Practise, Practise, Practise (+excerpt & giveaway)

Practise, Practise, Practise (+excerpt & giveaway)

When my boys were young, we had several Patch the Pirate recordings, which used stories and songs to teach Biblical truths. It has been years since I listened to any of those tapes or CD’s, but bits and pieces of songs have stuck in my mind. One of these choruses is

Practise, Practise, Practise
Practise every day
If I want to get better
That’s the only way
There’s no doubt of about
There’s no way around it
Mother, please don’t shout it
Practise, Practise, Practise!

I don’t remember the story or the rest of the song, but every time I think about practicing, there’s that tune humming its truth in my brain.

Practising is essential for improvement in many things.

Writing is one of those things.

March 17, 2016, will mark my one year anniversary of being a published author, and over the past year, I have been experiencing what I Thursday's Three Hundredalready knew to be true. Writing becomes easier, and writing skills become stronger through practice.

One of the things I have been using to practice writing is what I call Thursday’s Three Hundred. My intention was for these blog posts to be just short descriptive writing exercises. They were not supposed to be linked in any way. They were not supposed to pull me into a story and evolve into something far longer than three hundred words. They were not…but they did.

The first three hundred words grew to be an original Regency short story of about six thousand words called “Hope at Dawn.” When that story was completed, a second, longer one followed. Below is a description of this second story, followed by a short excerpt from the first chapter.
She needs a rescue. He is her only hope.

When Lucy’s father dies, she must either marry quickly or go to live with her uncle. For Lucy, there is only one choice, and his name is Philip Dobney.

To be presented with an offer of marriage from a long time friend is shocking to be sure! But the thought is not unwelcome. Philip is in need of a wife, after all, and Lucy is more than qualified to be a parson’s wife.

However, what seems to be a simple solution soon becomes complicated when Lucy’s uncle shows up with plans to gain enough money to cover debts — both his own and those owed to him. Events from the past combined with threats in the present threaten to tear Lucy and Philip apart unless Darcy can help his friends save their blossoming love and rid Lucy of her uncle once and for all.


Chapter One

The sun’s rays were sliding toward the horizon as Lucy Tolson folded the letter. A slight breeze dashed by and tried to snatch the paper from her. Lucy tucked it into her pocket. How long she had sat there, reading and considering that letter, she did not know. It had come earlier in the day, but she had refused to open it until she would be able to share it with her father for she knew the news it contained would not be welcome.

Edmund Blair Leighton - A Wet Sunday Morning
Source: Edmund Leighton [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“It is as you said, Papa. Uncle will take me in two month’s time if I have not found a suitable husband before that.” Lucy leaned her head against the coolness of her father’s headstone and spoke to the fresh mound of earth that covered him where he lay beside her mother. Two months? She shook her head. She would be lucky if her uncle did not come for her within the week. Not that he cared for her! No, his interest in her as in all of life had always been mercenary. He had proven that long ago.

“I’ll not be separated from you, Papa.” She lay a hand on the earthen mound. “I could not abide living in his house with that woman and those children. And my money, Papa, you know he would not care for it as you have. It would be gone within a card game along with my chances for a good match.” She pulled her handkerchief from her pocket to catch her tears. “I cannot go with him, Papa. You know what he is.” She buried her face in the bit of cloth she held and let her grief and fears flow freely for a few moments. Then, after several shuddering breaths, she lifted her face to her father’s marker once again. “I will consider all you have told me. I will make a good choice, and even if I am not loved as Mama was, I will be happy.”

“Miss Tolson?” From a window in the church, Philip Dobney had seen the lady enter the graveyard and was worried when she had stayed for so long. For the last few minutes, he had been watching her weep from the window as the sermon he had been practising sat neglected on a pew a few feet away. He knew that grief was a demanding master who ran roughshod over many, sometimes, leading them to consider all sorts of things they would not have considered when in a happier state. And it was always strongest at first, so he knew that Lucy’s grief was great. It had been but a few days since Mr. Tolson had been buried. It was the first service of that sort which he had performed since accepting the living here in Kympton.

Lucy accepted his hand and with his help rose from where she knelt. “I am well, Mr. Dobney. I was just sharing some news with Papa.” She dried her eyes and allowed him to guide her to the bench next to the church.

“Please call me Philip,” he said, taking a seat next to her. “We have known each other for years, and at times such as these, I believe we can be less formal?” Indeed, Lucy and his sister Mary Ellen had been friends since before they were in leading strings. His mother and Mrs. Tolson were often in each other’s gardens or sitting rooms when he was young. They would have tea and stitch while their daughters would play. More than once, he had been enlisted to help keep them from trouble so that their mothers could relax. They had been tolerably good and pleasant enough to have as companions for a while. He and his friends had actually come to like having them around on occasion.

Edmund Blair Leighton - The question
Edmund Leighton [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“Very well, but on Sundays and in company, I shall insist on calling you Mr. Dobney.” She smiled at him as she sniffled and stuffed her handkerchief into her pocket. “And you, of course, may call me Lucy.” She drew a deep breath and released it. Her heart felt less heavy and oddly protected as she sat there with him. But then, that was how his presence had always made her feel.

“You have settled into the position of parson well.” She gave him a sidelong look. “My father commented on how he has enjoyed your sermons these last few weeks. I believe he called them refreshing.”

“Lucy, I am here to offer comfort to you, not garner your praise.” He chuckled.

“Passing on my father’s praise gives me comfort. It makes it seem less like he is gone.”

