Visiting the Iron Age

First…a quick apology to anyone who saw a Silent Sunday post in their feed this morning.  I know it’s not a Sunday.  Let me explain…After my first attempt at using the new editor on Monday seemed to go ok, I thought I would try scheduling a post today for later this month…Everything appeared to be going well, until I hit the “schedule” button and a strange comment popped up which amounted to a “you can’t do this for some reason” (my interpretation) and so it was published instead.  Don’t really know what I did wrong, and don’t really have the time to look into, so I’m back to the classic editor.  Sigh.

Anyway, here’s today’s post…Enjoy!


Visiting the Iron Age…both in real life and in fiction

A few weeks ago we spent a few days away in north west Shropshire, and one of those – or at least, one afternoon – was spent exploring Old Oswestry Hillfort.  Dating back to the Iron Age, it is one of the best preserved hillforts in Britain…

I find the Iron Age to be one of the most interesting periods of history and so I loved every moment of walking around the site. I took loads of photos, and I thought it would be fun to share a few of them here.

My novel “Oathbreaker”, is set during the Iron Age (spot the seamless transition there 😉 ). Did you know you can read it for free on Wattpad?  It was first drafted in summer / autumn 2018, and at the time the chapters were only given numbers.  However, whilst I’d been giving the story a (very) light edit a few weeks ago, which was inspired by the trip to the hillfort, I added in chapter titles and chapter header images too.  The photos are all my own, and hopefully reflect one of the themes running through the story: the power and magic of nature, of which there was plenty of both at Old Oswestry.

Hillforts like the one at Old Oswestry would not have been an unfamiliar sight to Eleri and Celyn, the two main characters in Oathbreaker, though they probably would have found the size and scale of the multiple ramparts to be quite impressive.

You can read more about the history of Old Oswestry Hillfort, on this page on the English Heritage website.

The view in the photo above shows the main path up to the top of the hillfort, whilst the one below looks out across the not-very-flat plateau…

The site sprawls across the local area.  On the next, very steep hill over, was a lovely woodland which we also took the opportunity to walk around:

Although some people might argue there isn’t much to see today at a site like this, compared to a castle or even a stone circle, (not everyone finds lumps and bumps in the ground as exciting as me 😉 ), the atmosphere was imbued with history.  Looking out across the hills, it’s easy to appreciate why the site was chosen: the tribe living there would have had a commanding view of their territory, and should they needed to have defended it from attackers, those multiple steep ramparts would have given them a sense of safety and protection.  I can only imagine how fit and strong an invading force would’ve had to have been to run up that hill, carrying weapons and perhaps a shield, whilst the defenders rained down missiles from above, and still be in a condition to fight when they reached the top!

If you enjoy reading historical fantasy with a dash of romance, and inspired by the myth, magic and landscape of the Iron Age, please do check out Oathbreaker. Here’s the story summary:

‘Be my wife.’ The words were so quiet, Eleri wondered if she had really heard them. ‘Please, Eleri. Be my wife,’ he said again, louder and with even more intensity.

Eleri, priestess of the Green Lady, has waited for so long to marry her tribe’s champion, Celyn. Finally, the date is set for Midsummer’s Eve, when the tribes have gathered in the valley to celebrate the longest day at the stone circle perched up on the hill. But nothing is as it seems…

A glimpse of a bird circling over the stones foretells of doom…and maybe even death.

An oath is made. An oath is broken. And Eleri’s life changes forever…

*
“Oathbreaker” is a story inspired by ancient history, mythology, and the landscape. Set in the Iron Age, where there is no distinction between history and mythology, and where magic is as real as the ground beneath your feet, Oathbreaker charts the journey of Eleri, Priestess of the Green Lady and the unusual quest she finds herself forced to make…

If you enjoy historical fiction, myths and legends, fantasy, adventure and romance, you might enjoy this too…

You can find Oathbreaker here.

A Little Exciting News…

A random, sort of spooky photo…

A few months ago, I entered a Tudor Ghost Story Contest hosted by authors Natalie Grueninger, who runs the wonderful website, On The Tudor Trail, the Talking Tudors podcast and is the author of a number of Tudor history books, and Wendy J Dunn, author of a number of books of Tudor fiction.

Last week the results were announced, and I’m excited to share that I placed joint second!  On Christmas Eve, the winner and the second and third place getters’ stories were published on On The Tudor Trail.  You can read the post announcing the winners by the judge of the competition here, where you will also find links to the first, second and third place stories.  The direct link to my own story, The Thorns of A Tudor Rose, can be found here.

