2020: Blessings in a Difficult Year

This was a year of confusion, limitation, disappointment, and at times real fear. As we approach the Winter Solstice, the rebirth of the Sun, and thus welcome longer days of light, I want to give thanks with you for the good I experienced during these trying times.

Wildswept: Book Seven of The Circle of Ceridwen SagaI of course did no travel, nor could beloved friends visit. This deep seclusion meant I could write an entire book in only eight months, a record for me. Wildswept: Book Seven of The Circle of Ceridwen Saga, was released on October 15th. I am so grateful for its warm reception and great success – thank you!

The Saga Tour 2020 – our first ever tour of Gotland, focusing on the landscapes and artifacts that inspired the Saga Books – due to have been held in August, was postponed, likely until 2022. I had put a great deal of effort into this seven day adventure, and was delighted that it sold out so quickly when I announced it in May 2019. But I hope 2022 might be our year!

Like all of us, my appearances were virtual, courtesy of Zoom. I was invited twice to appear on the excellent Isle of Jersey-based Virtual Literary Festival, talking about Historical Fiction with a distinguished panel of sister authors. In early May I was invited to appear on the public events show Live From America, talking about Sweden’s response to the pandemic; and of course I held several live chats with readers within the Facebook Saga Group after Wildswept was released and we could gather and chat about it. These were great fun, and I continue to be impressed by the deep understanding and emotional acuity of readers as they contemplate the lives and direction of the Saga folk.

I tried to convey the feeling of “being here” on Gotland in a number of videos from 2020, including a Winter Walk in the Botanical Garden to begin the year;

a splendid Brass Fanfare delivered from one of the towers of the Domkyrkan S:ta Maria (Cathedral of St Mary, just down the street from where I live) during the bleak early months of the pandemic;

a Springtime Walk through our beautiful Botanical Garden within the medieval walls here in Visby;

a little Tour of St Olof’s, one of my favorite church ruins here in Visby;

and to welcome Advent 2020, a season of hope, I took you on a pre-dawn Walking Tour of Visby as the town prepares for Jul.

Anglo-Saxon Costume with angled hemOther hopeful and happy news is the start of an entirely new historic costume for me, an elaborate Saxon gown a lady such as the Saga characters Modwynn or Ælfwyn would wear on festive occasions. The same wonderfully talented seamstress who created my two Norse gowns, Carrie Powell of Rochester, Washington has been again charged with the design and creation of this warm Winter wool gown. Another talented member of the Facebook Saga Group, Angela Cassidy, has been commissioned to weave my head scarf. I am hoping to wear this December 2021, when hopefully events such as Visby’s Medieval Jul will again be held. Carrie and I shall be documenting the entire creation of this gown in the FB Saga Group. My inspiration is an Anglo-Saxon dress from an old book of costume.

If you have read at least Book One of The Circle of Ceridwen Saga, click here to join the Facebook Saga Discussion and Idea Group. We would love to have you.

Holiday Blessings on you all. Thank you for your support and interest over this past year. We’ll get each other through this.

wes thu hal (be whole and hearty, in Old English)
Octavia 🏆

{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Barbara Odgers December 22, 2020, 10:10 pm

    Thank you Octavia for your continued posts, they keep me up to date on what is happening in Gotland, and look forward to your video posts, I can see One of the reasons why you chose to live there. I AM 78 and so not get around too much these days as walking is sometimes difficult, I love sewing and reading your books those that enjoy the most. Looking forward to your next great adventure with Sidroc and Ceridwen. Have a wonderful Christmas, regards Barbara

  • Lona Boudreaux December 22, 2020, 2:42 pm

    Dear Octavia,
    Thank you for your virtual tours as they have brought Visby and Gotland alive for me. Genealogy has been a hobby of mine for over 50 year and I love history, mostly the American Revolutionary War and the colonial period, but the Saga series has pushed my interest into a time period I thought I would never venture. Now I read books and internet sites that deal with the medieval period knowing that an ancestor or two of mine were most likely roaming around the land in the British Isles, Ireland or Scandinavia.

    I write, not as well as you :), and I know how my surroundings can effect me and make me want to put those thoughts and feelings on paper. So I can only imagine how living on Gotland has helped you in writing these books and creating the characters you have created. Your writing has given us/me, your readers, the gift of escaping, for a time, into another place, another time.

