Faced with a scene that just isn’t working? What’s a writer to do?

A_view_of_the_observatory_tower_of_Lincoln_Castle

Lincoln Castle

Battle Scars Book 2, For King and Country, centers on events in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire from April 1193 until Richard the Lionheart’s return from captivity and the subsequent siege of Nottingham Castle in 1194.

I am about 2/3rds through edits on my first draft, and approaching a mini-climax that I have been stewing over for weeks. I had laid the basics of the scene in my rough draft, but the concept left me wanting.

When I know the end result of a scene, I’ll often work backwards to determine how that scene needs to unfold. Have you ever found yourself doing this? I’ll ask the ‘what if?’ questions. What are all the possible options? What characters need to be on stage?

I knew a character was going to die. (Oh no!) The death seemed meaningless the way I’d written the original draft. Oh sure, it was sad. But predictable? An easy solution? Ugh. I wanted and needed a meaningful death, a heroic death. Will this doomed character be revealed as friend? Or as foe? The scene must explode on the paper (er, computer screen). It needs to leave the readers’ hearts racing. Henry de Grey’s family lives near Lincoln. Lincoln Castle kept looming in my thoughts. Underlying political intrigue. Conflict.

The ideas came together on Sunday morning. I jotted down a dozen ‘what ifs’ and suddenly everything jelled. Gotta love those Eureka! moments. The first 550 words are written. Onwards…

On a slightly unrelated note, Joel Friedlander, the Book Designer, commented on the design of Men of the Cross in his monthly e-Book Cover Design Award post: “A strong and attractive cover that implies enough to get us interested. Not sure you really need the red sash but, overall, a very nice job.”

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Image attribution:  “A view of the observatory tower of Lincoln Castle” by LysNanna – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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My novel, Men of the Cross, is available in print and for Kindle on Amazon & Amazon (UK) and other Amazon sites worldwide, for Nook via Barnes & Noble, and via Smashwords in multiple formats.

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fifty shades of…12th century England

research books

one pile of my 12th century research materials

Forgive the “fifty shades” reference. I almost called this “fifty shades of de Grey” – de Grey being the surname of main character Sir Henry in Men of the Cross, but I thought better of it. :)  I’ve intended this to spark interest/amazement/horror for those who aren’t so familiar with the 12th century, and I’ve included a number of facts related to the Third Crusade. Enjoy these bits of trivia:

