Curious Time for A Break

I am literally out th,e door for a weekend in NYC at the WDC15 conference. I have written five parts in my new story and will continue tomorrow, if I have a chance. I will have my iPad with me so unless I become incoherent I will blog about the conference or part six not sure. I spent a good portion of the day today working on my pitch and will drive Jay (my husband) crazy all the way to CT practicing it on him. He is so kind, he’s driving me there and dropping me off. I hope you don’t recognized him in my Flaked Tuna story.

I must say that if you have good people around you, who support you, you have half the battle fought.

Curious Allure is coming along I like the direction it’s taking because it is based on someone’s life, care to guess? A lot of history is lost and writing historical fiction is fun trying to figure out what happened in between what we know to be fact and what is conjecture. Marta is a wonderful character and imagining how she got to where she did is intriguing.

I am still writing “off the cuff” so to speak, I don’t outline or plan my stories unless something comes to me while I am sleeping and contemplating a character’s motives. Sometimes when I sit to write I hope I am not going to ruin a good sequence by being determined to write every day. Still, the character’s do what they want and a plan from a few moments earlier can change in an instant. Like the sudden trip to the Chapel, I thought that Phillip wasn’t a bad guy, like Uncle Alex, but instead a guy who wasn’t ready for a wife, but let’s still hold out hope this relationship can be saved, — I am a romantic at heart.

This is a little short today, if I am able to add more tonight I will but I expect I will be practicing my pitch.

On twitter I keep seeing all these great motivational quotes and they are inspiring, — keep writing, every day. I am amazed by the simplicity of some of the wisdom from writers and movie producers, etc. all very kind. Steven King has been quoted quite often and he is very inspirational. My quote at the top of my blog spoke to me and inspired a short story which I will post portions after the contest I entered it in has ended.

NYC here I come.

Curious Allure (part five)

Phillip saw his wife asleep on the chair and wondered how she was able to do that. He would normally like a cup of tea and some bread, but there was nothing. He had to be in camp and had no time to waste, he slept till the last possible moment.

Marta heard him moving about the cabin. She had no plans to engage him this morning. She had said enough and the big lug hadn’t done a thing, except the kind act of bringing home some food, suitable but not overdone.

He surprised her by trying to pick her up and carry her to the bed, she put her arm around his neck and let him place her there and cover her with the blanket. She feigned sleep and he left.

She got up and dressed warmly, she was going for a walk, exploring what was going around in the area. It was cold, she really needed boots, she would be foolish to walk aimlessly. She decided to walk just beyond the cabins she visited the day before.

There was an Inn and she went inside. A warm fire was burning in the hearth and when the woman approached her she didn’t quite know what to say.

“You one of the officer’s wives? What can I do for you?”

“Please ma’am,” she responded. “I have no money and I am in kind of a situation. I need work, just mornings where I can be home ”'”

“Before the Sergeant gets home.” she guessed.

“Yes, but it’s not like that exactly. I need some money of my own, the pay is too few and far in between.”

The woman left, but soon returned with some porridge and a hot drought and an apron. “Finish up and you can help me in the kitchen.”

Marta couldn’t believe her luck. The woman was very supportive of the military living so close to the barracks that she often donated food and rooms at the Inn. Marta worked hard and Mrs. Borgen was pleased.

When Marta left Mrs. Borgen had given her some food to prepare for her husband when he came home. Marta was looking forward to the expression on Phillip’s face when his resourceful wife was able to put dinner on their table.

Phillip arrived home with some more fare from the officer’s club. Marta looked at him with disbelief.

“It worked so well for you yesterday, that you thought you would try it again?”

“No, Marta I cannot just come and go as I please. I have to put in my day’s work before I can come home.”

“Well sit down and join me, you can watch or try some of the meal I have prepared.”

“Where did you get this?”

“I got the ingredients from Mrs. Borgen at the Kinski Inn, she let me work there for the morning and I earned the food.”

She looked at Phillip who was about to explode, but was trying to choose his words carefully.

“Phillip, don’t leave.” she pleaded. “Don’t leave me here alone all night again!”

“If I don’t leave I may hit you and I don’t want to do that!”

“Hit me?” Marta was stunned.

“You are willful and disobedient, I will have to discuss this with  my commander and see what he suggests to corral in my new bride.”

