Progress

I’m dropping in to blog for a few moment I am in the final stages of a re-edit and have been nose to the grindstone for three months now. I have gone through the MS but found organizational errors in the third part so I had to pay particular attention to the timeline and straighten it out. I need to print out the changes and go through them one more time. In the past I rushed through and it only serves to stop the writer later on. Diligence and painstaking methodical writing is what is needed to insure the MS stays out of the slush pile.

I realize that my MS may still end up there, however, I know I dotted every i and crossed every t. I would know that in my evaluation of another failure that it wasn’t from skimping. However, that is not going to happen this time. I usually am a positive thinker, so I must remain so. It has been a long time since I wrote a query, that will be my next step. I plan to find ten agents to submit to. I already have all I need for this story. I only need to rework the synopsis, log line, and query. That will be interesting reading the docs I sent previously. I should have a better, more concise way to introduce my MS.

If I have any advice for someone in my shoes or just starting out, it would be to focus and keep writing. The blogging is important and as I have said many times it is key to perfecting the art of writing, however, it is distracting and a commitment that should only be second to your dream of being a writer.

I feel as though I have made so much progress. I have learned so much from the other media platforms but I haven’t felt so accomplished as I have by the intense focus I have dedicated to writing and concluding my story.

And, I am well aware that once I get through the hurdle of agent representation and a publishing contract there is going to be more editing to be done. Which brings up another point. The line between letting go of some of your efforts and staying true to your ethic. That will be a whole other area of experience that I’m sure would be interesting to blog about. I hope I have such a road to cross someday.

Coming up for air

I didn’t plan to blog at this moment. I checked in to see comments and I had several good comments and questions. I have been tearing up my MS for the past three months. I’m finding I’m making progress. If you’ve been following me there are many suggestions to follow, as well as mistakes I have made. My biggest mistake, I think, was jumping the gun and submitting work that wasn’t complete. I have been nose to the grindstone. I picked one of my stories and applied Diane O’Connell’s tips in her Novel Maker’s Handbook. Yes, I even took each scene and made a color-coded system for POV (129 scenes) with the seven elements that are required in a dramatic scene written on each. Who, Where, When, What, How, Why, Want and Obstacle. Similar to the Goal, Conflict, Disaster Scene and the Reaction, Dilemma, Conclusion Sequel format, yet different. Each element is needed for a compelling page turner.

This past weekend I completed another read through, out loud with a friend. A very good friend. My sister who is monumental in giving a subjective view of my story. It’s difficult to get someone to read a well marketed best seller, let alone a rough draft that may or may not be marketable or readable. I am halfway through going over the corrections and suggestions of my 63,000 word MS.

Earlier, in my blogging I truly felt the raw writing was helping me hone my craft. Each step was necessary, but I went and pitched a Sketch Draft, thinking I was ready.

I recently learned that a Sketch Draft is what I ended up with after four months of raw writing. My blogging style. I am a pantser after all. I have come to these conclusions after reading the Novel Maker’s Handbook by Diane O’Connell that I highly recommend, by the way, if you haven’t figured it out. There are several chapters building up to the first draft. Character; details on knowing your characters, even their likes and dislikes, Scene; building vivid scenes and compiling all these elements into a MS.

Yes, I have over simplified the process. Reading this helped me to see the error of my ways. Also, I read every day. I have stopped all other Social Media and distractions. I have about one more month to dedicate to this story, then I will apply all I learned to the MS that I submitted for edit and want to re-edit with a little more substantive direction.

Follow me on Twitter. @SNomakeo. I haven’t been doing much but I do read tweets and have found some great info.

Plotter or Pantser?

Does a pantser ever change? Can a leopard change his spots? I first learned the term last summer at the WD Conference. I blogged a little rant about it earlier. I am definitely a pantser although, I don’t particularly care for the term, it seems to have a negative connotation attached to it. Both ‘terms’ are at either end of the, ‘I plan every step’ to ‘I plan nothing’ spectrum. I’m reading the Novel Maker’s Handbook by Diane O’Connell and trying to take the advice to heart. I just completed a stack set of scene cards, color coordinated by character covering all 129 scenes in my 63,000 word novel. It took me a week of long hours and hard work. It was a good feeling to see my novel in a stack of colored cue cards and then laid out on my kitchen table. The process does make the scenes and their merit or lack thereof, stand out.

The author, Diane O’Connell, goes through a step-by-step process of writing a novel. Most of the suggestions have a similar way of putting together a story as others I have read online and implemented previously. However, I wasn’t familiar with the process and this informational guide seems to have come at a time when I’m more ‘willing’ to try something, anything to get my stories past the slush pile.

Another step is the Sketch Draft, basically the first draft. A framework of the novel. Done, just as it says, in a sketchy, loose, and fast format. Compared to, by the author, as a pencil sketch an artist may use to layout the map for his final product. This is what I’m thinking my first drafts of all my stories represent. The next step is the Write with Feeling Draft, where the framework is filled with feelings of the characters usually in First Person Singular POV. This step, as well, is most likely included in my first draft–without the ‘I meant to do that part’ I’m thinking that somewhere in my MS the elements are there I only need to draw them out. I can only hope.

