Silver moonlight flooded the worn path from the stone terrace, through the beds of hibiscus, and down the manicured lawn, but Sarah had no need of it. She knew the lawns and paths and gardens of Raven’s Nest as well as she knew her own, despite the passing of years. She could walk the land blindfolded, and she would know every step just by the scent hanging in the air. Her bare feet sank into the thick carpet of grass, blades tickling the bottom of her feet, when she veered to the left, heading through the canopy of wisteria, straight for the folly.Built more than a century before she was even born, it was designed to mimic the the great house, down to the ornate door knocker. As children, they often escaped here to hide from the governess the boys allowed her to share. She snorted rather indelicately at the idea of being allowed the education the boys gladly shirked.The snap of a branch close by caught her attention, and her head snapped up, memories forgotten. She froze, heart racing in her chest.Was it a poacher?Carefully she inched toward the stone building, glad to see it looming ahead of her, and not fallen into disrepair and ruin. Rupert had cared for it after all.No, she reminded herself, he is home now. The responsibility lies at his feet.She was just a few short feet shy of the thick door when a flash of movement at the corner of her eye alerted her that someone was close. She sucked in a large breath of air, head swinging to the sides as she sought escape. She needed to hide.Or run. Yes, that would be…Her thoughts trailed off as a figure stepped from the small copse of trees that led to the bond. Stratford. Her heart, that feckless creature within her chest, cried at the sight of him, drinking in every detail. She found herself unable to look away from the rigid muscles of his lean, bare chest; her eyes followed the trail of dark hair to where it disappeared in the falls of his trousers. The moon, full and bright above, cast a silver glow across his bronzed skin, and she swallowed, throat suddenly dry.“Hello, Red.” He tossed her the cheeky grin she remembered so well from their youth.“Do, do not call me that, my lord.” Her heart might be a traitorous beast, but at least her brain was sensible enough to put an icy distance between them.He tsked. “When did we let such formalities grow between us, Red?” He came to a stop before her, cupping her chin with the hand not grasping his boots. She looked into the unfathomable depths of his muddy eyes, calling herself ten times a fool as she wished and hoped and prayed he would lean down and sweep his lips across hers.Wrenching free of his grasp, she twisted away from him. “There is more than just formalities between us, my lord. There is time, and – and…” She trailed off, unable to finish the accusations her brain would fling.“And? Time and – what, Sarah? Surely not time and distance. I am here, in the flesh. In the now.”“You left me, damn you.” She hid her face, lest he think her tears caused by longing or anything akin to it. Lest he think them caused by anything other than the mounting frustration. “We had a deal, my lord. Crossed our hearts, and swore it would be forever.”He closed the distance between them, and she felt the warmth of his flesh through the thin muslin of her nightrail as he enveloped her in his strong arms, crushing her to his chest. The whisper of his lips against her fevered brow sent a frisson of heat through her.“I had no choice, Sarah. Surely you see that now?”“I see nothing but the man who swore he would rather die than leave me. The man who slipped away in the dead of night just hours after leaving my bed. You left me with no one.”“Rupert was -““At war, my lord. Rupert left the next morning, thinking you just sleeping off a hangover, and I was alone again.” She allowed herself the comfort he offered, resting her wet cheek against his chest. In a small voice, one she hoped he did not actually hear, she added, “It was never him anyway. Only you.”
Is it seriously Friday already? Well, color me flummoxed.
So, I have two things to share with you today in honor of both #FirstLineFriday and #FiveLineFriday.
First of all, if I have not mentioned it (checking…) Nope, I told you here, just yesterday in fact. We have ditched the Regency in favor of the Victorian era. Sarah has decided it’s not a romance, although that will be a subplot…
Anyway, the changes that sneaky little Diva wrestled out of me mean that I can return to the world of Olivia – Bluefell. I am quite excited, to be honest. Something I’ve not been for my romance writings in a while. I was, in fact, on the verge of giving up.
So, in Olivia, the queen is broken, caged – and a usurper has taken over. But how did we get there? Well… The Clockwork Queen will address that. Here is the first line –
Young Victoria stood naked before the long Cheval mirror, Albert’s fingers entwining through the dark curls tumbling over her pale flesh.
