The Song of the Tides – Map Reveal

A simple map this time, for a simple, short story – this is Armorica – today’s Brittany – at the end of the 5th century, just as the old, classic Imperial city names from Tabula Peutingeriana change to common tongue ones, as used in Notitia Dignitatum and later texts.

The Song of the Tides – a Song of Octa novella – is out on pre-order, to be released on August the 1st.

The Wrath of the Iutes – Map Reveal

In 10 days, “The Wrath of the Iutes” will be released on Kindle – and on paperback around the same time – so it’s time to reveal the new map for the 5th book of the Song of Britain saga.

“The Wrath…” takes place in Armorica, Isles of Scilly and what is now known as Wales. It’s in Wales that most military action happens, with armies moving from fort to fort and ships going from port to port, so the one new map drawn for this book is one of Wales – or Western Britannia Prima.

Incidentally, this is my second novel that is partly set in Wales – so did my first book, the Shadow of Black Wings, and even the map was somewhat similar, if a fantasy version. I can’t tell myself if it’s just a curious coincidence or is there something special about Wales that makes me go back to it time and time again?

The Song of the Tides novella – FAQ

Coming out a month after Book 2 of The Song of Octa, “The Wrath of the Iutes” is a novella “The Song of the Tides“: a sort of an epilogue to “The Wrath…” – and it’s already out for preorder!

It’s an unusual publishing move, so I decided instead of the usual press blurb, I’ll do a short FAQ post explaining why you should preorder this if you’ve also preordered The Wrath of the Iutes – or read (and enjoyed) any of my books in the series.

Is it a standalone novella?

  • Not really – it’s best read after the Wrath, as it concerns the fates of characters we first meet in this volume. I tried my best to make it a standalone if somebody insists on reading it out of order, but at best you’ll have spoilers for the previous book – and at worst, you won’t have a clue what’s going on.

Why novella, rather than part of the novel?

  • Because it’s not quite a part of Octa’s story, at least not as I want to tell it. Though told through Octa’s eyes, and though he and Ursula play active parts in the plot, it’s the conclusion of the stories of the characters he meets in the Wrath, and attaching it at either the end of Book 2 or the beginning of Book 3 would feel out of place. It also serves as a chronological stepping stone between the two volumes – the gap between the Wrath and the Crown is almost eight years, and there’s a story within that gap that needed to be told.

Isn’t it just a money-grabbing ploy?

  • Quite the opposite. The novella is 40,000 words long – a third of my usual novel length. Editing, proofreading and formatting of a text this long costs money. Adding it to one of the other books would increase their price accordingly. But because I don’t feel this is an essential part of Octa’s story, I wouldn’t feel right forcing the reader to pay for it. This way, everyone gets a choice.

What’s it really about?

  • At the most basic level, it’s a retelling of the ancient Breton legend of the Sunken City of Ys – though it’s as distant from that tale as the Song of Ash was from the real legends of Vortigern, Hengist and Horsa. It’s set in the years 461-462 AD, takes place almost entirely in Armorica, and introduces the new enemy who will become a much greater threat in “The Crown of Iutes” – the Goths of Tolosa. That’s as much as I can say without spoilers.
  • Should I buy it?

Yes! Not only is it as fun and exciting as my full length novels, it also features a certain important event in Octa’s and Ursula’s lives – you may want to read it just for this. And it’s only 99p!

My drafting process, explained.

As I delve into the editing stage of the draft manuscript of “The Wrath of the Iutes“, I thought I’ll reveal a little bit of the draft writing and editing steps I take to create one of my novels. It took me nearly a decade to hone the method, from the early days when “The Shadow of Black Wings” took 14 drafts and two years to write, to now, when an average novel in the “Song of Britain” series takes me little less than six months from plot outline to publishing.

