Once upon a time, about three months ago, I marked today as the day when I wanted to have a particular book ready to publish. Often, I hit my mark on or near the bullseye. However, this time, my arrow has flown far afield from the target, and I am not ready to publish a book today. In fact, as I write this on the Wednesday before you read it, I have not finished the first draft.
There are reasons for this that can be summed up in three words: school has started. 🙂 For me, that means my husband’s work schedule changes and homeschooling begins, and those two things demand a change in my work schedule as well. We actually are settling into things quite nicely, and soon, we should have a pretty good routine that feels natural.
Currently, in my writing life, I am working not only on that particular book that I wanted to have published by now but also two other writing projects while a fourth project continues to post each Thursday on my blog. So, today, I thought I would share a little bit from these stories in a “scholarly” sort of fashion since school has started. This means I am going to share a few excerpts from these stories which have required some research either to find visual inspiration or historical facts to help with the writing process. Let’s begin with the story posting on my blog.
Delighting Mrs. Bennet
Weekly, on Wednesdays, I have been sharing pictures that go with the portion of story that will post on Thursday. [You can find those pictures here]. Since there are several pictures that readers have already seen, I thought I would link you to one resource that was used while writing a portion of this story that has not yet posted on my blog — I didn’t want to just rehash what my blog followers had already read. 🙂 However, before you read this excerpt, you must be aware that it could contain a spoiler as it is from the portion of the story that follows the big “uhoh” moment.
“Do we go up this one?” Darcy nodded toward Fish Street Hill. One street was beginning to blend into another as the men searched for Lydia and Elizabeth. A fear that they had already been found by someone unsavoury had settled into Darcy’s heart.
Richard blew out a breath and shook his head. “I don’t know. Do you see anyone on the street?” He scratched Dash’s head.
Apparently, his cousin was also beginning to feel the hopelessness Darcy was attempting to keep at bay. He had to find Elizabeth. He could not lose her. He looked up the street. Sitting still and listening while he watched for any sign of movement.
“No,” Darcy answered after a moment of watching. “Then we stick to Thames?”
Dash’s bark made it impossible to heard Richard’s reply, and the creature’s popping to attention took a quick hand from the colonel to keep the beast from falling from his perch on Richard’s horse.
“What is it boy?” Richard asked as he attempted to quiet Dash. “That carriage?” He nudged his horse forward.
“It is worth a look,” Darcy said as he drew up next to Richard. “I do not think they would have money for the fare, but at this moment, I am willing to look anywhere.”
“As am I,” Richard replied. “It’s stopping at Sally’s.”
Darcy tipped his head. “Sally’s?”
Richard shrugged. “One of the places my brother helps finance with his allowance.”
“A brothel?” Darcy knew that the viscount was given to some vices, and Sally’s did not appear to be a gambling hall or tavern.
Richard nodded. “The only one he visits.”
One was more than any gentleman should visit in Darcy’s opinion.
“It is likely just some drunken chap finding his way – No, those are not gentleman.” Richard urged his horse to go faster as Dash once again took to barking.
In the light of the lamp outside the house just two blocks away, Darcy could make out the forms of two ladies exiting Sally’s house and being handed into the hackney by a footman while another lady stood at the door giving instructions.
“Lydia?” Richard shouted. “Elizabeth?”
For this scene, I scoured an old map of London from 1814. If you click the map on the left, it will take you to the site where the map from which I took this clip is found. I clipped this portion as it shows the streets Darcy and Richard are speaking of as well as their relation to Gracechurch Street and Love Lane.
I read an interesting article about this street which ended thusly: “Although scholarly opinion tends to concur that Love Lane did not take its name from a seedy reputation as a place of prostitution, it seems from the evidence Kingsford cites that the lane may still have housed one or more of the city of London’s many brothels.”
Sally’s house is a brothel, so I decided that this area of the map could represent my fictional world. You can read the full article about the history of Love Lane here.
