Teaser: The Friendly Suffragette short story

Slowly but surely, I work on the Atlanta & the Lion and Other Tales short story and poem anthology. I’ve been working on converting some contemporary stories I wrote in grad school over to historical romances and/or fiction, since I am much more comfortable with that genre. Here is a taste of one of the stories, called “The Friendly Suffragette.”

FIRST DRAFT OF THE FRIENDLY SUFFRAGETTE

“Why, you seem as though you could use a hug, sir,” Kate said, blinking at the old man shuffling past her makeshift wooden crate table covered with suffragette pamphlets.

Kate’s comment startled the old man and rightly so. One did not expect a young lady standing in a drab gray dress and straw hat at the corner of a largely abandoned city park in a London neighborhood to suddenly offer an embrace of any kind. Generally such offers were not of the respectable sort, of that the old man was certain.

He lifted the brim of his homburg hat to peer at Kate from behind his overlarge spectacles. Her eyes matched the fabric of her sensible, ankle-length dress; the color of a proper overcast English sky. Her thick auburn hair was restrained, hardly, by a low chignon at the base of her neck. Her flat straw hat was perched at the crown of her head, making her seem both cheeky and charming.

Kate watched the old man with a bright smile. As he stared agape at her she was thinking he was the mirror image of her grandfather, dearly and recently departed, complete with the dusty overcoat and tarnished pocket watch.

“I beg your pardon,” the old man said finally, his tone gruff and unwelcoming over the din of horse-drawn cabs, streetcars, and people too busy with their own business to stop and chat with Kate.

“My grandpapa would always say everyone needs a hug now and then, and it seems as though your turn is now, sir. Would you care to have one?” Kate’s tone made it sound as if she were offering him an apple perhaps, or a slice of toast, rather than such an indecent display of shared affection—and in public, of all things.

“A hug?” the old man asked, his wheeze punctuating his outrage as he shifted his spectacles on his nose. His pale, clean-shaven cheeks colored and his jaw gyrated as if he were rearranging his teeth for the fun of it.

“Oh my, yes, a hug.” Kate opened her arms, the action revealing her to be thin, perhaps too thin, and unaided by the fashionable, distorting S-curve corsets of the time. Though she looked frail, she had a sense of sturdiness about her—something in the way her smile reached her eyes.

The old man noted she had three freckles on her cheek and a pale band of skin on her ungloved left hand, indicating a ring once protected the skin from what must have been healthy, countryside sunlight. Suddenly, the situation began to make rather more sense. The gray dress, indicating a season of mourning. The missing wedding band. The misplaced need to share some semblance of affection with a complete stranger.

“I think there aren’t enough hugs in this world,” Kate continued. “Perhaps if we all hugged one another more often, we’d see some smiles in this dull city!”

Dull, she said; the old man had certainly never heard of London described as “dull.”

“You’re American, I suppose?” he said, having made up his mind she was quite, quite mad.

Kate beamed. “Yes! However did you guess?”

The old man pressed his lips together, and then puckered them in thought. “Very well then,” he said, careful to note where his billfold was in the off-chance the mad American red-head happened to fleece him during their embrace. “I suppose we might hug. But this is very irregular, mind you!”

Kate laughed, a tinkling sound that invited a solitary ray of sunshine to peek through the London haze. “Not to worry, there’s a copper just over there who’s been watching me all morning, just waiting for me to do something incorrect. I promise you, I only want to give you a hug.”

Sure enough, when the old man glanced over his shoulder, there stood a young officer, most likely no older than thirty, standing with his arms crossed and his feet spread just further than hip-width apart. He looked none too pleased, with his face contorted in an annoyed grimace.

“He needs a hug, too, but he refuses, the silly man,” Kate said, shaking her head. She shrugged. “Now then, shall we hug?”

Like I said, this is a fun project. I’m realizing I dabble with absurdity and magical realism, so I’m interested to see how Kate’s hugs affect her suffragette campaign at her noisy little corner in London.