  1. Henry I (reigned 1100-1135) named his daughter Matilda (aka Empress Maud) as his successor, but his nobles chose to name Matilda’s cousin Stephen as king on Henry’s death.
  2. The Anarchy, aka “when Christ and his saints slept” (which is a translated quote from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle), lasted from 1135 – 1154 when Matilda (mother of Henry II) and her cousin Stephen fought to reign over England (see #1).
  3. The crown did not automatically pass to the oldest child: Stephan (reigned 1135-1154) passed over his eldest surviving son and named Henry (son of his rival Matilda) as his successor.
  4. Women could inherit property.
  5. The nobility were generally of Norman descent. (Remember William the Conqueror, 1066?)
  6. “Corn” was any cereal grain (not maize, which wasn’t introduced to Europe until the 15th or 16th century). Corn = wheat, barley, rye, etc.
  7. Many manor houses were built of timber. Stone was for the wealthiest landowners and saw increased use after the Norman Conquest as the new Norman rulers built their castles as symbols of their power.
  8. Below the nobility, church officials, and knights, there were some freeman, but a large percentage of the population were villeins, including serfs (slaves), who owed service to the lord of the manor. Service, which varied from place to place, usually included 3 days of work per week (more during harvest) for the right to live & work their own plots of land.
  9. A warhorse (aka destrier) might cost in excess of 50 shillings. Mail for the knight: 100 shillings.
  10. William, Henry, Roger, John and Geoffrey were very popular boys’ names.
  11. William, Henry, Geoffrey, and John were Richard the Lionheart’s brothers; Henry (the II) was his father.
  12. Henry II’s illegitimate sons were also named Geoffrey and William.
  13. Richard I was born in Oxford, England. Neither of his parents were English: Henry II was French from Anjou; Eleanor was from Aquitaine.
  14. Maud, Alice, Margaret, Joan and Isabel were popular women’s names.
  15. Taxes were too high (even back then!)
  16. A baron (like Henry de Grey’s father in Men of the Cross) might owe the crown £100 a year for scuttage, which might be paid in cash, in service and/or in crops/goods.
  17. Ermine Street ran from London to York (via Lincoln); it had been constructed during the Roman occupation hundreds of years earlier. (It was one of 4 major royal roads, which novelist Patricia Bracewell just wrote about on EHFA.)
  18. Traveling 40 miles a day was quite a feat on horseback. Whilst running from Duke Leopold in Austria, Richard I traveled 50 miles a day for 3 days in an attempt to reach the safety of the Moravian border. Imagine an army with hundreds of supply wagons, men on foot, and knights: in the Holy Land, Richard’s army of approximately 15,000 traveled anywhere from 2 – 13 miles per day.
  19. The language of the upper classes was Anglo-Norman, a French dialect.
  20. Peasants spoke what we’d call Old English though the influences of the Norman language led to the transformation to Middle English.
  21. Latin was the language used for official written records.
  22. It was a mortal sin to have sex that was not specifically meant for procreation; however, a trip to the confessional would get you a penance of a few Pater Nosters or a small fine.
  23. It was a mortal sin to have sex in any position except man-on-top/woman-on-bottom (see above for penance).
  24. There were no civil laws on the books against homosexuality in England until the second half of the 13th century. [Note: I've lost my reference for this: if you can point me to it I would appreciate it!].
  25. Bathing was more common in the Middle Ages than in the 19th century: many towns  had public bath houses. It was reported that when King John (reigned 1199-1216) traveled around his kingdom, he took a bathtub with him.
  26. The most dysfunctional family of the 12th century surely must have been Henry II, Eleanor, and their brood.
  27. Henry II imprisoned his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, from 1173-1189 for her role in his sons’ rebellion.
  28. Eleanor was 9 years older than Henry; they married after her marriage to the king of France was annulled.
  29. John, young Henry, and Geoffrey speaking to their brother Richard: “Mom always liked you best!”
  30. Henry II (reigned 1154-1189) could not read.
  31. Henry II crowned his successor Henry while he still lived. Henry was known as “the young king.” He died in 1183, a victim of dysentery.
  32. Eleanor accompanied her first husband Louis VII of France on the Second Crusade in the 1140s.
  33. Eleanor outlived  8 of her 10 children (2 by 1st marriage to Louis VII; 8 by Henry II; only son John and daughter Eleanor (by Henry) survived her.
  34. Thomas Becket, appointed Archbishop of Canterbury by Henry II, was murdered in December 1170 by four of Henry II’s overzealous knights after Henry reputedly said “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?” (or something along that line dependent on which biography you read).
  35. King Richard I (Richard the Lionheart, ruled 1189-1199) spent only 6 months in England during his reign.
  36. Richard set out for the Holy Land in 1190, marching his army to Marseille to rendezvous with the fleet to sail to the Holy Land in the summer of 1190.
  37. Most of Richard’s fleet failed to meet him in Marseille: they’d been arrested whilst in Portugal for too much wine, women and gambling.
  38. Some legends of Robin Hood place him with Richard the Lionheart during the Third Crusade.
  39. Whilst the armies of Richard of England and Philip of France wintered in Messina, Sicily in 1190/1191, gambling by ordinary soldiers and sailors was banned except in the presence of their officers.
  40. The price of bread in Messina during the fall & winter of 1190/1191 was fixed by the kings (Richard, Philip, and Tancred) at 1 penny per loaf.
  41. Richard was betrothed to Alais (Alys or Alice), sister of King Philip of France, in 1169; they never tied the knot, Richard claiming his father slept with Alys. She was raised as Henry II’s ward in England from the age of 8 for about 22 years, until Richard married Berengaria of Navarre in May 1191 in Cyprus.
  42. Richard’s fleet finally arrived in the Holy Land in June, laid siege to, and captured Acre by mid-July. Richard insulted Duke Leopold of Austria whilst in Acre by ordering the Duke’s banner removed from the city ramparts. Richard’s men trampled the Duke’s banner. Leopold would not forget this insult.
  43. The Muslim chronicler Baha’ al-Din wrote that Richard was “a man of great courage and spirit.”
  44. The deadliest battle of the Third Crusade was the Battle of Arsuf on 7 Sept 1191 – casualties were estimated at 700 Christians and 7,000 Muslims.
  45. Washer-women were the only women allowed to accompany the army on the march to Jerusalem (August 1191-July 1192). However, Richard did bring his queen Berengaria and his sister Joanna to Jaffa in mid-fall 1191 when that town was secured.
  46. The crusader army came within 12 miles of Jerusalem – twice – but never laid siege to, or re-took, it from Muslim hands.
  47. A 3 year truce was signed between Richard I and Salah al-Din in September 1192. The Christians did maintain control of many coastal cities lost to the Muslims in the 1180s and Christian pilgrims were allowed into the Holy City.
  48. Duke Leopold’s soldiers captured Richard near Vienna, Austria, on 20 December 1192. According to a German chronicler, Richard was caught in the kitchen roasting meat and wearing a magnificent ring, though this tale is disputed by English chroniclers.
  49. Bows of composite wood, horn, and sinew replaced all wood bows; this increased the weapon’s power and range.
  50. John, younger brother of Richard I, plotted with King Philip of France to usurp Richard’s throne whilst he was on Crusade. John and Philip offered the Holy Roman Emperor money to keep Richard imprisoned rather than release him when the ransom of 150,000 marks was paid.