“Then, I shall attempt to receive his compliments graciously.” He leaned back and looked toward the grave next to which she had been kneeling. “You said you were sharing news with your father. Is it anything with which I could be of assistance?”

She tilted her head and gave him a searching look. She had promised her father that she would speak to each of the men on his list. However, she had intended to do so with her Aunt Tess present, not while alone in a churchyard.

“Anything at all, Lucy,” he prompted.

Her cheeks grew warm, and she pulled up her shoulders and let them fall in a little shrug. “There is nothing,” she paused, then allowed the rest of her thought to rush out before she could think better of it. “Unless you wish to marry me or know of someone else who would be willing.”


If you would like to read the rest of the first chapter and a portion of Hope at Dawn you may do so by clicking this link. If you would like to be entered to win a Kindle copy of this book when it publishes this month, leave a comment below.  Contest closes at midnight EST on March 17, 2016.

And, in case you are wondering, I have not stopped practising. A third story, The Tenant’s Guest: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, has been started with a new section of story posting each Thursday on my blog.

“If I want to get better, it’s the only way.”

How about you? What are some of the things you practice?

30 Responses to Practise, Practise, Practise (+excerpt & giveaway)

  1. Congratulations on your anniversary of being published…tomorrow, St. Patrick’s Day. I am sure we who don’t write have little, if any, idea of all the hard work that goes into a story much less the tears and apprehension as to whether it will be a success.

    • Thank you, Sheila. There is a lot of work that goes into each book, and then, yes, as you said, there is the trepidation of releasing it and hoping that someone will enjoy it, and it will not be completely ignored. 🙂 And the tears? Well, I have to say in my experience, those usually happen somewhere in the writing process as I attempt to pour what my heart is feeling into the words I am typing. It is both an exhilarating and exhausting experience, but one that I truly love.

  2. Leenie, I love reading your Thursday’s Three Hundred. Of course, I’ve never really counted, but enjoy the short reads you offer each week. Looking forward to your new books.

    • I’m so glad you enjoy them! I think that maybe there have been 2 or 3 posts that have actually come close to the 300 word count, but most are much longer than 300 words. I have been just letting the scene kind of run its course each time I sit to practice, depending, of course, on how much time I have in my schedule that particular day.

  3. I’ve become a real fan of your writing so I shall watch closely for this one to be released! I love how it appears that Darcy is a part of it, but it’s not a “Darcy” story!

    • That is exciting to hear, Stephanie! You are absolutely correct that it is not a “Darcy story,” but he is an important character in the story. In fact, his help becomes invaluable to Lucy and Philip.

      I have just spent a few hours getting files uploaded and publishing forms filled out. The book should be available soon!

  4. I am practicing making homemade sourdough bread to see if I can make it as good as my grandmother’s was. Of course, I get to enjoy the results, too. Thanks for the chance to win!

  5. Ooh, I’m glad that you mentioned your Thursday Three Hundred. I only just recently became aware of them, and I am confused about how they work. Are you saying that they are NOT one story in succession? So, is it that you write scenarios from a larger story in your imagination, and then when you want to have the complete story, you link together the Three Hundreds into something cohesive?

    • Well, they were intended to be unconnected writing exercises, but my brain would not allow a story to stop once it was started, So, I changed it after the first week and made it a serial story. The parts usually follow fairly well one right after another, but it is not always smooth. What you are seeing when reading is really what it looks like when I write a first draft. I try my best to get exactly what I want from the story or the characters onto the page, but often I have to go back and add things to smooth things out. For these stories, I have a concept in my head or a direction I want the story to go, but I admit to doing little outlining. I am more of an idea web sort of plotter, who likes to follow the characters. And Then Love is now at around 22,000 words but in rough draft form on my blog, it was only about 16,000 words…so I did have to add a good bit to flesh it out as I wanted it to be as a final story. I find that I often have to go back and add details and descriptions. That is a skill that I am working on with my current exercises–adding more detail to my first drafts.

      I have kept with the Thursday’s Three Hundred title, even though most weeks are well over that, because it is less daunting to sit down to write knowing that you only need three hundred words. 🙂 I did this week’s post earlier today, and it is just over 1200 words. So, as you can tell, that three hundred is really just a starting point. 🙂

  6. What a lovely excerpt Eileen! I cannot wait to read all of it. I agree that writing gets easier as we go along. 🙂

    • Thank you, Brenda! I have really enjoyed the results of the writing exercises, but I admit to whining now and again while doing it because it is not always easy or I don’t want to do it. 🙂

  7. When I hear the word practice, I always hear Lady Catherine’s voice…I can’t help it. Thank you for the excerpt and the giveaway. You can practice on us. Thanks again.

    • It is kind of hard not to think of her! But, remember it was her lack of practice that made her not be a proficient. 😉 So, I think I will keep practising, so I don’t turn into a Lady C. 🙂

  8. In a lot of ways, I’m very much like Darcy when it comes to social interaction with people I don’t know. It’s something I’ve really had to take Elizabeth Bennet’s advice on and practice more. I’m much better at it than I was but it’ll never be a natural thing for me.

    Thanks for telling us how Thursday’s Three Hundred came about. I very much enjoy reading it, even if I rarely comment. Thanks also for the giveaway.

    • Oh, I am not a lover of social interactions and that is not a skill I really wish to practice. LOL

      I am happy to know you are reading (and enjoying) the Thursday stories. 🙂 Thanks, Anji.

  9. Well I definitely need to know what happens next. Your practice has really paid off. The thing I mostly practice is reading – as much of the day as I can manage and often into the night. I’m hoping to be a true proficient in 10 or 20 years so thanks for helping me. ?

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