic will have some aspect of that season.

Before next Wednesday I'll also have some end of the season garden work to do as well. We've had several light frosts, but things are about to get colder, so it's time to move the sensitive plants into the garage for the winter and harvest the rest of the beans.

On with the work!

Thursday, October 12, 2023

October 2023 - Update #2

No writing this week - I've been prepping for our annual Rocky Mountain Retreat. It should have been at La Foret conference center, where this picture was taken, but our cabin reservations got screwed up; instead the Zoom sessions and ritual will be at my house. This has required a lot of prep on my part.

I've also been creating a Power Point for a presentation I'll be giving Sunday morning. Since I'd never worked with Power Point before, I had a bit of a learning curve. Fortunately it works a lot like Publisher, which I use for ADF's quarterly magazine, but I had a busy 3 days.

Looking forward to having time to write again in a week or two!

Friday, October 6, 2023

October 2023 - Update #1


Again, no appreciable progress with my writing in the last week. There have been too many distractions, and I'm still stuck in the middle of chapter 2. Next week is unlikely to be better, but after our Rocky Mountain retreat I hope to get the story moving again. 

In other news, I picked most of the nearly-ripe tomatoes yesterday. We haven't had frost yet, but it can't be long - maybe tonight.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

September 2023 - Update #4


Very little writing progress in the last week - perhaps 300 words on Chapter 2 - but some ideas are developing. Most of my attention, however, has been on the situation with Chokecherry's retreat. Due to clerical errors on the part of our site, we are going to be forced to hold the retreat (which fortunately is mostly virtual) here in Denver at my house. A good bit of time and energy was spent on these problems, including unsatisfactory negotiations with the site, changing arrangements with several people who will be here, and serious housekeeping on my part. I also spent half of yesterday with technical support regarding a problem with my laptop, which turns out not to have been entirely fixed after all. Life in general has been rather chaotic, but I hope to get back to Gwernin's adventures soon.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

September 2023 - Update #3


No progress on The Well of Wisdom this week as I've been occupied with the next issue of Oak Leaves - working on my Coelbren article and on layout and contents of the issue. There have also been a few blips in my life in general - dental work and vehicle problems, among other things - and a good bit of yard work to get my back yard ready for our Autumn Equinox ritual Saturday 23rd. This is a public Zoomed ritual, by the way, and if you're interested in joining us it starts around 6:30 p.m. MDT.

After I finish with Oak Leaves, I'll be involved with Chokecherry Grove's annual Rocky Mountain Retreat, managing the Zoom sessions by our presenters and giving a presentation myself. For more information on that, see our blog. I figure I might get back to working on Well of Wisdom seriously sometime in mid-October!

Thursday, September 14, 2023

September 2023 - Update #2


Another mixed week. I received my proof copy of The Old Gods Endure Thursday afternoon, and after looking through it, I approved it for publication on Lulu on Monday and ordered 9 more copies so as to have some on hand for Chokecherry Grove's annual Rocky Mountain Retreat in October. I'm not 100% happy with the cover design, but it's good enough for a first edition since my sales are either person to person or on-line. I also set up a pre-release link at Smashwords for the ebook versions. The print version should show up on Amazon by and by, but if people buy it at Lulu, I'll get more of the money <grin> and you can avoid Amazon, which some people prefer.

No real progress on the next book so far - I'm still half way through Chapter 2, although I've tinkered a bit with Chapter 1 and the manuscript generally. I also need to finish my Oak Leaves article on the Coelbren Alphabet, although that's more than half done now. Having only two balls in the air at once rather than three should be helpful.

We are finally getting cooler weather, with some overnight lows in the 40s F in my back yard. As a result, I've finally got some yard work done, although there's plenty left to do. And the nasty Japanese rose beetles have pretty much disappeared, thank the Gods! Autumn at last!

Thursday, September 7, 2023

September 2023 - Update #1


It's been a mixed week. After making what I hope were final corrections in The Old Gods Endure, I uploaded the Lulu version and ordered my first proof copy. After that I transferred all my corrections to the Smashwords version -- less trouble than making a new Smashwords version from the Lulu one -- and uploaded that as well. Lulu shipped my proof copy yesterday, so with luck I should have it in a week. Then, if it looks good, I can order a few pre-publication copies to have on hand at Chokecherry's Rocky Mountain Retreat next month.  