“Please Phillip, we don’t need anyone else to determine how we should live!”

After he left, Marta surmised that he just wanted to spend another night at the officer’s club drinking and carousing with the men.

She had somewhere to go in the morning and she was going no matter what and if she had to save some money for an emergency getaway she would have that too.

Phillip was back and had company. One of his fellow officer’s wanted to meet the woman that had Sobienski in such a state.

Marta was sitting in the dark at the table as the fire was dwindling. When the two men entered. She stood up and knocked the chair over in surprise. She didn’t know what to expect.

She did her best to welcome the stranger in such conditions. She picked up the chair and offered him to sit and she offered what she had remaining of the meal she had prepared and had grown cold.

“Sergeant Sobieski, you didn’t tell me how pretty your wife was.” Sergeant Kilkov offered.

“Yes, I am afraid I have been negligent in more ways than I care to admit. Phillip revealed.

Marta just stared at them not knowing what the occasion was for this late night visit. “Will you be on your way?”

“Marta, don’t be rude, we only just got here.” Phillip rebuked her.

“I see your point Phillip.” the Sergeant reacted.

“Phillip, we have hardly the comforts of home for ourselves, how can you bring company when I have nothing to offer, I have no lantern, I barely have enough heat to keep the ice off the windows!”

Kilkov stood up and went to the door. “You have a problem, but I am not sure it is your wife.”

Curious Allure (part four)

That wasn’t so bad, Marta thought as she sat in her little three room home at the officer’s dwelling next to the barracks at Archangel.

Her wedding night was unexpectedly not horrible, it was uncomfortable and he was as kind as could be. It was a wife’s duty after all, if only she had loved him, she was sure it would have been entirely different.

Today, he was off — duty calls. She was left behind to do nothing. What was there to do? Oh tomorrow there will be clothes to wash and food to prepare but today there was nothing. No food in the house, no clothes that desperately needed washing. There was no money to go to town and shop.

I am all alone.

She began to resent the selfishness of needing a wife, one you pull out for special occasions and tell everyone how much you love her but, what about in the meantime?

He left no instructions, he barely said goodbye. She thought she would go outside and see if there were any other wives she could talk to or someone like cook who she could learn something from.

When she returned hours later, Phillip was there a little upset with her.

“Marta, where have you been?”

“Oh, hello Phillip. I have been out looking for a friend or someone to instruct me on what my duties are around here.”

“Your duties are to me.”

“You left me this morning and gave me no instructions, I cannot sit all day waiting for your return.”

“That is exactly what you are to do.”

“Phillip, now you are sounding like the man I first met in the carriage, not at all like the man on our wedding day.”

“Marta, I heard you were outside, knocking on doors and making a nuisance of yourself.”

“No one complained, I just needed to connect with someone.”

“What will we do for our meal tonight?”

“I already ate, at the officers club.”

“And am I not to eat this day?”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t think of you, my dear.”

“Am I to go hungry?” tears began to flow. “Why are you so heartless? Didn’t you think your wife would want to make you something for dinner and talk about your day? Isn’t that what couples do?”

“Oh, Marta it’s not bad as all that. Tomorrow we will have dinner, I will let you fix anything you want.”

“Where is the market? Where is the money? I have never cooked a meal, I have helped to put bread in the oven, stir a bowl of stew, is there anyone who could help me?”

“I don’t get paid until the end of the month.”

“What am I to do? I am hungry.”

Phillip was so upset with himself that he left and went to the officers club and drank.”

Marta stood in the darkness of their home. She vowed she would never go hungry again, she would never rely on Phillip or any man to take care of her.

That night Phillip came home completely drunk. She rolled out of bed and saw that he had a bundle that he placed on the table. She tried to engage him in conversation, but he was useless. She opened the bag and saw it was a roll, a small block of cheese and a bottle of wine.

Now if he wasn’t so drunk she could talk to him about what her life had to be. She could tell him that she was going out in the morning to find work, even if she had to walk a mile to the next town. She helped him up and brought him into her room. She sat him down and took off his boots. He tried to haul her into his embrace but she pushed him back and proceeded to take off his jacket and swung his legs onto the bed. She covered him with the single blanket and closed the door. She hung his jacket on a hook in the pantry which was more like a closet and placed his boots near the hearth.

