Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Weds check-in: Chocolate and a WIPpet . . .

Iced coffee (Kevin & Amanda)
Last night, I met with my small writing group at the local Barnes & Noble (their tables are just right for hunching over rough drafts), and discovered the Java Chip, some kind of frothy, ice-cold chocolate drink that definitely should not be consumed by anyone avoiding sugar and/or caffeine. It was delicious.

WIPpet Wednesday. I took the first draft of Chapter 1 from Book 3: Rivers of Stone. Today is WIPpet Wednesday, so in a hot-summer-kind-of-commitment, I shall post below to honor Bastille Day, July 14, here are 14 paragraphs from this first chapter.

Rivers of Stone: Chapter 1
Aboard the Prince Rupert (Summer 1842)

Catriona gazed at the sea, recognizing with each moment, the life she knew was gone. What lay ahead was uncertainty and doubt. She fingered her hair. Of course she had to cut it. There was no going back. Mother was gone, their land lost, the boys scattered, and her father scrambling to make a new life somewhere in the Americas. 

"You there, no slouching about. Yer to earn yer keep, boy." One of the sailors thumped her on her back. 

"Dinna be pushing me," Cat snapped. She turned back to the officer's cabin, the slops bucket she carried empty.

Catriona huddled in the belly of the ship, tucked against the bulwarks in the hammock she and Dougal shared, nauseated by the close smell of sweat and vomit. If she were above board, even cold, she could breathe. She had hope. But down here, her thoughts rolled with each movement of the ship. Mother said to follow my heart, that 'twas best to leave Foulksay Island, even if Dougal was taking his brother with him. For this, we married? And if we get actually land at York Factory, how long do I have to wear pantaloons and play the boy? Will my life end here, on this tiny boat, caught in ice?

Dougal hardly spoke to Cat these days, except for the nights when he held her close. He and Colin can do whatever the Hudson's Bay Company needs. What can I do? What if they find out? Will they send me back? Her hammock swayed, and Cat touched the side of the ship in the dark. There's nothing back home, and, God help me, there’s nothing here.    

The ship heaved and cracked. Cat squinched her eyes shut. If only she could sleep these next weeks away.  This wasn't like riding Sean's skaffie over to Stromness for market. Dougal had said the trip from the Orkneys to Hudson's Bay would take six to nine weeks, depending on storms. This was the third storm and only the third week of the crossing. Maybe the Merrie Dancers brought the storms because they left home. 

The hammock swayed again as Dougal gave it a shake. "Asleep, Cat?"

Cat winced. "Who could sleep when it's like this?"

Dougal climbed into the hammock. "Simon said it should ease by dawn. You should have seen the waves sloshing the deck. It was grand."

"You're wet. And you're cold."

"Not so cold someone couldn't warm me up."

"Hush. You know what we risk."

"Aye. I know, Cat." He pulled her close. "Just warm me a bit. Ah, Cat, you know what they say. Forbid a fool a thing and that he will do." 

Cat rolled closer. If nothing else, they were together. Even if no one knew. What could it hurt? They were married. 'Twas dark and Dougal was close, warmth spreading between the two of them.

A thought chilled her. They could have a child.

And a ROW-80 Update:

Writing: Finally, finally writing on the next real project, Rivers of Stone, Book 3. The surprise that must be kept until August 1st is complete. I've fallen a bit behind blogging (only 2 posts this week, instead of 3), but I did write about Argentina on the travel blog to accompany the very good World Cup game, though Argentina lost. Biggest thrill: Completed that beta read for Carol Kean's Ironwolf.

Community: So far, so good. Attending local writing groups 3x, including tonight. A little behind critiques for NOVELS-L.

Marketing: Surprisingly good progress here as well with hand selling, promo efforts, scheduling talks/readings/book signings. Need to work harder on getting reviews for Book 2: Years of Stone. I find it difficult to ask people for their review. Sigh. But I'm so grateful for everyone who reads my stuff, that should be enough. Shouldn't it?

Has anyone else entered Joel Friedlander's book cover competition? I did. Learn what a cover designer guru thinks of your cover -- each month a different competition. Check this out at

And may the week go well for you! 

Check in to read other ROW80 updates HERE and post an encouraging word to keep us all motivated on these hot summer days. 

See what others have posted for WIPpet Wednesday, a blog hop created by Kate Schwengel at My Random Muse, to encourage writing. And so we write!


  1. Yeah, a baby could certainly complicate matters! Great snippet. I had a nice sense of their surroundings.

    1. Thank you, Amy. I think babies complicated more often than not in the 19th Century -- before birth control. :)

  2. Love your teasing excerpt. I can't wait to read the whole thing!

    1. Thank you, Chris. I hope you don't mind waiting about another year and a half . . . that's how long it will likely take to finish this book (most take me about 3 years). But maybe this one will go a little faster since the setting is closer to home. :)

  3. Replies
    1. Very nice. I had me at chocolate, too!

  4. Great WIPpet, I really get a sense of being on the ship and the struggle Cat is having with how long the trip will be and whether she will survive it -- physically and mentally. Great beginning to suck us in.

    1. Well, thank you. Comments like these keep me writing! I guess that's the purpose of Weds WIPpet.

    2. That's one of them. :) Encouragement, critique, input, kicks in the butt, shoulders to lean on, ears to bend...

  5. Great description. I don't know your characters, but that little bit made me worry about her. Nice job!

    1. Thank you, writergirl. Some crits of my earlier work say I start too slow. This first chapter will likely be worked over several times, but it's good to know that you felt drawn to the characters.

  6. Strong sense of their situation... though, I do wonder why Dougal barely talks with Cat lately.

    That chocolate thingie sounds dangerous. I think I'll still with my Avocados & Cream smoothie at Fresh Express. :-)

    1. Thank you, Eden, for commenting that takes me right back to character motivation, something I'm working on this week (step back for structure and back story). Your smoothie sounds equally dangerous, but all's OK for an occasional treat.

  7. Wow, that can't possibly go HORRIBLY WRONG!!! Hahaha Nice work!!

    1. Thank you, Mhairi, for dropping by. I love that sense of oh-oh, the plot will definitely shift for the worse after this . . . when the characters are still blissfully unaware . . .


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