Assessing Mr. Darcy
This is the book I had hoped to be releasing today. It will be sometime next month before it is ready to publish. However, it is currently posting on Patreon, and I have posted a few excerpts from this story as part of my Music Monday posts on my blog. Before you read this one, you might want to know who William is as he is mentioned. Well, William Bennet is the adopted brother of Jane, Elizabeth and the rest of the Bennet sisters. His name before he took that of Bennet was Collins. William Collins, the heir to Longbourn, came to live with the Bennets when he was ten years old after his father died.
“This is the field Papa said William was going to, is it not?”
Jane looked in all directions. “I believe so.”
“And yet he is not here.”
“Mr. Jones,” Jane called to a man who was plucking fruit from a tree in the orchard that stood next to the field in which they rode.”
“Aye, miss,” the gentleman climbed down from his ladder and came to stand by the stone wall that enclosed the orchard. He wiped his brow with a handkerchief and then replaced his hat. “How might I be of service?”
“Have you seen William?” Jane asked.
“Aye,” the man glanced at the sky, “some time ago now. He and I and the two gents with him had a good discussion about the piece of wall in need of repair. Those boards will not hold back the cattle for long especially after the winter does her work.”
“I am certain Father will have it repaired before the trees are flowering in the spring,” Jane replied with a smile.
“I do not doubt it, miss. Your father is a good man, but there are only so many hands to complete so much work.”
“True, but my father adores jam on his toast – damson jam in particular – so I dare say, you shall be first on his list of things to be seen to.”
“A good jam is a pleasure. That’s for certain,” Mr. Jones agreed with a chuckle. “I like it right well myself.”
Believe it or not, this scene required me to do some poking around the internet. I don’t live in England. I live in Nova Scotia, and while I would have a good idea of what is in season here at harvest time, I didn’t know what sorts of things might be harvested in September in Hertfordshire. However, after some hopping from one site to another, including this site, it seemed as if damsons might be a good choice. I also read about stone walls but unfortunately, I forgot to save the site link for that on my Pinterest board, so I do not have them to share today. But suffice it to say, there was evidence that a wall of stone around an orchard to keep out the cattle was plausible.
Mary: To Protect Her Heart
This is another story that is behind schedule at present. 🙂 It’s the snowball effect in action — one gets behind and then all end up behind. 🙂 This story is the sequel to Charles: To Discover His Purpose and will feature Mary Crawford’s journey through reformation to happily ever after. I have already shared the first 500 words of this story on my blog here. So, today, I will share another selection.
I’ll admit that I have not done a lot of research for this one yet since I have just barely started it. However, there is research from previous stories that I have used to envision the ballroom where this story begins. And, I have read about Mary in Mansfield Park — this section references some things that you will find in that novel such as Edmund, Fanny, the admiral, Tom, and the incident when Mary talked Henry into attending a party that ended with him running off with Maria.
“Hurry. You do not wish to lose your chance,” Mary encouraged, and Mr. Tenley did as instructed and hurried away. But then, most men did what Mary told them, unless, of course, they were a Bertram or her brother – basically anyone who had come under the influence of some proper chit. It should be she increasing with Edmund Bertram’s child, not Fanny Price! She could have loved Edmund. She was almost convinced she did love him, even now that he was no longer under her influence.
Tom Bertram extended his arm to her. “This should set the tongues to wagging,” he quipped.
She had always liked his ability to not care what the gossips said. However, he had never paid her any marked attention, and she had seen him dally with ladies and leave them. She would not pursue such a man. When she finally decided it was time to marry, she would do as her sister had done and find a fine old fellow who would be far too ancient to care about debutantes and mistresses. He would be happy to have a beauty such as her as his wife, and therefore, she would never have to fear being pushed aside or subjugated to his whims. She had seen enough of that with the admiral. Whomever she married would not be like the admiral. Not at all.
“Your brother has found a lady to accept him?”
Mary nodded. “Miss Linton.”
Tom whistled. “Quite a proper chit, is she not?”
Again, Mary nodded.
“And Edwards seems smitten with Miss Barrett.”
