Monday, July 27, 2009
Querying and synopsis writing have got to be the greatest challenges next to writing your manuscript. But it is a necessray evil in the process.
I'm told that even the pros have difficulty and hate it as much.
I know that there are query writing services, but that's another unecessary hunk of cash to plunk down and with a little effort one can accomplish this task. Hey let's face it...you just wrote an entire manuscript, I'm sure you can manage it.
Don't know how the rest of you all are doing but I feel depressed at times and feel as though I am wasting my time. Dreaming of something that will never be. Then somewhere out of the blue I get a surge and pick up and begin again.
What I do is go on the net and look up successful writers and read their bios or stories of their humble beginings. Knowing that the pros once thought that their writing was trash, somehow seems to help get me thru the doldrums.
Hhhhmmmm...if anyone out there is following along and would like to give suggestions of how they cope with the "waiting game" give me a shout, lol.
Have a great day...Happy writing, everyone.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Seconds before reaching the galley door, she was pulled into darkness. The shrill scraping sound of metal on metal, followed by the heavy echoed clang of the cabin’s slide bolt lock confirmed to her that there would be no escaping this nightmare.
Her breath stuck in her throat as she stood frozen against the wall just inside the door arch, daring not to make a move. She could not fit yet one more single breath of air into her lungs as each inhalation was shorter than the one before it. The pain from her breast bindings cut into her chest like a knife. She was beginning to feel faint from the lack of air and feared that she would lose consciousness.
After several endless agonizing seconds she heard the slow scrape of match stick striking carbon and then smelled the pungent odor of sulfur. The haunting glow of candlelight produced the sinister image of the quarter master, Kilern.
"Well now, lad, is it?” His whisper echoed throughout the sparsely furnished cabin. “I've been watchin' ya for over a week now and I've been noticin’ some things about ya.”
Maura’s chest continued to heave with each rapid shallow breath as she struggled to remain conscious, despite the growing numbness of her body.
“That's right. I've been lookin' at ya going through the mess line. I've seen many a scrawny lad, but you be a bit too feminine, shall I say? Wasn't exactly sure if I heard right, on the last day in port, when ya was talkin' to Godsey in the Cap’n’s archway. So I waited and observed ya for a while. But I feel I now know ya little secret, lass."
Maura's eyes grew wide as saucers and full of terror.
"Yes that's right lass, you've been found out. But I've told no one and don't plan to, unless that is, ya give me reason ta tell. Ya see I know our Cap'n. He can be a mean one, he can. One thing he can't abide is trickery and lyin'." Kilern was now just inches from Maura’s face. She could smell his brandied breath in her nostrils and she was almost going to be sick.
He reached up to cup her face with one grimy calloused hand and traced the outline of her cheek and chin with his rough thumb.
He then ran his finger the length of her neck to the first button of her flannel shirt. Her heart was pounding hard from fear.
"Am I wrong, then? Are ya a lass or a lad? I guess I'll have ta find out for myself, now, won't I?" In one fluid movement he ripped open her shirt to find the bindings that wrapped about her midsection. Paralyzed with fear Maura could not scream nor move.
"So this be how ya kept your identity secret. First I thought ya just a school girl, but now I can see you're more than that."
He ran his tongue across his dry cracked bottom lip, and then ran a shirtsleeve across his brow as he was sweating from the excitement of his find and what awaited his eyes beneath those bindings.
He took his blade and slowly, meticulously sliced away at the thin cloth from above her breast line to below her waist, being careful not to nick the skin.
Her chest was heaving at a painful rate. Terror gripped her mind, not knowing what he planned to do to her. Maura’s eyes shifted to the blade he held at eye level to assure her that he meant to do harm if not gotten his way. His muscular forearm pressed against her throat, holding her inplace against the cabin wall, while his free hand peeled away at the bindings.
"Oh, Lass, you're a beauty, ya are." His mouth went dry with excitement. He reached his large dry calloused hand inside the crumpled bands of cloth to cup her soft, firm breast. Maura let out a muffled scream and startled him into losing his grip on her.
She scrambled beneath his arm and ran to the opposite side of a table in the center of the room. When she bent to escape him her cap fell to the floor and her long black tresses fell freely to just beyond her shoulders. He crossed the room in a flash and had a hold of her in one fell swoop.
"Awe don't you worry ya pretty head none, lass. I ain't gonna take ya here and now. No, I got plans for ya when we get ta port in New England. All I want 'tis but a little taste of ya now and then."
He covered her mouth with his, in one sinuous movement, forcing his tongue deep withn her mouth, while cupping her breasts in his hands and crushing her between himself and the cabin wall. She fought him with everything she had but it was for naught. The quartermaster was too strong for her diminutive frame. She could not fight him off. He forced his reach down the front of her trousers and slipped his fingers into her velvety sheath.
With a muffled cry, she begged him to stop. "Please don't. I beg of you Mr. Kilern."
Her pleas fell upon deaf ears. He continued onward. When Kilern tried to penetrate her with his encrusted fingers he encountered a familiar tightness and suddenly he realized what he actually had, right there, in his hand. He pulled back from her and looked into her eyes. With utter astonishment in his voice he exclaimed, “You’re a virgin! I've found me a bluddee pot o' gold, I have!” He ceased his advance.
He leaned himself back against the table and let loose a most evil and insidious laughter that resonated the sound of lunacy within her ears. Then with a wide and malevolent grin spread across his sickenly repulsive face he said, "I'm gonna sell ya ta the highest bidder when we get ta port. Some rich gov’ll pay a lot o' money ta have ya for the first time. And after that I'll sell ya ta some bawdy house in Boston. Yes m’am, I'm gonna be a rich man. No more traipsin' across the ocean ta make my way in life."
Kilern broke from his trance and snapped his orders at her.
"Fix yourself girl, I don't want the Cap'n gettin' suspicious that ya been gone too long."
With tears in her eyes and fury within her heart she spat back her venomous threats at him.
"I'll make certain Godsey knows of this violation of me. You'll be sorry, for sure."
He let forth a snort of laughter at her weak attempts to avenge her pride. "No ya won't, girl. Ya see if ya say a word of this ta anyone, the Cap'n’ll find out and he'll give Godsey the lash for sneakin' ya aboard and so shall you get the same, maybe worse. Why, Cap'n Hargendon might just make ya swing from the yardarm or throw ya overboard. No you won't tell. You'll keep my secret and I'll keep yours, heh, heh, heh". He opened the cabin door, gave her a sinister wink, tipped his cap to her in sarcasm and then closed the door behind him.
Maura quickly put herself back together, then got herself to the galley and retrieved the Captain’s evening meal. When she finally returned to the cabin she discovered that Daniel had gone. This was a welcome relief, she thought. It gave her a little more time to safeguard her disguise.
With her head held high she went directly to her usual duties of rolling in the great copper tub, as she had been doing for weeks. She began boiling the kettles for Daniel's bath and wished that she could sink into the water and wash off the vile mauls of that pig, Kilern. Oh how she would scrub and scrub until her skin fell off. Even then she probably never would be able to get over being touched in such a way as that.
Just as she had finished her tasks she could sense the heavy footfalls of agitation as the cabin door swung open and Daniel entered in a hurried and perturbed manner, slamming the portal door behind him.
"Where in hell's name did ya go, boy. I sent ya to the galley a half an hour ago! Doddlin’ were ya? I knew I was being too lenient with ya. Well, is my meal here!?" He barked at her.
Maura could not speak for fear of giving away what had transpired between herself and quartermaster. She simply motioned to the table where he then noticed that the table was nicely set for dinner with candles lit and also that the tub was already in the cabin awaiting the warming kettles.
Quietly he sat down and began to pick away at the plate of seasoned meats and yams.
Maura poured him a tankard of ale from the pitcher brought up from the galley then silently retreated to her side of the cabin to sit atop her bunk and await the next sequence of orders.
It did not go unnoticed by Daniel that Maura’s plate of food sat in front of her growing cold. The thick gravy congealed atop the meat. She turned her head away from the plate for she could not eat a thing. She kept rolling over, in her mind, the events that had taken place between herself and the quartermaster.
She could still smell his disgusting breath and taste the vile tang of stale brandy along the insides of her mouth, not to mention feeling his fingers crawling inside of her most private area.
Maura began to shudder at her own thoughts of disgust for Kilern, and for a brief moment, hatred for her father for putting her in this predicament.
The future that awaits her in Boston is the same fate that her father had tried so desperately to protect her from. “What a waste,” she thought.
The deafening silence between the two was about to drive Daniel mad. Usually he welcomed the quiet solitude of his cabin, but knowing someone was across the room made him feel an obligation to converse.
"Ya really should eat, boy. Ya won't be able ta keep up with ya duties if ya let yourself get too much more skinnier than ya are." He spoke, never looking in her direction. She remained silent.
He lifted the tankard to his lips and looked up at her over the rim. Still believing that he was looking at a male he had to shake his head profusely to stop feeling as though he needed to console his cabin boy.
For complete loss of words he tried to think of something to say that would not sound berating or trite. Then he remembered the chess board that she had set up. He remarked. "Do ya play much chess when at home?" Hoping that this would break the dead silence in the room.
Maura looked up and half smiled. "Yes, I'm very fond o’ the game, sir." She responded in her deepest male voice. "I used ta play every evenin’ with my father, after dinner."
"Are ya any good, then?" Daniel remarked sarcastically.
"I think so. I've been playin’ since the age of eight summers." She straightened her back and answered in a proud voice.
"What did ya father do for a livin?'" speaking of her father in the past tense, as if he were no longer living.
Maura swallowed against his words but guessed that she'd have to get used to speaking of him in those terms, for one day he would be gone from this earth.