She curled up in a chair and slept.

Curious Allure (part three)

“How much did you pay for me?” Marta asked the young man in the carriage with her after a long period of silence.

“What makes you think that” Perhaps it was him who paid me.”

He turned his devilish smile toward her.

“Because no one in their right mind would pay for me.” she ascertained.

“Look, as a young Captain in the army of the new regime, I needed a wife to make me appear to be …”

“Honest?” she finished his sentence.

“Something like that.” he said.

“Where are you taking me?” she asked.

“The barracks, the housing for the officers, we will have our privacy. There are small cabins for those of us that are married.”

“But, we are not married.” she reminded him.

“I have paperwork that says we are.” he insisted.

“You would do that to me? We would start off our life with a lie?”

“Your uncle set it up. I have all the proper paper I need.”

“A woman who doesn’t have a proper wedding, — isn’t a wife.”

She wanted to fling herself from the carriage and die in the frozen stream that ran alongside the road to Archangel where the barracks were.

“I don’t even know your name.” she muttered.

“I am  Captain Phillip Sobienski.” he stated quite proudly as he elevated himself and knocked loudly on the roof of the carriage. The carriage immediately halted and the driver poked his head inside.

“Change of plans my man,” The Captain alerted him.

Then he stepped outside and had a brief conversation and returned to his seat. Marta could sense the horses turning and the road becoming bumpy and less traveled. She looked at Phillip and wondered if her conversation had changed his plans for her.

“Yes, my dear. you are correct, I need to exchange vows with you in order to convince you that if it is to be you then I want you to be happy.”

“That is the most romantic thing anyone has said to me. I have dreamt of such a marriage proposal all my life.” she said sarcastically.

When she looked over at the forelorned face of her intended she figured she was a little harsh and was taking her messed up life out on him.

“Phillip, I am sorry. I do appreciate your attempt to please me.”

He turned and smiled, she had taken a huge weight off his shoulders.

“I have ordered the driver to make arrangements in the small town of Kerslo,  just down the road. He knows it well and will arrange the ceremony and acquire a place for us to stay the night.”

Marta nodded her approval. What more could she do. She needed to say more. Embarrassed to open her mouth she tapped him and got his full attention.

“I don’t know what my uncle told you about me. Most likely that I was so worthless that he would pass me off to the first stranger that came along.”

“Actually it wasn’t quite that bad. My father knew of my circumstance and necessity to fulfill my commission. He knew your uncle was making it known that he would pass you off to the highest bidder and thought perhaps being my wife would save you from a worse  fate then being my wife.”

Marta managed a wry smile. She was glad she spoke up and needed to say one more thing.

“I have never been with a man.” she cringed as the words snuck out.

“I would expect you hadn’t, but I am glad to hear such an admission.”

Silence permeated then they both smiled and laughed.

He wasn’t such a bad guy, but she didn’t love him. But whom was love meant for anyway. The coach stopped and they heard the driver run off to perform his task. Phillip reached over and took her hand.

“You really are lovely, I believe your uncle is blind.”

“He is blind with hatred, I was nothing but a burden to him.”

“Well now you’re my burden.” he wondered if his sense of humor was taken as such.

Marta wasn’t insulted, in fact she enjoyed his lightheartedness.

When the driver returned, he took her hand as they walked toward the Chapel.

Curious Allure part two

“Vonna, remember me!” Alexandria  called to her friend as she waved to Marta and took her place at the end of the line.

Marta hugged Vonna’s small shoulders and guided her behind Alexandria.

“I’m right here behind you, we will do this together.”

Then they entered the large hall were they were previewed before the Royal Family. Marta saw the angry glare she was receiving from her uncle standing amongst the Boyar who were cordoned-off behind a thick brocade of rope. The hopeful in-laws praying that their entry into the Curious Allure would come out the winner.

The prince was very “boyish” looking and seemed disinterested in all the preening and attempts by the young women to be noticed. Marta spotted the beautiful girl she had selected for top prize from the start, working her skills quite well, but not at the prince she was after the notice of the Tsar!

“How shameful!” Marta whispered to Vonna.

As soon as they were ushered in they were sent out and Marta found herself crammed into the carriage with a very disgruntled Uncle Alex. That was it, the  humiliation was over, she had made no impression on anyone. Uncle Alex would have to find another way to get this girl off his hands. However, he would have to gain some advantage in the exchange.