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Get swept away to the 12th century

 

 

My novel, Men of the Cross, is available in print and for Kindle on Amazon & Amazon (UK) and other Amazon sites worldwide, for Nook via Barnes & Noble, and via Smashwords in multiple formats.

 

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moments in Third Crusade history – 7 september 1191 – the Battle of Arsuf

"Schlacht von Arsuf." Licensed under Public domain.

“Schlacht von Arsuf.” Licensed under Public domain.

Richard the Lionheart’s crusader army marched south from Acre on the 22nd day of August. Estimated to be 15,000-20,000 strong, they advanced slowly at first, marching 2 or 3 miles a day. Saladin wasted no time: his cavalry harassed King Richard’s troops every step of the way.

As the men became acclimatized to the heat, their marches began before sunrise to cover 10-13 miles a day. The troops would halt by midday, and they’d often rest a day. Between August 25 – August 30, they covered 36 miles. By the 5th day of September, they’d advanced another 23 miles. The Muslim chronicler Baha al-Din wrote that Saracen drummers and trumpeters played as their troops charged the Franks – a term they used for all European Christians. The Muslims would cry out ‘Allah huwa Akbar’ and fall on the crusaders in one cavalry charge after another. King Richard was wounded slightly during a skirmish on September 3rd, but he fought all the more fiercely. The author of the Itinerarium writes:

“the wound was only a touch and actually incited him to attack the enemy as he was greedy to seek revenge for the pain of the wound.”

holy-land-mapsmallRFears ran high as the army marched through the Forest of Arsuf on 5 September. Rumors spread that the Saracens would set fire to the forest whilst the crusaders passed. Per Ambroise:

The unbelieving black-faced brood,
Had hid themselves in Arsur wood,
Which that day they would set on fire,
Kindling it to a blaze so dire 
And fearsome that ‘twould burn and roast
Our army.

Much to their relief the army marched through the forest without incident. The way was narrow and Saladin’s troops could not shadow them and had skirted further to the east. The crusaders emerged from the forest near the banks of the River Rochetaillie. Saladin’s army was camped on the south side of the river. And there they rested two nights within sight of each other, each watching the other’s campfires burn throughout the night.

At sunrise on 7 September, King Richard ordered his men to move out. He had given the troops strict orders not to break rank no matter what the Saracens did. The crusaders’ baggage train rumbled along the western flank nearest the sea. The infantry lined the eastern flank armed with shields, crossbows, and lances to ward off attacks and to protect the knights’ horses. They had marched three hours when the Saracens attacked the rearguard in what began the fiercest battle of the Third Crusade. An estimated 20,000 Saracens met the crusader army on a 1-2 mile wide plateau that skirted the Mediterranean Sea.

