Sage Advise

I am reading a book that was recommended by one of the agents I submitted my MS to. The Guide to BOOK Publishers, Editors & Literary Agents by Jeff Herman. Although I’ve hardly begun reading it,  I am already taking in a lot of information that makes sense.

He states what Literary Agents are and what they are not. One of my former misunderstandings is the lack of critique I have received, now I know that is not their job. Now that has been cleared up — another interesting piece of information I learned is, according to Jeff Herman, agents reject 98% of the work that goes through their in box.

Out of 18 queries I have sent; ten of them for Woven In Time, my first novel, I have seven rejections, including the direct pitches I gave at the WDC2015. I have four total rejections out of six submissions for my second book Curious Allure. The other five I have received no response, which is also to be expected according to the book.

Another important detail is that the agent has a relationship with the publisher, usually more than one that they deal with. It is critical that the agent is diligent as to what the publisher wants to market, their credibility is at stake, and their careers depend on their rapport with the publishers.

It gets harder every year for a writer to sell their story, especially unpublished writers who are an “unknown” in the industry. The query and submission process is far more critical, it is an advertisement of your work and needs to sell the story before they get to the sample MS.

I knew all that ahead of time, or perhaps one third of the way through the process. My pitch and query have improved but it is not quite there, obviously.

Now I have to consider what my next step is. I have been obsessing over that for a week now. Changing genre, re-editing or complete re-write? Right now, I am considering pushing through my third book, do the final run through, write a query, synopsis and pitch. I am thinking about the genre of Women’s Fiction, The Tea Room is about five girls who are caught up in the terem system. I was intrigued by this tradition that was in practice until the early Eighteenth Century in the country my story takes place. It still continues to this day in some countries.

I still have reason to preserver, I am glad I purchased the book that was recommended to me. I didn’t get any “quit now while you are still ahead” comments only encouragement to keep at it, so, for now that’s what I am doing.

Thinking Ahead

I have so much work to do. I have decided to go through and edit my first novel. While keeping the original, I am going to cut it in half, analyze it and make tough decisions. I did that with my second book, Curious Allure, I tore it apart but for entirely different reasons. I have received three “doesn’t fit” rejections.

When I am creating ads or designing, if a last minute change is made, I have lost the continuity of my original design and more often than not I rework the entire design. I feel the same for my novel Woven in Time. For the rework I’m calling it Woven in Two trying to keep it light. It pains me to think of all the changes that mjust potentially be made, but if a desirable story is the result then that is the point.

When I think about all the good work out there that never saw the light of day — it is disheartening. The publisher is the one who is putting the money behind the work, and they want to start off with a marketing masterpiece, convincing them that is exactly what you have, is another story. Especially when there is are agents involved who are working to keep the MSs that make it to the publisher at a minimum, and a sure bet.

There is so much time and effort involved in a MS that makes it past the agent, and their reputation in on the line as well, it has to have great potential. I have been told that my MS has potential, but it needs to be GREAT. I am really dragging my feet to get into it. I keep reading, hoping that something will dawn on me, because I am not exactly sure what I want to do at this point. My second book had a saggy middle and no end so when I took the axe to it the exercise wasn’t so personal.

This novel is personal, so I am sure it is going to hurt. I have a great middle and end, its the minor characters and sub-plot that is negotiable.

I am so new at this that I am not sure where to turn. I have my complete MS in a contest for a free edit. I have the option to pay roughly $300 for a query and edit, there is beta testing which I know nothing about. I have a hard time getting anyone to read my MS. My devoted sister has read the MS with me aloud and my nephew, Mike, has read 75% of the MS. Not sure why he didn’t finish it — too long perhaps. I have two other friends reading it, but it is awkward to be so interested in what they have to say while you wait to hear from them (it is not their top priority in life),

My fourth book is tied up in a short story contest until the first of the year, I kept writing after the short story (4000 words) was submitted and it was so good that I wanted to find out what happened to the main characters (22,000 words). It is still too short for a book but there is a lot to add in between.

My third book is the Tea Room and I am considering submitting a query in the Women’s Fiction Genre. I did go through and make major changes and have another round of edits I want to do before I send out the query.

Well, I have to go and make lunch. I am squeezing this blog in between an exciting soccer game and egg salad with olives. I would like to have some feedback if anyone has been at this a little longer than myself, so far I am only able to help other beginners by sharing my mistakes.

