The Tea Room (FRP part 12)

Heidi, the Inn Keepers daughter, was serving tables, the Inn was crowded filled with people, who made Irina think she should give up this crazy idea. When Heidi saw her she smiled and waved while walking toward her. Heidi pulled Irina into the backroom and handed her an apron and pulled her hair out from underneath the horrible cap and tied it back with a ribbon.

“Come help me.” Heidi implored.

When Irina seemed to resist she changed her tactic and mentioned how the other girl quit and she really could use her help. Irina was reacting to the crowd of people more than anything else. Her senses were on overload.

Heidi handed her the tray and she signaled for her to follow. Heidi went to the tables and removed the items from the tray not asking much else of Irina. As the night wore on Irina became a little more at ease. Her eyes were downcast through most of her interactions with the patron, until Heidi was serving a table with several young men who were openly flirting with her.

“Heidi! Who is your friend,” the boy asked while smiling at Irina.

“You cannot be that shy!” asked another.

“She is!” Heidi snapped as she swatted away his hand.

Heidi put the drinks down and guided Irina across the room to where an older gentleman and woman sat.

“Take their order.”

Irina had watched Heidi for most of the evening and knew it was a simple task. She was feeling the mood of the room and she was starting to enjoy herself. Heidi stopped by with some bread and cheese for the table in the corner and asked Irina to bring it to them.

“I told them you were Justine, we don’t want to use your actual name. So you can be Justine for today.” Heidi laughed.

Heidi’s father came out into the room when he thought the patron’s might be this side of intoxicated and it was becoming the atmosphere he didn’t want his daughter to experience. He was surprised to see Irina and moved quickly to get the girls upstairs.

Heidi and Irina sat in the room next to where Uri, Elizabeth and Pietro still slept. They talked for quite some time and Irina thanked Heidi for the experience of a lifetime. Heidi realized Irina was not just any girl by the way her father ushered them upstairs.

“Who are you?” Heidi asked.

Irina was tempted to tell Heidi the entire story but thought better of it. “I will tell you someday, but for now its better for you that I am simply Justine.”

“Alright,” Heidi acquiesced. “You have never serviced tables have you?”

“No,” Irina laughed. “I have never seen so many people in one room!”

“Will  you be around? Can we do this again?” Heidi asked.

“I would love to, I might have to keep it our little secret though.”

Heidi’s father knocked softly on the door.

“Fordham has returned, you are to be escorted to the Palace now, there is an army outside.”

Heidi looked at Irina in amazement, “You are the Princess.”

“I will never forget your kindness, Heidi, I hope to see you again!”

The Innkeeper guided Irina out of the room and into the arms of Andrew Fordham who woke Uri and the children, and escorted them outside to the waiting guardsmen.

Uri was none the wiser but Andrew Fordham was worried about the free-spirited Irina who was still wearing the apron from the Inn, her hair coming free of the ribbon.

The Wooden Palace was the residence of the Royal Family, built by the former Tsar, it was replaced by the stone structure as the Royal Residence. The foreign section of town was at great risk of fire, most of the structures were made of wood. They would often be razed by fire and rebuilt adding to the ever changing skyline.

If Irina had a diary this would be the night to write. Her mind was reeling from the excitement; the kind older couple, the man with his son, the woman who told her she had the prettiest eyes, but mostly Heidi, who accepted her and was a true friend. The Innkeeper who gave them refuge, knowing the risk of such a deed, showed Irina the quality of character she hadn’t witnessed to date  in her young life.

She thought of the young men who teased Heidi and wondered what that would be like, a real relationship with someone who didn’t exist in the pages of a diary. She watched the activity out in the streets as they made their way to the safety of the Wooden Compound. When she wakes up in the morning it will be a new day. She will find out the fate of Sophia and Ludmilla and she will get to know her brother and Elizabeth will be free to live the life they had previously been denied.

Another Intermission

I am thinking I should tap a different part of my brain and write about my progress. First I am extremely excited to be going to CT to visit Catherine and read Parts Three and Four of my Epic Family Saga – The Scheme of the Weaver (title may change). She had only read bits of the second half and I did read passages to her over the phone. So having now completed it I cannot wait to hear her reaction.

I have also submitted a third query letter, synopsis, bio and fifty sample pages, however I never received a reply, — even that it was received. Sometimes I think of the benefits I have received from writing this story and feel that if it never sees the light of day, at least I have found something in my old age that makes me happy. However, when I think about my characters I feel an obligation to do this for them — strange. They are so alive to me, you should meet them.

My Tea Room story has been posted in segments I thought I would just blog it and see what happens. I have had several people register, some even commented but not much in reference to the story itself.