Little did she know that her friend Vonna was one of the finalists chosen for a second review and possible marriage to the future Tsar.

Of course the Tsar preferred the older beauty who was a  “stand-out” amongst the girls, but the Tsarina had her eye on the “child” with the pretty face, she could be betrothed to her son and the ceremony could wait several years longer.

With her uncle on the prowl for a marriage contract, she ignored his warnings and walked into town for herself. She figured her days were numbered; she would be married off and have nothing to look back on but a lonely, isolated existence.

When Uncle Alex was made aware of Marts’s absence he made ready for town, he could only think about her virtue and how that figured into his deal. He would put her in irons if that was the only way to control her.

Marta enjoyed the feeling of walking about the town, watching people in their everyday routines. She happened upon a boy who was delivering merchandise out of a small wagon and stopped to say hello. The boy, who introduced himself as Erik, took out a fresh roll for her — still fresh from the bakery.

“Care to walk with me?” he asked as she took a bite of the deliciously warm roll. As she nodded  and turned around to leave she was grabbed by the arm, knocking the warmth she had felt in her heart along with the roll into the dirt. Erik ran off lucky to escape with his goods intact as the enraged man spun Marta around and slapped her across the face.

People in the streets of Germantown stood in embarrassment for the girl who could have been at fault and deserving of such a reprimand, or not — regardless. The man seemed to be her guardian and no one would intervene in such a relationship.

Marta sat in her room, her face burning even with the warm linen Mary, the servant, had provided her along with some kind words and a draught. Mary prayed someone would intervene to get her away from the spiteful man who was supposed to take care of her.

“Finally,” the loud announcement could be heard three days later while Marta still sat in the lonely chamber where she was imprisoned.

Mary came in with a valise and handed it to Marta.

“Bless you Marta, I knew your mother, I hope this new experience will be good for you, you have been through so much.”

“Thank you Mary.” Marta replied.

As Marta stepped into the coach the man tossed the valise into the back of the carriage and climbed into the drivers seat. The young man, in uniform, handed her uncle a package and climbed in after her.


Curious Allure

He grabbed her arm yanking her to her feet. He — shook her, his resentment of her revealed in an angry moment. She was a nuisance, the daughter of his brother, the disappointment by his marriage to someone so far beneath him, the struggles he endured caused his untimely death. His wife, who couldn’t be mentioned in this residence had died several years earlier in child birth. He threw his life away, — according to uncle Alex.

Marta was an orphan at fourteen years and Alex Borensky’s rank had been diminished by the new regime. Now with this meritorious elevation of the Boyars, Marta’s uncle had to  earn the way to his rightful place in society.

The girl stood before him, his meal ticket — he hoped, he was going to present her before the prince and the entire Royal Family. The Tsar had decided that his son needed a wife to confirm him as a man in all matters and a viable successor to the throne.

Alex shook his head in disgust when his niece was finally prepared for his review. She had the look of that woman, why couldn’t she at least have been pretty and refined in all things a young lady of noble birth would acquire?

“Why couldn’t you find something that would at least bring out the color in her face?” he scolded the servants tasked with her presentation. “Never mind this will have to do.”

He decided that the mere attendance at this “parade” might give him the opportunity to catch the eye of the Tsar or be able to re-connect with some other members of high society who might help to elevate his station.

Marta was herded into the chamber with fifteen other young women in varying levels of excitement and horror. She spotted one young woman whom she thought was the obvious choice for the prince. She was older but looked regal and was finely dressed and very beautiful.

Marta’s own self-doubt was increased by waves of nausea that kept ebbing during the first moments of this new experience. She decided to change focus from herself and immediately noticed a very frightened young girl standing in the corner — pale as a ghost.

“I’m Marta.” she addressed the child.

“Vonna,” she replied through the tears.

“See that young woman over there?” she pointed to the well-coiffed beauty she had spotted earlier. “He’s going to pick her, I am sure of it.”

Vonna smiled, Marta’s heart melted. How could they put someone so young through this?

“Vonna, is your father here?

“Yes, and my mother as well.” she responded. “They say I am ready for marriage, — older than my ten years.”

“My uncle just wants to get rid of me, he was cruel to my father and I cannot find it in my heart to forgive him.” Marta revealed. “You however have brightened my day.”

