Thursday, 5 January 2012


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Thursday, 30 June 2011

No Takers

Well, two publishers asked to see my manuscript, and I was hopeful. After three months I got in touch to ask about it, and one said 'Thanks but no thanks' but suggested some other publishers who might be interested. I contacted them and didn't even get a reply. The other one said they were still looking at it. After another two months, the other publisher said they liked it but they had had their funding cut and could no longer afford to publish such books.

I tried contacting the Gower Society, who publish books on local issues, and wrote to the editor of their Journal, since I couldn't find a submissions address. I asked if he could point me to the right person. He didn't even acknowledge me. I tried contacting the councillor who gave me his business card and offered support, and got no reply. So now I am full of doubt about the quality of the book, and don't know what to do next.

And to rub it in, the grand opening of Alina's chapel is in two weeks. It would have been the perfect opportunity to market the book, since it is Alina's chapel and there are no books about Alina.

Next week is the Swansea Writers Circle meeting, so I am going too ask for help there. Perhaps someone can advise me and offer to read it.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Hope Rises

Yesterday another publisher emailed me and asked to see my book, and due to the post being messed up by the snow, he wants it electronically. So I sent it off last night.

Now I have two publishers reading the manuscript. Hope rises...

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Publisher, possibly

I finally plucked up the courage to begin contacting publishers about the book. All the advice seemed to say 'Don't email publishers, they don't like it' and 'Publishers will keep you waiting weeks for a reply, so be patient.' Wrong on both counts.

I began by searching 'The Writers' and Artists' Yearbook' for suitable publishers and made a list. Then I checked out each of their web sites and eliminated a few. There were several which gave email addresses for initial contact. So, using the advice from the yearbook, I composed an enquiry letter and emailed it off with my Introduction, which contains a synopsis, and a chapter list with brief details. Most non-fiction publishers expect a proposal, and you will only write the book once they have agreed. I made it clear that the book is already written and substantially edited.

So yesterday morning I sent the emails and went out. When I came home I had a reply from one publisher asking to see the book! So today I printed it out and wrote a cover letter, and it will be posted tomorrow!

Watch this space.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

The Haxey Hood

I have just discovered this story of an event which still happens every year, commemorating Alina. It's nice to know she is not completely forgotten.

When Alina was married to John de Mowbray, some time before 1322, she was out riding one day and passed through the village of Haxey. A sudden gust of wind blew her hat off, and the villagers chased after it. She rewarded those who returned her hat with strips of land and silly titles.

In remembrance, every January 6th, the event is re-enacted in a scrummage between the local public houses, called the Haxey Hood. My thanks to the Hambo Central blog for putting me on to it, where there is also a photo.

According to the North Lincolnshire Council web site, she named the person who returned it to her 'The Lord of the Hood', and the man who actually caught it but dared not hand it to her 'The Fool.' The rest were called Boggins, apparently because each time the hood changed hands during the chase she squealed in delight " It’s boggined again." She directed that the happening be restaged every year. All were to wear red jackets except The Fool, whose appearance was to be similar to that of a harlequin.

The event takes place on the Twelfth Night of Christmas, January 6 in a field in Haxey. It is believed to be Britain’s oldest traditional tussle. Proceedings are launched by the Fool from his stone in front of Haxey Parish Church, usually around 2.30pm, and include the ’smoking’ of the fool. He then leads the crowd up the hill for games for the children and the start of the main game at 3.30pm. The Hood, a long leather cylinder, is thrown into the air to launch the proceedings. When it falls the participants (regulars from the local public houses) swarm around it and attempt to sway the hood out of the field, through the streets and back to their favourite hostelry for a celebration and the honour of holding it for the coming year.

The game is refereed by the Lord of the Hood, helped by his Chief Boggin both dressed in scarlet hunting coats and hats decorated with flowers and plumes. The ceremonial Fool, and a bunch of Boggins in red sweaters keep order.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Latest Draft and a New Title

Well, it's finished. For how long, I don't know. The book ended up over fifteen thousand words long, with over two hundred endnotes. Some references I couldn't find so I rewrote the passage, but I found some new stuff as well. It's hard to know where to stop. I have found a sweet story about Alina since, and I don't know whether to put that in as well. Maybe I'll blog it.

I have also amended the title to better reflect what it is about. It is now called 'The White Lady of Oystermouth and the Fall of a King'.

Anyway, for now, it has gone off to the kind people at the Historical Association for comment, and to my husband, who has not read it before. He is my sternest critic. So watch this space.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010


It has been a big job, adding endnotes to something already written, and it's not finished yet. I have been through all my research notes and the books I bought, and even got some new ones out of the library, but I have not been able to find everything yet.

Strangely enough, it is the basic history which eludes me. Unfortunately when I began this project it was going to be a historical novel or historical fantasy novel, so I didn't bother to note down where I found my information. Once it turned into popular history I thought a bibliography would be enough. But I have come to see that although it is not destined to be an academic work, it is still important to establish my sources.

The trouble is that I want it to be more than dry historical facts, and have managed to ferret out all sorts of interesting details to bring the story to life. But they came from many different books, and I have to retrace my steps. So many books only tell the bare bones of the story.

I also have a problem that I have written two general chapters on daily life and marriage in medieval times, and relied for a lot of it on internet research. Academics don't approve. Sometimes I have looked at one web site and assumed it was accurate, whereas I should have cross checked the information.

The academics from the Historical Association who kindly read the draft pointed out some valid things and made some very good suggestions. I am rather pleased though that one person disagreed with one of my statements and I have managed to find the source and corroborate it!

In addition to doing the endnotes I have listened to advice and thought about the structure of the book, and as a result have moved a lot of chapters around and reworked things into a more logical order. I must remember that having decided to base the story around Alina's life, it has to always relate to her. I have a habit of going off into an interesting bit of history that doesn't actually have anything to do with her. For example, I did a lot of work on a chapter on the pacification of the Welsh, which I am very proud of (posted in three parts on this blog in Dec 09 and Jan 10). Unfortunately it happened before she was born.

Every time I don't think I can do any more to the story I get some advice that lifts it to a new level, so I am certain it is worth the effort. I may never get it published, but I have certainly enjoyed it, and learned a lot.