2009 The Craft

I wrote continuously in the period from 1986 -2000.  The output consisted of textbooks, procedures and documentary film scripts concerned with Engineering Management.

I then set out to write a novel . After a series of discussions with potential publishers, I encountered objections to my style of writing which I honestly did not understand. I had received a good education, “composition” had been considered to be one of my strengths and as a technical writer I had been well received.

What then was suddenly wrong?

I decided in 2009  to enrol in a course in Professional Writing and Editing at Chisholm Institute here in Melbourne, Australia.

The rules

My objective was to get a better understanding of what the publishers were talking about. The experience was not without some personal pain as unlike the technical world I had previously inhabited I discovered there is very little right and wrong in the craft of writing but an awful lot of opinion.

Different writers, lecturers and the authors of textbooks on the subject of writing all have differences. Sometimes the differences are subtle but the effects far reaching. I do not tolerate such an environment very happily so I have tried to make up some rules.

I  have concentrated  on issues on which I have been offered conflicting advice.   I realise that other writers may well have a different list covering different issues. I also believe that if i were to write a different kind of book the rules the rules I have developed may well have to be changed.

“Ximene’s Story”

Ximene’s story has two main protagonists who do not meet until half way through the first book. There is also a secondary story which has three characters, the classic ‘menage a trois.’

It is absolutely essential to the plot to be able to understand the aspirations, fears and emotions of these five people. At the same time the story has a wide geographical spread, and extended action sequences. The decisions on which my rules are based serve this formula and the genre of historical romance laced with adventure and danger. If I was to write a different in a different genre with a different balance I would need a different set of rules.

I have persuaded my editor, Rebekah Jennings,that if she wants to make any substantial changes to the way I write about Ximene, she will have to persuade me to change my rules first.

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


Extract from The Prisoner of Foix--Chapter 43 -The EntranceNo need to buy a Kindle. Read it on your computer or tablet

John Stanley-26th April 1355


'Looks like we are going to see a bit of excitement, John. The Captain tried to get an agreement from the Prince that if there is surf running across the channel to Arcachon we will turn back to Bordeaux, but the Prince would hear none of it. Instead, he has offered to provide insurance for all three ships. If they are damaged or sunk, the owners will be compensated and every sailor who makes the passage will be given a bounty payment. What none of this seems to take into account is that if we sink in rough, fast-flowing waters we might all drown.'

John raised his eyebrows. 'But that is what we are going to do?'

'Yes, despite the fact that surf running accross the entrance is not uncommon and the deep water channel moves continually. In the end, the Prince attacked their captains on their weakest point, their professional pride! He threw down the gauntlet. He offered to take the Sally first through the channel, and to take control during the passage.' He raised his brow. 'We are going into the Bay of Arcachon, come what may! '

Extract from The Eagle of Carcassone -- Chapter 24-- A Real GoddessNo need to buy a Kindle. Read it on your computer or tablet

John Stanley - 22 July 1355

An hour later John walked with Ximene close to the river along the valley below St Feriole. It was the very essence of a summer’s day. The sun was fierce but in the shadow of the trees, it was cool and fragrant. The trees and shrubs along the riverbank hid their progress, from the Château, from St Feriole.

Eventually they reached a point where John thought it was safe to emerge from cover. To his satisfaction the stream extended into a pool with a sandy beach, shaded by trees. Where the stream entered the pool there was a flat grassy area, almost circular. Behind this, the bulk of two mountain ridges provided a splendid backdrop. He looked around once more ‘Not just a good training ground but a great training ground. If the Greek heroes knew about this they might be tempted to join me, to train with me’

Ximene laughed out loud. He turned to look at her. She had removed her outer clothes and was wearing a white chemise, cut short so that it barely reached her knees. Around her waist, she wore a plaited leather belt, obviously fashioned from the multitude of leather straps to be found in the tackle room.

She ran her hands down over her breasts. ‘When you were unconscious I heard you muttering about gods and goddesses, so  I have decided that from now on, for you, I will be the goddess.’

The Prisoner of FoixVol 1 of the series—The Treasure of Trencavel

Aquitaine, an English possession, is in crisis. It is under threat from neighbouring nations and internal dissension.

The Black Prince, King Edward III’s eldest son has been given the task of taking command in Aquitaine.

Suddenly there is an opportunity. Ximene Trencavel is the heiress to the lands of Occitan, to the east of Aquitaine: lands controlled by the Franks. Ximene wants independence, both for herself and for Occitan.

A union between Aquitaine and Occitan would be mutually beneficial. The Black Prince undertakes a secret journey to meet Ximene to negotiate a marriage contract. It is, however, a marriage neither of them really wants.

Meanwhile, the  Franks plot to murder Ximene to prevent ,not just the marriage, but any kind of union between England and Occitan.

The Eagle Of CarcassonneVol II of the series—The Treasure of Trencavel

The loose alliance between Ximene Trencavel and the Black Prince is under threat.

The Prince invades Occitan, to show his support for Ximene but it becomes an invasion which creates more problems than it solves.

The Prince has fallen hopelessly in love with Joan of Kent and Joan is now determined to marry him and become the next Queen of England.

Joan is therefore  determined to convince Ximene that she should not marry the Prince.

Part of her strategy is to encourage Ximene’s relationship with John Stanley—one of the Princes bodyguards—not an easy task as both John and Ximene have doubts about their compatibility.

However, John is grievously injured in a battle and Ximene commits herself to nurse him back to health.