When Alexandria Dronkov spotted the two younger girls, gathered in the corner of the large stately room, smiling and engaged in conversation, she decided to join them.

“I’m Alexandria, representing the hopeful Dronkov’s of Kiev. We traveled quite far, my father insists I make a spectacle of myself to be noticed by the prince, I just want to be young and happy like you both seem to be.”

“In the moment, I guess we are — happy. Marta turned to Vonna and all three laughed.

The older girls were less objectionable to this princely review and spoke of superficial matters while measuring up against each others charms.

“My gown was specially made for me by Gerta, the Germantown Seamstress who knows all the latest European fashions.” said the girl in the royal blue satin and lace gown with fashionable matching hair piece.

“Everyone knows he’s going to pick me.” said the young woman chosen by Marta,  who had now taken on the air of a Royal Courtesan.

An excitable man entered the chamber and clapped his hands twice, catching the notice of every one in the room. The line of ladies formed and followed the man out of the room.

Blogging works for me

Ever since I started blogging I can attribute the creation of my subsequent stories to the blog. My second story The Tea Room was a direct result of my attempt to blog every day. It started out as a way to explore if this concept would result in a good story. Twenty-four posts later I had my story complete at 18,000 words.

Its a historical fiction based on the lives of five Russian Royal Princesses and their seclusion from the world. I wanted to explore what might happen when this way of life is forced on five young women, of course it is conjecture on my part but that is what is so compelling about historical fiction.

There is little written about some of my favorite people who lived centuries ago but their legacy is still influencing us today.

It’s funny too how you start off thinking one of the characters you bring to life is going to react in a certain way. I am referring to Ludmilla, one of the middle sisters who was subservient and dismissed by everyone, except her sister who was ill. She turned out to have a spirit like no other and a wonderfully creative mind.

In my research I realized that most of the stories handed down weren’t written and were still sung. Fairy tales, believe it or not weren’t written as we know them today, until the nineteenth century. Canterbury tales by Chaucer were written in the Middle Ages but Russian children didn’t have access so I put a copy in their father’s library figuring that the Tsar maybe was able to get a copy for his daughters, for the pictures of course, they weren’t taught to read.

Women were treated differently in different societies, as they are today. But a determined young woman, who refuses to be diminished can use her intelligence to get ahead but may end up in exile as did Sophia (the Tsar’s half sister) in the time of Peter the Great. I loosely based my another of my Tea Room character’s Katrina after her.

To prove my point about blogging I just remembered another situation involving women that I need to explore. My readers will be hearing of that in the near future.

My short story Driven to Listen was another blogging exercise that turned into a great little story which I entered into a contest. I await the results before I go into too much detail.

My story Flaked Tuna is up to 6,000 words, it is another historical fiction with some sci-fi fantasy that I haven’t introduced before. I am having a lot of fun with that one.

I am going to Connecticut to see Catherine, my sister this weekend. I have blogged about her before. I am going to present my Pitch and go over the content of my Woven In Time novel. She is instrumental in this whole new career of mine and has been a constant support. She is coming with me to the WDC15 NYC and while I am doing my thing, she will be doing hers. Our great relationship was very helpful in writing about the sisters in the Tea Room.

A good reason to read my book.

I mourned them. I mourned the children I would never have. It was a birthright, the ability to have children. After two years of marriage we started the adoption process. Eight years later she found us, in a stack of papers upon the desk of her social worker. She told me that we had waited the longest and that is why she chose us.

She was born the year I graduated from high school, she was just a girl, just like I was just a girl — who needed something so badly. I needed a child to fill my life and she needed to know that the child; she could not keep, would have a home — and a father.

I wrote letters to her for eighteen years, it became less traumatic to write these letters, years ago, after a phone call in which she asked if I would take a second child — a girl. Less traumatic because the second experience was an “open” adoption. I was there from the ultrasound until I cut the cord on her birthday. I still write letters to her about our child but I usually hand them to her at birthdays or holidays.

As my story grew into a novel, one of the characters seemed to be the perfect vehicle for my personal story. I was able to work it in over several chapters, Frigg’s comments and feelings are real. This is just one of the social issues I cover in Woven In Time.

