Wednesday, May 20, 2015

From sweet to OMG don’t tell my mother I wrote that

By Killarney Sheffield (Guest Blogger)

As an author it’s all about the journey, not about where you are going, but how you get there. I started out 10 years ago as a stay at home mom of five. Writing took place mostly in the evening when the little ones were in bed. Why did I write? Well, because I had to, I needed to, it was a way to keep my sanity in a house full of kiddie chaos. I was inspired by an author whom I loved and read everything she ever wrote, Kathleen Woodwiss. I started out writing sweet and a little spicy historical romances, and as strange as it sounds saw my dream of being published in 2010 become a reality with my third ever manuscript. The strange part? That contract was followed by ones for my second manuscript and then my first, kind of a reverse play if you will.

The more I wrote the more I found myself wanting to explore more than just sweet romances. I dabbled with a short erotica and an all most over the mainstream line historical, The Courtesan, but never really attempted a full on erotic novel until 50 Shades Of Grey came out. I wasn’t inspired to write an erotica by the hype or the money, rather because (and I apologize if this offends anyone), I hated the series. Yes, I hated 50 Shades of Grey. I as a reader and an author had three major issues with the series; 1) A 21 yr old virgin in this day and age? Okay, not impossible, but highly unlikely. 2) The heroine had no driving force to sign a sex contract and to me a virginal curiosity just wasn’t enough. 3) What normal woman falls for a guy that screwed up??? I’m sure if the man wasn’t a billionaire no woman, or reader, would have given him a second look… and I don’t personally know anyone shallow enough to put up with creepy for money. So basically I wrote my own 95,000 word version of 50 Shades set in the regency period titled SINGED.

SINGED was supposed to release in May, however, due to the success of a couple of my historical romances right now, including a sweet one entitled, Love’s Magic, 2015 RONE award nominee, it has been delayed until fall. Until then how about a sneak, unedited peek at SINGED?