"He was a longshoreman. Like yourself, sir.” She answered with an aire of pride.
"And he never took ya with him on board any ships?" He remarked with a hint of astonishment in his voice. "Seems odd that he did not. Why, my father started takin' me aboard when I was much younger than you, boy. Most fathers want their sons ta be strappin' lads, rough around the edges. You're much too frail ta be the son of a longshoreman.” He continued to interrogate her in a cool insulting manner.
"You must have spent ya time in the classroom of a school house, whereas I've spent mine in the classroom of the sea. He continued on with an oddly easy flow to his conversation. “Sure I went ta grade school. I read and write and such but, only what I needed ta make my way in the business world o’ tradin’ goods." He chugged more ale and then sat staring at Maura, who was intently hanging onto every word that graced his thoroughly masculine mouth.
Maura caught herself and nervously stood to clear the table.
There was another long silence as Maura busied herself pouring the hot kettles into the tub to ready the water for Daniel's bath.
"After my bath would ya like to show me just how good ya really are?” He flashed his gorgeous smile in her direction.
Stunned, Maura stopped her flurry of activity and nervously shifted her eyes in his direction.
“At chess, at chess." Daniel became uncharacteristically embarrassed at his mistaken play on words.
“I would welcome the diversion, sir." smiling ever so nervously, as she turned her back to him.
Daniel had not a clue, of course, what she needed diversion from. Maura knew that she was safe from the likes of Kilern, at least while in the confines of Daniel's cabin. So she decided that she would not allow herself to think upon him for the rest of the night.
After clearing the table of the evening meal, Maura assisted Daniel with his usual evening soak. She would add kettles of steaming water into the copper tub, as the waters began to cool.
In between fillings she'd retreat back to her corner of the cabin and await his requests.
The first time she saw him unclothed from the back, she was most embarrassed. Her cheeks became heated immediately and she'd turn her eyes away in shame of herself for wanting to look upon him. But as the weeks passed, she had gotten used to his after dinner routine and no longer felt shame.
She has come to liken her feelings to that of looking upon a great work of art. She recalls studying Greek art and mythology, when away at school, and that is exactly what Daniel's body type reminded her of...A Greek God.
He was beautiful to her. The muscles in his back were finely honed from years of hard labor and the rising steam from the water running off of his muscular upper arms as he wrung out the wash cloth and let the streams cascade down his back captivated her attention.
Its uninterrupted surge resembled that of a beautiful waterfall that flows into varying smaller rivulets. The water appeared to glisten off of his chest in the candlelight.
When he is just about through, he likes to have one more kettle of hot water added, so he can relax with a flask of brandy. He has many flavors in the cabinet above his desk. His favorite, though, is apricot brandy. Maura brings it, now, without even having to ask which he'd prefer.
"Well if we're ta play a game of chess, I'd best get my arse out of this damn row boat, eh?" He said while rising out of the tub. The steam was ascending off of every muscle in view, even his most private appendage. This time she did not turn her eyes away. She forced herself to look upon him as she came towards him with the large flannel bath sheet, and wrapped it around his lower body. She raised her eyes up slightly, and noticed the succulence still upon his chest and longed to pat it dry.
Maura could not believe the stirring that was taking place deep within her, especially in light of today's events with Kilern.
The last thing that she ever expected to welcome was the touch of any man. She did, though. She wanted to feel the gentle caresses of this man.
It was the oddest of feelings but she felt the impious stirrings of a shameless immoral, longing to touch and be touched by this man.
She was not knowing how to justify her own thoughts of lust, but
Some how she knew he was a good man, a kind and trustworthy man, and if she were his, he would fight to the death for her.
But this is not to be, for she started out lying to him and he hates liars. He'd never believe that she had to lie to save herself. He had made mention many times of the trickery of women. Presently the principle obstacle she sees is protecting poor Godsey from the lash. If Daniel were to find out her secret then Godsey would be in grave danger. If for just her own skin she'd gladly tell and take her chances with the Captain's anger, but not Godsey. The Captain would have to make an example of him. She just could not chance hurting Godsey, after he'd been so kind to her.
With artless approach, both stood at opposite sides of the table, with only the chess board between them. They sat quietly facing one another.
Daniel broke the silence by asking, “Which would ya like to be, lad, pewter or black iron? I'll even grant ya the first move." He said with a sly look upon his face.
Maura knew that deception. Her father used to play that game with her. That's how he'd figure out her strategy.
"That be fine with me if ya went first ya self Cap'n." Giving him a wink of her eye and a tug on her cap.
"Ah, finally, a formidable opponent." His beautiful white teeth flashed against his tanned skin in the firelight. Why, that sight and his thick Irish burr almost took the very breath from her chest.
The match lasted longer than he had imagined it would and he realized that the clock on the sill was striking nearly twenty-one bells.
"We'll have ta leave this board set up and finish on the ‘morrow’s eventide."
Daniel stretched out his arms and clasped his hands behind his head making his chest and biceps flex out to an extreme measure. He leaned back in his chair and try as she may, Maura could not take her eyes from him. He noticed, as well. But for some reason he didn't feel as he had earlier, with frustration and confusion. He felt at peace.
To break yet another awkward silence between them, he extended his hand and said "Well lad ‘tis late. We should try ta get some sleep."
Maura also extended her hand to him as two mates would do when parting for the night.
As soon as their hands touched, a great reverberance of cannon fire erupted, violently casting them atop one another.
The immediate heat between them as their limbs became intertwined was immeasurable. Maura could feel Daniel’s arousal against her junction even through the thick wool of his trousers. She rolled away from him as if she were set afire.
Daniel was more confused than ever at his physical response to their entanglement.
The violent banging at the cabin door snapped him back into the reality of danger that was encompassing his ship and crew.
Godsey’s persistent, penetrating shouts could be heard over continued cannon fire. "Captain, Captain we need ya topside! Quick, sir, we're under attack!"
As was common, part of the draw to the sea was also the dangers that came along with sailing with cargo."Come, boy, ‘tis time ya learned how ta fight off thieves of the sea."
Maura could see the exuberance in his eyes, hear the excitement in his voice as he spoke of the impending victory of battle.
Maura was witnessing the visceral exhilaration of a warrior. This thoroughly invigorated her own spirit for adventure and she followed him without forethought for her own safety.
Daniel grabbed his leather duster and his pistols from the steamer trunk at the end of his bunk, and handed a pistol to Maura.
"Make certain that my pistols are reloaded promptly. Do ya know how to load a pistol, lad?" As if he expected to hear no.
"Yes Cap'n, I do. I hunted with my father, daily. I've never been ta battle but I do know my way around firearms!" She stated proudly.
It was complete mayhem on deck. The cannons from the enemy ship were luckily falling miserably short of their target, so they were missing the Arabella by half. There was still plenty of time to get the best of the blackhearts from the enemy ship, the Mephistopheles, a Norman vessel bent on pirating for their wealth. Daniel had done battle a few times with this band of pirates, and so far they've not gotten the best of him or his crew.
Daniel was shouting out orders to his men that Maura did not quite understand, but she just hung close to him and did as he instructed.
Daniel ordered the ship to come about and hide in the fog where the Mephistopheles could no longer get their sites upon them and remain as quiet as possible until the Captain gave orders otherwise. All torches were ordered doused.
It was so quiet all that could be heard was the water lapping off of the sides of the ship’s hull and so too could Daniel hear the whispers of the men on the enemy ship.
Daniel knew exactly where they were and when to attack. Quite suddenly the quiet calm had broken into complete bedlam, once more.
Daniel and his men had gotten close enough to the Mephistopheles to jump onboard and do battle on their ship, so as not to do damage to his own vessel.
Maura watched in complete shock and horror. What if he doesn't come back? What if he's killed?
Her thoughts were running wild inside her head, amidst all the gunfire, shouting, and bloodletting that was taking place right before her eyes.
Just then a muscular forearm came from behind and wrapped about her shoulders, just below her chin pulling her back into the shadows as gunfire continued to erupt around them.
She felt the wet tongue of her molester on her neck. His other hand had swiftly found its way to the outside of her trousers, and was groping her between her legs.
She could feel the vulgar bulging mass pressing against her buttocks, and that deep and familiar voice croaked heavily into her ear. "Don't ya be worryin’, lass, I won't let anythin’ happen ta my pot o' gold, ha, ha.” Then he thrust himself hard up against her backside.
Maura did not know where her strength came from but she jerked her body away from Kilern, with every bit of strength that she could muster and she faced him squarely with both hands on the barrel of her firearm.
"You stay away Kilern or I swear ta ya I'll blow yer arse ta kingdom come. You get my meanin'?"
Kilern backed away from Maura slowly, never taking his eyes from her.
There was a fire, there, in her eyes that told him that she was dead serious.
"My, my lass, why, ya've learned some colorful language, bunkin' with the Cap’n, haven’t ya?” Trying to throw her off guard with his comments.
Her eyes were cold and her voice was cutting, as she tried to fend him off.
"I don't want ta be taken a killin' ta my grave, but I swear ta ya I will shoot ya dead, Kilern. I will!"
Her hands were shaking violently, as she held the Captain's pistol straight on him, hand over hand and elbows locked tight with the barrel just inches from his chest.
"There, there, gel. I was just havin' a bit o' fun with ya. Don't ya be losin' ya pretty head." he said nervously with beads of sweat forming at his brow.
"A nice little gel like ya self would not really shoot an old man, now, would ya?" Kilern backed off not waiting for an answer to that question and then ran to the other end of the ship to await orders.
Maura breathed a great sigh of relief and fell back against the siderail of the Arabella. Her skin moist from the shock of anxiety. Her head lolled a bit back over the rail and she was revived and refreshed by the mist of seaspray. She now understood the thrill of a warrior, for she had won her own battle that day.
