Tag Archives: arthurian fiction

An Initial Attempt at Rebranding: A New Cover for Yseult

As much as I like the cover I already have for Yseult, the conversion rate for my ads is going from quite respectable to abysmal. Not completely understandable, since I haven’t changed the book description or cover for a long time, but given how many clicks I’ve been getting recently without sales, I decided it was time to experiment again. So without further ado, here is the first cover experiment for Yseult:

Yseult

The idea for this cover is that it maybe / hopefully fits the epic fantasy conventions better, which often have one decisive image rather than an illustration, like the original cover had. The other consideration is that the first cover might be too romantic in tone to draw the right readers. While Yseult is based on a tragic love story, there is a lot of political intrigue and loads of battles. A bad-ass sword just might be the better image for that than a gal and a moon, even if there is a sword on that cover too. But most people don’t notice it until I point it out to them.

Anyway, wish me luck. This may not be the first, since I’m determined to work on this until I get a better conversion rate for my ads. 🙂

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Shadow of Stone FREE through tomorrow, May 24!

For the first time in years, I’m giving away one of my Big Fat Fantasies. Through tomorrow, you can get Shadow of Stone free on Amazon.

Shadow of Stone

Description:

For over ten years, there has been peace in Britain after Arthur and his warriors soundly defeated the Saxons at the battle of Caer Baddon. But sometimes peace is deceptive …

After a series of hard winters and famine, an alliance of dissatisfied northern kings attack the rich cities of Southern Britain. But in the years of peace, Arthur’s army has grown soft; jealousies and trivialities rip once strong alliances apart. Cador, who is mockingly referred to as “farmer king,” must go to war again. The threat to their way of life throws him together with Yseult, the woman he has secretly loved since he was a youth.

But can their politically expedient marriage help bring peace to Britain again? Or will it only lead to further conflict?

As betrayals both real and imagined shake the foundations of former British unity, Cador and Yseult must try to negotiate their own personal peace. Who will survive the upheavals to come? Will Britain rally once more behind a common leader to fight off the common threat?

If you haven’t read the first book, no worries — both novels are standalone stories, revolving around different Arthurian legends, and set in a more realistic historical setting than the more chivalric Arthurian tradition.

Enjoy and pass along! 🙂

Shadow of Stone on sale for 99c through Dec. 19 – and testing ad sites

In my on-going attempt to get back into the swing of things marketing-wise — and figure out what works in this new self-publishing era of Kindle Unlimited and various other changes — I set up a sale this week for Shadow of Stone, the second book in The Pendragon Chronicles.

Shadow of Stone on Amazon

For over ten years, there has been peace in Britain after Arthur and his warriors soundly defeated the Saxons at the battle of Caer Baddon. But sometimes peace is deceptive …

After a series of hard winters and famine, an alliance of dissatisfied northern kings attack the rich cities of Southern Britain. But in the years of peace, Arthur’s army has grown soft; jealousies and trivialities rip once strong alliances apart. Cador, who is mockingly referred to as “farmer king,” must go to war again. The threat to their way of life throws him together with Yseult, the woman he has secretly loved since he was a youth.

But can their politically expedient marriage help bring peace to Britain again? Or will it only lead to further conflict?

As betrayals both real and imagined shake the foundations of former British unity, Cador and Yseult must try to negotiate their own personal peace. Who will survive the upheavals to come? Will Britain rally once more behind a common leader to fight off the common threat?

For the purpose, I found a few sites that will advertize 99c sales for free, as well as several cheaper ad options, which I have staggered throughout the week to test their effectiveness. It is well known by now that a Bookbub ad will get you hundreds of sales, but it can be very difficult to get a slot with them because of all the competition. Besides, placement in their newsletter costs hundreds of dollars. And while most books with a Bookbub ad earn the expense back, not everyone has that kind of ready cash up front.

So I am testing various options so you don’t have to! *g* Next week, I will summarize the results and put together a list of the advertizing sites I’ve found.