Caught Looking

My latest, round of research has me fascinated by the Celts, the barbarian tribe that held most of Europe before the Romans conquered the area. My third book skirted around the fifth century and the history was fascinating. I read the intriguing beginnings of Brittan and never knew the Celts were anywhere but in the Isles. I listened to a documentary about the invasians of the Isle by the Angles, Saxons and then the Vikings. There is still Viking dna in the Western and Northern parts of Wales and Scotland. The rest of England is hard to pin down because the Normans mostly Denmark, invaded France who then raided England in 1066. Ireland and Northern Scotland are of a distinct lineage.

I have also read voraciously the books by Bernard Cromwell and Giles Kristian on these stories of conquest and early Brittan. That is when I first heard of Lindisfarne, King Ethelred and Guthrum. Recently another name crossed my radar; Celtic leader Vercingetorix of Gaul. I find this all fascinating, not sure if there is another story coming from that direction but I am, and have been interested in all things historic. Also many discoveries that were made are now being qualified by dna testing, changing history right before our eyes.

That is how I got interested in the story my second book is about. I ran across a bit of history, logged it in my brain. When I had finished, I tried to find the source and couldn’t at first. I should have written it down! Not sure if that is possible when you are interested in the primary subject and something secondary crosses your mind. Finally, I found the source, it was Robert K Massie’s Peter the Great. Peter I of Russia was alive during the time period of my novel — he has a cameo.

I also read that Peter I of Russia and Louie XIV of France had similar experiences in their youth that turned them from trusting the traditional roles of the Monarch to rejecting them. Both monarch’s built new palace’s away from the sites of the tragedies they both faced. They were not allies, however.

My third book is about the present and future, which makes a great argument for time travel, which of course winds up in my favorite time period, the Eighteenth Century but it is only one small part of the story. I also tampered with the Twelfth, Ninth and Sixth Centuries as well.

Although I may say I am finished with my four stories, you are never really finished until the MS (manuscript) is purchased. I am doing a lot of thinking lately, I have so much to learn and I have put nine months of hard work into this project of being a writer. I have done somethings I wouldn’t believe, unless I experienced them myself. I have one ace in the hole, a short story I entered in a fiction contest, and plan to win.

Still looking for an answer.

I’m still researching how to figure out where my stories fit in “the realm of marketable books. I spent another day of searching “how to write” websites. I am looking up many words I am not familiar with and trying to absorb the information. Today the term Oxford comma, came up several times on Twitter. I must admit I had to look it up, I was right though it was what I thought ( a serial comma used in a list of three or more terms after a coordinating conjunction).

I also came across a free-writing exercise, a tool for creative writing, where thoughts are put down by inspiration, portions of which may later be used to fill in gaps or enhance a story you may be considering.

I thought blogging was an example of that, but not quite, free- writing is a thought or phrase put together, and can be used as inspiration later. This is a process to help bring forth a story. I think I will try.

Sunset on the beach when I was young, staying up all night, cool ocean breeze. Homemade bread from scratch, mom’s kitchen and the aroma. The cat in the closet with six kittens, casually looking up at me as the kittens struggle to stay attached. I wish I could remember the rules of English my father would constantly remind me of when we spoke slang or incorrectly. What was that she said to Brian after he said “My girlfriend thinks I am a God?” She responded, “She must be dyslexic.” That is the funniest spontaneous response — ever, she gets a gold star.

I could go on but you get the picture. It was fun and random, I felt a little bit like I did when I wrote my first novel, however that had to flow and make sense.

Another suggestion was to write poetry if you are a novelist, or write a story if you are a poet. It gives your creativeness a jolt and can inspire you.

I am getting a little weary, I had decided I wasn’t going to write today, take a day off. The mail came, and the book I had ordered was in my hands, it was recommended by one of the agents I had submitted my ms to, but wasn’t a “good fit” after all. It gave me the incentive to sit and write this blog. It is easy to become discouraged, I keep receiving words of encouragement and it helps.

I have finished my fourth book, essentially. I need to go back through it and expound on some of the scenes.

I’ll close with a poem.

My office window is open and I can hear traffic,

some directly outside and some on the highway about

a half a mile away.