After that I turned my attention to the next book for a day or so, before moving on to work on my paper on Coelbren alphabet for the next issue of Oak Leaves for a couple of days. The tricky part there was getting all my illustrations into the correct format to fit them into Office Publisher. This involved something I'd never done before -- removing a table from a Word document and running it through Photoshop to produce a .png file. Having done this, I moved on to do layout for the next issue of Oak Leaves with the other submissions I had on hand. I should finally get back to The Well of Wisdom today or tomorrow!

In other news, we are having pleasantly autumnal weather, and are finally running out of Japanese rose beetles!

Thursday, August 31, 2023

August 2023 - Update #5


Having got some good feedback from one of my first readers (thanks, Nathan!), I've been working on The Old Gods Endure again. After correcting some typos and making minor edits in a few spots, I spent yesterday dealing with layout issues. That's almost finished, although I saw one more thing I need to fix when I looked at the pdf last night. After that, it will be time to upload this new version to Lulu and order my first proof copy. While I'm waiting for it to arrive, I can go back to my work on the next book <grin> and on my article and presentation on the Coelbren alphabet.

After some cool weather over the weekend, we're back to highs in the 90s again, but at least the nights are cooler, and longer now as well. The change in the morning sunrise position has become very noticeable - 3 more weeks until the autumn equinox... And suddenly all the tomatoes have got ripe!

Thursday, August 24, 2023

August 2023 - Update #4


Not much writing progress this week, partly due to the hot weather (Denver had record highs a couple of days), partly due to another project. I am hoping for feedback from my first-readers on The Old Gods Endure sometime in the next week, because I want to make any corrections and order the first proof copy by September 7th. That will give me time to do any last minute changes and have copies on hand by our October Rocky Mountain Retreat

The other project, by the way, is an Oak Leaves article and a Retreat presentation on the Coelbren alphabet, a Welsh bardic thing attributed to Iolo Morganwg. But that, my friends, is a story for another day.

On the gardening front, things are much the same - beans, tomatoes, and nasty beetles. I'm ready for September.

Thursday, August 17, 2023

August 2023 - Update #3


Working on chapter 2 of the next book while waiting for feedback from the early readers, but it's going slowly - only 1,646 words so far. I've also tinkered a bit more with chapter 1. A lot of things to set up, checking back to previous books to maintain consistency, etc. For example, has Gwernin ever stayed with Taliesin in his house in Pengwern before? Only once, it seems, in The Ash Spear, when it was clear there was only one bed in the second bedroom. Other times he's stayed in the Prince's guest house... So how would this work, if he has Ianto along, who is twelve years old, has had a long day's ride, has never been away from home before, and is falling asleep, while Gwernin still needs to discuss plans with Taliesin that evening... Thinking is required <grin>.

After a couple of days of mild weather, this week is hot again. A few tomatoes are finally getting ripe - the sweet 100s and the currents - and the beetles are still eating the bean flowers, and sometimes the bean leaves as well. I'm ready for September.

Thursday, August 10, 2023

August 2023 - Update #2


The current versions of The Old Gods Endure have been uploaded to Lulu and Smashwords--there are two separate ones because creating the Smashwords version requires several format changes in the manuscript. I'm currently waiting for feedback from my first readers, and will make any necessary changes in both versions separately, since that will be less work than creating a new Smashwords version. 

This week I've been working on the next book again, finishing the first chapter (more or less) and starting the second one. Gwernin's elder son Ieuan (mostly called Ianto, the diminutive of Ieuan) will be an important character in this book. At this point he's twelve years old, and already becoming a good poet. He'll be traveling with Gwernin this time while Llacheu remains behind to entertain the folk at Llys-Tyn-Wynnan in their absence. 

As an introduction to the series, I've also created a coupon code (RQ33P) at Smashwords for the e-book version of The Druid's Son, good for the rest of August. Just use it at checkout for a free copy!

In other news, after a nice cool break, the weather is warming up again. Maybe the tomatoes will finally start getting ripe...

Thursday, August 3, 2023

August 2023 - Update #1


I've finished my proofread of The Old Gods Endure, making a few small corrections or changes here and there. I'm still waiting for any feedback from my first readers, although I did say "by the end of August". However, I'm going to upload my current version to Lulu, and then start on the Smashwords version, which will require some different formatting. If I make more corrections at the end of the month, I can just edit the two versions, which will be less trouble than redoing the Smashwords version after editing the Lulu one. Technical stuff <grin>.

In the meantime, I have to do some other stuff regarding an article for the next Oak Leaves and my presentation for our October Rocky Mountain Retreat. And maybe find a morning that's cool enough and dry enough to mow the back yard - this morning is cool but not dry, thanks to last night's thunderstorms.

My war on Japanese rose beetles continues...