In the meanwhile, feel free to take a look at Shadow of Stone. And if you have Kindle Unlimited, you can now borrow it for free, since it is back in KDP Select. Just for the record, that is not because I am an Amazon fanatic, it is because my sales on other sites were so abysmal, the advantage of making money through borrows on Amazon just amounted to the better deal for me. When and if any other market seems to be developing more potential, I will add more of my books to other sites.

Late update and #WIPpet for Wednesday (Thursday …)

Can you say tomatoes? That’s one of the reasons I’m late this week. Big fat tomato harvest and the need to make stewed tomatoes and spaghetti sauce and tomato consomme and freeze a bunch so it won’t all go to waste! Add to that the fact that I’m on my own little personal writing roll, and yesterday I just didn’t feel like interrupting that for an extended blogging session … So far this week I’ve written 2300 words on Facets of Glass. For about the last month, I’ve been consistently writing at least 4000 words a week, even taking a day off for marketing each week — AND with a glut of tomatoes. 🙂

I know that for some people that’s a daily word count, but I’ve been stuck for so many years at 500 words a day, five days a week, that for me this is starting to look like the beginning of a breakthrough. I’m not going to celebrate too much yet. First I want to see if it really does become a habit — and maybe even something I can improve on!

Anyway, on to your WIPpet for Thursday. WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts.

This week I’m going to inflict another book description on you guys. Today I’ve been working on getting Book II of Yseult ready for publication, so that’s how it relates to the date. *g* Here’s the cover I have:

Yseult, Part II: A Man and a Woman

And here’s the blurb:

The second book of Yseult, a #1 bestseller in Arthurian and Historical Fantasy!

Drystan had imagined his homecoming very differently — not returning to a father who is breaking treaties and sleeping with his niece. In order to save the family honor, Drystan fights a duel and is seriously wounded. His only hope lies in the mysterious land of Eriu, with the famous healer and queen, Yseult the Wise.

When he sets out for Eriu, Drystan does not expect to survive the journey. Nor does he expect to fall in love with the queen’s daughter, Yseult the Fair. If only the man he had killed in the duel had not been Yseult’s uncle and the queen’s brother.

Yseult is a retelling of the tragic love story of Tristan and Isolde, an Arthurian romance with roots going back far into the realm of legend and the undying tales of King Arthur.

So what do you guys think? Is it too much reciting what happens and not enough suspense to intrigue the reader? Please do rip it apart! I was very happy with your critiques last week and completely redid the description as a result. Thank you all so much!

On splitting up a big book: Turning Yseult into episodes

As many of you following this blog know, I started my career as an indie author after I got the rights back to the original English of my novel Yseult, which was published in German as Flamme und Harfe by Random House Germany in 2009.

Flamme und Harfe, Ruth Nestvold

I published the English original in January 2012 on my own with this cover from the talented Derek Murphy of CreativIndie Covers:

Yseult, Ruth Nestvold

Since the original publisher of Yseult / Flamme und Harfe, Random House Germany, told me they were interested in a sequel (which they decided they were not interested in after all), when I published Yseult, I already had the next doorstopper waiting in the wings, Shadow of Stone, which I published in June of 2012.

That too sold quite well, and I began to imagine that I was on my way to a wonderful career as an indie author.

Halt.

Readers started wanting to know when the next “installment” would be available. Of books that were both close to 200,000 words, or over 500 pages long. Unfortunately, I don’t write fast enough to produce novels of that size every year, and I lost readers.

I started writing a prequel to The Pendragon Chronicles, Ygerna, hoping to make it free and attract more readers that way, but I soon noticed that the story of Arthur’s mother was too complicated for me to finish off in a couple ten thousand words, and it ended up on the back burner. I do have a free short story from the second novel available, Gawain and Ragnell, and that has helped my sales somewhat, giving potential readers a taste of the world of The Pendragon Chronicles. So I know for a fact that permafree can help your sales.

