Posts Tagged ‘Adelheide die Tiutsch’

Brother Jan dropped in for a chat.
‘Miss you.’
‘Miss you.’
‘What are you doing at the moment?’ I asked. ‘Still viceroy-ing?’
He nodded. ‘Probably forever.’ He paused. ‘At least — until this body wears out.’ He sighed heavily. ‘There’s no peace for the efficient.’
‘I know,’ I said. ‘Any fool can wield a sword, but hardly anyone can run a government department efficiently.’
He nodded. ‘I always thought that fame and glory went to the warrior. Now I find — what everyone needs is managers who can manage.’ (Another pause.) ‘Apparently I’m good at it.’
‘What a waste of a glorious knight!’ I said, smiling in sympathy.
He almost managed a Jan-ish mischievous grin. ‘The only sword I’m allowed to wield now is the ceremonial one. And that’s blunt — so even when I’d love to slice the Sved envoy in two, I can’t.’
‘You could bewitch him,’ I suggested.
This time he managed the grin. ‘His horse tripped and he fell off.’
‘So what is going on in Our Lady’s Land?’ I asked.
He sighed. ‘No doubt Adelheide will fill you in soon. Let’s not talk about it. What are you writing now?’
I showed him the current Just Woman story, and he shrugged: ‘Light-weight stuff. Not worthy of your pen, Helen.’
‘I needed something light-weight after the Retrogradus.’
‘It was pretty grim, wasn’t it?’ He sighed. ‘Too late, now.’
‘You got Karlot back.’
‘Yes — eventually.’ He shook his head as if to shake the thought away. ‘I’m still recovering. How’s the day job?’
‘Pretty grim. As you say — the glory and honour goes one way, but what everyone actually wants is managers who can manage. So I get the managing when my real skills are in wielding a pen.’
‘When you’ve finished with young Mirabelle’s current adventure,’ said Jan, ‘you must come back to us. We miss you and Adelheide wants you to see how well Jurgis is growing. And we’ve got plenty to report on the Rus and our other neighbours.’
‘I promise,’ I said. ‘Meanwhile: sing us a song, Jan. Something to hum when I’m far away.’
So he sang me a song, but it was too sad to write it down here. Poor Jan. He does hate being viceroy.
‘Even if you can’t get yourself out of the managing,’ I said, ‘you could see what you can do for me.’
He gave me a very Jan-ish look. ‘You be careful! You’ll end up as a “viceroy” too!’
Please, no …


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retrogradus-2Out of 2000, in fact — yes, I wrote it sixteen years ago. Then it languished in various A4 lever arch files for many years while I puzzled over what to do with it, because the criss-crossing plot lines were a mess. Eventually, as readers of this blog know, Adelheide got on to it and she’s transformed it into something like a narrative, although there are still three plots and she admits to having ditched two others. However, I still have the ones she rejected. I’ve even got another A4 lever arch file to keep them tidy.

Now the final book of A Sword, A Star, A Flame … has at last been uploaded to Kindle and is available on Amazon.com (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06WVCTM9V ) and Amazon.co.uk (https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06WVCTM9V) and all other Amazons available to you, at the minimum permitted price. The Retrogradus has the distinction of being the only book in the series which might be suitable for a more general readership: there is virtually no sex in it.

That said, to work out what’s going on it is probably necessary to read the other stories in the series first.

This book brings us to the end of the story of the Most Holy and Chivalric Order of Our Lady of the Star. As Jan claims that he, Berthol and Karlot cannot die (they are demons, after all — unless they are angels) there may feasibly be further stories, but this is as far as Adelheide’s, Oglive’s and Karlot’s chronicles go.

Should I have a sense of achievement? I don’t — I feel sad to leave them. Having travelled with them for so long, it’s hard to say goodbye.

So this can’t be the end! There has to be more!

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New, moody cover

Adelheide has been busy: here is a new cover for the Retrogradus (Book 7 of The Star series). But perhaps it’s a bit dull? The first version looked more colourful, but perhaps was less true to the story. So, should the author try to tempt readers with something bright and cheerful, or a moody cover that is nearer to the spirit of the story?


