In a post last Monday, I told you that I’m going to publish The Lady of the Vineyard on September 10th of this year. Well, that’s still holds true, and today I’ll be sharing a brief excerpt plus me rambling about my novella a little … which will happen, knowing me.
First, the excerpt!
An Excerpt from Chapter Four
“I like France,” Judy commented from behind a large box of chocolates.
“I’m glad,” Troy replied. The cab stopped in front of a small boarding house that looked tiny next to the huge, grand hotels they had passed on the way. Troy jumped out and reached back for Judy and the chocolates and Marilou.
“Where are we?” Judy inquired, examining the weathered-gray building with interest.
“This is the home of my dear friends, Monsieur and Madame Lecroix.”
“Why are we here?”
“I always stay with them when I’m in Paris.” He fetched his and Judy’s suitcases, giving Judy the candy and Marilou to hold (which nearly toppled her over). Troy paid the cab driver, and they hurried up the steps and knocked on the front door.
A chubby little girl about Judy’s age answered the door. She beamed up at Troy when she saw him.
“Monsieur Kee! It has been too long!” the girl said, dipping a graceful curtsey.
“It has been far too long, Mademoiselle Colette,” Troy said with a broad grin. “Etta, this is my daughter, Mademoiselle Kee. Judy.”
“Ah, oui! I have heard so much about you, Judy!” Collette repeated her curtsey.
“I’m glad to meet you, too,” said Judy, unsure if she should imitate Colette’s quaint gesture or not.
“Come in, now, both of you!” Colette led them into a largish foyer with red carpets, a large oak desk, and a grand staircase rising from it. “Your room is ready as it is anytime, Monsieur Kee. May the young mademoiselle stay in our room, perhaps?”
“If Judy wants to, and your mother doesn’t object, I don’t see why not.”
Turning away from the door, Colette ran to the bottom of the stairway and shouted up. “Mama! Monsieur Kee is here!”
Out of a door at the top came a round, middle-aged woman with messy, graying black hair and twinkling dark eyes. She had a baby under one arm, and led a child of three or four. “Troy, chere! We are honored, once again, by your presence!”
“And I’m glad to be here, Madame Lecroix. Is my room still available?”
“And will you be able to lend a room to Judy? Or could she stay with your girls?”
“Whichever you prefer!”
“I’d like to stay with Colette,” Judy said.
“That’s settled, then,” Troy announced.
“I have the key to your room somewhere,” Madame Lecroix muttered, feeling through the numerous pockets of her dress. She found a baby bottle, several coins, three handkerchiefs, and a small notebook, each of which she exclaimed over, having lost and now found them. She then bustled over to the desk and dug through papers until she found a ring of keys. “There, these are mine to give to the boarders! My husband keeps the master keys … he knows I would lose them!” Madame Lecroix explained to Judy. She handed Troy a small silver key. “Now, don’t you lose it!” she said with a light laugh, waggling her finger at him. “Henri! Louis!”
Two small but stout boys ran into the room. They both grinned broadly when they saw Troy.
“Take the Kees’ suitcases upstairs. Put Mademoiselle Kee’s in our girls’ room, and Monsieur Kee’s in his regular room. Hurry, hurry!”
The boys, still grinning, hurried to do as bid. Troy laughingly removed their caps and put chocolates (along with the key) in them as they passed.
“Merci, Monsieur Kee!” they cried as they hurried up the stairs, toting suitcases.
“I suppose your husband is still at his breakfast, Madame Lecroix,” Troy asked as he followed the lady and her children up to the second floor.
“Yes, Troy. He still takes longer to chew than any other man in the world.”
“Good, good! I was afraid some of you would change, but none of you have.”
“Well, the boys are growing.”
“So I saw! So tall! But I meant on the inside. I don’t care how you look.”
“You’d change your tune if we remodeled your room, as we have threatened to,” Madame Lecroix laughed.
“Well, that’s different. Atmosphere in a room has a great deal to do with the way it looks. And if you were to remodel it, the smell would leave, too, and the feel, perhaps. All my senses would be offended.”