Then at some point I started noticing something new happening in ebook publishing: it seemed as if a lot of the most successful indie authors were publishing their ebooks in episodes or as serials, in chunks from between 50 to 200 pages. Like with a TV show, each episode might bring a single plot thread to a conclusion, but there was also often some kind of cliffhanger to make sure the reader came back for the next installment. An added advantage of the episode format is that the author can make the first “book” of the novel free in order to entice readers to give it a try.

Slowly an experiment started to take shape in my mind. I had these two Big Fat Fantasies, after all, together close to 400,000 words. But in the era of ebooks, when the reader can’t judge a book by how heavy it is in her hand, books seem to be getting shorter. And while the true short story has yet to make a comeback, readers appear to be increasingly accepting of novella-length books. (This is all totally subjective and unscientific, so don’t quote me on it.)

Anyway, as a result of these observations, I have decided to launch an experiment. I am going to take the four books of Yseult apart — which, btw, is how I organized the novel long before the advent of ebooks — and offer them separately. I will try to make the first book free on Amazon as quickly as possible. Here is the pricing structure I’m considering for the serial version:

Part I: FREE
Part II: 99c (my take, 30c)
Part III: 2.99 (my take $2)
Part IV: 2.99 (my take $2)

My goal is not to make more money than with the complete novel, although that is what would happen if readers were only to buy the individual parts. But when I do this, I do not intend to unpublish Yseult. That will still be available for 4.99 for anyone who is enjoying the series enough to want to buy the novel. Mostly I’m just hoping that with parts 1 & 2 at free and 99c respectively, a few more readers will try out the series.

So recently I’ve been working on a template for the covers of the individual episodes. I wanted to use the cover of Yseult as a basis, to make sure that no one bought any of the episodes thinking it was a new story in The Pendragon Chronicles. At the same time, the covers should be distinctive enough to stand out from each other. Given those considerations, here’s the template I came up with for the series:

Yseult template

And here’s my first attempt at a single title:

Yseult-Part-1

My thought is to use different colors beneath the “celtic fringe” *g* on the left / west side of the cover as a visual signal of the differences between the books. And now, as I write this, it occurs to me that the color for the first book, which takes place in Ireland / Eriu, should be a dark green rather than the dark purple I have now. *g*

Anyway, I welcome any thoughts / feedback you have in the comments below!

I might land flat on my face with this experiment, but I’m not out of much more than a couple days worth of work making the new covers, formatting the individual sections, and uploading them to the various venues. Wish me luck. 🙂 And do please let me know what you think!

Calleva / Silchester

Calleva / Roman Silchester

On Monday, my last day of sightseeing / research before heading off for the wedding festivities, I wasn’t quite sure if I should even attempt to see Calleva (Roman Silchester). The blister on my little toe hurt, and I was not looking forward to the prospect of hiking for miles along country lanes in search of old rocks. Maybe I should just head south to the coast, I thought, take a day off and just enjoy the seaside. I’d already seen plenty of sites for The Pendragon Chronicles, and I wasn’t even sure if I was going to use the setting of post-Roman Calleva in A Wasted Land.

But then, when would the next chance come along for me to try to find Calleva? So off I went to Basingstoke again.

And I am so glad I did. Wandering around in the middle of nowhere, I was a bit worried I’d headed off on a wild goose chase. Instead, I ended up getting a personal tour of an archeological dig. If I’d gotten the train I wanted the day before, my experience of Calleva would have been completely different. The dig only started the day I went, and I would have missed it. Talk about a lucky mistake!

For the average tourist, there isn’t much to see in Calleva, so it probably is no wonder that it’s not a big draw and is so hard to find. Walking from the Mortimer station, it took me longer to get there than Google Maps said — there were no signs anywhere, and I stopped and asked people a few times along the way. Apparently, the way from Bramley is better marked, so that would be the way to go, but Google Maps told me Mortimer was closer, so that’s the way I went.

After over an hour, I found the first sign to Roman Silchester, which led me to the former amphitheater outside of town.

Calleva / Roman Silchester
Roman amphitheater of Calleva

From there, I was finally able to find the still impressive remains of the Roman wall.