Once composed she tucked the pistol back into her trousers.
She'd keep it handy for the next time that Kilern tried to assault her. She figured he'd more than likely keep the secret, at least until they made port at Shawmut Peninsula in New England. By then, she may be able to escape the ship.
Godsey had confided to her that this would be his last voyage and he'd be staying in New England, so hopefully he'd be able to escape the lash for sneakin' her aboard. At any rate she felt somewhat empowered by having the pistol for protection.
Maura's attention turned towards the bow of the ship where she eyed Daniel climbing back up over the rail.
She was greatly relieved to know that he was safe. He had a few scrapes and bumps but was not shot.
The Norman ship was secured. Prisoners were held below the deck of their own ship with some of Daniels men standing watch until a military ship should pass through these waters within a few days, at which time he'd turn the thieves over to them to stand trial.
This would put them behind schedule. Daniel hated the thought of that, but it could not be helped. He did his duty in securing his cargo and the safety of his men, with not so much as one death in the firefight.
Daniel's attention was strangely focused on checking up on his cabin boy's whereabouts. He tried not to look too concerned, after all he is “just a cabin boy, for God sakes,” he told himself. But he did find himself feeling greatly relieved when he caught sight of him at midship, standing beside Godsey.
The next morning was a difficult one for the entire crew without much sleep, but everyone was up at the usual hour managing their assigned duties.
There was plenty of yawning in the galley the next morning, as Maura was sent to fetch breakfast.
When she returned to the cabin Daniel had already disappeared topside to get a better accounting of the damages to his own vessel. There would be more than a few repairs to be done. He assigned tasks to the appropriate crew members and headed back to his cabin to update his log.
While Daniel was up on deck Maura felt it the perfect opportunity to unravel her bindings to give her breasts a well needed break from their bondage. When the last binding was finally unraveled she took in a deep breath and massaged the skin of her breasts in hopes of bringing circulation back to them. She was thoroughly enjoying the sensation that the freedom from her bindings was providing at that moment.
Then she took some of the hot water from the kettle and poured it into the pitcher on the stand, next to the woodstove.
She rummaged through the satchel that she had brought from home and found some rose scented soap. “It wouldn't hurt to use just a little.” She reasoned with herself. She was beginning to feel as though she reeked of odor and could not stand another moment of being dirty and sweaty.
She poured the water from the pitcher into the bowl that was beside it on the stand. Then she freely splashed the water to her face. The feel of the hot water on her skin felt heavenly. She scrubbed her face of the smudges that she was forced to paint on daily, to hide her identity. Then she scrubbed her arms and underarms with the rose scented soap. The splashing of the water to her body blocked out the sound of the creaking door hinges. She did not hear the cabin door open. But she certainly heard it slam, with a mighty thud that nearly rocked her off of her feet. She knew that she had been caught.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
The days turned into weeks and Maura was amazed at just how swiftly she gained the ways of the maritime. Each night she fell exhausted into her bunk. Every so often she'd stop and wonder how her father was faring the harsh winter without her and if his health were worsening. She couldn't dwell on those thoughts too long for she'd never make it through. She promised herself that after she were settled, she'd write and send for him.
She marked the calendar each day to reinforce to herself that time was passing and that before too long she'd be on dry land again. The first couple of weeks were spent getting her sea legs, as Godsey had remarked to her. The Captain took notice and was most kind in letting him get used to seafaring ways, knowing that he had never sailed before.
This particular Saturday afternoon had been a rainy day at sea. The men took turns topside, as did their Captain. He never asked anything of his men that he would not do himself. Maura respected that about Daniel.
She therefore made sure that his quarters were warm and clean and that his meal was hot and waiting for him when he returned to his cabin in the evenings.
While she was cleaning Daniel’s desk, as was part of her usual daily duties, his quill pen floated off of the escritoire and rested upon a dark cloth bag beneath his bunk.
She got down on her hands and knees and crawled halfway beneath the bunk. She could feel a large heavy wooden object.
She struggled to pull its awkward shape towards her and discovered that it was an intricately hand carved oak chessboard and on top lay a lush emerald green velvet satchel. Maura laced her slender fingers within the vined rope string and pulled gently until the satchel fell open.
Maura gave a persistent jiggle of the bag, pouring its contents into her hand. Her hazel eyes beamed with delight at the sight of the most beautiful pewter and black iron bejeweled chess pieces. She was in complete awe of their beauty.
With great effort she brought the game board and pieces to the table, next to the woodstove. She set it up as if to play.
Maura’s attention turned toward the cabin door as she was immediately put on alert by the creaking of swollen planks and heavy footfalls. Her thick lashes swept toward the portal entry as Daniel entered.
He shot her a glare look as he noticed straight away, the chessboard set up on the table. "I see you've been cleaning under my bunk." He raised a disapproving eyebrow in her direction.
He turned his back to her and began to untie the laces on his shirt. The linen garment was no longer a dense white but was opaque and transparent from the driving rains.
Maura’s breathing accelerated at the sight of him as she was experiencing envy for a mere piece of cloth as it clung to his chiseled form. She caught herself and just as quickly looked away as he peeled away the garment that served as his second skin. He quickly donned a dry shirt and came to stand by her at the stove.
A loud clap and the rough abrade of calloused skin briskly rubbing together caused Maura to whince and shrink away from Daniel. This response to his nearness did not escape him.
Maura thought to speak to distract him. She nervously tried to defend what she thought was an intrusion of his private property.
"Well ya see sir, I was tidyin' the desk area and a rather strong burst of wind from the open pane blew your quill pen under the bunk and, well, I just went to retrieve it and came upon the chess set." Maura spoke so swiftly that all of her words became one muddled sentence.
"Was it alright to take it from its hiding place, cap'n?" sounding a bit as though she may have done something wrong.
"Don't be stupid, boy. Of course it's alright." He shouted in frustration, throwing his hand in the air. "I couldna care less about the confounded chess set."
Maura had no clue why Daniel would have been so short with her… but Daniel did.
For the past week he had not been sleeping very well.
He kept awakening to the same frustrating dream that he had experienced on the night before the Arabella had left port. Waking, with tears in his eyes and shaking. He was also quite confused about his attentions to this cabin boy. A boy is a boy. Never had he been so over protective or overly generous with any male with regards to getting used to the ways of the sea.
It would have been, C'mon lad, pull ya self up by ya bootstraps and be done with it! No, it was more than just being Jeannie's nephew. Of that he was certain, but could not place his finger on what was different.
Another disturbing fact was that he kept thinking that he could smell a female about. Was he going mad? He silently questioned his sanity. “I am out to sea but a few weeks and already the omnipresence of women was thus insistent?” That usually did not occur until more than half way through a trip.
“Am I becoming a buggerer of boys?” This could not be. He was certain that he still lusted after the fairer sexes, which is why he keeps any and all sensual reading materials away from himself and his men during any long journey.
Daniel placed his head in his hands, rubbing his face in frustration.
Maura instinctively places her hand upon his shoulder in an attempt to comfort him, though not understanding her own motives.
Daniel straightened his back against her touch and then let fly an earpiercing shout in her direction.
"What the hell do ya do that for, boy!? Is it ya way ta be puttin' ya hands on every male that be within two feet o’ ya!?"
Maura jumped back and snatched her hand away from his shoulder as if she had just been burned by fire.
"N-no, Cap'n", she stammered. The thing that he hated the most was nervous stammering. He glared at her with a contemptuous look.
"I, I was just wantin' ta try and make ya feel better if ya was sick… with a headache, ‘tis all". Maura had forgotten her self for just a moment and her voice was far too feminine for both their liking.
"Off with ya now, boy, and fetch the evening meal. I'd like ta get it done, have my bath and get ta bed early. We'll have a long days work ahead of us in the mornin'. Tis time that ya started ta earn ya keep 'round here. No more makin' ya out to be the helpless lass."
Maura immediately became furious, within, and began to seethe as if she were embers in the woodstove. “Ooo that man! Helpless lass, indeed”.
“Why, she thought, I’ll show him I am not helpless if it is the last thing I do on this trip. Mark my words!”
With her jaw hardened and her fists clenched Maura stormed out of the cabin, slamming the door behind her, leaving Daniel feeling as though he'd just had a raging argument with a hot headed female.
Stunned, he breathed in an aire of shock, shook his head and asked himself, “Am I going insensible?” Again, that feeling of being around a woman, he could not shake.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Her room was blanketed in the soft purple hue of dawn. Maura sat erect at the edge of her bed with a small satchel packed from the night before. Exhausted from little sleep, sobbing, and fear of the unknown, she silently awaited her fathers disheartening announcement that it was time to leave.
Richard entered his daughter’s room and looked upon her with tearful eyes. "Tis time lass. We must go ta meet with Godsey before the ship sets sail."
Maura silently wished that the ship had sailed early so she would not have to leave her home or her father. As she climbed onto their small horse drawn carriage she stopped to pan the frost covered landscape and realized that she will never again look upon the lush green blades of high grass that framed their tiny thatched cottage in summer. That was her home. How could she leave all that she had ever known? She took in a deep breath and forced back the tears to save her father any further heartache, and then taking in one last deep suffocating breath, she looked upon her home no more.
As they reached the alleyway leading to the back entrance of the White Horse Tavern, Richard saw Godsey waving them onward.
With a very short and hasty introduction Maura met with Godsey. He could see it in her eyes that she did not want to go with him but her father pushed her forward. With one last distressed attempt Maura begged her father.
"Father, please, do not send me alone. Come with me to America." She pleaded.