Yes. Queen Victoria. And mirrors. And someone who stole her Throne.
But Olivia, she is not Snow. No, she is Cinderella. And it isn’t time for The Clockwork Queen. Not yet. So, the precursors to Olivia, they are all Cinderella’s. And here, for #FiveLineFriday, is how Sarah starts her tale.
“I want the girl wed and bed by Tuesday next, Mycroft, and I do not care about the particulars of the event.” Lady Rickings spoke to her son, command carrying clearly to Sarah, three rooms over, dusting the bric-a-brac of the formal morning room.
Mycroft, the oiliest snake Sarah had the misfortune to have ever met, mumbled something in response. Sarah lifted a brow; he never could enunciate his words. It was an endless frustration as she was supposed to interpret his slurred bits into something comprehensible.
“I do not care if she is not to your liking. That foolish brother of mine left that horrid girl everything.” Lady Rickings paused, and Sarah thought the conversation was at an end, but she quickly forged ahead. “Do you understand what that means? Everything.”
More mumbling from the snake, though Sarah was certain she heard a grumble about her tongue. She chuckled.
“Yes, exactly. Wed her, bed her, and dispose of her by Christmas. There’s a good darling.”
OK. I admit. It’s more than five lines. How about #FiveParagraphFriday? Yes, we shall go with that. Thank you for your consideration. No, I am not entirely sold on Mycroft. But, he is not connected to our Victorian darling, Holmes, and I will have to see if it was a name much in use at the time.
I am still planning on attempting NaNoWriMo this year, with this particular story, in fact. And I am going to try to plan the shit out of it, to be honest. Will I see you there?
It’s Thursday still, right? Lordy. There is a reason I try to get these written while on my lunch – especially on Thursdays, when it can be after 9 pm that I get home. And it was. Again. See, I pick up Mr. Laura, I mean BoyWonder, on Thursday nights – he sells beer at the local Farmer’s Market and that’s over at 7, then we haul the kegs back to his place of employment, then its dinner…then home. Ugh.
But I promised, so here I am. YAY.
So, #ThesaurusThursday rolls around, once again. The words this week were ensure and fractious. Pretty easy, are they not? Well, this is off the cuff – completely spur of the moment, so let’s see what we can come up with…
“The Agency, you say? Not a name that instills much confidence, is it?” Sarah looked Westerfell straight in the eye as she said this. Her hands were bound with rough oakum, a spell ensuring she could not wriggle her way loose.
Those cold, grey eyes pierced her once more. “I assure you, Miss – ?”
“Patterson,” she supplied, spine stiffening almost imperceptibly. The flash of recognition in his eyes was quickly replaced with the cold facade, but she noticed it. “My name is Sarah Grace Patterson, your grace.”
If he was shocked that she knew his name, he allowed no sign to show. “Yes, well, Miss Patterson,” his gaze swept over her dismissively. “I assure you that we remain unencumbered with concern regarding the affect the name of our… agency has on the general public. We provide a service that cannot be found elsewhere.”
“I believe you remain unencumbered by anything as burdensome as concern regarding anything, Westerfell.” She blinked, cursing the tears that threatened. After ten years, it should have been easier. “But most especially for something as human as emotions. Even when orphans are involved. Why surely, the mighty Duke of Westerfell is an automaton, so lacking in regard is he.”
Satisfaction surged through her as he sucked in a breath, the air whistling quietly between his teeth. “You, Miss Patterson, are a fractious individual, and someone needs to bring you to heel.”
“Perhaps,” she conceded, “but it shall not be you.”
YAY! That was fun. And I might even keep it. Because Sarah, bless her soulless little self, decided she was having none of this romance stuff, none of this Regency stuff. So, she is now writing herself a rather fun Victorian era steampunk/gaslamp/something.
I have lost all control, frankly. And I rather like it.
By the way – Today I learned that “huh” has been around since the 1600’s as a ‘representation of a grunting exclamation’. No, really. Etymology Online. Check that stuff out. I dare you.
lordy. I said I was going to start posting again, then gave you nothing but radio silence. Rude.