Chapter One
Nice young ladies don’t sneak out when they are supposed to be in bed. The thought sticks in my mind. Well, perhaps I am not such a nice young lady, at least not beneath my obedient debutante exterior… With an un-lady-like snort I push the sentiment from my head. The streets of the city still flirt with shadows at this hour and I need to be careful to keep my wits about me as I make my way along them. Cory's waiting. His penned note is clipped, filled with something sinister I can't quite put my fingers on. It simply says, 'Must meet. Please come to Colt's Foot Inn, Hyde Street'. There is trouble. I can sense it. My twin and I always sense each other's feelings. My footsteps echo across the cobblestones as I round the corner. Up ahead is the marker to the Colt's Foot Inn. My father would be furious if he knew I was out at this hour and without a chaperone. Something moves behind me. It's not an audible noise, more of a feeling someone or something is there. My heart pounds in my chest. No one but Cory knows I'm out. A hasty glance over my shoulder picks up a dark form. It's tall and frightening. Terror quickens my steps. I'm running now, running to the Inn. In the door I burst, breath puffing in white clouds of steam. The door slams shut behind me and I lean against it. The tavern keeper looks up and nods. I'll be safe here. A quick scan of the room shows I am the only one here, besides the barkeep that is.
“I am looking for Cory Sexton, good sir. Is he here?”
The man jerks his head in the direction of the stairs. “He paid for room five last eve.”
Frowning I make for the stairs, taking them two at a time in a most un-lady-like fashion, much to my mother's horror and my father's chagrin, were they to witness it. The hallway at the top of the stairs has a musty, sour ale odor to it. Wrinkling my nose I glance at the numbers on the doors in passing. Again, my father would be disgusted to see me in such a rundown establishment as this one. An earl's daughter should not be seen in such a place, even attired in a demure dark blue velvet walking dress. My father would be dismayed to see his only son in such a place too, but then again it has been almost a year since he's seen Cory. The two always had a volatile relationship. A year ago they had the argument to end all arguments. Cory left and my father refused to utter his name again. To this day I have no idea what the disagreement was even about, neither will tell me. It is not a woman's concern. We must not strain our pretty little heads with a man's problems. Men can be so foolish sometimes.
Catching the number 5 painted in a faded, crooked splatter across a door to my right I stop and knock on it. The sound echoes. When no one answers I try again and tap my slipper on the worn red carpet. Has he forgotten he summoned me? Perhaps he has gone back to sleep. Impatient with his rudeness I try the knob. It twists easily in my hand. Upon opening the door I am greeted with chaos. My gasp fills the room. The floor is littered with parchment, clothing, ink pots and linen. The cot in the corner is sliced open and the straw ticking yanked out in a heap at the foot of it. Cory is nowhere to be seen. Fear prickles the hairs on my neck. Where is my brother? Has something terrible happened to him?
A book lying open spine up catches my eye. I cross the room and pick it up. Flipping it over I realize it is a journal of sorts. In my brother's spiky hand is written the date and a simple entry.
February, 12th 1820. A toast to radical socialism. Spencean Philanthropists.
The Spencean Philanthropists is none other than a group of radical socialism and violent republicans. It's rumored it is run by a man named Arthur Thistlewood. Just who he is no one seems to know. What side is my brother on? Though one would assume he is on the side of our sovereign king I am not so sure. I have long suspected he may have an interest in a new government. To support this openly means death if you are caught, either by the hangman's noose or the guillotine. Either way, dead is dead.
There is only one page in the journal. Where the rest should be are jagged edges, giving evidence that someone didn't want anyone else to read the previous entries. It is a mystery that would make the great Scotland Yard wonder, though I suppose they are much too busy hunting down criminal masterminds to bother with the writings of one young heir to the Sexton fortune.
Something shiny on the bare floor under the small window garners my attention. Upon inspection I find my brother's emerald stick pin. He loves this pin. It is his favorite because it matches my eyes, our eyes. Picking it up I twirl it around in my fingers and it glitters against my white gloves. He wouldn't leave without it, not intentionally. Fear so consuming rolls through my limbs. Closing my eyes I clutch the pin to my breast and will it away. “What have you done, Cory?”
The curtain billows in the morning breeze as I open my eyes. Stepping to the sill and leaning out I discover a trail of broken branches and vines leading to the ground. Someone's entry ... or exit. Good deduction Victoria, Scotland Yard would be proud. A lantern keeper strolls down the cobblestones bathed in the rosy glow of the sun starting to slip above the horizon. One by one he snuffs the wicks in each dome atop the tall lamp posts. I must get home before father or one of the maids discovers me gone.
At the bottom of the stairs I pause, looking for the barkeep. He enters the room from a curtained off area in back. “My brother, Lord Sexton, is not in his room. Did you see him leave? Did he say when he would be back?”
