In the Snake-Dragon’s Claws - continued…

It was after school at Halloween that the weird things began to happen. It had been one of those dull boring days at the end of October, and our classroom lights had been on all day. The room was hot and stuffy, making me feel sleepy, and the windows had steamed up. I rubbed a round patch on the cold glass, looked out, and in the fading light saw a spooky mist creeping across the fields and into the playground. It would be a brilliant night to be out knocking on neighbours’ doors and shouting trick or treat.
When the bell went for the end of lessons, my friends were pushing and shoving each other in the cloakroom, struggling into their anoraks and eager to be off home. I hung back, watching them as they hurried into the yard. They were calling to each other and I should have been with them, joining in the fun. Why couldn’t things stay the same? Now I had to wait for my stepbrother Thomas and take him home. He was always late coming out of class. I hung about in the playground, keeping well away from the mums, and a few dads, who were huddled together in twos and threes, waiting to collect the little ones. Feeling really fed up, I kicked stones across the yard and the door to the infants’ classroom opened. The parents rushed forward and I saw Thomas pushing between their damp coats with a big grin on his small, bird-like face. He ran towards me, his raincoat slipping off his skinny shoulders, his shoe bag bumping on the floor behind him, and he shouted, ‘I’m going to make a lantern, Alice.’
He sounded very excited, and he waved a piece of coloured paper under my nose. I grabbed hold of him and buttoned up his coat. Then bending down to fasten his flapping shoelaces, he did his usual trick of snatching at one of my plaits and giving it a playful tug. ‘Stop it. Stand still, won’t you. How can I tie your laces if you keep wriggling about?’ I scolded.
He looked at me, puzzled about me being cross. But it wasn’t his fault that I felt angry. It was because I was scared my stepmother might have found out what I’d done. If I took Thomas home, she’d be sure to be waiting for me, ready to pounce. I needed to keep out of her way for as long as I could.

Chapter One - Weird Things Begin to Happen - continued…

It was after school at Halloween that the weird things began to happen. It had been one of those dull boring days at the end of October, and our classroom lights had been on all day. The room was hot and stuffy, making me feel sleepy, and the windows had steamed up. I rubbed a round patch on the cold glass, looked out, and in the fading light saw a spooky mist creeping across the fields and into the playground. It would be a brilliant night to be out knocking on neighbours’ doors and shouting trick or treat.
When the bell went for the end of lessons, my friends were pushing and shoving each other in the cloakroom, struggling into their anoraks and eager to be off home. I hung back, watching them as they hurried into the yard. They were calling to each other and I should have been with them, joining in the fun. Why couldn’t things stay the same? Now I had to wait for my stepbrother Thomas and take him home. He was always late coming out of class. I hung about in the playground, keeping well away from the mums, and a few dads, who were huddled together in twos and threes, waiting to collect the little ones.                 Feeling really fed up, I kicked stones across the yard and the door to the infants’ classroom opened. The parents rushed forward and I saw Thomas pushing between their damp coats with a big grin on his small, bird-like face. He ran towards me, his raincoat slipping off his skinny shoulders, his shoe bag bumping on the floor behind him, and he shouted, ‘I’m going to make a lantern, Alice.’
He sounded very excited, and he waved a piece of coloured paper under my nose. I grabbed hold of him and buttoned up his coat. Then bending down to fasten his flapping shoelaces, he did his usual trick of snatching at one of my plaits and giving it a playful tug. ‘Stop it. Stand still, won’t you. How can I tie your laces if you keep wriggling about?’ I scolded.
He looked at me, puzzled about me being cross. But it wasn’t his fault that I felt angry. It was because I was scared my stepmother might have found out what I’d done. If I took Thomas home, she’d be sure to be waiting for me, ready to pounce. I needed to keep out of her way for as long as I could.


from my Mslexia Diary and Planner - August 2023

(the Mslexia diary and planner it is an excellent tool for any writer with four headings and a day by day diary. I have not included the day by day diary in the present post, but may do in future if there is any learning that may be of interest to you)

August 20 - 25

Affirmations 

Have organised the website so that it is easier to use. I am learning how to change the set pages my Grandson built for me. This is trial and error, but I am experimenting to find what works and what doesn't and feel proud of myself when I successfully make changes to the layout. It gives a feeling of progress.

Not an Affirmation, more a failure. I should have known beforehand that it would fail. I'd hope that if I joined the Mslexia online Bootcamp it would increase my writing output, it was not for me. I should have known better.