My novel Summer Palace, Historical Fiction Fantasy, has been my focus for the past three months. Originally, a short novella now barely qualifies as a novel. I’m trying to mold what I have into the framework of the process covered in this handbook. When I am done. Hopefully, within the next month. I plan to upload it to PandaMoon.com for review and then start the ominous task of rewriting my Fantasy, Time Travel, Science Fiction  Places You Will Be From the subject of the editing services I received from Diane O’Connell.

My novel, at this very moment, is a 17,000 word WIP cut from a 55,000 word MS to be focused on the first quarter of my original story. The final needs to be at least 70,000 words. What I’m learning with the process on Summer Palace will be applied to Places more closely following the steps recommended.

I haven’t been doing much with Twitter, Facebook, YouWriteOn.com, or blogging. I have been concentrating on my book. I haven’t entered any contests or sent out queries. I want the satisfaction of a completed marketable novel.

Thanks for reading, keep the comments coming.

Learn Something New

I’m reading through a text book that was recommended to me. It’s the Novel Maker’s Handbothe book by Diane O’Connell. I’ve mentioned the book before, but working through it has helped me to clarify. 1) I am definitely a pantser, I still am not fond of that term, but the author uses it, quite often, the other half of the club for novice writers is the plotter. Which I definitely am not. I don’t plan for anything. 2.) My topic – POV. I have tried to make heads or tales of that concept. I thought I’d sit down and write a novel without one consideration of how I wanted to write it.  However, there are rules and not following said rules can make for a confusing Hodge-podge of words. I am attempting to write in Third Person Multiple, which can be considered omniscient except the POV needs to be limited overall (up to five) and only one per scene. So I am going to explore an idea I have using the 3pM format. Every edit I have done so far was doable, but I had to keep in mind that the POV in the scene cannot read the mind of the person they are engaged in a dialogue with. They can only hear what is being said, witness body language, and can only analyze their own thoughts. So with that in mind I will attempt it out of the box.

Her place of solace was her own chamber. She would spend hours in the window seat looking out her window. It was a ritual she had developed by necessity. Away from the scrutiny and comparisons to her sisters by her mother. Years ago her brother left a picture book behind and she quickly absconded with it and tucked it away. She would often be positioned in her window seat with her feet above her head, ankles crossed, and petticoats drawn back to expose the skin between her slippers and shin–reading the book. Her brother had read it to her on visits so many times that she memorized the words and began to recognize them on sight. The corresponding pictures, barnyard animals and green countryside, also gave clues to the words she began to know. She played games with the words and watched the seasons change while hidden behind the veil of the window dressings that concealed her space.

She could never be caught in such an unladylike position and slipped the book underneath the cushion at a moments notice. Instead of learning an instrument or endless hours of needlepoint she wore the pages of her book to a much thinner and creased version of itself.

She calculated the routine of the servants, who cooperated with her by their structured schedules. She knew when they would come and go, what areas would be skipped on a certain day due to a more pressing obligation. It was those times she would sweep through the servants quarters looking for journals, newspapers, and flyers. Anything containing words she could make use of.

Once in a great while her father would come up to the terem and spend time with her. Her mother would not approve of the individual attention he would give her. She would simply attribute her mother’s objections to her unusual interests and pastimes so foreign to her she couldn’t bear it.

“Father, where is Pavel?” she asked not so much for the fact that her father alone wasn’t enough for her entertainment, but she wanted to know what he did on a daily basis.

“He’s with his tutor, Katia. Same as every other time you ask me.”

“What is he learning today?” she asked.

“He’s with Moncliff, so it’s mathematics I believe,” he said.

“What does he need to know that for?” she asked.

“Katia, you have too many questions. Show me something you’ve done.”

“Why father, I’m observing,” she went to her window and opened the Damask drapes and voile panels. “I had Trudy open the window, can you smell it?”

Her father stepped by her side and breathed in the fresh air. It was pleasant enough and he looked at her sideways and smiled.

“It’s Spring, it’s quite a different smell than Winter. Of course, I can’t have my window open when it’s cold, but sometimes Trudy freshens the room and I love the smell of the clean cool air and the patterns the frost makes on the window.”

“Katia, you remind me so much of…my mother. I wish you could have known her. You have her coloring, but she was a very sensual woman as well. She loved the sights and sounds and…life, she loved life. She was taken away from me far too soon. She would have loved you, too.”

“Why do you only talk about her when we are alone? Wasn’t your mother…?”

“Now, Katia, we don’t mention her to the others because…it’s our secret. Our little secret. The others would feel bad because they look nothing like her. So, we’ll just share her between us. All right? Well, Katia, I have to go collect Pavel, he’s coming with me into town.”

“Why, can’t I ever go into town with you?” she said stomping her foot.

“If I bring you, I’ll have to bring everyone of your sisters including your mother and the maid servants.”

“Father, that used to work when I was small, but now? What is the problem? Why can’t I spend more time with you? Outside of this?” she spread her arms out wide and turned in a compete circle ending in his caress.

“Katia, you are my precious girl,” he said. “Too precious to take outside where there are those that could harm you.”

She looked at him with one eyebrow raised.

“Well, dear,” he said taking her to the door of her chamber. “I have to speak with your mother before I leave.” he said and she walked half-way down the hall and let go of his hand. He disappeared around the corner and she turned to go back to her room that still held the essence of her father mingled with the Spring air coming in through the window of her private world.

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.