He shakes his head. “I don't keep tabs on me customers, miss.”
“Could I leave a message for him?”
“Ye could, and 'e'll get it if'n I remember.”
Frowning I cross the room to the bar. “Have you perhaps a quill, paper and ink?”
“Nope. No need fer such things. I can't read nor write.”
“I see.” The man is uneducated and coarse, probably of no mind to help me either. “How long did my brother rent the room?”
A smirk lingers on his lips. “'Till the end of the month. Now, ifn you'll excuse me, I've got things t' do.” With that he turns and disappears once more behind the curtain.
The only thing to do is head home. Later, when no one is about during afternoon retirement I can send a note around to my brother and hope he answers. Perhaps there is even another message awaiting my return at my father's townhouse. I pray there is.
The journey back to the well to do homes is uneventful. Except for a few curious stares no one seems to bother with a well-dressed woman about at such an uncivilized hour. Thankfully. My courage is flagging. When the townhouse looms ahead of me, all red brick and sandstone against the tangerine sky a sigh slips from me. I'm home. My brother is not.
Easing through the door I close it as soft as possible behind and tiptoe up the main staircase. Before long I step into my safe and protected room. Pink frills adorn everything, from the deep pink velvet bedspread, to the matching canopy and on the trim of all the paler pink cloths draping the tables. Even the carpet is a lighter shade. Why? The designer designed it that way. My tastes have not really been reflected here for I am not the lady of the house. My mother is, Lady Gwendolyn Sexton.
As quick as possible I slip off my cloak and out of my gown, hanging them neatly in the amour. It wouldn't be good to be caught sneaking back in. Good thing I left off that annoying and much hated whalebone corset my maid insists I wear each day. I'd never get it off myself, or on for that matter. After donning my nightdress I slide between the sheets, make myself comfortable and try for a few hours more sleep before it is time to greet the day. According to mother, a proper lady does not rise before ten.
No, not now. Sleep is still calling.
“Miss. It is time to rise. Your breakfast is here.”
Groaning I roll over. I know ladies aren't supposed to make inappropriate noises like moaning, groaning or grunting. Not in public anyway. After sitting up she places a tray across my lap containing a cup of hot chocolate, a coddled egg and half a dozen buttery toast fingers. I swear the mice in the pantry are better fed. Good thing I have my own personal stash of treats and sweets hidden in the trunk in the amour. Besides, the cook likes me and often slips me extra rations when mother is not around. It is lucky women don't starve to death, though I have seen many faint due to corsets that are too tight. Sometimes I wish I was born without a silver spoon in my mouth. My maid Mary doesn't have to wear a corset, go to silly parties, starve herself or submit to dozens of costume changes a day. On the other hand she works so many hours in a day I doubt she has anytime for such pursuits. And did I forget she is able to marry for love? Those of the 'ton' don't marry for love. We marry for wealth and social status. I don't know anyone who actually married someone they love, most hardly even know each other before tying the nuptial knot. All this I mull over while eating my meager meal. Most girls my age are worried about fashion plates, beaus and what they will wear to the next ball …
Blinking I put aside my thoughts and turn my attention to the maid. “Yes Mary?”
“Would you prefer the pink muslin or the yellow satin this morning?”
Rolling my eyes I shrug. “Which ever you think, Mary.”
“Yes, miss.”
She goes to the amour and returns with the pink muslin. Emerald eyes and rich chestnut hair go with everything. Unlike Mary's mop of wild red curls she tries to hide under her odd looking white cap. With a roll of my eyes I shove the tray away and it is time to dress. It takes the usual hour to be primped, curled, pinched, corseted and dressed. To make matters worse my first clothing change is before noon tea, in two hours. After dressing I head downstairs to the small family parlor. Mother will be there by now, no doubt fretting because I am ten minutes late ... as usual.
“Victoria, you are tardy, my dear,” my mother scolds the second I set foot in the room.
“Yes mother. I am sorry.” Suitably chastised I take my seat in front of the easel. My paintings are ... not terrible. Honestly, I haven't much talent as far as that is concerned. My drawings are basic and the color slopped on them too bright and sometimes garish. The painting instructor tried hard, I'll give him that. Still, a well-bred lady should be able to paint, embroider, dance, play an instrument and of course bore a gentleman to near death with simple, inane chatter. It also helps if you can master a charming smile and eyelash batting. In my case, well, I have to admit I am quite good at playing the pianoforte. The music teacher is the only one of the instructors who did not require extra payment to ... nurture my un-talents.
“Good morning, my dears,” father says and saunters into the room carrying his newspaper. I enjoy spending time with father. Sometimes he understands me, or maybe he just humors me.
“Good morning, Father.”