Priorities

To complete an entry for the Mslexia Novel Competition by September 17th. It is only 5000 words, but I have difficulty deciding on the beginning of my novels. This is the first attempt at writing fiction for adults and I've decided that the entry will be "Snakeskin and Failed Feathers." 

I am also working out how to better use the website so that the Google search engine will find my posts and I'm experimenting with popular hashtags once again. 

Insights 

Must return to the excellent blog of Emma Darwin 'The Itch of Writing'  - author, teacher and great, great, granddaughter of Charles Darwin. Her posts on the subject of writing are brilliant and have helped so many when learning to write. 

Blessings

(This heading is always difficult to fill in, being a writer and full time carer, but I always manage to find a blessing.)

I am grateful for... the ability to continue writing, the enjoyment of creation in whatever form, and the pleasure of reading and writing poetry. 

 

 


In the Snake-Dragon's Claws - Beginnings - Chapter One

1. Weird Things Begin to Happen 

I’m looking for Fymm now that the early frosts are nipping my fingers and toes, like a bite from his small sharp teeth. It’s nearly a year since I last saw him, and I’m worried and excited too. It won’t be long before Thin Time is here again. I think I’d better say who I am before I tell you what happened when I met Fymm for the first time. I’m Alice Griffin, I’m nearly ten, and I’m telling you my name because that’s what got me into trouble, and it’s the worst trouble that ever happened to me. Well, the worst so far and I’m lucky to be alive. If I’d gone straight home from school, it wouldn’t have happened, but after my mum died, and my dad married again, home wasn’t the same anymore. Now I had a stepmother and a five-year-old stepbrother, and he followed me around all day and wouldn’t leave me alone. Then my stepmother started shouting at me for nothing. Whatever I did made her cross. So, I did things to annoy her, and that got me into loads more trouble, and just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, they did, a lot worse.


In the Snake-Dragon's Claws - A Book For Halloween!

It will soon be Halloween again, reminding me of my book set at that time of year and of the girls who questioned me at a book signing in Bamburgh Castle and said, 'Why do you always have boy heroes?"

So my book 'In the Snake-Dragon's Claws' was my answer. It has a girl heroine and one day I hope that I shall write a sequel. I have already plotted it and it would be exciting to write, but there is so much to do on my series for adults and with my daily caring duties. You may have come across this Halloween book as I published it a long time ago under the title, 'Thin Time'. But this title did not suit the exciting story. And few people knew that Thin Time is the time when the veil between Our World we live in, and the Other World, is thin enough to pass through. And as Halloween is soon to happen yet again, I thought I would post snippets from the book, just for fun. I do hope you will take a look at this story as it unfolds, enjoy it yourself, or share the fun and scary bits with your children. And for those of you who live in Shropshire, it is set in that county in the village of Tong.


An Author's Fear of Criticism!

Hello again, I've re-joined Goodreads, mainly because as an author I have people who follow my book output, sadly much depleted over the last few years with increased carer duties and the wretched covid, but as the school reports that I used to write said, 'Could do better!' I hope to follow my own advice. The main reason I've been absent for so long is the dreaded reviews. Like most writer's, I live in fear of rejection, criticism that is destructive not instructive. But I must pull myself together if I want people to know about my work, ask obvious questions about why I am an author. Writers who chance to read this...I'd love to know YOUR reasons for why you keep going when the odds are stacked against you?


Mslexia - For women who write...

In September, I'm entering the Novel Writing Competition, the first 5000 words from the first draft of my work in progress, 'Snakeskin and Failed Feathers', to Mslexia, the only magazine where every reader is a potential contributor too.

We publish over 70 different names in every issue, so you might find your work appearing alongside work by leading authors such as Marian Keyes, Karen McCarthy Woolf, Monique Roffey or Daisy Johnson.

But Mslexia is not just a magazine. We’re also proud creators of the Indie Press Guide, a unique directory of over 700 independent book publishers and literary magazines. The Mslexia Minis writing guides, including the best-selling Poetic Forms and A Novel in Nine Steps. And our brand-new Writer's Diary & Planner - designed to make 2023 your most creative year yet.

Then there are our annual competitions, which have taken the careers of many women writers to the next level. And an online Salon, where members can build a community and attend writing surgeries and Q&As led by top experts.