So today, I sat down and planned out posting ideas for 4 days a week. That’s right – new material from Laura 4 days a week. The other three days? I don’t know yet.
Today is, of course, Tidbit Tuesday over in my writing group. But I don’t want to drop some lines on you and run. I want interactions. I crave our interactions. So what I propose, is that I share these beautiful ten (or so) lines that have been cut – and the inspiration/research/resources behind them.
First, the lines:
Well, that didn’t go as planned. I realized, as I am digging through all my links and files, that I never actually wrote the scene I wanted to talk about today. How embarrassing. See, I had this half-decent outline and a BRILLIANT character sketch going, one where I really got to know Sarah and Stratford. Then I sat down to write, and Sarah was like, nope. So, we threw all that out. And started over. I tossed the Little Red Riding Hood theme because she refused to play along. And between you and I, I much prefer the Sarah she revealed herself to be.
Here, by the way, is the outline section I wanted to share:
- Open Image: Dooley Cottage, Portsmouth – drawing room – April 3, 1812
- Sarah is reading a paper, specifically about an event which will seal time/place
- Mention of Lord Byron’s first two Cantos of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, which sold out in 5 days – she looks to her copy, lying atop RHoD
- Flippant remark to her companion, a mangy looking cat that she rescued from a hunting trap
- Toss a comment to maid about setting up a basket for that nice Mrs. Dickens
- Little Charlie must be close to two months now, Mary.
- Perhaps I shall drop in, deliver the basket myself.
- Mourning attire mentioned casually
- Her lavender muslin was not enough to ward off the chill, even with the fire built up
- 10. Fingering the small keepsake from Nan
As you can see, I was going to talk about specific events which happened prior to, or around, the time this scene took place – the birth of Charles Dickens and the publication of Lord Byron. And with those two (relatively) minor occurrences, I would have been able to fully ground the reader in the time and place.
If you are familiar with Regency Era mourning clothing, you might have known what the significance of the lavender gown was. Perhaps not.
By the way, please forgive the formatting. I assure you that in Word, it is a properly formatted outline. It just didn’t translate well to WordPress, lol.
So, that is how I prefer to ground readers in time and place – by subtly planted clues. I’ve also been known to just plant a date at the top of a scene, but sometimes, that feels like cheating to me.
(And I even managed 10 lines that have been cut, just not what you were expecting, lol).
How do you ground readers into the time and place of your novel?
Have I mentioned before that I like to handwrite everything prior to typing it out? Yes, even these blog posts – I’m transcribing from my writing notebook right now, as a matter of fact. It allows me to gather my thoughts prior to sharing them with the world. Because if I don’t, I tend to wander aimlessly, including actually getting up and wandering away which results in a very confused Laura upon return to the keyboard…
Now, I am trying to break the habit when it comes to my actual writing so that I can reduce the number of things I carry with me. I bought a Samsung Tab A8 but it was too small and caused eye strain… So, I returned it and purchased a refurbished Nextbook Flexx 10. Both fit in my purse easily. And I liked both of them. In my personal opinion, the Flexx far surpassed the Samsung, especially with the Windows 8. Unfortunately, it stopped working after less than a week, and will be returned on Monday. I’m not sure what I’ll get next, but for now it’s back to the writing notebook and my Lamy Fountain Pen.
And let’s be honest – free writing by hand is a great tool when the brain stalls. Or even when you’re just trying to figure something out. As I said, that is especially true for the blog. Even if I do not stick to the script verbatim, it’s a rather lovely guide.
So, I know I’ve talked recently about the stuff I am publishing over on Channillo.com. Well, I have two whole subscribers now, which is exciting. And terrifying. Because what if I disappoint them? And if I’m being honest with myself, I admit that I will disappoint eventually. The site is still relatively new, but I hope to grow with it.
I have also been developing a new idea to open another channel for subscriptions through Channillo. One which might widen my audience as it would be short stories featuring vignettes of the lives of my characters. I am not rushing this new channel – I want to build up an arsenal of shorts that are polished before I even apply for it. That gives me some wiggle room.