Calleva / Roman Silchester
Roman wall of Calleva

When I got to the path on the top, I could see what looked like a campsite in the opposite corner of the wide field. Other than that, the only residents of the former thriving Romano-British town were a bunch of cows.

Calleva / Roman Silchester
Present residents of Calleva

I knew there’d been regular digs at Calleva over the years, and I was pretty sure that was about the only thing the tents could be. I headed over to the site along the top of the Roman walls, and some of the students (I presume) having lunch pointed me in the direction of an makeshift information center set up for visitors. There, a friendly young woman by the name of Zoe, an archeologist working on her Masters at Reading University, asked me if I would like a tour of the dig. Duh!

Calleva / Roman Silchester
Zoe, my wonderful guide through the dig at Calleva

The present digs are in Insula IX and Insula III, and platforms had been set up next to each. Zoe took me to the closest first, Insula IX, and showed me what I was seeing — the remnants of the main road going north and south, postholes for the buildings, bigger holes for the wells, a floor — and explained that here in most places they had already reached the layer of Pre-Roman settlement and were nearly done with what they had set out to do. One of the things they’d been hoping to learn more about was when the town was abandoned and what might have caused it, and she said they’d uncovered evidence that it might be later than originally thought.

Naturally my ears perked up at that. I’ve repeatedly come across such theories in my research for the books of The Pendragon Chronicles, and it’s one of the main historical elements I’ve based my world on.

Anyway, looking at the carefully dug up dirt, Zoe and I had a great conversation about how new information keeps cropping up and theories keep changing. She took me over to Insula III, where I saw a hearth or stove made out of old Roman roofing tiles — most likely evidence that the site was still in use after Roman materials were no longer being manufactured.

Calleva / Roman Silchester
Archeological dig at Insula III in Calleva

Calleva / Roman Silchester
Panel explaining the dig

It was more fun than I ever could have imagined. Zoe and I obviously shared a fascination with the mysteries of history. She said her masters thesis was actually on magic and ritual in the archeological record in late medieval times (which sounds absolutely fascinating too!), but she wanted to be at Calleva for the last year of the dig, since she spent several summers working on it while she was an undergraduate.

After I saw the two Insulae and thanked her heartily, I headed for the church that was just within the Roman walls. There, I was lucky enough to walk in on a lecture by the head of the dig for some of the newest students. He mentioned that one of their most significant finds from the previous year was pottery fragments from the sixth to eighth century. In the Q&A session, I asked what he thought that meant for the end of Calleva. He answered that they might have to revise their ideas, that rather than disappearing, perhaps the town shifted to the area around the church. He postulated that the medieval town may have been a victim of the Black Death, since there were references from the 12th century, but little thereafter. (The amphitheater was converted into a medieval hall and King John was recorded as visiting there.)

While I ended up with two new blisters for a total of three, it was a thoroughly excellent outing.

Calleva / Roman Silchester
Silchester church just within the Roman walls of Calleva

You can see the rest of my pictures of Calleva here.

Other posts from my trip to England:
Indulging in a research trip to England: Salisbury and Amesbury
Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral
Old Sarum
Winchester / Venta

Old Sarum

I went to Old Sarum on the same day as Stonehenge, but I’m devoting a separate post to it, since it is actually part of my research for A Wasted Land, and not just something cool I took advantage of seeing while I was in Britain. The tourist bus makes a stop there on the way back to Salisbury from Stonehenge.

Old Sarum
Old Sarum

I’ve been to Old Sarum before, when my husband and I were traveling around Britain and I was researching sites for Yseult, the first book of The Pendragon Chronicles. I wanted to visit it again, though, both to refresh my memory and to get digital pictures this time — that trip was so long ago, it was before I got my first digital camera. 🙂

Old Sarum
Defensive earthworks at Old Sarum

Old Sarum is an ancient hill-fort that was in fairly continuous use from the Iron Age to the high middle ages. The Roman name for the site was Sorviodunum, which over the centuries was simplified to Sarum. In the Roman period, it was important because it stood at the crossroads of two major streets, and a market town grew up around its base. Little is known about actual Roman use of the hill-fort, since the pre-medieval levels have not been extensively excavated, although digs in the 50s discovered evidence of Romano-British occupation. More is known about the Roman settlements outside of the ramparts to the south-east and south-west of the hill-fort, which were both still flourishing until at least the fourth century.