Valle Crusis Abbey for the Kendra Story

I have been searching for a monastery near to where the child Kendra, from the children's book, a prequel to First Wolf, lives in Powys, Wales. Valle Crucis Abbey (Valley of the Cross) is a Cistercian abbey located in Llantysilio, Wales, but at the time of the story the counties of Wales were named differently. More formally the Abbey Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Valle Crucis it is known in Welsh both as Abaty Glyn Egwestl and Abaty Glyn y Groes. The abbey was built by Madog ap Gruffydd Maelor, Prince of Powys Fadog. Valle Crucis was dissolved in 1537 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and subsequently fell into serious disrepair. The building is now a ruin, though large parts of the original structure still survive.
Kendra and her kinfolk lived in a settlement overlooking the valley, and in my story on Christmas Eve, 700 A.D. an Anglo-Saxon raiding party from Northumbria found itself in that valley. In those times, there was no set border between what is now England and Wales. The main distinction between the areas was the language.It wasn't until the 800's that Offa's Dyke was built.


Ideas for a sequel to First Wolf - the book is slowly taking shape.

The story will begin around 793, the date Lindisfarne was invaded by the Vikings, or maybe just before the invasion. I’m thinking of including the Welsh coronation crown. It is something the villain in First Wolf, Eorl Uhtred, would want, and then from the story me began to take shape in my head. I chose Powys as it is nearest to Northumbria. The border between England and Wales did not exist at that time. There were Welsh speaking tribes far beyond what we think of as Wales.

It will be nearly Christmas, 792, the year before the Vikings attack. But that the timeline is still something I shall have to work on, and the sequence of events.

St. Cuthbert died one hundred years earlier and is still on Inner Farne where Toland, the hero of the previous book, met him in his beehive hut on the island.

The Saxon Eorl Uhtred has killed the Northumbrian King Aethelred’s family and plans to kill the King too. The Eorl has gone with a raiding party, including Toland’s uncle, into Welsh territory. There was no border between the Welsh speaking lands and the Anglo-Saxons, and land was constantly lost and won in many battles.

It is Christmas time and Uhtred has heard about the wealth of Cadell also known as Cadell Powys, King of Powys, and the special crown used at Cadell’s coronation, a chain of twisted gold links, with armlets, and anklets of gold, which were the badges of sovereignty of Powys.

I came across the photograph online. Eliseg lived at Castell Dinas-Bran near Llangollen, is associated with the Celtic god, Bran, and King Arthur's Quest for the Holy Grail. This might be useful.

And Uhtred’s raid on the castle will involve the broken shaft of the cross that led to the memorial illustrated.

Eliseg reclaimed the territory of Powys after it had been overrun by the Saxons, and his great-grandson, Cyngen son of Cadell erected the Pillar of Eliseg in his memory. which stands not far from the later abbey of Valle Crucis, it was once topped by an enormous cross, and its inscription praises his victories against the Saxons and includes a record of the Powys pedigree, stretching back to Vortigern and Magnus Maximus.

The translation of the part of the inscription referring to Eliseg is as follows:

+ Cyngen, was the King who erected Pillar of Eliseg, in memory of his great-grandfather Elisedd.  The same Eliseg, who joined together the inheritance of Powys out of the power of the Angles with his sword and with fire. Whosoever repeats the writing, let him give a blessing on the soul of Eliseg + 

Elisedd, is king of Powys at the beginning of the story and re-established Powys independence after the Saxon invasions.

Kendra and her family are going to the church attached to the castle where the Powys King Cadell son of Elisedd lives. Uhtred and his mercenary army attacks - the castle is poorly guarded at this time of year, it is heavily snowing…

The coronation crown is taken by Uhtred, Kendra’s parents are killed, she escapes with her brother, Finn who is 8, and sister, Orla who is 5. She is killed when defending them and the siblings are taken away by Uhtred and his warriors as slaves.

Kendra follows Uhtred and his men through Wales in winter, little realising that she has been slain, and is probably rescued by a woman who becomes her mentor for most of the story.

Finally, after many adventures, while she follows her siblings to Northumbria, she meets St. Cuthbert, he teaches her to take living form, and tells her she must care of Toland….  I haven’t yet decided how the story ends, but I want it to be happy.


Ironbridge Gorge

River Dark now available on Amazon world wide as paperback and Ebook.

Available in all Amazon stores and as a Kindle in many online stores.
River Dark - Book Two - Ironbridge Gorge Series Paperback by Carole Anne Carr.