Still Waiting

I’m taking the time out today to blog. I am still waiting for what will hopefully be my big news. I have a full MS being reviewed by editor’s at a publishing company. I am trying not to dwell on the idea of the doors that may open because it is not a certainty. It is further than I have ever gotten in this business, but I have had so many rejections and no responses that I am a little tentative to run out in the street and scream to the heavens.

I am not waiting however,  my power packed novel Places You Will Be From  was a 70,000 word completed MS. But, when I sent it out for a professional edit I was told it was too much for one book. Between the accidental time travel, too many characters,  and futuristic interference from a 25th Century genius it was cut down to 20,000 words for the book. So, I decided to write a trilogy.

Coincidentally, I was reading a novel by Michael Sullivan Age of Myth a good story and the first in a three part series the second book will be out in Summer 2017. In the prologue, the author mentioned that he writes all three books before he releases the first one. That way he can thread the story between all three books and not have problems with a break through in content or publishing restrictions. Before I heard this (audiobook) I had a similar plan. You may discover something about a character in the second half of the second book and only have regrets if the book is already being published. The author did warn about the difficulty of writing three books at once, but I do see the benefits. I have also read Elegant Universe by Physicist, Brian Greene for research for my current book. I am reading it again for obvious reasons.

I am also going to a location to research a part of this current book. This is the first time I am doing that. I am also using my hometown and the familiar landmarks surrounding it. That is also a first. It’s fun writing about things you know.

So, I am working hard to have the books written while I wait for the decision on my book Summer Palace. I had a successful first read through with my sister on Places You Will Be From 1 I had gone through scene by scene and did a character outline. It is currently 36,000 words. Places You Have Been 2 is currently 34,000 words and Places You Have Never Been 3 is at 3,500 words. I am feeling somewhat overwhelmed.

What is great about it is. Free writing when you wish, careful editing when you have to, and filling in details when the mood moves you. Choices, I love choices.

I have several other projects. One of which is the reason I started this blog. Woven In Time is in stasis. It is waiting for me to get the skill I need to tackle it again. It was my first book 140,000 words full of jam packed action and fantasy and rejected queries and partial MS. After the professional edit on Places You Will Be From I learned that I have several books wrapped up in Woven In Time. There is also The Tea Room a 65,000 word novel also on hold. I also have two short stories Lucid Dreams and Curious Allure both of which have the potential to become novels. There are several irons in the fire.

I have received some great comments. Thanks readers and keep them coming. I appreciate the offers to share links and co-author but at this point I am focusing on my writing and can’t take on any additional projects.

Spilling More Guts

My first blog ever was This Is Me Spilling My Guts and that was a little over one year ago. One of the things I learned and wrote about is that you have to keep your eye on the prize. I listened to every bit of criticism I received. Well, eventually I did.

I stopped blogging, stopped Tweeting, and focused on the task at hand. My writing. I read the writing manuals and grammar books and methodically looked at my work. Of the three books I had on a website that critiqued my work one stood out 10% higher that the rest. I suppose I needed to do all those things to get where I am, but when push came to shove WRITING won out.

After a professional edit on one book I decided to learn the steps of writing a novel by applying them to the story I thought would have the most success or was the most complete. I put everything aside and wrote. I printed it out and spent two weekends proofing it with my sister. Four months later I took one of the recommended books on agents, publishers, and editors and decided to take two from each category and send out queries. I sent two to agents who requested woman’s fiction, two to  agents I thought would be receptive to my story, two to independent publishers, two to commercial printers, two to agents who prefer fiction. One publisher requested three chapters, but not necessarily the first three, for they requested any three.

I had combed through the first line of this book, first paragraph, first page, and first chapter so many times that this idea intrigued me. So, I picked three chapters from the end of the novel. Five days later I received a request for the full MS.

You heard me right. It came in the mail. US post. I had to read it twice; because, if you’ve read my blog you know I have sent out over 50 queries and received half as many rejections. The point is. I got really serious with my writing. Made myself crazy over periods and commas. Then told myself I was done. Six weeks is what it will take to hear one way or another. So I wait. but not really. I am working on the book I put aside to learn the skills and steps.

Spilling my guts is what I’m doing. I had a tendency not to mention my milestone. It is a first for me and if it’s another rejection. I’ll take it badly of course, but I will be so much closer to my goal of getting published. I did have a partial MS accepted before, but it was eventually rejected. So, I imagine what it would be like to be over that hurdle and I’m sure I’ll share it with you right here in this blog. Spilling my guts.

Learning to Walk

I came out running. That was my problem. I started this blog one year ago. I was on my way to a writer’s conference with my MS which was actually a first draft or even a sketch draft. But, I was running and soon realized I had to learn to walk first.

I have spent the last four months completing my novel Summer Palace. I took it from a novella, some 21,000 words long, to a novel of 71,114 words. The ‘filler’ information was all dialog and description. However, I did add some content that was in my head and never made it to the page. At one point I felt it was necessary and vital to add it to the story. I was afraid of going off on a tangent but came to find that it was one of my favorite scenes.

I also built character outlines and scene cards with color-coded POV’S. If you had read an earlier blog where I mentioned I sent my first 60 pages, from another story Places, to a professional editor and was advised to re-edit using a more structured format. I put that project on the back burner and concentrated solely on Summer Palace as a trial more or less.