In the other room are sounds of a keyboard,

static notes on a curious instrument,

perhaps an e-mail is being constructed.

It is too hard to say.

I’m not hearing what my hands are about,

they slowly set the words I want to play,

as the cars on the highway are now miles away.

Where to go from here?

Two more rejections on my second submission, both fairly recently sent out. “Not a good fit, but keep trying” I had to check both to see the slight differences in their statement.

I spent the last two days online googling “what’s wrong with my novel?”, “How do I self-edit my novel?” there is a lot of material out there. I am embarrassed to say that I am unfamiliar with most of the terminology and spent quite a bit of time looking up the words. I found some rubrics, some snowflakes and several books to read. I am waiting for a book I already ordered to see what is or isn’t available to me after I’m done with that one.

I am quite discouraged, but I am no worse off than four solid first draft manuscripts. I am leaning toward cutting my first book into two books. I am starting to think I may have written two instead of one heck of a long story.

I saw a few sites where I can pay to have my book edited which at first sight looks to be an average of $300 per book. I am not sure I want to go that route yet. I may if I have an extra few dollars hanging around.

I read a column about tips on writing historical fiction it was valuable information, of course I think I have them all covered, odds are I really don’t. In the comment section I saw two comments on grammar errors. I know — a columnist on writing had two errors, I noticed one of them but had no desire to call the author out on it. The hairs on the back of your neck … the ones that stand up when you contemplate writing a book and welcoming all the negativity in — I have those.

I see typos in books, it happens. It just is petty, if I was of a mind to alert the author about the error, I wouldn’t put it in the comments section, but then again — that’s only my opinion. I wonder out loud that no matter what your intentions are, there is always someone looking for your misstep. Then I remember the statement “writers must have thick skin” — this is true.

This brings up another point on a different website with a comment board there was a rant that took over the whole conversation, comments were coming in about the comment and not about the article that the comment section was for. Almost like in a crowded room when they open the floor to questions, if you aren’t assertive you won’t get to ask your question. Such is life that and a nickel won’t even buy you a cup of coffee.

Being a good listener

As my quote states, I am a good listener. I have written on this subject before, but I was a woman of a few words. Unless of course you know me well. Still, I am reserved and listen. I have several people in my life that need that part of me.

Writing however is not listening. It seems like it is me incessantly talking. Putting my words in other people’s mouths, I still sometimes wonder who wants to listen? I believe that is constantly in the background, it seems like a contradiction.

I am old, I do have quite a bit of water under the bridge. I probably even have some words of wisdom to share. The stories I write are not memoirs but you will find me within the pages.

I am still the same girl who illustrated and wrote a comic book at the age of seventeen — about prehistoric people. Writing fantasy stories at my age makes me wonder if that seventeen year old is still there somehow — I know she is. So with that I forge on, the mind never grows old its only the collapsing flesh around it that gives you a sense of mortality.

When I was seventeen, I went to see a movie called Star Wars. It was a revelation, I had no idea what to expect, I only went along with some friends from work. I really believe it changed my life. I still feel the same, Christmas Day this year is the release of the latest in the Star Wars saga and I cannot wait, some things never change — even Han Solo. Before that I was a Star Trek fanatic my head has always been in the stars. Another recent moment of nostalgia was when I watched Guardians of the Galaxy with my daughter. I wasn’t expecting anything, I was only there because she wanted to see it. I enjoyed that movie almost as much as Star Wars, I love it when that happens.

My reading is a cross genre selection but heavily veering into the historical fantasy realm. The Saxon Series by Bernard Cromwell is amongst my favorite and they are making a television series on that coming out in October. My two latest books were The Brothers Karamorov by Fyodor Dostoevsky and Peter the Great by Robert K Massie. The latter explains the novels I have written of late, two books and a short story, my obsession with the time and the events was the catalyst. I started reading this book quite a while ago and found it fascinating and complete. I am reading it again.

I heard the quote, not sure by whom — If you want to write you must read. It is true, I have been reading incessantly for over ten years, one after the other, starting with Harry Potter, by JK Rowling.

I do write for my own enjoyment and have had some wonderful things happen on paper in the process, I really would like to share my stories but that is a dream, my reality is in the writing.

My mother was a good story teller. This is also something I have discussed before in my blogging life. My first novel has quite a bit of her in it as I am sure is true for most writers — you draw from your life, it may not be so entirely recognizable but it is there woven in the words.

