Monday, December 14, 2009

MAKING MONEY OUT OF WRITING IS A BIT LIKE MILKING A CROCODILE...


Perhaps you detect a note of sarcasm. It is only for the publishing business in general. And the fact I'm not making reams of money is my own fault. I'm too decrepit (read, old and arthritic) to keep up with all the marketing and promoting authors are supposed to do these days. Therefore: I do not make a lot in royalties!

This outburst is brought on by the fact my seven-year old great-granddaughter Gabby has just sold a drawing for $100 (AUS.)

I am not jealous. I'm thrilled for her. This kid obviously has potential. And talent. And she's a sweetie and I love her very much.

Her mother, our eldest granddaughter Carla, who did this bit of fun art a few years ago, is also talented. It's inherited through my mother, her great-grandmother, who discovered at age 62 she was a naive artist. But I digress. Eldest granddaughter has 3 children, a partner, a home, a job and works at a wide range of creative activities as well. And she currently sells her paintings for about $20. So she has connections with the art world. And so Gabby's sale came about. A fellow creative type wanted a drawing by a child. Carla asked Gabby to do one. And Gabby was paid, and with her money she bought a $20 Tinker-bell costume and put the rest in the bank. Lo, she has begun to make her fortune. Drool.

I know it sounds catty. It's just that I'm overwhelmed. With all the work writers have to do, we end up, in this day and age, with small change. Hey, somebody, take note! Now, I'm not expecting life to be fair. It isn't. We all have to play with the cards in our hands. But it would be so nice to land an ace the first time they're dealt.

Okay, outburst over! I shall go back to work and grumble no more.

Monya - author of -
The Pirate And The Puritan
Blueprint For Love
Lily's Captain (short story)
all at www.thewildrosepress.com, www.amazon.com and other online booksellers.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A PIECE OF PURPLE PROSE

Our local Writers Group sets an assignment each month, and the subject for October was simply "Purple". I came up with this. No wonder I look shocked. Another fun photo courtesy of my friend, writer and photographer Nelma Ward.

A PIECE OF PURPLE PROSE -

IF
you're trying to write purple prose, research some of the Victorian era novels. Or early 20th century books like "The Sheikh" by E.M. Hull. You know, the one the Rudolf Valentino silent movie was based on. Then there's the work of Elinor Glyn. Her most famous book is "Three Weeks", the story of an innocent young man seduced on a tiger-skin rug by a European royal lady holidaying incognito. (Fadeout at the vital moment. Darn.) It inspired these immortal lines:
'Would you like to sin on a tiger skin
With Elinor Glyn?
Or would you prefer to err with her
On some other kind of fur?'


So, you can see that to equal the origintors of purple prose I'm really up against it. Let's see now...

THE VICISSITUDES OF VALERIA

The British aristocrat Lady Valeria van de Vere Pug-in-Perambulator was the latest of a family so old and so rich no one sniggered at their surname but pronounced it in the same dignified accent they accorded to Windsor-on-Thames. Valeria wed a Frenchman of good blood, great charm, no title and no money named Etienne de Vulgarrat and bore him a daughter whom they named Virginia van de Vere de Vulgarrat. Etienne, of touchy and quarrelsome temper, died in a duel (unlawful but lethal) a few weeks later, a duel he felt honour-bound to initiate with one Louis le Liare when said Louis was heard to laugh at the French translation of Lady Valeria's appalling maiden appellation.

Valeria was cross with her husband's timing yet secretly relieved it would not now be necessary to repeat the messy and undignified process of childbirth. Also there was the comfort of wearing, from the day of Etienne's death onward, only the colour black, which not only made her reputation as a wife and widow forever in mourning - just like Queen Victoria after her Consort poor Albert of Saxe-Coburg kicked the unsanitary bucket of typhoid fever, though not before he, unlike Valeria's late lamented spouse, managed to father no fewer than nine children on his doting queen - but because Valeria knew perfectly well that black was her best colour.

And all this drama left little Virginia to be brought up, as was right and proper at the time, by nurses and nannies, and never presented to Valeria's dinner guests before that lady was certain the child, though her hair was plaited and she was primped and prettied up in piles of petticoats under plaid pinafores, would always be plain and never become a panted-after prize like her mama. So Virginia grew to prim and petulant puberty, praised, petted and pampered by potty persons of poor rank, and with no playmates but puppies, pussycats and pet pigeons, even though the pups and pussies occasionally pulped the pigeons to puerile perdition.

However, when Virginia's twenty-first birthday eventually arrived, she inherited a fabulous fortune from her famously mean-with-money maiden aunt, Miss Margaret May Menderby of Menderby Manor, and gleefully set up house in the Manor mansion with her pets and said persons of poor rank, and of course a fatuous female companion for respectability. Her mama, meanwhile, recklessly gambled away her own fortune with fast and fickle pursuits like cards and roulette at Monte Carlo, ate well but unwisely of whatever fine foods she fancied and finally ended up fat as a flawn, then in a moment of febrile foolishness fell into the fascinating if failing arms of none other than Louis le Liare, and flung herself without finesse into a final fashionable affair. Which proved too much for Louis's fervour and he faded away from a fatal fever.

The valiant Valeria, however, was disconcerted to discover her Fallopian tubes were still fertile and she had fallen pregnant, and when her figure filled with the foetus and her finances were fiddled away, fled to Virginia at Menderby Manor, where she bore a fat and farting infant whom Virginia magnanimously made out to be her own love child by the fragile fiance who, fed up with his failure to fund a famous fox hunt, had fatally fallen from a flagpole four fortunate months before. Virginia's fecundity thus seemingly fulfilled, the fifteen fortune hunters ferociously fighting for her favour and fortune refuelled their efforts, and Virginia wed with frantic festivities Lord Ferdy Faintleroy, the fairest and flirtiest fig off that fine feudal fifteen.

Virginia filled the final fifty years of her life bossing the flock of Ferdy, her mama, and her fat half-brother Filbert with a fine, firm flow of force, and with fiscal fission maintaining her manor and making many millions. Valeria flatly refused to fail feeding her flesh and fattened to a fantastic and foolish figure of fun.

Well, at least Virginia lived happily ever after.

(c) Monya Clayton 20th October 2009












Friday, November 6, 2009

A ROMANCE WRITER - WHO, ME?

This is a fun pic of me taken by my friend Nelma, who is in the local Photography Club as well as our Writers Group. I used to be a Romance Snob, now I'm a romance writer!

Honestly though, there are some great stories out there in romance land. Hope mine are some of them. Here's an excerpt from the latest review of The Pirate And The Puritan, by Cindy Vallar. The whole thing is available on Cindy's website:
http://www.cindyvallar.com/piratepuritan.html
and her site: http://cindyvallar.com/pirates.html is devoted to all matters piratical, privateerish and buccaneer-business. It's lots of fun for romance readers, as well as writers! And the review is really nice. It always gives me a charge when fellow writers enjoy my work.

"The Pirate And The Puritan is a captivating love story, replete with adventure and unexpected twists. Clayton's research into piracy and the era shines through, but never intrudes into the story. Rather she deftly spins a tale that transports readers back in time and keeps them guessing how the hero and heroine will finally find the life together they desire."







Friday, August 28, 2009

SPEAKING OF OLD-SCHOOL ROMANCES...


The photo has only a small connection with the blog. It is an image from the late 1940s when romances were all 'clean'. The young couple at the top of the picture are my dad and mum, and it would have been taken (with assorted relatives and friends) when we were on our annual camping holiday to the beach. And the area is now a 'resort' and heavily built up. Ah, those clean, clear beaches, with nothing behind them but sand dunes...