Saladin’s strategy aimed to draw the crusaders out of their tight formation, but King Richard knew that with each attack, Saladin’s men and their horses would grow weaker. Had Saladin been successful and forced a gap between the crusaders’ van- and rearguards, the battle would have played out much differently. The Hospitaller commander Fra’ Garnier de Nablus urged King Richard to order a charge – the infantry had to march backwards to stave off the Saracen attacks. Casualties were mounting. So many horses had succumbed to enemy arrows, de Nablus said they’d not be able to charge when the order did come down. By mid afternoon, Saladin broadened his assaults along the length of the army’s eastern flank. King Richard still would not bend, but men in the rearguard grew desperate. They broke rank and began the charge. There was no turning back. The trumpets blared the signal and the Templars, Poitevins, French, and Bretons joined the Hospitaller charge. The Anglo-Normans held back to guard the royal standard, and as a second line of attack.

Muslim chronicler Bahāʼ al-Dīn writes:

“. . . the sultan [Saladin] was moving between the left wing and the right, urging the men on . . . Several times I encountered him, when he was attended by only two pages with two spare mounts and that was all . . . while the arrow were flying past them both.

The enemy’s situation worsened still more . . . They took their lances and gave a shout as one man. The infantry opened gaps for them and they charged in unison along their whole line . . . Our men gave way before them.”

Surprised by the all-out assault, Saladin’s troops pulled back to avoid being encircled by the crusaders. Regrouping, the Saracens charged a second time. Attack, counter-attack. Several of the contemporary writers note that many of the Muslim cavalry ‘purposely’ dismounted in order to take better aim at the crusaders. King Richard’s order for the full charge thus came as a surprise. Geoffrey de Vinsauf writes: “In truth, the Turks were furious in the assault, and greatly distressed our men, whose blood poured forth in a stream beneath their blows . . . For all that, the king, mounted on a bay Cyprian steed, which had not its match, bounded forward in the direction of the mountains, and scattered those he met on all sides ; for the enemy fled from his sword and gave way. . .”

By nightfall the fighting had ended. Seven thousand Saracens had died. The Christian losses were a tenth of that number. A deadly day. A major victory for the crusaders.

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Sources:

Ambroise. (1976). The crusade of Richard Lion-Heart. (Trans. by M.J. Hubert.) New  York: Octagon.

Bohm, H., ed. (2004). Chronicles of the Crusades: contemporary narratives. London: Kegan Paul.

Evans, Mark L. (2001). “Battle of Arsuf: climatic clash of cross and crescent,” in Military History, 18:3.

Ibn al-Athīr, ʻIzz al-Din. (2007). The chronicle of ibn al-athīr for the crusading period from al-kāmil fi’l-ta’rīkh. (Trans by Richards, D. S.) Aldershot ; Burlington, VT: Ashgate.

Ibn Shaddād, Bahāʼ al-Dīn. (2001) . The rare and excellent history of Saladin, or, al-Nawādir al-Sultaniyya wa’l-Mahasin al-Yusufiyya. (Trans by Richards, D. S.) Aldershot, Hants, England: Ashgate.

Miller, David. (2003). Richard the Lionheart: the mighty crusader. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.

Nicholson, H. & Stubbs, W., trans. (1997). Chronicle of the third crusade : A translation of the itinerarium peregrinorum et gesta regis ricardi [Itinerarium peregrinorum et gesta Regis Ricardi.]. Aldershot, Hants, England ; Brookfield, Vt.: Ashgate.

Map of the Holy Land, c2014 Dennis Lukowski, commissioned by the author and used with his permission.

“Schlacht von Arsuf” via Wikimedia Commons.

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My novel, Men of the Cross, is available in print and for Kindle on Amazon & Amazon (UK) and other Amazon sites worldwide, for Nook via Barnes & Noble, and via Smashwords in multiple formats.

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feeling war through a character’s eyes

Let me take you to Outremer with the knights of Richard the Lionheart…

ignore the enemyThe term PTSD  – post-traumatic stress syndrome – was given its name in the 1970s during the Vietnam conflict. Shakespeare has a scene in Henry IV, Part 2¹ (written in 1597) that describes it, though generations have ignored or glossed over it for hundreds of years. During World War I, it was called “shell shock.” While PTSD is commonly associated with the effects of war, any traumatic event can trigger it.

War is a central theme in my novel. War leaves its scars on young Henry de Grey. Henry’s idealism about the mission to take Jerusalem back from Saladin and his naiveté about war fade as he sees brutal acts done in God’s name.