“Alas, I would that I could gel. I canna go with ya. I don't even have money for passage for you let alone myself. If I should fare well over the coming year I will find my way ta ya, if possible. But until we meet again promise me that ya will ne’er forget ya heritage and that ya will hang onta the old ways and ya language. Those are the only things in life that are worth keepin’, child.
No one can e’er take those things away from ya.” With that said Richard reached out and with both hands he took hold of Maura’s face and spoke to her in their native Gaelic for what he knew would be the last time. He told her that she has been the treasure of his life. “Mu A Thaisce mi Luran inighean.”
Then he pressed his rough, dry lips upon her forehead for one last fatherly kiss. Then with tears in his eyes he turned away from her and ran from the alleyway.
Maura stood there, frozen in place, on that cold January morn.
All control of her life was now in the hands of a complete stranger. Should she go to the ship? Should she run from Godsey and find her way back to her home?
Finally the sound of Godsey's voice broke the chaos within her head.
"C’mon gel, we'll be late and I must give ya instruction before boardin' the ship." She followed Godsey into the back of the tavern.
In a room at the end of the bar was an older woman, Jeannie.
Godsey usually spent time with her when he was in port. She agreed to help with Maura’s transformation. Jeannie had saved a few items of boys clothing that had once belonged to her beloved son Sean, who had long since passed at sea. He was a cabin boy for three sailing seasons when a giant wave toppled the ship that he was on and he was one of many died at sea that day two years ago, December.
Jeannie could see the terror of the unknown in Maura’s eyes. She tried to quell her fears with bits of false assurance. “Don’t fret none lass. Godsey is a good man. He’ll keep a close watch on ya.”
She instructed Maura to undress so she could show her how to wrap her breasts to disguise her womanly figure.
Maura was very modest. After all she never even had a mother all of her life to help her dress, so this was very difficult to have someone looking at her unclothed body. Her face immediately became heated and she blushed a bright scarlet hue when she disrobed her top in front of Jeannie.
Godsey was keeping lookout and had his back to Maura, but she feared that he could turn any moment and see her. She bade Jeannie to hurray with the wrapping.
“My goodness, lass, you’d best keep this bawdy fig’r wrapped tightly, lest one o’ those scoundrels aboard ship will have way with ya” Jeannine kept nervously jabbering away.
Finally, after Jeannie had Maura dressed in boys clothing, she went to the hearth and grabbed a handful of cooled ash and rubbed Maura’s face a tad, to give the appearance of a street waif.
“Well, Godsey my love, what ya think? I’m thinkin’ she’ll pass for a boy now, eh!” Jeannie stood beside Maura, proudly displaying her work.
Godsey turned toward Maura and took a deep breath. “Well let us hope we can fool the captain, is all, or both our backs will feel the stingin’ o’ the lash.”
Maura looked at Godsey with apologetic eyes. “I’m sorry Mr. Godsey. I shall do my best ta keep ya from the lash.”
“Awe, don’t ya be apologizin’ gel. I owe ya father more than a few scraps of skin off my back. It’ll be alright.” He tried to console Maura.
“Once I get the Captain ta acceptin’ ya as his cabin boy ya must stay in that cabin, unless I come for ya. Do ya understand me?
It would be very dangerous for ya ta go about the ship unattended. Should ya be found out, the lash will be the least o’ ya worries. Ya get my meanin’ gel?” Godsey continued with his fatherly warning.
“Those hooligans would be all over ya before ya could say jack rabbit. I will make certain that ya get out o’ the cabin at least once a day, topside, for fresh air and exercise. The Captain spends a fair amount of time in his cabin going over his logs and maps and such, so ya will have ta be very clever not ta be found out by him or we’ll both be in the gravest o’ danger, I canna stress that point enough lass.”
With those instructions given and some quick nods from Maura, they were off for the biggest adventure of Maura McCoveny’s life…America.
Maura’s fears temporarily turned to excitement. As a child, she had dreamed of traveling to America. However she thought that she would experience such a journey with her father, or maybe her future husband.
With thoughts of her father running from the alleyway still reeling in her head, she began to breath heavy once again.
But now there was little time to dwell as Godsey grabbed onto Maura by her demure wrist and then sped off toward the docks.
Godsey feared that he'd wasted too much time and would be listed as missing from the crew’s roster. There were punishments for latecomers and he didn't intend to be late!
As they approached the great vessel, that was the Arabella, Maura's eyes grew wide and her breathing quicken from the fusion of intrepidation and exhileration. At that very moment she realized that she had never truly been alive with such intensity.
The noise down on the docks was incredible. There were hundreds of bodies, mostly men, scurrying from one end of the dock to the other, preparing to shove off for various ports around the world. Maura had briefly lost track of Godsey within the crowds of people. She was being bumped around within the crowd like so many marbles in a sac, tripping over her own feet in unreserved awe. Maura was fast becoming dizzy from whirling about at each new sight and sound her senses came in contact with. The loud thud of wood on wood and the scraping sounds that the steamer trunks made as the deck hands dragged each one up the gangplanks. The clanging of the toll bells alerting the hands that it was nearly time to depart.
Maura instantly became startled when out of masses Godsey appeared grabbing hold of Maura’s wrist a second time and about startled her out of her skin.
“Where in hell’s bells did ya disappear to, gel? I thought that I’d lost ya already and we ain’t even shoved off yet. Now, please Maura, stay close ta me, or ya could be in serious danger!” With worried agitation in his tone Godsey instructed her to walk up the gangplank and wait at the top for him.
She stood nervously pulling away at her fingers and looked on as Godsey walked towards the tall figure at the starboard end of the ship.
Maura did not know it, yet, but she is now looking upon the man that she'll be sharing a cabin with for the next three months. He is tall, about six feet in height, shoulder length black hair, and weathered tan skin. Even though he wore a heavy calf length leather highwayman’s coat, she could tell that he had a very thick broad chest and arms to match. She breifly took her eyes from the men and found a pane of glass in one of the cabin windows. With her finger tips she brushed away the dust from the glass. She could not believe her eyes when she viewed her image.
Jeannie had hidden her thick dark raven tresses under an Irish scaly cap. She donned very oversized boys trousers and an extra large flannel shirt. She was most uncomfortable with the binding of her breasts. She didn't know how she would manage to keep them in these bindings for three months, but knew she must. It was too late to turn back now. Or was it? She thought for a brief moment, “I could run away right now and no one would be the wiser. I could bargain my way home to my father. I could...”
“You, there cabin boy! Take my trunks below deck.” Daniel shouted to her from across deck.
“And mind ya, boy, I tolerate no stealin'. Any pilferin’ from me will find ya thrown overboard. Understand?" The Captain bellowed in Maura’s direction. "Y-y-yes, Captain, sir. I understand" Maura replied in a weak boyish tone. Godsey looked at her, rolled his eyes and whispered to himself..."Mother of God, be praised."
Maura struggled to drag the heavy trunks to the Captains quarters. Godsey waited for the Captain to be out of sight and came up behind Maura. "Here, lass, let me help ya, lest ya be here all damn day with this trunk. Have ya no muscles a’tall gel? I suggest that ya be findin’ some. I won't be here ta help ya every time." As he wiped his brow with the sleeve of his soon to filthy crisp linen shirt, Godsey stepped back away from Maura.
"Thank you Mr. Godsey, sir." she said clumsily with eyes pointed downward.
“It's Godsey, lass, or Albert as my mum was fond of. My father was Mr. Godsey and he's long since dead. I've got ta go topside ta get ready ta shove off. Ya wait here and the Captain will come down soon and tell ya of his needs. I told him that ya was Jeannie's nephew and that ya had never sailed afore, so ya was kinda green an' all. He said that was fine and that he'd show ya the ropes, so ta speak. Remember, he's ya toughest audience, if ya can fool him you've got clear sailin' lass. Oh, and don't forget Maura, never leave this cabin without me." He bobbed his cap to her and set off to topside.
Maura's heart sank, as soon as she heard the heavy cabin door slam shut behind her. She knew her life from here on would never be the same. She forced her feelings of dread and doom way down inside of her and vowed to make the best of a bad situation.
Maura walked to the Captain's bunk and climbed up onto the ledge seat of the great bay window. Several panes were open and she could feel the icy January winds biting at her cheeks, as they blew in hard off the Atlantic. The smell of salty sea air filled her senses. She sat for a long while watching the dock workers and deck hands finish the last of their duties before shoving off, as Godsey had put it to her.
Maura finally turned her attention back to the cabin that was to be her home for the next three months. With a thud Maura jumped from the window’s ledge and began to explore the cabin for things that would be of interest to her so as to busy herself and while away the hours, when at sea, not realizing that a Captain's cabin boy would have very little time to while away hours.
She began to take in the many different scents of the room. She noted, first off, the smell of cherry tobacco and a heavy scent of sandalwood that was imbedded in the linens on the Captain's bunk. That, mixed with a weathered leather scent, told her that a man's presence was definitely about. The combination of the woodstove embers and the cherry tobacco reminded her of her father. That familiar lump in her throat began to resurface and Maura had to fight to swallow hard to keep from crying again. She shook her head in an attempt to pull herself together.
Maura walked to the desk, and with her slender index finger, she traced the back frame of the Captain's leather chair. She walked around to the seat of the chair and sat down in it and realized that her small woman's frame was lost in its greatness. The chair was obviously made for the stature of a large man’s frame. She swiveled the chair slightly to the left and noted the Captain's log book and some maps strewn about. In an attempt to tidy the desk she came upon a hand painted portrait of a young woman that she guessed was approximately her own age, or perhaps a year or two older. The picture was of Mallory Gilmore. The Captain's betrothed.
Maura picked up the portrait and ran her fingers over Mallory's face in admiration of such a great beauty.