Thursday, July 27, 2023

July 2023 - Update #4


I've mostly been continuing to proofread The Old Gods Endure for the last week, making small corrections here and there. I found trying to work on two books at once was a bit confusing, so I've reverted to working on the earlier one. I'm hoping the first-readers don't find much that needs fixing, as I need to keep the page count the same since I've already created the Lulu cover. An updated blurb from the back cover: 

"In this fifth book of the "Storyteller" series, Gwernin Storyteller and his bardic student Llacheu travel through sixth century southwestern Britain with the famous bard Taliesin Ben Beirdd, visiting ancient sacred sites and learning their lore, before participating in three bardic competitions which may finally allow Gwernin to reach the coveted status of a Master Bard. Along the way they both meet threats from their past, Gwernin discovers that some of the Old Gods of Britain are still present, and Taliesin shares some of his memories of his time as King Arthur's youngest bard."

The weather has been hot lately - 90s and almost 100 one day - but next week looks cooler and damper.  The tomatoes are covered w/ little green fruits, the beans are growing like crazy and starting to produce beans, and one of the lemon cucumbers has a couple of cukes already, the larger one almost walnut sized. Unfortunately the Japanese beetles are eating the scarlet bean flowers, the raspberry leaves, and any rose which ventures to bloom. That's summer.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

July 2023 - Update #3


Two balls in the air at once, so to speak - or two books. I've got a good start on chapter 1 for The Well of Wisdom, pulling in information from the previous book and setting up the situation, which will have Gwernin traveling again - first to Ynys Mon for an initiation, and then to Ireland. He also has a puzzle to solve before the end of the book.

I've also been doing a slow proof read of The Old Gods Endure, with minor corrections, mostly grammatical. And I spent a day designing the Lulu cover for the paperback edition of that book in Photoshop, and uploading it to Lulu. I'll have to make sure the final text has the same page count so that the cover will fit, but that shouldn't be hard--if necessary I can cull some of the references at the end.

A welcome break from the summer heat today, with thunderstorms starting at dawn and continuing as I write. I may not have to water the garden today!

Thursday, July 13, 2023

July 2023 - Update #2


So it's on to the next book... 

The first stage has involved a little text file of people and some expected plot elements. Example:

The Well of Wisdom: 565
Gwernin (29+)
Llacheu (21) dark red hair... pale eyes. He'll take Gwernin's role while Gwernin is gone.

Ieuan, called Ianto (12+) dark curly hair, blue eyes. He'll go w/ Gwernin to Ireland.

 I've set up the word document and the chapter tracking spreadsheet. And I've started the first chapter - 1,162 words so far. It mirrors the beginning of the previous book, and also establishes what's happened since the end of that one. This has involved some checking back to The Old Gods Endure, which is turning into another slow proof-read of that one, with minor corrections. It's unusual to do this before the previous book is actually published, but an excellent opportunity to fix anything in that one which needs it!

In other news, the garden is going well. Most of the tomato plants have started setting tomatoes, and the beans are mostly higher than the slugs climb. And yesterday my first sunflower bloomed. On the other hand, the rose beetles are here...

Thursday, July 6, 2023

July 2023 - Update #1


I've finished the current issue of Oak Leaves (about 40-60 hours work, assuming I don't have to write a major article myself). I've mostly been letting The Old Gods Endure sit at the moment, while hoping to hear initial comments from some of the "first readers" by the end of the month (well, I did say "by the end of August"...) I haven't started the next book yet, The Well of Wisdom, but I've also been thinking about one that I'll write after it--picture to the left. This will be another third-person spinoff, and will cover Taliesin's life up to Camlann and a bit later, partly based on things he told Gwernin about in The Old Gods Endure.

I've also started working on a presentation for Chokecherry Grove's October Retreat, which will also be an article in the Winter issue of Oak Leaves (which means it has to be ready by the end of September). The title is "The Ogam and the Coelbren: Authenticity and Validity".

The tomatoes are doing well, due to the rain we've been having. Unfortunately all the rest of the vegetation is also growing rapidly...

Friday, June 30, 2023

June 2023 - Update #5

I've finished the first draft of The Old Gods Endure and shared it with a few "first readers" for feedback. I've asked for general comments about the story, plus any parts that are unclear or confusing, and any continuity problems. I've asked for feedback by the end of August, at which time I'll proofread it myself again and make any needed corrections. Then on to preparing the final version for uploads to Lulu and Smashwords for paperback and ebook versions respectively, with a planned publication date of Samhain.

