Taste Me, Tempt Me! Or, Linotte Gets Published

So…I have a big announcement! Drumroll! Are you ready?

Tomorrow is the release day for the romance anthology Taste Me, Tempt Me: 8 Tales of Sweet & Spicy Romance. And guess what? I have a short story published in it: “Trouble with Trifles,” by Madeleine Keane.

Cover of Taste Me Tempt Me

Cover of Taste Me, Tempt Me. Image via Amazon.

And guess what else? All proceeds of Taste Me, Tempt Me go to America’s Second Harvest and Food Banks Canada! So what are you waiting for? Grab your copy and help feed the hungry! I would say that’s a win-win right there!

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WIP Wednesday – from The Painted Sea

Happy Wednesday! I’m trying to blog more, since that’s one of my New Year’s Resolutions, and I’m starting off with an excerpt from the WIP. I hope you like it!


He carefully put down his goblet of wine and stared at her with those eyes that seemed to pierce through to the darkest corners of her heart. “Mademoiselle, are you implying that it was my men who attacked the Esperance and killed all those aboard, except you, who, through happenstance, was lucky enough to survive?”

:”I am, Captain,” Aimee replied, lifting her chin and daring to return his icy stare with her own.

He averted his eyes from hers, tucking into his dinner with great zeal. Aimee picked at what was on her plate and was finally able to eat most of her pork loin, potatoes dauphinois, and haricots verts. Smee filled the goblet with more wine. Aimee sipped it cautiously, watching as the captain reached for more grapes. The captain looked at her as picked a small branch from the bunch and put it on his plate.

“You seem very convinced of this, mademoiselle,” he stated. “Would you stake your lfie on what you believe?”

“I don’t wish to go that far,” Aimee said. “But if i had to, I would make it known to the French authorities, and you would be condemned to hang.”

“Ah, but we are no longer in France, mademoiselle!” Hook reminded her. “The law of Neverland is based on the whims of a child, and anything else in the island beyond would be brought to the Faerie Queen for a final judgment!”

Aimee scowled as Hook’s voice took on a tone of amusement. Hook seemed to see that the game was drawing to an end. “Mademoiselle,” he said, “allow me to tell you that it was not my crew who attacked the Esperance and killed all of the poor souls aboard. We came upon the ship, perhaps some hours after Peter Pan had taken you. We buried the bodies of those who had fallen at sea, foraged what we could from the ship, and set it afire so that whatever had gotten to it first would not use it to lure other ships to their doom.”

Aimee watched Hook’s face grow graver as he told the tale. He asked Smee for more wine, and the bosun refilled both of their goblets.

“Do you know who might have taken the Esperance and killed everyone aboard?” Aimee said quietly, her heartbeat quickening as she remembered the fear that had consumed her that day.

“‘T’wouldn’t be a question of who, mademoiselle, but what sort of creatures took it, and why you were spared,” Hook replied.

“You saw what happened–what may have killed everyone else aboard?”

“I did not see the creatures themselves, but I did see their handiwork–and I can tell you that these are not creatures of our world…or even this one.”

“Then what do you think they are, Captain?”

“They are the creatures made from our worst nightmares, mademoiselle.”


And there it is! I will be updating the story on Wattpad a few times a week, so there is more to come!

Meet the Heroine: Aimee Dubucq de Rivery

Since the work in progress, a novel called The Painted Sea, is in its final stages, it’s only appropriate to introduce the heroine of the novel, who, believe it or not, was actually a real person, Aimee Dubucq de Rivery, a young Creole heiress who was lost at sea in the summer of 1788. There is actually much debate about the legend concerning her ultimate fate and whether or not she was actually even related to Empress Josephine.

A rendering of Aimee Dubucq de Rivery, artist unknown. Image via Wikipedia.

A rendering of Aimee Dubucq de Rivery, artist unknown. Image via Wikipedia.

