Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Coming Events

Wow, there's a lot going on the next couple of months with MuseItUp Publishing and its authors.
First up is the Back to School Blog Festival. Each day an author will blog about something related to school
Check it out at: . http://museituppublishing.blogspot.com/

Beginning Sept. 12th. Muse presents its Editor Flash It Out Contest. More information at http://museituppublishing.blogspot.com/p/upcoming-events.html

Also in September, Muse author, Brian Knight, is featuring Muse Authors as guest bloggers on blog, The New Author:http://www.the-new-author.blogspot.com/ I'm appearing Sept. 2nd.

Also in September MuseItUp MG/YA Blog-fest.
C.K. Volnek http://www.ckvolnek.com/blog.html and 
Barbara Ehrentreu http://barbaraehrentreu.blogspot.com

On Sept. 9th, my book, Connection of the Minds will be released. I'm really excited about this book. It's a different kind of book for me. Still a romance-what else? LOL 
Did you ever have a feeling that something bad was about to happen? 
You know a premonition, an intuition, omen or whatever you want to call it. You try to pass it off as coincidence, but you know deep down it's not. That's exactly what happened to Rebecca Brennan. She's experiencing someone's life and she's bound and determined to find out whose. Her search leads her to a small town full of interesting people and puts her life in danger.  
Connection of the Minds is available at:  http://bit.ly/ConnectionoftheMinds

October brings a October's Month Long Festival, featuring Muse authors presenting short stories, recipes, and other fun stuff. Bonella will once again crawl out of her crypt and banter with us. She's always fun for a laugh. I'll be posting some recipes on Oct. 13th (thank goodness it's not a Friday). You can join in the fun at  http://museituppublishing.blogspot.com/
And of course, every week MuseItUp Publishing releases several new books. 

Also in October, I'll be hosting all of the Muse authors as they guest or give interviews.
 I hope you'll join in the fun.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Edits and Final Galleys

Some authors think of edits as torture, a necessary evil. Me, I love edits. Oh, don't get me wrong, it hurts when my editors tell me to cut this sentence or even a paragraph. I worked hard over those words. The story is my baby, my life. I spent hours, days, weeks, even years laboring over it.
Sometimes I look at the manuscript and all I see is red. What the heck, it couldn't be that bad, could it? Is the editor picking on me?
One of the most important things to remember when doing edits is to keep an open mind. I like to paraphrase rather than use thoughts. That means I use the word she a lot. The reason I dislike thoughts, well two reasons, actually - 1. editors like to put thoughts into Italics. - I dislike italics - no, I hate italics. Nothing takes me out of a story worse than italics. They distract me and that's not something you want to do with a reader. Most of the books I've read   about writing say- don't use them. (and I've read a lot of books on writing, Donald Maass for one). The other reason I don't like them is thoughts also distract me. So instead of writing, I hated when he does that, I write She hated when he did that. Eliminates the need for italics and I. To me it reads much better. However, my editor doesn't like all the shes. Okay I know I use a lot of them and truthfully, I don't see a problem with it. The sentences make sense. Readers know they're thoughts. They don't need italics to tell them. I try hard to avoid thoughts that need italics, but sometimes you just have to use them.
Okay, back to editing. As the author, you have the final say on your work. But don't be stubborn. Your editor is there to help you make your work the best it can be. I've seldom had to disagree with my editor. Most of the time I look at what she wants to delete or change and I agree. Sometimes, it's back story. Sometimes it's just unneeded information.
Another reason I like edits, it gives me a chance to change things that don't sound right to me or maybe add something that will add to the story - No, I'm not talking about pages or chapters. I'm talking about a sentence or two that might add tension or help clarify what you're talking about.
Once you're done with edits, you send them back to the editor. They might go back and forth several times before you both agree and are satisfied with the final manuscript.  Ha, that's not the final manuscript at all. Now comes line edits. A different editor goes through what you and your content editor just agreed is the best manuscript. The line editor will go through line by line and suggest changes that are sometimes repetitive sentences etc. They also make sure all the commas, periods, and spelling is correct. If a sentence doesn't make sense to them, they'll suggest you change it. Again, it's your work, but keep an open mind. Think of the line editor as one of your readers. If she/he thinks it doesn't sound right, so will your reader. I seldom disagree with my line editor. Unless I have a character that speaks in a certain way,I'll usually take the suggestion.
Now comes the final galley. This is it. This is what your book is going to look like. This is your responsibility to make sure that every i is dotted and every t is crossed - so to speak. Look for spelling, commas, periods and yes, sometimes wrong words here or there. This is the last opportunity to make your book the best it's going to be. Final galleys aren't for changing sentences or paragraphs or adding to the story. Go through the final galley carefully. Even editors, no matter how good they are, miss things. A misspelled word, missing comma, etc. No one is perfect. It's the last polish before your editor sends the book off for publishing.
Think of edits as a way to improve your manuscript, not to destroy it. Editors want to work with you, not against you.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thursday Blog Hop