In addition to the three submissions, my blog site, twitter and In I have signed up for the 2015 Writer’s Digest Conference in NYC. There I will pitch my book and have 90 seconds in which to do it, so needless to say that, and researching agents is taking up a lot of time and I still have my own golf business. My husband Jay does most of the “leg work” and I work on my Mac, he is very supportive.

He does podcasts and some radio and will help me hone my pitch. He also knows a little bit about how the sessions work. I was concerned about logistics but he assures me they will have it all worked out. I AM SO EXCITED!

So far (knock on wood) I haven’t had any creative let downs in scripting my Tea Room series. My Epic Family Saga (novel) has taken on a different form of creativity now that I have finished it, analyzing, proofreading and scrutiny. It’s strange to me that I read passages that I don’t remember writing because i intend to write a particular scene but it changes sometimes between my fingertips and the keyboard.

I am following several literary agents and writers on Twitter and I do get some great inspiration from the posts. I should tweet about that.

Feel free to leave some CONSTRUCTIVE criticism of my Tea Room Princesses. I have been a graphic designer and artist and now my creativity has taken on a different way to express myself.

I am documenting my experience so others may get something out of this.

The Tea Room (FRP part nine)

Elizabeth kept her eyes and ears open and even though she could hardly read, she could count and the number of guards surrounding the perimeter were greatly reduced. In fact the red uniforms of the Stretlsy guard were lacking, the uniforms were of the Royal Guard — this was notable.

Elizabeth could see a contingent of the Stretlsy guard approaching with a determined Katrina leading the way. The few Streltsy guard were called to her and given orders, the Tsarina was to return to the Royal Residence immediately. Elizabeth, Sophia and Ludmilla huddled together and were left behind with the familiar old guard.

Elizabeth approached General Hans Reichter the man in charge. Mierda by her side, veil in place.

“General, what has happened?”

“We are to remain here until further orders.”

“Is my father …” she was interrupted.

“Oh no, princess, your father is alive.”

“Why are you here?” she asked boldly.

“We are here for your protection, why is that so different?”

Elizabeth realized she wasn’t going to get a straight answer and decided to stick close to her sisters. She scanned the area marking the position of the soldiers, just as Irina has ordered.

The lantern made all the difference, Irina was able to see the narrow passageway with empty wall sconces and stone cold isolation. She was able to navigate the entire network of the hidden avenue. She stopped at each hidden doorway and listened. Most of the activity was on the first and second levels, she was highly suspicious when she listened to several conversations and the nerves kicked in. She was nauseated by the feeling of dread that came upon her. She decided time for exploring was over it was now time for preparation.

She gathered candles, clothing and food from the Tea Room and placed it in an alcove in the third level passageway. She still had Katrina to worry about. She wondered if the hidden avenue was a secret Katrina kept to herself or shared it with the Streltsy Guard. That was not a question she could ever ask.

Irina then realized, as clever as she thought she had been, she still had no idea how to get away from the Royal Residence — unseen, if necessary. She put the remainder of the time she had left to explore that possibility. Feeling confident, she returned to the Tea Room but her sisters had not returned, and the personal servants were no where to be found.

A fury of footsteps could be heard coming down the hallway from the main stairwell, Irina dissipated into the secret passage as the red uniforms entered the Tea Room.

“All clear,” the room was swept by the guard and the pronouncement was made.

Irina knew her time was up. She could no longer walk freely in her own home. She dared to linger outside the wall of her father’s chamber. She could hear her mother crying and Katrina’s voice ordering the guard to follow the orders they just received.

Elizabeth huddled with her sisters in the first floor solar where they were placed upon returning to the residence. The attention to their privacy and station seemed to have gone by the wayside. The personal servants were dismissed and guards were placed outside the door.

Irina could hear screams and the clash of weapons all around her.

Discovering Intermission

I am blogging my new story, Five Royal Princesses and I have just posted part four this a.m. However, I have not forgotten my first story which hasn’t been introduced to the blog. It is called The Schemer’s Weave (for now) and has four parts, it is currently 130,000 words. I have made two submissions, the second submission had different parameters than the first. I did receive a no-reply message that let me know one: that they did receive my submission (e-mail) and two: if I don’t hear back within thirty days to try again. So far with each submission I get a little more information which is helpful, although we all know the volume of submissions the agent/publisher gets each day, it is the writer’s heart and soul that goes along with each query letter sent that I seem to identify with.

Beside the blog, I have also signed up to attend a writer’s conference. I signed-up for several workshops and there is a networking party at night to attend. I look forward to meeting and hearing stories from other writers and I will share what I learn in this blog.