I am still a relative newcomer to this business. I still have a lot of work in store for me to prove myself. I wasn’t the best artist in high school, but I went on to receive a B.S. in Graphic Design. I wasn’t the best artist in college either, but I worked in the industry and still use skills I learned there. It’s all about the effort you put into what you desire.

I am still looking forward to that next bit of good news to pass along to my readers. I hope my thoughts help and I do appreciate the comments that come in from time to time. You can find me on twitter as well. @SNomakeo.

The Rubber Tree Plant

Okay, I have had a major set-back. My MS submission was rejected. No critique, just a note to keep trying, I may find an agent who is interested in my project however, they are not, — there I said it.

In my recent query submissions four have come back not interested. I have been querying two separate projects. I have been reading up on how to improve my quest and I plan to continue my search for the agent that will see something in my work that is worth the effort. I have also purchased a book which was a suggestion from one of the agents, I am going to follow every suggestion.

I have three complete stories and I am working on a fourth, I have entered several contests most of which have passed the time with no word from them. That seems to be a common occurrence in the industry. However, I must say the latest query submissions have replied, even though it was a no, it’s a time saver because I can now move on. I have one more contest entry that will be announced before the end of the year. It was a short story written especially for the contest.

Three of my four stories are centered around the same time period, and the fourth bumps into that same period in a time travel scenario. In writing my first novel I came across several ideas that intrigued me and still do.

After my third story I wondered where the fourth would come from, I found it in writing the short story which gave me all these ideas that couldn’t be explored in a 4000 word story. If my story wins, which is why I submitted the story in the first place — I think it could win. However, I am not sure what will happen with the full story if I can’t use it. It may end up being just an exercise in writing.

I have been told that my first novel is too long, 140,000 words and I am re-evaluating my stubbornness to keep it that way. It could be broken in half, I could go in and see who is expendable and remove them, right now I can’t imagine doing that.

I am also considering another conference in CT in Nov. I believe in my stories and feel the need to get them out into the public domain. I will keep trying, not sure what will be the fatal blow, many others have given up, I am sure it was about this stage in the process where the negative feedback is outweighing the positive feelings.

My GOAL is to write stories, the CONFLICT is will anyone want to read them? The DISASTER is that the professionals aren’t seeing what I see. My REACTION is to keep trying, my DILEMMA is that the time I have invested is being wasted. My DECISION is that I will forge ahead and heed any helpful suggestions.

An Angry Young Man (SP excerpt)

They were put to work, after a month of being placed in a dark, dingy cell and starved half to death. The strongest amongst them were taken to the grounds where the Sultan was building his palace. They whipped into submission along with slaves from every walk of life as they started the back-breaking work. The men, who were in a weakened condition, were soon getting back their strength with a daily regimen of hard physical work, food and water.

Wiley’s comrade from the Dneiper River was back at the cell too sick to work. He swore he would find him when they make their plan to escape. Four of the Russian soldiers who were prisoners vowed to get back to their homeland. They would get strong and watch for the opportunity to escape. Of the many slaves working in the encampment there were only a few they could communicate with. They would make their plans amongst themselves.

When the opportunity availed itself the four men crept away from the open area where they had worked for two months during a distraction they created when they alerted the other slaves that they were leaving. Wiley was able to communicate with one of the German slaves to get a good idea of where they were in the Empire.

The German man and three of his companions left with them. The German man and the men with him didn’t want any thing to do with the prison break, but they knew some of the men still at the prison but didn’t hold out much hope that they would be able to travel.

The prison was abandoned, the bodies of the prisoners were found where their captors left them. Of the twelve men only two were barely alive, they carried them off and thought they would at least give them a proper resting place when the time came.

After two days of freedom they felt their chances of escape were getting better. The wide open plains of the steppe left little area to cover themselves from any number of the dangers that surrounded them. When they heard the approach of a large band of men on horses Wiley decided this was as good of a place as any to die.

Wiley’s friend was left behind at the cell and the years of war and torture at the hands of the Turks hardened his heart. The one light in his life had grown dim and he began to wonder if Katia was a dream he conjured up for his own sanity.

Wiley was about to engage the men and prayed for an arrow through the heart. Hans called out a word of challenge. The band of men slowed and Wiley stood in amazement as they rode past him to his German friend.

That night they found themselves encamped with the Cossacks that patrolled the Russian border. Hans and several of his companions were comrades and were taken in a conflict several months prior. They were treated like long lost friends, food, vodka, wine and a soft place to fall. The two injured men were tended to. None of the men had any desire to leave the band of warriors and wanted to continue their war against the Turks and get revenge for their comrades.

The Cossacks traveled east to bring the injured men to a post and from there they would find their way home. Wiley became fast friends with Hans and they both continued to ride with the Cossacks as they enforced boundaries of the Russian border and defended the outposts along the way.

They roamed the dangerous steppes and once in a while they would encounter a sich where they would be welcomed and treated like kings. Soon word would spread of the new recruits that visited the strongholds along the Eastern Steppes.

When the emissary sent by the Tsar reached the sich he was able to get word back to Moscow that the man they sought was now riding with the Cossacks and had been in Kreispnia one month earlier.

General Gordon received the missive and sent word back immediately for Wiley to read when he next arrived at the sich. He decided to go to the Dom Kossacks to give a personal plea to get word to WIley.

Wiley and Hans had spoken of their homeland and thought they would return there someday when their desire for revenge wore away. Wiley barely remembered his homeland but knew his father was there, if he was still alive. He could never go home to his mother and sister. He was a trained killer and a savage mercenary, he was lost to any of the decency that he left behind six years ago

“I have a mother and sister in the Foreign Quarter outside Moscow. my friend Pavel was wounded and is home now I believe, most likely chasing my sister around.” Wiley told his comrade Hans.

“A foreign boy fighting for the Russians, that’s a story.” Hans mentioned.

“The Tsar was the reason my friend and I joined. We spent hours dreaming about the new traditions, it was exciting to be part of it.”

“What do you think of your Tsar now?”

“He died, he was just one and twenty. A terrible tragedy, then a struggle for the throne and a Regency with no effective command of the Ottoman front. I am putting my efforts into the hopes that the young Tsar Peter will pick up where Tsar Feodor left off. Meanwhile I’m killing those who killed so many of my friends.”

For the life of her Katia couldn’t believe that Wiley was free to come home and hadn’t. It was a fortnight to her wedding. She was aware of the contingent being sent to the Dneiper River led by General Gordon and decided she would follow them, she didn’t care if she died in the process. She left a missive for Dmitriy, begging for his forgiveness and to forget her.

That night after midnight she left her chamber and donned the clothing she had put aside for herself. She would have to steal a horse and Ebony would be the best option for her to get where she needed to go.

She decided she would say goodbye to Fiona, she knew she would stop her if she could, but that wouldn’t happen. Fiona had married Herr Boer and was now living at the farmhouse located near the Summer Palace.

Willow had left her room and was waiting in the stable for her love to arrive. She was a farmer’s daughter and he was the eldest son of the Baron who owned all the land surrounding the farmhouse and stable she called home now.

They embraced as they fell together into the straw she had placed in the empty stall.

“I was afraid you couldn’t come, I know our time together is precious. I have missed you so.”

“We have got to make this more official, Willow. We will be married someday.”
“At least I don’t have a betrothal thrust upon me like Katia. How awful that she is going to marry Dimitry Vasilliovich, not that he is so objectionable but he is not Wiley.”

“Wiley is a fool, he is back to being his old self, getting in his own way and fighting the world.”

“I pray for him Pavel, I pray for the both of them. What will he do if he should decide to come home and find Katia married, he will kill Dimitry Vasilliovich.”

“That is exactly what will happen they he will spend the rest of his life in prison and Katia will have neither of them nor will she have hope of any happiness.”

“Enough talk Pavel, kiss me please, and show me how much you love me.”

When Katia arrived at the stable she recognized the rider leaving in the direction of the Foreign Quarter. Inside she found Willow all covered with straw and lightly flushed.

“Willow, what are you doing?”

Willow was shocked to see Katia standing there.

“Katia, I was … about to lie,” she had calculated whether she saw Pavel leave or if she would believe a story about how  she had fallen asleep in the stable, — unlikely.

“I saw him, Willow. I won’t say a word if you pass a message along to your mother and Pavel of course.”

“You must think me a beast.” she was embarrassed.

“Willow, if Wiley was here ..” tears filled her eyes and she couldn’t speak for a long moment.

“I love you Willow, I have come to say goodbye, I am going to follow General Gordon’s unit to the Don. I have to find him and see for myself that he has truly forsaken us. I don’t believe it, he needs to see me and my determination to have him in my arms again.”

“Katia, that is crazy, you cannot …”

Katia stopped her, “I’m taking Ebony, will you help me?”

Willow continued to try to dissuade her, but completely understood her predicament. “Mother will tell the General and send someone after you.”

“Probably, but I must try. Give me a few days then, before you speak to her, the General will learn about my intentions regardless.”

“You’re not coming home.”

“I cannot, I have defied my father, dishonored my betrothed and ruined any future I may have had. My parents will deny my existence and tell my sisters that I am dead.”

Katia leaned from the saddle to hold Willow’s hand.
“You look like a lad,” she laughed.

“That’s the idea.”

Into the Wind (excerpt)

General Gordon knew the Irish woman very well, and when he returned to Moscow he sought her out. He found her where he expected, at the Emerald Inn in the Foreign Quarter.

“Fiona, I have a special request.”

“General, so good to see you! Get over here, let me look at you, they didn’t damage you at all I hope.” Fiona proceeded to hug him and he reciprocated the gesture. “There, first things first, now what?”

“I have a soldier who needs assistance, he was wounded and has an infection that has gotten the best of him. He needs someone to care for him at the barracks, I thought perhaps Willow would be able to tend to him while he recovers. There are too many wounded soldiers in worse shape and I fear he won’t get the attention he needs, I could have him moved here if that suits you better.”

“Yes, General I would prefer that, I will be around in case they need me. I will make a bed for him upstairs and I will ask Herr Baum to help get him here. Who is this soldier that has demanded your special attention?”

“It’s Pavel Alexeyevich Ulenka.”

“The Baron’s son?” Fiona demanded.

“Yes, Fiona do you know the family?”

“Yes, General … or it’s a long story, please sit. I will send the lad over to the stables to get Herr Baum and I will explain while I get you some tea.”

Fiona set up the table and sat with the General to tell him her story.

“I am telling you this in the strictest confidence, I know I don’t have to tell you that but, there are consequences for my son if word should get out.”

“Who is your son?” the General started to connect the dots.

“Wiley Brodeur, he is …”

The General figured it out. “Your son is a soldier, fighting in the Ukraine, it is actually he who suggested I see Pavel, he had just arrived with a reinforcement unit and Wiley’s infantry was bracing for another assault from the Sultan.”

“You saw Wiley! He is well?” Fiona queried. “We have heard nothing from him for years.”

“They have been fighting with no relief, your son is a brave lad. There is talk of a treaty, the war may be over soon. It may be the last act for our Tsar Feodor, his health is failing and he has no heir. I am afraid there is going to be a challenge for the throne.”

“Have you tried to contact his father, Baron Ulenka?”

“Yes, but they don’t want him at the Summer Palace.”

“I know why, their daughter is in love with my son. Pavel’s friend from the stable, that is how they met and also how he met Katia.”

“I’m listening with great intent.”

“The girl … Katia, left the terem to look at the horses. She had been watching Pavel ride and grew so intrigued that she had to go find out for herself. That is where she met Wiley. Wiley was working for Herr Bron, let’s just say he owed him a favor, and stumbled upon her and gave her a ride back to the palace. It’s an unlikely match, but they fell in love, or at least they have the potential. They hardly know each other, they were kept apart, Pavel lied for them and thus lost his father’s trust.”

“Oh, Fiona, I would say it’s a very strong attraction, he knows of the betrothal and asked me to stop it somehow.”

“What can we do General? After these horrible years of war Wiley needs some happiness.”

“I have a plan to take care of the boy who is betrothed to Katia, I know his father, very well, I can get him to bring her here. They cannot argue if he should insist on an outing, she is betrothed to him, as long as they don’t find out what our actual plans are.”

“Katia, come quickly.” the Baroness called excitedly to her daughter. “You must get ready, I have Sasha and Hildegarde making ready for your afternoon with Dimitry Vasilliovich he is wishing to see you.”

“Mother, I have no plans, I haven’t even spoken to him since Annushka’s wedding.”

