It’s 2022! I hope that you all managed to celebrate the festive season in the way that you wished in these strange times and I would like to wish everyone a very Happy, Healthy and Safe New Year.
So…what have I been up to since writing my last Newsletter? Well…with the expertise of IT Guru Harry, I finished updating my website. With simplified catagories, visitors will be able to navigate around it more easily and a great new carousel of my own photos of Yorkshire has been added – which I will change periodically.
Also – my free story ‘The Proposal’ is there to read – click on the link – subscribe (it’s free!) to my mailing list, and you can read it – I would love to hear from you – your thoughts and comments will be very welcome. I have another free story up my sleeve for the Spring Newsletter – not historical this time. And, in an effort to become more effective in promoting my writing, I joined Edwin Rydberg’s Facebook support group – ‘Book Marketing for the Faint-Hearted.’ Edwin, with his clever presentations/demonstrations, which I have downloaded for future reference, cleared-up lots of stuff that I found confusing and difficult. Now to put it all into practice! I have made a start – I’m writing a regular Newsletter and also giving potential readers free access to some of my work.
Creative writing itself however, took a bit of a back seat these last few weeks. Mostly due to the usual distractions at this time of year – all the preparations for Christmas – and for the Skidmore clan, a long awaited reunion for the whole family here in Yorkshire – the first time we have all been together for two years! You can imagine the excitement, the eager anticipation and then the joyful hugs and tears when we were all finally together after such a long separation.
A lot of my time was also taken up with researching the early Tudors, in order help my grandson with his A level History Coursework assignment, (thank the good lord for Zoom, a lot of tutoring via this media tool took place, in order to meet his deadline). As it happens, it turned out to be rather advantageous to the plot of ‘Renegade – King’s Pawn,’ (the sequel to ‘Renaissance – The Fall and Rise of a King,’ on which I am currently working).
The founder of the dynasty Henry VII turned out to be a very interesting character – in fact, if he was transplanted into the 21st century, he would have fitted right into contemporary politics. He was an extremely complex and devious individual who manipulated the institutions of his day to enhance the weak English crown’s wealth and authority. Under his personal supervision taxes were very efficiently raised, the powers of an unruly nobility were curtailed and controlled, and justice was impartially administered. At the time of his death the wealth and authority of the Crown had been hugely enhanced and peace and stability had been restored after the tumultuous years of the Wars of the Roses. A situation his heir, Henry VIII managed to alter in a few short years – all but bankrupting the country with his greedy, ego-feeding war and glory policies. We are all aware of the consequences resulting from his need for money – a break with Rome, the dissolution of the monasteries and a deal done with Parliament that sewed the seeds for the English civil war. When a dramatic and tense scene between Henry VII and my protagonist Francis Viscount Lovell began to form itself in my mind, I made copious notes – my creative imagination was obviously still very active and making itself felt!
I also spent a week in the glorious countryside of Northumberland. My husband Alan is a keen student of ancient history – the Romans to be exact. His planned visit to Vindolanda had to be postponed three times by the Covid outbreak and so when the opportunity at last presented itself at the end of November, we headed North. Vindolanda is amazing – a thriving Roman settlement – a town with a main street lined with businesses – a butcher’s shop with its counter and meat store, a wine merchant with stone storage vats, grain merchant and baker’s shop, public baths and streets of private residences – some humble others very grand, the whole dominated by the military fort. I was fascinated to learn what life was like in this most northern of Roman military outposts and by the similarities I found between military life then, over 2000 years ago, and our own experiences, when Alan was serving with the military abroad – the Roman soldiers and their families – strangers in a strange land – made the most of living their lives far away from home – so did we.
What are my plans for the weeks ahead? I’m mainly going to concentrate on completing ‘King’s Pawn’ – young Francis must leave his childhood behind – I’m almost there – the finish line is within my sights. Then there is the dreaded ‘editing’ to do but hopefully it will be done by mid Spring. Then, if Covid permits, some research trips, getting together with of my Creative Writing Group, and a proper holiday. And of course the odd story and an extract from ‘King’s Pawn to include in the Newsletter. So, until next time – keep well and stay safe.
A little thought to cheer us all in these cold, dark months.
‘If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?’