Of course, since this is a fictional work, I’m going to go with the legend and assume that Aimee was a cousin of Josephine’s because it makes for a good story later on. And I’ve made sure to incorporate the dubious tale of young Yeyette and Aimee journeying to see the Obeah woman to have their fortunes read, but in a very different way, and without using “magical Negro” trope. It was well known that Josephine consulted tarot cards every now and again, and instead of an Obeah woman, it is Rose’s fictional  friend from court, another Creole woman married to a French nobleman, who can predict someone’s future by reading his or her palm. There has also been some debate regarding Aimee’s date of birth, since it seems there were two women in the Dubucq de Rivery family who bore the name Aimee, one born in 1763 and the other born in 1776. So I chose 1770 for my Aimee’s birth year, since it seems to be in the middle, and since it also makes things less problematic for the romance with our antihero.

Kirsten Dunst as Marie Antoinette

Kirsten Dunst as Marie Antoinette in the 2006 film. Image via Fanpop.

Of course my Aimee, being a Creole heiress who stands to inherit the prosperous sugarcane plantation her father, a minor nobleman by rank, left her, is very certain of her rank and carries a certain hauteur about her, but she also has a heart and is conscious of the plight of those who are not as fortunate as she is, and she possesses the intellect and education demanded of an eighteenth-century salonniere. Her return to France after her time in Faerie will be a rude awakening, as things are about to come to a head and erupt into revolution, but she will see it on the side of the aristocracy, as her story of her ordeal will capture the interest of Marie Antoinette and put her in the queen’s inner circle while her uncles and the Duc d’Orleans try to determine, with the help of the sailor-turned-foreman of the plantation in Martinique, just where Aimee had been and whether or not this sailor had been there before. And of course our antihero will somehow find himself embroiled in this intrigue.

Kirsten Dunst as Marie Antoinette

Kirsten Dunst as Marie Antoinette in the 2006 film. Image via Fanpop.

It was so easy to picture Kirsten Dunst as Aimee based on her portrayal of Marie Antoinette in the 2006 film. Not that Aimee is a manic pixie dream girl, but that she is a rather naive young woman who has had to hold her own during her time in Faerie and who must regain her footing in the French court and rebuff her uncles’ and the Duc d’Orleans’ efforts to use her as a pawn in the intrigue they are planning. And of course our antihero, who has yet to be introduced, will find himself embroiled in all of this in that summer of 1789.

The first few chapters of The Painted Sea are up on Wattpad. I will post a link to it soon, as well as post whom I’ve “cast” as the other characters in the novel.

 

 

 

 

 

Going Back to an Old Project

Edith Wharton.

Edith Wharton writing. Image via www.newyorker.com.

So I suppose I should cut to the chase and post the link to my current project, A Stranger Called Deathwhich is posted up at Wattpad and which I will be updating regularly.

Committing yourself to a new project is hard, particularly when you have so many ideas that pop up in your head at once at the most inopportune times.  It’s so hard to commit to a project when all of them seem so promising.

But this year I really want to finish what I started.  I’ve been looking at old drafts of something I had started working on last year about the Whitechapel murders, spiritualism, and ghosts.  It was going to be a supernatural thriller, and the idea was good, but I got lost in the middle as to how to execute it.

So I put the draft away and stepped back to work on other things.  And then it hit me: When you’re telling a story, you need to provide some exposition on who your characters are, where they came from, and how they got to where the story begins.  I was having a lot of trouble with executing this in what I called the Ripper project, because the heroine, Lucy, has a complicated, if not scandalous, past, which accounts for her sudden arrival in London to stay with her sister Kitty.  The Whitechapel murders can, of course, provide for a rather convoluted and compelling plot themselves, and somehow going through those months of the autumn of terror while slowly revealing what happened to Lucy back in New York City and her reasons for leaving didn’t seem to work well together.  They really were two different stories that needed to be told at two different times.

I decided it would be better to start with Lucy’s story and what occurs in New York.  So I started A Stranger Called Death, and which I am bound and determined to finish now that I have a series planned out.

Mademoiselle de St. Leon and Demimondaine are still in the works as well, but A Stranger Called Death is writing itself at the moment, so I am just letting it!