My first book is what I will be pitching at the conference. My second book debuted on this blog. My second book is based on information I ran across in doing research for my first book. I still have the passion for the story the second time around, it consumes a lot of my time. If I’m not writing it, I’m thinking it — looking for scraps of paper in the meantime to scratch down ideas before they are forgotten. So far nothing is preplanned, I just write and do some editing when blogging so I don’t appear too illiterate. The purpose of the blog is to get used to writing so the first draft isn’t an unreadable piece that distracts from the story.

I love comments, so far I have gotten one legitimate comment out of fifteen others that qualify as spam. I had opened my comments to all, but may rethink that if I get tired of tossing the spam. My intention is to share the process I am going through to get my book read and eventually published.

Five Royal Princesses part four

Irina slips away from the clearing where her mother the Tsarina has managed to get several of the servants involved in her fretting over the different color dyes of her thread. After working her way through the thick underbrush that ruined her gently coiffured hair, dirtied her silk slippers and snagged the silken panels on her gown, she reached a clearing where some of the Stretlsy guard had gathered. Among them sat Katrina.

The horror of seeing Katrina made Irina bolt upward scraping her cheek against a branch of the blackberry bush she just happened to be in the proximity of. Reflexively, her hand went to the stinging sensation on her cheek, feeling the rough broken skin which wasn’t as painful as the sight she beheld before her.

Before she could react, she turned to see who or what was making the sound of ruffling leaves behind her.

“Elizabeth!” Irina whispered. “What are you doing here?”

“I followed you when I noticed no one was watching me.”

Just then Elizabeth notices that Irina is about to step out into the  clearing and confront Katrina. She grabs Irina’s arm.

“No, Irina! You cannot be seen!” Elizabeth pleaded with her sister.

She hesitated, knowing Elizabeth was right. Tears filled her eyes, the injustice she feels in unsubstantiated. She has no reason for these feelings and agrees to wait and see what unfolds. Elizabeth pats Irina’s arm in a comforting manner. They both watch as Katrina stands up and brushes against one of the guardsmen in an all too familiar fashion. He flashes the perfect smile. Irina, hyperventilates leaving Elizabeth to think she is having a fit. Alarmed she helps Irina to sit on the forest floor.

“Irina, what is it? You are over-reacting. We both know that Katrina has special privileges.”

Irina’s soft sobs coalesce with the tremors caused by her hard breathing. Elizabeth’s ability to comfort Irina is a rare quality she possesses because of her familial attachments. Irina looks up to Elizabeth and puts her head on her shoulder.

“That is my Vasilly.”

Elizabeth seems to exude more common sense than her eight years of life should allow. She coaxes Irina to return to the clearing with her and figure this matter out in her mind before she makes a muck of things.

“Irina, we have nothing but time. I will help you.”

Irina’s state of mind and appearance does not go unnoticed when the Tsarina glances over at her two daughters as they emerge from the dense greenery of the forest. Their two personal hand servants are horrified.

Irina cannot manage to formulate one single word. Elizabeth does all the talking and some how explains away all the cuts and scratches and general condition of them both due to some wild animals and several variations of thorny plants while on their way to the privy au natural.

Because Sophia and Ludmilla were enjoying the outing so much they didn’t leave ahead of schedule despite the condition of Irina and Elizabeth. Katrina suddenly appeared into the clearing and proceeded to sit next to her mother appreciating her handy-work and the fruit and cheese upon the table.

“What’s wrong with two and five?” she whispered to her mother using the unflatering distinction of their ranking.

“They failed to select a path on their venture into the forest.”

Katrina looked at them suspiciously. “Oh really.”

On the ride back to the castle, Katrina swapped places with her mother hoping to pry some information out of Elizabeth, — to no avail. The secrecy around Katrina had increased to a new level and Elizabeth’s loyalties were with Irina.

Alone in her chamber that evening Irina pulled out her diary and sat with her hand firmly pressed on the cover. A soft knock on her chamber door, It was Elizabeth.

“Enter, dear sister.”

Irina slid the diary under her mattress.

Five Royal Princes Part Three

Ludmilla shares a chamber with Sophia. The servants are available on a moments notice, but Sophia is comforted by having Ludmilla there to talk to during the long lonely nights.

In the silence of her own chamber, Irina writes in her diary.

Dear Vasilly,

We enjoyed a day of extraordinary entertainment this day. Katrina took over for mother and had the seamstress measure us for our summer trousseau. I don’t know where Katrina goes but she manages to be very aware of the current fashions and is able to make us somewhat connected to the outside world.