To return to the subject - I don't recall my mum reading romances, though she did buy the "True Confessions" magazine! I was never tempted to look at one, (as a child, I read adventure stories, particularly Biggles. Hardly ever a female character in those.) But True Confessions was considered pretty lurid in those days. I heard Mum discuss various stories with her friends, and nothing worse seemed to occur than an unexpected baby. No sex scenes, it just appeared. That was a matter to be whispered about. Now every second Harlequin has the words 'secret baby' in the title, on the cover!

My mother was the most practical person I ever knew. Perhaps the scandalous stories were her escape from the mundane world of housework and bringing up a family.

I do recall her once commenting on a short story in a women's magazine, when I was a teenager. I'd read it too, and still remember it. The heroine was a writer, and absent minded, which was a bit of a turnoff for her husband. She was a very nice woman, plain, wore glasses, and looked after her house and kids if in a casual sort of way. Bad cook, too. She wrote stories for magazines, and when she wrote she wasn't aware of kids creating bedlam in the house or anything else - totally 'in the zone', as we say. Hubby of course was the No.1 breadwinner and it bothered him she was contributing to the budget. It bothered him she was not like other wives, totally taken up with their families and keeping a sparkling house. Don't mistake, he was a nice man too. It just disturbed him that the accepted order was a bit different in his family. He found her 'in the zone' one evening and yelled it was time for dinner. She snapped out of it and had a meal ready in half-an-hour. As usual, it was awful. He stormed out, went for a long walk and brooded. When he returned home, full of angst, he found her asleep on the sofa. She had changed into a good dress , put on stockings and accessorised with jewellery, which she normally never wore.

He was quite moved, and told her how he felt about everything, and she agreed and - took off her glasses. Now this was what Mum commented on. "Every time she took off her glasses he was done for!" It was like a modern heroine taking off her clothes - the hubby couldn't resist, and forgot all his complaints! We understood, the readers, that they made love, but no mention was written of it. At the end of the story he was reconciled to his "dear, funny wife," and their dear, funny marriage. He never wanted her to take off her glasses for anyone but him...

It's strange how clearly I remember the story, and Mum's amusement at it. But unexpected things stick in your mind. Most notable to me now, in the general sense, is the excellent short stories published by magazines in the nineteen fifties. These days we are lucky to see a single one in the top magazines, and that's usually by an established author. I don't read them, so I can't comment on them. But I remember the impressive artwork that went with the short story in the past, instead of the generic small sketches, surrounded by advertisements, we get now. Magazines are glossy records of celebrities, news stories, huge expensive ads, recipes that always require ingredients not normally kept in your kitchen, serious beauty and anti-ageing articles - you know the stuff! I miss the three or four stories that used to be in every issue. It can't really be helped, readers are mostly women with high-powered jobs, society belles, and those who aspire to be in that class. Magazines are no longer friendly. They cater to people who are busy, who don't have time to sit and read short stories and serials, who have T.V. and computers to distract them from the pages. So the pages have to reflect modern life. That's just the way it is.

But I'd like to see a tale as memorable and simple as that story of the unconventional wife, unconventional because she wrote and wasn't houseproud, and a husband rendered helpless to resist when she took off her glasses... It's this kind of innocence, and the aspects of life and love apparent then, which are promoted by Classic Romance Revival and addressed by its writers, to those of us who prefer the more wholesome reading. That sounds terribly dull and old-fashioned! It isn't, our heroines and heroes are modern people with modern problems, but without the attached erotica which we personally find unnecessary to add to their stories.

CRR's new website is now open. Do drop by for a peek and a comment. Link is: http://www.classicromancerevival.com

Monya

AND ANOTHER NEW REVIEW!


Laura Miller, of "Romance, Old School", has reviewed The Pirate And The Puritan. Here's a couple of excerpts. The complete review appears on the book page at Amazon.

"The Pirate And The Puritan is one of the best clean reads I've had the privilege to peruse this year."

"The heroine is Mercy Penhall, a young woman whose voice was lost. The hero is Edmund Gramercy, whose choice was piracy or death."

"The novel is very well written, well researched, and a beautiful romantic story. If you like action, adventure, sweet romance, and a history lesson that doesn't feel like homework, then this story is for you."

Thank you, Laura! We authors never tire of kind words about our work, and when the words are sincere and honest, they're appreciated even more.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Another Review for The Pirate And The Puritan...

Thought I'd be different and post the BACK cover of the book. I'm sure you've all seen the front one often enough. If you haven't, scroll down!

This review is number thirteen on Amazon. Hubby and I have thirteen grandchildren so it must be a good number for us!

It's from Kym McNabney and her enthusiasm for the story is touching and palpable. She headed her comments "An Amazing Story, written by an Amazing Writer." ***Blush!*** It's such a compliment. Here's a few excerpts.

"Not the typical book I would have picked to read...

I was in awe of Ms. Clayton's writing and storytelling..."(Blush again, though I'd call myself mainly a storyteller, having been a lover of good yarns since childhood.) "Not only was the story one to be believed, it kept me ... eager to find out what would happen next...

I love the way she wove in faith and morals in a subtle yet impacting way..." Gosh, Kym, I was just going wherever Edmund and Mercy led me! But I am moved by her words because Kym, as a Christian reviewer, found nothing to offend her in the novel.

The point is, many people have read the book, all have widely differing tastes - many not having read anything technically classed as 'Romance' before - and almost all enjoyed it. (I hope I'm not insulting anyone, but my personal opinion is that those who didn't were possibly expecting a 'bodice ripper'.) Just my perception!

My point is, it appeals to many people in differing ways I didn't envisage when I began writing the story of the reluctant pirate Captain Edmund Gramercy and his mute Puritan captive Mercy Penhall. In other words, a wide cross section of readers all found it a satisfactory tale. As Drebbles said "A gentle romance... a rip-roaring adventure." *Blush* again. But thank you all for your honest enjoyment. It is very encouraging to this writer!

Monya

Thursday, June 4, 2009

SETTINGS: SIMPLY SCENIC OR SPECIALLY SIGNIFICANT? (No.2 post - Contemporary) For No. 1 Post - Historical - see below at The Pirate And The Puritan


Ah, the days are long past when a writer could simply include a scenery description because it is pleasant or pretty. Now it must relate to the story, or the characters, or preferably to both. In 2009 the reader just doesn't have the time to read anything not relevant to the story.

Personally I'm an old-fashioned reader/writer and enjoy such descriptions - if they aren't boring. BUT to be published in the modern era every word we use must carry the book forward. So, what have I done in my contemporary Blueprint For Love?

No research, for one. Research which would be vitally necessary in a historical is not necessary, so that's a relief! Although the area described in Blueprint, Northern Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, is fictional, the only reason is to give myself a certain freedom with street names, beachside suburbs, and the importance of those localities to the plot. For instance, the Palm Garden which features so largely is not a real place - and I did have to research palm specimens! But it is vital and central to the story, as the pivot point over which the heroine and hero clash. And boy, do they clash! He wants to uproot the lot, she wants it left alone.

The point is, I am familiar with the Sunshine Coast area of Queensland and can write about it easily, without worrying that the background might be incorrect in any way. I'm in my sixties now and since I was a small child, after WWII, my family took their annual camping holiday in the area. I loved, still love, the beaches, loved the sea and surf, the rivers and hinterland. Though it's much more upmarket nowadays, and the coastline has taken a recent storm battering, it's still basically the same place I knew when I was growing up. I am quite confident writing about it because I know my facts are right. Certainly the telling of the story comes easier when one is familiar with the 'backdrop', so to speak. I can describe where the hero/heroine are at any one time because I've been in a similar place myself.

Write what you know, is the advice to authors. For the authors of contemporaries, it's certainly a plus to do just that. Oh, and Blueprint is rated as Sophisticated at Classic Romance Revival, which means consenting love scenes between h and h that fall naturally within the plot line and aren't erotica.

