December 27, 2012

Ten Things About Transylvania, Romania and Castles

There are many people who love the area known as Transylvania, and there is so much history with this place that it is almost impossible not to have things to write about when it comes to Romania, or Transylvania.
For those who don't know that I love top ten lists, here are a few things about Transylvania.

1) Transylvania is found in Romania.  Before 1919, it was a part of Hungary.

2) Many cities in Transylvania were built by the Romans, who invaded the Kingdom of Dacia, to expand their Empire and to gain more natural resources.

3) Some of the cities in Transylvania were founded by different cultures, and still retain that flavor.  For example, Transylvania is called Siebenburgen by the Germans of the area.

4) During the Paris Peace Conferences of 1919, the Romanians wanted Transylvania as a part of Romania.  Once this happened, the Kingdom of Romania doubled in size with the new territory.

5) Queen Marie and King Ferdinand of Romania were crowned in Alba Iulia, in 1922.  This was the city Michael the Brave entered when the three principalities of what would become Romania united for a time in 1599.

6) For much of the recent past, Transylvania has been a part of the country of Romania.  Before that time, it was a part of the Kingdom of Hungary or the Austrian Empire.

7) The most famous natural resource Transylvania has is gold.  Queen Marie's coronation crown was made of gold mined from Transylvania.

8) There is a castle in Transylvania which was made famous by Bram Stoker. Some call it Dracula's castle, but most people know it as Bran Castle.  There are many people who write about Transylvania.

9) Much of the revenue that Transylvania generates comes from its natural resources and also its tourism industry.  A popular destination is Bran Castle, but there are countless other castles and fortresses and cities to see.

10) Most of what people consider to be a part of Transylvania actually isn't; there are smaller areas, for the example the Banat, which are not a part of Transylvania proper, but some still refer to them in that way.

December 20, 2012

Just Write....About Tranyslvania

I love to write about Transylvania and the place it has in my life, and of all the things people should know about it.  It is great to publish a blog about Transylvania, and I find it even more interesting to learn about new places.

There is a bit of country that is often missed when you think about Transylvania.  Two of them, actually: Hungary and Romania.  This blog hopes to bring Transylvania and its roots to you, the reader, and expand on its history and perhaps also to touch on the origins of its myths. The area offers a writer so many sources of inspiration for his or her writing.

Transylvania is not just about people or places.  There are hundreds of castles a writer can write about.  There are history makers both modern and ancient.  There is beautiful culture and a hint of politics.  It has a a feel that people should know about.

Things About Transylvania isn't changing, it is expanding. I look forward to showing people that there is something to come and read and write more about... Transylvania.

December 16, 2012

Photos of Castles: Bran Castle, the Hunyadi and Bathory Castles

Bran Castle is sometimes known as Dracula's Castle.

It lies close to the former borders of the principality of Wallachia.  However, this was the royal residence of Queen Marie of Romania.  This was built by the Teutonic Knights during the time they were in the Transylvanian region. This was when one of the Hungarian Kings invited them to Transylvania to protect the borders.

Next, is a photo of the castle known as Hunyadi Castle. It was the main castle of the Hunyadi family in Transylvania. They were bitter rivals of the Tepes family.  Both families were nobles, although one of these families was a Prince of Wallachia- the Tepes family, of whom many were famous or, infamous in their own right.

There was also the castle of Elizabeth Bathory, a Hungarian noblewoman who became infamous as the "blood countess."  Only because she was an extended member of the Hungarian Royal Family, she escaped execution for her crimes.  All of these castles are found in Transylvania or regions close to them.  One assumes all of them are found in Transylvania, but this is not the case.

Bathory Castle, as it became known was a part of the Kingdom of Hungary and it is now is what is now Slovakia.

Because of its infamous resident, the 'countess of the blood' many assume that this was a part of Transylvania, but it was never that.  It is linked with Hungary in part due to the people who lived there.  The village nearby offers people the ability to go and see all three castles on day trips.

December 9, 2012

What Do Maps of Transylvania Tell You?

The best way to describe the history of Transylvania is by using a map of the area.  It can show you where the people live and also what sorts of natural resources the area has or had.

