The Lady of the Vineyard Blog Tour, Day 5
We’ve finally come to the last day of the blog tour! After this, we’ll be getting back to the normal schedule.
An author and character interview (and bonus book spotlight!) by Morgan Dusky (Studies in Character). It’s always so much fun to do anything with Morgan and her characters, and this was no exception! I also finally got some of the Adele-and-Troy-squabbling out of my head, which is good, because I need to move on to other characters, sadly. 😉
Also, Morgan’s birthday was last Saturday, on release day; I totally forgot to mention that in my post! Oh, well.
A book spotlight by Willowy Whisper (http://willowywhisper.com/). Tastefully done! 🙂
A review by J.C. Buchanan (Beyond the Amethyst). I love seeing reviews of my novels … it gives me a happy feeling inside … and this was no exception!
An author interview by Kate Willis (Once Upon an Ordinary). This one was fun! Kate is always pretty awesome. Which, oddly enough, reminds me that I need to write a review of Austenland. XD
An author and character interview with Allie Taylor (The Depth of My Faith). It hasn’t come out yet (because it’s also a bonus!), but I’ll try to add the link in later if I can. Also, my ‘aspiring author interview’ can be found here. Allie did it with me a little while back. 🙂
Thursday (the 8th):
Lana (The Music of Words) ~ author and character interview
Faith Potts (Stories by Firefly) ~ review, book spotlight
Aardvark Magazine (Aardvark) ~ author interview, book spotlight
Friday (the 9th):
Jesseca Wheaton (Whimsical Writings) ~ review, book spotlight
April McLauren (April Dreams) ~ author and character interview, book spotlight
Alyssa (Writing Anyone) ~ review
Saturday (the 10th):
Lily (Living By Chapters) ~ review, author and character interview
Grace (The Girl Upstairs) ~ author interview, book spotlight
Selene Silver (Hearth) ~ review, character interview, book spotlight
Katrina (Katrina Creative) ~ author interview
Sunday (the 11th):
Angela R. Watts (The Peculiar Messenger) ~ review, author interview
Daisy Ferrell (Happy Days with Anonymous A) ~ character interview
Monday (the 12th):
Morgan Dusky (Studies in Character) ~ author/character interview
Willowy Whisper (http://willowywhisper.com/) ~ book spotlight
J.C. Buchanan (Beyond the Amethyst) ~ review
Kate Willis (Once Upon an Ordinary) ~ author interview
Allie Taylor (The Depth of My Faith) ~ author/character interview
@Everyone who Participated: Thank you soooo much for doing this with me! It’s wonderful how you all worked with me to get this done! Couldn’t have done it without y’all (obviously!).
Today’s vlog is basically me promoting my upcoming novel, Ivy Introspective. 😉
What? I’m sorry, but I’m excited to share it with you! I finally finished a chapter I haven’t been able to word right for almost a week now! 😀
Now for the excerpt, longer than the one I read during the video. 🙂
(WARNING: FIRST DRAFT AND PROBABLY HAS SPOILERS FOR THE DRESSMAKER’S SECRET!!!)
Alice pressed her face against the window, her breath clouding the cold pane. She wiped the fog away and gazed longingly outside at the snowy countryside. She’d been engaged indoors for a fortnight now, and it was not sitting well with her.
Oh, for a horse – not a short-legged little pony that could barely take a jump a foot high – a horse that could carry her across the plains and over the hills with the speed of wind, with the smoothness of silk. She’d die for a horse. Then she shook her head with a grin. No, she wouldn’t. What good would the horse be if she was dead? What a silly expression. She resolved never to use it again.
“Alice, what do you want to do today?” interrupted the voice of Dorothea Angel.
“We might go outside,” Alice suggested instantly.
“It looks rather cold,” said Georgiana Kingsley, a girl Alice knew from boarding school.
“I’ve seen you play in colder weather at Miss Selle’s,” Alice replied, her eyes containing an unspoken challenge.
“Oh, that was when I was a child,” Georgiana said airily, tossing it off with a wave of her hand.
“Aren’t you still?”
“We’re practically young ladies,” said Ellen Carr, another of Alice’s guests.