The Thorns of a Tudor Rose is a story of Anne Boleyn being visited by the ghost of Katherine of Aragon during the days leading up to her downfall…only she doesn’t yet know it.  If you do have a read of it, please let me know what you think!

UPDATE: The first, second and third placed stories have also been included in a sample copy of Tudor Life Magazine, the monthly magazine of The Tudor Society!

The Strange Disappearance of Arthur Everleigh, Gentleman-Explorer

This is the final piece of writing for the Outcast anthology. Fingers crossed, the anthology should have the last few loose ends tied up this week.  It really has been an adventure.  Anyway, I hope you enjoy today’s story.  It’s inspired by the prompt “Secret Doorways”, but it is quite a bit over the challenge word limit of 250 words…

Written in response to WWP # 22 – Secret Doorways


The Strange Disappearance of Arthur Everleigh, Gentleman-Explorer

This is a random historical photo…

Arthur Everleigh pushed his tiny round spectacles back up his nose. He was feeling smug. They said he would be no good as a gentleman-explorer, or an archaeologist, but look at him now. He was exploring. He was discovering.

Who were “they”? Everyone. His classmates at Cambridge. The professors too. Not to mention, his father, Sir Lancelot Everleigh.

‘Ha!’ he cheered, fist raised in the air in triumph against his naysayers. A huge sneeze broke off his gloating celebration, a consequence of the vast amount of dust.

Casting his eye about the dimly lit room – the only light coming from the small lamp he was holding – he guessed it had been centuries, no millennia, since anyone had been in there. Statues, chests and strange looking furniture filled the space. All was covered with many lifetimes worth of grime.

Raising the lamp, he turned slowly to allow the light to reach into the furthest corners of the room, chasing away the ancient shadows. On the far wall, he noted a large inscription, which he translated in his head.

HERE LIES THE GREATEST KING THE WORLD HAS EVER KNOWN
ARTHUR PENDRAGON, CHIEF OF THE BRITONS

‘I knew it!’ he exclaimed, his free arm swinging before him for emphasis. ‘What will they say about me now?’ he asked in a self-satisfied tone.

He continued to study the room, his mind wandering slightly from what he could to see to whether it was likely the British Museum would name something important after him.

‘“The Arthur Everleigh Collection”, perhaps?’ he mused, chin nestled between thumb and forefinger in deliberation. ‘It does sound rather good.’

And that was when he spotted it, half-hidden in the gloom. A door.

His brow furrowed. He was sure the building hadn’t looked big enough from the outside to accommodate another room. But then, he had been wrong before. In fact, he had always been wrong about everything before.

Pushing his concerns to the back of his mind, he went over to explore some more. Rolling an impossibly large shield out of the way, and then wiggling a chest just enough to make access to the doorway easier – Arthur wasn’t a particularly strong young man; he preferred cricket to wrestling – he surveyed the entrance. Scratched into the wood of the door were the words, THE ISLE OF APPLES.

‘Avalon…’ he whispered. ‘Could it be…could it really be…I wonder…’

Come along now, Arthur,’ he heard the pater’s voice in his head. ‘Don’t do anything silly. Or reckless. If the papers get to hear about it, well, imagine the embarrassment for the rest of us.’

Arthur weighed up his father’s words. They sounded sensible. He should return to civilisation and put a team together so they could start cataloguing the treasure he had found. Then, maybe with an old soldier, or one of those derring-do sorts of chaps, he could find out what was beyond the ancient barrier. That did sound safer.

He stared at the doorway for what felt like a lifetime, trying to make up his mind. Finally, he came to a decision. Why would he want to involve other people in his greatest victory? Sharing the glory after he had done all the hard work…no. That didn’t seem fair.

‘Sorry, Father,’ he said to the dusty room. ‘I like doing silly things. I like being reckless. And I’m quite enjoying being a gentleman-explorer.’

With that, he pushed open the doorway and stepped through…

More Oathbreaker News!

So two weeks ago I mentioned that Oathbreaker made The Wattys 2018 Longlist…

Well, yesterday I got some more good news…

Yay!  Woohoo!  I really can’t believe it…I’m speechless…completely overwhelmed…

A big thank you to everyone who has been reading, voting and commenting on it. I really appreciate the support it has received so far.

I know it sounds cheeky – and I find it very hard to ask as marketing etc doesn’t come naturally to me (I’m actually cringing as I write this, just so you know) – if you could spare some time to check out a chapter or two it would mean the world to me.  The more people who read, vote and comment…the more people who enjoy my story, well…you know…

You can learn more about Oathbreaker by reading this post, or you can head straight over to Wattpad and find the completed novel here.

