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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.

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Sideways Progress

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 And the last remaining legions in Britannia were withdrawn, leaving the Britons on their own to defend against renewed raids.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.

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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.

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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.

 

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I think I’m almost ready to start–at least with the dragons’ part of the story. But inspiration has at least been flowing on how that will work–I hope.

Meanwhile, continuing some research on the oldest part of the Arthur legend–which, hopefully, is also the closest to whatever historical persons or events may underlie it.

If there was an Arthur–or someone who did the major thing that Arthur was supposed to have done–it was probably around the year 500.

From the middle of the 1st Century until early in the 5th Century, Britain (south of Scotland) was part of the Roman Empire. In 410, the Roman legions were withdrawn to protect the parts of the Empire closer to Rome from Barbarian incursions. Britain had been suffering from these incursions, too–up until this point, mostly smash-and-grab raids by the Irish, Picts, and Saxons–and now they had no protection. Sometime after the withdrawal of the legions, the nature of these incursions changed from raids to occupation–Irish and especially Saxon settlements being founded in Britain. The Saxon settlements particularly expanded westward, pushing at least some of the Romanized Britons further and further west. Until, right around 500, the advance stopped and held for about 50 years.

That’s history. Legend, of course, has it that Arthur and his knights fought twelve battles against the Saxons and finally defeated them at Mount Badon. (Only, nobody now knows where Mount Badon was.)

The earliest written (allowing, of course, for older oral traditions) mention of this battle in by Gildas. He wasn’t writing a history, though. Or a legend. More a rant about how the weaker leaders of his time had let the Saxons begin to advance across Britain once again.

But:

  • Gildas names the war leader who won the battle of Mount Badon as Ambrosius Aurelianus–not Arthur.
  • He further claims that Ambrosius was descended of “royal” Roman blood.
  • However, he expressly does not call Ambrosius a king, let alone high king–and he does name other kings.

Interestingly, Gildas was writing possibly fifty or so years after the battle, so maybe he knew or had heard first-hand stories about what happened.

And, while Gildas didn’t use the name Arthur, another 6th Century source–a poem from Scotland–does, in praising the accomplishments of a warrior “though he was no Arthur”. That’s all it says about Arthur. Which implies that Arthur’s story–as it existed at that time–was well enough known that it didn’t need explanation.

Other parts of the Arthur legend got added later, though a few are possibly old.

  • Merlin isn’t added to the story until the 12th Century. (Too bad, I’m still using Merlin.)
  • Lancelot is also a 12th Century addition.
  • Guenivere, however, is mentioned in what may be later (11th Century) transcriptions of older oral traditions. In fact, the Welsh Triads mention three separate women–all named Guenevere and all married to Arthur.
  • Mordred is also mentioned–although generally only as Arthur’s nephew. And he’s often portrayed in as one of the good guys.

All of this is giving me some ideas.

 

 

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Book Fair

I know I’ve been MIA for the last couple of months.

Continuing to report on my failure to make progress with MAGE STORM . . . wasn’t helping.

Mage Storm

I can’t imagine it was very interesting to read, either. Unfortunately, I don’t have any real progress to report–yet.

However, I can’t fail to let you know about an opportunity to find some new authors to read. Fantasy Sci-fi Readers Lounge Elf’s Shelf Book Fair.

Enjoy!

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(Lack of) Progress

I knew last week was going to be a tough one. I just had too many other things to get through. Most of them time consuming. Some of them highly frustrating. All of them energy draining. As a result, I’ve made very little progress on MAGE STORM.

Mage Storm

And this week is up in the air, since I don’t know my schedule for the next day until the previous evening. And I still haven’t had a chance to address that major stressor that came up a couple of weeks ago.

I haven’t even accomplished much over the weekend–even though it’s a three day weekend for me. Well, I have a few more hours to get something done. Maybe.

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It feels so good to actually be writing again!

Actual progress on MAGE STORM.

Mage Storm

It’ll still take a while, of course. That’s okay. It’s finally coming out and onto the page. That’s what matters.

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Author Interview

Check out this author interview.

 

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The rewrite of MAGE STORM advances by fits and starts so far.

Mage Storm

There are habits I clearly need to re-establish. And this hasn’t been a great week for it. Too many unavoidable interruptions. So, I’m going to have to set myself some rules–just like I’ve been doing about getting some of the yard work done, or the house cleaning. I usually enjoy writing more than either of those (especially house cleaning), so you’d think it’d be easy.

Still, progress is progress. And it gets a little easier, a little smoother every time I work on it. So there’s that. At some point–hopefully–it should build it’s own momentum.

 

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