“But that doesn’t mean we have to be young ladies all the time. I want to play in the snow. You can all come with me, or you can stay in here and die of boredom,” said Alice, lifting her chin slightly.
“I’ll go,” said Dory Angel bravely. The other two girls followed her lead, and in no time the four of them – and Ivy, as Mr. Knight believed it would be good for her health – walked out the front door of Pearlbelle into the white unknown.
Talking among themselves, the girls at first gingerly high-stepped through the fresh powder, but that couldn’t last for long. Dory Angel bent over, scooped up a handful of snow, and tossed it at Georgiana Kingsley. Georgiana retaliated, and in no time they were running all over, screaming and laughing, soaking and freezing but happy.
Ivy didn’t dare linger with the other girls now that they’d gotten dangerous. She hurried away from them, slowing down once she’d established a safe distance. She followed the path around the manor to the carriage house.
Snow had begun to fall again. She hurried through the narrow side door, stamping her feet and rubbing her arms. She walked through a maze of carts and carriages of all shapes and sizes. At the back wall was a little door and a big door. She managed to tug the little door open and walked into a warm room that smelled of sweet hay and sharp manure.
Ivy didn’t like horses very much – they scared her – but they were better than Alice’s friends. At least horses wouldn’t throw snow at her.
She heard low whistling coming from one of the stalls and peeped in. A boy, a good foot taller than Ivy and probably about two years older, was grooming a chestnut mare with swift, circular strokes. He finished, set the currycomb aside, and picked up another brush. He had shaggy dark brown hair and ill-fitted clothes. He glanced up, smiled at her, and turned back to his brushing. He seemed focused on a spot of the horse’s hide for a minute, then he spoke.
“What’s her name?”
“Lady Rowena. Best horse in the stable. Gentle as a dove. Come see her; she won’t hurt you. She was meant for Miss Lois, and you know as well as I do, I’ll wager, that Miss Lois isn’t exactly an expert horsewoman. What she can ride, anyone can ride.”
“I don’t want to ride,” said Ivy.
“Of course not,” Kirk sympathized gently, “But you can pat her, can’t you?”
Ivy hesitated. “Will she step on me?”
“Not on purpose. And I’ll keep her from doing it on accident.”
Ivy crept slowly into the stall. She placed her hand on Lady’s side and glanced at Kirk. Nothing happened.
“See? It’s all right. Well, I’m done with her now. I’ve got to go put these brushes away and help get some horses ready for a riding party. Isn’t that ridiculous, all those gentlemen wanting to go out on such a miserable morning? But Mr. Knight will, rain or snow, and my guess is that his guests won’t be thought of as less manly.”
“Do you like Mr. Knight? Lacy – Alice – sure does.”
“Well, he’s always been nice to me when he remembers that I’m alive. But I don’t blame him for not noticing. I’m just a stableboy; he’s a gentleman.” Kirk walked a bit faster; Ivy was forced to almost run to keep up.
Kirk stopped and turned to face another groom.
“With the snow coming down like it is, Mr. Knight sent a message to forget about the horses. They’re all going to be staying inside until it calms down. Wish he could’ve told us before we got half of ‘em saddled up.”
“Got it. Need help putting them away?”
“No. Jack and me’ve got it. Just make sure everything’s tacked down. There’s going to be quite a storm.”
“Righto. Ivy, do you need help getting back to the big house?”
“No. It’s not far. I came from there,” Ivy replied.
“Then you’d better hurry before it gets any worse. Run along now.”
Ivy stepped out the door into a blizzard. She started walking towards the house, but kept being blown the wrong way, and it was hard to see with the snow swirling around her, practically coming down in drifts.
She began to cry, and crying is a tiring business, and when one is tired, one’s brain stops working correctly. Somehow she seemed the most forlorn creature in the world to herself. No one loved her. Her mother had Mr. Knight. Mr. Knight had Alice. Alice had her new friends. No one wanted her. No one … but Nettie. Nettie must want her. Nettie always wanted her, because Nettie loved her. Too bad Nettie lived at the gatehouse now. If only she were able to get closer to Nettie.
Leaning against a tree, Ivy managed to get a good idea of her whereabouts. This accomplished, she turned her back on the house and began walking down the long drive towards the gatehouse.
