It’s been a little while since I posted, hasn’t it?

Well, some of that is because I’ve been writing. Not making any speed records, here. But I actually am writing. I’m also still doing research for this one.

Part of the goal is to get as reasonably close to history as practical–at least the history of the times, since there is no historical documentation of Arthur at all. That’s important because I mean to carry the story and at least Merlin forward beyond Arthur’s time. But Arthur’s time, to the extent that any part of the legend has a real basis, is the fifth century–the Dark Ages. And the reason it’s called the Dark Ages (beyond the fact that daily life almost certainly did get grimmer than it had been during Roman times) is that there just isn’t a lot of historical documentation. Archaeology to the rescue. Except that mostly what archaeology has turned up complicates the legend.

Before the Romans, the native Celtic Britons had been organized into dozens of small, tribal territories more likely to fight each other than the invading Romans. Which, of course, the Romans exploited. And the Romans had mostly left that ground-level organization in place, and just put a layer of Roman administration on top of it. So, when the Romans left, the Britons naturally fell right back into their tribal territories–and their inter-tribal warfare. And it’s most likely that several of those small tribal “kingdoms” hired Saxon or other Germanic warriors to help them out against their neighbors. Who then also hired Saxons to fight on their side. So the image of Arthur uniting the Britons to expel the Saxons is just not realistic.

And, at the same time, I want to keep enough of the legend that it is recognizable, but without all the flourishes that later writers, like Geoffrey of Monmouth, Chretien de Troyes, and Thomas Mallory added. Though, I am keeping Merlin even if Geoffrey of Monmouth mostly made him up. Just, well, my Merlin will be very different than Geoffrey’s.

I will not, for example, be using the story of Merlin disguising Uther so Uther can get into Tintagel and spend the night with Igraine. Sorry, but I’ve never liked that story and I like it less now. Frankly, it’s rape, since no one asked Igraine what she thought about it. And that’s not the kind of story I write. Anyway, having just written a couple of books inspired by the legend of Hercules it’s impossible not to notice that it’s basically a direct copy of the Greek myth of Hercules’s birth. Which I also didn’t use.

Right now, I’m writing the part where Merlin discovers there’s a dragon under Dinas Emrys, where Vortigern is trying to build a fort on top of the hill.

Oh, yes, there will be dragons.

I’ve gotten a very little bit of writing done. I know exactly how this next scene goes, so there’s not much excuse. Except that, with a bit of help, I finally accomplished something I’d been trying to do for some time.

See, one of the things about living in an old house is, sometimes, old appliances. The washer and dryer are/were not less than 25 years old and probably closer to 30. The washer still works, with a couple of tweaks, but the dryer had given up the ghost more than a year ago. It’s okay. Clotheslines still work, in some ways better. (Well, except when it’s raining.) The mud room/utility room/pantry/laundry room is about 5 1/2 feet wide by roughly 11 feet long. And the dryer was smack in the middle of one long wall taking up 30 inches of the 5 1/2 foot width of the room. Bad enough when it was useful.

I wanted it out. But I couldn’t get the gas valve (which hadn’t been turned off probably since the dryer was installed) to budge. Finally had to ask for help. But it’s done now. The dryer is out. The washer stays, for now. But eventually I’ll replace it with a combination unit that is both washer and dryer. Still a bit of cleaning and reorganizing to do. (The only thing the dryer had been used for recently was a flat surface to put things on.) But that tiny room feels enormous with that beast out. And coming in the back door doesn’t feel nearly so crowded.

So, now, maybe I can stop fussing with trying to get that out and settle down to write. Hopefully.

Before and After pictures:

Another Step

celtic dragon_46947764

Progress so far has been slow on MERLIN’S GAMBIT. But this week for the first time I have made notes in the document of what happens in this chapter and the next. This might not seem like much.

I’m a discovery writer. I don’t outline. Except that I usually have these notes for three to five chapters ahead in my work in process. So, this one is beginning to come to life as more than just a concept and a starting point.

After a long drought, it feels good.

While I continue to stew over various stymied home projects, I have made some progress on MERLIN’S GAMBIT–in a way.

In expanding my research, I came across something that was just too perfect to pass up. But using it meant starting the story a little later. It’s okay, the opening scene actually can be pretty flexible that way. So, I just rewrote a portion of dialog to make it fit the new time period.

Merlin’s Gambit is an alternate history (well, sort of) with dragons. And, well, I’ll just post the historical note that precedes the first chapter:

In the year 383, Britannia had been part of the Roman Empire for nearly four hundred years. Among other things, this meant the Britons enjoyed the protection of the Roman legions against raids by groups the Romans considered barbarians—the Irish from the west, the Picts from the north, and the Saxons from the east. In that year, the commander of the legions in Britannia, a man named Magnus Maximus, was proclaimed emperor by his troops. He took most of the legions with him to the continent to conquer Rome—or at least a significant portion of it. And he succeeded, for a while, ruling Britannia, Gaul, Hispania, and North Africa. Until he tried to add Italy to his domain and in 388 Emperor Theodosius I captured and executed Maximus and his son, though his daughters, Maxima and Sevira, were spared.

Britannia continued as part of the Roman Empire, though with reduced legions, until the year 410. An exceptionally cold winter a few years earlier had caused the Rhine River to freeze over and the barbarians who had been pushing at the northeastern borders of the Roman Empire poured across into Gaul. In 410, under the leadership of Alaric, the Visigoths sacked Rome itself. And the last remaining legions in Britannia were withdrawn, leaving the Britons on their own to defend against renewed raids. Britannia fractured into small kingdoms, echoing the Celtic tribal domains that had existed before the Romans came. But, with the experience of being part of the Roman Empire, they recognized that they needed someone to lead a common defense against the barbarians.