I must pay mind to Katrina’s schedule and perhaps learn how she manages to get around the guards and locked doors. In the near future she promises to teach us some dances. She is always singing and twirling around. Elizabeth seems to come alive when Katrina brings her lively spirit to us.

I miss the days when I used you see you, I only can catch a glimpse of the guard when I am out on the balcony and peek from behind the screen.

Sophia, poor soul has no interest in the frivolous activity, and Ludmilla hasn’t joined me in some time. Elizabeth however, has an interest in one of your fellow guardsmen, the one who leads the second column in procession. But he does not compare to you. I live for the day I should see you in the Grand Hall as I used to before our confinement. I still see your smile and admire your bravery and have hope that the future will change for us.

P.S. I have given Elizabeth a copy of “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare. I am teaching her to read just as Katrina taught me.

The physician ,entered the rooms of the princesses to see Sophia just as the Tsarina had promised. A change in diet and walking is prescribed. The Princesses are to be taken by carriage to the Verdant Forest, where the guard will monitor the perimeter to assure the privacy of the Royal sisters.

Katrina has managed to make a picnic of it and an excursion the princesses will not forget. If she has her way this will continue through the warm summer and fall.

Five carriages and the Stretlsy Guard set off for the Verdant Forest. The Tsarina chose to ride with Elizabeth and her maid servant, if this venture works out, she may approve of its continuance.

The guard surrounds the perimeter of this acre wood, recently cordoned off for the sole purpose of Sophia’s health. Six elite guard members line up outside the stalled carriages. One by one the princesses are guided out of the carriage and covered from sight by their personal servants. They are led down the path to the clearing where tables have been set up and food and wine are placed for their enjoyment.

Immediately Ludmilla takes Sophia by the hand and walks her down a path to do some exploring. Katrina disappears and isn’t seen or heard from for the duration of their adventure. Irina wonders if Vasilly is among the guard just down the path or stationed at the perimeter of the forest. Irina decides to find out and Elizabeth is hot on her heels.

The Tsarina seats herself at the table where a delicious feast has been set out and works on her cross-stitch.


Five Princesses part two

Elizabeth Alekseyevna rallies her sisters who are lounging in the solar, well, the ones who are most often there, sharing the same existence.

“Mother has come to join us for our noon meal.” she announces.

The Tzarina Oxana Villovanivitch Brulinskia is seated at the well provided table with six place settings, wearing a lovely brocade burgundy red gown with a gold sash and her coronet of gold and ruby adornment.

Instantly the princesses know the details of the Tsarina’s day to come by her mannerism and her dress.

“Oh mother, where is father today?” asks a dismayed Elizabeth.

The youngest of the five princesses who seems to cling to the personage of her father the most, enters the room to embrace her mother who only waves her away to take her seat. Next to enter is Sophia escorted by Kersey, her personal maid servant.

“Oh, Sophia dear, are you having an unfortunates morning? I will seek out the physician for you on my way to the Ministry this afternoon. Please do sit down.”

Irina and Ludmilla hurry in to the room and take their places. The sixth setting remains empty.

“Anyone aware of Katrina this morning?” The Tsarina inquires.

“I saw her this morning, she was in her night shift and was hurriedly gathering her belongings together with the help of Mierda. But I have not seen her since.” Irina offered.

With that the servants arrived as if on cue to serve the remaining obedient daughters of the Royal Brulinskia Family.

“Mother,” Irina inquired. “You will be long at the Ministry this afternoon? Will you be able to join us? We will be looking at the fabric selection for the new gowns we were promised.”

“No, dear — perhaps tomorrow. I have a full day scheduled today and I hope to spend some time with the Tzar.”

Katrina enters the room, no attempt to apologize for her late arrival. She simply asks the servant to heat up her soup and asks for a fresh roll to go with it. The other sisters look at their mother and back to Katrina who sees no issue with her rude behavior.

“I have arraigned to have the seamstress join us after our meal, she will bring some new patterns of Western Style dresses all the fashion amongst the Boyar this season.” Katrina announces.

The brilliance of this girl cannot be matched in this room. In one grand announcement; she lets her mother off the hook for the guilt of making the girls wait an indeterminate amount of time for the one pleasure they have had to contemplate in months, she also gets a pass for her tardiness and not a question concerning her whereabouts all morning. — genius.

Vasilly Starostenko drains his fifth shot of vodka and slams the glass down shattering the glass and cutting his hand. He hardly notices but gets his blood all over the woman he has been tempting to disappear with him to the rooms upstairs. His time is short, his presence is required in the early morning hours as one of the Elite Royal Guard known as the Stretlsy. He will be successful as he is in most of his conquests.