Kirk Manning pulled his light jacket closer about his neck and rubbed his arms, stamping his feet.
“Come on, Spunk,” he shouted above the wind. “This isn’t a good night to take your time. Get back here.”
The spaniel was staring off into the distance, one ear cocked.
“Spunk, come!” Kirk commanded, but the dog took two steps away from his master and whined pitifully.
“What is it, boy?” Kirk asked. “Do you smell something? Well, this is no time for chasing rabbits. Come on!”
Yet Spunk wouldn’t come. He kept moving farther away from his master, pacing back and forth, obviously eager to be off.
“Do you want me to follow you? Well, no chance! I’m bedding down for the storm!”
Spunk barked worriedly.
Kirk hesitated. “You’ve never brought me anything but joy until now, ol’ fellow. I’ve no reason to doubt you. There must be something amiss or you wouldn’t act like this. Let’s go.”
He hurried after the hound, who ran on ahead, turning back occasionally to make sure Kirk was behind him.
They hurried through the wailing wind in the dim light, down the drive towards the main gates. Spunk dived into a ditch; Kirk followed.
There, huddled in a ball, shaking from sobs, a small figure crouched.
“Miss Ivy?” Kirk asked.
Ivy shuddered. “C-c-cold,” she whimpered. “So cold.”
“It’s all right, Ivy. We’re going to get you someplace warm. Spunk, stop licking her face; down, boy, down! Ivy, I’m going to carry you to the gatehouse. It’s just a little bit away. Was that where you were headed?”
“To see Nettie?” Kirk guessed.
“Yes,” Ivy replied.
“Then I’ll carry you to her. Put your arms around my neck.”
Ivy obeyed, and Kirk easily lifted her and carried her out of the ditch and down the road.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Nettie pulled the curtains closed over the window. “What a storm!” she exclaimed. “God keep any poor soul who hasn’t a home today.”
“No sign of letting up, then?” asked her husband, Tom Jameson.
“None. It might keep up like this all afternoon,” Nettie replied, “Which is just as well. I’ve a dreadful amount of cleaning to get done. I’ve been slacking these last few days.”
“Take it easy,” Tom muttered, turning the page of a book, Hard Times, which was requiring all his attention. He detested books; Nettie loved them. He was willing to try anything Nettie loved, though, and she had recommended Dickens as a start. But it was difficult. Very difficult. Words longer than his arm – galvanizing apparatus, graminivorous, fistic phraseology – haunted him, and if he ever heard the word “Fact” again it would be too soon.
“I’ll take it easy … later on. Not yet, though. I was up and about into my eighth month with Malcolm.”
“Just go slowly,” he said, turning the page. His brow furrowed and his bit his lip.
Nettie, watching him, laughed.
“What is it?” Tom asked, glancing up.
“Oh, nothing. You just look silly when you read,” she replied, sitting down on the chair next to his and reaching over to ruffle his hair.
“Well, maybe I shouldn’t read then,” he said, setting the book aside.
“No, you keep up! It’s good for you … and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it once it gets started.”
“Perhaps reading just isn’t my cup of tea.”
“Perhaps. But you promised to try.” Nettie stood slowly. “I’d better start -” But she was interrupted by a loud banging on the front door. Wondering who would be out when the wind whipped so mercilessly, Nettie hurried to the door and opened it.
A boy she vaguely recognized as one of the stablehands stood on the doorstep, a tired, bedraggled copper-colored dog at his heels. In his arms he held a small girl with tangled dark blonde hair and a face red from the cold and crying.
“Ivy!” Nettie gasped. “Bring her in, quickly. Here, on that chair by the fire. Yes, yes, bring the dog in too; it can’t stay out in that storm. Good. Now, tell me exactly what’s going on!”
“I found her in a ditch about a hundred yards away. She said she was trying to get to you, ma’am,” Kirk replied, staring at his toes and twisting his cap in his hands.
“Tom, will you fetch me a blanket and boil some water on the stove? I’m going to try to get some warmth back into her. Boy, go into the kitchen with Mr. Jameson and have him get you something warm to drink. Take your dog … I think there’s something in the cupboard he could have. Ivy, can you hear me?”
Ivy jumped out of the chair, flung her arms around Nettie’s neck, and hugged the life half out of her in response.