This week's question is about an embarrassing secret muse.  I've been thinking and thinking and I honestly can't come up with anything. I suppose if I could, I'm not sure I'd admit.LOL After all no one wants to embarrass themselves. I'm just happy my muse speaks to me at all. Lately she's been kind of quiet. I'm not sure why.
I've been working on one story for several years now. It's the first one I outlined and plotted, and I'll never do it again. Talk about writer's block.
For me sitting down with an idea and knowing how the story begins and ends is enough, what happens in the middle is as much a surprise to me as it is to the reader. That's fine. It works for me. But I listened to a speaker at our local RWA group say if you never plotted to try it. Silly me did. Just because it worked for her and many other authors isn't a reason to encourage other authors to do it. She made us feel like we were writing wrong. I've since learned that whatever works for you is the right.
Unfortunately I took her  advice. What did I have to lose? Maybe it would work for me. It didn't take long to realize it wasn't going to work. My characters didn't appear to like what I had plotted for them. They refused to talk to me. I was blocked. I stayed blocked for a good year. Never wrote another word. I had written myself into a corner. Finally in an email to my writing friend, I discovered a way to pull out of it and the story went along for quite a while. But that darn plot was in the back of my mind and it wasn't long before I hit another block. This has happened several times since then and I've been fortunate to work my way through it. Right now I'm blocked again and have been for several months. Not that I quit writing all together. I work on other works. I have several that I want to rewrite and revise, so I'm not sitting idle, but that story really bothers me. I so want to finish it. I'm sure I will some day. So I guess my secret embarrassing muse is that I listened to someone try to change the way I write.  If you're a plotter, great, don't listen to anyone tell you to try writing by the seat of your pants. If you're a panster, don't try to plot your story. Do what works for you.

Check out the other blog hoppers - http://tjbook-list.blogspot.com/2011/08/aug-25-embarrassing-secret-muse-anyone.html

Monday, August 22, 2011

Welcome, Penny Ehrenkranz

Thank you so much for being here, Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz,

1: What genre do you write?

I actually enjoy writing in lots of different genres. I write picture books and paranormal mysteries for kids. I write fantasy, soft science fiction and romance for adults. I also write non-fiction articles on writing, parenting, and teen self-help.

2: How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since I was a child, although I wasn’t published until 1993. Since then, my work has appeared in about two hundred magazines and on-line and I’ve published two eBooks, an illustrated chapbook, a middle grade novel, and my stories have appeared in several anthologies.

3: What do you like the most and least about writing?

I enjoy the actually crafting of the story the best. It’s fun to come up with an idea, create the characters, and make trouble for them. What I like least is the marketing and promotion once the book has been published.

4: What do you for fun and relaxation when not writing?

I enjoy gardening, both flowers and vegetables; spending time with my family and grandchildren; reading; and doing craft projects, especially crochet.

5: Which authors do you like to read?

My current favorites are Jim Butcher, Kim Harrison, and Devon Monk.

6: What’s the one thing you’d most like people to know about you?

That’s an interesting question and I’m not sure what to answer. I guess foremost, I’m a mom, a grandmother, and a wife. My family is very important to me and they always come first.

7: Tell me about your current novel, where I can find it?

My current release, Love Delivery, is from MuseItUp Publishing.

The direct buy link is:

Love Delivery is a story about two very normal people struggling to find happiness despite the hard-knocks life has thrown their way. Just as they feel they’ve found something special in each other, an evil ex-wife, an adorable child, and custody battles intrude on the path toward love.