That map is older and tells you that Romania was much smaller than it is now, and Hungary was a lot larger.  It also shows that Transylvania was a part of Hungary.  This had a more Hungarian focus, but it does show Transylvania, and the surrounding area in great detail.  If the size was larger, you could see many cities listed as well.  Some maps were, like the one above, works of art and depicted history.

If you want to know about Austro-Hungary and Transylvania, a map about the people there can give you a very clear idea that many people shared a small area. Each type of map shows something different about the land, the people and the area.  

This map above shows quite clearly, Austria, Hungary, Bohemia and other provinces of the Empire.  In the bottom right hand corner, you will find Romania, and Transylvania.  In the Northern part of Transylvania, there was a strong population of Hungarians, whereas in the Southern area, it was predominately Romanian.  The red was people of German background.  Even without the date, which was about the time of World War I, you could find out why Austria was having trouble within the Empire.

Each new map that is published shows more about the land than the last ones, and some will perhaps show less, but each map tells a different part of the story of Transylvania — where it is, and who its people are.  

With this map of Romania, you can see where Transylvania is in terms of the physical place in the country of Romania, and you can find a few of the major cities listed there.

December 4, 2012

Publishing a Book on Transylvania, Romania and Promotion

I've published a book about Transylvania. 

 One of a number of Books on Amazon were about Vlad Tepes
Because I also wanted to see what else is out there, I went on to to see if there was a lot of published information about Transylvania in general, and, there are quite a number of books about Transylvania.  Many of these books are about Dracula in particular, available as Kindle books, and they are often fiction.  Many are also family histories or are self-published through Createspace whose parent company is Amazon.

There isn't as many history books which are written recently about Transylvania, but it is a niche market, and the largest of these are the books that focus on a particular culture or group.  It seems that the time period the author writes about is a big factor.

I found that the way Amazon promotes a book about Transylvania to be very interesting. Anything to do with history, especially the Second World War, are all grouped under one main heading. In the Kindle library, you must type "Transylvania" in the search box to find several of these books.  It is a lot easier to find a paperback book on the main Amazon site than it is to find a Kindle book listed under Transylvania -- even if they aren't exactly the same, but are classified under the same topic.

My own book is a good example of where Amazon puts things
This is why promoting your book about Transylvania properly is important; there are a lot of challenges out there. If your topic fills a niche within a much larger topic, you need to rise to that challenge of getting the word out.  You will need both luck and knowledge.  A good starting point is knowing who you should work with to get your book published.

In my case, it was important for me to know where Transylvania is and what would be a good way to get people to know more about your book-- social media helps but I'm also encouraging others to like my book on Facebook. The book might be brilliantly written, but without knowing how and to whom you should market it, you will face challenges selling your book.

If you wanted to publish a book about Transylvania, Romania that provides readers with correct information, you should learn and understand as much as you can about the people and the history of the area. A good example is knowing that there was not a "Romania" until the late 19th Century, and it was not a Kingdom right away. Even with more modern history, such as the book In Search of The Lost Ones only can tell part of the story since there is so much to tell and to write about when it deals with such a diverse area.

It is also important to know and understand the history and the myths of Transylvania; Dracula and Vlad Tepes are sometimes mistaken for the same person, but Dracula is a fictional character.  You also need to be aware that someone searching for "Dracula" information may unexpectedly find their way to your book, and this could open your work up to a whole new audience of readers who may not have found you otherwise.

November 27, 2012

Bram Stoker: Dracula's Castle

The castle that most people want to see once in their lifetime, if they are a fan of Bram Stoker's novel Dracula, is Bran Castle.  This is where Count Dracula lived, and where Jonathan Harker would make his journey to visit the count before escaping and returning to England. Due to Bram Stoker, this castle become a famous tourist site for Gothic lovers worldwide.

On the outer hand, if the tourist is  a lover of royalty, or the British or Romanian Royal Families,  then the other reason they will  want to go is to see Bran Castle and tour the area is because it was one of the many Royal residences of Queen Marie of Romania, after the end of the First World War.  However, it is best known not as Bran Castle, but often as Dracula's castle.  This is a challenge for people who are most interested in the Royal connection to Bran Castle or the cities surrounding it.

