Firebrand's Trailer

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Discussion Question for Firebrand #1

1) Authors are often asked: do you have a favorite character? For me
it's: Dafydd or Lin? (and I admit a partiality to Dafydd.) I'd like to propose a variant of that for my readers. Which character do you admire more: Lin or Dafydd or another in Firebrand, or even Recruit? Why? Which do you relate to more closely?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Writing FIREBRAND Year One

K I Sawyer AFB, MI
Marquette, MI
February 17, 1992

Chapter one is complete as a first draft. What a feeling. I'm on cloud nine. Can't wait for Bill's opinion. Chapter two is starting to take shape now, starting to make a bit more sense I think. Still not sure exactly what direction it's going to go. We'll see. I do envision a reunion with Lin and Guinevere with the children. Should be interesting. And Lin teaching young Arthur (Bear) her tricks with a sword. We'll see. I've never been so confident about anything I've ever done before. This is great. Lin's been quite helpful.


It would seem it took about a month to draft that first chapter. And it really didn't change too drastically after that. It was expanded and tightened, but it's still about Lin and her inner conflict in the hours after the devasating battle of Camlann. That first page or so has never changed.

Chapter 1


I had no idea what hour it was. The sun had set a lifetime ago and thick clouds obscured any moonlight. Battle weary and with heavy hearts, we picked our way from the river in the dark, our joyless task compleated. My four companions formed an escort around me. They knew what I thought of protocol, but I fell in step with the men simply because I was of no heart to argue. The only sounds were the lapping water behind us and our boots crunching the earth.

Odd, such stillness after the mayhem of battle.

When we reached the supply wagons and cooking fires, Dafydd hurried ahead without a word and disappeared into the crowd of soldiers and servants awaiting our return. I noticed immediately that an unnatural hush hung over the entire encampment, like a pall. I saw none of the usual camaraderie or back-slapping, heard none of the light-hearted banter normally present after victory. But my father's men were a special breed, cut from finer fabric. To a man, they snapped smartly to the instant I appeared. I acknowledged their salute with an "at ease" and hurried on my way.

Camlann a victory? Camlann was nothing short of internecine. Not Britanni against Saxon this time. We had all been part of the same army mere months ago. Yet this morning we had faced each other in the twilight mist, astride our battle steeds, in full armour, lances couched, anxious for the signals to be given, the battle cries to be sung, and have at each other. Men who had once been friends met as mortal enemies and slaughtered everything that moved in their paths. Who are the victors in civil strife?

Wfft. What had made us so bloodthirsty?

I saw a different question in the eyes of the men through the smoky firelight as we swept past; the man they had expected to see, the one their eyes sought, the one they had waited for, was not among us. We had lost our king as well as the Round Table. Modred, my half-brother, had driven a pike through Britain's heart. And as my father's heir, the duty fell on me to tell them. But not now. Instead, I announced to my companions that I would meet with everyone for reports after I had changed.

Bedwyr barked out orders and the place seemed to come back to life. Of a sort. I trusted him and the others to know what must be done, and do it, as my father had. He would have addressed the men first most likely, but my father was the Pendragon, and I never would come close to being his equal.

I was not the least surprised to see Dafydd lighting the last of my lanterns when I lifted my tent's flap a moment later. He even had water ready so I could wash.

He offered to undo the laces of my armour, but I declined.

"At least let me help you with this." Dafydd grasped the shield still hanging from my shoulder.

Why had I bothered to retrieve it?

I accepted his assistance without a word.

Dafydd regarded me. Impossible to hide my emotions from him. He knew my heart was shattered. I knew he wanted to offer comfort. But if I allowed myself his embrace now, I would crumble.

"Later, Dafydd," I said.

"You do not bear this alone, Noble One."

"I know. Thank you."

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Writing FIREBRAND Year One

I'm glad I started this project--re-reading and posting old journal entries from when I was creating the first part of Lin's story. Through it I have embarked on an interesting personal journey. It's fun to see what I planned to have in the book and compare it to what it evolved into.

But enough of 2011 for now. Let's swirl back in time to 1992.


More snow. Eight inches over night-ick. Great neighbors. Someone cleared our driveway with their snow blower. Yes, there is a god. There is no way I would have been able do that myself with a shovel. Yes, David (teenage son) could have helped--tag-team! And if Bill were home and not in California!! Anyway, the neighbor must have seen us struggling and like a knight in shining armour came to our rescue. Bless him!

I'm making forward progress with the book. Wish I could get backwards as well. Guess I just need to get chapter one refined before I can move on. It's going like a jigsaw puzzle--one piece here, another there, yet another somewhere else all together. How will it all fit together?

Yikes! Chapter one is depressing. I can't wait to get out of it. It's so down and somber and dark. I was not made to be a soldier. Wow! Lin just snuck that one in on me. Thanks. Nothing short of a complete re-write will do. It all seems to be there now. If I could just shape it so that it flows better. And stop worrying about making it too long. This is a novel, I don't have to think about length--there are no such restrictions. I am my own bitterest enemy in this journey.

So. What do we have? Lin and Gareth. He's what? Six years older? A love match? Where do they meet, if Lin doesn't grow up in Camelot? Meet in the kitchen of Camelot. The Beaumains story from the Malory tradition? Gareth goes off on his fate first. Within a year Lin ends up learning her birthright. How? We'll work it out later. The friendship of Lin and gareth resumes, etc. Did Gareth and Lin marry? Good question. And what about Dafydd? And how does Lin get to the kitchen?