Guests - don't forget I have two blogs posted for the CRR carnival. Please comment also on the next one, "How I write my backgrounds - " re my historical The Pirate And The Puritan. Sorry to confuse the issue! Should have put it all together!
How do I write the background - for a country I've never visited, for a time over three hundred years before I was born? This book was set in the eastern United States in colonial times, 1704-5, and I'm an Australian. I also have far too much respect for historical and geographical accuracy to write a story without researching it properly. My own country has suffered in fiction novels which weren't correctly researched, and I didn't want to do the same thing to anyone else. The story is all important. Yet as a reader I've left more than one book unfinished because of glaring errors. For instance, the British writer who wrote about Australia's convict days, and it was a good book, without having ever heard of eucalyptus (gum) trees! And another mentioned "snow-melt" in the rivers, which since we have no high mountains, only occurs in the Snowy Mountain region.

I realise most mistakes are honest and (whisper) I made one or two of my own, but by and large I believe I managed to convey the setting correctly. The book is set in colonial Carolina, New England and Virginia. One reviewer told me "you made this native New Englander feel right at home". Thank goodness! South Carolina has a similar climate to my home state of Queensland, but Virginia and New England are quite different. They receive snow and storms in winter, for one thing. Here our storms blow up in summer and I've only seen snow once in my entire life. Also the rivers behave differently, the landscape and trees are quite different, even the soil.

So I consulted a lot of encyclopaedias, spent a lot of time in local libraries - this was in the days before I had a computer or access to the Internet - and made a LOT of notes. I also wrote to South Carolina and a dear man in the State Archives Dept. in Columbia sent me reams of photocopied information. I also read all the fiction I could find set in American colonial times. At least I started off with a basic knowledge - I have a retentive memory and have been reading all my life - and now found the particular details I needed to give the background validity. There's more than just the setting to consider, of course. A friend of mine here said, "the buildings, the food, the clothing - it must have taken you forever to research all of it!"

I believe the greatest compliment I have received is that people have told me they loved the STORY, and have barely noticed the background, though they find it interesting. Hooray, I did it (almost) right.

Ahem, now for the thing I did wrong. I'm SO tempted not to mention it, because the only person who's noticed is an English-born colleague in our local Writers Group. I mentioned lemons, twice, in a 350 page book. And of course in those days, lemons were practically unprocurable. Limes from the West Indies, possibly, but not lemons. I live in a warmish climate and they're a commonplace feature of life. Whereas my fellow writers group member told me they had to be imported to Great Britain from Spain right up until the 1950s. So, folks, it's practically impossible to get every research detail correct, and I understand those other authors who, like me, quite innocently make glaring mistakes.

Ah, yes, the story's the thing!

The Pirate And The Puritan, by the way, is available in e-book form at the publisher's site: www.thewildrosepress.com
In Kindle edition at www.amazon.com
And as a paperback at www.amazon.com www.amazon.co.uk B & N Borders and all other online sellers.

Do join other CRR authors for more fun at our blog:

http://www.classicromancerevival.com/blog/?p=688

Prizes for best comments!
Monya Mary

Saturday, May 9, 2009

AND Another Review for Blueprint For Love!

Nothing to do with the post, but just as exciting. Our mandarin tree, after eight years of nurturing, watering, and fertilising, has this year produced its first bumper crop!

Writing a book is much the same process...

There are two more reviews on Amazon and more at www.thewildrosepress.com

Christy Tillery French of Midwest Book Reviews has this to say about Blueprint For Love:

"Can a traditional man with old-fashioned values and a brash, contemporary woman develop an enduring relationship? A disastrous accident holds the answer for both.

Everything a reader could want: heartwarming romance, handwringing suspense, a bit of a mystery, and two very likeable characters who are complete opposites. Clayton's character development is excellent, as is her propensity for visual imagery."


Friday, May 8, 2009

Yet another review for The Pirate And The Puritan!


From Kim Graham at Classic Romance Revival: 5 Wings!: Excerpt:

What an adventure this very enjoyable book took me on. While reading it my imagination took me to another place and time. The description was great. I could actually picture the captain's cabin on the ship.

Even though you know Mercy and Edmund belong together, they have to go through so much to achieve that. It is amazing. Mercy is such a strong character. To be a woman and a mute during this time period made her life very harsh. But she still did what she believed was right and didn't let anyone stop her. That took will power and strength.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

EXCERPT FROM THE PIRATE AND THE PURITAN

You can check on the contents with Amazon's Search Inside facility, and the blurb is on the book's page as well. There's also an excerpt on my older blog, http://monyamary.blogspot.com/ and on the book's page at the publisher's site, www.thewildrosepress.com

But I realise readers have an awful lot of info to wade through, so here's a couple of pages from early in the story...

"Feeling the sun, are you?" His voice was curt. "Jedediah, put up a bit of canvas to give her shade before that fair skin burns." He spoke more like one protecting a fragile possession than a person. Jedediah grunted and trudged off, and the captain pushed his hat toward her. "In the meantime, here."

It was true she was hot and she knew her face must be flushed, however Mercy let the black tricorne sit on the sand. She did not want to wear male apparel.

"Oh, show some sense. It might be a pirate's hat, but pride runs a poor second to sunburn."

Pride, again. Mercy considered, then placed the hat on her head, over her cap. It felt heavy and too warm and a circle of perspiration wet the rim. However it did shade her face.

"I meant to bring you a piece of plank to write on. Or did I? Maybe it's better not to know what you think." His tone mocked himself.

Mercy smoothed her hand over the last Bible verse she'd written in the sand and erased it. She printed with her finger, THANK YOU. She raised her eyebrows at him in enquiry.

"Yes, I can read. I was raised respectable. 'Thank you' for what? The hat?"

She brushed the words away and wrote again. YES. AND FOR HAVING MERCY ON ME.

He shrugged. "What's your name?"

MERCY.

His look was measuring. "I suspected there was a wit under that yellow hair. Do you have a last name?"

She hesitated, but what could he know of her mother? PENHALL.

"Well met, Mistress Penhall. I'm Edmund Gramercy. So, if we were wed, you'd be Mercy Gramercy." He saw startled colour rush to her cheeks and added impatiently, "I but made a bad joke, girl! Gramercy's not the name I was born with." He turned away from her again.

For some minutes he watched his men strip meat off the spits, then his gaze ranged further, to the lookouts at the creek mouth. When he spoke it was evidently to himself. "I've taught them that much, at least. The guards aren't running back for their food until they're relieved." His glance flickered back to her and he frowned.

Mercy, from long experience, knew the look. Because she was silent, he had temporarily forgotten her presence. She took the opportunity, though, and printed, WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE LONGBOAT?

His voice was low, but angry. "By heaven, you try my charity!"

She met his eyes, folded her hands quickly in her lap and clenched her fingers together. She had presumed too far.

"Very well. If they are any kind of seamen, they'll make shore or survive 'til they meet a ship." His tone was dangerous, for all its quiet. "Why? Do you have a friend among them?"

She shook her head.

His voice cooled, though it remained angry. Which made his next words the more surprising. "The old woman on board - there was no mark on her body, they said. Was she kin to you?"

Mercy shook her head again, and bit her lip. She printed hurriedly, so he would not see her finger tremble, SHE DIED OF FRIGHT. She'd wanted to ask him what became of other women from captured ships. Now she did not dare.

He stared at her, eyes dark and cold and unreadable. She had noticed before that when he was distant as now his eyes were all brown, and when he was approachable the gold lights appeared in them. She thought there must be the remnant at least of a warmer person beneath the cold outer one.

He turned his head away. By chance his face presented the same aspect she'd seen in the cabin yesterday evening, the line of forehead and cheek and the long lashes outlined. She had thought then he grieved. Was it possible he regretted the death of an old lady and the fate of the sailors in the longboat?

How was it possible for a man to regret the deaths of others and yet remain a pirate?


Thursday, April 9, 2009

EXCERPT FROM BLUEPRINT FOR LOVE

"Paul, look at me." The rich voice carried to his ears, was not lost in the sound of the surf.

