Archive for November, 2016

Book six of The Star is now on Amazon kindle, and should be available for download tomorrow. So: more than twenty years since I first started work on it, the story of this dysfunctional Military Order is now complete. In the end the Order survives through the good offices of its least reputable members, with demonic help and despite accusations of heresy against them:  on the old theme of ‘the stone which the builders rejected …’ (employers and managers, please take note). Yes, there is more material sitting on my hardcopy files; but six volumes is a good place to pause for a breather.


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… when there are still so many words to write. But I really must catch up with the rest of my life. So I’ll side-load my NaNoWriMo novel on to my Kindle as it stands and check it through, and in due course it will end up on Amazon kindle. Oh, yes, and I must send a copy to the friend who read the first half back in 2005 or so and asked for the rest, but has never yet received it. That’s quite some delay in submission.

Then there is Book 7 of The Star: Retrogradus (or whichever title it eventually ends up with). Will it ever get written? Or perhaps I should sit down and write out the background to The Star (what is Our Lady’s Land, why ‘The Star’, who are the Rus, and so on) so that innocent wanderers who fall over this word press page or the stories on Amazon kindle can get some idea what is going on. But in fact what I really want to do is sit down with a Middle High German dictionary and translate Brother Jan’s singing (‘back’) into German, as I suspect it works better in German than in English. Watch this space.

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Finished: until I add some more.
Adelheide is still scribbling, then holding up the page and saying: ‘Is that enough? Shall I stop now? — No, I’ve just thought of something else …’ Eventually she will run out of ink or parchment or both, and will have to stop.
Next stage: the copy-edit.

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The end is in sight on this year’s NaNoWriMo, and I have almost finalised a full draft of  Book Six of A Sword, A Star, A Flame. As I originally wrote it before 2000 (I can date it from an incident in Book 7, which obviously I wrote after Book 6!) — it has been quite long enough in the writing.

The problem with Book 6, as Adelheide complained when she offered to write it up, is that it was a mess. Jan, Berthol and Karlot were going in different directions. New people were dragged into their circle: Dietrich the Draper, Berthol’s squires, Jan and Karlot’s pet sorcerer and Karlot’s Italian boyfriend. Adelheide has firmly cut out the pet sorcerer and Karlot’s Italian boyfriend; she’s cut the squires right down and reduced Dietrich to what she says is his proper place. He would have taken over the book if she’d let him, but now he’s pushed out at the end of part four and after that he gets only an incidental part.

Adelheide brought Gunhild back in (Jan is apt to leave her to one side, as he says she and baby Jorgie almost belong to a different story) and sorted out what was going on in Rusland. Book six is now a narrative rather than a series of scandals.

At the end of the book everyone is back in Our Lady’s Land, and Adelheide is about to start writing everything up. There is still book seven to come, which Karlot, Jan and Berthol devised with some help from Oglive to amuse Adelheide and Oglive while they were in their last weeks of pregnancy. Jan calls it the ‘Retrogradus’, because it involved the Twins and Karlot going back and rewriting their history to try to make things come out more positively (e.g., without the Great Revolt and the conquest by the Rus). Oglive had a few thoughts too. But let’s get book six finished first.


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‘That crazy husband of mine has been trying to get himself ordained. How can a demon be a priest? Will someone please explain it to him — it’s just not possible!
‘Anyway, he had a vision of Our Lady and She told him not to, so that seems to be off the agenda for the moment. I’m very relieved. I don’t want to wake up one morning and find I’m married to a priest, instead of a valiant knight.
‘As Karlot says: sometimes my husband really is the end!
‘Right, rant over — back to the writing again. I’m getting near to the end now, thank goodness.’

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‘This is such hard work! I’m getting very fed up with Jan … hacking my way through his diaries … it’s like trying to carve my way through the undergrowth in Oglive’s forests. I can hardly work out what he was doing half the time. And he’s my husband! I should be able to work out what he’s thinking, but honestly …

‘And Berthol and Karlot are not much better. Honestly, Karlot my dear friend, what were you doing letting Marinetta walk all over you? Assert yourself, my girl!

‘Right, rant over. I’ll get back to this. Somehow I am going to get this crazy mixed-up account sorted out and then I’ll know what Jan was up to at the Emperor’s court all last summer. Pass me the inkwell, I’ve got another three folios to decipher before suppertime …’

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I had to fly across the Atlantic for a work-related event last weekend, and as I find flying very stressful I asked Brother Jan for a relaxing song to sing there and back. Being Jan, he’s confused America with the Shees’ legend of the ‘summer-land’ or ‘sunnyland’ away in the West, where it’s always summer and where the dead go; a sort of heaven-on-earth like the country that Saint Brendan found when he and his monks crossed the Atlantic. (It’s not hard to understand why people living in cold, damp northern climes think that heaven should be sunny and warm.) So the song has a macabre twist, but anyway:

We shall be flying / over the sea/
Over the sea to the sunnyland;
Over the sea / over the sky/
Over the sky and beyond;/

Far to the land where the flowers grow /
Far to the land where the dead will go;/
Over the sea / over the sky/
Over the sky and beyond …

Simplistic words, but very sing-able. Additional verses were added as required, and it’s easy to change the words to be slightly less redolent of Jan’s land of the dead. There is a tune, but I can’t write music … but perhaps some of you have already heard me humming it in an airport or on the plane.


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