Leave a comment

The Crest

Watch out for the forthcoming release of my novel… The Crest. It’s a purely fictional historical fiction set against the time of early Elizabethan exploration, with a few background real historical events, like the Armada.

download

The Crest – the blurb…

From the depths of unrecorded science, from the early times of philosophy emerges one whose destiny is his to decide. Fate has changed his world putting him on a path he did not expect. But one which now he could not imagine living without. John Masters is an ordinary boy from an ordinary home, but the early English plantation of Ireland pulls his father away from him and turns his world upside down. Not content with the life fate has given him, he grabs the opportunity to sail the seas looking for the answers he most craves. Along the way he finds adventure, friendship, conflict, and a life that he did not expect to find.

The horizon awaits; aboard the Golden Crest.

images

Historical Note

Most of the characters in this book are fictitious with the exception of Sir Francis Walsingham who although does not feature directly in the novel, is mentioned, as is Sir Francis Drake. The exceptions also include Doctor John Dee and Queen Elizabeth I herself. The meeting with Doctor Dee and the lead character John is of course a work of fiction, but it is not improbable that Doctor Dee would have had acquaintances of the medical profession. That is not to say that he would have known someone with the dubious background that I had created for Doctor Francis. The speech given by Queen Elizabeth I is famous and can be found in a number of written historical sources, as well as appearing in the film ‘Elizabeth’ starring Cate Blanchett. The actions of Sir Francis Drake in the Spanish Main are based upon real historical accounts as are his exploits in Cadiz. Well known and countless histories have been written about it. The series of events portrayed in the novel did happen, including the feat of the Disdain and the Spanish Armada.

The scientist/philosophers mentioned throughout did exist, from Socrates to Tycho Brahe, as are all the works mentioned.

The name of the merchant vessel the Golden Crest, is an invention for this novel. If it does exist, then it is purely coincidental.

blood2

Afterword

I have not come across any mention that there existed a doctor aboard a merchant ship who practiced what would now be called real science, as opposed to relying on what the ancients said, and it may be unreasonable for something of this nature to occur, which is why I made sure that the work involved was kept secret. It was common for men of wealth to take an interest in science and conduct reason on their own time at home.

My novel is dedicated to the unknown people out there, if any indeed existed, whose interest in science and capability to understand and progress science has been hindered by their circumstances. It was only when life circumstances beyond John’s control allowed him to realise his dream of making a difference academically that he does so. Even though, it would be more for himself, for he realises that no one would ever read anything he ever wrote. It is also dedicated to the unsung heroes of science whose names never get or got a mention.

The names of Galileo, Newton and Einstein are all well known, for their sheer brilliance, which cannot be underestimated, and also for the opportunities that were available to them Tycho Brahe, for instance, received his own island base to conduct his astronomical research from the King. But there were countless others who dedicated their lives to science (and philosophy) who have never received any of the praise or legacy these other men have.

This is of course a work of fiction. It did not happen – or at least history has not recorded anything like it, as far as I am aware. But in the very beginning of the enlightenment period there may have been others – not born and raised into privilege going and studying at the major universities in Europe – who may have made a contribution to science. The names of these men and women, we will never know.

Leave a comment

Historical research; The Crest: Life at Sea

As promised….

…..historical research behind The Crest [coming soon]….

…..I’ve kept it brief (and not always in complete sentences) just to give you a sense of what it was like as a sailor in the 16th century……

PU6484

Life aboard a vessel

In good weather and constant wind shipping required few or very little sail changes, therefore running repairs was a sailors main priority, for example when a sail blew out or tore.

Masts and yards cracked or were carried overboard. Blocks and tackle broke or jammed. Such incidents occurred in heavy weather and required immediate and often heroic action as men ran aloft to clear away the debris and restore the ship.

Leaks also were a massive and almost constant problem.

Disasters nearly always occurred on a voyage but often weeks between each other, filled with endless maintenance. In good weather damp, wet sails dried, bedding was brought aboard deck to air and the hatches were open to air the decks below. Every piece of timber received attention, repairing, replacing, scarping and caulking, greasing and painting. And when the ship docked at a port repairs were conducted that normally weren’t able to be done at sea.

But despite this view of shipping in good weather, life as a sailor was a dangerous one. When bad weather hit, the only hatch was closed leaving the men in airless and dark living spaces as naked flames were prohibited below deck; and it was cramped. Despite the average height for a man being 5 foot 5 inches, they still endured tight and cramped spaces. Hammocks were hung from beams inches apart. Here the men ate and had time off. The air was foulsome and suffocating. The conditions were not only damp they were wet. It was often made wetter by the pervading dampness permeating the sides of the ship and by water pouring through imperfectly fitted hatchways. Smells of unwashed men and bad food attracted rats.