“Midst war atrocity and soldier camaraderie, [the knights] force themselves to question their own stolid values and their relationships. Their life and lifestyle decisions are as hard fought as those of the battlefield. The scars of war cause them to rethink everything about their lives – except loyalty to their King.”
(from a review by Mark Rogers, Fiction House Publishing)

I had to put myself there. See what Henry saw. Feel what he felt. I also had to see Henry through Stephan l’Aigle’s eyes:

[Stephan] had walked through battlefields where men lay sprawled, eyes blank, staring at the sky with lance, bow, or sword at their sides. He’d never really seen those men, never felt their deaths or thought twice of the carnage until he’d met Henry and felt Henry’s pain.

Can a writer who has never been in the thick of battle even come close to imagining what it must be like? The words did not come easily, but I hope you will find that I captured the fear, the exhilaration, and the horrors or war in Men of the Cross.

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¹Thank you to Sharon Kay Penman for mentioning the Shakespeare reference in one of her own blog posts.

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Men of the Cross is available in print and for Kindle on Amazon & Amazon (UK) and other Amazon sites worldwide, for Nook via Barnes & Noble, and via Smashwords in multiple formats.

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visual inspiration and the writer

Nottingham Castle

Nottingham Castle

As someone who grew up with television, visuals have always been important to me. Can’t you get a sense of time, of place, from those period dramas? Translating that to paper – or to computer screen – is still the most difficult thing for me.

As a writer of historical fiction, I have to be careful. I visited Nottingham in 2010 and took this photo of the gatehouse.

ACTION! Picture knights on the towers, archers, flights of arrows darkening the sky. Hear orders shouted out, the rumble of wagons, the stone throwers slinging huge boulders that smash into the curtain wall.

CUT! This gatehouse did not exist in 1193!

Fortunately, I knew that as I dove into my first draft of the sequel to Men of the Cross. Still, the photo is a wonderful inspiration. I can still have my siege at Nottingham Castle and have wonderful resources to pull upon, including Drage’s Nottingham Castle, a Place Full Royal, Briscoe & Lever’s A concise history of Nottingham Castle, and Foulds’ “The Siege of Nottingham Castle in 1194.”

Writers – where do you find inspiration?

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moments in Third Crusade history – 20 august 1191 – the massacre at Acre

When the city of Acre surrendered to King Richard and to King Philip in July 1191 after a two-year siege, terms of the surrender included payment to secure the release of 2,700 hostages. The deadline for payment came and went – Saladin failed to meet the terms.

Richard had options: release the hostages, sell them as slaves, keep them under guard, or – execute them. As I wrote in last year’s post commemorating this horrible event:

Richard’s problem: where do you house 2,700 hostages? How do you keep them fed when you must feed your own army? How many guards would it take to ensure the captives wouldn’t escape – he needed nearly every able-bodied soldier on the coming march to secure Jerusalem.

Why didn’t Richard sell his hostages? That would take time. It was already August. The army needed to begin the march to Jerusalem or else run the risk of being caught by winter storms….

Are these excuses or valid reasons based on morals and the conduct of war in the 12th century?

I was surprised that contemporary observers had very little to say about the executions. It is incredible to read the accounts of wholesale slaughter generally described in such nonchalant terms.

Roger de Hoveden writes:

On the seventeenth day of the month of August, being the third day of the week and the thirteenth day before the calends of September, the king of England caused all the pagans who belonged to him from the capture of Acre to be led out before the army of Saladin, and their heads to be struck off in the presence of all . . . The number of the pagans thus slain was five thousand. . .

De Hoveden does provide more detail than most chroniclers and in another sentence he describes what the Christian did to the bodies. It is horrific, and I won’t repeat it here. He continues:

On the twenty-first day of the month of August, after the slaughter of the pagans, the king of England delivered into the charge of Bertram de Verdun the city of Acre. . . On the twenty-second day . . . the king of England crossed the river of Acre with his army, and pitching his tents between that river and the sea, on the sea-shore between Acre and Cayphas, remained there four days.

Little is known about the chronicler Geoffrey de Vinsauf who writes:

. . . 2700 of the Turkish hostages [were] led forth from the city and hanged ; [King Richard's] soldiers marched forward with delight to fulfill his commands, and to retaliate, with the assent of the Divine Grace, by taking revenge upon those who had destroyed so many of the Christians with missiles and arbalests.¹

Ambroise writes:

Two thousand seven hundred, all
In chains, were led outside the wall,
Where they were slaughtered every one;
And thus on them was vengeance done
For blows and bolts of arbalest.