The woman's overall looks were much different than that of her own. Mallory was pale of skin, with just a hint of pink to her cheeks. Her lips were thin and colored a dark shade of berry. Her eyes were a deep shade of amber and her hair was a mixture of strawberry and flaxen tresses that stretched down her back with a few strands playfully adorning her shoulders and across her ample breasts that swelled invitingly over the top of her pale green and lace bodice.
Maura was thinking that the woman’s waistline was small but adequate for her buxom frame. She then turned herself to face the lengthwise mirror on the back of the cabin door and examined her own frame. She wrinkled her nose at her own reflection, while turning herself this way and that.
Maura turned her attention back to the portrait, and again ran her fingers across the whole of the picture. Maura was so absorbed in her appraisal of the woman in the portrait that she did not hear the cabin door open.
Daniel looked upon his cabin boy and noticed that he had Mallory's portrait in hand and was intently studying it. "Ah lad, I see that ya have an eye for the fairer sexes, even at your tender age." He laughed heartily. "What be ya given name lad?" Daniel asked.
Maura hadn't even given a thought that he might ask for a name.
What was her name, now? Her heart was about to burst out of her chest. This was it, she thought. I have not even made it out of the harbor, and I am already found out!
"Davy, sir" she blurted out at once.
Daniel had not even noticed the delay in her response.
“I like ya already, Davy," Daniel said as he slapped her full on her back and sent her soaring forward, knocking her to her knees, face down into his oversized leather chair.
Maura was still with her back to Daniel, so he could not see that her eyes were as big and round as medallions or that her cheeks flushed brightly. She finally pulled herself up off of her knees to face her Captain, while holding her scaly cap atop her head, so as not to give away her secret.
Daniel was walking about the cabin while talking to her, not really noticing her awkwardness. "They'll be time a plenty ta teach ya the ways of women lad. And I'll be only too happy ta school ya on their wiles.” His gorgeous white teeth flashed against the backdrop of his rugged tanned and weathered skin. Her heart was fluttering. This was odd to her, she thought, as she quietly continued listening to him and became lost in the shape of his mouth as he formed each new word.
“Rule number one lad, don't ever let ya self become too enchanted with their beauty or it'll be the death o' ya boy. Enjoy what ya can from the wenches, but always hold ya own against their trickery. Ah but I've ta teach ya the ways of a cabin boy, first." Daniel laughed out loud again while slapping Maura forward into the desk, this time.
As she was pushing herself up off of the desk, she thought, if this keeps up I’ll have ta add paddin’ ta my backside, as well.
Daniel was busying himself at his desk going over the ship's manifest. Maura finally looked upon him from the side view. His profile was strong and striking. The skin of his arms and chest were as weathered and tan as his ruggedly appealing facial features. His overall look was hardened. She could easily see that he was more than capable of handling himself in the heat of battle. No, this man is not like any of the boys that she knew from her village. Maura, still unaware of her sudden interest in Daniel, continued with her silent appraisal.
She noted that his hair was long to the shoulder and raven black with flecks of blue highlights that shone through when the sunlight was upon him. His shoulders were broad, and she could see from the way his shirt was half way unbuttoned, that his chest was smooth and muscular, unlike her father's that was pale and covered with a thick matt of corse silver hair.
She found herself drawn to his waist area and began to blush when she caught herself noticing his solid muscular legs, buttocks, and hips.
She quickly forced herself to look away and placed her hands to her cheeks to try and cool her blush.
She was startled out of her trance by the tone of Daniel's deep masculine voice. "So, lad, Jeannie is your aunt?"
"Y’yes, sir, cap'n, sir. Maura stammered, forgetting to mask her voice. "Ah, I see ya voice has not yet changed, lad. Ya must be very young, what say, thirteen-fourteen summers? Come, come, boy, speak up ta me. You'll be very close with me o'er the next three months and will have ta get used ta my ways. I am a stern Captain, but a fair one. If you do ya work and cause me no ire, you'll escape the lash and mayhap I'll hire you on again in future." Daniel had realized that he'd not properly appraised this young lad. He reached out and squeezed Maura's upper arms and remarked, "Ya are kind o’ scrawny lad, aren't ya? Haven't worked much in your life, I can see that."
Maura furrowed her brow as if he had just hurled the greatest of insults at her. Why she could do things that most lads could not, or at least just as well. She could shoot, ride a horse, hunt, fish, cook, sew, read, write and a whole lot more. How dare he make such remarks ta me, she thought. She also had to remind herself that she needed to hold her tongue...for now anyway.
Daniel had not even noticed that Maura was agitated with his appraisal of her and continued on with his laundry list of chores that he expected would be done daily.
..."Well I'll see to it that ya get ya fair share o’ hard labor aboard my vessel. First thing each morn, upon rising, you'll empty the chamber pots, put up a pot of water to heat, to be ready for the days shave and bath. Short ones in the morn, I like ta save my soaks in the tub for at night, before bed. It helps ta relax ya after a hard day of laborin'. Second, you'll fetch my breakfast, as well as ya own. You'll be expected ta keep my quarters clean, in addition to ya other duties."
Maura's eyes widened. Other duties! Wasn't that enough? She thought. He took notice of her reaction, this time, and with a half grin he continued with his list of duties.
"Other duties include making sure that my weapons are kept clean and accessible and ready ta do battle should we be attacked by enemy ships lookin’ ta steal my cargo. You will be expected ta be at my side ta have my pistols loaded and at the ready. Each night you'll go ta the galley and fetch my supp, as well as ya own, of course. After we supp, you'll bring in the great copper tub, from the next cabin, and have my bath drawn. You will heat the kettles on the woodstove and fill the tub. My clothes, ya will lay out daily. Ya can take that bunk, over by the woodstove. Do I make my self clear, lad?" His voice was stern, but she could see a telling glint in his eyes that told her he was a kind and fair man.
Maura was standing in front of him, wide eyed, and just shook her head in the affirmative.
"Blast it boy! Have ya no tongue in ya head? How did it come ta be that ya wanted ta sail aboard a trade ship, after all?"
Nervously shaking at first, finally Maura spoke.
"Well ya see, C-cap'n, my Fa...ther's sister, Jeannie, could no longer care for me and thought it would be good for me ta have some male influence in my young life, and that it would help me ta grow up." She caught herself, as she almost gave away her secret.
Daniel looked upon her suspiciously. Something was amiss with this lad, he did not know what, but it would surely rear its head before too long, of that he was sure.
"The only reason I allowed ya aboard my ship ta serve me is because ya are Jeannie's kin. Jeannie had always shown me a rippin' time and treated my men well. I feel that I owe her some debt o' thanks. Otherwise, I would not have accepted ya aboard. The last cabin boy I had allowed aboard was more trouble than he was worth. Never got a blasted thing straight and then he committed the gravest of sins against me...he stole from me. I will not abide any of that, ya hear me boy? Stealin' is the worst of all sins, to my mind. So just a warnin' to ya, lest ya want ta end up on the bottom o’ the sea."
Now her stomach was jumping with angst. Maura was so fearful of the consequences of displeasing him.
"Godsey will come for ya, soon, and show ya the lay of the ship. But for now ya can start by cleanin' up this pig sty. Daniel turned quick on his heels and went out the cabin door.
When the door slammed, she immediately began to think of escaping and running home to her father.
Maura thought to herself, Oh what a dreadful mistake this be. Fooling him for a day or even a week, perhaps she could get away with, but for three months? She just couldn't imagine that she could manage that, not for three months.
Maura looked about the cabin. She placed her hands to her hips and spoke aloud, “well I had better get started.”
Maura began by stripping the Captain's bunk. When she pulled the sheets to her body in a bunch, she could smell the scent of sandalwood and spices. His smell, she thought.
She took in the heady scent and felt a little ashamed at what she was thinking in her head. She closed her eyes for a brief moment and wrapped the sheets around her shoulders and breathed in his scent and wondered for just a slight moment what it would be like to be in his arms. Some how she knew there would be safety in those strong arms. The spell was broken immediately, when Godsey entered the room.
"Maura...Maura. Ya must be under some kind o’ spell, eh?" Godsey interrupted her lovely daydream. When she scrambled to unravel her self from the bed sheets, her cap had fallen to the floor.
Godsey smiled and then laughed, obviously catching her dreaming about the Captain, as most women did.
"You listen ta me, gel, ya keep that cap atop ya pretty little head or we'll both be losin' ours, if ya get my meanin'." Godsey joked, while tousling the top of Maura’s head.
Maura dropped the sheets and picked up her scaly and stuffed her thick black tresses underneath the cap. A few thin strands hung down around the sides to frame her face. With her smudged nose and cheeks and those teasing strands hanging down, Godsey began to realize that it would take an act of God to pull this off, because Maura looked as beautiful as if she were in regal garb. She was a natural beauty...soot and all.
He walked over to her, helped her stuff the rest of her hair under her cap. He felt very protective of her, like a father.
"C'mon then, I've got a lot ta show ya about the ship. I'll show ya where the galley be, and where the powder stores are kept, and where to draw water. Never drink the sea water or you're sure ta be sick to ya stomach, lass. We start every journey with enough water for most of the trip, but sometimes there's not enough so we leave barrels out on deck ta catch the rain water and we use those ta replenish our stores for the rest o’ the journey. Always make sure ya boil the water afore ya drink it." He went on and on for the longest time, as they made their whirlwind tour of the ship.
Maura tried to listen and to remember all that he had to tell her but she knew that would be impossible. Besides it was very difficult to hear Godsey over the deck hands hollering orders at each other and the crashing of the waves hitting the sides of the ship. One other thing that she hadn't counted on was the fierceness of the waves and how they tossed the ship about as if it were a toy.
The ship was wavering to and fro and it made her start to feel sick. Godsey caught on right quickly.