“You are his now, you do as he wishes. He wants to see you and spend the afternoon with you. You will be pleasant and do nothing to ruin this day. Perhaps he has decided to plan the affair.”

Katia walked to her chamber and shut the door. There were no more tears to fill her eyes. She felt she had cried enough to last the rest of her life. She instinctively went to the window and imagined Wiley waving back at her. How could this be happening? She loved one boy and was besieged by another.

At least she was confident that this day was not arranged by Dimitry Vasiliovich he didn’t have a spontaneous bone in his body, but it disturbed her to think of what the meddlers all around them were up to.

Katia left her personal servants at the door for the first time. The carriage pulled up and Dimitry Vasiliovich stepped out. He looked different to her. Without  his mother nearby he seemed almost adequate. Before Katia stepped inside she realized there was someone else in their party — to chaperone. Dimitry Vasiliovich introduced General Patrick Gordon to her.

“My lord General,” she bowed her head as she climbed inside. “Hello dear child, I’m so glad to finally meet you. I have heard so much about you.”

Katia turned to look at her betrothed, who hadn’t moved a muscle, bewildered that he had more than two words to say about her. He smiled back and turned away.

“Dmitriy Vasilliovich, I need to borrow your young lady for an hour or so, would you mind dropping us off at the Emerald in the Foreign Quarter and come back later?”

“No sir, I will do that.” he seemed relieved.

Katia was wondering what was going on. The familiar sight of the Inn came into view and Katia reminisced on the marriage of her dear sister and the near disaster with the upstart that forced this bogus betrothal. She touched the arm of Dimitry Vasilliovich on the way out and he nodded acknowledgement to the gesture.

Katia looked to the General who was very tall and stood straight as an arrow. He extended his arm and she gratefully took it.

He looked straight into her eyes. “You can thank me later.”

Katia’s day so far was full of one odd occurrence after another, she had no idea what the General was alluding to.

Fiona met her at the bottom of the stairs. Katia ran to her and embraced her it had been almost a year since the wedding and since she saw her last.

“The General has someone he wants you to see.”

The General waved his hand to the stairwell and all three took the stairs to the rooms where Katia had stayed with her sister Annushka while they prepared for her marriage ceremony.

In the chamber was Pavel who was being attended by Willow. Katia fell to her knees alongside his bed. He opened his eyes and smiled, he struggled to sit up and she put her arms around him.

“Pavel, my dear brother, what have they done to you?”

“They have actually saved my life.”

“I meant the war — silly. The General has told me of the harsh reality of the men who fight for Russia.”

“I was with Wiley on the Dneiper River. My wound festered and I was with fever for quite some time. This lovely young lady has been by my side continuously, and without her I am afraid I wouldn’t be talking to you right now.”

Willow sat next to Katia on his bed and he grasped her hand.

Willow hugged her, “Your brother is a stubborn patient.”

Katia detected something a little too familiar between the nursemaid and her patient.

“Herr Baum told me he would introduce me to Willow someday, but unfortunately this time he choose a day when I couldn’t run away.”

Willow squeezed his hand.

Herr Baum stepped into the room. “I was told there was a happy reunion going on in here.”

“Pavel, father really wouldn’t tell me you were here? What is wrong with him?” Katia stated as tears surprisingly filled her eyes. Wiley, what about Wiley?”

The General touched her shoulder. “He is on his way home.”

Thinking Out Loud

I have decided to enter another short story contest. In writing that story, I discovered an excellent way to get ideas for another book. I enjoyed the short story so much that I am adding to it to have it qualify as a book or novel. The exciting thing about limiting yourself to 4000 words in this case, is you have to come around to the story itself planning the middle and end as you go. I entered the contest, and like everything else in this business it will be almost 2016 by the time I hear anything on my story. I have high hopes. I am adding the elements I wished I was able to write when I was editing the short story. I ended up having to shave off 343 words as it was, that is more difficult than writing them.

Thanks for the comments. I enjoy reading the non-spam content. I was asked about how often I blog. I try to blog every day, I do miss some days, but rest assured I am writing somewhere else. One of the secrets to being a good writer is to write every day, practice makes perfect. I believe I have been writing every day since I started my blog, about three months now, but I started writing in January and spent three months straight writing my first novel, I just have to get one agent to read one of my two stories. My third story I am thinking about another contest but I have another week in which to get it worthy.