Writing Update and an Excerpt

So just a little writing update on the Marie Duplessis project:

  • I am really excited about this and it’s really starting to take off.  I used some quotes from the new bio about her as prompts and have built some of my scenes around that.
  • I was able to insert the male character, Oscar, as someone who had had a past affair with Marie.  There was one man simply identified as Prince Paul who was close with Liszt.  In my novel, Oscar is Prince Paul.
  • Based on reading Marie’s letters and conversations featured in the bio, I have her voice and character down quite well, I think.
  • I’m really excited about writing a scene at Marie’s salon with Oscar, Marie, Alfred Musset, and Lola Montez.
  • Mademoiselle de St. Leon is coming along nicely, but it’s just so much research like the Whitechapel murders novel.  Of course, since there are so many people who know so much about that period, you want to make sure everything is right and you seek out everything you can, and then all of it turns into information overload.  
  • Of course the Marie Duplessis is about a jaded, worldly vampire who meets the enchanting Marie Duplessis, who would die of tuberculosis.  Or did she?
  • If you think about it, the salons of the Parisian demimonde would have been the place to be in the 1840s, particularly for our Oscar.  They would provide a temporary distraction from his ennui.  
  • The building on the boulevard de la Madeleine where Marie lived and died still stands.  I’ll see if I can find a picture of it.

And the excerpt:

Prompt: 

Tuberculosis in its final stages is anything but romantic….Almost all Marie’s friends had abandoned her, and watching Paris life go on in the street below her window, she felt as solitary as Marguerite. “I saw some faces I knew. They passed rapidly, joyous and carefree, but not one lifted his eyes to my window.”

Julie Kavanagh, The Girl Who Loved Camellias

 

 

When Oscar returned to Paris that fall, he wrote to Marie. It was a foolish thing to do, he knew, and he didn’t doubt that he would hear no end of it from the others of his kind in Paris, but he could not stay away.

He did not go anywhere near the boulevard de la Madeleine until he heard from her. The letter came a few days after he had sent her his, and once he opened it, he could detect the smell of laudanum, fever, and approaching death underneath the light scent of the l’Eau de Harem cologne he had come to associate with her. The script was as fluid and elegant as always, but it seemed lighter, as though written by a weaker hand.

My dear Oscar,

How kind of you to write to me on your return to Paris. I’ve missed you so; I would come to call on you, but alas, I am not well. But you might call upon me if you wish. We will drink champagne and talk of Spa and Brussels and how lovely it all was, and you’ll be witty as always and make me laugh. I’ve had more tears than laughter of late, Oscar. Please come to me.

Yours,

MD.

The next evening he went to her, bearing a bouquet of orchids and a bottle of champagne, as she had spoken of in her letter. The maid Clothilde let him in, casting a wary eye upon him as he handed her his top hat, his gloves, and walking stick. She set them aside and led him to the boudoir, where Marie lie upon the pink satin daybed, pale and wispy. She must have been dozing, for she roused herself once she had heard the door open and Clothilde’s gentle whisper of, “Madame, Monsieur Esterhazy is here.”

He was stricken by the sight of the ill Marie. Her dark eyes had lost their luster, and her face was pale and gaunt, yet he could see from the slight flush in her cheeks that she was feverish. She was no longer the vibrant, bewitching creature he had first seen on that first night at the Opera, no longer the laughing, demure coquette he had danced with this past summer in Brussels. It affected him deeply to see her this way; more so than had anything else in the centuries of his existence.

“Oscar.” Marie held out her hand to him, and he took it, kissing it. He could feel the heat of the fever upon his lips.

“Marie,” he murmured, and the sound was sadder than he meant it to be, but then he supposed that just as many of her friends and lovers who had come to visit her had said her name in the exact same fashion.

She coughed, hurriedly putting a handkerchief to her mouth to cover it. But there was no covering it up for him, the smell of blood and sputum and impending death…

“I’m sorry I’m not well,” she said, folding the handkerchief as surreptitiously as she could to conceal the blood she had coughed up. “I do wish we could go to the Comedie, or the Opera. When I’m better I would like to go.”