Bran Castle, Also known as Dracula's Castle
It does mean that one needs to note that the character was based on Vlad Tepes, who was a prisoner in this castle, but was never a Count.  This was how Bram Stoker made him out to be to make him seem more interesting than what he was.  Although, like Queen Marie of Romania, he was a member of a ruling family.  Vlad III Tepes, was the Prince of the neighbouring Principality of Wallachia.  During his exile he was reported to have used Bran Castle as loggings.  The Knights Templar had built the castle as a means of defence against, both Wallachia and the Ottoman Empire.

History aside, Bran Castle is a huge money maker for the country of Romania. Thanks to Stoker, this simply means that it is another means that both the novel, Dracula, and the royal family have helped the land of Transylvania is still a part of what we tend to think of the area, and become a money maker for both the ROmanian government and the decedents of Queen Marie.  Bram Stoker did an excellent job at writing the novel, and then using a Castle which still stands, and would become Dracula's Castle was a brilliant idea.

His published book made Bran Castle a means of income for the people of Transylvania, after its publication, but it also meant that the castle was not allowed to fall into much disrepair because of this, even during the time of communism in Romania, and other Eastern European countries.  Writing was a means to create Dracula's Castle, and fortunately, for many readers this means that they can thank one Bram Stoker for Dracula's Castle.

November 23, 2012

Transylvania, Romania and Publishing a Book

Most people can find a lot of information about Transylvania, Romania if they want to go on a trip to see a place in this area.  Many tourists go there simply to see the famous Bran Castle, but they need to have books on the subject if they want to go or to learn more about the area.

There is a strong market for travel books. Lonely Planet and others have published several about Romania and other Eastern European countries which means that for the average tour, you can prepare yourself with a fairly good idea of where Transylvania is in Europe.  For the history buff in all of us, there are many great castles and former royal residences to see there.

What else can a writer do if they want to publish a book?  Transylvania is a bit of niche market, and there are not many people who live in North America who know the history of the land very well, but there are more people in Europe who also know about the area and its unique people.

Since it is "Black Friday" in the United States, there is a great opportunity to publish a book around this time to promote Transylvania and Romania.  This happens every year so if you are considering publishing a book about Transylvania, plan on some promotion and a good date to publish.  This way you can expand on your ability to have people hear about this place.

Alba Iulia

Sibiu (Hermannstadt)
Transylvania, Romania is a wonderful place, and in my own experience it provides an excellent opportunity to learn about the past and publish a book.  In Search of the Lost Ones is available on and and there was the challenge of finding out more about this land and the people there.  It matters that more people need to travel there and to tour Transylvania, as it matters that people need to see a lot more places.

November 17, 2012

Royal Residences Of Transylvania, Romania

Did you know that Bran Castle was a royal residence in the country of Romania?  

The legendary Queen Marie of Romania lived there with her family, after the end of World War I.  She would be the first Queen of greater Romania, as Transylvania (at the time of the beginning of her husband's reign in 1914) was a part of the Kingdom of Hungary, within the Austrian Empire before the year 1919.  At the time, she would look to make a name for the Kingdom, and she needed to have people and allies on her side to expand the Kingdom of Romania. 

After the end of World War I, she would have Bran Castle as one of her many royal residences. She had others, but this was on which was in Transylvania and was also near the city of Brasov and many other important cites which the Romanian royal family would use as measures of unity for Greater Romania

After her death, just before the start of World War II she gave the castle to her younger daughter Archduchess Ileana, and her children.  Her other daughters Queen Marie of Yugoslavia and Queen Elizabeth of Greece both had other residences which they could call home, or they did not live in Romania.  Queen Elizabeth would return to Romania after her divorce from the King of Greece.

The Prince Michael the Brave, of Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania also had a residence in Transylvania:  It was in the city of Alba Iulia, which was considered the heart of Transylvania by the Romanian people much later on- this city was not revered as much by either the Hungarian population or the German Saxons, who each had their own 'major city'.  During his short reign, he would command from this traditional stronghold of the Roman Empire, but a city which many Romanians consider the "heart of Transylvania."  He lived there for a short time after having united the three principalities which would, centuries after he was killed, become a part of what is now, Romania.