He shouldn't. But his entire spine burned with pins and needles. He turned, face set. "What?" The word, meant to be curt, died in his throat.

She hadn't moved, was in the same place, three steps away. The moon and the security lights of the shops and the old hotel were sufficient to make her figure easy to see, though shadowed. She stood tall and erect, looked straight at him.

And she'd undone the first two buttons of the dress bodice, was starting on the third. To his shocked eyes the white cotton and lace triangle of her revealed bra was as plain to see as the sail of a boat. "You don't leave me any choice, Paul, except to force your hand. I'm going skinny-dipping. Care to join me?"

"You're outrageous!" His voice dried in his throat as he watched her, but there was no way he'd allow himself to be manipulated by such tricks.

The third fastening popped open. The buttons were coloured orange, and in Paul's sight each one glared in the moonlight like a hot coal. And above them, in direct contrast, the first luscious swell of her breasts gleamed like ivory.

"No good, Paul." She smiled. "You don't have it in you, to let a woman swim alone, naked. And I will, you know."

Blueprint For Love by Monya Clayton is available at Amazon in print, on Kindle, and as an e-book from the publisher, www.thewildrosepress.com

Enjoy! These two clash pretty well all the way through the book.

Monya

Saturday, April 4, 2009

COMPETITION FOR CLASSIC ROMANCE REVIVAL MEMBERS ONLY!

Okay, girls (and any brave boy romance writers) question again is: What was the War Of The Spanish Succession called in colonial America (USA)?

Good luck!

Monya

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Didn't work again!

Might as well get in some promo! This appeared in a local newspaper when The Pirate And The Puritan was first released. If I recall correctly (darned if I can read it) the journalist made a few unintentional mistakes in the story. Lovely girl, but why aren't they taught shorthand any more?


As for the first chapter fiasco - well, I'll just have to ask my I.T. professional son how to do it right! WHEN he gets some time off from his current University course.

IN THE MEANTIME - I've joined a new group, Classic Romance Revival. We're all about concentrating on story more than erotica - all the while recognising that people are entitled to read what's to their taste. Sweet romance, and not too graphic love scenes, just happen to be to our members' tastes, and probably many other people's. Question: Should books be rated as movies are? Do read our Judah Raine's mission statement.

Monya

Friday, March 27, 2009

Well, I got as far as this stunning photo of a most unusual cloud - and lost what I was doing! I'll try again to post the first chapter of my yet unpublished novel "A Mismatched Pair". Copyright Monya Clayton 27th March 2009. Okay, let's see if I can do it this time...

ANOTHER FIRST CHAPTER OF UNPUBLISHED NOVEL!



Friday, February 27, 2009

HERE IT IS AT LAST!

The ewes and lambs belong to my friend Jan, who raises sheep and breeds kelpies (sheepdogs), and took this photo.


The whole point of this exercise is to ask readers if, once they read the entry below at the beginning of a book, they would want to continue reading the book? I shall be very happy to hear your comments. It's unpublished as yet, since it's far too long at 160,000 words for modern requirements, and I either have to split in in half or edit the length by several tens of thousands of words. Work! Hard work, even. Modern publishers don't care for books over 100,000 words, and there are practical reasons for that. I'm just an old-fashioned type of writer and need to drag myself into the modern age! For instance, the Introduction below would probably be considered back-story, these days, and would be expected to come to light gradually through the novel. Ah, a writer's life. By the way, the heat classification is Sweet - though by gosh they come close to spicy a couple of times. But the grown-up Deborah and her pirate both have good reasons to avoid marriage. If you read this you'll understand Deborah's, and the pirate - well, you'd just have to get to know him!

My other historical, The Pirate And The Puritan, was 130,000 words, but alas, times have changed since it was first published! But I really would appreciate some comments on this.

SISTER PORTMAN'S PIRATE
BY
MARY CLAYTON

Copyright Monya Clayton 28th February 2009


INTRODUCTION

"Deborah! Come, child! Lieutenant and Mrs. Fairbrother have arrived."

Deborah inhaled a last sweet sniff of the wild pink rose in poor Cousin Maria's garden, and straightened her coalscuttle bonnet. She would like to run to the front of the cottage. However, Mother would be shocked if she did, and most likely the Fairbrothers as well. She was eager to ride in a real carriage, but it would be most improper to run with Maria in her grave only two days. She therefore walked, quickly yet with all the dignity she could muster, around to the lane beyond the garden gate. The coachman was in the act of tying Prudence Portman's portmanteau and Deborah's valise to the rear of the vehicle.

"Deborah, why so tardy? Come now, we must not delay their journey." Prudence stood beside Mrs. Fairbrother, and in her loose plain Quaker gown seemed a sparrow beside the Lieutentant's robin-red clad spouse.

"There is no need for haste, Mrs. Portman. It will be two days before my husband joins his ship, and three for James to board his." She smiled, a warm smile for all she was the daughter of a baronet and therefore Quality. And though she must be well past thirty years of age she was still a pretty woman. Prudence was a year short of fifty. "Deborah, allow me to present you. This is my husband, Lieutenant Fairbrother."

Quakers bowed to no man, therefore Deborah held out her hand. The Lieutenant, third son of the Squire and resplendent in his Navy uniform of blue coat and white small clothes, was startled. Gallantly, however, he swept off his cocked hat. "I am pleased to make your acquaintance, Miss Portman." His grey eyes twinkled as he gravely shook her hand. "And may I introduce to you my son, Midshipman James Fairbrother. Step down from the chaise, James."

James was a boy of perhaps fifteen, two years older than herself, stocky, blond and grey-eyed like his father. Like him, he was attired in Navy blue and white. He descended by the carriage step and shook her hand perfunctorily. "I am pleased to meet you, Miss Portman."

Deborah was the same height as he and able to look straight into his face. She thought he did not seem pleased at all, however she responded politely. "How does thee, Master Fairbrother?"

"Well enough, Miss Portman." The boy twirled his hat in his hands and glanced at his father, a plea plain in his eyes.

"James is eager to join his first ship, Miss Deborah. Forgive him his impatience," Lieutenant Fairbrother smiled. He handed his wife up into the carriage, then Prudence, and lastly Deborah. He and James climbed in, the Lieutenant sat next to his wife on the rear seat and young James and the thin Portman ladies opposite. He smiled as they squashed together. "It is a large old conveyance, Mrs. Portman, but I fear a little uncomfortable."

"It is of no consequence, sir," said Prudence firmly. "It is most kind of thee to offer to drive us to home. It will be far more pleasant than the stage."

"No need for the discomforts of the stagecoach," smiled Mrs. Fairbrother, " when we are bound for Plymouth also."

"Nevertheless, ma'am, I thank thee both."

"And I," said Deborah. She was quite aware it was an unusual circumstance. The gentry looked down on folk in trade, and her father owned a chandler's shop.

The carriage jerked forward, and soon the horses settled to a steady pace. After a little while Deborah decided she quite enjoyed the movement. She bumped between her mother and James when corners were rounded, but the boy's proximity troubled her not at all. She had six older brothers. Well, half-brothers, since Prudence was Isaac Portman's second wife.

"We will halt at Ashburton to change the horses," the Lieutenant told them over the clatter of the carriage. "And take refreshments while we wait." Deborah saw Mrs. Fairbrother's red elbow gently nudge his side. He looked down at his wife and smiled. "And, naturally, you will be our guests."

"Again, thee is kind," Prudence nodded. Deborah felt her mother's inward sigh of relief. Isaac had given her little money for the journey, enough for their coach fares home after they nursed her cousin through her final illness. Maria's husband Brother Bartholomew obviously begrudged the feeding of them, so she'd used some of the coins for provisions for herself and her daughter. "God will bless thee for it."