Thanks everyone for your support.

Have a great weekend! 🙂

 

Oathbreaker

If you have a moment, please have a read of my latest novel.  It’s currently available to read for free via Wattpad…Click the book cover below for the link…Thank you so much for your support ♥

~ Oathbreaker is now available to read in full on Wattpad ~

Longlisted for The Wattys 2018 – 31 August 2018
* * * Shortlisted for The Wattys 2018 – 14 September 2018 * * *

Summary

Eleri, priestess of the Green Lady, has waited for so long to marry her tribe’s champion, Celyn. Finally, the date is set for Midsummer’s Eve, when the tribes have gathered in the valley to celebrate the longest day at the stone circle perched up on the hill. But nothing is as it seems…

A glimpse of a bird circling over the stones foretells of doom…and maybe even death.

An oath is made. An oath is broken. And Eleri’s life changes forever…

*

Oathbreaker is a story inspired by ancient history, mythology, and the landscape. Set in the Iron Age, where there is no distinction between history and mythology, and where magic is as real as the ground beneath your feet, Oathbreaker charts the journey of Eleri, Priestess of the Green Lady, and the unusual quest she finds herself forced to make…

If you enjoy historical fiction, myths and legends, fantasy, adventure and romance, you might enjoy this too…

Oathbreaker News!

 

Yesterday, the longlist for The Wattys 2018 was released, and Oathbreaker, my historical fantasy novel that I’m currently posting to the site (you can read it here), made it!  Woohoo!!!

A big thank you to everyone who has been reading, voting and commenting on it.  I really appreciate the support it has received so far.

If you’ve yet to read it, here’s a little more about it:

Eleri, Priestess of the Green Lady, has waited for so long to marry her tribe’s champion, Celyn. Finally, the date is set for Midsummer’s Eve, when the tribes have gathered in the valley to celebrate the longest day at the stone circle perched up on the hill. But nothing is as it seems…
A glimpse of a bird circling over the stones foretells of doom…and maybe even death.
An oath is made. An oath is broken. And Eleri’s life changes forever…
*
Oathbreaker is a story inspired by ancient history, mythology, and the landscape.  Set in the Iron Age, where there is no distinction between history and mythology, and where magic is as real as the ground beneath your feet, Oathbreaker charts the journey of Eleri, Priestess of the Green Lady and the unusual quest she finds herself forced to make…
If you enjoy historical fiction, myths and legends, fantasy and romance, you might enjoy this too.  It is available to read for FREE, via Wattpad, here: https://www.wattpad.com/story/154165464-oathbreaker

Oathbreaker

I’ve had a secret project underway for the past fortnight…I set myself the challenge to write the first draft of short novel in a month.  To make myself more accountable, I’ve been posting at least one chapter of it a day on Wattpad.  The novel is called “Oathbreaker”.

Summary

“Be my wife.” The words were so quiet, Eleri wondered if she had really heard them.  ‘Please, Eleri.  Be my wife,’ he said again, louder and with even more intensity.”

Eleri, priestess of the Green lady, has waited for so long to marry her tribe’s champion, Celyn.  Finally the date is set for Midsummer’s Eve, when the tribes have gathered in the valley to celebrate the longest day at the stone circle perched up on the hill.  But nothing is as it seems…

A glimpse of a bird circling over the stones foretells of doom…and maybe even death.

An oath is made.  A oath is broken.  And Eleri’s life changes forever.

“Oathbreaker” is a story inspired by ancient history, mythology and the landscape.  If you enjoy historical fiction with a dose of fantasy and the retellings of myths, legends and folktales, you might enjoy this too 🙂

You can read it for FREE here.

If you do decide to give it a read, I would welcome your thoughts – and feel free to give it a vote or three over on Wattpad too! 😉

The more reads and votes it gets, and the more interest is shown in it, the higher it appears on the rankings and more people will see it.  If you’re on Wattpad let me know your username and I’ll hop over and follow you – in the least stalker-like way possible 🙂

Thanking you in advance.

Have a great weekend everyone!

The Pythia

Priestess of Delphi by John Collier (picture credit: Wikipedia)

Vapours steadily rose out of cracks in the floor, as the woman, dressed in white and ritually purified, walked over to her seat.  She was the High Priestess at the temple of Apollo in Delphi, and people, both great and lowly, travelled from far and wide to hear her speak…


Written for Day 2 of A Month of Mini Writing Challenges 2017Write a story in 50 words that is set in the past.