By the way, if you do not subscribe to the Bluestocking Belle’s, you should. I will be guest-hosting the blog 23 December, so come check me out. I am still tossing around the ideas for that adventure, but I know it will be Christmas related.
So tell me – what are you working on right now? Are you following me on Twitter yet? @BeautifulSadist. I tweet frequently, but almost exclusively about writing. I’m boring!
Happy Tuesday. I feel like it is time to get back to the blog – not because of how long I’ve been gone, but rather because it just feels right. I have dearly missed my readers, and our interactions, sporadic though they might be.
So drop me a line – tell me how you’ve been. I’ve been trying my hand at new things. Mostly just writerly things, but I am transitioning to the Low Carb High Fat way of eating. I seem to still be getting too much protein, so that’s what I’m watching carefully. I have a handle on the low carb portion. And I still eat good – tomorrow, I’m taking homemade buffalo wings. Two servings is like 4 carbs. I have to lose weight and bring my blood glucose numbers down so that I’m actually around to bring to fruition the other new thing I’m working on…
I joined Channillo recently, where I journal about my darkest fears and doubts several times a week. Stop by, check it out – subscribe. Support a writer (or ten)… Anyway, I am also developing a story to publish in serial form there. I debuted a bit of it yesterday, if you missed the post. Although, I am also tantalized by the idea of just publishing an introductory short story because he is begging for an entire freaking series. Cheeky wench.
I am mad for her already. As you should be, too.
But neither have I forgotten about my darlings, Sarah and Stratford. Much is afoot in the Circle K… No wait, I don’t work there anymore and (don’t shoot me) I did not actually care for the movie. Also, pretty sure I quoted it wrong. You’re awesome. You shall correct me in due time.
That aside, changes have been made. Maybe they will work, maybe they will not. Enjoy your Tidbit!
Sarah entered Ewan’s office on Beatrice’s heels, but still her sister-in-law turned and scolded her for taking too long. This was followed by a rather nasty insult, though not the nastiest which had been hurled at her. There were times, she acknowledged, when reading lips was wholly unbeneficial. Knowing it would irritate the marchioness to no end, she mumbled an apology, signing the same as she did.
Seated behind the large desk that once held her father’s papers, Ewan did his best to ignore the spat. Prior to his marriage, she would not have called her brother weak – far from it. He was quite the Corinthian still, but he refused to interfere when his wife railed against his sister. To be fair, he also refused to retaliate when she fought back.
His lips quirked upward as he caught the hastily signed insult she directed toward Beatrice’s back, but it quickly disappeared, and he said nothing. She cast a glance to her left. Beatrice reclined regally in the high-backed chair, one hand tracing the knotted pattern of the embroidered posies on the pale blue silk dress she wore. Her own gown, of serviceable sage muslin, did not compare favorably.
I’ve just cut a swathe through the few pages of With This Kiss that I’ve managed to write. By huge swathe, I do mean I completely rewrote the first scene. It remains familiar, but I think it has been improved upon tenfold. Now, since it is Wednesday, and I do not really have a blog for you – just those niggling feelings of guilt for not posting…
3 March, 1811
Sarah Grace Patterson tucked her long legs underneath her skirts, settling into the deep leather seat of her father’s favored leather chair. She turned the page of her newest purchase slowly, savoring the build-up of spine-tingling terror, and putting off the romantic save which would end The Right Hand of Darkness. M. Rakoczy was a new author, but the thick gothick romance had yet to disappoint.
A fire burned in the grate behind her, the flames licking at logs and kindling. Sarah, as she was known to family, allowed the warmth to envelope her rather than pile on more blankets to ward off the winter chill. She turned to the next page and reached for her tea cup. She grimaced when a sip of tea told her it had long since passed over tepid, coming to a full stop at stone cold.
Rather than put the book down to top off her cup, however, she set the cup back down. It would be ignored for another half hour anyway, she rationalized.
“Did you hear about Elyza Joy?”
The words, spoken in Livvie Stenson’s breathy voice, broke into her concentration. Sarah looked up, blinking away the words of her novel. Confused as to when her cousin had arrived, she asked just that.