Step 1: Plot Outline and chapter structure

I start with writing down the general plot; for convenience and speed, already at this step I will have the plot divided roughly into chapters, though most of them will not have titles. I tend to make this outline vague enough so that I can keep to it throughout the entire manuscript without changing too much. The biggest change that may occur between this step and the finished manuscript is splitting the novel into more parts than originally envisioned, as the story grows.

Step 2: Draft_0 – rough draft

What others call “First Draft” I keep in the file named Draft_0. This is the first version of the complete story, from start to finish, but with gaps in between. These are scenes, or sometimes whole chapters, that would bog me down too much if I tried to write them down at this stage, or that I haven’t yet fully invented. I leave brief comments in the outline, in places where I intend to go back in future drafts and fill the gaps out.

For a novel of about 100,000 words, it takes me about 3 months to outline the plot and finish this first draft. At this point I also have a rough estimate of the wordcount and chapter titles.

Step 3: Draft_0.5 to Draft_1 – fleshing out

By the time I reach Draft_1 – sometimes with a preliminary stage of Draft_0.5 – all the gaps are filled in. The new set of comments refers to things I picked up during the first re-write of Draft_0: scenes that need buffing up, plot points that need expanding upon, characters that need fleshing out, and plot holes and mistakes that need fixing. The end of Draft_1 is the stage at which nothing else needs to be added to the plot and character development.

This stage takes about 4-6 weeks, and is probably the slowest in terms of value added for time taken – but then, this is the bit where the rough stone turns into something resembling a diamond!

Step 4: Draft_2 to Draft_4 – text-to-speech rewrites

For the final couple of rewrites, I use a neat little free Word add-on called WordTalk. It uses Windows text-to-speech library to read the text in Word, using a selected voice – I prefer Hazel. In essence, it turns manuscript into an audiobook, which I find the best way to spot any roughness, errors and typoes in the text. I usually do two run-throughs like this, unless I feel things are still looking harsh enough to warrant a third one.

This stage shouldn’t take me more than a month, if I properly sit down to it.

Step 5: Draft_5 – Spellcheck, grammar check and PerfectIt

The very final stage of drafting is running the manuscript through Word’s checks and another plugin called PerfectIt – I had this one recommended by my copy editor, and I’ve been using it ever since. It’s not free, and not very cheap, though if your editor charges by the hour, it will pay for itself in no time, since it saves a lot of mundane work in checking things like spelling consistency, punctuation, and house style.

This stage takes less than a week – shouldn’t take more than a good weekend, really.

Draft_5 is the one I sent to my copy editor for the final read-through, and Draft_6 – with all of the editor’s corrections applied – is the one used to generate the actual ebook file for Kindle.

So there you have it – six months from start to finish, which means that “The Wrath of the Iutes” will be on your Kindles in the summer, and should be followed in winter by “The Crown of the Iutes”, the last part of Song of Octa trilogy.

The Blood of the Iutes – Map Reveal

It’s that time again – the premiere of the new volume is fast approaching, and the first marker of the book being ready for release is the map is now done.

There’s only one map this time – but one that shows more of the ancient world than any of the maps before – all of late Roman Gaul and Germania north of Augusta Treverorum.

This should tell you how much greater the scope of the story has become – the interests of Iutes are no longer confined to Britannia, they now enter into the power plays of the late Empire

The Story So Far…

Timeline of events up to the beginning of The Blood of the Iutes:

(all dates AD) (contains SPOILERS)

388 – Imperator Magnus Maximus defeated and executed.

389 – Birth of Pascent

392 – Birth of Wortigern, son of Vitalinus.

396 – Birth of Hengist. Martinus dies in Gaul. His cult soon spreads to Britannia.

406 – Birth of Pefen

407 – Imperator Constantine III takes the Legions out of Britannia

409Ambrosius born to Aurelius, Governor of Britannia.

410 – Rome sacked for the first time, by Goths. Londin votes to leave the Roman Empire. Civil War begins.

411 Constantine III defeated in Gaul. Some of his men, under Vitalinus, join General Constantius. Followers of Martinus establish a monastery on the Isle of Tanet.