“Easy, Ivy, you’re choking me,” Nettie whispered, rubbing the little girl’s back gently.
“She doesn’t care about me anymore!” Ivy sobbed.
“Your mother? You know she does. She’s just a bit preoccupied.”
“She doesn’t remember me anymore.”
“Yes, she does. You’re just at the back of her mind instead of at the front of it. But what’s the difference, more or less?”
Ivy wrinkled her brow. “She doesn’t pay attention to me,” she said. “She doesn’t need me anymore.”
Nettie stroked Ivy’s hair gently. “Why doesn’t she need you anymore?”
Ivy wiggled as she tried to come up with an answer. “She … she doesn’t need … love.”
“Of course she needs love, Ivy!” Nettie said immediately.
“Not mine,” Ivy whimpered. “She doesn’t need it anymore. She doesn’t need me anymore.”
“She’ll always love you,” Nettie soothed. “She’ll always love you, but you’re going to have to be patient. Still … she might pay a little more attention to you after today,” she considered with a smile.
Ivy rubbed her hand across her eyes and sniffed. She accepted Nettie’s offered handkerchief and blew her nose. “Really?”
“Yes, really. I imagine she’s nearly frightened to death just now.”
“Oh,” Ivy expostulated worriedly. “Do you think so?”
“Yes. In fact, I’m sure of it. I’d try to get a message to her, but …” she glanced towards the window, “The storm’s too strong for that. Anyone who tries to go out in that mess would get blown away, frozen, or lost. We’d all better stay here until it blows itself out.”
Tom entered the room carrying a tea tray. He set it on the table; Nettie stood and poured two cups. She placed two lumps of sugar in one, stirred it, and handed it to Ivy.
“Be careful, Ivy. It’s hot. Just hold it in your hands for a moment and let it warm you. It’d burn your tongue.”
“Yes, Ivy,” Nettie said quietly, sitting down in a chair near Ivy’s.
“I miss you.”
“I miss you, too.”
“Then why don’t you come back and take care of me? Old Pointy-Face hates me.”
“Old … Pointy-Face? Who is that, Ivy, assuming you are referring to a person?”
“Her real name is Marie, I suppose.”
“Oh, the housemaid? I thought her rather disagreeable, too. But I’m sure your mother will hire a governess soon, and then -”
“She won’t,” Ivy said mournfully. “She’s too ashamed of me.”
“Indeed, she’s not!” Nettie exclaimed indignantly.
“Yes she is. And even if she isn’t, the governess would be. Not like you.”
“No, not like me,” Nettie replied worriedly.
Ivy stood up and walked slowly across the room, her eyes fixated on the window, watching the snowflakes flutter against it.
“Ivy?” Nettie said. “Ivy?”
“Ivy, come back over here and get under this blanket or you’ll freeze. That’s a good girl.”
Ivy crawled into Nettie’s lap, but found it too small for comfort, which annoyed and confused her. She moved to her own chair where she, after a little bit of wiggling in an attempt to find a good position, fell asleep.
What do you think?
Now, before you go, I think you ought to know that I have now been officially blogging for one year! During that year …
- I’ve posted 190 (now 191) posts! These take up 18 pages.
- 17,445 views! Best day for views was January 25th, 2016. 184 views!
- 2,865 visitors!
- 2,217 comments in 2016 alone! (in 2015, I had 191 …)
- Most of the views naturally come from the US, but there have also been views from Australia, Russia, Canada, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Italy, Taiwan, the Philippines, India, Pakistan, New Zealand, Japan, Ireland, South Africa, Germany, Czech Republic, Finland, Netherlands, Spain, Argentina, Vietnam, France, Singapore, Mexico, Nigeria, Switzerland, Poland, Austria, Egypt, Indonesia, Uganda, Bulgaria, Brazil, Luxembourg, Bangladesh, Sweden, Belgium, Lithuania, Israel, Norway, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, Macedonia, Croatia, South Korea … and several others. Of course, most of those were, like, two views or something like that, but still! Can you say worldwide recognition? 😉 Just kidding … I have no doubt one of you is a heavily traveled person who travels to different countries and looks at my blog …
- And, of course, 160 followers! 🙂
Thanks for reading – and watching!