At the time, since the editorial service was quite expensive I thought I would give due diligence and ‘learn’ the process while completing another WIP. I worked non-stop for four months not even taking time to blog or tweet (regularly). I was on these platforms daily, but had to be focused–something had to give. Now, with the completion of Summer Palace I am ready to tackle Places and continue to write on this blog whenever possible.

I have learned so much, navigated the landmines of criticism, and managed to have faith in myself to move forward. I recently read an article on Internal Dialog. This is one of the items I need to address in my WIP. As a tool to develop a style in writing internal dialog the exercise is to write for fifteen minutes something from my own personal thoughts. So here it is:

I set my timer because I’m getting old, perhaps numb. When I write I lose all sense of time. Plus, the fact that I’m getting old and it’s getting harder to see. Most of my docs are at 18 point to make it easier. It also mean s more paper on MS drafts printed out, but who’s counting?

I am usually someone of a very few words. However, I find myself spewing forth thoughts that most often remain unspoken. There is so much to this process. I have received many critiques. Some positive and some not so much. On the same samples. So, who do I believe? I have to count out the top two and bottom two due to attrition or some other reason. Then, there’s a frothy mix of a more accurate account of my work. I see some common occurring pro’s and con’s and still many typo’s that were gone over and over but still seem to shine brightly on the page. However, I have to admit it is almost impossible to read a WIP and not correct it every time you read it. Sometimes, minute little changes that I probably change from one to the other each time I read the sentence. Hence, the shocking typo’s are often from recently added or changed copy. I also wonder how much of the tedious going over and over the copy will be futile, for the final editors may remove volumes of copy or even delete scenes. I have also taken suggestions to slow down the pace of my story only to  have the opposite review after the edits are made to speed up the pace. That is where critiques are to be weighed and balanced and the writer needs to be the final arbiter.

Checking my timer I have two minutes left. What do I want to say in my final internal dialog?

It never goes away, that feeling of inadequacy. The feeling that perhaps you are not good enough. But, then there are the excellent posts on this blog and the encouragement from family and friends. The level of self-worth is fluctuating and when it’s up it’s the best feeling in the world.

Final thought.

Blogging is internal dialog.

Preoccupied

Hello, I am in the process of finalizing my novel. I am preparing to send out queries and finalizing is a four letter word. I am constantly going through my MS for the last time. I heard a quote that a MS isn’t finalized until it goes to press. I’m finding the truth in that statement. I am compiling a list of ten agents to submit to and all have different requirements. Although, all are similar there are details that I need to be concerned with. Ex., a one page synopsis, a two page synopsis, or a 500 word synopsis-requires three separately written recaps of the story.

I have been concentrating on the MS and not much else lately. After all my priority is the book. The blog and media outlets are to create a platform for the former. I have been neglectful of this blog but I also realize my novel wouldn’t be where it is-wherever that is-without it. I have used the blog to test run excerpts from the various WIP’s and love the feeling of free writing. Also, in an effort to write everyday I have used the blog to more or less document my progress. I am still working toward my goal of getting an agent and getting my novel published.

Right now I need a 500 word synopsis of my story Summer Palace and thought I would get it done here killing five birds with one stone (maybe two).

Summer Palace is a love story set in 17th Century Russia shortly before Peter the Great’s reign. Katia is a young Muscovite woman who has grown up in the terem tradition. Katia is willful, defiant, and not at all like her siblings. Her mother treats her differently and it becomes obvious that the dark-haired beauty is a product of an affair and an inconvenience.

Katia is not content to exist as a compliant, subdued, and manageable daughter. She longs for life outside and is drawn to her chamber window to observe the world she cannot be part of. Her longings become her dreams and soon her reality when she escapes the terem dressed as a servant girl and goes to the stables on the Estate and asks to ride one of the stallions.

The stable is empty except for the sullen boy who is there to pay restitution for the damage he did to the Stable Master who is courting his mother. He tries to send Katia away but his heart softens to her when he realizes that she is not what she seems. He finds it in his heart to take her back to the Palace on the black stallion. In all her dreams she never imagined the exhilaration of the ride and the closeness of the boy.

Katia’s brother meets the stable boy and they become comrades. They talk of their traditions and cultures. Wiley a foreigner living in the New German Quarters and Pavel the son of a Baron and the heir to the Estate work out their differences. The Tsar Feodor III is frail and considered unfit to rule, but he proves the critics wrong by keeping the policies of his father and surrounding himself with capable men.

In 1676 Russia becomes involved in the Ukranian war against the Ottoman Empire and Pavel and Wiley join the Dragoons. Pavel makes the announcement to his family and Katia is distraught. She sees Wiley outside her chamber window and decides to risk all. They ride into the night and plan their future. They are found out and Pavel tries to cover for them and is banished while Katia is forcibly betrothed to a nobleman’s son.

Dimitry Rostov has no desire to be married and has a similar reason to put off marriage as Katia. Together they grow to love and respect one another by remaining true to their hearts. The war wages on. Pavel is wounded and returned home. Wiley is lost and resurfaces after escaping an Ottoman prison. He is not aware of the troubles back home with the streltsly led coup and imposition of Sophia as Regent after the untimely death of her brother Feodor III.

The story concludes when Katia decides to find Wiley who has since abandoned his life and rides with the Cossacks on the Eastern Steppes. She follows the unit sent to the Crimea and finds Wiley has changed. She has risked all and given up any chance of a good life and is devastated by the scene she witnesses.

After he convinces her and they escape the persecution of their cousin who seeks revenge they depart to Germany and Pavel goes home to Moscow to make peace with his father.

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.