"Lass, lass, Ya are goin' ta hafta get ya sea legs about ya. That's one thing for sure. You'll get used to it after a bit." He could see that she was turning pale. He escorted Maura back below deck.
"Try and rest if ya can, gel. You'll be up early with the gulls." He warned.
Maura shook her head and up it came. "Oh my goodness Godsey, I'm terribly ashamed. I'd better clean up." Her face was gray and ashen.
Godsey just stood at the door, cap in his hand, scratching his half balding pate. "Aye...I don't know what I've gotten myself inta this time." With a deep sigh he turned to go back up topside.
Unbeknownst to Maura and Godsey, two doors down where the water stores were kept, just inside the door was the Captain's quartermaster, James Kilern. He had been hiding back away from the entry of the adjoining cabin. As soon as he heard the words "Lass, Lass" his ears perked up and he crouched back so that Godsey could not see him there. He had been listening to them and decided that he would keep an eye on this so called cabin boy.
After a while he heard the Captain's cabin door slam. When he was certain that Godsey was well past him, he made his way from his hiding place and went back up topside.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
The two older gentlemen sat in the back of the White Horse tavern and ordinary, sharing old seafaring stories of their younger days. They had been together for greater than two hours laughing at what young roguish idiots they had been and how quickly it had all passed by them.
With each round of hearty laughter, Richard tried to block the spray of bloody mucous from each hacking cough with the ragged cloth of his dingy linen shirtsleeve. The whites of his eyes were bloodshot and the rims of each lower lid were excoriated and encrusted.
Richard McCoveny suddenly became somber and quiet and the other just watched his friend and wondered what had transpired to change his mood.
"What's wrong my friend?" said Albert Godsey. "Ya seem ta be far and away some where."
"Ahh Godsey, mate, I am in a quandary about what ta do with my darlin' daughter Maura. I am in failin’ health and am so dreadfully afraid that she will have to succumb ta some bloody Englishman for her very survival, lest I can find another way ta protect her from the mean streets of this city."
"Why hasn't she yet married?" Godsey replied.
“Because I am a stubborn old fool that taught my daughter more the ways of a lad than lass, I'm afraid. She has a temper that no man could put up with for too long, I’m afraid and most men are intimidated by her intellect and her beauty." Richard stated in a woeful tone.
“Then why can she not become a school marm and support herself that way? You had educated her well, as I recall. Mayhap put aside a dowry, save some willing male to marry her in future." Godsey suggested.
"I'm afraid that ya have been away from the emerald Isle too long, Godsey. Ya see King George the III hath carried over the rulin’s of his bastard predecessor, Henry the VIII, whereby he forbade all Irish women to venture inta any such learnered knowledge. The English have been tryin’ ever since, ta force us together, ta control us and take our lands”.
“So any Irish lass not wantin’ the fate o’ the streets, has got no choice but ta wed an Englishman for her survival. I am dyin’ Godsey, I know it, and I'm afraid that my Maura will be at the mercy o’ the English. She will surely be beaten, either, into submission or ta death because she is o’ strong will and mind." Richard continued.
“I’ve asked ya here tonight, my old friend o’ the Sea, ta help me in my time of need. I usually do not like ta call in markers, but I have no other choice." The old man begged.
“Wait a minute Richard I am but a man of meager earnings, myself. I could no more afford a dowry than you. I have never even been married! How would ya expect me ta care for her?" His friend replied with terror in his eyes and in his voice.
“I don't want ya ta take care of her, Godsey. She will be able ta care for herself, once in America. I want ya ta take her with ya ta Boston, New England. I've heard that the colonists have settled in quite nicely there and are doing well. They'll be in need of governesses and teachers. Shoppe keepers will need seamstresses ta make clothin’ for the people settlin’ there. Boston, I hear, is up and comin’ and the people will pay immigrants to do their fetchin' for them. I also have a female friend that resides there. Mary Turlington. I used to give her extra for doin' my wash.”
“Yes, I'm sure ya did, ya old scallywag, heh, heh!" joked Godsey, while elbowing Richard in his side.
“No, no, 'tis nothing like that you old letch. She lives not far from the docks and has a mercantile at waters edge. I used ta stop there and purchase my pipe tobacco and whiskey for the return home. She was quite a bit older than me, as I recall. Mayhap she's not even livin' any longer, but she has a son, goes by the name of Thomas. Thomas Turlington." Richard remembers, as he thoughtfully pulls at the bestraggled hair of his chin beard. “I’m sure if I send the money planned for her dowry and ask that the lad put her ta workin’ until she can support herself, she'll be just fine.”
"And what would ya have me do? Ya know as well as I, that havin’ her board a ship with burley young men, set out ta sea for three months, would surely cost ya daughter her vanity...if ya know of what I speak, Richard. I think ya can remember what it was like for months at a time at sea. All we could do was drink ourselves ta sleep night after night, ta avoid yearnin’ for the fair maidens that awaited us at Port." recalled Godsey.
Richards eyebrows lifted in surprise at the idea that he was about to reveal to his shipmate. “I will put her in disguise. Yes, that's it, Godsey! I will disguise her as a young lad. Mayhap you could convince ya ship's Captain that he is in need of a cabin boy?" He pleaded for his friend’s acceptance of his idea.
“I don't know, Richard, ya ask much of me. I know I owe ya my very life for the thousand times ya pulled my sorry arse out o’ the fires, but shite man, ya are askin' me ta lie ta my Captain and that could mean a floggin' at sea, if found out. You really think that the ships Captain would be around a maiden for three months at sea and not know that he's really a she !?!" Godsey replied, while trying to keep his voice from being over heard by the other men that would be aboard the Arabella that next eventide.
There was a long silence between the two old shipmates. Godsey knew he owed his life to Richard, many times over. But could he risk the lash if found out that he had allowed a stowaway to board ship? And a female stowaway, at that! It would surely cause an uprising that could jeopardize the life of the girl, for one, and the ships cargo, should fights break out between the men over the maiden.
“Please help my daughter, Godsey, for I know I will be dead by spring. The pain in my chest gets bigger and bigger as time pushes on and I need ta know that my Maura is well off for the future."
Godsey took one last long drag off the ale in his mug and then ordered the strongest whiskey the barkeep had in his stock. He looked into Richards’s eyes and could see that his friend was very ill. His pallor was ashen grey and his eyes were careworn from many nights up worrying about his daughter's fate. He held up his tankard and slammed it into Richard's glass.
“Don’t worry, my friend, I will see ta ya last wishes. But I can tell ya this, it will not be easy keepin’ her identity a secret, but I will do my best ta keep her safe o'er the long journey ta America."
Richard breathed a great sigh of relief and hugged his friend, slapping him several times on the back, as men do.
The deal was struck. Now the difficult part would be to convince Maura that this was in her best interest.
"No, Father I willna go!" Maura cried out in utter outrage at her father’s plans for her future.
"Now Listen ta reason, lass. Ya must heed what I say. This is the only logical way for ya ta survive those vile English bastards. Would ya be put upon by one o’ them?" Richard shouted back at his daughter.
"If ya stay here and I should pass on, what will become o’ ya’? Use your head gel! I raised ya ta be more intelligent than this childish display that ya be exhibitin'. I'll hear no more o’ this foolishness. The deal has been struck for ya safe passage ta America. Ya will meet with my good friend Albert Godsey, behind the White Horse Tavern, just before dawn. There ya will be given a disguise as the Captain's cabin boy."
"Cabin boy?!" she exclaimed in disbelief. "Father I have hardly looked the boy in many a summer. How do ya suppose I manage that, now, at my age and obvious development." she looked down upon her womanly curves.
"Ya will don the cabin boy garb that ya are given by Godsey and tape ya breasts down as tightly to ya frame as possible. It would be very dangerous for ya ta be found out. This will be the toughest part o’ the whole of it, Maura. After ya reach the ports of Boston you will be met by some other good friends o’ mine, The Turlingtons, and then it will be clear sailin’ for ya from then on gel."
With tears welling up in her eyes, she pleaded with her father not to send her away. "Please father, who will tend ta ya in ya final days? I would be the one to do those final things for ya, not some stranger." Her tears were flowing freely now, she could not stop them from falling.
Richard held his arms out to his beloved daughter and she fell into them and wept for what seemed like an eternity.
"There, there child, cry no more. I can no longer care for ya in my condition, even though it has been you who has, more often than naught, cared for me these past two years. As ya father I must know before I die that I have done everythin’ in my power ta assure that ya are well off and protected. This is the best I can do. Everyday I look upon your beautiful face and see ya mother, Maureen, in ya child. 'Tis harder and harder ta let go of ya, my wee bairn, more than ya know. But let go I must, for ya own good. Ya are much too good for the likes o’ some English rogue bastard. I'd rather ya take ya chances, gel, on that rough ship knowin’ that when ya reach the shores o’ the Shawmut Peninsula, at Boston harbor, ya just might meet up with one o’ ya own kind. A strappin’ Irish lad and have a chance at a better life than one o’ serf to some bloody English soldier, or worse, forced to make ya way in the whore houses of this filthy city.
I know for sure that ya mother, Maureen, would have agreed with me. On this ya must trust me, gel. Up and until now I have taught ya well the ways ta protect ya self against danger. Ya know how ta hunt, shoot, and ride a horse better than most young lads. And what little schoolin' that I did managed ta sneak inta ya, without the English blackhearts finding out about, ya also know how ta stitch, cook, manage a home, and are very well read. Ya will make a fine governess for someone's family or a wonderful school teacher."
Maura brushed at the corners of her eyes and listened to what her father had to say, knowing that there would be no changing his mind on this. She stiffened her back against his words and sat stoically while he continued with his last bit of fatherly advice.