"I trust you are right, Mrs. Portman." Somehow Mrs. Fairbrother's kid-gloved hand found its way into her husband's. "Would you be so good as to pray for his safety at sea?"

"Yes, Sister - Mrs. Fairbrother. And your son's."

Young James's nose lifted a little into the air. Deborah saw he did not care to be thought of as needing prayer. However, she soon forgot the midshipman's boyish pride and became occupied with watching the wilds of Dartmoor roll by. A silence fell upon the passengers, broken only by desultory polite remarks among the adults. Mrs. Fairbrother asked Prudence about her family, and learned there were three daughters older than Deborah, who was the youngest.

"And, Sister Fair-Mrs. Fairbrother, we expect to hear of a new babe at home. Eliza, who is the wife of Mr. Portman's eldest son Ambrose, was due to be delivered soon after we left for Newton Abbot."

"I trust you find her well and recovered, ma'am. I have two girls, younger than James. For these few days they are in the care of their grandmama, and will be sadly spoiled."

Talk such as this engaged the ladies until the carriage turned off the pike road to enter Ashburton. The turn was swift and Deborah not ready for it. She fell sideways across James's blue-clad chest.

"I beg thy pardon!" She sat bolt upright and a blush heated her cheeks.

"I was clumsy, Miss Portman. Do forgive me." James smiled at her. He'd regained his good humour once they were on the road, and he was in love with the world that day.

Deborah stared at him a moment. Of a sudden he was handsome and dashing, a naval officer and a gentleman. She folded her thin hands on her plain gray skirt and appeared to admire greatly the elms by the roadside. They were fiery with autumn, yet she didn't really see them. Her heart beat in a quick and quite improper manner she'd never felt before in her life.

****
The Lieutenant bespoke a small parlor for them. For the first time Deborah set foot in an inn, and wondered if they would witness drunken behaviour in the taproom. Isaac would certainly not approve their presence there, but even he could not object to the place. It was clean and decent, neither a post-chaise establishment nor a workman's alehouse, and in the parlor they were private.

The refreshments arrived on a tray, coffee, lemonade, thin-sliced ham and small cakes. Halfway through the repast the Lieutenant excused himself to enquire after the horses, then a few minutes later Mrs. Fairbrother also left the room to see what kept him. Deborah discovered an embarrassing necessity to visit the privy, and told her mother stiffly she would return soon. James was left to entertain Prudence.

A large old yew tree occupied the rear of the inn yard. On the way back from the privy, Deborah glimpsed behind it a swirl of red which must be Mrs. Fairbrother's gown, and also the navy-blue and white of the Lieutenant's uniform. Mrs. Fairbrother was enfolded in her husband's arms, and he was kissing her. They did not notice Deborah.

"I shall miss you so!" Mrs. Fairbrother gasped when the Lieutenant lifted his mouth from hers. Her fashionable short curls were disarranged, and her pink cheeks wet with tears. "And fear for you."

He kissed her neck. "Ah, my dear. But you have given me much to remember on lonely nights!"

Deborah recalled of a sudden she should not eavesdrop or watch, and quickly walked back into the inn. Her cheeks were warm again. She'd never seen a man and woman kiss before, and was too surprised to leave the scene sooner. The Portmans kept such intimacy for their bedchambers, if they did such things at all.

She resumed her place beside James on the oaken settle, and he offered gallantly, "The chill has put color in your cheeks, Miss Portman."

Deborah rallied and answered with her normal spirit. "The breeze is brisk. I trust it will hold to bear thy ship and thy papa's safe from Plymouth." She did not need to be reminded her skin was normally white with no pretty pink tinge to it. Yet she caught in her mind a shocking thought. What would it be like to be kissed in the same way? By James?

****
The streets of Plymouth were more crowded and noisy than usual. The coachman guided the carriage across the cobbles with care to avoid the many pedestrians, and raised human voices were a cacophony in the background. When they reached the old high house above the chandler's shop they found a throng of men at its door. Prudence opened the carriage door a fraction and heard Isaac's voice rise over the commotion.

"I tell thee all, Quaker folk wish to hear nothing of the war! Be pleased to be quiet or else to leave my premises."

Lieutenant Fairbrother jumped down and opened the door fully, though he frowned. "Are you safe to enter the house, Mrs. Portman?"

"Yes indeed, sir. I know them all, decent sailormen and customers of my husband's." The Portmans did not supply the Navy, only fishermen and Plymouth's merchant ships.

"Pray stay in the carriage, ma'am, and I will speak to Mr. Portman." The Lieutenant disappeared into the press of people. Many of them cheered when they saw his uniform and some, greatly daring, slapped the back of his blue coat. When he returned he was excited himself, and the bearer of amazing news.

"A great victory! Signalled down from Portsmouth. The Navy defeated a French fleet off the Spanish coast, at a place called Trafalgar."

"Oh, hurrah!" James leapt down from the carriage and threw his tricorn hat in the air. "I wish we had been there."

"Perhaps as well we were not." The Lieutenant's face was suddenly somber. "Admiral Nelson was killed."

James's mouth fell agape, and his hat, unheeded, to the cobbles. "Oh, no, sir!"

"Yes, it is true. But he himself might count it worth the cost, for Bonaparte has at last suffered a loss. May it be only the first." Fairbrother smiled gravely at his wife. "It will not delay our duty, my dear, but perhaps now it will not be so hazardous."

"I pray not." Mrs. Fairbrother's lips trembled, though she firmed them to smile at her guests. "I trust you also return to good news, Mrs. Portman."

The Lieutenant held his hand to Prudence and guided her to the flagway. "Come, James, do your duty by Miss Portman."

James, elation and sorrow struggling together on his face, numbly offered his arm to Deborah. She told herself she held it only for balance, and not to feel the young muscles beneath the coat sleeve. As soon as her feet touched ground she released him. But the touch of his arm remained real to her, as did the feel of his breeches clad leg beside hers in the carriage.

"Thank thee," she found the wit to utter.

Prudence again expressed their thanks, they shook hands all round, the coachman unpacked their cases, and the vehicle clattered away.

"Come," said Prudence briskly. "Let us see how Eliza does."

****
The house, like Plymouth town, was in rare disorder. Eliza labored late in her childbed. Ambrose's sisters Rebecca and Martha came from their own households to help with the birth, and so too had the wives of Zebediah and Jonathan. Thomas's wife Elmira, who'd not yet borne a child, was not allowed into the birthing room. Robert and Samuel were of course at their places of employment as apprentices. Kate, who was unmarried, was asked by the bevy of midwives to heat water and rip old linen into rags.

"Thee must visit thy friend Anne at the Holders' house," Prudence told Deborah. She considered the sounds of Eliza's travail unfit for a girl of her years to hear. "Kate will take thee there." Deborah was not permitted to walk alone.

"Yes, Mother." But Deborah raised her pointed chin. She considered this order unfair, since her mother had borne only one babe herself. Prudence was the childless widow of Brother Nathaniel Yates the book-binder when Isaac, with a household of motherless brats to be cared for, asked for her hand. Isaac was most put out when the supposedly barren Prudence had, at the age of thirty-six, borne him another daughter. However no more babes followed Deborah, and the number of his surviving children ceased count at ten.

"I am too busy, Mother Prudence!" Kate shouted from the kitchen. There were more than enough women in the house to see one baby birthed, but this was the frist time Kate herself was allowed to stay and she intended to make the most of it.

"Then, Deborah, plug thine ears with wool, and do not on any account come above stairs." She was distracted by Elmira, who, relegated to serving as messenger and not pleased by the lowly task, sought her out at that moment. "They ask for thee, Mother Prudence."

"Oh! It is near time, then." Prudence gathered an armful of linen and hurried up the steep stairway.

"Deborah," Kate ordered briskly, "bring more coal for the stove. And then some kindling." She saw Deborah's raised chin and added a cursory, "If thee please."

