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Wallachia is an ongoing serial vampire novel by David Ely set in 19th-century Romania. New chapters are published every few weeks.

Decades before Dracula, the Principality of Wallachia had its share of problems long before it came to be ruled by a vampire…

Download the app to read or listen for free. Vote in reader polls that directly affect the story in forthcoming chapters.


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The audiobooks are available as a podcast. New chapters air every other Friday.


Flowers of Transylvania cover Download from Amazon Download from Amazon Apple Books link Apple Books link

Flowers of Transylvania, a prelude to Wallachia, is included in the app but is also available separately for Kindle and Apple Books. 1741, Transylvania. Corina finds herself a prisoner of Count Dracula. The good news: Dominic, her first love, is a guard in the castle. But can she trust him?


Weblog

Audiobook chapters of Wallachia are now available as a podcast, starting with the first chapter of Flowers of Transylvania. Going forward, new chapters will air every other Friday. This means the podcast will lag behind, and slowly catch up to, the “live” book, but this way I’ll have a while where I can keep a guaranteed biweekly schedule.

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(Did I hand-make a retina Antipixel button? Yes. Yes I did.)

Chapter 7, “An Imbalance of Humours,” is out now.

🥖Ion arranges to buy some old bread.

🗝Marley visits the castle.

🐵I interpret some 19th century medicine.

🍵We learn the risks of drinking green tea.

Having a nice cup of 🍵green tea while I get chapter seven ready to publish.

Units of Measurement in Wallachia

Throughout Wallachia, whenever I refer to a distance, weight, etc., I try to use the era-appropriate word. So Laureline is a “nearly a palm’s width” taller than her older sister, not “4 inches.” Whether this successfully makes the story more immersive and adds an air of authenticity or it’s just annoying to read and off-putting is for you to decide. Here are the units I’ve used so far. All are listed in the glossary as well.

📏Distance:

  • Poştă / poşti: 8 km (5 miles).
  • Stânjen / stânjeni: 2 m (6.56 feet).
  • Palmă / palme: 0.25 m (9.84 inches). 8 palme make a stânjen.
  • Lat de palmă (palm’s width): Half a palmă. 12.5cm (5 inches).

Wallachia also had measurements for a pas mic (small step), 4 palme, and pas mare (large step), 6 palme, but I haven’t had occasion to use them. Wikipedia seems to indicate that Wallachia and Moldavia both used large steps but only Wallachia used the small one, so I’d probably use that if needed.

⚖️Weight:

  • Oke / Okes: 1.25 kg (2.8 lbs). Variously this is oke, oka, or oca depending on the language. I’m using oke because that’s how it’s used in An Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia.
  • Dram: 3.25 grams (0.12 ounces).

💧Liquid:

  • Oke / Okes: 1.25 liters (0.33 gallons) in Wallachia. (In Moldavia it was 1.5 liters.)

💰Currency:

  • Piaşter / piaştri: The main currency in Wallachia, as minted by the Ottoman Empire. Equal in 1816 to 0.75 English shillings, with 26.67 making an English pound.
  • Para / paras: 40 paras make one piaşter.
  • Thaler: Used as the coins in Flowers of Transylvania. This was the coin of the Holy Roman Empire and Austria-Hungary. They often had lions on them. Wallachia minted them, too, and Romania’s current coin, the leu, gets its name from this lion. We get our word “dollar” from thaler.

📅Dates:

Wallachia was still on the Julian calendar, which was twelve days off the West. So Chapter seven (out tomorrow) takes place on 26 June (14 June old style). Here’s a handy calculator for converting the dates.

🌑Moon Phases:

Wolfram Alpha will tell you what phase of the moon it was for any given date. I don’t go as far as to get the weather right, aside from 1816 being a cold summer due.

I can’t guarantee any of this is actually accurate to the period, but I’m at least trying to be consistent.