Little real history comes down to us from fifth-century Britannia, but there are legends. So many, many legends. Among them is one that claims that Magnus Maximus had married Elen, a Welsh princess. And that, when he left to make himself emperor, he left the sovereignty of Britannia to her father. Legend also says that Sevira, married a man named or called Vortigern, which, interestingly, means “high king”. Vortigern, though, made a serious mistake and it fell to an even greater legendary figure, Arthur, to preserve Romano-Celtic Britannia for his time.

Okay, so it took three days, but my computer is up and running–and recognizing me–again. Most of that time was making a backup of all my files before trying anything else. Carbonite backs up up everything, but I’ve not yet tried to download any of those files and a redundant backup on One Drive won’t hurt anything.

After that, the first recommended fix scared me to death, but it worked. Scared me because I know just enough to know that editing the registry is generally a very, very bad idea. But, like I said, it worked.

Now, I’m engaged in trying to find a user manual online for a (apparently) sixteen year old string trimmer. Yeah, no luck so far. I think I need to replace the string but without the user manual . . . .

Next I need to find out what I need to do to fix the really big string trimmer–the one that looks like a lawn mower but isn’t. It was smoking the last time I used it. And, even if it wasn’t really hard to find repair shops, etc., open right now, I don’t stand a snowball’s chance you know where of getting that monster into my trunk or, really, anywhere even a couple of inches off the ground.

Meanwhile, the only grass cutting tool I have is a pair of grass shears.

So far, I have not gotten any more real writing done, but at least I have been thinking about the story.

Yeah, speaking of reset buttons . . . .

I restarted my computer yesterday morning and ever since it’s been throwing me into temporary accounts, which don’t have all of my shortcuts or my saved passwords (for low-threat sites like this blog) and also won’t allow me to directly access any of my files–or some of my applications. I tried restarting–which only resulted in multiple temporary accounts. Then I tried copying all of my files over to this temporary account–I can find them in File Explorer, at least. And setting up at least what I could.

Then I shut the computer off last night and . . . right back to a new temporary account this morning. Clearly, this approach is not going to work.

I’ve managed to find a set of instructions on things to try in order to fix this, so I suppose that’s next. For however long that takes.

First up is copying all of my files off somewhere safe, just in case. Then into the wonderful world of arcane computer instructions.

Wish me luck. I need it.

Wow! Looks like I haven’t been back here in almost two months. Sorry to say, nothing much happened writing-wise during that time. And now, I’m pushing the restart button.

Truth to tell, I’d love push restart on this whole year. I imagine most everyone would. But that’s beyond my power.

What I can do is push restart on my writing. Literally.

It’s weird the way one thing will prompt another. I was attending to some mundane tasks–getting my books up on GooglePlay–when something just clicked. The reason I was not making any progress on my current writing project–well, apart from the general background stress and feeling of being overwhelmed–was that I’d started in the wrong place. Way too early. Again. That background might make it into a prequel novella some day, because it is important, but it’s way to far back from when interesting things actually start to happen.

So, restart, quite literally. I wrote the new first chapter yesterday. And it was fun! And at least a partial antidote to being overwhelmed.

The story has a new title, too. Merlin’s Gambit.



Well, I forgot to post on Sunday, didn’t I? All I can say is that time is beginning to feel a little surreal right now. Really weird to see no one on the streets and almost no cars. Trying to maintain something like a regular schedule, but . . . .

In any case, five of my books are now free for others who are also spending way more time at home than usual. We are all Safer at Home, right now.

The Shaman’s Curse is perma-free and has been for a while:


The next four are free now thru April 12th. (Amazon has price-matched in the US, so far.)

Become: To Catch the Lightning:


Fire and Earth (with its shiny new cover):

3D computer graphics of a female warrior with fantasy dress and sword

The Bard’s Gift:


and Daughter of the Disgraced King:


Meanwhile, I have mostly been doing a little more research for my work-in-progress, so not much direct progress. But, if you don’t get the foundation right, it’s a lot harder to get the whole book to hang together, so not time wasted.

I confess to having been knocked a bit off balance last week. A lot of things happened in a short space of time. I know I’m not alone in that. It’s a new reality we’re all trying to cope with.

But this week I am committed to getting myself back up out of that slump and doing things. At least those things I can do. Some work in the yard (I did a little this morning.), some house cleaning, something creative. And figuring out how to manage or work around those that I can’t or shouldn’t do right now. (I fall into the vulnerable group as far as this virus goes.) I’m seriously tempted to restart my vegetable garden (in some other place until I can clean up the old one), even though I know nothing would be ready for harvest for at least two months.

I did manage to get the books and stories I still had in Kindle Select/Kindle Unlimited pulled out and up for wider distribution. So, that’s something. And now that they’re wide–or as soon as the distribution works through the systems of the various retailers, I’ll likely start setting some of them free for a limited time. Everybody needs some form of escape right now and books seem to be one of the only safe ways. And, in times that are just as unsettled financially as they are health-wise, well, it’s something I can do to help out.

Gold Flame Dragon

And I swear I am going to get some work done on the new story. Really. I may even start working on cover art.

Special Event

Escape into a Book event, hosted (online) by the Fellowship of Fantasy.  Free ebooks. If you’re stuck at home during this crisis, at least you can let your imagination get out.

Enjoy. And stay safe.