Book Launch Night

Sorry I haven’t posted for a week, but it’s been all go. The book launch was on Wednesday night (day before yesterday) and it went better than I could have hoped.

My daughters made gorgeous cup cakes and cookies, and Carrie (the illustrator)’s mum made punch and brought some other nibbles. The shop was so packed that we ran out of chairs and there were people standing at the back.

Carrie’s family came down en masse, my family were there, my housegroup from church were well represented, and there were friends from my writers circle and a few others. David, the lecturer who put Carrie and I together, came, and so did Colin from the Historical Association, Swansea.

I was wearing my new T shirt with a picture of the book and ‘Ask me about Alina de Breos’ on the front and back, which went down well. I welcomed everyone and spoke about how I came to write the book and the beginning of the story, then Carrie spoke very well about the illustrations. Then it was everyone queueing to buy the book and have it signed by both of us, and Carrie sold lots of prints of the illustrations. She presented me with a print of the White Lady and we bought one of Queen Isabella on a horse, which seems to be quite a favourite.

I had my photo taken by the Evening Post the day before, as the photographer wasn’t free on the night, but I didn’t see the reporter on the night, and it’s not appeared in the paper yet. We’re keeping watch.

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Retail Outlets for Alina, The White Lady of Oystermouth

The book is now available at the following outlets in Swansea and Gower:

Swansea Museum
National Waterfront Museum
Town Centre Tourist Information Centre
Uplands Bookshop
Mumbles Tourist Information Centre
Cover to Cover Bookshop
Shepherds at Parkmill
Gower Heritage Centre
Gower Kite and Surf Centre, Pitton Cross Caravan Park, Rhossili
Reynoldston Post Office
Crofty Post Office

I am also talking to these outlets, with a view to them carrying the book:
W H Smith
Waterstones
Tesco

When Oystermouth Castle re-opens on 16th June, the book will be on sale in the Visitors Centre, in Alina’s Chapel.

Nearly There!

Publishing my book is soooo close now.

The last illustrations arrived overnight and I put them in the print book file straight away Monday morning. The files were delivered to the printer on Monday, and I was so excited that I forgot to take the disc with the cover files, and my husband had to go back with them. Then I had to wait until Thursday for the proof copy, but it was perfect.

Since then I have been round to many of the shops which agreed to sell the book, and showed them the proof copy and delivered a poster and flyers. The two museums in Swansea both wanted to see the book before deciding whether to take it. I saw them today, and they both came on board. In fact, the Waterfront Museum want ten copies on sale or return, and the Swansea Museum want five TO BUY. The only outlet willing to pay up front.

Meanwhile, I put the illustrations in the ebook and uploaded it to Smashwords to give it a try. The Smashwords guide warned that the conversion could take some time and throw up errors, and I had been warned that illustrations in ebooks were tricky. I decided to try them and take them out if they didn’t work. The book loaded in ten minutes with no errors, illustrations and all!

Right now it’s only available on Smashwords here, but in the next week they will be sending it out to all the ereader platforms, except Kindle. Smashwords don’t send books to Amazon for Kindle until they sell $1000 worth, and at $3.99 (£2.51) it is not likely to reach that, so I’m going to upload it to Amazon myself.

The print books will be ready by Thursday, and delivered to the shops on Good Friday. And we’ll be live!

March 1st, 1327

I meant to post this on March 1st, but this will have to do.

When Edward III came to the throne, the barons who had rebelled against his father were forgiven, and their titles and lands returned to them. Unfortunately, the charter which originally conveyed the Lordship of Gower to John de Mowbray and Alina, was not valid. In typical form, William de Breos was negligent in obtaining the licence of the king, so Alina did not qualify.

But although the act of parliament did not operate in favour of Alina, the magnanimity of the king was graciously extended to her. Gower was returned to her, and the gift was legalised by charter, dated 1st March 1327.

Endnotes

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.

References

The wonderful people at the Historical Association have reviewed my book and given me some really good feedback. I’m going to take their advice, but two things have become clear:

  1. I am going to have to do more research. Some parts of the book are based on just one source and are being questioned and other references suggested. I obviously didn’t look far enough.
  2. Although I have been avoiding it, I really have to do endnotes. If I had done them as I went along it would have been relatively easy. Doing it afterwards is going to be like writing it all again. I have my bibliography and all the research notes I made, but it’s a big job. But I can’t avoid it.

So here we go…