Best, Belinda

When Someone Reads Your Writing

Dear Reader,

I just sent Atlanta & the Lion and Other Tales and The Rebel’s Touch to a trusted friend from my 8th grade after school writing club who continued to write and got her masters in the creative writing industry. Let me tell you, I am nervous. Caitlin O’Sullivan has always been a better writer than me, and I haven’t had anyone look at my work in two years while I’ve been busy setting up my apartment, transitioning to a new job, and diving into the swing dancing world.

Kind of terrified about her critique, even though I know I need it as a kick in the pants to get writing again. I’d like to release the short story and poetry anthology sooner rather than later as I have the whole thing compiled, it just needs severe editing. Which I’m sure she will rip it apart with the best intentions. This is the scary thing about beta readers… they’re looking at your work before you’re ready to show it to someone else, say, an editor you’re going to pay. The beta reader is usually a reciprocal relationship, so I fully expect Caitlin to ask me to look at her work at some point, and I’ll do so gladly.

Which reminds me… I remember Caitlin saying a while back she was interested in breaking into the editing gig, and considering I trust her opinion completely… for those of you who are looking to try out a new editor, send Caitlin a line asking about her rates. She’s working on a historical fiction, and I know she wrote science fiction in high school, so her range is pretty broad.

Looking forward to seeing what she has to say, though I’m cringing at the thought at the same time!

Best,

Belinda

Requesting Beta Readers for The Rebel’s Touch

Dear Reader,

Goodness gracious I’ve been busy, but not on The Rebel’s Touch.

Requesting Beta Readers for The Rebel’s Touch

I don’t know why, I’m just so horribly stuck with that book. I’ve put it aside, so very frustrated and wondering what to do with it. Perhaps send it to a beta reader or two? If you’re interested, let me know! I’d love your thoughts and, most importantly, questions, so I know what to answer as the book goes forward. Leave a comment or contact me via Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, or the contact form on my website to let me know if you’d like a sneak peek to the first couple chapters to provide feedback.

What’s up with Mad Maxine?

In the meantime, I keep tweaking my short story, Mad Maxine. I’ve never liked the cover for it and finally, on Monday night while sipping a nice red blend with How I Met Your Mother in the background, I redesigned the cover and uploaded it to my distributors. See below for all the different covers and the final (fingers crossed) selection.

First cover Second attempt Third attempt

Whatever happened to Loving, Longing, Leaving?

Remember that anthology I was going to pull together last year? Well, I’ve rejuvenated the project. I even created a cover for it, to provide some sort of accountability on my part. I’m compiling my old poetry and short stories and will be sending it to my editor for her input fairly soon. It’s called Atlanta & the Lion, and Other Tales.

The collection is quirky, kind of weird, and everything is set in some undetermined time and place including characters concerned with a man on an epic journey to reclaim his lost mustache, a woman whose boyfriend is a lion, and a grieving woman who thinks if she hugs enough people, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles might become a better place, and more. Sounds fun, right?

I like this cover because it’s starting to show how my non-Victorian or historical pieces will all have a particular visual theme. The kind of mid-century “I’m typing on a keyboard but I’m influenced by the past” sort of feel. Me likey lots.

Buy Haunting Miss Trentwood direct!

I finally set it up so you can purchase Haunting Miss Trentwood directly from me. I have a Kindle and ePub version available, as well as the first ten chapters of the audiobook available as a teaser. The full audiobook will be direct for purchase in the coming months.

But you keep disappearing!

I know, I know. I pop into the blog to say, “Hi! I’m still alive! I promise I’m still working on things!” And then you don’t hear from me for too long. I post things at Tumblr more frequently, images and quotes and the like, and I’m working on a way to automatically import those posts into this blog because I think it would be nice to spice things up a bit. So look for that. You’ll know if it works because I’ll be posting more often.

So yes. That is the skinny on Belinda’s writing world right now. I have a dance lesson tonight, a dance tomorrow and Saturday night, and Father’s day on Sunday. Busy busy busy!

Promising to keep working,

Belinda