Even Muslim contemporary writers have not provided us more than a few sentences about the event. Ibn al-Athir writes that Saladin and his emirs did not trust the Franks (the term used to denote the European Christians). Al-Athir felt that the crusaders intended ‘treachery’ and would not free the hostages even if Saladin met the demands: 200,000 dinars, release of Christian prisoners, and the return of the True Cross that had been captured at the Battle of Hattin in July 1187. Al-Athir then notes:

On Tuesday 27 Rajab [20 August 1191] the Franks mounted up and came outside the city with horse and foot. The Muslims rode out to meet them, charged them and drove them from their position. Most of the Muslims they had been holding were found slain. They had put them to the sword and massacred them but preserved the emirs and captains and those with money. All the others, the general multitude, the rank and file and those with no money they slew.

The chronicler Baha’ Al-Din writes:

Then they brought the Muslim prisoners whose martyrdom God had ordained, more than three thousand men in chains. They fell on them as one man and slaughtered them in cold blood, with sword and lance . . .

He is one of few contemporaries who comments on Richard’s motives:

Many reasons were given to explain the slaughter. One was that they had killed as reprisal for their own prisoners killed before then by the Muslims. Another was that the King of England had decided to march on Ascalon and take it, and he did not want to leave behind him in the city a large number (of enemy soldiers). God knows best.

Richard justified his actions in a letter to the abbot of Clairvaux.² This was war, and Saladin had not met his end of the agreement. Many of Richard’s contemporaries and numerous scholars over the years have condemned the Lionheart for his decision. It was a brutal and unchivalrous act. Would Richard’s reputation have suffered less if the besieged had chosen to fight to the bitter end? Those sieges did not end well for the losers: pillaging, burning, and killing. But the garrison at Acre had surrendered. Richard sought advice from his council, and seeing no alternatives if he intended to be at Jerusalem’s gate before winter set in, he issued the orders.

The sights, sounds, and smells of the massacre haunt my fictional character Henry de Grey in Men of the Cross. He will carry these memories for the rest of his life. Many of Henry’s fellow knights do not speak of the things they saw, the things they did. Henry struggles with the king’s decision to execute the hostages. He questions how such acts can be done in God’s name. Henry cannot justify the actions, but he recognizes there is a time to fight. Men of the Cross is Henry’s chronicle.

Get swept away to the 12th century

Men of the Cross is available in print and for Kindle on Amazon & Amazon (UK) and other Amazon sites worldwide, for Nook via Barnes & Noble, and via Smashwords in multiple formats.

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¹ “Geoffrey de Vinsauf’s itinerary of Richard I and Others, to the Holy Land” is a chapter in  Chronicles of the Crusades: contemporary narratives, compiled and edited by Henry G. Bohm.

See the translated primary sources section of my reference resources page for citations for the other authors.

² I had intended to quote from the source of this information, but have to write from memory because the book (by Gillingham, I believe), was missing from the library’s shelves!

 

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Rebecca’s advice to writers – giving it to us straight

book

This book might come in handy.

Thank you, Rebecca T. Dickson, for reminding me (and other writers) that writing is not all shiny and the writing life is not easy, but if you love it, you will endure. Rebecca’s post is from 2013, but the points she makes still hit home. I really had to laugh at these 3 because I am guilty! Very guilty. (But working on it.)

• You will latch onto words or phrases and repeat them throughout your work

• The words and phrases you repeat will change over time.

• The habit of repeating shit will not.

If we don’t laugh at ourselves – and don’t recognize our shortcomings – we will never get better at what we do. As Rebecca notes, our first manuscripts will be rough. “Your later work, in its early drafts, will still suck… You may never feel good about what you write. Write anyway.”

And to end this post, a quote from Shannon Hale: “I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.”

Have a great week!

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¹This old post of mine from 2012, in which I’d written about cleaning out those offenders, made me laugh when I re-read the line about the Crusade “novella.” Ha! And Mark Rogers has me writing a trilogy! (Okay – I have sort of admitted that I’m making plot notes about book 3.)

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