“Oh, I’ve been in here for ages,” Livvie said. She flung herself into the chair opposite Sarah with a loud sigh. “I’ve been waiting for you to acknowledge me, but you’ve been stuck in that silly book the entire time. ‘Tis a dreadful bore, all this reading you do.”
Unable to politely ignore the unspoken message, Sarah reluctantly closed the leather bound tome, and set it to the side. Lord Diego would be there when she returned, after all.
“I must admit, Livvie dearest, that I am surprised you sought me out,” she said. Or that you could even find the library, she thought. Remorse immediately swept through her. Olivia Stenson was her best friend, even if not the most intellectual person.
Livvie turned to stare out the uncurtained window that looked over the snow-blanketed terrace to the south of their Berkeley Square manor, but Sarah could see that her gaze remained unfocused.
She suppressed a sigh. Each week, their families met at Marylebone Old Church for service. After service, everyone returned to Preston House. Tea and gossip could be found in the morning room, cigars and port in Lord Preston’s office. The relaxing day of familial joviality would be completed with an informal dinner. For Sarah, the library brought solitude, escape from the trivial discussions her female relatives so favored.
Livvie spoke in that childish voice she had perfected at the command of her mother, once again breaking into Sarah’s thoughts. “Our mothers are talking the marriage mart again,” she said, “and I overheard the most delicious gossip regarding Elyza Joy.”
A maid brought in a fresh tea cart in response to a tug upon the bell pull. Both girls held their tongues until she had gently shut the library doors behind her.
Sarah poured new tea for herself, but Livvie declined with a brief shake of her golden curls. Instead, Livvie shoved away from her seated position to pace the length of worn carpet set before the fireplace. Her movements were agitated, restless even. The air was thick with… a sadness almost palatable, Sarah decided. She regretted her annoyance at the intrusion, and stood to offer comfort.
“We are hardly friends with Elyza Joy,” she said. “What news could have upset you so?”
Livvie rebuked the embrace. Anger shone in her eyes. “Have you – have you ever thought your world so shattered it could never be put right?”
“Here, drink this.” Sarah thrust a cup of steaming tea into Livvie’s hands. She was not sure how to answer the question. Melodrama was Livvie’s secret weapon, not hers.
Livvie swallowed the tea quickly. “I – I know I sound silly, but this news has sent my mind swirling in new directions. It has been very thought provoking.”
“And we know how little you like that,” teased Sarah.
“Most women do, Sarah. It is only you ape-leaders who wish to indulge in serious thoughts.”
Sarah ignored the barb. Livvie had not meant it as an insult. She never did. “Tell me what has you so upset that you would seek my counsel, Livvie.”
“Elyza Joy seems to have gotten herself into trouble,” said Livvie. “And the dreadful creature has placed the blame at Banleighton’s feet.”
Silence stretched between them. There had been rumors about an alliance between the Preston family and the Banleighton clan for several years, but Sarah never took it seriously. Her parents would force her into nothing. And yet, learning that the man she might have sought happiness with had seduced a rather shy debutante gave her pause.
‘Perhaps it is a love match, and they anticipated the vows,” she finally said to break the silence.
Livvie dismissed the idea with the wave of a hand. “Love? Bah.”
“It is not unheard of.”
“You are such a provincial girl with your odd notions of true love and happily ever afters, are you not? Especially for one raised in London.”
“What else is there if not love, Livvie? How can I believe in anything but?” Sarah picked up her new book, caressing the soft leather cover. Lord Diego, he believed in love – even if he had trouble expressing it.
“Power. Wealth. Those are what matters in marriage, Sarah. Not love,” replied Livvie. “Like your shy little Elyza Joy, I shall marry where I am told. I will do anything to keep my position in society.”
“How sad that is Livvie,” Sarah said. A thought crossed her mind. “Do not tell me you have feelings for Banleighton. Had you hopes of catching him? I would not have minded, you know.”
Again, she was dismissed with the wave of a hand and a scolding glare. “Of course you would have minded,” said Livvie. “His grace is not only wealthy and powerful, but extremely good looking.”