His assassination would make certain that Transylvania would not become a part of what would become Romania until much later.  However, the Kingdom of Hungary would have control over Transylvania, but Hungary itself would form a part of the Empire of Austria under the control of the Habsburgs who did not care for Transylvania- other than they were the "Grand Princes of Transylvania."  Even today, the current Grand Prince of Transylvania is a Habsburg, and not the current head of the Romanian Royal family- King Michael of Romania.

It is of interest to note that the man who would be the final King of Romania, and not a pretender to the throne is named after this Prince who united the three principalities together in 1600.

There are many castles and residences in Transylvania.  These are not "royal residences" but rather the castles or homes of Princes, dukes or other minor princes who lived in Transylvania- not of the Prince of Transylvania proper.  Many examples can be found on many maps Transylvania and explained with the battles which were found in the area.

Some people might wonder if any other royal families might have a residence in Transylvania and the answer is: yes.  The Prince of Wales owns a "cabin" in Trnayslvania and he does frequent the area, as his family through Queen Mary is distantly related to none other than Vlad Tepes III (through his second wife.  The Austrian Royal Family, however, does not officially have any castles which they own in Transylvania, but they did have access to them during the time that they were in power. (Before 1918, and even then they were known as the Grand Dukes of Transylvania, a subsidiary title they had- Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary were the two highest ranks.)

Fargaras Fortress was also originally the home of many of the princes (viovides) of Transylvania, and it is still accessible to tourists today.  It is considered a royal residence since during its construction Transylvania did not have an official "king" although it would be ruled by the King of Hungary later on.  The royal residences of Romania are varied and many of them are within the borders of what once was Wallachia and Moldavia, as the Romanian Royal family held these much longer.

November 12, 2012

Transylvania, Blogs and Twitter

Social networking sites are a must- I didn't know that until now.

I joined the land of Twitter only recently because, truthfully, I was not sure about this particular social networking site.  I didn't want to have my valuable time taken up by Twitter when I could be writing, especially since Transylvania and its history is a small market, which is where much of my writing focuses on.  I think that I did not understand the value of having one more avenue of promotion where I could have more followers, and draw more potential readers not only to a blog about Transylvania but to reach out to readers who would  not normally search for information about Transylvania.

I was not sure that this was the best idea, but another writer convinced me that I was wrong.  Judy Croome, who has a Twitter account, showed me that I can use Twitter to let people know that I have a book, and also to interact with writers in a different environment than on any other website I write on.  Tweeting is certainly not like writing a blog.  I published a book, and writing for Twitter is nothing like writing a book.

There are pros and cons to each type of networking you do.  The time you need to spend on any one method is an important factor in choosing what to use, but once in a while you need to reevaluate what works best for you. I need to think about how I can promote my work on Twitter without sounding boring or, worse still, like a overly excited book marketer.

This brings me back to my question of should you use Twitter to promote your book?  After some thought, I believe the answer is yes, but only if you have the time and the willingness to market your book to the right people -- people who are interested in the subject you write about; in my case, the history of the Second World War and Transylvania, Romania.  In the beginning it is important to make yourself seen, and being interesting to the followers you have.  The truth is that many new writers on Twitter make the same mistakes when it comes to their promotion and writing.  Most of the best tweets are not about books (or one they have written) but are about what this person thinks or does they can be funny or simply of interest to others, and they are aimed at getting people to talk to you about the things you are passionate about.

For example, if you love to talk to others about travelling to Transylvania, you can also tweet about it to your followers.  This is a way to get followers to know that you write and are selling a book, but that you also have interests beyond your writing.  You can not only promote your book but you can promote yourself.  The key is not to over promote anything, your followers have to have a reason to see you as a person.  There are a lot of people who know and follow writers, but there are as many people who know and follow people who have knowledge about Transylvania, Romania.

Twitter, through its 140 character messages, is a network to think about, and after much thought I would like to invite you to follow me @RebeccaAEmrich. See you on Twitter!

November 7, 2012

Do You Really Want To Travel to Transylvania?

I was asked a question via email a few weeks ago about the possibility of my traveling to Romania.

