Archive | July 2012

Latest from New Orleans and more of the Second Prince

Wow. Time flies when you’re working. I’ve done a good 13,000 words on the last part, The First Queen, of my novel (The Third Wife) since my last post. Getting close, and then a bunch of edits and I’ll send queries to some of the best digital publishers.  Yeah!

New Orleans is in the news – our police department is now under a consent degree with the Dept. of Justice. I hope that will help cut crime. In addition, another sitting City Councilman has plead guilty to fraud, I think, but he resigned and is likely going to jail.  If it weren’t for bad press, we wouldn’t get any. There’s still rehashing of the Saints’s trials.

We’re approaching high hurricane season. Keep us in your prayers for all storms to blow out to sea. Goddess willing.

And now for the latest excerpt:  Maria is the eighteen-year-old daughter of Aimee who was the Third Wife. Both have witch powers.

Twisting her lips and biting the corner of her mouth, Maria tried to control herself since she sat at the head table with half the kingdom watching. So eager to welcome Domenica as a new sister, she barely suppressed her disappointment when Domenica rejected her invitation to go riding. She couldn’t understand why she hadn’t wanted to. And now she didn’t even acknowledge her when she arrived for dinner. Sighing, she sniffed the platters of food and discovered she was hungry.
Aimee had warned her that she might develop powers similar to hers, although what exactly they were remained blurry. Yet, at that moment when she shut her eyes, Maria saw Piero’s face with his eyes heavy-lidded and filled with longing. Warmth spread through her and she shivered.
When Piero arrived, she swiped at her face to clear the vision. But instead of speaking to her, he focused all of his attention on Domenica. She gave him an appraising glance. What’s wrong with me? She poked him in the ribs and asked, “Where have you been?”
Piero shifted his gaze to her while filling his trencher with roasted pig and cabbage. With a grin, he ignored her question and said, “You look very nice, Maria.”
“Thank you,” she said, deciding to avoid an argument. Yet, the vision had unsettled her.
The long meal finally ended, and Maria’s jaw ached from clenching her teeth every time she heard Domenica’s carrying laugh. Carlo was never that funny before. She muttered, “Enough.”
Henri and Monique stood to signal that the meal was over. Following protocol, they started to circulate through the room, greeting and acknowledging their guests. Although Domenica and Carlo should have done the same, they both left the hall after she whispered in Carlo’s ear.
Surprised at their behavior, Maria was glad they left. Piero kept scrutinizing them until they exited the hall. Quick, hot tears formed, and she brushed them away, hoping no one noticed.
Aimee glided over and caressed her shoulders. Maria bit her tongue so hard that it bled. Jerking away from her mother, she hissed, “I’m all right. Leave me alone.”
Aimee said, “I understand.”
Standing, Maria stalked out of the banquet hall. Elise waited by the door and accompanied her through the halls to her family’s quarters at the back of the castle. She marched into her own room and tried to keep Elise out. The cat darted inside anyway and perched on the edge of her small fireplace.
The pine-scented fire had burned down, and Maria shoved on more logs. “What do you want, cat?” She asked, moving away from the hearth while tears streamed down her face. She stamped her foot like a five-year-old.
Elise said, “You need my help if you want Piero’s love.”
Maria’s mouth fell open. She shuffled back from the cat. “Did you speak?” She couldn’t believe what she’d heard.
Elise remained by the fire and twitched her long tail. “Yes,” she said.
Dumbfounded, Maria backed up and sat on her bed. She stared at Elise and hoped she wasn’t going mad.
“I am the voice of the Goddess Artemis, protector of women and animals. Ignore Piero’s infatuation. He will return to you, but there are trials and disappointments ahead. Trust me. All will be well.” At that, Elise lay down, curled her tail around her body and closed her eyes.
Shaking her head, Maria rushed from her room to search for her mother.
Aimee appeared in the upper hallway. “Are you all right?”
Maria waited until Aimee was beside her and then burst into tears. “Elise talked to me. Am I going crazy?” She sobbed. “Does she talk to you?”
Aimee smiled and clutched her arm. “Shush, we can’t talk about that here.”
Maria sucked in a deep breath and retraced her steps with her mother.
Warmed by a fire inside their quarters, Aimee sat Maria at the long wooden table and paced back and forth. Lavender and straw rushes crackled under her feet.
Impatient, Maria said, “I don’t understand. Cats can’t talk. She said she was the voice of Artemis.”
“Yes, I know and she is. These are some of the powers you and I have that I was talking about before. Have you had any visions, too? Is that why you were so upset at the banquet?”
Her face warmed and she fiddled with her gown. “I’m sorry I was rude. Piero made me mad.”
“And any visions?” Aimee persisted.
“Yes,” she muttered.
“What? Speak up.”
She cleared her throat while her face got even hotter. “Yes,” she said louder.
“But you don’t want to share them?” Aimee said, frowning. She stepped across the room and sat next to Maria. She put her arm around the girl’s thin shoulders. “Telling them to me won’t make them real. They are already real and sometimes very frightening. What did you see?”
Maria swallowed and glancing at her mother, she began, “You know I’ve loved Piero most of my life.” She paused.
Aimee nodded.
“Well, I just saw his face with longing in his eyes. I’m afraid it wasn’t for me.”
“Ah, I see. And who do you think it was for?”
“Domenica,” she blurted.
“All right, but you didn’t see her in the vision?”
“No.”
“Tell me exactly what Elise said.”
Maria frowned and quoted the cat’s pronouncement. “What do you think she meant by ‘trials and disappointments?’”
“I don’t know,” she said, pursing her lips. “Listen, it’s late. This has been a long, emotional day. Please go to bed now and we’ll worry about all this tomorrow. All right?”
She nodded and hugged her mother good night. “How often does Elise talk to you?”
Aimee chuckled. “It’s often a surprise. Usually nothing when I’m hoping for some guidance. You’ll get used to her. Good Night.”