In the meantime, I'm currently finishing up the editing and layout work on the autumn issue of Oak Leaves magazine. When that's done, I will be working on a presentation for Chokecherry Grove's October Retreat, which will also be published in the winter issue of Oak Leaves (and therefore needs to be finished by the end of September). 

After all that, on to the next book, The Well of Wisdom. This will take Gwernin and friends back to Ireland, and complete the second trilogy of the Storyteller series!

Friday, June 23, 2023

June 2023 - Update #4


I've about finished my list of things to fix in the manuscript. I'm considering now whether to edit the Prologue, let it go as is, or remove it. I think for now I'll just edit it a bit today. That will give me the first reading draft for everyone who is volunteered, and I'll send out the pdfs either later today, or Sunday (we're having out Midsummer ritual Saturday).

It's continued to be a rather wet June, which has been good for the roses. The weather is now supposed to dry up a bit and warm up, which will be better for the tomatoes. Always a balance.

Thursday, June 15, 2023

June 2023 - Update #3

 This week I have been proofreading and editing the manuscript. I have about another day's work on that; then I will have to turn my attention to ADF's quarterly magazine Oak Leaves, which I edit. However, I should have a suitable review PDF ready for first readers by next week!

In other news, the tomatoes and basil have survived the thunderstorms so far, although the beans are being attacked by slugs -- grow faster, beans! The pink rose is in full bloom -- pictures soon. Due to the cool weather so far this summer, everything is a little later than usual, but that's not bad.

Thursday, June 8, 2023

June 2023 - Update #2

 I finished chapter 31 on Monday - a short one, with lots of hints about what happens next, and another unexpected gift for Gwernin from his prince. That completes the manuscript's first draft. In the intervening two days I've created a map, updated the appendices, and started the initial proofreading (I've already found one minor error where someone's name changed from "Ieuan mab Iago" to "Ieuan mab Pawl" between chapters, but this was an easy fix, and the chapters were after all written two or three weeks apart). The book should be ready for the "first readers" by the end of the month. I've set up a preorder page for the ebook version on Smashwords, and will be uploading a rough version to Lulu soon to check for problems there. This is only part of the work involved in producing a book like this as a self-publisher!

I also spent much of yesterday updating this website. Considering I started it sixteen years ago, and didn't really use it for a couple of years until I started this regular blogging, I found that a lot of links were broken or outdated. There are still some things I need to fix, but I think most of the stuff on the right sidebar is in better shape now.

In other news, the garden is growing, and as we had a couple of days without rain, I finally got the grass mowed. And the roses have started blooming. Summer at last!

Thursday, June 1, 2023

June 2023 - Update #1

 I finally finished chapter 30 ("An Unexpected Gift") yesterday, and started chapter 31 ("Llys Tyn Wynnan"), the last chapter in the book, which takes Gwernin home again after his summer of traveling. This chapter includes a hint of things to come in the next book, The Well of Wisdom. Chapter 30 also had hints of future plot developments in the shape of intentionally loose ends.

I've also been keeping another outline of things Taliesin has told us about his life in the books so far. I think this will eventually be another spin-off prequel, provisionally titled King Arthur's Bards, but unlike The King's Druid, it won't overlap the Storyteller books.

Celtic things come in threes. In the case of the Storyteller books, three trilogies. The first, the "Young
Gwernin" trilogy
, consists of Storyteller, Flight of the Hawk, and The Ash Spear. The second trilogy, "Gwernin's Quests", consists of The Fallen Stones, The Old Gods Endure, and The Well of Wisdom. The third trilogy will be "The Fall of the North", and will consist of The Last True King, Three Hundred Spears, and The Fall of the North.Yes, I have had all this planned out for a long time.

I didn't quite finish the first draft of The Old Gods Endure by the end of May, but I came very close - I only need another 2,000-3,000 words to finish the last chapter, and that will be easy writing. I will be looking for first readers / proofreaders in a month or two.

In other news, the tomatoes are all planted, and I really should mow the grass again this week. No new reference books this week, as I'm just tying things up in places I've already been.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

May 2023 - Update #4

 I finally finished chapter 29 ("Closing the Circle") last Saturday. Chapter 30 ("An Unexpected Gift") will be the next to last one, and has been going slowly. I knew part of what needs to be there - the part which gives the chapter its name - but had to think about what else I needed, and in what order. 824 words so far, but I should have it done before this time next week, and possibly chapter 31 as well. It's a strange feeling to be so near the end of the first draft, although there will still be a lot more work to do on the book. The planned publication date is Samhain - November 1st. And I want to have Storyteller book #6 - The Well of Wisdom - at this stage by this time next year. That one, as has been hinted more than once in this one, will take Gwernin et al back to Ireland again. After that there is a longer time break in the series, and 3 more planned books set in the Old North. Not sure what I'll do after that, but I'm sure I'll think of something!