Old Sarum
Within the ramparts of Old Sarum

Sarum was obviously a significant site in the post-Roman period, because the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles bother to list a victory there over the British in the year 552: “In this year, Cynric fought against the Britons at the place called Searobyrg and put the Britons to flight.” (Cynric is the son of Cerdic from A Wasted Land.) 552 is several decades after the period I am writing about in this book, which means Sarum most likely was still in British hands at that time — otherwise, there would hardly have been any significance to chasing the British away, after all.

After the urban center followed the new church to Salisbury (as I explained in my previous post), the site became known as “Old Sarum.” By the fifteenth century, it was largely abandoned.

Old Sarum
View of Salisbury from Old Sarum

Old Sarum is much bigger than I remembered. I think the confusion came from my memories revolving around the ruins of the medieval castle in the middle of the site. But the hill-fort was large enough, after all, to contain a complete medieval town. I will have to find out the exact size, do some math, and figure out how many stables it might have been able to hold.

It is definitely horse country around there, though. On my bike ride, I passed racing stables, and horses were a common sight in the rolling fields. Celemon’s legacy lives on. *g*

For the curious, you can see the rest of my pictures of Old Sarum here.

Previous posts:
Indulging in a research trip to England: Salisbury and Amesbury
Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral

Indulging in a research trip to England: Salisbury and Amesbury

When I was invited to a wedding in England, I figured I might as well add a couple of days on to the trip to visit some of the sites where the novel I am currently working on, A Wasted Land, take place. I decided to base that part of the trip in Salisbury, because it was closest to two of the main places I wanted to see: Amesbury and the hillfort there (for the first time), and Old Sarum (for the second). It also isn’t far from two other sites I was particularly interested in visiting: Winchester (Venta) and Silchester (Calleva).

For the most part, the trip to Salisbury went smoothly, except for the very first leg. For some reason, my plane sat at the gate for about fifteen minutes. Since I only had 50 minutes to change flights in Frankfurt, I was already imagining how I would work things out when I finally got to England and where I would have to spend the night, since with a later flight I probably wouldn’t make it to Salisbury at anything approaching a decent time. But with no line at passport control and a lot of hurrying, I made it to my gate while they were still boarding.

The rest of the journey was a breeze. London City Airport is nice and small, the lines for customs were short, and the trip via DLR and Tube to Waterloo Station was easy. I got my Britrail pass validated in no time, and actually managed to get a train earlier to Salisbury than I had originally hoped, which gave me time to do some shopping on my way to my AirBnB rental.

My rental was in a quaint little house not far from the center of town and the cathedral. The first evening, I walked there and took some pictures of the cathedral from the outside, since it was already closed.

Salisbury Cathedral
Salisbury Cathedral

The next day, I rented a bike and rode to Amesbury, the site of “Vespasion’s Camp” — Caer Emrys in The Pendragon Chronicles. The theory goes that Amesbury got its name from Ambrosius (Aurelianus). In Welsh, a descendant of the old Britsh tongue, Ambrosius is “Emrys.” There are a number of place names in Britain that are derived from a combination of a Celtic name and a Germanic description which has replaced the original British. Thus Amesbury is “Emrys’ burg” — the fort of Emrys. Cadbury is another such name, most probably the “fort of Cador” (or Cadwy). In Yseult and Shadow of Stone, Cadbury is still Din Draithou, but in A Wasted Land, people are beginning to refer to it as Cador’s fort.

While I went to Cadbury many years ago when I was researching Yseult, I had not yet been to Amesbury. The site of Vespasian’s Camp or Caer Emrys is now private property and not accessible to the public. So I rode around it and took a couple of pictures from whatever vantage points I could find.