“So you do hold him in regard?”
Ignoring the question, Livvie said, “Perhaps she just wanted to avoid another pointless season. Last year was what, her fourth?” She shuddered delicately at the thought.
“If the season is as bad as all that, why have one? Especially if you are so bent upon marrying where told?”
Livvie offered no reply, so Sarah allowed the silence to grow between them before picking her novel up from the low table next to her chair. She still did not know why Livvie was so bothered by this news, but she accepted her cousin would reveal all in her own time.
Can you whistle? I can sometimes whistle, but not with my fingers like some people can. I have always wanted to do that, though. I mean, who wouldn’t? It’s loud and fun. And no matter how common it actually is, people are always like, WOAH.
Well, my heroine Sarah can whistle like that. Since I don’t know how to do it, I had to actually look up a how-to. No really, it exists. Here. I had no idea there were so many different ways to whistle with your fingers.
Sarah whistles with her pinky fingers. I am going to keep practicing, but likely with the first method as I seemed to get the best (almost) results out of that one tonight.
My poor husband, on the other hand, cannot whistle at all. It’s actually rather comical. And cute. I love him dearly.
So I spent a few minutes researching how to whistle all to write one little line. But I wrote it.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve researched this week?
Sarah recognized the truth in that statement. Forming an A with her pinky fingers, she pushed the tip of her tongue back and let out a shrill whistle.
I have so many ideas floating through my head right now. The current series I am working on involves twenty different stories, although some will occur at the same time. I am still 100% devoted to the story of Sarah and Stratford, but the other Ladies are pounding at the door. I already have an idea of what is going to happen with at least 4 other couples.
So what happens? Clearly, an entirely unrelated idea pops into my head. I mean, seriously Laura? Get your stuff together, woman. And not entirely a romantic idea, either. Ugh. What to do?
Well, there is really only one thing to do isn’t there? Take notes, write several stories at once. Follow the inspiration. Right now, inspiration has me investigating what psychiatric care was like during the Victorian Era. That’s your only hint. Well, there’s another one, but I buried it.
Did you find it? Let me know if you figured it out.
This is really short because I just wanted an excuse to share this:
This is a subject that recently came up on Twitter. It was a fun discussion because it forces you to stop and actually be conscious of the words you use. ‘Tis a valuable lesson. One I missed in my personal life, it seems. Hopefully it is one I can still make up for.
Personal problems aside, at the time of the conversation my personal favorite seemed to be a phrase rather than individual word. Olivia, the heroine in my Cinderella revisioning, was always “doing as bade”. It’s 10,000 words, and I bet I use that phrase at least three times.
And it isn’t the bane of just the amateur, which is me. Stephanie Laurens, an author I absolutely adore, loves to use the word “bar” in her Cynster novels. Which was always funny to me, since the first six novels are about the group collectively known as the Bar Cynster…
Anyway. My current words seem to be “lest” and the phrase “well _____ know(s) it” – also seen as knew. Ugh. What starts these habits? Is it a limited vocabulary? I honestly thought I had a better vocabulary than evidenced by the frequency with which I use these words. Um. Is that grammatically correct? It’s late. I’m tired. I don’t know. Ugh.
Anyway. It’s Thesaurus Thursday. The words today were elapse and uproarious. Do enjoy!
Uproarious laughter echoed through the silence left by the musician’s break. Heads turned, everyone craning to see who would dare laugh so freely. Tucked into a dim alcove, Lady Patience sat frightfully close to a man. A devilishly handsome man with a wicked gleam in his eye, no doubt.
She and Patience being friends, and the latter the only daughter of Lady Hendrickson, Sarah knew she would bear the blame for this, too. Surely Lady Patience would never breach the strict rules set out for Proper Young Ladies. Not without the influence of a coarse orphan.
Several minutes, full of awkward silence then stilted conversation, elapsed. Whispers flew from mouth to ear as the scandalized Ton did what they do best: ruin an innocent girl.
Sarah put one foot in front of the other. She was so close to the dais, to Lady Jersey. It was time for her to take matters into her own hands.
She had a wager to lose, after all.