Gardening is coming along well - one of the things which has made writing slow this week. It finally stopped raining every day and I was able to deal with the knee-high dandelions in the front yard. I've planted the lemon cucumbers and some of the tomatoes, and direct-seeded peas and  some of the beans. The rate-determining step is the need to clear out the stuff which has come up in the pots, since I mostly do container gardening nowadays. No great hurry though, beyond planting the rest of the beans, as the tomatoes are all still small.

References in the last week:

Dictionary of the Place-names of Wales by Hywel Wyn Owen and Richard Morgan (again)

The Tain by Thomas Kinsella

Stories from the Táin by John Strachan


Thursday, May 18, 2023

May 2023 - Update #3

 I am still plowing my way through chapter 29. There have been some interruptions - another regular vet appointment (between my 4 cats and Rowen's 3, it adds up to a lot of trips), the desperate need to mow at least some of the taller grass between thunderstorms, and the fact that the two weekend farmers' markets we like to attend have now started, removing some of my early morning writing time on Saturdays and Sundays. Chapter 29, like the preceding chapter, is a bridge between the excitement of the bardic competitions and Gwernin's return home. The title is "Closing the Circle", reflecting this sense of completion, both in Gwernin's bardic achievements and in many of his other experiences during the summer. It's also involved a fair amount of map work, which slows me down. Only two more chapters after this one, which should be easier.

In other news, the little tomato seedlings are growing happily in the cold frame, and I will probably be planting the lemon cucumbers in a day or so. Unusually, we haven't had a May frost this year, but I'm told that if the weather had been 10 degrees colder during the 36 hours and 3 to 6 inches of rain last week, it would have translated into 4 to 5 feet of snow! Every morning I praise the Steerers of Storms for their mercy, thank them for the moisture, and ask that the incipient thunderstorms don't contain "hard white bits". There's a reason that during summer rituals here in Denver we use the word "praise" rather that "h**l".😀

Not a lot of new references this last week, other than maps:

Dictionary of the Place-names of Wales by Hywel Wyn Owen and Richard Morgan.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

May 2023 - Update #2

 I finally finished chapter 28 ("The Bluestones") yesterday, in which Taliesin tells us more about Emrys and his own early life. This is something which has been building in scraps throughout this book and indeed the previous one, and I spent most of a day sorting out the timeline, trying to avoid contradictions and make sure "A", so to speak, doesn't come after "B". I finally started chapter 29 yesterday, provisionally titled "The Road Home". Only two more chapters after that, so I could have a first draft finished by the end of this month. Then comes the tedious editing reread, which will probably last a couple more months. Somewhere around August 1st I will be looking for proofreading volunteers <grin>. The total manuscript length should be about 350 pages, plus appendices, TOC, etc. My target publishing date is Samhain (November 1st). Then I can start on the next book...

In other news, my little tomato seedlings are outside now in my cold frame and doing well. I meant to include a picture of them, but it started raining yesterday and hasn't stopped. As I noted on my Facebook page, a flood watch warning is at least a change from a fire weather warning.

Selected references: 

Dictionary of the Place-names of Wales by Hywel Wyn Owen [something I shared with my Welsh language class last week, which fits the atmosphere of a number of parts of this book]

A Welsh Classical Dictionary by Peter C. Bartrum

Wales and the Britons, 350-1064 (History of Wales) by T. M. Charles-Edwards

and a number of maps, paper and on-line, of course


Thursday, May 4, 2023

May 2023 - Update #1

 In the last week I wrote chapter 27 very quickly, most of it in two days, because there was a dramatic situation I needed to resolve. The final chapter title is "The End of the Matter". After that I took a day off, only polishing it a little. I've started chapter 28 ("The Bluestones") but haven't got very far yet - after the dramatic end of chapter 27 I needed to pause for a day or so and decide what comes next (aka "let my head fill up again"). Then there were other interruptions - annual vet appointment for Blackberry yesterday followed by shopping, etc. I have a dentist appointment this morning (in about an hour), but maybe I can make some progress this afternoon. The bluestones of the title, btw, are the sites in the Preseli Mountains where the Stonehenge bluestones originated. After that, Gwernin and friends will be on their way home, with a surprise ending for Gwernin.

In other news, about half of my tiny tomato seedlings plus the lemon cucumbers seedlings are outside now in 3" pots. We have been frost-free for about a week now, and the 10 day forecast shows lows in the 40s, but it's never safe to bet on that for the rest of May. By the end of the month my little plants can go directly into their big pots in the garden.