Deborah carried a bucket of coal up from the cellar. Then she scampered outside and pulled the wool from her ears. She slipped into the narrow space between the big tin-covered woodbox and the high brick wall of the sailmaker's house next door. She gathered an armful of kindling but did not take it inside at once. She lay it on the damp chill ground, sat on it, hugged her knees and smiled to herself. There was no one to tell her the smile was bewitching, and lit her plain little face with life and mischief.

This was her own private place, where she came to think and to weave fancies. She had missed its refuge during the sad days with Cousin Maria, missed a place entirely her own. In the house she shared a small dormer bedchamber with bustling Kate, and it was not a place to dream. Here, no one ever disturbed her. None of the buxom and brawny Portmans could squeeze into the slight space as skinny Deborah did.

Even if someone did search and then found her, they would need to look twice. Her gray wool gown, dark knitted shawl and coalscuttle shaped bonnet blended with the weathered wall, and only the white skin of her thin face and hands was visible in the dim shade. Besides, her half-brothers and half-sisters were practical and industrious. It would never occur to them to look for someone who sat idle and daydreamed, though out of habit Deborah pressed her shoulders back against the wall.

"Carry thyself straight, Deborah!" Father Isaac had insisted in her eleventh year. "Naught looks more ungainly than a tall skinny female who sits and walks bent over in the middle."

"If it please thee, Father," she'd replied at the time. Of course he said it for filial obedience only. Quaker women were rare in the world because they were counted the equals of men. Daughters were valued as highly as sons, girls educated as well as boys. Any woman could stand on First Day in the Meeting and speak with the same right as a man, when guided by her Inner Light. Nor could a family force one of its female members into a marriage distasteful to her. She made up her own mind whether or not to accept a suit.

Prudence wed both Brother Yates and Brother Portman of her own free will. Both lost their first wives and their children had been in need of a step-mama. Prudence was, it was true, a penniless orphan. Yet she could have supported herself as a seamstress or shopkeeper and the Society of Friends would have thought well of her.

A tiny clump of violets grew in the dank earth by the brick wall. Only Deborah knew about them. Quakers tolerated flowers as part of creation, though they did not grow them. Vegetables were far more useful. Today the little plant bore a solitary bloom, and Deborah touched it with her long white hand and wondered if James's skin felt like that. Or would a man's skin be more like one of the leaves?

"Deborah! Where art thou?"

It was her mother's voice. Deborah stood quickly, startled out of her imaginings. She was not afraid of Prudence, however she did want her secret place to remain her own. She gathered the kindling into her arms and stepped round the corner of the woodbox.

"I am here, Mother. Kate did ask me to fetch this."

"Thee's uncommon slow about it." Prudence did not smile, yet nor did she admonish. Deborah was her only child, and though she would not show preference she loved her daughter more than any other creature on earth. "Ah, well, today all the house is confused. It matters not thee's dawdled."

"Mother, how is Eliza?" Deborah was already aunt to a raft of nieces and nephews, and quite aware the bearing of them was a dangerous business.

"Eliza has been delivered of a fine son, praise be to the Lord. And is well enough herself, also praise to the Lord." Then, instead of ushering Deborah back to the kitchen, Prudence sat down on the chopping block, and told her daughter, "No one will miss the wood for a little, child, or our presence. For long now I've wished to talk with thee alone, but there has been no quiet place in the house. Sit thee down."

Deborah again made a pile of the kindling, again sat on it. She looked straight at Prudence, who looked straight back. Indeed, it was the only way Quaker women could look at anyone. The stern forward poking brims of their bonnets otherwise hid their faces. Deborah draped her loose skirt with more proprietry. Her gown, like her pair of square-toed shoes, was an outgrown hand-me-down from Kate, and a little big for her. She waited, and wondered.

Her mother seemed embarrassed and determined at once. "Sometimes I see dreams in thine eyes, daughter. And I must tell thee, dreams have no place in life, which is real. I need do my duty by thee, and tell thee what thy lot in life will be." Prudence took a deep breath. "I ask thee to recall Cousin Maria."

Deborah was puzzled. "Yes, Mother."

"She had no babes, and her husband spoke recriminations over her because she was barren. Brother Bartholomew will wed a new wife, because he wishes for a child. Thee knows I myself was wed to Brother Yates, and bore no babes before I wed Brother Portman and thee was born." A dark flush crept up her pale cheeks, thin like Deborah's. "It is not proper to talk of such things to a young maid, but I am nigh on fifty year old and do not know when I will be called to heaven. I must tell thee the truth before I die."

Deborah's big green eyes widened. Her mother dying was a thing which had never entered her head before. However she sat still, and clasped her hands together about her knees.

"Thee looks like myself when I were young, Deborah, except for thine Portman colors. Mine own mother was skinny also, and so was Cousin Maria's. Thee also will grow to look like us. And like us, thee will not bear many children. Perhaps one, as I did thee, or perhaps none. Mine mother told me her grandmama had two. Maria was the grandchild of one and therefore my second cousin. But it does not often happen."

Deborah felt a cold weight on her heart, warm only minutes before. She'd never known she would not bear children when she was wed. "But Mother, why?"

"I do not know, child. No midwife or physician has ever found a cause. Perhaps some woman of our line, long ago, committed a sin and this is the punishment. It is true we are not the right shape, being slender and tall. Even so we have no more than the common labor when birthing. But we cannot easily be got with child."

The flush left Prudence's face, and now it was pale with determination beneath the coalscuttle bonnet. "If a man ask thee to wed, thee must tell him truly thee might not be able to bear. It is better not to marry than to be like poor Maria, who did not tell her husband the truth and suffered for it."

The blood drained from Deborah's skin, left it more white than ever. "But Mother, if I am asked to wed, and tell the man this, and he says nay, he wishes children... Mother, what will I do then?" She'd no notion how heartfelt her words sounded on her mother's ears.

"No young man can thee marry, Deborah. All young men desire heirs." For her daughter's sake Prudence gathered her courage, to say the right thing. "Thee may marry a widower or an old man, or thee may remain a spinster. And of course thee cannot wed any but one of the Friends, or thee will be disowned from the Meeting. I know it is hard. But it may befall so in any case. Young men like maids to be plump and pretty, not slender, and they fancy dark or golden hair better than red. They think red beholdens temper."

"But Mother, Kate has red hair! And Rebecca, and Ambrose, and Zebediah, and Robert."

"But thee is not pretty, like Kate and Rebecca. Thee knows it. Thy nose is too little and thy mouth too wide, though myself I think thee looks fetching when thee smiles." Prudence smiled at her child a little, then was serious once more. "Having told thee all this, I must tell thee also that women who have children are taken care of by them when they grow old. We have none, or one alone, to shelter us in our age."

Deborah had taken in all the words, though with a sinking heart. Now she saw only one important thing. "Oh, Mother, I will always take care of thee!"

"Ah, Deborah, spoken just like thee. Sometimes I feel thine heart is too big and warm for thy little body." She cleared her throat. "Daughter, I wed Brother Portman because it is a large family. Someone will always give me shelter, if only for duty. The same is for thee. Even if thee stay a spinster, thee will always have a home, having so many brothers and sisters. Nor do the Friends allow any of their own to hunger. But it is a cruel world for a woman on her own, and while there is this war with the French we do not know what will happen. Listen to me now, Deborah, for I must tell thee a secret."

"Yes, Mother." Deborah was sad for her mother, and beginning to sorrow for herself. Yet she was also angry at the unkind fate which might never let her marry James Fairbrother.

"One day I will die. I do not know when, but thee must be prepared. Under here..." Prudence touched the bodice of her dark wool gown. "Under my petticoats and shift, next to my skin, I wear a linen band about my body. Brother Portman no longer touches me." She flushed. "So now I do not ever take it off except when I bathe my body in summer." She lifted her chin. "Mine own mother gave it to me, and her mother gave it to her. It is sewn with eight little pockets, and in each pocket is a little piece of oilskin, and in each of those is a jewel, a ruby. She did say they came from a wealthy widow, long ago when Bess was Queen." She looked hard at her daughter. "Put off thy bonnet, child, so I may see thine eyes when I say this."