"Remember one thing my child, never ever give ya heart ta some rogue not worthy o’ your regalness. Ya are truly very special, Maura. I would rather see ya never marry than ta be bound ta an unhappy union of convenience or abuse. That is why I am sendin’ ya away. I want ta make certain that ya have every opportunity ta put forth your greatness.” Richard fell silent awaiting a reply from his daughter. But none came.
Maura rose up from her chair, placed a long kiss on her father’s forehead, hugged him and then ascended the stairs to her bedchamber.
As she laid her head down on her pillow she knew that this would be the last night that she would sleep in her own bed. And that after the morrow morning’s sunrise she would never again see her father alive.
She buried her face into the pillows for one last long exhausting cry and then fell off to sleep with her final thoughts being the fear of the unknown and having to face a new world on her own.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
The faint whistle of a shooting star captured his attention.
His sinewy muscular arms stretched out wide with hands clasped behind his head, as he stared lazily out of the great multi-paned bay window of his cabin.
Captain Daniel Hargendon lay in his bunk captivated by the sapphire and diamond canvas that was the twilight sky.
The gentle rocking and eerie creeking sounds made by the swelling of twenty-five year old elm and oak stringers lulled his masculine nature.
He let forth a sigh, heavy with relief, as there was something about the soft lapping sounds of the incoming tide against the hull of the Arabella and the icy scent of January seamist within his nostirls that refreshed his heart and quelled the angst within his restless soul.
He had just finished his last meal on dry land at the White Horse Tavern. He was anxious to set sail for home, but knew he'd never get away with not letting his men have one last night in the brothels and taverns. It would be three months before they would set foot upon dry land or see another female. He had to give them their due.
He thought himself a stern Captain, but a fair one. Not very often does he show his malleable nature, especially around the men of his ship. “They must be reigned in tight or they should run amok the mission”, he thought, which is to bring back to the Americas their trade with the Irish and English.
Daniel knows that he too will not set foot on dry land or hold another woman’s soft flesh against his in the night for three long months. But he also realizes that he needs to be in complete control of his men when they returned to the ship hung over from the night’s revelry.
Daniel reminded himself that it was never his practice to engage in temptresses or whiskey the night before setting sail.
“Ah, but it is my fate if I am to be captain of this great vessel.” He chuckled at his thoughts as he wished that he were with his men that very moment knocking back warm brandy and nuzzling some buxom barmaid willing to throw down with him when the last candle would be doused. To feel the thighs of womanly warmth and softness wrapped about his was more than he could bear to think about.
Daniel restlessly squirmed in his bunk, a moment or two, and then surrendered to the fact that sleep would not come without the aide of his favored elixir.
He threw his muscular lower limbs over the side of his bunk and winced as the shock of the fridgid oak planks below his bare feet reminded him that the woodstove in his cabin needed to be restoked. He gave a quick stretch of his powerful upper musculature, tousseled his thick dark mane and finally strode over to his desk and opened the drawer where he kept a small flask of brandy for sleepless nights like this one.
He took a long drag off of the flask, ran a shirtsleeve across his mouth and winced at the burn in his throat.
He returned to his bunk keeping the flask handy should he need another swig of the fervent elixir to keep his mind off of the yearning below his waist. Finally, he began to drift off to sleep with the brisk night air blowing in off of the sea through the open panes. Within moments he was in the throws of a blissful dream.
Daniel sees himself walking along a seaside dock in the early dawn hours, the sun not entirely up. He senses a presence close by. A dark hooded figure is approaching and he is captivated by the billowy furls of black velvet surround this dark angel of his dreams. The gold and fucsia tapestry of the ocean horizon surrounds her like a blazing halo, further convincing him that she is not of this world. The sight of her dream-like approach intensifies his feelings of excitement and anticipation of what is to come.
As he gains closness to the shrouded figure he recalls deep feelings of profound happiness and contentment within his heart that he has never experienced, until this moment.
His senses filled with the warm heady fragrance of New England Mayflowers. He breathes in deeply, natures intoxicating perfume and allows the scent to envelop him and it envokes memories of a lustful nature that he is certain that he has shared with this angel of the night.
The shouded figure surreally passes by to his left, almost touching but not quite. He feels the heat of passion between them and then waves of warmth and feelings of excitement rocked his body with an intensity he had not felt, ever, in his life.
He sees the gentle puffs of her breath as her beautiful sensual mouth begins to take form of barely audible whispered words.
“Ta mo chroi ishtig Ge deo”.
It had been ages since Daniel had heard or spoken the language of his native Ireland. As this was yet another of the many elements systematically stripped away from the people of Ireland during King Henry VIII reign. Since then Ireland’s sons and daughters had been forbidden to use their own language.
Daniel’s father had always made certain that he and his brother could speak Gaelic and that they also knew of their rich heritage.
He recalled the words to mean “My heart is in you forever”
Her breath in his ear sent shivers of a lustful nature directly to his loins.
Her tiny graceful hand reached out from beneath the oversized velvetinous sleeve of her cape. Just as they touched Daniel recalls hearing a loud explosion and sees a slow but violent plume of gold, pink, and teal surround his dark angel. Daniel immediately recognized the acrid scent of gunpowder.
The blinding eruption caused him to guard his eyes with his forearm as he fell to his knees. A hard lump formed within his throat and then the hot rush of tears fell freely from his burning eyes as he looked to find that his goddess divine had vanished.
As Daniel awoke he could feel that same sense of premonition and when he placed his fingers to his eyes they were wet with tears. His throat was sore from shouting out in his sleep. He awoke to find his quartermaster, Kilern, standing over him.
"Are ya alright sir? I heard ya shoutin’ from the deck and thought ya might be ill or gone asunder by some drunkards that may have snuck aboard ship ta steal from ya.”
Daniel’s quarter master raised his voice a second time.
“Captain, I say, is everything alright sir?" Daniel shook his head to acclimate himself to his surroundings.
Then after clearing his throat of the dryness, therein, he finally answered.
"Yes, yes, of course I'm fine man. I just had a bad dream is all. I’m guessin’ the brandy that I've been keepin’ in my desk has finally gone rancid. I’ll purchase a new flask in the mornin' before we set sail. Good night Kilern. Be off with ya now and not a word o’ this ta the other men. I wouldna want them ta think me ill and unable ta charter this ship. Understand?"
Daniel’s words were curt and short.
"As ya wish Captain, I’ll not speak a word." Then with a quick click of his heals and a short salute to Daniel, Kilern left the cabin. When out of site of his Captain, Kilern asserted a half grin on his face and just shook his head. He knew that Daniel would be humiliated at the thought of the other men finding out that he had been crying upon waking. Though not knowing why, Kilern derived a sadistic pleasure in those thoughts.
James Kilern had been Daniel’s first quartermaster for many years and had served with Daniel's father, John Hargendon, when he was alive. Daniel had no idea why, but he never really trusted Kilern. But his father had, so he kept him on board after his father had passed on.
Daniel was wide awake by this time. He paced back and forth in his cabin wondering who this mysterious woman of his dreams might be. He knew that it was not the woman that he was betrothed to for the last eight years. She was a beauty to behold, for sure, but her form was not as slight and delicate as this woman of whom he'd dreamt.
He walked back to his desk and in the top drawer he pulled out a small hand painted portrait of his soon to be wife. Mallory Gilmore.
Mallory's father, Leif Gilmore and Daniels father, John, had struck a bargain when Mallory was just a child of ten and three summers. Daniel was then twenty and in no manner ready to settle down to hearth and home. But John struck the deal with Leif, none the less, to merge the families together and make huge their wealth in the trading industry between Europe and America.
Since Daniel was the eldest of his two sons and had not sought to engage himself to any one maiden, he was the perfect choice. Daniel had never taken the betrothal seriously until the previous spring when Mallory's father announced the couples engagement and wedding date for the following May. Mallory's father became anxious for the pairing ever since John's passing a year ago and feared that Daniel would break the bargain that he and John had struck.
Daniel knew that Mallory had not been faithful to him while he was at sea for months at a time. Neither was he, for that matter when in port. None the less he had discovered the depths of Mallory's sexual knowledge two years earlier when he returned home. He smiled down at the picture of Mallory remembering how desirable she could be, and what thoroughly lusty times he had experienced with her. At nine and ten summers, Mallory was quite learnered in the ways of seduction. But being the gentleman that Daniel is he never made mention of her forwardness in bed. He just smiled and enjoyed himself.
But now it was time to pay the price of his father's bargaining. Daniel had not been overly bothered by his fate. After all most marriages are for convenience and gain and she is a beautiful woman that will do his bidding and warm his bed at his beck and call. He is also quite confident that while far away on another continent he will no doubt keep many paramours, as he does now, and is certain that she will do the same. He will be able to increase his business holdings, increase his family's wealth and status in the community, and Mallory will be kept in the luxury standing that she has always been accustomed to her entire life.
“Sounded like a good transaction at the time”, he reasoned to himself, but now that it is about to happen, He is feeling as though the proverbial noose is being tightened about his neck. As his thoughts of his upcoming nuptials to Mallory wallowed in his mind, he instinctively reached up to rub his neck as though that noose were already in place.
He finally made his way back to his rack and stripped down to his skin.
Then he covered himself with the wool blanket at the bottom of the bunk. Thoughts of tomorrow's itinerary now filled his head and he drifted back off to sleep.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Well in my last post(which was really my first post), I promised to post chapters of some of my rejected manuscripits. I am looking to entertain, gain strength in my writing by having anyone give suggestions on how to better show and tell my stories.
Constructive comments only, please. Any suggestions that I do adopt will have full recognition from me should I ever become published.
Thanks for taking the time to read.