I want to go on record as saying that I love to travel, but recently I haven't had as much chance to do it as I would like.  I want to travel to Romania and see a lot of Transylvania, but there is one drawback that sometimes makes me laugh and at other times cry: it is the question, do I really want to travel to Transylvania?  It has a lot to offer to me not only as a writer, but as a person.

Yes, I would love to; it would give me a chance to see what this area is like now, many years after my ancestors left the area.  I have a good idea that I would see a lot of older castles and cities but the newer parts of the area also are high on my list.  I know I'll be going on a tour of both Romania and Transylvania, so that will be the highlight.  One of the many castles I want to see is Bran Castle.  I've wanted to visit some of the villages that members of my family grew up in, to see what has changed in comparison with older photos.

As a part of Romania and of Europe, there is something about Transylvania that makes it a much more interesting trip than only going to Paris, France or to London, England. There is something remote and exotic about this land, and there are things written on the land that make people want to travel there.

Do I really want to travel to Transylvania?  Yes, because there are castles and cities I want to see and that will inspire me to write another great book.

In Search of the Lost Ones

November 4, 2012

Why Publishing a Book on Transylvania Is Different

There is a lot of work involved in publishing a book, and you should spend a lot of time building your writing portfolio to make things interesting.  This is true with whatever you write.  This is more true when the subject is Transylvania and Romania.  There are books and travel guides and countless self-published books about the area or the people.

Take for example this photo; one can write a lot about it.  It was taken during the Alba Iulia convention where the people of Transylvania came together and decided to become a part of Romania.  This is not a hard topic, but publishing a book about the event could be difficult since there are many behind the scenes stories associated with it.

Publishing a book now isn't like publishing a book a few years ago, given the pervasiveness of online shopping and self-publishing- especially when it comes to niche markets and how readers and authors interact with each other.  The subject of Transylvania and its history is no different, and there is more to writing and publishing something about a place when many people do not know where Transylvania is located.  (Perhaps they only know about it because of Dracula or Bran Castle, because of Bram Stoker.)

One could write about Dracula, but that has already been done many times over- even the great-grand-nephew of Bram Stoker has penned a novel about Dracula- with the addition of Elizabeth Bathory, the Countess of the Blood as a vampire.  Bran Castle or other  travel destinations in Transylvania and Romania are also well documented, and one simply has to search on Amazon to prove this fact.  However, politics and history and culture are not written about as much, and this is why publishing a book on Transylvania is different than what most writers think it is about.

October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween-- and Bran Castle Pictures

Since it is Halloween and we do love to write about Transylvania, here are a few pictures of Bran Castle-- also known as Dracula's Castle.

Have a safe and happy Halloween.

Bran Castle makes Halloween

Happy Halloween-- Don't Get Scared

October 25, 2012

Should Publishing a Book on Transylvania Be Hard?

Transylvania and the people living there, or who lived there, is something I've enjoyed writing about, and it was a joy to publish a book about the land and its history.  For the most part, I enjoyed the process of writing, but I found that it was hard to write.

Maybe because there is little in the way of published books on Transylvania that I needed, but it still allowed me to write.  Since this was history and in an area where much of the history is handed down orally, then there were some challenges.

The question is, should publishing a book on Transylvania be hard?

No, it shouldn't be, and with the help of many people and with the help of many photographs, it was easier to write and edit the book. It is one thing to know the details, but it is another to see the details in images.  Publishing any book does not mean that there will be times when it is not hard, but again, it is the lack of written information, beyond travel information that made it harder.

Maps, like the one below, allowed me to write a stronger book — and don't let me forget: a very wonderful editor.  The more information I found, the easier it was to write – then it was a simple matter of editing and sending it off. History is a subject that people can find both interesting and daunting all at the same time.

Publishing something like this and understanding its impact on Transylvania means that more people can come to find out more about Transylvania, and that is also a hard fact for a writer to deal with.  Putting pen to paper is one thing and having a book published is another, and yet... it was not all that hard to write a book.

This is one of the reasons why a person chooses to write; to show readers about a place or a person that they are passionate about.  When there is limited information, it makes the writer work a bit harder, but it is worth it when there is something positive coming out of writing and publishing a book.