Today is my birthday! And if you’d joined me last week you’d know I’ve given myself the present of cleaning up on old manuscript. I’m so happy my blog friends have joined me! Yippee!!! And I hope you will as well…
So, step 1, I pulled out my very first story. I’d written this 118,000 hot mess in stolen hours of lunch breaks and weekends.
Yet, rereading I felt the same excitement and fulfillment as I had creating the story. I laughed/groaned/cried at what I’d written. You know the freedom before I “knew” how to write.
The Daring Debutante, a regency romance, is full of spies, alpha males and all kinds of editing nightmares. My heroine is/was flighty and out of control most of the time. Perhaps because when I wrote this, I felt the same? And her best friend tried stealing the story (I remember because I had to write her story, too!). The hero is a moody, dark egotistical man who I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole in real life, but I wanted to lick him, tuck him in my pocket and save him from himself. And his war friends…well there is plenty of trauma drama to last a whole series. Lol!
The overall plot was good…solid. I had a great concept.
I lacked detail, strong verbs, good dialogue and the growth of great characters. I had to make my heroine more likable in the first chapters. (She wasn’t!)
Here is my first chapter… and I have to say my work isn’t as nice/good as my friends. My edits look like I stabbed myself with the pen and bled all over my ms…wait…that’s how I felt!
Changes here are in bold.
My dearest Athena,
I hope this letter finds you in good spirits. I trust you are trying to stay out of the mischief that follows where you go? Is Father well? Has he or our brothers forgiven me for joining the army, yet? Not that it matters, but send them my loving regards, and not to worry.
News travels so slowly and we’re marching so fast now, I do not know when I can write again. We have been on the move and the days are getting shorter and colder as they push us harder and harder. We are headed
right deep into the heart of the enemy’s country.
I am well. The sense of fulfillment I feel here is hard to explain. My duty to ensure our victory nearly overwhelms me. I read the doubt in the faces of fellow comrades’. Most are distrustful and their apprehension is brewing like the storm clouds rushing over the top of us.
Yesterday, as we marched into a valley we witnessed the cavalry swooping up the crest of Clavinet to surround an entire French command. The commander’s accurate execution made all the troops mouths drop gape. I imagined it happened just like those Mongolian raiders we once read about on the floor of father’s study.
There is a true commander, and I would be honored to serve by his side. His absolute resolve to conquer whatever crossed his path was remarkable.
His name is Savage…
Late summer, 1815 (Not sure if I should put here or above)
“Athena Wellesley!” The high pitched burst made the letter she was rereading flutter to the wooden floor. In a guilty whirl, her bulky ballgown almost throwing her off balance, Athena faced her best friend’s horrified expression.
Lady Katherine Warwick was the exact opposite of Lady Athena Wellesley in all regards. Her gown was white, unwrinkled, pristine. Artistically styled blond hair graced the top of her head, as plump ringlets brushed the tops of her bare shoulders. Her delicate features in perfect proportion with her small statue. But her normally beautiful serene face carried a look of displeasure.
Unfortunately, it was a face Athena saw too often of late from everyone.
“Yes, Kit?” Athena felt like a giant floppy sunflower next to a delicate pale rose. She made an attempt to fix her light brown hair which was already falling out of her chignon and shook out her new blue skirt that looked as if she’d slept in them. and slouched.
“You are not reading those letters again, are you?” Her small satin covered foot tapped impatiently as she watched Athena. With a sigh, she walked further into Athena’s long rectangle shaped room. The pink flower wallpaper highlighted her petite friend’s cheeks. Kit, Shaking her head, held out a hand. “Give them to me before you become too upset to even leave.”
Athena passed over the small stack clutched in her left hand. As they slipped from her gasp, her stomach tightened. Nothing would upset her enough to not go tonight, but she couldn’t confirm those feelings with Kit. Her dear childhood friend would try and stop her from her plan. Bending, she picked up the yellowed paper of the floor, and gathered the letter and her thoughts. Standing once again, she muttered, “You should have at least warned me you were there before scaring the daylights out of me.”
“I did. You were engrossed in what you were reading.”
“Yes, well,” Athena would not feel guilty about reading the only thing left of her brother and with her highbrows raised, she traced one brown arch of her brow and rubbed the linen of the paper in her other hand. She would not feel guilt. “Yes, I was reading those Poll’s letters again. but it’s the last one Poll ever wrote to me. I like to read it them. It makes me I feel closer to him when I do.” And somehow closer to the man she was going to search out tonight. Athena folded the thin, badly creased letter and placed it in the original envelope with practiced ease before she held it out for Kit and closed her eyes.
Katherine sighed, walking further into Athena’s long rectangle shape room. The giant pink flower wallpaper dwarfed her petite friend. (Moved this up earlier in story)
Athena barely felt her the tender friends touch on her bare hand before she heard. “I don’t wish to sound so harsh. Poll’s disappearance has affected you greatly. It has all of us. But, now is not the best of times to dredge up memories. They’ll only make you feel more distraught. And Tonight is a night for celebration. The end of the long war. I want you to enjoy yourself like you did before—”
“Before Poll’s disappearance?” Athena finished.
