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