Deborah dropped her bonnet to the back of her head. Her heart was still as frozen snow beneath her budding breast. She said nothing.

Prudence continued emphatically. "When my soul is gone to heaven, thee must ask to prepare my body for burial, and take the band off me. Thee will keep it and wear it next to thine own skin."

Deborah was too astonished even to whisper, why?

Prudence answered the unspoken question. "It is our surety, child. Since we are barren, or near to it, it is our provision if we are left alone in the world. Ah, I see thee is troubled. I too was troubled. I did say to my mother, it is a sin to possess such riches and keep them a secret. And she said her own mother told her it may be so, but she risked committing sin in exchange for peace in her mind about her child. That is how I feel, Deborah. If I do wrong to keep this, and to pass it on to thee, why then, I am prepared to answer to God for it."

Deborah's pointed chin threatened to sink, but she held her head high, and did not notice the rim of her bonnet when it stuck the back of her neck. "But, Mother, I should never need it, with so many family. Thee said so."

"No, thee never should. But to grant me peace, I ask thee to take and keep it when I am gone."

"But Mama..." It was a sign Deborah was perturbed when she did not say 'Mother'. "If I have no child, or only a boy babe, what shall I do with it?"

"Then thee must do what the wealthy widow did in the time of Queen Bess, two hundred years since, and pass it to another woman in the same case." Prudence squared her narrow shoulders. "Deborah, thee knows that we, the Friends, take no oaths, but tell the truth at all times. Our yes is yes and our no must be no. Therefore I cannot ask thee to swear never to tell this to any soul. Nor can I ask thee to promise never to use those jewels, to sell them, unless thee's in danger of death or starving. But if thee say yea to those things now, it must be in truth, and thee must never forgo thine word."

Deborah felt as if a lump of stale pudding was stuck in her throat. Her mouth was cold and dry, but at last she was able to swallow. She said firmly, "I will keep them only for life or death, Mother."

"Good child! My heart is eased." Prudence sighed deeply, relieved of a burden. "Now, daughter, from this moment forward, for the rest of thine life, thee must be sensible at all times, and put away foolish dreams."

Deborah bent her head and stared at her hands, clenched in her lap. Tears prickled behind her eyes. She'd been proud she did not cry easily like Kate and Martha, even when Robert and Samuel teased her. Yet now she could cry in earnest. She might never have a husband like Lieutenant Fairbrother, to kiss her behind a tree and be kind.

And James? Ah, James was young, and would want children. She could marry only a widower like her father, Isaac Portman, whom in her heart she did not like very much, or an old man like Mother's first husband, Brother Yates the book-binder. She thought, I would rather not marry at all. And decided then and there she would never marry, and did not swear to it, but said yes to herself in her own heart, and kept it for truth.

She blinked at Prudence. "I will be sensible, Mother. But in what way?"

Prudence took out her cotton handkerchief, and blew her nose. "Make thineself useful to thy brothers and sisters, so they will always want thee about them. Help in the house as thee does now, only be smart and brisk about it, a hard worker, a good cook, and taking care of the little ones." She rose to her feet. "We must go inside, and make the supper. There'll be many here to eat it." Yet she did not move.

Deborah stood, and she and her mother looked at each other.

"Thee's a fine strong-minded girl and I know I'll be pleased with thee, daughter." Prudence spoke awkwardly, not used to giving praise. Suddenly she leaned forward and, with difficulty from under her bonnet brim, kissed her child on the cheek. Then she turned and hurried away, back into the house.

Deborah, left alone, was bereft. She would have liked to talk with Prudence longer, even of such grave matters... But when she felt her shoulders droop, she straightened them. Her mother loved her, she now knew it for certain. As for the rest, she must be sensible.

She turned and walked back to her private corner, her bonnet bumping between her shoulder blades. She did not sit down. Instead she thought, it is a place where I dreamed, and I shall not dream again. She pushed the warm memory of the Fairbrothers, and James, down into the bottom of her heart, and closed it over. She stared blindly at the single violet.

She did not weep, and could not take time to be sad. Kate called from the kitchen for the kindling. She hastily pulled her coalscuttle bonnet back onto her head, gathered up the armful of wood, ran back inside the Portman walls, and left dreams behind.

______________________________________________________________________

In the first chapter of the book, which comes immediately after this, Deborah sails from Plymouth and England to join one of her brothers and his household in Nova Scotia. It is 1817, 12 years after the events described above, and on the way she meets her pirate... And that is all I'm going to tell!
Monya

Experiment with Instructions of How to Post From Word!

Well, the experiment mostly worked! The spacing refuses to behave and stay where it was, probably because I was reducing the font size in irregular bursts, but you'll get the gist of it.

The words you mightn't know, Aussie slang -
tucker = food
selectors= farmers granted small acreage
wallaby = smaller breed of kangaroo
damper = simple bread of flour and water
chook = chicken
tea = dinner


ANOTHER CUP OF WATER IN THE STEW

© MONYA CLAYTON 10/10/06

On the back of the old wood stove

Mum kept an iron pot,

Threw in it scraps of tucker -

There never was a lot.

Poor selectors we were then

And living off the land.

Hungry every tea time –

Which made those stews taste grand.

Bits of vegies from the garden

That grew in the back yard –

Midget onions, stringy beans,

‘Taters soft, tomatoes hard.

Pumpkin ‘cause it grew near wild,

Peas like little stones,

And when Dad killed a pig for Boss

The stew pot got the bones.

The only other meat we had

Was wallaby and horse.

Salt and pepper helped them down

And mint leaves and hot sauce.

Often it was thin as soup,

And not enough for eight.

We had to eat it from a bowl

Instead of a tin plate.


It was fine when we had lots of it

And friends called in for tea.

But the times there wasn’t much to eat

Meant a special job for me.


Mum filled cups and cut the damper -

That would be my cue.

For each guest I then poured another

Cup of water in the stew.


I tell my grandkids what we ate

When I was young as they -

Carrot tops and skinny hares,

What we could find each day.


I now eat steak and roasted chooks,

Veg whose names I never knew.

But you know, it never tastes as good

As my old Mum’s watered stew.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

INTRODUCTION - SISTER PORTMAN'S PIRATE

It's becoming traditional that I post an image that has nothing to do with the blog subject! This piece of art is by our talented eldest granddaughter. (My mother also was an artist.)

Granddaughter is 25 years old, by the way, so perhaps I ought to ask her about young modern women! She lives in a big (well, 10,000 people) country town 45km (30 miles) from our small one, but is very hip. (Now, is that word still in use? Maybe 'cool' is better.) But then, all 7 of our granddaughters are 'cool'! And I'd better mention the 6 cool grandsons too!

Okay, now for the Introduction as promised. It's self explanatory, but I should let you know that the first chapter of the book begins 12 years after those events, with the heroine setting sail from Plymouth to join one of her brothers in Nova Scotia, Canada, by way of the U.S. east coast. And that's all I'm going to tell you! Here we go... Gosh, I hope it works, or I'm going to look pretty silly...

Rats, it wouldn't upload from My Documents. I officially look silly. Now I'm going to have to print it out and copy it into another post. Darn, darn, darn. There's probably another way to do it, but I'm not particularly computer savvy. Be patient a little longer, please!

Monya

Saturday, February 7, 2009

TWO MORE REVIEWS FOR BLUEPRINT!



This is the young pomegranate tree in our backyard, in spring. Next year I must get a close-up of the flowers. They
are the most exotic blooms I've ever set eyes on. And of course they have nothing to do with this post!

