Random Friday

Total randomness again. In case you missed it, I was on the KWL blog yesterday, talking about character-oriented stories with a batch of other authors. I shared it on Facebook, but I know not all of you are on Facebook! 😀

A study says brain training shown to restore sharpness in older adults.  Now, if only I could decide which adult education course or physical activity I want to start, LOL! I’ve been checking dance schools and university programmes, but haven’t decided yet.

The re-share of this Robin Williams tribute by a Facebook friend came at a serendipitous time to remind me that

Depression, anxiety and panic attacks are not signs of weakness.
They are signs of trying to remain strong for far too long.

Considering how sick of adulting I was this past summer, I guess this is totally right! 🙂

Last weekend I watched one of the DVDs I bought in Dublin and read a lot from one of the non-fiction books I bought in Edinburgh. Movie first! Keanu was a fun action romp, and since it was a comedy, it had a happy ending! 😉 Not a cat person, but the kitten was cute and it was very entertaining.

The Spartans by Paul Cartledge is good research for two short stories. One is already written, the other on the list to write. The book mentions a novel by Valerio Massimo Manfredi about Spartans, so I downloaded the Kindle sample.

I read it and oh, my! Haven’t read novels in Italian in years, and boy did his “epic literary” voice got on my nerves! The omniscient narrator of the 1980s, the tone… not for me. But l did pick a few tips for adding the five senses in my 2 stories set in ancient Sparta/Greece.

I will submit both to anthologies and if they get rejected, I’ll have the first two chapters of Helios’s story. Probably just a novella, since he doesn’t last long, but Bran’s first fledgling has now been mentioned in relation to Rajveer, at least in Kristine.

And speaking of the guy who inspired both, the Greek God of Bollywood, here’s his latest dance number of the upcoming action movie War. Apparently they closed Positano beach to shoot this video! 😉

Don’t forget to check the Backstage Pass post on Sunday… I actually changed topic and postponed the difficult one to next month! 😉 Have a great weekend! 🙂


Happiness is…

Happiness is…

Happiness is…

Happiness is…


Happiness is…


Happiness is…


Historical novel

So, I’ve been through it again after some months and a couple of comments (from alpha-reader on the whole manuscript + a critique of the first 4000words) and corrected a couple of mistakes thanks to my Templar expert friend – I don’t know where I got the idea that the Krak des Chevaliers belonged to the Templars… it’s for the Hospitalliers, darn it! Thus two scenes have been moved to Tortosa because the other option suggested (Belfort) was actually in the hands of Saladin at the time I needed it.

And I also checked a couple of non-fiction books from my mum’s library (she’s my other expert of the Middle Ages, pity she can’t read my novel because her English is so bad…) and ended up reading the biography of St Hugh of Lincoln, which made me realize that even if he’s only a secondary character, he wasn’t behaving “in character” AND I probably misplaced him or his functions a couple of times as well.

So, six scenes to revise  and two brand new. I’m putting some meat on my lady’s life (the two knights are busy enough already! ;-)) and finding her interesting pastimes (or ways to make her life… more miserable, LOL). Now I’m looking for (possibly fast) beta-readers. I’m hoping to consult with a Muslim doctor for the middle of the story, but if you’d like to take a look at the whole 73500words thing, drop me a line.

Historical-fiction readers, before you say it, I know it’s short. But without input I’m unable to fill the blanks. I can add subplots and stuff but can’t pulp it up if I don’t know what you think is missing. So any comments are welcome, really. Even by non-history-buffs who would like to read a tale of friendship and love and revenge set at the end of the 12th century.

Historical research

A short Facebook “discussion” between me and Mesmered on Tuesday  prompted me to do this post. Here was the exchange (my comment to her posting of Mark Williams piece about her):

# (me) I see I’m really NOT the only one writing about Richard and John Plantagenet’s times! 😉

# (Mesmered) Medieval era highly popular, Barb. It’s all that ‘no washing’ that does it!

# (me) Funny I’ve just reminded people that they DID wash in the 12th century… 😉

(which is something I mentioned in my comeback post, of course). So here goes the evidence! 🙂

p.s. I know she was joking, but many other people were very serious in their objections, hence this post…

Bathing evidence from the Chanson de Gestes by Chretien de Troyes (translations available at Project Guttenberg)

Erec & Enide

She had laid embroidered cushions and spreads upon the couches, where they all three sat down Erec with his host beside him, and the maiden opposite. Before them, the fire burns brightly. He brought them water for washing in two basins. The table was soon set, cloths, bread, and wine set out, and they sat down to supper.