Caer Emrys
Vespasian’s Camp near Amesbury (Caer Emrys)

From there, I continued on my bike to Woodhenge, a prehistoric monument with much the same design as Stonehenge, only in wood. Of course, all that was left when archeologists found it were the post holes where the wooden columns had once stood. These have been filled with short wooden markers to give visitors a feel for the site.

Woodhenge
Woodhenge

My ride also took me past the back side of Old Sarum, but I will talk more about that in a later post, when I go into the site in more detail.

The ride back was slow. I haven’t been on that long of a bike ride in years. But at least I beat the rain. 🙂

Facing the enemy for #WIPpet Wednesday

I’m crazy tired right now — watched the US – Belgium game last night, which went late, and I have only just now finished packing for my flight to London tomorrow. But at least I *am* done now, and since I know I will not be posting next week — Wednesday is the Wedding! — I figure before I trundle off to bed for my much deserved rest, I will post another snippet from A Wasted Land for WIPpet Wednesday. My math for today, 7/2/14, is to add up all the digits, giving me 14. So here are 14 short paragraphs from the same scene as last week. Taliesin’s plan has worked, and they have been called into the presence of Cerdic, the enemy they went to Venta to spy on:

Cerdic called Taliesin forward, the ostensible head of their troupe of musicians.
Taliesin bowed in front of the King of the South. “How may we serve you, Lord?”
The corners of Cerdic’s mouth turned up in a surprisingly charming smile. “Serve me? Is that what you want to do?”
“Certainly. That is what bards and minstrels do.”
“And do you know where you are, bard?”
“Why, we are in Venta, Lord. Our most recent stop was Leucomagus, and before that, Cunetio. In Cunetio, our audience was generous, in Leucomagus not so much, so we decided to continue on.”
“And do you know who rules in Venta?”
“You?” Taliesin ventured.
A wave of barely repressed chuckles could be heard around the room. Kustennin found himself in awe of Taliesin’s spontaneous acting ability.
Cerdic shook his head, and his lips twitched — it appeared he too was repressing laughter. His son Cynric was grinning as well.
Kustennin gazed under his eyelashes at the British leader of a largely Saxon army. Arthur’s former general appeared to possess a rare combination of character traits — ruthless ambition and the ability to laugh at himself. But that might well explain much of Cerdic’s talent for drawing men to his cause.
You must shield your thoughts more, came Taliesin’s whisper in his mind. I feel the presence of magic in this room.

This time tomorrow, I should be much closer to Winchester / Venta, where this scene takes place — Salisbury, to be precise:

Salisbury Cathedral by John Constable
Salisbury Cathedral.

Depending on how much time I spend running around the Wilds of Wiltshire and the surrounding area, I may try to blog a bit about the research half of my trip while I’m there, so watch this space. And I think I’ll also try to get to Stonehenge again, just for the fun of it. 🙂

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts.

Reintroducing Guinevere / Ginevra for #WIPpet Wednesday

It’s been a mostly good week writing wise for me, with an effortless 1,000 word day last Thursday. The last couple of days have been a bit slower, what with lots of garden work on the weekend, and then the news that my friend Jay Lake has been admitted to hospice. That’s been eating my brain a bit. 😦

Anyway, back to writing. I mentioned a while back that I was doing some of the exercises in the Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook right now to flesh out the middle of A Wasted Land and help with my focus for the novel. While working on a completely unrelated exercise, I realized I really need a pov character back in Caer Leon (Caerleon), while Kustennin and his buddies are duking it out with Cerdic on the border of the British-held lands. I just can’t have all the events going on in the area of present-day Wales being brought to them via messenger.

And then it occurred to me that I have a main character from the last book, Shadow of Stone, not far away: Arthur’s widow Ginevra, who is in a monastery there in penance for her sins.

Guinever / Gwenhwyfar / Ginevra

After banishing Ginevra to her monastery along with most of my predecessors, I wasn’t intending to bring her back, but as soon as the idea occurred to me, my mind was racing. I don’t know yet what exactly her character arc will be and how it will fit into the rest of the events of the novel, but I’m having a great time figuring it out. 🙂 It’s fresh off my fingers, though, so hasn’t been though any editing passes. I intend to make it the second chapter, after Kustennin and Bedwyr inspect the ruins. So please, be as brutal as you care to be! I’m particularly interested in feedback on whether I’m providing too much backstory all at once.