Not much in the way of new references in the last week - it's mostly been map work and thinking, plus a little on-line research.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

April 2023 - Update #4

 In the last week I finally finished chapter 25 ("the road west"), then wrote almost all of chapter 26 ("the third competition") in two days. It just needs a little polishing today. Gwernin did win his mastery, but in a way I hadn't expected - this is what happens when you're writing in "taking dictation" mode! 😀 I'll be starting chapter 27 later today, the title of which keeps changing. At the moment, it's provisionally "some answers". I (and Gwernin etc) still have to deal with Bluchbardd - Dewi Sant (Saint David) may be involved. We'll see what the awen provides.

In other news, the weather continues in Denver's spring pattern - a couple of inches of overnight snow a few days ago, a couple of mild days, then a lot of rain Tuesday night which fortunately wasn't snow here (although the mountains got a lot).  I now have a windowsill full of tiny tomato plants plus two cucumber seedlings, the latter of which will need to be potted up and probably moved to the cold frame soon. It's about a month yet before they'd be safe in the garden, but they should be ready then.

Selected references for the last week:

A Welsh Classical Dictionary by Peter C. Bartrum

Trioedd Ynys Prydein: The Welsh Triads by Rachel Bromwich

Wales and the Britons, 350-1064 (History of Wales) by T. M. Charles-Edwards

Law of Hywel Dda (Welsh Classics) by Dafydd Jenkins

The towns of Roman Britain by John Wacher

...and of course some Ordinance Survey maps!





Thursday, April 20, 2023

April 2023 Update #3

 In the last week I finished chapter 24 {"The Second Competition"), in which Gwernin came second and Bluchbardd made threats to our friends afterwards. After that, with some interruptions, I've been working on chapter 25 (currently titled "The Road West"), which will take Gwernin et al from Caerdydd to Carmarthen. I had to solve another plot problem dating from the third chapter of Storyteller, but it seems to be mostly sorted out now. I think this will be the last problem of this kind, as after this chapter Gwernin's current itinerary won't overlap with his travels in past books. I also think that Bluchbardd, who is getting more and more erratic, may meet a bad end before the end of this book, but we'll see.

In other news, spring seems to have finally installed in Colorado, and I'm starting cucumber and tomato seeds.

Selected references:

Wales and the Britons, 350-1064 (History of Wales) by T. M. Charles-Edwards

Bugail Eryri: Pedwar Tymor Ar Ffermydd Mynydd by Keith Bowen

Pocket Guide to the Birds of Britain and North-West Europe by Chris Kightley


Thursday, April 13, 2023

April 2023 Update #2

 In the last week I finished chapter 22 ("the first competition"), set in Caerwent, where Gwernin competes but doesn't win, and where Bluchbardd, who we saw a lot of in the previous book, turns up again. I also finished chapter 23 ("the roots of hatred"), in which Gwernin et al visit Caerleon, where the first chapter of Storyteller took place. In this chapter Gwernin repeats a story he first told there, and Taliesin tells us how he first beat Bluchbardd in bardic contest (an episode very loosely adapted in tone and location from Chwedl Taliesin <grin>). I wrote these two chapters very fast, in the "taking dictation" mode, and was surprised by some of the poetry from Taliesin - I didn't plan it, I just typed!

Today I'm starting chapter 24 ("the second competition") set in Caerdydd. I'll tell you next week about Gwernin's success or lack of it!

Selected references: 

Wales and the Britons, 350-1064 (History of Wales) by T. M. Charles-Edwards

The Mabinogi and Other Medieval Welsh Tales by Patrick K. Ford

The towns of Roman Britain by John Wacher


Thursday, April 6, 2023

April 2023 Update #1

 I finished chapter 21 last Friday, and all but finished chapter 22 on Monday. However, I then had to turn my attention to Oak Leaves, ADF's quarterly magazine. By working frantically, I got a lot done on the layout for that on Tuesday and Wednesday morning. It doesn't go to the printers until after ADF's annual election finishes on the 15th, so after I find one more column, it will be just a matter of waiting for contributions from 3 other people and either writing an additional article myself or possibly inserting something from my past writing. Either way, I should be able to turn my attention back to Gwernin & company soon. 