Five Royal Princesses

Five Royal Princesses sit in the chambers of the castle in the vast domain of the Brulinskia regime.

In the top floor of the residence of the Royal Family of Rus live the five sisters of the prince, Pietro Brulinskia. The Tzar is a good monarch and cares deeply for his people, but he is not well. A hereditary illness plaques him and his weakness has returned, he is sound of mind however, he uses his generals and advisers to complete the duties he cannot.

The sisters live a life of cloistered anonymity. Their servants and family are the only ones who see them. When they must leave the secret walls of the castle to move to another residence they are covered from sight. Each assigned a servant whose primary concern is to keep them concealed.

This existence is expected of them, they will live their entire lives this way, with no hope for an outside life. No marriage to be arranged, no profession, no education and no voice.

Two exceptions: Katrina is not of a docile nature. She has fought the tradition of her station in life. She has managed to steal out and reap some of the same benefits as her brother, the prince. He actually enjoys her company, she is bright and determined. She challenges him and speaks frankly, he is not used to that.

Her willful nature is not expected and has never been corrected. This life she has been destined to will not hold her. Being the eldest of the five girls has allowed her childhood to extend longer than the rest. She had witnessed the lives of the other residents of the castle longer than her younger siblings who were sequestered as a group when Ludmilla, the middle child was twelve.

Irina is only second to Katrina. She had learned from her older sister. but does not show her independence outwardly. She has a diary. She writes daily of her observations, her sisters activities and her thoughts of this most restrictive and enviable  lifestyle of luxury and wealth, — unless you are the one that has to live it. Before she was sent into obscurity at the age of fourteen she had tasted enough of the natural existence of  any young woman to realize the unnaturalness of living such a life isolated from the world. Especially Vasilly, he was a young man of the Royal Guard who was twenty-four years old. He was unaware of the attention he was receiving from the impressionable young Princess Irina. A striking figure in his Royal Guard Uniform, he would wink at the princesses and show a bit of humanity, which was mostly lacking considering the severity of the military presence. His smile is what Irina dreams of most, a most unfortunate turn of events.

Dear Vasilly,

The month of March has come and gone. I have completed the cross-stitch I have been working on with Sophia, she is still doing her best to keep the stitches perfectly lined up but needs my assistance from time to time. We have had Kerzey measure it to be hung, it really is that lovely. The physician that tends our father the Tzar, also tends Sophia. They share the same degenerative illness. That leaves the Tzarina (mother) to claim that her blood has nothing to do with Sophia’s episodes.

Ludmilla has been quiet and sad lately. She cries when she thinks we are not looking. I must close for now Vasilly, till next time. You and I will keep our secret.

Irina puts down the diary and quickly hides it away. She remembers how her carelessness almost ruined her private relationship with her not-so imaginary acquaintance and confidant, Vasilly.

Trying To Discover My Inner Blatherskite

Not good in crowds, I will open up and talk incessantly with a close friend but not much elsewhere. So I was surprised when I started to write my story that there was no loss of words. I just kept writing. My first draft was rife with “difficulties” that were easily remedied and on the fourth pass I was confident that it was acceptable. My father was an English teacher and I compliment him on some of the good decisions I made in proofreading the story.

Currently I am about half way through Part Three on the third pass correcting glaring errors and checking timeline issues. One more pass and I will print it out and add it to the completed first half of my story ready to be read by an agent.

I have not let the fact that I have submitted ten sample pages to an agent and have not heard back. I will try again. The next agent I am looking at requires a different submission style. Query letter, Synopsis, and a four page sample from the first chapter.

It is strange how my characters have come alive and I am almost fighting for their existence as I am for my own.

More Thoughts

For some time now — actually forever. I thought the ideas rolling around in my head were of interest to me only. I have had this story I thought should be written but not by me. The person who needed to be written about is my mother. She grew up in a very unusual time. She experienced the Depression, WWII, lived on a farm, and was very much “alive.”

I thought, and told her so, she should write the book. she loved to talk, she told me her stories and as she got older she repeated them over and over, my mind is filled with those stories almost verbatim.

She could be the nurse in the VJ Day embrace, she saw the medical field grow in an exciting time, women were still dying in childbirth at the beginning of her nurses training and by the end of her life, hearts were being successfully transplanted.

The young girl in my story started taking on the characteristics of a strong woman with a dynamic personality. She proved to be the vehicle.

Part four takes on a little diversion into her life and I was so excited to take some of the stories and turn them into another time and place.