1. Flowers of Transylvania Chapter 1: “The Princess of Springtime”

Transylvania. The first day of spring, 1741. Corina is the jewel of her village. She’s been selected to be the princess of the spring festival, when a handsome messenger rides into town.

Welcome to Wallachia: A Penny Dreadful: The Podcast! I’ll be posting a new audiobook chapter every other week, starting with the prelude story, Flowers of Transylvania.

Flowers will run for six chapters, then we’ll jump into Wallachia.

Development Log: Fleurons part 2

As discussed previously, I use little fleurons to give the text a little bit of flourish here and there in the app. Page numbers are decorated with little left- and right-pointing floral heart symbols, but something bugged me about them. Here they are:

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They aren’t the same size. Ack!

So in v1.2 I used Apple’s SF Symbols app to make my own custom floral hearts.

Floral hearts

Much better.

In 1.1 I also made custom versions of the list.number and textformat.size buttons so that they’d use the Baskerville font to match the body text.

Buttons

The news pages at the end of each chapter are set in San Francisco, the default iOS body font. I do this to make it visually clear that they’re back matter, not part of the story. In v1.2 on news pages the app now switches to using the stock buttons for table of contents and text formatting which matches the sans-serif on the rest of the page.

Wallachia v1.2.0

Big announcement: Wallachia is now completely free to read or listen to; no subscription required.

In place of a subscription paywall, there are little “pay what you like” buttons at the end of each chapter. You can support me by chipping something in after you read each chapter, or once a month, or whenever your lotto winnings come in, or not at all. For merely reading my story at all, you have my thanks.

Behind the scenes, I think this is the right choice going forward. There’s been a bit of a shift toward using the subscription model in apps, and I get why many people are unwilling to commit to an ongoing monthly fee, especially from an unknown author. I had envisioned Wallachia as something in the model of a magazine that you subscribe to in order to get new issues (or, to be precise, a penny dreadful). While I did pick up subscribers, I’m hopeful that making it free will get more people to experience my little historical, political vampire story.

1.2 is currently trickling down through the App Store. Depending on prevailing winds on the superhighway and traffic in the tubes, you should see the update soon.

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Chapter seven is written but needs a bit of revision before it’s ready. Friday, probably.

Existing Subscribers

First of all, thank you for being here from the beginning!

I will be cancelling the current monthly plan soon. Once you’ve upgraded to 1.2, you can cancel it yourself using these instructions, or wait until the subscription ends on its own. Depending on when your next billing cycle starts, you might want to do it early. The reason I can’t end the subscription immediately is that 1.1 still stop working once I do and I want to give everyone time for the update to go through.

Developer Stuff

I played a little bit with SwiftUI for this version, but didn’t end up using the view I’d built in it. Originally I was going to have a “tip” page after each chapter asking for readers to optionally pay. I made a simple view in SwiftUI and it worked fine, but as I did my testing it felt too much like a nagging popup like you get on news sites. The design I settled on (little buttons at the bottom of the news page) feels less obtrusive and gentler.

Down the road, I have a much bigger update coming, but I think it’ll wind up being built in UIKit. I do a ton of stuff with UITextViews and text stuff, and SwiftUI’s Text object doesn’t let you do any formatting within the text. And even if it allowed you to set an NSAttributedString, I need the pagination stuff I get from NSLayoutManager so that I can show you a specific page of text at a time. I could embed it in hosting controller, but since the text view is like 90% of what you see, why bother?

I fully expected to do a few rounds with app review before this was ready. Big update coming soon.

Cannot say I agree that “fugly” is a suitable synonym for “homely,” Apple thesaurus.

Also, Dracula Live has now concluded. Here’s the complete table of contents. I might do a re-run in May, probably on a discrete Twitter account, if I can figure out how to set it up to tweet automatically.

Overall I’m super happy with how the project turned out. While there were a few parts with a lot of reading around certain plot events, in general I think it worked well to experience how much time goes between some sections. 📚