2010 Book Length

120,000 words and no more!

My book is based on the history of a real person, John Stanley and his first wife my aunt Gertrude insisted he had.  Because we know nothing about her Ximene is totally fictional. In writing about her I have decided that she must be a powerful woman and the story line explains John’s meteoric rise and also the sudden emergence of the other powerful women who dominated 14th century England,  I originally wrote Ximene’s story as one book with a beginning and a very finite end.

I was told by both editors and publishers that a first book should be no longer than 120,000 words.  At that time the book consisted of just less than 300,000 words.

The same people encouraged me to move to showing and not telling, to create scenes and show more of the feelings of major characters. All of these changes generated more words.

As I realised it would stretch to more than two books. I now needed additional start and finish points, feeling to me, very artificial.  The course I undertook in Professional Writing and Editing taught me how to do these things. However in it’s turn it introduced further complications 

Knight’s tale?

I had originally meant to skip over the years from 1356 to 1360. In that period John Stanley became tournament champion of Europe and was also involved one way and another with Geoffrey Chaucer. It all began to sound like a re-run of “The Knight’s Tale”.  There was even a Frankish challenger who demanded a fight to the death.

Six Books!

However, John’s relationship with Ximene was very much affected by these years and I was advised that this part of the story must be told, without too much concentration on the tournaments. Taken together, all these factors have lead to a belief that the whole story consists of five or six books not a single book. In these notes I have identified all six books but I am currently (September 2012) concentrating on the first Book, provisionally entitled “The Virago”

The most dangerous woman in the world

The Treasure of Trencavel

List of Characters

Table Of Contents



List of Places

Table of Contents

Pseudo History