Kit nodded and grabbed her hands. Her strength and kindness seeped through her white gloves and Athena had to let go before she did something silly, like cry.
Turning with a clearing of the throat, the lump bearable, she spoke. “I wish I could, Kit. I really do. But I remember him before he left. His pride in his new red uniform and his hair, so like mine, cut close to his nape.”
“You were always so close. Apollo and you were inseparable as kids while the older boys left you alone.”
“Yes, we were. Res and Seidon were terrible. Especially to us. Poll was my rescuer.” Now she’d do what she had to, to see to his return. It was only fair.
She didn’t want to hear what she knew was coming. Not from Kit.
“Yes, a celebration. If only Poll could have be here. So handsome in his red uniform and radiant from his success.” Athena smile sadly. Remembering her favorite brother, his red hair so like hers, before he’d left four years ago to go fight. Out of the five children, Poll was the closest to Athena.
Athena clapped her hands once, snapping them back. “We must leave or we’ll be late and then you’ll never get the opportunity to travel alone.”
Kit’s smile covered her uncertainty.(need better word here), but she let the issue slid.
Athena gathered her items. She knew how exciting being unchaperoned seemed to Kit. When one was under constant supervision from their parents, it could feel stifling. Something Athena knew nothing of since her father rarely left his study and her mother had died long ago. Athena’s Aunt Mary, who was supposed to have taken them, had a sudden departure due to some silly misunderstanding between her and her friends. A godsend to Kit. Mary, a meddling woman, couldn’t resist the temptation to found out about the mishap first hand had left the girls to their own. Both women were reliable, responsible young ladies. Kit being so much more than Athena.
“I know you’re looking forward to the ride, and I am sorry for not offering a better reception to your moment of freedom.”
“No. I must apologize to you. Your brother welfare is more important than my own. And I only wish for you to smile again without worry.”
“Never, say you’re not as important, Kit. You’re my best friend and the only one I can talk to. Without you I don’t know what I’d have done during these long months of no news and being shut down from the rest of the family.” Emotions started bubbling in the back of Athena’s throat. Poll, her missing brother, was presumed dead. Even her father and brothers presumed the worst. She did not-would not-until she had solid evidence of the fact.
She closed her eyes and massaged the wrinkle on her forehead right between her eyes. If she wasn’t careful she would give herself a megrim. “I refuse to think of Poll being dead and only sought his letters as a comfort before going into the den of lions where I’d hear of nothing but sincere apologies about our loss.” Athena’s family was wealthy and well off socially. Prey to the gossipmongers who wished them ill, but claimed otherwise.
Kit tilted her head. Pale blond ringlets blended into her white puffy sleeve. “Athena, what is it that you always tell me when I am feeling sad ?”
Athena worried her lip and then shrugged. “Who caused you such discomfort and what shall I do to repay them?”
“Ahh! You’re spirit is returning.” Kit patted her back. “And most of the time, you do so without asking since you have appointed yourself my champion when you found me crying in the orchard long ago.” Gathering Athena’s hand she made her sit on the vanity bench so they were eye level.
Athena laughed as she remembered. (Should I elaborate or delete?)
“You told me
Do not to pay attention to what others are babbling about for they don’t know what they are talking about.”
“They don’t know. They weren’t there.” Her thoughtsinstantly returned to her brother.
“Don’t hop to conclusions.” Kit’s patient understanding voice was too much.
Athena gave her a cross look. Kit’s blue eyes searched Athena’s light brown until she had to look away. If anyone had a clue what she was up to tonight, it would be Kit and that would be disastrous. She’d try and talk reason into her. Athena dropped her gaze and stood She stood and picked up the rest of her items.
Kit stayed kneeling. “Athena, I don’t want to say it, but what if you can’t fix this?
like you try to do with everything else. I know your tenacious efforts looking into Poll’s disappearance have been intensive. I admire them. I do. It’s just that it has been so long with no word. I understand it’s not in your nature, but you just might have to come to terms with the worst and move on. Begin to live your own life.”
Athena turned. “Move on? How can I move on? I can still feel his presence in the next room hiding away for a moment of peace. I can’t give up until I feel the same peace.” She patted her friend’s hand at her compassionate look. “Kit, I appreciate what comfort you give me. However, I will not give up. I know he is alive and I will find him.”
Kit stood, shook out her skirts, and
said sighed, “I know you will. You always do what you set your mind to.”
Athena slipped her gloves on as well as a bright, shiny smile. “I apologize for my atrocious behavior. I promise for tonight, I will put on a bright face, go to the ball, not worry a moment about Poll and have a smashing grand time.”
With a look that stated how unlikely Kit thought that was, she followed
her Athena from out of the room.