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Early morning in the park

I have a new three-wheel bicycle (an ol’ lady bike), and I went for a 30 minute ride this morning through City Park. There’s a great path about a mile long around what they call the Big Lake. This morning I passed a young woman on in-line skates. I noticed she was following me, and she said, “I’m drafting behind you.” I sure didn’t think I was going fast enough for her, but she followed me two-thirds of the way around, until I pulled off to head for home. What fun.

What’s not fun, however, is trying to pass people walking or strolling along, sometimes in the middle of the two-lane path. I have a bell which I use to let them know I’m trying to pass. And I speak, “Bike passing.”  The problem is that almost everybody has on headphones. Damn phones, I-phones, nanos, etc. They don’t hear anything or anyone. Hazards. I’d sure hate to run into somebody.

That’s my rant for the week. And, as promised, here is an except from The Second Prince.
This is an historical romance set in 16th Century Tuscany, Italy.

Piero (the second prince) stood by the hearth in the Queen Santina’s chambers, stirring the fire. The pine-scented smoke drifted into the room. Her lady-in-waiting, Claudine, sat snoring in a nearby chair.
“Come sit. Leave the fire alone. I want to talk to you,” Queen Santina said. Her already wrinkled face creased with concern while she patted the empty space next to her on the blue brocade couch. Now that both boys were growing up and Carlo had a fiancé, Piero was ready, she hoped, for the doubts she wished to introduce about his paternity.

Piero sat next to his grandmother and tilted his head. “What do you want to talk to me about? I think I heard a carriage outside. Maybe Domenica (his twin brother’s fiance) has already arrived.”
Queen Santina frowned. “This is more important.” She said and pointed her index finger at him. “But first, you must promise to keep this conversation just between us. All right?”
He nodded and sat very still.
The weak winter sunlight shown through the window and highlighted the dark red streaks in his otherwise brown hair. Adjusting the black embroidered shawl around her thin shoulders, she inhaled a deep breath and asked, “Do you remember the time you and Carlo (his twin)  fell into the Black River?”

“Yes, I remember it well since I nearly drowned. But I swam to the bank. Why?”
“And what did Stephen do?”
Piero paused and pursed his lips. “Oh, I remember. Stephen jumped in and helped Carlo.”
“That’s right. I was nearby, and I thought he was going to let you drown,” she said, planting the image.
“But I was all right, Grandmother. I could swim.”
“Yes, you could. But why do you think Stephen helped him first?” Carlo had hit his head on a rock when he fell in, although she hoped Piero had forgotten that.

Piero’s eyes narrowed while he considered Queen Santina’s question. He glanced at her and then focused on the fire. “You think it was because Carlo is the first prince and heir to the throne?”
With a dismissive gesture of her jeweled hand, she said, “You need to draw your own conclusion.”
He squeezed his eyebrows together and crossed his arms over his chest. Pausing, he said, “Sometimes my mother favors him. Still, I’m better with swords and riding. Stephen has to spend more time with him because he’s not as good as I am.” He stopped. His face flushed and he sat straighter on the couch, as though some ideas brewed.

The sounds of people talking echoed through the halls. The Queen leaned back and said, “I suspect that’s our guest arriving. Time for you to go.”
Piero rose and stepped to the door, his face grim. Before he opened the door, he stopped and retraced his steps to give her a quick kiss goodbye. “Thank you, Grandmother.”
After he left, she sighed and warmth spread through her, not from the fire, but from the successful beginning of her plans.