My math today: 5 + (2+8=10) / 5+1 = 6, six paragraphs from the first scene with Ginevra:

Ginevra hurried along the path from the house of women to the abbot’s residence. Spring flowers bloomed along the pathway, and several pupils from the school were working in the herb garden. Most of the buildings of the monastery had originally been part of villa built before the Roman troops pulled out of Britain, and the foundations were of massive stone in the Roman style. But the site had been sacked in raids by Pictish, Erainn and Saxon warriors during the reign of the legendary British high king, Ambrosius Aurelianus, after which it had been abandoned for many years. It was not rebuilt again until Arthur enlisted his cousin Illtud to reestablish the school on the grounds of Cor Teudwys, the “college of Theodosius”. Many of the original Roman structures in the central complex of buildings could be saved; what couldn’t be fixed was torn down and the stones used to repair less damaged buildings. Destroyed roofs were replaced with wood and thatch.
The house of women stood outside of the main complex and was a newer building of wood in the style of a long house, simple, functional, less massive. Ginevra didn’t mind. She didn’t pine for her former life, which had been so full of selfish mistakes. She welcomed discomfort: the cold of winter and the heat of summer that crept much more quickly through walls of wood than walls of stone; her simple room with its simple bed; the many manual tasks she had to perform throughout the day.
Ginevra had found refuge in Illtud’s monastery after the battle of Camlann. At first, it was very nearly an imprisonment, with at least two British warriors always on site, monitoring her movements, ensuring she would not run away to some imagined freedom. When the first snow fell, Illtud had chased them away, saying that if Arthur’s widow fled now, it would surely be her death sentence. In the spring, the guards had failed to return.
Since then, Ginevra had spent much of her time in her small room in the house of women, where female guests would stay when visiting their relatives, or women were lodged who came to Illtud’s church for shelter. With time, she had become what amounted to administrator in the house of women. One thing she knew how to do was manage a household, and this was not so different — only without servants. The women had to do the work themselves, cleaning, cooking, harvesting, bartering for what else they needed at the local market, just as the boys and men in Illtud’s school did.
Someone had to organize that work, however. For that, Ginevra’s experience managing hill-fort and town house had come in handy. By necessity, she had also begun to learn how to tend the communal gardens and heal common ailments using the herbs grown there. The last struck her as particularly ironic — it had been Ginevra’s insistence that Yseult tend her ailing son with her knowledge of herbs and medicines that had nearly led to Yseult’s murder at the hands of Medraut. But even after Yseult told her the fate she had seen in the minds of Medraut’s guards, Ginevra had refused to believe that her new consort could possibly intend to kill her friend.
And so the evil she had ignorantly unleashed continued unchecked — until the Battle of Camlann, where so many had died.

A little background regarding my sources for the novels of the Pendragon Chronicles. There is no Lancelot in my tales because I am trying to avoid the inventions of the French writers of the 13th century and later. Lancelot is one of those, a new character added in the Age of Chivalry. I’ve tried to stay closer to the Welsh legends of Arthur and the first “historical” accounts, such as Nennius and Geoffrey of Monmouth. I’ve also tried to avoid French versions of the names, which wouldn’t fit very well in my 5th and 6th century setting. For that reason, I chose Ginevra, the Latin version of the name. It is in the Celtic Arthurian tradition that I found the tale of Arthur’s wife running off with his nephew Medraut / Mordred rather than his champion. So if you’re a huge Lancelot / Guinevere fan, my books probably aren’t for you. 🙂

Also, for those who find it odd there are women at a monastery school, the strict separation of the sexes was not instated until the high middle ages. Nor was it a closed system where those in the monastery were cut off from everyday life. You can read more about Celtic Christianity here, if you’re interested.

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts.