Miles to Go

I’ve been writing, and doing little else. I am on a mission to complete a WIP. It is written and needs editing and vivid imagery. I think I have finally done enough homework to be at the level to submit the final draft after a couple more careful edits.

I’m starting to get a taste for humble pie, for that is what your diet will be on this road. In the beginning I thought I had a product. Come to find out it was more of a first draft and the WIP has been on the back burner for months.

I have another project after I finish the one I’ve decided to devote all my time to. I have been steady on this for a month. This was a finished story that I applied everything I have learned to date to which keeps revealing itself in bouts of inspiration.

My next project is a big one. It’s almost a complete re-write. It’s a story I was completely sold on. It was suggested to me that I had a marketable story in the first 25% of my novel. I have given myself six months to get through it. I have a beginning, a middle, and  an end. The rest is extraneous and possibly a second and third novel in the 75% that is being deleted. I would never have called it. I’m not sure if I will have the result it has the potential to be. I can only hope the recommendations are understood and utilized to make my good story, my not ready for the market story, and my under explored story a winner.

It’s strange, you would think the story would get old after, oh I don’t know, four or five rounds of edits, but it doesn’t–it gets better. You are still living with your characters and testing them to see what else they can do.

Several critiques on the story I am working on now have been negative. So varied though, one reader likes a certain aspect, and another doesn’t. A common critique is that my story is too abrupt until I get a critique that it’s too drawn out.

The lesson is take the criticism with a grain of salt. Sit on it for awhile let the comments sink in and do what you think is best. Many times a critique will be obvious and there’s no question what needs to be done. Other times you have to know your story and you can almost tell that the critique is invalid because they obviously didn’t read it or at least didn’t read it thoroughly.

If you have a good structure, like I hope my Places story has, building the contents is going to flow and make sense. I will learn more, and so will the reader about my character’s journey. I wanted the experience of perfecting Summer Palace before I start project #2.

I was able to write some excerpts, which is a touchy subject, since, unpublished book should be that–unpublished. I find; however, the blog gives me the freedom to write with abandon and morphs a little when added to the novel I’m writing.

I try to blog often and never felt the conflict before, but now I’m in a mode and I am dedicated to the project. Hence, my journey continues.

Fiona’s wedding (Excerpt)

Their wedding was a private affair. It seemed appropriate that ‘Wiley wouldn’t be around for the wedding. Although, Herr Rolf’s scars had long since healed Fiona was sure it would be a day of mixed emotions. The preacher arrived at the farmhouse and the Emerald Inn would have to do without her services because she was going to enjoy the few days until and beyond the ceremony. Willow and Henry would stand up for the couple in witness to their vows.

Fiona had cooked and baked for the reception also being held at the farmhouse. She laughed wiping the sweat from her brow thinking she was having some time off from the Inn, but doing exactly what she did there, but this truly was different. She was serving her handful of guests who came to wish them well.

She had packed all her belongings and Willow’s and was ready to leave the small apartment they had called home for so long.

“Mother, what are we going to do with Wiley’s clothes? He hasn’t worn them in so long they won’t fit him, any clothing that fits would be at the farmhouse or in the stable,” she said as she dragged another valise to the front of the house.

“We’re tossing everything that is left, there’s no room. We’re moving in with Herr Rolf and not forcing him out the back door because of all our belongings,” she said. Perhaps some of Wiley’s old clothing could go the the church on second thought, as long as there are no holes.”

Rolf stepped into the kitchen and finding Fiona alone amongst the varieties of breads and pastries coaxed her into the pantry and closed the door. He embraced her and gave her a sampling of what was to come starting the next day and forever after.

Today, Fiona stood next to the very handsome and unbelievably kind Herr Rolf Boer in front of the pastor. She was dressed in a simple ivory gown with a lace veil and small white flowers Willow found peaking out from under a thin blanket of snow. Her red well-coiffured hair was scented with lemon and sage and Rolf breathed in the spectacular scent.

He had never married before and was beginning to think he never would until this woman walked into his life by serving him stew after a weary trip in which he had no desire to fire up the hearth and fill his own empty stomach. He liked the way she approached him and seemed to know his dilemma, placing items on the table he didn’t ask for–wanted but never verbalized.

“Why haven’t I seen you here before? Care to follow me home? I could get used to this.” after he said it he realized how terrible it must have sounded and wasn’t surprised that he didn’t see her for the rest of the meal. He left a note on the table, a kind of apology, and left.

He was embarking on his third year at the farmhouse working for the Baron managing the stable and the large expanse of land.

He was lured to Russia as many foreigner’s had for the opportunity to share their knowledge and earn a good living. Germany was a hard country to leave, but he could return and he needed a change.

Fiona was upset to see the man had left without taking leave. She approached the table and haphazardly started to clean when she noticed the note. She hadn’t taken offense to his offer for she thought it was kind of endearing.

Her own marriage had ended when her husband of fifteen years left to go back to Germany–alone. He had contacted her for a divorce so he could marry another. She never told her children, she wasn’t sure if it was a wise decision, but thought the possibility of his return would keep him in their hearts.

She stood holding the note smiling until she was reminded to finish clearing. The note went into her pocket and remained there for some time.

Today, she looked into the eyes of the beautiful man who held her hand so gently in front of the onlookers repeating the words the pastor read.

She had followed Jan Breuder from her home in Ireland when he had sailed there as a young man on a merchant ship, they fell in love immediately and she found herself with child. She often took a huge piece of her hair into her fist to explaining the reason for such a crazy notion and impetuous decision.

They did well together but he liked to drink. After relocating to Foreign Town the heat was gone. However, Willow was born and for ten years she worked and the children grew. Jan and Fiona grew further apart. She had no romantic illusions and raised her children by working hard and accepting some help from Jan who still lived at home until he met a woman who didn’t mind the smell of whiskey or a man who was there but truly wasn’t.

The man standing with her today somehow reached her and now she was promising her devotion to him.

Henry and Willow shared smirks and sideways glances with each other and some of the guests who lined the porch of the farmhouse. Emerson the owner of the Emerald Inn and his wife. Henry’s parents and James. A few of the girls from the Inn and William Vanhandle and his Aunt Gertrude, representing the faction that couldn’t attend without causing a stir up at the Manor House.

The food was devoured and the whiskey and ale managed to last long enough until the last guests took their leave.

Willow was tucked away in her room made just for her on the first level while Fiona and Rolf were finally alone to be in each others arms as man and wife.

“I would still like to see you again,” Rolf said to her as she recalled the note he left for her on the table so long ago.

She broke from his embrace, ran over to her dresser, and removed the Bible. He raised an eyebrow in anticipation. When she returned leaving the Bible on the dresser he made an audible gasp.

“I thought you were going to have me read from Solomon,” he laughed and she flat-handed his chest.

She produced the note.

 

Reaching for the stars

I had set a goal for myself, but it seems I’m not going to make it. As a novice novelist I had jumped the gun and didn’t do the due diligence I needed to do to have a successful story–let me rephrase that. I have successful stories, but they are not ready to market. I’m looking at least six months in the future to get where I need to be and that’s with dedication and nose to the grindstone work.

Currently, I need to get my 45,000 word story to 60,000 words in order to upload it to PandaMoon at least that is the plan, I may decide to send out queries, not sure. It is however, my best bet for a successful MS. I have also purchased two books, that were recommended to me, one is The Elements of Style by William Strunk and EB White, and The Novel Maker’s Handbook by Diane O’Connell.

I’m editing one book as I read these two books mentioned above one of which is a very simple rules of grammar book, very helpful. It put things into perspective and is precise.

I’m using the elements of the other book to complete the current MS and hope to have a better plan when I re-write my other book. 75% of which is extraneous to the plot, according to my editor, and i know she is right. Now, only if I could write the sequel first then I would only need 25% to complete it instead of looking at a 17,000 word MS cut down from 58,000 words. Is anyone else having these problems?

I’m told I have moments of clarity and I have a marketable plot and my protagonist is an excellent character but I need to tear down and build up all around this.

This story, the one I’m working on now, Summer Palace, is faring best on YouWriteOn.com out of the three stories I have uploaded. It is consistently ten points higher on the top ten list that actually goes up to ninety. Hovering around 22.  That’s encouraging. The other two need a rewrite and I’ll revise them after my Places project.

That is a neat website. I have reviewed many, and reading about one a day averaging 7000 words. It’s a good cross-section and I often read stories outside of my genre. Any thing that helps hone the skills necessary to get me where I want to be. I’m in.

I am also still reading. I hit a little lull; not finding books that I love reading, but I keep reading regardless. I haven’t been on Twitter lately either. I do check in now and then but it is one of those sites that can consume so much of your time – when I should be writing.

Sasha – Summer Palace Excerpt

Putting their heads together, Mitia and William were able to locate Sasha per Katia’s request. Their knowledge of Real Estate, especially in the Foreign Quarter, enabled them to track the whereabouts of the former Summer Palace servant.

On the occasion of their next outing, Mitia was able to tell Katia of their discovery.

“How wonderful, Mitia, thank you. Any chance we could find her today?” she asked moving closer to him and gripping his arm.

She watched him carefully and when he was about to nod in the affirmative, she turned and waved at a figure standing in the entrance way of the Manor House.

“Sophia?” Mitia asked eyebrows raised.

“Oh, yes, Mitia, did I forget to mention? And is William available today?” she asked as she settled in making room for Sophia.

Mitia pulled out his pocket watch.

“Well, I suppose we can drive by the office to see,” Mitia said bemused.

Sophia climbed in and was wearing a peach-colored frock with white lace trim and a sepia brown cloak with rose trim. Her blonde hair contained underneath a bonnet of the same peach hue.

“Hello, Mitia, I’m sure you are surprised by my joining you this afternoon, but two children can wear on a mother’s nerves and Katia so kindly offered a venture to visit an old friend,” Sophia said resting a bundle on the carriage seat.

“So, what’s this about William?” he asked curiously.

“Katia, you didn’t involve Mitia’s colleague in this did you?”

“I’m just evening it up,” she said nudging Mitia.

“Mitia, please, there is no need…” Sophia said in protest but was interrupted.

“Nonsense,” Katia said. “If nothing else we’ll have a joyous day to compliment our mission of mercy.”

“To what do you refer?” Mitia asked. “And I’m not sure if William is capable of living up to your expectations.”

Katia frowned and said, “William exudes life, he bring life to our rather regretful visit.”

“Sophia, to what does she refer? I have not heard her mention Sasha–ever.”

“You wouldn’t have, Mitia, but I’m sorry to say Sasha’s sorrows are directly linked to both of us.”

“We’re on a fact finding mission. We need to know if Sasha did in fact have a child, and does he look like Sophia’s adulterating husband. And does she forgive me for the wrong I caused.” Katia said looking at her own nervous hands fingering a filigree satchel meant for Sasha.

 

Later, Mitia came out of the office at the end of the Main thoroughfare in Moscow’s business district. He was walking slowly with his head down when a bounding William Vanhandle clutched his shoulders and side by side matched his every step.

Sophia’s eyes grew wide and Katia watched her every expression.

“Well?” Katia asked.

“I like Mitia very much,”

Katia growled, “You know that is not what I meant,” she said.

In a moments time, William was seated next to Sophia and they were off to visit Sasha on South Street in Foreigner’s Town.

“It took some expertise in investigative matters, but that is what we are all about, correct Mitia?” William said flashing a brilliant smile. “Now who is this woman and what have you done to her?”

Mitia shook his head.

“William, you stepped in it again,” he said regretting the sorrowful expressions on the sisters.

William pulled out a flask from the vibrant surcoat with rather large pockets. He took a sip and offered it around. Sophia put up her hand and turned up her nose.

“You’re kind of cute when you do that,” William said. “Mitia won’t refuse.”

Katia looked out the window while the flask passed back and forth and the volume in the carriage went up.

“Now ladies, would you like to share your stories?” William asked turning to a flushed faced, Sophia.

“William, my husband got the girl with child, but I’m reserving absolute judgement until I see the child. However, I am fully prepared to accept the truth of it, for you see–Yuri is a rake.”

“As for me, William, and Mitia, I never told you about my shame, Sasha was doing her job and reported my absence from the terem,” she said planning on saying more but that bit seemed to suffice.

“And…?” Sophia said hand signaling her to continue.

“I sneaked back in and pretended I was there all along and Sasha took the brunt of father’s anger for causing a scene and worrying mother. Shortly thereafter, Yuri got hold of her, and I have no doubt it was him, and we’re about to find out the rest of the story,” she said giving a final nod at William.

“Great,” William exclaimed. “Now, we can sing.”

He started in a low baritone while looking directly into Sophia’s blue eyes. She realized exactly what Katia was talking about.

Katia coughed and asked for a swig of the flask when Sophia joined William in song, taking the higher octaves.

As she wiped her mouth and looked up at Sophia’s beautiful smile and peachy-ness she realized she hadn’t seen her truly smile like this in a long, long time.

“I knew William would brighten our day,” she blurted out.

The foursome waved to the Emerald Inn as they passed heading south.

“That was when you met Wiley.” Mitia said to Katia.

Unfocused, she was startled by the comment. She looked Mitia in the eyes and said. “Yes, Mitia, that was the first time I met him. I went out with one goal in mind. I had to ride a horse, for more than anything in life, or any previous experience that was what I wanted most,” she said quietly.

“Oh, but what about the boy?” William asked his attention focused on Katia and his hand on Sophia’s arm.

“Let’s see,” Katia said with a sideways glance. “If I took your dark hair and eyes, William, and your unabashed nature and mixed it with Mitia’s pureness and understanding, you’d have someone that resembles Wiley.”

William looked at her turned sideways to glance at Sophia and back to Mitia and laughed, a real laugh from deep within until tears formed it his eyes.

“William, it wasn’t that funny? Was it?” Mitia asked.

“No, it wasn’t funny it was clever and so thoughtful, and I hope to meet him someday,” William said swiping his eyes with a linen he also pulled out of his sage surcoat pocket.

 

The carriage finally stopped outside a pale house with a slanted porch and chickens running wild. An older woman sat in a wicker rocker smoking a pipe. Sasha appeared in the doorway with a small child.

“He’s too cute to be Yuri’s, Katia thought. Although he did do well for Sophia’s children.

Sasha’s eyes lit up and she stepped forward from the shadow of the doorway.

“What are you doing here, Katia, Sophia? How did you find me?” she asked.

“Meet the team of Vanhandle and Rostovich, at your service ma’am.” William said delivering a gracious bow.

“Truly, it’s Rostovich and Vanhandle,” Mitia said getting a reaction from William who was taken aback by Mitia’s stoic humor.

“Don’t mind them Sasha, they’re only along for the ride,” Sophia said. “Katia and I are here to see you and see if there is anything we can do to help you.”

“Lady Sophia, I am getting along, I work doing laundry and Mrs. Greenbaugh watches Yuri when I’m gone.”

I knew it, she even named him after the bastard, Katia thought.

Sophia took a moment to collect herself.

Katia chimed in and said, “Sasha, we both know I lied the day I went missing. However, you didn’t accuse me and I swore I would make it up to you.”

William and Mitia stood silently, for they were taking it all in.

“And me, Sasha,” Sophia said. ” I’m so sorry you lost your position, I have nothing to say. However, I have something for you and your babe. Please except this, it will help to support your child.”

Katia handed her the satchel.

“This is for clothes and…” Katia broke off her conversation looking around her realizing no amount of their charity will put her back to the status she was living before the Ulenka’s ruined her life.

Mitia stepped forward to comfort her.

William spoke, “Will you come to work for me?”

Katia whirled around and hugged him raining down on the padded shoulders of his surcoat.

Pushing Katia gently to the side so he could continue to speak he laid out the full plan for Sasha to start over.

“A place for you both to live, a nursemaid for your child, and a job earning a good wage–all under one roof,” he said.

Mitia nodded and took the child from her arms so Katia and Sophia could wrap their arms around their old friend.

“Yes,” Sasha said. “I will accept your offer. When do I start?”

 

Mitia had the driver bring the ladies home and the tears were only an expression of the gratitude they felt for the kind offer of rescue for the girl who had fallen onto bad times. They said their goodbyes. Katia lingered a little longer than usual.

Once inside the foyer Katia asked, “Well, Sophia, what did you think?”

“About William?” she asked

“Of course, tell me quick before someone realizes we are home.”

“He’s charming and I love his energy and his generosity. But, he is not for me I’m afraid,” she said taking the stairs.

Building a Scene

This is my attempt to embellish my MS by picking up on an event that was only hinted at. So, don’t see this as how to do a scene, but merely my attempt to do so. This will be rough I’ll need to fact check and see how it, if in fact it does, fits into my MS.

 

The estate of Prince Ivan Michailovich Durkov was located east of Moscow in the ancient town of Novgorod. The Baron Ulenka’s family arrived there a sen-night before the ceremony and would follow the Slavic traditions of the Durkov family.

Annushka, who arrived with her infant son, would do the honor of being Matron for Adeline. Katia was unaccompanied and their father had to demand the presence of Sophia’s husband Yuri Feodorevich Kozlov who had become estranged from his wife and her family. The youngest child Vital Yurivich was now four years old and was very passive, and there was no concern about his behavior.

The marriage celebration started immediately. Dominika thought it excessive, but Tsyotsya Ludmilla enjoyed every minute her daughter was on display.

At first, Borys Ivanovich seemed devoted to his betrothed and Katia started to gaze upon him in a different light.

I should probably give him a second chance, for he seems to have changed, for Adeline’s sake I hope so, she thought.

The suite of rooms the Baron’s family were offered equaled the splendor of the Summer Palace. Katia swept through the four large chambers inspecting them and reveling in the joy she felt, mostly because of the freedom, for her father and mother would share the room next to hers, Annushka’s and Elizabeth’s. Even in these days of lessening of the terem traditions she still felt the stifling effect. Her inspection of Sophia’s chamber was only a quick glance, for she feared Yuri’s presence and only wanted happiness to prevail these few days. The largest chamber was given to the parents of the bride, the Baron Ivan Bilczor and her Tsyotsya Ludmilla. Katia turned in place eying every gold brocade drapery, dark blue treatment of the bed clothing and canopy, the over-sized bed and floor to ceiling windows. She ran her hand against posts of the bed and stopped in the middle of her daydream when Borys stepped in and closed the door behind him.

This is not what it seems, he is only here to greet Adeline’s mother and father. Stop assuming the worst, she thought.

“Borys Ivanovich, you’re looking well,” she said stammering. “Adeline’s parents are not here as you can see.”

He said nothing and walked toward her.

She looked beyond the canopy and noted a door to the adjacent chamber. She took a deep breath and prayed it wasn’t locked. Not taking the time to find out what Borys had in mind, she ran to the door and found tears forming as the knob turned and she stepped inside locking it behind her. A loud angry pounding on the door signaled her that her instincts were correct.

Sophia turned from the bed where she had just tidied up her son and sent him off to find his father.

Katia’s tears were flowing from relief as Sophia approached her.

“What is wrong?” she asked as Katia silently turned back to the door she had just appeared through.

Pointing, she tried to get the words out. Sophia found a linen cloth by the basin and handed it to her. She stroked her arm while holding her hand giving her the time she needed to collect herself.

“I’m glad I found you here…otherwise,” she said breathing hard and looking nervously over her shoulder.

“Come sit,” Sophia said.

“It’s Borys Ivanovich. I tried Sophia–I tried to think of him other than the rake he appeared to be at Annushka’s wedding. He followed me into the chamber and locked the door behind him. Is that the activity of a man who’s about to be married, and the chamber is assigned to her parents,” she said growing more agitated.

“In truth, Katia, they have been moved to another chamber. Father is hoping Yuri and I will share that chamber and Vitaly will sleep here with Elizabeth.”

“But, Sophia, who’s privy to that knowledge? Am I being daft to assume he had known of this last minute arrangement?”

“Father must be made aware of this,” Sofia said.

Katia’s face contorted, she didn’t want the problem to go any further. Shaking her head from side to side she stood up and took Sophia’s hand.

“Let’s find father,” she said. “But don’t leave my side.”

All through the days leading up to the ceremony Katia’s thoughts were of what might have happened in the dark blue chamber.

Did he think I would fall into his arms? Was he planning to pay me back for refusing him? I gave him plenty of time to explain himself. Why did he say nothing? she wondered.

“I wish Mitia was here,” Katia said watching the dancing and merriment surging around her at the evening celebration.

“That’s wonderful,” Sophia said. “So, you’re missing him? Too bad his business kept him away.”

‘Yes, with Anatoly and Feodor away, and your husband, who might as well be away, we Ulenka sisters are quite lonely tonight.” Katia said with a watchful eye upon Yuri who was oblivious to anything other than the glass of vodka in front of him.

Wiley and Pavel are most dearly missed, she thought.

Dominika had coaxed the Baron up to their chamber and Annuskha had only come down for a moment while Elizabeth kept an eye on the two children. Katia determined that she didn’t care to dance with anyone other than Wiley or even Mitia, but Sophia needed her company. When Sophia had the task of being sole support for her inebriated husband Katia had the horrible realization that she was alone to return to her chamber.

She gathered her belongings and Sophia’s wrap and left the grand ballroom.

She could hear Yuri’s voice coming from the stairwell and breathed relief that Sophia was not far ahead. She put her hand on the bannister and took one step when she heard footsteps behind her. She turned to see Borys Ivanovich, but not before he was able to grab hold of her arm.

The Baron sat up in his bed; his wife was asleep he looked to the candlelight that flickered in the draft from the window and one of the candles blew out.

“Katia?” he said as he jumped to his feet, grabbed his banyan, and hurried out the door.

He rushed past a struggling Sophia and turned quickly momentarily stopping, but then turned back to hurry down the stairwell.

“Father?” Sophia said confused as to why he couldn’t stop to assist her.

As he approached the lower level he heard a muffled voice and signs of a disturbance namely Sophia’s wrap, which he believed belonged to Katia. The daughter that needed his help but he neglected. If anything had befallen her it would be all his fault.

Katia was struggling beneath the firm grasp of an unwelcome advance. The Baron loosed the grip Borys Ivanovich had on his daughter and shoved him aside. The randy bridegroom stumbled and caught himself. The Baron didn’t hit him hard enough and struck again sending him to the floor.

“Father, I’m all right,” Katia said coming out of her shock and staying his hand before he struck him again. She could see that Borys was defeated as well as embarrassed for being caught in the act of forcing himself upon the man’s daughter. He hesitated, as if to say something but decided there were no words rose and bolted up the stairwell.

Katia, face was pale and streaked with tears, and her lips were swollen but that was the only evidence her father could see.

“It looks like I got here on time,” he said pulling her head into his neck.

His banyan had the familiar smell of smoke and her father’s essence.

“How did you know? How did you find me?” she asked sobbing and shaking against his solid embrace.

“I was languishing in my bed and suddenly something roused me, and as I sat a flickering candle went out before my eyes and I thought of you. My light.” he said as he gripped her more tightly.

The two days that followed, the traditional ceremony and the civil proceedings were conducted without any interference. The couple drank from the common cup and were husband and wife. Adeline never knew of the secret he told Katia, for he believed Katia was Adeline at Annushka’s wedding and wished it was she until the day he was married to another.

Character: Building an Arc

I am told that I am too rushed in my writing. I need to slow down and cook my ingredients thoroughly. Also, in order to develop style I need to ferment my knowledge and ultimately the use of grammar. I am told that I know how to make a good sentence, but in my tendency to rush through I seem to forget what I know write something else and on a read through tend to ignore the errors, or not see them is more accurate. I am also told that I have moments of ‘clarity’ in my writing; whereby, my voice comes through showing humor and an interesting style. My ideas are marketable but cluttered with cobbles in the road that make the reader stumble and possible put the book down forever.

THE LONG STORY SHORT

My long story is clogged with so many ideas and plot twists that it was suggested I stop midpoint and make a story from that chunk of work. There is enough there to focus on the protagonist and explore her journey. My story went from 5,8000 words to 17,000 once the line of demarcation was established. So, I have an MS that is now incomplete, needs additional research, and a lot of digging into the journey, setting and scenes of the first part of PLACES.

I’m taking the critique to heart and reading the suggested books I mentioned in an earlier blog. Therefore, I am continuing with my current MS Summer Palace and applying the ‘fix’ before I resume with the major revision to my third MS. So, with that in mind I’m exploring a character from Summer Palace which may or may not make its way into the final work.

Wiley looked into the face of the man he had attacked in a moment of rage. His eyes diverted to the floor his hand flexed and his feet swapped position against the wooden planks.

“Thanks for the food, come on Henry let’s go,” he said finding that the words of regret he was feeling didn’t come.

Henry shrugged and shook his head only hearing his response and not being able to see into his heart for no one could.

“Okay, Wiley, lead the way,” Henry said glancing over to Her Boer and lifting a hand slightly.

“There are six horses in this stable, the care and maintaince of these animals could take the good part of a day. Unfortunately, there are other chores that need to be done around here. I’m glad to have your help, but I also enjoyed the solitude of working alone. I don’t know what your problem is and why you would attack a man like Herr Rolf, but it is up to him and not me to deal with you.”

Wiley’s back was to Henry and he didn’t bother to turn around.

“Yes, I agree. It’s not up to you, so why are you bothering?” He said trying to keep his anger from escalating.”

“There is a grain delivery this morning if you would help Calhoun unload after the troughs are filled and the hedges are clipped around the farmhouse. I will tend the horses and get Starlight, the horse the Baron’s son rides every morning, ready. That should take most of the morning, then there are some repairs to fencing you can help me carry the tools and I will show you the borders of the Baron’s land.”

From the farmhouse, Wiley could see the Baron’s son, the same boy he had threatened and figured that Henry had timed his  hedge clipping perfectly so that he wouldn’t be in the stable at the same time.

Just as well, he thought. I don’t need him adding to my day’s troubles.

Pavel, was alone and by the time Henry was done sending him off the hedges were trimmed and Wiley met up with Herr Rolf as he picked up the trimmings and started back to the stable.

“Wiley, fine job on the hedges,” he said trying not to get too personal with the moody boy.

Wiley nodded and swore under his breath.

“Hey, give me some of that,” Herr Boer said aleviating Wiley of some of his burden. “Since you’ll both be off surveying the border fences I’ll be there to stable Starlight when Pavel returns.”

“Yes, keep me away from him.” Wiley said barely audible.

The trimmings were sending a soft evergreen smell to the pair of them as they entered the stable.

“Taking the horses?” Herr Rolf asked Henry.

 

“Yes, I thought we’d go out to the orchard instead, I checked the wood shed and the stacks are getting low.”

Wiley will be of help then. His mother tells me he has been splitting wood for Ed Emerson,” Herr Boer said patting Wiley on the shoulder.

Wiley shrugged away from his touch.

“The owner of the Emerald Inn?” Henry asked as he nodded at Wiley approvingly.

“Have him ride Ebony,” Herr Boer said not taking offense by Wiley’s harsh reaction to his attempt to be familiar.

Henry strapped one axe on the saddle of each horse and rode out to the far side of the property. Shirtless both boys split wood for the farmhouse and inspected the rails and stone wall boundary markers.

“Take a break Wiley,” Henry said as he wiped his brow and watched the intensity of Wiley’s strikes against the wood upon the tree stump.

Wiley spit the last piece of wood and went to grab another but hesitated and turned around to face Henry.

“I could use a drink,” he said.

Henry fished in his saddle bag and came up with a water skin. Handing it to Wiley he suggested they sit under an apple tree and offered him a ripe apple as well.

“Whew, that is tart.” Wiley said shaking his head side to side.

“Yes, but if we bring some to your mother I bet she can make a nice pie or tarts from them,” Henry said grinning. “She’s at the farmhouse.”

“Yeah, she’s avoiding me,” Wiley said. “Doesn’t want me to know she still seeing Rolf.”

“You know, Wiley, she couldn’t do better than Herr Rolf. He’s a good man, I’ve known him for some time and he’s always the same. Never saw him out of temper.”

“Unlike me?” Wiley said looking for an excuse to fuel his anger.

“Wait, that isn’t at all what I meant. You know, he’s been suffering. He has days when his head aches and he loses focus in this right eye. That is your doing,” Henry said.

Wiley didn’t respond right away. He stared off and Henry tried to see what had caught his attention.  T hen Wiley picked up a a green apple, stood up, and threw it.

“Let’s get back to work,” Wiley said picking up his axe.

Several hours and several cords of wood later Henry noticed a wagon approach with Herr Rolf and Fiona, Wiley’s mother, approach.

“Henry,” Herr Rolf said. “Looks like you’re ready for a break. Fiona was kind enough to make us lunch. I’ll have you load up the wood and we’ll take it back.”

Wiley was exhausted and his first reaction was to take the horse he rode out on and leave this group of insufferable people.

I just don’t have the energy, he thought.

Henry put a bushel of apples on the wagon.

“Mrs. Breuder, I hope I’m not being too presumptuous but I was hoping you’d make some tarts out of these,” Henry said holding up one of the he had picked from the tree.

Wiley sat quietly and took the plate his mother offered. He averted his eyes and popped a morsel in his mouth. Henry sniffed the food he held in his hand before taking a bite.

“Fiona, your cooking is second to none,” Herr Rolf said smiling and patting her arm.

Wiley tossed his plate on the blanket and went back to work.

“Wiley,” Herr Rolf said thinking his rude behavior needed to be corrected but Fiona stayed his remarks.

“His anger will subside unless you call attention to it,” she said knowing any comment would be mistaken as fatherly advice.

Wiley mounted the black stallion and held on tight as the horse seemed to know where he was going.

“Come along Henry,” Herr Rolf said. “You can ride back with us.”

Willey was brooding when Henry got back to the stable, without prompting Wiley helped unload the wagon of the wood and left the apples outside the farmhouse door.

Henry put out the lantern light and said goodnight after the horses were put in their stalls.

The next morning Henry woke and Wiley’s spot was empty. Henry looked up and silently asked for patience not know what this day and the unpredictable newcomer would bring.

Wiley was sitting on a fence outside the stable and didn’t hear Henry’s approach.

“There you are,” Henry said noticing a flinch as Wiley reacted to his approach.

“Okay, boss. What do you have planned for us today?” he said placing the knife and piece of wood he was whittling away.

“What’s that?” Henry asked curious about whatever would posses Wiley to take up a hobby requiring patience and talent.

“Nothing,” WIley said as he jumped off the fence and stalked back to the stable.

Henry, looked up again raised his hands and shrugged.

Pavel arrived and Wiley stepped out the back door. Henry looked around to give Wiley the task but thought better of it. Pavel rode off and Wiley watched him race out of sight.

“I’m going up to the farmhouse, mind the stable,” Henry said and Wiley waved in acknowledgement.

Wiley took the piece of wood and started to carve. The exercise of the previous day reminded him of peace of mind he got from splitting wood for the owner of the Emerald Inn. The work exhausted him so much so that his mind didn’t have time to work him into an angry fit. It was best for him to keep busy.

Father will be back and things will be the way they should, he thought.

Pavel returned to find a stunned Wiley looking over his shoulder for Henry who hadn’t returned.

“What’s the matter, nothing to throw at me?” Pavel said dismounting and handing Wiley the reins.

Wiley ripped the reins out of his hand and decided it was better to say nothing. He turned his back and disappeared into the stalls. Pavel walked away.

The bright sun of the day and the exhausting work contributed to Wiley’s lack of will to disregard the invitation for a home cooked meal by his mother at the farmhouse.

“Finally. I’m hungry,” Willow said. “Brother, we’re waiting for you.”

Again, Wiley had nothing kindly to say and decided to say nothing. He sat and accepted a basket of warm rolls and passed them along to Henry.

“Another serving?” Fiona asked Wiley after he cleaned his plate. Smiling he said, “Yes. Potatoes mostly.”

Fiona looked at Herr Rolf and smiled because of the only words Wiley had spoken in their presence in a while.

Wiley caught onto the sideways glances and went to stand up until Willow came out with a cake fresh out of the oven. The apple and spice aroma surrounding her.

“I guess I can stay a little longer,” he said sheepishly.

Willow sliced the cake and gave him the first piece. Fiona looked to him for a word of confirmation, but had to settle for an empty plate.

Henry and Wiley left, Henry thanked Fiona over and over while Wiley’s only communication was the slamming of the front door.

“Rolf, he’s not going to forgive me,” Fiona said after Willow went outside to the carriage.

“He’s a boy who needs a little reality. There’s nothing to forgive Fiona,” he said gently kissing her.

She placed both hands on his face and looked into his light blue eyes. “You know sometimes I see a hint of red in your hair, don’t tell me you’re becoming a red head as well.”

“Well, Fiona you are rubbing off on me, but as far as my hair being red, I don’t think so. That’s your domain. Besides, one hot-hot in this relationship is enough.”

She feigned a reaction to his comment but kissed his forehead and stood to check that Willow had cleared the table and cleaned the pots and pans.

“She is a treasure,” she said and kissed him goodbye.

As Fiona and Willow left the farmhouse the lantern went out in the stable.

 

 

 

Excerpts and creatively writing

I find it easier to write freely in this format. I have several books on novel writing and I am exercising my writing muscle. There are several areas which need more in-depth exploration and that is what this exercise is about.

The lower levels of the palace were for the comfort of the male residents which, at this time, included the Baron, Alex Ulenka, his son, Pavel and his son-in-law Yuri. The other chambers were sometime occupied by visitors to the Palace which included the Barons brother-in-law and his son Feodor.

The Summer Palace was once the summer home for the Baron’s family but was now used all year round as his primary residence and place of business. Business was conducted on the first level, dignitaries were entertained there and chambers were available on the second level in the rare occasion they were needed.

The Baron had a suite of rooms which he and his wife shared, but she mostly spent time in the terem level and had a room of her own there as well. The third level was reserved as meeting rooms for larger gatherings and there was a great hall for grander occasions which were rarely used.

Sophia, the eldest sister, was married and lived in the terem, to her husbands discretion. She would often visit him in his chambers with their three year old son, Michail. The marriage was arrainged by her mother who thought the connection to his family was worth more than the character of her son-in-law who drank to excess and liked to entertain guests at the Baron’s expense.

The expansive acreage on which the Summer Palace was situated also contained a farmhouse and stable which was occupied by the stable master and groundskeeper.

Herr Rolf Boer was lured to the Foreign Quarter by the promise of opportunity for work and land ownership as were many foreigner’s of different talents to enrich the Russian era of enlightenment introduced by the late Tsar Alexis.

“They’re taking jobs away from our own people,” Yuri said in complaint.

“Foreigners brought in to teach us their Western ideas is not a popular concept amongst the peasantry,” Baron Ulenka said to his son-in-law in agreement.

“The opinions of the Boyar and patriarch are worse, they resent the Tsar’s idea that we need foreign influence to bring us in step with Europe, influencing our culture and traditions.

EMBELLISH

The next morning WIley woke somewhat confused by his surroundings. The blonde mop of Henry’s hair directly to his right gave him a start until the haunting reality of the way his life was interrupted by his own doing. He stirred and Henry sat up and immediately started handing out chores.

“First though, Wiley, that is your name?” he asked. “We will go up to the farmhouse to break our fast. Then you will take all this hay and distribute it amongst the stalls after you clean them out. The troughs must be filled with water, the horses brushed, and exercised.”

“Henry, is it? That black horse? Is he always so lively? I could hear him all night moving about.” he said.

“Well, he’s strong willed and young, he could use your extra attention. He is a good horse but somewhat neglected. Do you ride?”

“No, but I’ll learn,” he said. “Wait for me.”

 

FAIR TO MIDDLING

The results are in. Fair to Middling. So, I’m not going to find the new career and success by my goal of April 24, 2016. My sister says I (technically) have until April 24, 2017 to accomplish what I wanted to in this pivotal year.

My story, back from the professional edit, is not ready for market. It has all the necessary components, it has a likable main character, it has a great plot, and there is some good writing to be found. But, there is too much; confusion, too much left unsaid, too rushed, and too many darlings that I must kill.

Not exactly what I wanted to hear. Perhaps, the message will permeate this thick skull. If I’m lucky, and if I work hard, I may have a marketable piece of work in six months time.

I do have enough material to work with, I know what I need to do after the recommendation. I have to remove about 40% of the darling and turn the other 60% into 100% of the MS. I know, surprisingly, how I’m going to do that and possibly turn the deleted portions into another novel. More scraps on the editing room floor.

I keep hearing the same criticism, too much, too fast, and too confusing. Take what’s in your mind, and put it on paper. I am so engrossed in my story that I forget the reader isn’t with me at times, but I have to figure out the thin line between what the reader wants to discover on their own and what I need to clarify to keep them in.

Two books were recommended, actually three, but two are technical and one is for a good read.

The book Everything I Never Told You by  Celeste Ng, The Novel Maker Handbook by Diane O’Connell, and Elements of Style by  Strunk and White.

I have ordered all three and intend to read them and take it all in. I have received enough encouragement, along with the brutal honesty of a MS not ready for prime time, to keep me going. Plus, the excitement of revisiting, again, the characters of this most hacked and torn WIP, that has had its name changed three times and now, five revisions.

This weekend I am taking another one of my stories to visit my sister in CT again. She is going to help me read though it, analyze the criticism I received on YouWriteOn.com and find the common threads and slow it down and “cook it” until the flavor of my voice comes through. I’m told it’s there, albeit intermittent kind of a silk purse surrounded by pigs ears.

The good news is the answer came today and here I am blogging about it. In the past, I have spent several days going through all my reactions (denial, grief, etc.) and letting it get the best of me. I still have the support of my family, encouraging words and all. I still have the enthusiasm for my story, and focusing in on a tighter portion may require a little more research in some areas. Mostly consisting of sweeping the pawns off the chess board and leaving the Queen and the Bishop to play a new game. A game I plan to win.

Another Excerpt – Summer Palace

This time when he picked her up, Dimitry Vasilliovich Rostovich had a little change in plans. Up until now their outings were predictable in their afternoon ventures away from the Summer Palace. Mitia, either left Katia, to her own devices or he joined her for afternoon tea at the Emerald Inn. However, he was in HIS camp. Wiley’s mother and sister and sometimes even her brother dominated their time together. His only real concern was that his work was being delayed.

He wanted this day to be different. If by some chance they did marry she would have to know the intricacies of his world. He was certainly willing to have her see his office and his end of the business he shared with William Vanhandle. His business partner of five years. Their dealings were with foreigners living in Russia under the courtesy of the reigning Tsar. So far foreign relations had been good and it looked like the future held promise of similar profits.

Katia, was surprised to hear Mitia’s suggestion of a visit to his side of town but welcomed the opportunity to learn more about the man who showed her more compassion than she supposed she deserved. Using him as cover for the absence of the man whom she would drop everything for — even Mitia.

Katia, met William and was pleased to see a dashing young man much the same as Mitia but with a little more of an aggressive nature. Not as tall as Mitia, but every bit as handsome. His surcoat was of the finest quality, fitted, and stylish. Gold buttons lined the breast of the brown jacket the Western style pants and white hose showed off his muscular legs. He begged their forgiveness for a few moments for him to finish up and retire to his chambers above the store front. William could be seen filing papers, his fine figure evident reaching to the higher shelves his jacket having been hung over the arms of his office wing-backed chair.

Katia, gave her best effort not to stare and looked down adjusting her skirts and clutching her bag on her lap. Mitia, was distracted as well, looking after William, and she wondered if he was enjoying the view as much as she.

She shook her head and laughed at such a silly notion. Soon William joined them and they found the stair well to the upper levels.

A pert older woman approached them and had them sit while she put together a light lunch.

“So, this is the lovely Katia,” William said kissing her hand gently. Katia blushed, his lips were full and his hands warm. He oozed masculinity and if he was a few years younger she thought he’d be a fine match for Elizabeth or perhaps Sophia, since Yuri had made himself scarce and left the Summer Palace for points unknown. Leaving her with her youngest child who would soon be sent off to school following the path of her two older boys.

“Mitia, you don’t talk much about your partner. Is he married?” Katia asked.

William chiming in said, “Oh, no, I’m married to my work, but I didn’t have a beautiful young woman such as yourself demanding my betrothal otherwise I might be inclined.”

Katia shrieked and looked at Mitia. “Did you tell him that?” she said hand covering her open mouth.

Mitia laughed.

Katia closed her mouth and placed her hand in her lap. Taking a deep breath she said, “You know, that is exactly what happened. Mitia, can you ever forgive me? I really did corral you didn’t I?”

“Katia,” Mitia said. “You were irresistible and no, I didn’t explain it to William quite as plainly as he put it.”

“Honestly, William, if I hadn’t taken Mitia out of circulation for these past four years would he be married was there someone trying to catch his eye?”

“Only me,” William said looking at Mitia and giving him the elbow. “You see Katia, we’re married to our business, for there is so much opportunity in the land grant survey culture. It’s interesting work and quite a bit of profit.”

“I figure, I’m using you to keep my mother at bay and I’m glad to be helping you work through your troubles. At the end of it all, it won’t be so bad if William has to work lonely afternoons if we should decide to marry,” Mitia said.

“Well, to hell with you too,” William said bellowing to the servant to bring whiskey. “I’m taking the afternoon off. What plans have you made Mitia?”

The two of them were like children as they raced across the country side in the open carriage William had supplied. The driver kept up the pace and Katia had to hold on to her hat until she decided to fasten it under her chin and let it fall to her back. They rattled off the names of the landowners parcels they passed in a sing song fashion, raising a glass to each one.

They passed the marsh lands, recently acquired, that lined the Baltic Sea and talked of a new Capital City and strategic Port that may someday be built.

“William, how do you know all this?” Katia said.

“The land is our business, we know in advance of holdings and transfers of land. Mostly in the Foreign Quarters, but sometimes we get wind of borders changing and land acquisitions through wars and treaties.”

“Yes, there’s a lot of this going on today, it’s exciting to be part of it.” Mitia said.

“Mitia, I have never seen you so alive. This is wonderful, I’m afraid I never sought to know the real you.” Katia said taking his arm and leaning on his shoulder.

The weather turned from a bright sunny day to a spotty mess of dark rain clouds coming in from the east. Cutting their lengthy ride a little short.

William jumped from the carriage when they returned back to his home and office complex. He helped Katia down and she felt the muscles flex in his arms. His dark eyes and hair seemed all too familiar.

Mitia, climbed down to find Katia nervously turning her head side to side in an effort to divert from his gaze, for William had reminded her of Wiley.

As the two men discussed some business that would follow the next day Katia, excused herself and walked ahead to the carriage that would take them back to the Summer Palace.

“I need a few moments,” Katia said as she waved her goodbye to William, for his touch sent shivers up her arm. “I’m fine really, please take your time and conclude your business.”

She climbed into the carriage and the driver patiently looked to Mitia who signaled his promise not to keep them waiting.

‘What just happened? William’s hold on me made me think of Wiley. I haven’t felt anything close to that with Mitia. Why not? Why can’t I love him? He surely deserves it. What is wrong with me?’ Katia thought so far removed from the joy of the day.

Mitia had climbed in beside her but she didn’t notice. He nudged her and she came away from her thoughts.

“Mitia, you were like someone else today. No wonder you spend so much time at the office the work is your life. We should do this more often,” she said resting her head on his shoulder.

“Katia, what happened back there?” he asked stroking her hair her hat crushed behind her.

“Mitia, I’m embarrassed to say, but there are no secrets between us, right?” she said. “It’s William, when he helped me down … I saw and felt Wiley. Those feelings of love and loss that I managed to bury deep inside, rushed to the surface like a flooded plain.”

“He has that effect on a lot of people, Katia,” he said firmly grasping her arm. “It’s love.”

Mitia’s, touch was soothing and it was the closest the two of them had ever been.

‘Love, is that why I wait for you Wiley? Here’s a wonderful man not six inches away from me, yet I long for you six years away and this William, the not so silent partner, whose touch sent me reeling. Help me Lord I am a confused woman,’ Katia thought.

 

Katia sought out Sergey when she arrived back at the Summer Palace. The four year old towhead squealed in delight when she cornered him and pinched his chubby legs. She needed the pure love the boy helped her find. However, he tired of her and struggled out of her arms, she patted his bottom and sent him off.

“Go on with you, Sergey, tell your mother I’m back.”

In her chamber she pulled the curtain back and let it go, it had become a gesture, for there was no one to be seen out in the fields for years. A soft knock at the door compelled her to change her focus.

“Katia, what’s wrong? Sergey said you attacked him with kisses.,” Sofia said stifling a laugh.

“Oh, nothing really, a lot of past emotions surfaced. I realized how selfish I’ve been. I’ve only thought about myself,” she said. “I also met Mitia’s business partner, a William Vanhandle and I thought of you. So lonely, and forsaken by Yuri. I wished there was a way to free you to find someone you deserve.”

“Katia, believe me, if there’s a way then mother will figure it out,” Sofia said giggling through her palm.

“As long as …” Katia started to say but the giggles got the best of her as well. “As long as she doesn’t pick another Yuri.”

Sophia took a deep breath as if the statement bothered her, then resumed the uncontrollable laughter.

“You must meet William,” Katia said.

“Well, enough silliness, and I’m sorry for you but if you pray you will know what you are to do, you’ll receive a sign and it will confirm your decision,” Sophia said as she left Katia’s chamber.

Writing Creatively

from: http://www.open.edu

write one scene:

the meticulous manager who lives in a messy house;

Fortus Meagher, walked through the plant, picking up pieces of fiberglass that was left on the shop floor after a panic order and precision cut. He knew the crew would be back to clean up but he feared criticism by his boss. He took every critique personally.

“Damn, where’s that vac? Bill, I need the vac, this has to be cleaned up,” Fortus called out to the only employee within miles.

“Oh, Mr. Meagher, Yes,” replied Bill. “I’ll get it right away, sorry about the  mess, but I’m finishing the last part of the order. The guys are delivering the boat to the dock.”

“Oh, no, Bill just point me in the direction, for I’ll do this. You finish your work,” he said shuffling off to the supply closet Bill pointed to.

Fortus, was not a neat freak. Far from it, for he would never have a casual Super Bowl Party or March Madness gathering with the guys at his home. It would ruin their opinion of him. His diligence at work was performed, not for himself, but for his boss. He had mounds of energy for others, and hardly any for himself. His home was void of character and his existence stark.

As the vac ceased his angry voice at the fiber dust and Fortis packed its tendrils coiling them around the protruding handles, he closed the closet door and continued his inspection.

Do the same 1Ps

When I lined up the documents and work orders on my desk I left the confines of the management department and pressed on into the workers domain. The staunch difference was notable; the lack of carpets, the walls consisted of concrete, and metal framework, not the vinyl wall paper of contemporary preference predominant in the front portion of the shop. Not ten steps in however, I noted the floor ridden with dust, fibers from the finishing that went into the order whose triplicate was lined up perfectly on my desk.

“Bill, where’s the vac? This needs to be cleaned up,” I called out to the specialist currently wearing safety glasses and a dust mask.

He was focused and didn’t hear me over the droaning of his machine.

Bill, looked up at me as I drew closer, signaling that I needed the shop vac in a vague but comical motion, yet not wanting him to stop working on his task.

Sensing my concern, Bill looked up and removed his safety glasses and the noise wound down to a stop.

“It’s all right, Mr. Meagher, I’m done here, what do you need?”

“I only want to get the vac and clean up for the guys. I know they ran out of here trying to deliver the cruiser on time,” I said staying his attempt to get up and assist me.

After I retrieved the vac and started my own sequence of noises the dust was gone and the place looked good enough for inspection, which was the motivating factor after all, I must keep the boss happy.

Now if I could get this ethic to follow me home. I have a greater tolerance for clutter in the privacy of my own home. No one to impress, master of my own ship when I’m not at work building them. I can be myself.

Building a fiction character:

You could start with this
questionnaire (or make one up for yourself ): Name? Age? Place of birth?
Residence? Occupation? Appearance? Dress? Strengths? Weakness?
Obsessions? Ambition? Work habits? Hobbies? Illness? Family? Parents?
Kids? Siblings? Friends? Pets? Politics? Tics? Diet? Drugs? Favorite kinds
of coffee, cigarettes, alcohol? Erotic history? Favorite books, movies,
music? Desires? Fears? Most traumatic event? Most wonderful
experience? The major struggle, past and present?

Setting exercise from: http://www.open.edu

Make a list of objects you remember from your childhood home. Don’t use any particular order or many adjectives. Don’t censor yourself – something seemingly unimportant may evoke strong impressions. Read through your list and circle the objects that evoke the strongest feelings and memories of events.

long hallway, gramophone

swivel chair, yellow room, crib, kittens, dirt floor basement, back porch, dingle, aquarium

dolls, closet, washing machine, stove, kitchen table, piano, television

The crib, baby sis. Five years younger antsy in crib not sure what delayed mom. I couldn’t figure out the gadget that released the bar and lower the side. After several moments of trying to lower the side and get little sis out, I decided to lift her out over the side. The bar finally decided to release and the momentum of little sis and the new found freedom hurled us backward into the closet. She of course, landed on top of me and in the ensuing moments, mom finally appeared.

Sis was still crying, but I was unscathed. Turns out, hours later after a trip to the ER, little sis broke her collar bone, and I felt like an idiot. I was seven and it wasn’t going to be a good year.

I read the start writing fiction series on http://www.open.edu

I am about to comb through Summer Palace one more time. I wanted to get some sage advice under my belt. I need to include vivid imagery and heed some of the good critiques I got from YouWriteOn.com. By the previous comb through I added about 8,000 words, I have envisioned a couple scenes I will work in. So, I thought I would share some of these exercises and thoughts with you. I hope it helps.