    Thank you for sharing the gift God gave you. Take care of yourself and ones you love.
    Merry Christmas, and hopefully a Happy New Year,

    • Peggy Helminiak December 24, 2020, 7:16 pm

      Love the videos – especially when we are all cooped up in 2020! Have to ask (its the craftswoman in me!) – what is this about the “magnificent new Saxon Dress”??? Is is going to be like one of Modwen’s dresses that she sent to Ashield? I SO see you as a Saxon princess!

  • Barbara Bergmann December 22, 2020, 2:07 am

    I enjoyed the walk and tune played in the church in another video. Thank you for making the books and your home so welcoming. I can’t personally relate to the great ladies of the time, they are wonderful characters and so intregal to the story, but could see myself as Ceridwen and /or her type personality in your stories. I was and guess even at 70 still am a risk taker. Mother Church would not care for me as even today I am Pagan. I like the honor you acknowledge from the great Beech in the garden. Blessed Be and a Blest Yule kind soul.

  • A. Veronica Hawkins December 21, 2020, 10:57 pm

    I asked my local library to purchase Wildswept which they did and now I’m really enjoying it. I’ll be sad when the saga ends. I recommended the series to a friend they bought the whole series after reading book 1.
    Would love to visit Gotland but unfortunately a pipe dream only. V

  • Sarah Weiss December 21, 2020, 8:47 pm

    Wildswept has truly been a wild ride. I loved it just as much as the previous, and patiently (trying to) waiting for more.
    I wish you a Merry Júl & a Blessed New year
    Wes thu hal! Cheers

  • Susan Smith December 21, 2020, 6:52 pm

    Joyous Jul! Happy New Year, Octavia!
    Thank you for adding to the Joy of Living!

  • Linda Brown December 21, 2020, 5:39 pm

    Merry Christmas, Octavia. Thank you so much for your continued connection to each of us. And for sharing your new wonderful land. Your books are a marvel, of which I am grateful. You are a most generous author, in the fact, you really do like to connect with your readers.
    May 2021 be a great year for you!
    Linda Brown

  • Sue Paul December 21, 2020, 5:18 pm

    Thank you for the wonderful books, the news letters and virtual tours. All your efforts are looked forward to, and appreciated. Have a beautiful Christmas and a healthy New Year, Octavia. -Sue

  • Kim Wingrove December 21, 2020, 3:38 pm

    Wes thu Hal Octavia.
    Thankyou for the last two years of wonderful transportation to another time and places.
    I have also read other similar books of the same genre and some minor historical cross referring is always fun. Though I have lived in Ontario , Canada for the last 15 years, I hail from the U.K and so I’m very familiar with many of the places described in these books. Would love to travel to Gotland, Denmark and Norway to visit my ancestral homelands there too some day soon. Roll on 2022!

  • Carol L Ashmore December 21, 2020, 3:26 pm

    Going to Gotland was on my bucket list before I saw the videos. Now I’m moving the idea to the planning stages when the pandemic is over. The Ceridwen saga has been important to me. It got me through the long months of this last year. Thank you.

  • Karen Wall December 21, 2020, 2:53 pm

    Gut jul my dear friend! Thank you for a wonderful, if distant, year! I have so enjoyed your videos that took my to Visby and showed what I have to look forward to in 2022! I am so looking forward to seeing your new gown too! We have such talented and giving people in our group!
    Wes thu hal!

  • Katherine A Logan December 21, 2020, 2:25 pm

    Have thoroughly enjoyed all your books. Windswept kept the story going. I sure hated it when Windswept ended. I can’t wait until the next Book, so I can see/read the continued story. Thanks for taking me “away” from all my daily stress.

  • Paula Franklin December 21, 2020, 2:24 pm

    Love the Saga books and all of your interesting videos. It must make it easier to write about that time period when you are immersed in the area and history. A visit there would be amazing and is on my bucket list!

  • Sue Price December 21, 2020, 12:58 pm

    Dear Octavia, you have done so much in your time at Visby.. I love your tours around and your life there. I received Wildswept on its publication date and have saved it for Christmas. Our 1st on our own for 55 years as all 3 children are in separate isolation. We have enough food so send you best wishes.xx

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