Arguments and fights between the men were common, as were times of joviality, however boys were usually bullied and older men were belittled or abused.

Strange happenings at sea. Witchcraft was used to explain many things that happened at sea.

Shipwrecks were a constant problem and fear, with sailors developing a strong sense of self-preservation.

Mortality and medicine

While only less than one per cent died on a voyage, usually through accidents or shipwrecks, accidents and deaths did occur. Sailors were killed or drowned as a result from a fall or washed overboard, loose tackle posed dangers. Death by disease was not as dramatic as accidental death. Dysentery – the bloody flux, scurvy and typhus – ship fever, were the most likely culprits to attack crowded ships. Poor nutrition, and poor sanitary conditions did not help matters.

See http://www.rmg.co.uk/explore/sea-and-ships/facts/ships-and-seafarers/life-at-sea-in-the-age-of-sail for more information.

Leave a comment

How long should a blog post be?

blog_behind_blog

I’ve written several posts on topics of blogging and how often you should blog, but honestly I’ve only just really considered how long a post should be.

I must have always subconsciously been aware of it so my posts don’t go on and on.

I am, of course, aware that this question is almost the same as asking ‘how long is a piece of string?’. It’s as long as you need it to be. It depends what you have to say. But like everything a writer (or similar) writes you do need to be conscious of word limit.

You don’t want to put people off by writing reams and reams. If you go on and on, even if you are making excellent and different points all the while, people may be put off. It’s a blog post not an article.

However, really short blogs, say only a couple of lines every time, look like you’ve got nothing really to say.

So again with writing, and with life generally it seems, it’s trying to find the right balance. I don’t write to a set word limit, but I do try to keep from rambling and I do try to keep my thoughts fairly short.

That being said, you don’t always have to find the right word count balance every time. Mixing up shorter and longer blog posts may be a good idea too. It keeps you interested and it keeps the reader interested.

Obviously, this won’t work for every blog. Some people’s blogs are article/essay based; while some people’s are designed to be pithy.

Therefore, I think that it’s necessary not only to think about what you write about, the words you use, but also about the appropriate length of the piece that you are writing.

Furthermore, blog length, it may sound obvious, all depends on what you have to say.

Leave a comment

So many ideas….

lots-of-ideas1

Everyone has a book in them….apparently. But is that just one book in everyone?

Quite often with writers, after putting their heart and soul into their first novel, they struggle to find that next idea.

But what happens when you’re so inundated with ideas – not all of them great or even workable – what happens then?

Which project do you go for next?

How easy is it to quieten down the ideas portion of your brain and get on with the task at hand?

Of course this is where the trusted writers notebook comes in handy, you can jot the idea down and try to move on with what you’re currently working on but it isn’t always that easy. This is something I struggle with.

You may be thinking ‘Lucky you’ for having so many ideas for novels and non-fiction works, but believe me many of these ideas simply stay as ideas. Some of them simply aren’t workable or sometimes I don’t really feel the idea. The idea may be ok but not something that I feel that I can stick with for the length of time needed. And some of them let’s face it are pure farce. They’re simply not very good, not very good at all.

And those I would like to pursue want to be pursued NOW. Not in the future, now. And it may appear that I’m giving these ideas a life of their own but that’s what they have. They almost seem to develop without me really thinking about it.

So several projects want to be done all at the same time.

So how do I choose?

I just choose.

Then I spent half the time immersed in that project, and the other half battling with the demon ideas striving to keep them in their place.

I know this is an element of a lack of discipline, and like any person with a problem I hoping that the first step is admitting I’ve got a problem….

7156-the-best-way-to-get-confused-is-to-have-lots-of-ideas-1_325x325_width

…and my current solutions boil down to two possibilities:

1. Conduct the two projects that are fighting the hardest, simultaneously. One week one project. The second week the other project. And so on and so forth, alternating weeks between the two.

2. Leave one to the side and concentrate on one at a time.

The second seems the most logical. But the first tackles the ideas problem………Shucks*.

The battle continues.

* Apologies to my American followers if I didn’t use this in the correct context.

Leave a comment

Welcoming me back….

…..with open arms (hopefully).

hello im back

I’ve been away for a long while, well not actually away away but just away from the blogging world.

I decided to take a break to concentrate on writing, but more to the point I felt that I was just blogging for blogging sake. And while the writer’s tips tell you to keep on blogging, I didn’t want to fill my blog with stuff I didn’t really care about. When I blog I always think long and hard about what I’m going to write. I don’t want to bore myself, nor especially you with nonsensical, trivial pieces.

But now I’m back, and hopefully refreshed enough to follow through on my above statement [I don't want to bore myself.....].