Lin's marriage would definitely be a frequent topic, since she's Arthur's daughter. Gawain (15 years older)would be first choice as husband. Gawain was head of that clan. Age wouldn't matter to parents. It would to Lin. She could work to convince them of a love match. She and Gareth are at least hand-fast/betrothed before he dies. (Malory tradition: Lancelot kills gareth in Guinevere's rescue.) In our story: how? Why? At Camlann?

Lin doesn't marry Gaheris (seven years older) right away after Camlann. A year later? When is Bear/Arthur conceived?

My head hurts! Time to rest and let things stew a bit. We'll come back to this later.

This was a fun entry to rediscover. Great insight to my process. It hasn't changed a bit. I still go roundabout with things. Get on tangents that I think are important to the book and fixate on them. Funny how none of that working in Camelot's kitchen ever wound up in Firebrand! I had some interesting scenes running through my head. And the book would have been very different had I gone that route. But I think I saw how cliched the scenario was.

Had to laugh about me fretting over things getting too long--I still have that trouble with book three!!

Thanks for reading,

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Writing FIREBRAND Year One

K I Sawyer AFB, MI
(Marquette, MI)
February 5, 1992

Well, Gareth has made his intro in a grand way yesterday. From out of no where, he stepped into a scene with Lin. So now I have Lin, Gareth, Gaheris (Ris), Bedivere, and Dafydd for sure. Gwen is still silent. Also still silent: Arthur, Lancelot, Merlin, Modred . . . The list of characters is endless!

But today? It's quiet in Camelot. I'm procrastinating. I have to re-write chapter one again and don't want to. It's a lovely, sunny day. I think I'll go into town awhile. Then I'll work on the re-write.


I remember that scene of Gareth and Lin talking. It never made it into FIREBRAND, of course because the book wound up taking a different course; focusing on Lin's years of slavery in Orkney. At this point in the brainstorming, I was still thinking that the slavery years would get glossed over. That in the course of the character relating her life story, she'd mention the slavery and then move on to meeting her dad and getting to Camelot. I still had a long way to go. And the scene didn't make it into RECRUIT either, but it led to something I did eventually use in RECRUIT only without Gareth. If you've read RECRUIT, it's the scene right after she's broken Cerdic's nose and she's sweeping out the stable as her punishment for fighting in the ranks and her dad shows up. Originally it was Gareth first and then dad. I decided that we didn't need both and dad was more important. But Gareth got the scene going for me, so thumbs up to him.

My list of characters is also interesting. People who have read FIREBRAND and RECRUIT will notice that there is no sign of Merlin! And there will be none in the rest of the series.

And as for putting off the re-write? I was still doing it long-hand at the time. On loose leaf paper, with fountain pen. And there were about 35 of those pieces of paper that I would have to re-copy like a medieval monk in a scriptorium.

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Not dated journal entry for today, but . . .

there's this undated page of some brainstorming I did and it's between the entries for Feb. 1 & 4.

Hmm... Here's a peek at my musing. And a comparison with what evolved from it.

From 1992
K I Sawyer, MI

Britain was not ready for the chaos which was about to descend upon us at the loss of King Arthur. Without the strength and support of the Round Table knights, my claim was hopeless. I could give it a try. Rally those men out there to my side? Could I? Would they? Wfft! They were Arthur's men, not mine. Not his daughter's.

Dad and I talked late into the night last night on just this possibility. I did not want to accept that this could happen.


Here's what ended up in the published edition of "FIREBRAND"

Ballocks. Why can Bedwyr not address the men? He would know what to say. True. But what made me believe that his pain and grief were any less than mine? Addressing the soldiers was my duty now. I could no more walk away from it without so much as a by-your-leave than I could bring my father back. They had a right to expect my father's heir, not the weakling I had become, too much the coward to face them. Yet I had no idea what I should say. That Arthur, the Pendragon, was gone? Unthinkable. Once the Saxons caught wind of the day's disaster, they would be on us like a pack of starving wolves on an unsuspecting doe. And if not the Saxons, then all our fickle allies would descend like carrion crows, with Camelot as the feast.

If my father could not depend on the aid of his fellow countrymen as the Pendragon, what chance in Annwn did I have?

Between the Saxons and Britain's own people, Camelot would be torn to shreds. And it would take far more than the meagre remnants of the Round Table and my father's army to prevent such calamity. What could I possibly hope to achieve in my father's wake?

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Writing FIREBRAND Year One

There's a winter storm coming through Indiana the next few days--much gloom and doom predictions. I usually laugh at the "snowmagegdon" scenarios of a few inches of snow. But we may have major ice over the next few days. Hope not, but best to not laugh that off. Want to get this posted now, since it is February 1. And the UP did have some intense winters.

K I Sawyer AFB, MI
(Marquette, MI)
February 1, 1992

Well, imagine that. I did have the right idea from the very start. Lin telling the story to her son. And this was back when I was in high school I did that "prologue" bit of fiction with a dying "Lin" (not Lin then though" telling the story to her son. It was for an independent study course in English my senior year. Got an A if I recall. :) It all seems to work in mysterious ways. Why did I ever doubt?

Got a dose of reality today--watched "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" I needed that. Had been taking things far too seriously.

Can't seem to get any writing done today.

Wow, two years ago this month on the 11th I was getting my first taste of Britain. Can't call it England anymore. Just isn't right. Sigh.

Gads! These time lines (in Firebrand) are going to kill me. Seeing where everyone is in relation to the others and events.

Bill is tired of hearing this. He very nearly said so last night on the phone. I won't trouble him for a while, I guess. It isn't easy to turn off the brainstorming though. Not like and ordinary job that you can leave at the office.


Bill, (hubbie) was in California at that time. The USAF had sent him there for his surgical tech training. Yes, there he was in California and I was in the dead of winter in the UP. Watch for the next entry about SNOW!!