I also had to decide where they're going next. In this manuscript so far, I had mentioned King Arthur as holding court at Caerleon in south Wales about five times. That was supposed to be Gwernin's next stop, where he first stands in bardic competition. However, it occurred to me that in the very first chapter of Storyteller, he describes visiting Caerleon and seeing it in utter ruins. His visit is less than 20 years after Camlann, so I had a problem. I could do one of the following: 1) assume that my readers will have forgot that first story by the time they get to this book (#5 in the series); 2) assume that Gwernin's memory is faulty, and that Caerleon was not in utter ruins, or at least not all of it; 3) find an alternate location. If #3, I had a couple more possibilities: 3a) Caerwent, which is nearby, and a reasonable alternative although a bit on the small side; 3b) Caerdydd, also nearby, which Gwernin visited after Caerleon and found in good shape. But I was planning to use Caerdydd for the second of three competitions he'll be standing in, so I needed somewhere else for the first one. 

In the end, after watching a couple more Time Team episodes and doing some reading, I settled on Caerwent -- a smaller Roman town, but at least one I hadn't already described as being an utter ruin <grin>. According to Time Team, it's the best preserved Roman town in Britain, because it never grew into a medieval city. I visited it once long ago myself, and can testify that most of the town walls are still standing and over ten feet high in places. Caerwent probably wasn't in good shape then either, but at least I haven't already described it as derelict! I changed Caerleon to Caerwent in the manuscript. Now on we go!

Selected references: 

The towns of Roman Britain by John Wacher

Time Team Season 19, Episode 9 Rome's Wild West Caerleon, Newport 

Britain's Best Preserved Roman Town In Caerwent, South Wales | Time Team





Friday, March 31, 2023

March 2023 Update #5

 I'm still working on chapter 20 ("The Largest Stones") which I started a week ago. Progress has been interrupted by various things, e.g. the Zoom workshops I ran over the weekend, video and print research as to what Gwernin and friends would see at Avebury, and my virus software's desire to change some things yesterday (which involved spending half an hour or so on a call with tech support and totally blew my creative concentration for the rest of the day). However, I hope to finish #20 today or tomorrow. Then on to the last third of the book, during which Gwernin will stand in bardic competitions in hopes of finally becoming a Master Bard. As they say on Time Team, join me after the break. :)

Main references this last week:

Avebury (English Heritage) by Caroline Malone

 'Beyond the Stones' : 35th Anniversary of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site,


Thursday, March 23, 2023

March 2023 Update #4

Well, the weather is back to spring, and I actually have some crocuses and violets blooming. Chives are coming up all over, and so is the catnip. I'm ready for spring!

 I finally finished chapter 19 ("Rough Justice") yesterday. Part of this involved moving the last section of chapter 18 into 19, as 18 was really too long. That essentially bumped part of the planned material for chapter 19 into chapter 20 ("The Largest Stones"), which I started this morning. These things happen!

When I write a chapter, or indeed a scene in one, I try to write it without trying to get everything right (no pun intended). Then I go back over it once or twice to make adjustments where needed and polish the wording, adding more descriptions where needed. This of course will be repeated for the whole manuscript after I finish the first draft, and may be more necessary than usual because of the several interruptions in writing it.

Main references this last week: 

First Steps in Old English by Stephen Pollington

An Introduction to Early English Law by Bill Griffiths  

Beowulf: A Dual-Language Edition by Howell D. Chickering

Time Team S17-E07 Cunetio

Friday, March 17, 2023

March 2023 - Update #3

 Despite a few interruptions, I finished chapter 18 ("The Singer of Tales") this morning. Despite some exciting bits, Gwernin & friends have solved their Saxon problems and will be heading north again in the next chapter. This one was a bit long, and required some thought about early Anglo-Saxon law courts, as well as some praise poetry. 

We also had a little snow yesterday, but it's mostly gone now. Spring in Colorado! :)

Important references for the last week: 

An Introduction to Early English Law by Bill Griffiths 

Wordcraft: New English to Old English Dictionary and Thesaurus by Stephen Pollington

First Steps in Old English by Stephen Pollington



Thursday, March 9, 2023

March 2023 - Update #2

 The last week has been very productive. I spent a lot of time over the weekend plot sorting - deciding what should be in the rest of the book - and have things pretty well nailed down now. It's not a detailed outline - that would be boring for me - just a list of things that need to happen in each chapter, which is rather the way I did The King's Druid. After that I went on to finish chapter 16 - "An Old Enemy", and should finish chapter 17 ("The Saxon King") and start chapter 18 ("The Singer of Tales") today. That second one needs to get Gwernin et al out of their current problems. Taliesin will probably figure it out!

In other news, no measurable snow so far this month, but there's a lot of March - and April - left.