“What strange ideas you have, Monsieur Kee!” Madame Lecroix exclaimed, shaking her head.
“It’s true, though.” He entered his room where the boys were neatly removing his clothes from the suitcase and placing them in the closet and dresser drawer. Louis removed a small package wrapped in brown paper, undid it, and put the object on the little bedside table. It was a picture frame. Even from a distance, Judy knew who the person in the photograph was.
“Mother?” she questioned as if the woman in question were standing right next to her.
“Yes, Judy. Now, I think that’s all we’ll be needing for now. We’re going to go out for lunch, if you don’t mind, but we’ll be back for dinner … especially if you’re having soup de jour!”
Madame Lecroix waggled her finger at him. “Now, Monsieur Kee! You know very well that soup de jour mens ‘soup of the day.’ It changes every time!”
“And every time it’s delicious! I suppose dinner’s still at six?”
“Yes, Monsieur Kee.”
“Then we’ll see you then.” He tipped his hat, took Judy’s hand, and left the room.
Well? What do you think? It’s a work-in-progress, obviously, so constructive criticism would be more than welcome!
As would be crazy, fangirl screaming … whatever floats your boat. 😉
Moving on, I suppose I should tell you a little about that novella from which you just read a section (unless you skimmed/skipped … evil reader …). It’s a historical fiction novella set in the 1930s – 1938, to be precise – in England and France.
How did this fantastic novella come into being? What inspired me to write it? Well, if I must be honest, The Dressmaker’s Secret did! How this came about was explained in more detail in this post, but, shortly, The Lady of the Vineyard is the original The Dressmaker’s Secret.
WHAT? you say. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?!?!?!
Well, The Lady of the Vineyard was originally written (well, planned … I never got around to writing it) as the prequel to The Sapphire of the Seine, a romance novel which I actually did write a couple chapters of. It was … awful. I’m not kidding, guys. It was so bad! And it’s burnt now, so the badness is a distant memory. 😀
Anyway, skip ahead a couple years. October 2014. I’m planning to undertake NaNoWriMo for the first time (*shivers*) and I decide to write The Lady of the Vineyard. Of course, by then (I’d been re-outlining it since September) it’s set in England in the 1870s and has nothing at all to do with vineyards or ladies.
So I rename it “The Dressmaker’s Daughters.” Finding this title to be under usage, I change this to “The Dressmaker’s Secret” after much searching around for the right title (Finding Father, Chasing a Shadow, Seams of Life, and The Dressmaker’s Twins all had their turns).
And in November I wrote a novel that vaguely resembled TDS. At that point, the series (simply titled the Dressmaker books) included The Dressmaker’s Legacy, The Dressmaker’s Gift, and the prequel, The Dressmaker, was very rough and … it needed to die, so TDS went through a complete overhaul and the series was renamed and I decided to include Ivy, who deserves a spotlight instead of just not existing, as she did in the Dressmaker books.
Anyway. Back to The Lady of the Vineyard.
Last December, I started thinking about writing The Lady of the Vineyard. I mean, it was a good story. It just wasn’t meant for Alice. It was meant for a different kind of character entirely, I decided. Not a witty, intelligent, spunky little girl who can do anything she wants. It was meant for a sweet, serious child, quiet, and contained but inwardly emotional.
Neither was TLOTV meant for the 1870s, when divorce was a social no-no. It was meant for the 1930s, when divorce was acceptable and when travel was easier.
Although the underlying theme (a child’s need for a complete family) is the same as for TDS, TLOTV is more the story of discovering something laying in plain sight than finding something hidden.
At the moment, I’m taking a break in between drafts of TLOTV. I’m also letting other people read and critique it, so if you’re interested in beta-reading, let me know! Shoot me an email or contact me over Goodreads, NaNoWriMo (Adult, Camp, and YWP work), or Google+. I’d love to give you a link to the Google Doc and let you read it in exchange for pointing out typos and giving your opinion on characters, plot, setting, etc. Every little bit helps.
Well, that’s about all I have to say today! Sorry for the rambling!