413Wortigern marries Sevira, daughter of Imperator Magnus Maximus.

414 – General Constantius conquers Gaul. Vitalinus and his men are sent to quell rebellion of Bacauds in Armorica. Serfs of Britannia roused to rebellion by followers of Martinus.

415 – Battle of Wollop. Treaty of Sorbiodun ends the Civil War. Britannia split in two, with Aurelius as Dux of the Western half. Vitalinus invited to Britannia to deal with the serf rebels.

418 – Vitalinus suppresses the serf rebellion and is made Dux of the Eastern half of Britannia. Pascent granted Ariminum villa for his service.

423 Eadgith born in Ariminum.

423426 – Hengist fights in Frisia.

425 Ash born in the Old Country. Vitalinus dies. Wortigern takes over as Dux and orders Comites to recruit German mercenaries for the island’s defence.

425-435 – Saxons arrive in the land of Regins and Trinowaunts; Gewisse arrive in the land of Cadwallons; Angles arrive in the land of Ikens.

427 Aelle born to Pefen. Rhedwyn born in the Old Country.

428 – Iutes arrive in the land of Cants.

429 – Bishop Germanus travels to Britannia, bringing news of Pelagius’s trial and death.

436Aurelius dies. His son Ambrosius Aurelianus takes over as Dux. Pefen lands in the land of Regins and takes over an abandoned fortress of Anderitum.

437 Haegel leads a Iute expedition to Meon.

SPOILERS FOR THE SAXON SPEARS:

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439 – Pascent’s 50th birthday feast.

440 – Eadgith banished from Ariminum. Birth of Octa, son of Ash and Eadgith.

441 – Battle of Aelle’s Ford. Pascent and Catigern die. Iutes allowed to settle in selected villages.

443 – Battle of Saffron Valley, defeat of Aelle’s forest army. Iutes allowed to settle in further villages.

SPOILERS FOR THE SAXON KNIVES:

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445 – Drust I invades the South. First Coup by Wortimer. Battle of Crei Ford. Iutes allowed to settle in Cantiaca. Birth of Croha.

449 – Bishop Germanus travels to Britannia for the second time, summoned by Wortimer. Wortigern excommunicated.

450 – Council of Sorbiodun. Wortimer’s Second Coup. Wortigern exiled to the West. The Great War with Heathens begins.

SPOILERS FOR THE SAXON MIGHT:

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451 – In Battle of Maurica, Aetius defeats Attila’s Huns. Iutes pushed back to Tanet. Octa abducted from his village and taken to the West.

452 – Wortimer and Rhedwyn die. Birth of their daughter, Myrtle. Londin razed. Battle of Eobbasfleot ends the Great War with the Briton defeat. Octa returned to the East. Haesta rebels against Hengist. Iutes land on Wecta.

454 – Pefen dies in Anderitum. Aelle takes over as ruler of Saxons. Battle of Seal Isle. Eadgith dies. Haesta defeated and banished from Cantiaca. Aeric crowned the King of Iutes.

455 – Rome sacked for the second time, by Vandals.

457 – Hengist dies.

The Blood of the Iutes Preorder is Live!

It’s not easy being the son of a king.

Octa never wanted to be a mighty warrior, or a great ruler of men – he’d much rather be a clerk or a priest – but he’s resigned to his destiny as the son and heir of the first king of the Iutes. There is only one problem: under his father’s peaceful reign, there aren’t many opportunities for a youth to gain experience in combat and leadership.

So when a Roman legate arrives in Britannia, for the first time in a generation, bringing dire news from across the Narrow Sea and requesting help in the coming clash between rival Imperators, Octa jumps on the chance to prove himself before his friends and his father – no matter the consequences

THE BLOOD OF THE IUTES – BOOK ONE OF THE SONG OF OCTA – IS SCHEDULED FOR RELEASE ON DECEMBER 15TH!

PRE-ORDER NOW!