Yes indeedy, two more great reviews for Blueprint For Love at www.thewildrosepress.com

Four Book status from Camilla at Long And Short Reviews on the 6th February 2009. "Unbridled, hot emotion pitted against icy, pig-headed pride... The conflict between environmentalists and developers... a backdrop for Catherine's volatile personality and Paul's all-business attitude... Strong characters and how they try to manage love... keeps the reader turning pages..."
Complete review at: http://www.longandshortreviews.com/LASR/recentrev.htm

AND Four and a Half Delightful Divas from Eliza at Dark Diva Reviews on 6th February 2009: "Cathy and Paul start off literally with sparks flying... Heated arguments and passionate kisses, whether to hate each other or fall madly in love... A spicy tale..."
Complete review at: http://darkdivareviews.webs.com/romance.htm

I must admit the enthusiastic reviews make all the work of writing worth it. Would love to receive comments from other readers!

Monya

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

ANOTHER REVIEW FOR BLUEPRINT!

This is the buddleia bush in our front garden in spring (September and October in Australia). Otherwise called the Butterfly Bush and as usual nothing to do with the blog story!

Yay! A second review for Blueprint For Love on Amazon, this by Lesley West, Top 1000 reviewer. Have a read of it - she calls the book a great holiday read. Easter, anyone? Actually a weekend would be perfect.

Monya

ANOTHER REVIEW FOR BLUEPRINT!


Thursday, January 29, 2009

ONE GREAT REVIEW ON AMAZON ALREADY!

Drawing by granddaughter Kathy when she was younger! Nothing to do with the post, of course.

Quotes from REVIEW of Blueprint For Love by Monya Clayton, from Drebbles, Amazon Top 500 Reviewer -

"Two believable and likeable characters... chemistry evident from the beginning... Fire and ice together... drawn together yet afraid they clash... Sexual tension never gets in the way of the plot... Heart-breaking moments toward the end that kept me turning the pages to see what happened..."

Bless your heart, Drebbles. And like all my favourite reviews, HONEST. I'd rather the true reactions of readers than flattery.

Monya
P.S. I said in previous post that pictured granddaughter was No. 3 of 7. Whoops, she's no.4, and Kathy is No. 5. Six grandsons too. I'm feeling old... But I still write good romances, it seems!

Monday, January 26, 2009

BLUEPRINT FOR LOVE NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON!


This gorgeous creature is one of my granddaughters at her 21st birthday party. And it actually doesn't do her justice!

Nothing to do with the post, as usual! Except that the heroine of Blueprint For Love is also gorgeous and nearly as lovable as this granddaughter (she's no.4 of 7!)

I'm thrilled the romance community can now buy the print copy of the book! The electronic version has been available since 31st October, and can be bought on Kindle, but I know lots of people prefer 'real' books.

There are reviews coming soon, and already a couple available on www.thewildrosepress.com And they're all good! Happy reading, everyone!

Monya

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

WHY HAVEN'T WE SEEN MORE NEW PIRATE MOVIES?

This is our grandson Noel, aged 16, and behind him our son Kim, his dad. Don't you think Noel looks a bit like Orlando Bloom in the Pirates Of The Caribbean movies? He caught the beard thing from his father.

Anyway... I'm surprised those movies haven't been followed by more pirate yarns on the big screen. I've complained about this and no one (meaning studios!) has taken any notice. Maybe they think the Caribbean trilogy is too hard an act to follow. Sure they were entertaining, but gosh, a scriptwriter with imagination can take a different tack, surely.

When I was a kid in the 1950s pirate movies were regular Saturday afternoon matinee (and Saturday night family) fare at the theatres. They were mostly light-hearted adventures. I remember Disney's "Treasure Island" of course, in which Robert Newton as Long John Silver set the standard for the "aarrrh", the parrot, and the wooden leg.

Then there was The Crimson Pirate with a young and agile Burt Lancaster. And "The Black Swan" with Tyrone Power and Maureen O'Hara (gosh they stuck that girl in a lot of pirate/swordsman movies.) Even Bob Hope got in on the act with The Princess And The Pirate. More serious was Anne Of The Indies with that excellent actress Jean Peters. There was Yankee Buccaneer with Jeff Chandler of the iron-grey hair. And A High Wind In Jamaica, not exactly about pirates but kids captured by pirate Anthony Quinn.

Captain Kidd with Charles Laughton was more of a drama. And that rascal Sir Henry Morgan was played by several actors in various interpretations of the genre. Errol Flynn swashed and buckled in Against All Flags and as Captain Blood. Oh, there must be lots more but you get the picture (literally).

Then they went out of style until the Pirates of The Caribbean turned up. Again I ask, why hasn't anyone made any more pirate movies?

I have an ulterior motive here. My historical romance The Pirate And The Puritan would, my friends tell me, make a good movie! My friend Nelma, a book and movie enthusiast, has already suggested the cast. Aaron Eckhardt for Edmund Gramercy and either Reese Witherspoon or Kirsten Dunst (or any other great blonde actresses!) as the mute Mercy Penhall. (Note to said actresses - playing a mute is a good way to earn an Oscar. Look at Jane Wyman in Johnny Belinda and Holly Hunter in The Piano.)

Hey, producers, are you listening?

Monday, January 5, 2009

REALISTIC READ, SAYS REVIEWER

Well, it is a photo of flowers, and flowers are real. Actually, I just like to add photos to my blogs. And I l-o-v-e flowers. These dahlias were given me by a friend and promptly placed under my kitchen window. Together with some parsley, which if I don't keep on the sink I completely forget is growing in the back garden.

Now that's out of the way, I must quote from one of the reviews for Blueprint For Love, the one I find particularly complimentary. It was written by 'Vee' from Night Owl Romance (online review site), and in part says: "I give Ms. Clayton credit for taking on a real-world issue to which there is no easy answer. It gave the fights between Cathy and Paul a realistic feel and made their interpersonal problems understandable.
The story was more real to life than the usual romance and I, for one, liked it."
Now, isn't that nice? Of course, like everyone else, I read for escape from the everyday as well, but I find other people's fictional problems are often just as effective an escape hatch as the usual romance. It all comes down to personal taste. I just happen to be something of a commoner/plebeian/hopefully down-to-earth person, and like to know where I stand and how believable the hero/heroine/situation of a romance novel come across to me.
I can explain my 'commoner/plebeian/down-to-earth' person by giving you an example. Several years ago a girlfriend and myself attended a performance of the Bolshoi Ballet. No, I'm not a ballet buff and I've never attended an opera, but this was probably a once in a lifetime chance. The Bolshoi was in town, I actually had some money for the ticket, and I knew Christine would like to go as well. I even borrowed my husband's partner's (old!) Mercedes to drive to the venue.
And I spend the whole of 'Giselle', in fact most of the program, worrying about a huge dirty mark right in the front and centre of the stage! Honestly, while Christine cried because the ballet was so beautiful, I stared at the mark and wondered how on earth it got there and why it hadn't been cleaned off. After all, this was the Bolshoi! And it looked as if someone had pulled a motorbike to pieces just before the show and left all the oil, grease and dirt staining the boards.
Well, I did like a couple of other parts of the program. The passionate pas-de-deux (do I have that right?) from 'Spartacus', and the vignette by Nadezda Pavlova (no relation to Anna) and partner. Honestly, that Nadezda just flowed over and around the guy as if she had rubber for bones and water for flesh and blood.
But I've never forgotten the state of the stage. So you see, I'm a commoner.
Blueprint will be available in print during February, and is always available as an e-book from www.thewildrosepress.com And they're having specials this month on their Champagne Rose line - that means contemporary sexy.
The Pirate And The Puritan is still out there, still selling and still getting reviews. At the moment I have another historical nearly complete, another contemporary under consideration and more in the works. Ah, the life of a writer. As Kurt Vonnegut Jr. said, "Writing a book is like making wallpaper by hand for the Sistine Chapel." !