“If you would like to go, let me escort you,” he offered, and he thought he saw a gleam of both sadness and gratitude in her eyes. “Or,” he amended, “I can take you to the Opera ball, and I’ll dance with you all evening and not let another man have you, just like on that night in Brussels. All of the other young men were put out that they couldn’t have you, even your Aguado…”

“How jealous he was!” Marie said, leaning back on her pillows, a smile on her lips as she remembered that night. “And you told me you were sorry you had let me go.”

“Indeed I was,” he replied, smiling. “I don’t pride myself on being a foolish man, Marie, and I promise you that I won’t make the same mistake again.”

She laughed. “So you admit your mistake, Monsieur Fool?”

“I’ll indulge you and openly and honestly admit it,” he said, bowing his head in mock self-deprecation. She laughed again, but her laughter lapsed into another few moments of coughing. He rose to help support her so that she would remain sitting up, and once the cough had subsided, he helped her lie down once more against the pillows. He offered her his own handkerchief so that she could wipe the tears that had gathered in her eyes. Once she had collected herself, she turned to him with an expression of the utmost pain on her face.

“I shouldn’t have let you come see me,” she told him. “Hardly anyone visits any longer…except for Olympe and Romain now and again. Ned Perregaux has been here nearly every day this week, but I won’t see him. I don’t want to see him, because he is only looking to find the marriage license and then leave and let me die alone.” She wiped a few tears from her eyes and smiled wanly at Oscar. “That champagne you brought…why don’t we open it?”

“I think that would be a lovely idea,” he said to her, and he opened the champagne and poured it into two of her expensive crystal glasses. And just for a few moments, Marie Duplessis regained some of the brilliance that had faded away during the course of her illness, and Oscar remembered why he had fallen in love with her to begin with.

Newest Project: Mademoiselle de St. Leon

Image

Emma Watson. Image via talkaboutprom.com.

The newest project is something that I’ve been kicking around for a little while and one that I think I can see through while the stalled ones remain shelved.  It would be a sequel to William Godwin’s St. Leon, which was published in 1798 and chronicles the life of a 16th-century French nobleman who acquires the philosopher’s stone and uses it to create gold from other metals and to concoct elixir vitae and how his life basically goes downhill from there.  This would take place in the mid-eighteenth century in the French court at Versailles during the reign of Louis XV, a few years after the marriage of Dauphin Louis Auguste and Marie Antoinette.  Reginald de St. Leon, after spending almost two hundred years traveling Europe, has returned to France to see to the upbringing of the last surviving member of his family, Marguerite de St Leon.  While Margot has been away at convent school, St. Leon has made a place for himself in the court as someone who can loan money to hard-pressed aristocrats…for a price.

Of course his business dealings earn Margot a place in the dauphine’s household, but that’s when things begin to fall apart…and that’s when St. Leon flees, leaving the stone with Margot.  But that, of course, isn’t a good choice as her problems are only just beginning.

I picture Emma Watson as Margot de St Leon.  We’ve all seen her as a strong heroine, but she also has that air of charm and cleverness about her that would make her stand out to someone like young Marie Antoinette.  And yes, she could so pull off court attire.

I really want to draw from the eighteenth-century gothic novel (Matthew Lewis’s The Monk and Ann Radcliffe’s The Castle of Otranto) while writing this, but with a much stronger heroine who doesn’t really need a man to rescue her, though it’s nice to have someone help you navigate your way through the danger, isn’t it?  

The Metropolitan Museum of Art now has some of its publications online.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art now has some of its publications online.

Maybe I’m rather late to the party, but I just found out about this a few days ago and was thrilled, so I thought I would share.  The Metropolitan Museum of Art, starting this past October, has converted over 300 of its publications to ebooks, and they can either be read online or downloaded at no cost.  For anyone who is writing any type of historical fiction, the books in their collection can help immensely, as they not only explain the art of a specific time period, but also tie it in with what was going on in that part of the world at that time.  I’ve been all over the 18th-century and Napoleonic France publications, as well as some of those dealing with the late Victorian period.  Happy reading!