Most important references for the last week (aside, as usual, from the ordinance survey maps):

The towns of Roman Britain by John Wacher

Cloth And Clothing in Early Anglo-Saxon England, AD 450-700 (CBA Research Reports) (CBA Research Reports) by Penelope Walton Rogers

Anglo-Saxon food and drink : production, processing, distribution and consumption by Ann Hagen

An Introduction to Early English Law by Bill Griffiths 



Friday, March 3, 2023

March 2023 Update #1

 After finishing two chapters last week, I came down with some sort of crud over the weekend, and haven't written anything so far this week. I'm hoping to get going again today, if slowly. After watching the midsummer sunrise at Stonehenge in chapter 15, they're about to meet some unfriendly Saxons... one of whom Gwernin has met before.

Most important reference for last week: Stonehenge: The Story of a Sacred Landscape by Francis Pryor

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

February 2023 update #5


A lot of writing progress in the last week - I should finish chapter 14 today! This takes Gwernin & company to Stonehenge, where they plan to watch the midsummer sunrise in the next chapter. This was not really a good decision on their part; Stonehenge (and Avebury, their next target) being in Anglo-Saxon territory, in the expanding kingdom of Wessex. Complications may ensure.

Pertinent reference for this chapter:

Wessex in the early Middle Ages by Barbara Yorke, London : Leicester University Press, 1995.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

February 2023 update #4

 Since the last update, I've really got going on the writing. Finished chapter 11 (The Two Wells) on Friday; chapter 12 (Camlann Field) on Sunday, subject to a little tinkering; and I've got the larger part of chapter 13 (In Arthur's Hall) done already. After that I'll have to see what goes in chapter 14, which will be transitional to the next set of linked chapters. Those will involve some people Gwernin has met before. :)

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Februry 2023 #3

 After spending several days on the Taliesin project, I'm finally back to The Old Gods Endure. I spent a lot of time proof reading the manuscript to date, fixing a number of minor issues, and redoing the chapter formatting, then managed 285 words on chapter 11. I hope to finish that chapter by this time next week, hopefully sooner.

I've also changed the header on this blog to match my business cards. The ogam letters on the branch spell out "tre gwernin", which means "Gwernin's home".

Friday, February 3, 2023

February #2 - An unexpected detour

 I have been putting in a lot of writing time the last few days, but not on The Old Gods Endure. Instead I've  been combing back through the Storyteller books to date and The King's Druid for snippets about Taliesin. I was beginning to have the feeling of potentially painting myself into a corner which led to my writing The Druid's Son in order to get Mac Criomthann's background straight. I don't plan (lol) to stop working on Old Gods in order to hare off and write Taliesin's story, but I've sorted out pertinent snippets into an timeline, and have only found a couple of minor contradictions to date. Now onward w/ Gwernin. :)

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

February 2023 #1

 Only 80 words so far on Chapter 11, but I hope to write more today. The last week was dedicated to research, plus coping with some very cold weather (highs in the teens F). The next week should be better. Currently useful references have included Geoffrey Ashe's Arthurian Britain, and the next three chapters will deal partly with Taliesin's experiences before and after Camlann.

Monday, January 23, 2023

January 2023 #3 update

 Chapter 10 is coming slowly, but it's coming. I need to finish it this week. At least I've mostly got last week's snow shoveled, and can concentrate on other things. 

Chapter titles so far, btw:

1. Llys-tyn-wynnan
2. Pengwern
3. setting out
4. the hound lord
5. the hill above the yew wood
6. the town outside the walls
7. the place of many gods
8. the waters of the goddess
9. the third time
10. the cave of ghosts

As usual with my Storyteller books, I'm planning on 31 chapters, so you can see I have a way to go!

Update 1/25/23: finished chapter 10 today. Now I have to do more research...

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Very slow progress


Mostly tinkering and thinking this week as far as the new book goes. I have got the party as far as Cheddar Gorge, where they are about to be trapped overnight by flooding. Chapter title: the Cave of the Ghosts.

Last Saturday Rowen and I attended the SCA's Caerthe 12th night - the first time I'd made it there in about four years - and I sold some books. Most of the sales were to people who hadn't seen my books before, and were either Storyteller, The Druid's Son, or one or more of the poetry collections. This is good so far as getting new readers, although I had expected more interest in The Fallen Stones. I need to follow up by finding more opportunities to merchant this year.

Monday, January 9, 2023

A New Year beginning...

 Well, having got through all the winter holidays (and the associated winter weather), I am finally starting again on chapter 10. At this rate, I will be lucky to finish the book this year, but we'll see. I'm not sure I am going to keep the present cover image, but haven't found anything so far that I prefer.