The time in which I chose to set my story was a remarkable time in history. I love history and in doing my research I stumbled upon a couple scenario’s, involving Peter The Great of Russia,  that intrigued me and I worked the ideas into two subsequent stories I have written; one of which is complete at 17,000 words the other is a WIP at 6,000 words and counting.

Woven in Time is rich with action, family relationships and some heavenly interference. The time in which this story takes place is both devastating and amazing. The plague and infant mortality raged while countries came in and out of power and boundaries morphed and strong leaders ruled. My world extends from what would be Western Europe to the Eastern border of Russia and south to Egypt. I have built a new world using the ancient names of some of these countries but they aren’t recognizable at first sight.

My hero is a multicultural man of indomitable spirit who overcame insurmountable odds to rise to the demands of his destiny and finally find the love he thought he would never find again. Quince Woodward is the champion of the heroine in my story Lace Borgazian, a privileged child who was drawn into this drama through no fault of her own; but destiny had her back and when Quince placed Tanner Von Shoensburg in her path, her world changed forever.

This is the story I am pitching on August 1, when I attend the Writers Digest Conference in NYC.

Ever get the feeling?

Someone is watching. Every thing I do, every move I make. My most inner thoughts, seem to be out there for anyone to see, including the one person (right now) giving me that helpless feeling that some how — someone is able to get into my head.

I usually don’t like the feeling of being exposed. I keep everything toa myself, not that I don’t want to share, it’s that it may not be so important to anyone else. Who wants to hear what I have to say, (except for the one I can sense right now). I have gotten through this before by saying only what may be of use to others. Sharing what I have been through so maybe someone out there just starting out may get something out of my struggles. What about things that only mean something to me? Shouldn’t that stay with me?

This sense of listening to what I am thinking is a type of voyeurism, no? It’s different when you are writing a story, it’s not about the writer per se. It’s the thoughts of others that demand to be heard. Or is it subconscious thoughts being attributed to someone else. I think that might be the intrigue that makes it so entertaining.

I am trying to make something out of nothing, because I am not being watched — I am blogging. For an introvert like myself that is how it is, like the undaunted driver of a car, who is anonymous to some extent while driving. I just contradicted myself. I supposed it is a paradigm being courageous when you cannot be identified as if you were standing face-to-face with someone. A blogger is somewhat anonymous as well, but still your words are solidified in text. It is one step below speaking in person (perhaps)  or worse yet — in public. It has gotten better, with age everything gets easier when life has had a chance to filter in.

Am I making any sense?

Definitely learning the business

Since I put the pen (so to speak) to paper this past January, I have learned quite a bit about the business of writing. It is a full time occupation aside from the time it takes to write the story. Self-publishing seems to be the buzz word these days and the amount of work that goes into self-promoting and self-advertising is only lessened somewhat by going the traditional route of acquiring an agent and publisher.

Even with the agent and publisher it is still up to you to have a platform and be an active participant in your business (your book). I shall remain undaunted. I am constantly re-evaluating my priorities and gaining confidence in my craft. Although, I haven’t received any feedback on my skill as a writer. I can see improvement though and I am wondering if my jump from the starter block was as efficient as it could have been.

Today, I continued my latest story and realized some exciting happenings that somehow come about. I still think the characters have a mind of their own, its almost like reading something someone else is writing. The story is called Flaked Tuna, it is kind of an inside joke. It is a Historical Fiction with a time travel element I have not used in any of my other stories so far. However it is not your typical “mode” of travel that I have come across in my admittedly limited experience.

My Tea Room story is another way I worked out my interest in a subject by discovering my imaginings in script, assigning different aspects of my inquisitive wanderings to specific characters and working it out through them.

Woven in Time the novel is different in that I had no ore-established plan that I needed to work out through the characters I just wrote a story — a very long story, with some social issues; discrimination, religious intolerance, childlessness, and separation to name a few.

Driven to Listen is a short story, which I submitted into a contest. It is sort of a memoir with serious fictional elements added to make it come alive. It was a story I had written that fit the parameters of the contest.

Another story (TRE) I wrote was specific to the contest I entered and won’t reveal unless I don’t receive one of the top four prizes, then I feel it would be fine to use it for another project.

If you notice I am trying to get used to mentioning my stories so I can effortlessly talk about them when I have the opportunity. That is something I really need to work on, it doesn’t come naturally.