26 May 2018

Research: Tomb Chests and Hanging Helms

Church of St Bartholomew, Aldbrough
The moral of this post is never underestimate a small medieval church in a small pre-Doomsday village.

My husband is adding to the genealogy of his family line and, in search of the later more law-abiding contingent, he is keen to visit churches in the locality during open days when parish records, often dating back to the 1700s or earlier, are available to view.

Just such took us to the village of Aldbrough, population currently about 1,000, in the East Riding of Yorkshire, and into the 14th century church of St Bartholomew.

The church stands on a circular mound, thus immediately giving an inkling, not only of an earlier building or succession of buildings, but of a pre-Christian meeting place. I knew there was what some believe to be a Viking-age sundial, but I wasn't prepared to meet Sir John de Melsa, the "Giant of Bewick", who fought alongside Edward, the Black Prince, at the Battle of Crécy (Cressey) in 1346, part of the Hundred Years' War with France.

His effigy, in full armour including chain mail, measures six and a half feet in length. He would probably have been clutching a, if not his, sword down the length of his body. Alas, over the centuries he has also lost his feet, resting on the lion. Note the righthand pic which shows what is hanging above his chest tomb.

This is a copy of the bascinet upon which Sir John's effigy rests its head, except it's not quite. It is the copy of what was left of the original bascinet which hung above his tomb until in 1989 leave was granted by the Diocese of York for it to be sold to the Royal Armouries. It now resides in the Tower of London. Evidently these complete, or almost complete, effigies with a knight's accoutrements are extremely rare - as in there might only be one other in the country with a helm dating from the period.

It is surprising that it survived at all. The north aisle in which this monument stands, originally Saint Mary's Chapel, was used as a school in the early 19th century. According to the church's information leaflet the helm - the original helm - was used as a coal scuttle, doubtless by the same miscreants who carved their names in the lion, though they were hardly the first if that 1673, bottom right, is to be taken at face value.

Methinks I need to delve into the life and times of Sir John de Melsa, Governor of York 1292-96, and the Lords of Bewick. For a start, Melsa is Meaux situated between Aldbrough and Beverley, where a Cistercian abbey had been founded in 1151. So why did he direct that he should be buried in the small village church of Aldbrough? Is there ever enough hours in the day?

The same goes for the Viking-age "sundial" now incorporated into the wall of the south aisle, the image of which Blogger refuses to upload. I shall take that as a sign and give it a post of its own in the future.

Note: All images are copyright: (c) Linda Acaster 2018. Clicking on each will (should) provide a larger view.

19 May 2018

Early Summer eBook Promos #99p / #99c - Part 1

The sun is shining yellow, the apple blossom is tinting pink, and the first of the early summer ebook promotions are waving their flags on Kindle. Each listed carries one of my titles. Do you enjoy quizzes? Match the book to the promo!

First up is Magic Book Deals with the Romance Book Fair. From Regency to Contemporary, Fantasy to  PNR, there's even a boxed set! The titles are listed from chaste to steamy. Hover over a book cover and it will spin to its mini-blurb, which is a nice professional touch.

For a complete change of gear, if you use Facebook and live in the UK, you can enter a competition from Val Wood, bestselling author of Historical Sagas set in and around the East Riding of Yorkshire. Three lucky winners will gain a group of paperbacks from writers who live in and write about the region: Noir Crime, Chicklit, PI Crime, Fantasy Romance, and Val Wood's latest. No gold stars for realising which of my books is on offer. The competition is open until 12th June. Read all about it on her Facebook Page.

And another change of gear to Science Fiction and Fantasy hosted by renowned curator SFF Book Bonanza. From Space Opera to Steampunk, Epic Fantasy to Fables and Mythology, Young Adult and Humour - even a very good trilogy (I know, because I've read it!) there is at least one title to whet your appetite. Although the promo launches on the 21st, the titles are up and most of the prices have already fallen. Just check them before you hit buy.

Phew! If you can bear it, Part 2 will follow next week. Enjoy your reading!

12 May 2018

Marketing & Promotion: Facebook Author Page

Since Anita Chapman’s day course on Social Media For Writers, ruminations have been coalescing into the draft of some sort of plan. And then I was overtaken by events: namely an invitation to a joint promotion with a handful of other authors whose novels are set in the East Yorkshire area. Tailor-made, I thought, for Torc of Moonlight. The kicker was that I’d need a Facebook Author Page.

I’ve been on Facebook for years, but only with a personal profile on which I do not chat (usually) about breakfast cereal or the weather. How hard could it be to set up an Author Page? 

Author Page header: fb.me/LindaAcasterAuthor

Well, let me tell you, it’s not that easy. I found the instructions and set-up procedure highly counter-intuitive. But this is where Anita Chapman’s course notes came into their own. Who knew there was a tick box to ensure the page didn’t go live while half completed and looking like a shaggy five-legged camel? Why can’t I choose which buttons to have below the header? [Argh] What exactly do all those yes/no questions in Settings amount to? 

And why, oh why, isn't the header size requirements the same as for a profile page? However, the new requirement made me think about what I wanted in the smaller space. It doesn't show all my titles but too cluttered would look worse; I may even consider the design for a revamp of this website's header. Most important for the Facebook Author Page, would the header look decent on a tablet and a phone as well as a laptop? I use neither. Perhaps you can tell me:  http://fb.me/LindaAcasterAuthor

The page is still a work-in-progress, as these things usually are. Particularly, I want to decifer how to add my Newsletter sign-up and Goodreads links into the left menu. Goodreads says it can... and then it refuses to; you know how technology works. Or doesn’t. I can see an evening coming up spent on YouTube.

What am I going to use the Author Page for if I already use my personal profile as a quasi author page? Promotions and links to webposts to do with writing will definitely be moved across to it. Beyond that I’m not sure yet. I can see some duplication. There again, isn’t that technology all over.

5 May 2018

Research: Social Media for Writers

It's not just novels which need researching; so does back-end stuff like genre, publishers, agents, and... social media. Unless you're under twenty-five you weren't born with an inherent understanding of the technology. It has to be learned.

My usual route is Google > blogposts > ebooks > forums, because living out in the "northern" sticks might offer the luxury of dark skies and low traffic flow, but it also means face-to-face workshop  opportunities for writers are few and far between. Like non-existent.

That all changed when Anita Chapman from Neetsmarketing was persuaded up to sunny York to lead ten very willing participants through six intense hours of Social Media For Writers. Twitter (+ Tweetdeck / Hootsuite), FaceBook, Instagram and Blogging were covered in depth; Pinterest discussed.

So you know how to use these platforms? I thought I had a reasonable grasp, but it seems not so much. I made copious notes, tried various options on my laptop, and enthusiastically siezed handouts and worksheets. Anita is very open with her how-to and why-to information, and we each left with an A4 sheet of useful posts to read on her Neetsmarketing blog, the current handily being 11 Ways to Promote a Blog Post

Was it worth the day and the two hours each way travelling? Absolutely. It was akin to a sharp machete clearing a path through a jungle. More than that, it gave me the belief in myself that I could not only do this, but do it well. Now to put that into practice!