I’ve joined Sweek…

A few weeks ago I stumbled across another writing platform, Sweek.  The main reason I signed up to it is that always seem to have interesting competitions running.

When I first joined, it was “Unbelievable Tales”, where you had to write an unbelievable tale in 1000 words or less, and “Storytellers”, which required you to write a story in only 500 words.

And as you know, I love writing prompts, so I couldn’t very well pass on this.  The two stories I have posted so far on there I really enjoyed writing.  I also liked working on the front covers.  So what are these stories about?  You know, just in case you were interested and were thinking about reading them… 😉 (It’s free to read stories on Sweek and you don’t need an account; just follow the links below.)

The Dragon-Maiden: A Very Short Fairy Tale (Fantasy, Romance, Fairy Tale)

A maiden on the run is trying to escape becoming the next Dragon-Maiden – a glorified dragon-babysitter, only the dragon she’ll be babysitting isn’t a baby. This fate can be avoided, but only if she finds a husband…The problem is, time is running out, fast…

You can read the story by clicking this link:  https://sweek.com/#/read/44543/1400000162

Desperate (Historical Fiction, General Fiction)

A group of men and young lads, pushed to the edge of starvation, go to attack a storage barn full of food that is guarded by soldiers, in the hope of stealing something to eat.  What choice did they have? It was that or die.  But something goes wrong…

This story, set in the eighteenth century, is told from the perspective of one of the men as they are trying to make their escape.  Through his eyes we will see just how desperate they have become…

You can read the story by clicking this link:  https://sweek.com/#/read/45979/1400000162

I’m still trying to work my way around the site, but so far, I’ve had fun and enjoyed the time I’ve spent there.

Are you on Sweek?  What do you think about it?  Do you have any stories posted there?  If you do, please feel free to leave links to them in the comments below so I can read them 🙂

Excavating the Archives: In The Hall of Two Truths

(picture credit: wikipedia)

The funeral was over, the door to the tomb, which had been filled with all that I could possibly need in the afterlife, sealed.  The opening of the mouth ceremony had been accomplished and I had made my way from the tomb through Duat, the underworld, passing all trials I met along the way.  The protective amulets and spells I had been given ensured success, at least this far.

And now I found myself here, in the Hall of Two Truths, met at the doorway by the jackal-headed god, Anubis, his ears alert, his face grave.  He took my hand and led me into the chamber, at the head of which Osiris, holding his crook and flail, sat upon his throne, Isis and Nephthys standing to either side.  I felt the eyes of the forty-two divine judges who resided in the Hall, on me as we moved along the magnificent pillared walkway, the only sound to be heard coming from the scribe-god, Thoth, who had already started to etch a permanent record of events here in stone.

Torches and braziers lit up the vast space, shining light on to the largest set of scales I had ever seen.  I swallowed hard as my eye was drawn to Ammit the Devourer, who waited patiently close by.  The thought of what was to happen should I be founding wanting at the final test was terrifying.

We stopped before the throne, so that I could make my supplications to the Lord of Duat.  As I began to speak, Anubis moved away and left me standing there alone, but my voice didn’t fail me.  When I next laid eyes upon the jackal-headed god, he was holding my heart in his hands.  Ma’at, the Lady of Truth was standing next to him, her ostrich feather standing proudly in her headdress.

At some imperceptible signal, Ma’at slowly, reverently, removed the feather and placed it on one side of the scales.  Nothing happened, for truth, justice, harmony and honesty carried no weight. Then Anubis stepped forward.  It was time to see how my heart would fare, to see how pure was my conscience.  Would I be admitted into the afterlife?  Would I attain transformation into an akh, or would the Devourer of the Dead have her way?

I put my back to the scales and turned my attention to the rest of the assembly, for it was time to begin my negative confession.  Addressing each of the judges by name, I started reciting the forty-two statements, silently imploring that my heart would not betray me, that my conscience would be found pure and unblemished and light against the feather…

I have not committed sin…

…I have not uttered curses…

…I have not been angry without just cause…

…I have wronged none, I have done no evil…

…I have not slain the cattle belonging to the gods.*

The time passed quickly and soon my confession was at an end.  I could not tell what my heart, if anything, had told those who looked on, but I would soon find out.

Slowly, I turned back around to face Osiris and my fate, hoping against hope that I was about to be declared “true of voice”.  The alternative didn’t bear thinking about…


* These statements are taken from those listed in the Papyrus of Ani, translated by E.A.Wallis Budge


This piece of flash fiction was originally posted on this blog in July 2015, here:

https://sammiscribbles.wordpress.com/2015/07/18/in-the-hall-of-two-truths/