Tom motioned for her to proceed through the door before him. “I’d not have thought to see him smitten, let alone smitten with such a proper young lady.”
“Nor would have I,” Mary replied.
“I hope to find such a lady myself,” Tom confessed. “One that will not make me regret giving up my freedom.” He shrugged when she looked at him in surprise. “I have a legacy to secure unless I leave the title and estate to one of Edmund’s brood.”
“You are giving up your life of pleasure?” What was becoming of all the fun-loving gentlemen? Why were they all seeming to long for some dull lady when they could have their pick of just about anyone?
“I am,” he replied. “I nearly died. You do remember that, do you not?”
Oh, she remembered it. She had even imagined it occurring, and Edmund becoming a baronet rather than just a clergyman.
“Such an experience does not leave one unaltered.”
“That seems natural,” she replied.
“Tenley is wrong for you.”
Mary stumbled at such as startling comment.
“He is too easily led. You would grow bored.”
“Boring is not bad,” Mary said. “Boring is stable.”
“Boring is dull. There is a difference between boring and constant. You want constant, not boring.”
He nodded. “I have had time to think on many things.”
“You thought about me?”
Again, he nodded. “How could I not? I wished to do you harm for some time, but then, I found I could accept what had happened and for my own good, I knew I needed to forgive. Not forget. Not welcome back with open arms. But forgive.” He stopped walking. “I do not hold what you and your brother have done to my family against either of you, but I do need to know why. Why would you toy with my family as you did? Why would you conspire to hurt them?”
Mary’s mouth dropped open. She had never considered her actions in such a light. For with his questions she saw herself not as the beautiful, vivacious woman she knew herself to be, but as the surly, depraved admiral against whom she had been fighting for so long.
Nature’s Fury and Delights: Book One, Thunder
That’s the working title for what I plan to be a short story. The first of a series of short stories. I am attempting to do these stories through dictation while I am doing things that require my hands to be busy so that they cannot type. It’s taking far longer to “write” this short story in this fashion than it would for me to type it, but it is claiming some writing time when it would not have previously been available. [Update: I have finished the first draft of this story and have started a second short story called Morning Mist which will be a Sense and Sensibility based story.]
Darcy sat back on his heels and stared at her incredulously. “You would venture out into that storm if I do not tell you my name?”
Her hands stilled, and she lifted puzzled eyes to him. “I entered this cottage unmarried and with a respectable reputation, and I intend to leave it in a similar state whether you tell me your name or not.” Her eyes and her hands returned to her work.
She was intent upon leaving? Did she lack sense? She had seemed intelligent up until now.
“You cannot go out into that storm. I cannot allow it.”
“You cannot allow it?” Her voice was full of indignation. “You are nobody to me save a stranger, and I will leave if I choose.” She lifted her bonnet tipped it one way and then another before resuming her repairs.
She was being foolish. Between the rain and the lightning mixed with the fog that often settled into this valley, she would be lost in moments after leaving the safety of this cabin.
“How well do you know the path?” He struck the flint against the steel over his tinder box.
“I have walked it every day for the past six days.”
He bent and blew on the glowing tinder, encouraging the fire to leap up and catch the small bit of kindling he held in his hand.
“And how many of those times were in the rain and fog?” he asked as he put the burning kindling into the firebox. The dampness would be soon driven out of the air in the cottage once the flames grew strong enough to devour a small log. Then, he would boil some water and make tea.
“There was fog yesterday.” She lifted her hat once again for inspection.
Seeing her look of satisfaction, Darcy snatched the bonnet from her.
Yes, even short stories require research at times. For this scene I watched a couple of videos — the one below is the shorter video. The same presenter has a longer video that I watched as well, but I thought I’d share the shorter one as it shows how the fire starts. It just does not show him picking it up and putting it in the firebox to light the wood.
And those are the four stories that are currently in various states of progress. I hope you have enjoyed this longish post with its bits of stories and research. I’d love to hear from you. So drop a comment below.