Previous, more cheerful cover

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It’s thirteen years since the House of the Most Holy and Chivalric Order of the Star was burned to the ground in the Great Sack of Reolt. Lady Oglive narrowly escaped the conflagration, but now wishes she could retrace her steps and prevent the disaster. The Prince of Death’s Castle is only too happy to suggest a means of doing this: her friend Adelheide just has to read out one of the books she has spent the last few months copying. At first the book tells the familiar story of Oglive’s childhood in the House, but suddenly the story changes and runs down unfamiliar pathways …
The ‘stepping back’ or ‘retrogradus’ focusses on Oglive, her friends Brothers Jan, Berthol and Karlot and their colleagues in the House, but then widens to draw in Adelheide and her unborn child, Oglive’s cousin Baas, and people whom none of them have ever met: the long-dead Princess Raisa and the mysterious warrior Arval. As new love affairs develop and old relationships are broken Oglive and Adelheide heartily wish that they had never started the Retrogradus, but it’s too late! Whether or not they can bring the story to a successful conclusion, one thing is certain: their circle of friendship will never be the same again.


‘Will it do?’ asks Adelheide. ‘I think it’s much better than the first one.’

‘It’s not bad,’ I say grudgingly. ‘Amazon says we have 2779 characters left.’

Adelheide snorts. ‘Stuff that! No one will ever read a long blurb. You need to keep it short and sweet.’

I’m not sure I would apply the word ‘sweet’ to the stories of The Star, but I agree short is best. As someone wrote, if you can’t summarise the story in a paragraph then you clearly don’t know what it’s about.

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retrogradus-draft-cover…now I’ve added some subheadings to give it some structure,’ I say.

‘This isn’t one of your chronicles,’ says Adelheide huffily. ‘I don’t do subheadings.’

‘Or arrows in the margins? Or pointing fingers?’ I tease her.

‘None of that stuff! Just the story, and the name of whoever is speaking. Oh — I did put in those pictures of the statue of Our Lady and Our Lord, from the chapel. But that’s all.’

‘I think it would be better with some more pictures,’ I say, ‘but meanwhile the main thing it needs is a good cover.’

We both look at the cover that Helen L. has done for us — she used the Kindle book cover designer, which is all right but not up to our normal standard.

‘I liked the roses she did for your story, Karlot,’ says Adelheide. ‘It’s a picture of roses from her garden, did you know?’

‘Yes,’ I say, irritated at being told something I already know, ‘it was my idea.’ I look again at the picture, and sigh. ‘I know we asked for footprints in the snow, but that orange and blue colouring doesn’t look right.’

‘It should be red and black,’ says Adelheide. ‘I’ll get on to it.’

So I leave her to it and go back to checking through the text. So far I’ve found two misplaced words that she missed, and no doubt I’ll find more minor mistakes as I go through — but so far there’s nothing major. Suddenly I remember something.

‘We need a new blurb, too,’ I call to Adelheide.

‘I’ve done it,’ she retorts. ‘You can read it in the next blog post.’ So I shall.

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… said Adelheide. ‘In fact, it’s a bit of a mess.’

‘You’ve been working on it for weeks,’ I said. ‘Haven’t you got it sorted out yet?’

‘Weeks? You can hardly talk! You left me with a pile of notes and — and ramblings — all full of romantic meanderings and sexual fantasy — and Jan was  worse. Honestly, Karlot!  Be reasonable.’

‘All right, all right,’ I said. ‘I admit it. It was a mess. But you’re so good at sorting out messes.’

‘Well! Now I have a baby to look after. So I don’t have so much time to sort out other people.’ She gave me a very Adelheide-ish grin. ‘You can have a go.’

So I shall have a ‘go’. She’s passed me the files, and told me to get on with it. I’ll let you know how I get on!

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Adelheide is getting very frustrated with the Retrogradus. There are so many different directions in which events could have gone, and the story is now fragmenting in different directions. Berthol and Jan have come up with at least three different endings, none of which look particularly attractive.

Oh, and did I mention? Adelheide is now a proud mum. Young Jurgis is taking up all her time, of course, so deciding how to finish off the Retrogradus is the least of her worries. But she’s determined to get it tidied up and finished, before it drives her and everyone else mad.

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