So what have I been up to?

In a few words: working. I’ve been fairly busy with my day job lately. Writing. And lucky for me going on holiday.

Work’s work.

So let’s talk writing

I’ve managed to [almost] finish my second novel [it just needs another read through after formatting], and get well underway with my next project.

My second novel……..The Crest

From the depths of unrecorded science, from the early times of philosophy emerges one whose destiny is his to decide. Fate has changed his world putting him on a path he did not expect. But one which now he could not imagine living without. John Masters is an ordinary boy from an ordinary home, but the early English plantation of Ireland pulls his father away from him and turns his world upside down. Not content with the life fate has given him, he grabs the opportunity to sail the seas looking for the answers he most craves. Along the way he finds adventure, friendship, conflict, and a life that he did not expect to find.

The horizon awaits; aboard the Golden Crest.

You’ll be hearing more from me about my forthcoming publication, including my publication date, excerpts and character & history profiles, soon.

For my non-fiction history project, it focuses on the history of the British Empire. So there is a lot of work, research and writing involved in this one, which is another reason I’ve been so quiet on the blogging front lately. I’m planning to do a series of non-fiction books relating to the history of the British Empire, both directly and indirectly, as a what some may call an arm-chair historian.

But I’m not completely abandoning my fiction work – I do have another idea on the pipeline waiting to be researched and plotted…..but that is the future.

[You may be able to tell that my head is awash with projects bursting out just waiting for the time for me to get my teeth into them....but that's another story....]

thank you

Leave a comment

Hey folks!

back-soon

Hey folks! I’ve not gone away nor have I disappeared forever.

I’m just taking a little bit of time from blogging to concentrate on my writing. Hopefully, I’ll be back blogging in a week or two which isn’t really that long away really. But with work I’ve only got one day during the working week free from work to do writing so I have to make every minute count at the moment – not that I’m neglecting you lovely people.

I’ll be just using my twitter account instead for a while: @lmhmiller. So you can still keep up with what I’m doing.

Another reason for taking a break is that I don’t want to keep blogging just for blogging sake. I have felt that recent blogs haven’t been my best…..I need some time away from it methinks. I don’t won’t to grow complacent with it, I still want to blog things that we all find interesting – and relevant.

So for a short time I won’t be posting anything, but keep up to date with me on twitter and I’ll be back before you know it.

Thanks folks!

blog-3

Leave a comment

Good Deeds?

Wizard of Oz: Back where I come from there are men who do nothing all day but good deeds. They are called phila… er, phila… er, yes, er, Good Deed Doers.

download (1)

I was going to write about working on my ‘blurb’ – the ‘pitch’ for my forthcoming novel and I was going to draw your attention to my first novel A Straight Path that is on sale through  Amazon.

But something has literally just happened that made me change my mind. Some one fell over in the street – fairly spectacularly as they struggled to stay on their feet – luckily they were not hurt – and they were generally fine. A slightly sore wrist, shaken from the fall and quite possibly a bruise to their ego.

Naturally, I stopped to make sure they were ok, making sure nothing was broken and sitting next to them until they felt alright again to go about the rest of their day.

A little selfishly perhaps I thought about the ‘good dead’ I’d just done. Naturally, I didn’t stay with them so could feel good about myself (that came after) but to make sure that they hadn’t hurt themselves. Because of course I didn’t go looking for someone to help. And I like to think if I hadn’t stopped someone else would have done. (Fortunately I’d just stepped out of the hairdressers when it happened right in front of me.)

[I'm not recounting this story to get a pat on the back - it simply got me thinking]

download

But should we go looking for someone to help, in whatever way, to do the oft desired ‘one good deed a day’? I’m sure once you start looking then you’ll see more and more people who may need that little act of kindness. But is it ever as easy as that? We’d all love to do one good deed  a day, but actually managing to accomplish it may prove extremely challenging, and that’s not because as a race we’re cruel and self-centered but maybe because these sort of situations don’t arise every day, or at least not in front of me all the time.

I always vow to do more ‘good deeds’. But what constitutes a good deed? Could it be as simple as letting a child press the button at the pedestrian crossing or waiting for the green man before crossing when nearby children are learning the green cross code? Or is it more extravagant than that, like rescuing someone from a burning building? Can it be that no one directly benefits – or sees the benefit? I once picked a trolley out of the middle of a quiet road which leads to a bus station. No one saw, and no one directly benefited.

I guess a good deed would be described as an act of kindness. However small and insignificant it may appear to you, it may have a greater impact on someone around you and you may not even know it.

I think the overwhelming message really is to not be so blinkered to what is going on around you. Oh and just be nice. You never know who you may be helping.

And there it is…my random (or not so random) thought of the day…..

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 129 other followers