The time for the meal had come, and those whose duty it was hastened to set the tables. The tables in the hall were quickly spread, then while some took the towels, and others held the basins, they offered water to all who came. When all had washed, they took their seats. And the King, taking Cliges by the hand,

made him sit down in front of him, for he wished to learn this very day, if possible, who he was. Of the meal I need not further speak, for the courses were as well supplied as if beef were selling at a penny.

You must know that baths are not lacking here, nor anything else which a lady needs, and which I can think of or recall.

These quarters are good enough for such a guest; for there are bedrooms, and bathrooms with hot water in the tubs, which comes through pipes under the ground.


Every day the has him bathed, and washed, and groomed. And besides this she prepares for him a robe of red scarlet stuff, brand new and lined with spotted fur. A Golden buckle for his neck, ornamented with precious stones which make people look well, a girdle, and a wallet made of rich gold brocade.

Then they say no more about the box, but minister in every way they can to the comfort of my lord Yvain, bathing him and washing his hair, having him shaved and clipped, for one could have taken up a fist full of hair upon his face. His every want is satisfied: if he asks for arms, they are furnished him: if he wants a horse, they provide him with one that is large and handsome, strong and spirited.

She relieves him of all his arms, nor was it the least attention she bestowed on him when she herself washed his neck and face. The lord wishes that all honour should be shown him, as indeed they do. She gets out from her wardrobe a folded shirt, white drawers, needle and thread for his sleeves, which she sews on, thus clothing him.


Standing beside the table, at the end of a bench, they found two basins of warm water in which to wash their hands, with a richly embroidered towel, all white and clean, with which to dry their hands.

Then the knight and his two sons extend a glad welcome to their guests. The rest of the household were not backward, for even the least among them prepared to perform his special task. While some run to prepare the meal, others light the candles in profusion; still others get a towel and basins, and offer water for the hands: they are not niggardly in all this. When all had washed, they take their seats.

Forget Sir Walter Scott! Let’s rewrite the history books! 😀

(and no, they’re not constantly bathing in my novel, but they DO bathe after a journey or stuff like that… they’re well-mannered knights and ladies, after all! ;-))

UPDATE that has nothing to do with the previous post: I’ve had my first interview! Read it at wonderful Chrystalla Thoma’s blog, she was very kind in having me! Check it out, especially if you’re new to this blog! 😀

On historical novels

Because I’m typing draft zero in the computer and I’m taking notes on what I want to change and expand, and because next week I might be able to go to a library to do some more research, I thought I’d rant about that for a day.

My main source for research has been the internet for obvious reasons – I’m writing in English, and even if I can use some other language sources, I have to translate them, so reading directly in English is easier for me. I’ve been helped a lot by Project Guttenberg or Gallica because they have loads of original texts, even translated, but of course they don’t have more modern studies on the matter. I could find Wikipedia entries and some free papers or articles on almost everything, so I’m probably all set to write a masterpiece (warning: not a literary one, as my prose will never be literary, but a compelling story with lots of details I couldn’t have come up with on my own).

What I wonder, though, is all those studies about clothes. Anything I’ve read is based on statues and/or illuminated manuscripts to determine what kind of clothes were worn. But I’ve found more things on life at the end of the 12th century in the translations of the chanson de geste than in any other study. Is there anyone who has dissected the food, the clothes, the armors, the pass-times in the works of Chrétien de Troyes, Béroul, Wace and the likes?

I know not many manuscripts have reached us, and some have been reworked or translated in later centuries, but still… I think those stories (supposed to have happened in earlier centuries, depending if it was the French matter – Charlemagne – or the British matter – King Arthur – or other) are a window on life in that time period and shouldn’t be overlooked. And as most of those minstrels were anonymous, I can attribute one or two of those “roman” to my characters (well, one is totally made up, but not all the “roman” and “chanson” of that time have survived, and my characters are not Richard Lionheart or Chrétien de Troyes! 😉 Besides, I threw in an Italian story that way, haha :-D).

Then again there’s the problem of conflicting sources and dates. Even “biographies” of the time were filled with stuff that was totally made up (see William Marshal or Fulk Fitz Warine), but then, that’s why I’m writing fiction and not an historical treaty. I can fill the holes with my imagination, right? I’ll always find some reader/scholar who doesn’t agree with me, but as long as I manage to tell my story, I guess I don’t care.

The themes will be faith, war, marriage… there is a crusade, captivity… I guess just the usual conflict! 😉 I haven’t written the end yet, I’m stuck on part 3 (reign of King John) because I want to change so many things at the beginning I’m not sure it’s worth to write it all until I rewrite the rest. So next week I’ll be studying also that – the rewrites and the end, or the struggle against King John, which must become a less secondary character from the beginning because he’s the new antagonist for the end of the book. But I must plant the seeds earlier, right? 😉

Happy writing!

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