Here’s a short excerpt:
Ann pushed open the door, and the bell jingled like an added alarm to wake her up. Sometimes she wondered how she could function this early in the morning, but a job was a job. At least waitressing in a donut shop was honest. Maybe someday she’d go back to finish college and do something rewarding with her life. Then again, maybe the man of her dreams would walk through the door this morning and sweep her off her feet. The closest thing to a dream man in her life was Tom, the delivery guy, looking like God’s gift to women. She sighed. It didn’t seem fair. He would never find her appealing with the figure she inherited from her mother. The only attractive thing she could find when she looked in a mirror was her startling green eyes.

8: Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?

I always tell them not to give up. Everyone, even the greats, are rejected at some point or another. Perseverance and professionalism will get an aspiring author an eventual publishing contract. Taking classes, whether online or at a community college, is always a good idea.

9: Do you base your characters on real-life people?

My characters tend to be a composite of people I know, people I’ve watched but don’t know, and those I imagine would fit the part I’ve created. Inevitably, a bit of myself or another family member might creep into the character as well.

10: How did you come up with the idea for this book?

I wanted to write a romance with characters who were blue-collar, middle-class, normal working people. I wanted people who have struggled and had obstacles to overcome before they even met. I wanted them to have to work for the relationship. The main character works in a donut shop as a manager and I took this from my first job as a teenager. The cats the male lead speaks of are my own cats and their funny little habits are true.

11: What are you currently working on?

I have a couple of ideas for stories and I’ve written down pieces for all of them. One is the next in the series of my middle-grade paranormal mysteries. Another is a YA novel about a young witch. I also have a couple of adult fantasies, both novelettes, which I’m finalizing.

12. Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you?

In addition to my writing, I am also an editor at MuseItUP Publishing, Damnation books, and an acquisitions editor for 4RV Publishing. I teach a writing class at my local grade school and love working with the kids. Several of them have asked if they can be characters in my next MG novel.

13. Where can we find you? Website? Blog?

My website is: http://pennylockwoodehrenkranz.yolasite.com/

My blog is:

My Facebook page is:

My Twitter is:

My author page at MuseItUp Publishing is:


Saturday, August 20, 2011

My Books

Today, I 'd like to talk  about my books. The first book I had published was in 2006, called Satin Sheets. I remember the day I got the acceptance. You could have scraped me off the ceiling. There's nothing like getting that acceptance. Sure, I'd had articles published in magazines before that, and don't get me wrong it was great t too, but my dream and goal was to have a novel accepted. I did it. I was there.

Satin Sheets sold 35,000 copies. I was a success. I made back my advance plus. Unfortunately, I never saw the royalties.   I got several different stories as to why. I just know something was tied up in court and even though the court ruled for the publisher, trying to collect was another story. So, alas, I'm out quite a lot. But that's okay because Satin Sheets will be released as an eBook from MuseItUp Publishing,  revised and with a new title, It's Only Make Believe, in August 2012.

It didn't take long to learn authors don't make much money. Getting published isn't about the money.  If anyone thinks authors automatically get rich because they sold a book, they're dead wrong. Unless you write a best seller - and let's face it, how many of them do you really see out there, you're not going to get rich. Seriously, with the millions and millions of books available only a handful are best sellers.

It didn't take long to discover selling one book doesn't make you an instant success. It took four more years before I made my next sale. I signed my next contract in June of 2010 for Double the Trouble.  This time for an eBook.

A lot of people ask when I'm going to write a real book, meaning a print copy. These are the die-hards who won't read an eBook for love nor money. Apparently they can't see the wave of the future. That's okay, Double the Trouble will be out in print probably next year. Hopefully, they'll buy it then.  In the mean time, I'll bask in the glory at having another book published.

I also signed contracts for several short stories - Novellas - if you will. Stranger on the Shore, A Second Chance and May I Have this Dance are also available as eBooks from the same publisher.  Next month another novel will be released, Connection of the Minds. Yes, another eBook - but it will  also go to print later.

I'm just as excited about these books as I was Satin Sheets. Sure Satin Sheets was a hard copy that I held in my hand and there's nothing like the feel of a book with your name as author. It makes it easier to do book signings for one thing.

But eBooks are quickly taking over publishing market and I'm happy to say I'm part of it. Getting in on the ground floor so to speak. There's also a way for us to autograph eBooks now, so readers can have that autographed copy through a new media called Kindlegraph.  My autographs are available from Kindlegraph at http://kindlegraph.com/authors/roseannedowell

And my books can be found at MuseItUp Publishing at: http://bit.ly/roseannebooks

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thursday Blog Hop

Today's Question - What does the Great American Novel mean to me?
That's a great question. Like Ginger Simpson, I hated reading certain books in school. The Scarlett Letter comes to mind. Hate, hate, hated that book. I loved Gone With the Wind. One of my other favorites is Forever Amber. That being said, I'm not sure I can name The Great American Novel.

But speaking of novels, how would you like a chance to buy your favorite book from MuseItUp Publishing for only 99 cents? Maybe you'd like to read one of my books, Double the Trouble, Stranger on the Shore, May I Have this Dance or A Second Chance. Okay, maybe you'd like to read someone else's books. That's okay too. So here's your chance:


Ever wanted to read an ebook and wished it was only 99cents? Well, here’s your chance to purchase your favorite Muse author’s book for only 99cents. Send me an email at:
publisher AT museituppublishing DOT com
and make sure to include the following:
Your name
Your email
Title of ebook you’d love to buy for 99cents  and your name will go into the draw.
Fourteen winners will be drawn to purchase their favorite book for only 99cents.
Contest begins August 1st
Deadline: August 14, 2011
Winnners will be revealed right  on August 20th.



Ever wanted to read an ebook and wished it was only 99cents? Well, here’s your chance to purchase your favorite Muse author’s book for only 99cents. Send me an email at:
publisher AT museituppublishing DOT com
and make sure to include the following:
Your name
Your email
Title of ebook you’d love to buy for 99cents  and your name will go into the draw.
Fourteen winners will be drawn to purchase their favorite book for only 99cents.
Contest begins August 1st
Deadline: August 14, 2011
Winnners will be revealed right here on August 20th

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Welcome, Graeme Smith

1: Thank you so much for being here, Graeme.  First up is the obligatory question. When did you first begin writing?

I first began writing at school. I hated it. They told me what to write (never what I wanted to), how long it was supposed to be and then told me the result was rubbish.
Mostly they were right J.
Later (much later – I was about 20, around the time I finished sanding down a cave wall in what would one day be Lascaux, ready for a local painter to get working), I got into PBM. That’s Play By Mail gaming. Players wrote ‘turns’ – a few paragraphs or so – about what they wanted their characters to do, sent them to a Games Master, who mixed them all up and sent back the results. Rinse and repeat.
I used to send, um, a bit more than a paragraph or two. Say, twenty pages a turn. Per game. Per week :-)..
Flash forward some few years, skip over the Jurassic period (exciting at times, mostly boring, lots of running screaming ‘mummmmmiiiiieeeeeee!’) and get to, oh, about 2003. I was in an online game (we had these computer things then). I’d been waiting for this game to be released for, oh, a year or so. I’d spent six months developing a back story for the character I was going to play (a dragon - he’s still there). I bumped into another player who wanted some help with something similar. Just a page or so…
Four years later, we’d written a book together :-).
Some people who bought it said it was rubbish. They were probably right.
Some people who bought it said it was great. They were probably right too. For them.
The rest is history. Or the future. Or both. I developed a severe inability to stop typing, and my wife got new earplugs.
I tend to hammer keyboards :-P.

2: What inspired you to write?

Remember those Role-playing games? Well, back in the days when I still had hair, I was still using paper and pen in a deep, dark dungeon. The Play by Mail thing (that’s like Lord of the Rings Online, but with really, really bad server lag). I’d write twenty pages a week about the deeds of someone like Ibrahim Yunus, Grand Vizier of the Hiyiros and part-time poet. Then I’d post them off to the mysterious Game Master and await the results. By post. Along with a whole mess of other people, trying to make sure they got what they wanted and I – or Ibrahim - didn’t. Then I realised I was looking at new games before they were released and spending perhaps six months inventing a ‘someone’. A real someone (as real as an invented someone can be) with real history, with real virtues and real flaws.
Kind of like you do for a book.
I got it. Eventually. I knew I liked playing those games, but what I really loved was making the ‘someones’. So I still play, but now I make a lot more ‘someones’. Someones like Segorian the Idiot. Like Charlie the ferryman turned trucker. Like - like a whole load I haven’t made yet.
But I will.

3: What do you like the most and least about writing?

What do I like most? I like starting. Not having the first idea where I’m going, but going there anyway.
Yes. I admit it. My name’s Graeme, and I’m a pantster :-).
What do I like least? Finishing. Finishing a book, at least. Once it’s done, once my wings have folded from that particular flight of fancy – the book sort of dies. Oh, there’s the whole new truck of work if it’s supposed to go out on the street – beta readers, edits, more reads, more edits, polishing, more edits – but the flying? That’s not really flying time.
I like flying :-).

4: What do you for fun and relaxation when not writing?

I’m still an online gamer - If you know Bard Elcano, you know me. If you know a grumpy old dragon called Sephiranoth, you know me. If you know a tall, dark, handsome but brooding vampire, charming witty and brilliant - we never met. That's someone else :-). I cook – nobody’s died yet. I write things that aren’t the things I write to put on the street (if you asked what, I might have to say the p word, and that’s really not a good idea :-P). I build the occasional web site and sometimes write computer code. Sometimes (a lot less sometimes) the code even works :-P.

5: Which authors do you like to read?

Phew. How long have we got :-P.?
See, when I was about ten I was reading around fifteen books a week. My mother actually had to talk the local library into letting me into the adult sections because I’d read everything in the other bits three times over. These days? Draws breath….
Tom Holt, Jim Butcher, Guy Gavriel Kay, Terry Pratchett, R. F. Delderfield, J. B. Priestley, Steven Brust, Craig Shaw Gardner…
I could go on. Well, and on and on and on and on… but most people already know I can do that. Go on, I mean. So I’ll try not to :-).

6: What’s the one thing you’d most like people to know about you?

Not much. I don’t think readers (I’d say ‘people’, but I keep hoping most people are still readers, even if not mine. Yet :-P) need to know much about the writer. I’ll chicken out and say ‘I’d like them to know they like to read what I like to write.’

7: Tell me about your current novel, where I can find it and your website/blog.

My website (Writing the Bright Fantastic) and blog can be found at
I tend to post blog entries as near once a week as I can, generally about whatever writing related madness has crossed my mind recently. As to current novel - hmmm. There’s more than once answer to that. My ‘current’ anything tends to be the one or more I haven’t finished yet :-).
The one closest to being available (to be published in 2012 by MuseItUp Publishing) is ‘A Comedy of Terrors’.
CoT tells the tale of Segorian, Court Idiot to Queen Sonea of Peladon. He was hired because he has the sort of face nobody ever remembers. That’s important. It’s his job to be blamed for anything that goes wrong, and be exiled-for-life. In a Queen’s castle, wine spilt down the wrong dress can lead to a declaration of war. So someone unimportant has to be blamed for it, and that’s the Idiot. He’s the Idiot that did it, for any value of ‘it’. Of course, as soon as he’s exiled-for-life out of the castle gate, he uses his back-door key and sneaks in. To wait for next time.
But that's not all the job. Someday, something really bad will happen. Really, really bad. Badder than a bad thing on a very bad day with extra badness. So when when the world’s about to end (or the washing up won’t get done – whichever comes first), who you gonna call? No, not them. They haven’t been invented yet. You call the Idiot, so you can risk someone nobody will miss if things don’t work out. And now Peladon has a case of dragon.
But like I said. The dragon may be the easy part. Segorian has woman trouble, and he’s the only person in the castle who doesn’t know it. Because to Segorian, women are an open book. The problem is, he never learned to read…

8: Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?

One thing I totally agree with is something Piers Anthony once told me (OK – that’s name dropping. He generously agreed to a very short interview on my site once :-P). He said:
write if it is in your heart to do so, but don't depend on it for money.’
The other thing I would say is something Doris Lessing (not many writers of Science Fiction also have a Nobel Prize) once said. When asked if she knew why she was so successful when so many others were not, she said (and the quote isn’t precise) that the only difference between her and the others was that she didn’t give up. Didn’t quit. Didn’t stop writing.

Smith’s Second Law (I didn’t write it, but I stole it and made it number 2) says:
If you can’t win, change the victory conditions.
That’s really it. If you write for money, if you write to be published, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Not to be a bad writer, but simply because it’s a packed industry right now that’s averse to taking risks on new writers. On the other hand, if (as Mr Anthony said) you write because that is what you have to do, I guarantee you’ll win with every word you put down.
And you may get the other wins too :-).

9: Do you base your characters on real-life people?

Well, I’m male and married, so I’m well qualified as the basis for a Court Idiot :-P.
I’d say no – but it may be yes. I tend not to create ‘characters’, but build them as I go (I already confessed to being a pantster and not a planner :-) ) from foibles and traits they develop. Though those traits and foibles may be from people I know or think I know.

10: Where do you get your ideas and what inspired you to write this book?

I’ll assume you mean ‘A Comedy of Terrors’ for now. ‘Road like a river’ is a different story, and not even under review as yet – though I have a large pile of form rejections :-P.
As usual, there’s a story in it.
I already mentioned the book I co-wrote. It was published (Print on Demand) by the games company that eventually commissioned it’s completion – mostly for their players (though it can be read by non-players – or so they’ve told me :-P). Anyway, my co-author was interested to see if it might get to a wider audience. So I wrote a Query for it.
I’d never written a Query. You can only guess how bad it was :-).
Anyway, I wanted to find out how awful the Query was (I had my suspicions). So I sent it to a well known Query Critique site run by a well known Agent. But I wanted to grab her attention, to get at least her eye. So I wrote a cover email. And I write it in a tone – well, I used the Idiot persona. I kept it (I hoped) light, amusing – and blamed me in advance for all its faults.
It worked. She published the Query. And quite rightly savaged it :-). Tore it to shreds. But – she loved the cover letter.
So I looked at the Voice, the name – and Segorian was born.
‘Road like a river’ – not even under review yet – was different. I was chopping spices and vegetables for dinner. For some reason an image came into my head of a truck, driving down a dark road. I knew the driver. I knew what he did. I knew why he did it. I knew he picked up hitchhikers – and I knew why anybody he picked up was never seen again.
I wrote the Prologue to Road in about ten minutes after dinner. It wasn’t a Prologue then. But it niggled me. So I typed some more…
It’s mostly like that. A concept. A point in time thought – and lots of late night keyboard bashing :-).

11: What are you currently working on?

I have a sequel to CoT – ‘A Not Summer Night’s Scream’ - part done (I may even finish it if enough people like CoT :-P). I have a possible free give-away novella in progress – I wanted to write a main character totally without sympathetic or positive attributes, then give the reader a reason to connect with him anyway – but not until the end. Jack Shadow is the result – or will be. And ‘Road like a river’ is complete and currently undergoing beta reads/ edits – it’s about a former ferryman who traded his boat for a truck. Well, maybe a bit more than that :-).

12. Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you?

I’m left handed, and right footed. The night I was born, both Aries and Taurus were trying to take over the zodiac. But the result isn’t their fault – that’s all mine.
My name’s Graeme Smith. I used to work on a psychiatric ward. Now I write about people who believe in magic and dragons – and who live where the crazy folk are the ones who don’t. I’d like to thank everybody reading for giving me these minutes of their lives, and you for giving me the opportunity to take those minutes from them.


            Let me introduce myself. I’m an Idiot.
This wouldn’t be news to anybody who knows me, apart from my mother. She believes me to be an incredible idiot, and would be amazed I’d been able to improve to just 'idiot'. Her view is probably more accurate, as she's known me longer.
            If I'm going to be totally honest (a bad habit I’m trying to break), Idiot is but one of my names. To the Elves, I’m 'Oh-god-it-eez-eem-aygayn'. To the dwarves I’m 'Bugger-lock-the-door-and-keep-quiet-he-might-go-away'. To the Halflings - actually, I don't know what the Halflings call me. I can't ask. They have a restraining order, and really good lawyers. With writs. With nails in.
            But still, I’m an Idiot. And not unhappy with that. It's a well paying job with no heavy lifting.
            Job? Sorry. I can see you're confused. As you can tell, I'm not very good at this. Let me start again.
            Segorian Anderson. Royal Idiot. At your service. Well. Not at your service. At the Queen's service. And gods above, every ruler needs an Idiot. Queen Sonea? She has me.
            That’s Queen Sonea of Peladon. Or Sonea, Queen of Peladon. I can never remember the proper form. I’ll get exiled for it one day.
            No. I'm not the Jester. Not the Fool. I don't wear motley (whatever motley may be) and I don’t tell complicated jokes that nobody understands, giving me an excuse to bash them on the head with a pig's bladder. Besides, that's a different union.
            I'm an Idiot.
            Whenever something goes wrong, there has to be somebody to blame. When a visiting dignitary has wine spilled down their tunic - some idiot spilt it. When the generals lose a battle - some idiot read their plans wrong. When the Royal Pageant starts out on a bright sunny day, and the bright sun turns to dark clouds, and the dark clouds to hissing pourin.... Oh. I forgot. Nobody cares about the weather report. Anyway. Some idiot wrote down the wrong day in the Royal Calendar.
            I'm the Idiot.
            When the call comes, the Queen's people pull out something relevant. A servant's tabard, perhaps a Colonel's uniform - and I go to my duty. I stand where I must stand. Some people shout at me for a while, and I'm banished from the Kingdom forever for my grievous sins. The offended parties feel vindicated, and nobody important has to suffer unduly. I accept my exile, at least as far as the back door to the castle, and I slip inside. To wait. For the next time. Because everybody needs an Idiot.
            Like I said. It's a well paying job. And no heavy lifting. Or it was. Until the dragon...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Excerpt from May I Have this Dance

Available from MuseItUp Publishing http://bit.ly/MayIHaveThisDance

Elizabeth sat in the beauty shop the next afternoon listening to the Lakeview ‘elite’ discuss Danny. Why were they so against him?
“Disgraceful, if you ask me,” old Mrs. Nelson said. “Why Mildred would take on a boy like that....” She shook her head and clucked her tongue.
 “It’d be different if he was really her nephew, but a son of an old school friend.” Mrs. Leonard added her two cents. “Just because his mother died while he was in high school.”
“I heard she left him penniless to boot, not that Nora had much to begin with. Honestly, I don’t know why Mildred took up with Nora Sullivan. She didn’t even come from the right stock.” Mrs. Nelson crossed her arms across her ample breast.
Elizabeth swore Mrs. Nelson was the town’s biggest gossip and busybody, yet couldn’t stop herself from listening to every word the old ladies said.
The way Mrs. Nelson’s lips pursed made her look like she sucked on lemons. Crabby old biddy. Poor Danny didn’t stand a chance with this group. Unfortunately, Elizabeth knew her father felt the same way as these women. Malicious slander that’s all it was, simply because he hadn’t been born on the ‘right side’ of the tracks.
“Well, Nora married well and Mildred took a liking to her. Heaven knows why. Of course Mildred isn’t like the rest of us anyway. She always did like the commoners.” Mrs. Leonard fluffed her hair.
“Now, ladies,” Lily said. “Mildred is his godmother. She took him under her wing and sent him to college. I’d say that’s pretty admirable.”
Elizabeth always liked Lily. Sure, she owned the beauty shop, but it was just a hobby to her. Wasn’t like she had to work; Lily did it for fun.
“Admirable, ha! Well now she’s invited him to spend the summer. Mildred doesn’t understand you can’t teach refinement in a summer. That’s something you’re born to.” Mrs. Nelson was the last one Elizabeth heard since Lily put her under the hair dryer.
Stupid, old crows. Right stock, they sounded like her father. As if Danny was a horse being inspected.
Just the other day she heard her father tell someone that he thought Danny was a scalawag. He even went so far as to say Danny took advantage of Mrs. James’s kindness. Her father always used old-fashioned words and phrases. Elizabeth thought he should have lived in the last century instead of this one with his outdated ideas. He would have fit well in the Victorian era. Didn’t realize things were different now. Her father was so preoccupied with society—he missed out on seeing people for who they were, instead of who they were related to, or how much money they had.
She wished her mother were still alive, she’d tell these biddies a thing or two. Mother took people at face value, never mind their worth. Sometimes, Elizabeth wondered what her mother saw in her father. They had totally different views on life.