Seacrets By Adrianna Wingate
Maura McCoveny can barely breathe whenever she is too close to Captain Daniel Hargendon, master and commander of the Irish-American trade carrier, Arabella.
Maura is disguised as a cabin boy after her father, Richard, con’s his old shipmate Albert Godsey to sneak the girl on board the Arabella, bound for the colonies.
King George III obsession to wed all Irish lasses to only men of English nobility, thereby ensuring that Ireland will remain under the thumb of the crown, is weighing heavily on Richard’s mind. He is dying from consumption, a slow and painful death. Richard’s desire for Maura to live a life free from British oppression outweighs his fear of sending her alone to a foreign land. So he risks her dowry, her maidenhood…her life, to get her to America.
Maura and Daniel are getting closer by the day. So close, in fact, that Daniel begins to think himself a buggerer of boys and is increasingly disturbed by these feelings. He is not the only male to notice peculiarities about Maura’s faux maleness.
James Kilern, the ship’s quartermaster, keeps a close watch on Maura and eventually discovers that his intuitions that this cabin boy is really a female are correct. James Kilern is evil and corrupt and thinks only of his own gain and how to best utilize this new found treasure.
He has plans for Maura, in that her virginity will fetch a high price, indeed. So he endeavors to bargain with her, under heavy threat to her well being, to keep her secret from Daniel…for the time being. But that does not stop him from violating Maura on a smaller scale to relieve himself of his animal-like desires for female flesh.
Maura, fearing the worse of two evils, decides to keep quiet about Kilern’s assault of her in hopes of making it to America and finding some way to escape the fate that her father had tried so desperately to spare her.
Maura’s greater fear is that she and Godsey will be flogged for their crimes and then thrown overboard to their deaths.
Daniel prays daily that his thoughts of a lustful nature about his cabin boy will pass. He is sure that he is not sexually attracted to males. All he has to do is think of his betrothed, Mallory Gilmore, and his trousers gain a characteristic snugness known only to a licentious rogue. Still he is confused as to why his breathing instantly becomes labored and his immoral compass gravitates toward Maura every time he is too close to her.
That secret is revealed to Daniel on the morning after one of the bloodiest battles the Arabella has seen in recent times. A rogue pirate ship attacks the Arabella in hopes of relieving Daniel of his cargo. They could not have under estimated the Arabella’s crew more.
Maura is lulled into a false sense of security that Daniel is much too busy assessing the damages to his ship to interrupt her assessing the damages of her disguise. She is dead wrong. So busy is she hurrying to rewrap her breast bindings that she fails to hear him enter the cabin. The ear shattering slam of the portal door affirms to her that she has been caught.
Once Daniel is able to move past feelings of insurmountable anger at being duped into hiring this young waif of Ireland, he is equally as relieved to know of Maura’s gender. Now he is able to listen to her and Godsey’s reasoning for sneaking her aboard. However, regardless of how well founded their reasoning, there is a known superstition among the seafaring that a curse will befall a ship if a female sails among the men. During the battle that had ensued, some were lost that were friends of the survivors. They would surely blame Maura…and Godsey for bringing upon them this blight. Daniel told himself that this is the reason that he will keep their secret, but it will be more for his own gain, his own base needs. From this moment forward, Maura and Daniel could feel the tides of emotion change between them as the sexual tension begins to mount and eventually cascades to the inevitable.
Despite close quarters and a watchful eye, Maura is kidnapped by the quarter master, Kilern, the day the ship docks on the shores of the Shawmut Peninsula. She is held against her will for many months, suffering abuses that she’d rather forget. Her will is strong and she never loses hope that she will escape her vile captors and find her way back to Daniel.
After a daring and dangerous escape on the night before Daniel is to wed another, their jubilance at finally finding one another again is halted in a most dramatic way. Maura is shot in the back before she could explain to Daniel what has happened to her over the past months, only to recover not remembering any of the prior circumstances leading up to her shooting.
Kilern remembers very well, the state of affairs and enlists the aide of Daniel’s jilted betrothed to help him regain his lost treasure. Mallory agrees to help for no other reason than to avenge her stinging pride for having been dumped at the altar by Daniel Hargendon. She vows to make him pay with a vengeance that he will soon not forget.
Kilern has plans to make Maura pay severely for thwarting his plans to become rich off of her back and retire from sailing for good. Maura’s fighting Irish spirit takes hold and will not allow Kilern to assault her time and again. She murders him in a most hideous and bloody fashion that even she can not believe she is capable...
You'll have to read on to find out how it ends, as I have purposely cut off the end of this synopsis that was originally written as a "pitch" tool for agents and publishers. Got pretty good feed back, but they were just not "buying" at that time...perhaps I'll try again, one day.
Stay tuned for next in stallment!
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Hello my beauties. If you are reading this then you have found your way to my very first Romance blog!
It has been a long road for me to have the nerve to let people in to view my work, but it's now or never...I guess.
Okay so you have inevitably read my "About Me" and my "Welcome" posts to the right of this blog, so lets get started.
I've always been a "dive right into the deep end of the pool" kind of girl, and how I approached Romance writing was no different I, can assure you.
My story (romance writing) began about six years ago when my still wonderfully sexy husband of 30+ years gave me a Romance novel of my very favorite romance author (want to remain nameless, here) and I discovered how disappointed I had become with this author's writing over the her previous couple of novels. I felt that the quality of what I personally look for in a lusty, senusal, historical "bodice ripper"...(Oh come on now you know the kind I'm talkin' about. The type of prose that sweeps you off your feet, has your heart racing so that you need a bowl of water and a fan at the ready and it totally whisks you to a romantic world that you know in your womanly heart of hearts does not exist, but you wish it did. (Or as Stewie(Family Guy) likes to put it..."A menopausal masterbatory aide" LOL).
Not only was the standard recipe for producing a basic romance novel not present, but I thought to myself, " This author is either sick of writing romance or they are at the end of a contract and is just wanting to pump this drivel out and get rid of it". (Still love that author, by the way, and for the record, authors should be able to entertain their own personal muses when they want, but just don't forget your loyal fan base).
One thing that I have learned, since beginning my juorney as a writer is that we cannot please all the people, all the time, to turn a phrase. There is a recipe to writing romance. Yes...a recipe.
Just like cooking and then serving up a delicious gormet meal, so too should your romance be served up to your readers, if you want to sell your craft. If it is solely for one's own enjoyment, then so be it, do not compromise. Write in whatever style you choose. But if you truely want to be read and attract a following, then you must cater to a certain extent. Sorry. That's just the way it is.
Back to the recipe
One Part: Primary Hero should be animalike, hardbodied, edgy but likeable. Possess a huge but tameable ego with an attitude to match. A man's man. No metrosexuals wanted here, lol.
One Part: Primary Heroine can either be goddess-like or ruggedly beautiful...You know the type we say "boy she cleans up well". She should be equal to (w/o emassculating ) the hero, in intelligence, sexappeal, sensuality, quick-wittedness, with an "I take no prisoners" attitude. No shrinking violets need apply.
Two Parts: Brought together and ripped apart. Circumstances of their meeting must capture the reader in a profound way so that the reader can buy into caring about the main charachters realtionship so that when, what ever the circumstances of the break up happens they want them to get back together. You want the reader to root for the couple the entire way through the story, to the end.
Several Parts: Sexual tension. From the very begining these two star-crossed lovers should want to kill to be together, but the author needs to pace the sexual tension...drawing the reader to the charachters as any self respecting voyure would want to experience a lustful scene. But keep it respectable now. This is not pornographical literature were talking about. This young lady is giving it up only to her night in shinning armour, Highlander in a plaid kilt, James bond tuxedo guy, Cowboy in hat and chaps, etc.
The sex should be mentally stimulating without being too salacious. It should make the reader want to squirm a bit and fan themselves while sitting in his/her favorite comfy over-sized chair or to fling back the wedding quilt that would normally serve as their night time "comforter".
And after the inevitable breakup of your two sexual superheroes, there needs to be a remounting of that same magical tension to be able to keep your reader interested in the final outcome.
Sprinkle in a few supporting charachters to make the story more three dimensional. Lets face it, no one wants to read they met, they fell in love, they had sex, and they lived happily everafter. Right? I want a storyline with some chops to it. Take me somewhere. To another time period. To another part of the country. Hell, to another country!
In short..."Enrapture" me within the pages.
Fold in the ending neatly. This is a key requirement of the romance genre. A happy ending MUST happen....and we all love a great happy ending. Don't we?
And that's basically the recipe. There are different variations of the recipe, but essentially they are all pretty similar. Different generes of fiction carry with them different recipes. Most of the world loves a good chocolate chip cookie. right? But there are many different versions of the old standby...the toll house cookie. So why should fiction writing(of any kind )be any different.
On a personal Note
What I look for in a really absorbing, senusually lusty romance novel is ebb and flow. Hook me immediately ( I have the attension span of a moth ) or within the first chapter. I know, I know...all the pros say the hook should be within the first page, but that's because agents, editors, and publishers don't have time for a story to take shape. They are in the business of making money and signing writers who will bring in constant and residual streams of income for their particular interest.
I read this material for the escape. I want to be entertained and stimulated on many levels. If it's all sex and no storyline, you've lost me. I want it all baby! Great charismatic lead charachters that I can relate to on some level, secondary characters to provide the support and comic releif, a storyline that is addicting with enough fantasy to make my heart beat fast and my inner monologue say..."Man is this hot or what?!"
I want to feel sad that the story has ended and wonder if there will be a sequal or want to run right out and buy that author's next body of work and, ultimately, this is how I want my readers to feel about my body of work.
Let me know what your thoughts are on this topic and until my next entry...
Take care Adrianna