He pauses and kisses my cheek before moving on to kiss mother's hand. Then he settles into his favorite chair to read the paper. The minutes tick by in time with the clock on the mantle. The swish of mother's needle and thread, the crinkle of father's paper and the scratch of my charcoal stick on the canvas as I create my newest master piece ... of manure. Oops, did I just think that? Well, it’s not as if I said it out loud.
My attention shifts from the bowl of sad looking fruit I'm sketching to the door as the butler arrives. Something to break the tediousness of the morning would be most welcome, a letter, an invite to a party, anything.
“Excuse me, my lord. There is a Lord Dominic Davil here to see you.”
Father puts away his paper. “Show him in, Jeffries.”
Into the parlor and my life walks the most beautiful man I have ever seen. Men aren't supposed to be beautiful, but this one is. He is a modern 1820s version of Adonis. Dark and mysterious are the first two words that come to mind as his gaze settles on me. Wavy black hair neatly tied back with a puce ribbon, to accentuate a strong square jaw, unmarred by stubble or hair rises to full lips, wide cheek bones and an aristocratic nose. A well cut black coat studded with glittering ruby like buttons stretches over broad shoulders and matching trousers without a visible crease anywhere mold his God like torso, hips and thighs. All this topped with Hessian boots polished to an almost glowing shine. Adonis. I allow my stare to travel back up his impeccable dress to his face and catch the glint in his eye. Is it amusement at my slack jawed admiration? Yes and no, I think. There is something dangerous about his deep blue, almost black eyed attention. A shiver trails icy fingers down my spine. Deliciously dangerous. That gaze promises something, wicked, hungry and intoxicating.
The lord in question looks away, a slight smirk on his lips and crosses to my mother. “Good afternoon, Lady Sexton.” He gives an elegant bow and kisses my mother's hand. I notice she blushes and squirms slightly in her chair, eyes wide and smitten. He releases her hand and turns away. “Lord Sexton. I have come bearing news.”
Father rises to his feet and sets aside his paper. “Good afternoon, Lord Davil.”
Blinking I look away, the spell broken by my father's greeting. My heart beats an aroused tattoo against my chest and my breath is coming in small gasps. Does Lord Dominic Davil have this effect on every woman he meets? I hope not.
Father holds out his hand to me. “Have you met my daughter, Victoria?”
Rising with as much grace as I can muster I cross the couple steps to him on shaky limbs.
Warm fingers caress mine in a light grip, his thumb stroking the back of my knuckles. “Charmed to meet you, Miss Sexton.”
Someone is charmed and I suspect it is not him, but rather only the women in the room. I fight the urge to moan and sigh, “Oh, my,” instead in a breathy whisper.
This time his lips turn up in a quirky grin. The scoundrel is certainly aware of the effects he has on women. His lips descend to brush my hand and I almost squeal as the rake twirls his warm tongue against the skin unbeknownst to my father. He releases my hand at the hitch in my breath and straightens. A cheeky glint in his eyes shows he approves of my reaction. Heat creeps up my neck to my cheeks. I sidle a quick glance at mother. Her lips are pressed into a thin line. Did she catch his inappropriate gesture, or did he do the same thing to her and she suspects?
“Shall we retire to my study, Lord Davil?”
Regret at the stranger's leaving forms and I return to my seat as he tips his head in acquiescence. He follows father to the door, but pauses on the threshold of the room and fixes his cool gaze on me. “Until we meet again, Miss Sexton.”
Is it just me, or does my name roll off his tongue in a blatantly seductive way? Before I can reply he's gone. I glance at my mother.
Her eyes sparkle with anger and her lips are still pressed in a thin line. “Victoria Sexton, I am appalled! Your performance was disgraceful.”
Head bowed I bite my lip. My performance? What about his? “Yes, mother.” There is no point in arguing. Last time I pressed my luck I was confined to my room for the Wellsbrook hunt. All because I complained it wasn't fair I could not ride father's stallion Windwalker in it. Women do not ride unmannerly stallions she scolded. Looking back I suppose I shouldn't have pressed my luck by retorting Windwalker had more manners than some of the so called gentleman attending. Me and my big mouth. It gets me in trouble all the time.
Glancing at the mantle clock I smother a groan. It is another hour yet before I can be excused to change again.

About Me

Well, before becoming a published author I used to be a natural horsemanship trainer, farrier and English & Western riding coach. I currently live on a Canadian cattle ranch with my family, though one day have dreams of seeing the world and moving to Australia. I am still as passionate about my horses as my writing but have to work hard to balance the two these days. Which is my greatest joy? Probably my registered Thoroughbred stallion 'Stamp de Gold' whom I lovingly refer to as 'Love Monkey'. In a horse person's life there comes that one very special equine who seems to know exactly what you want and what you are thinking. I have been blessed with 2 of those amazing creatures over my years of owning, training and showing, my dear departed 'Melderman' and 'Stamp de Gold'. For all those 'horsey' readers and authors out there I also have a blog dedicated to all kinds of horse info which you can find on my links page. 

1 comment:

Tig said...

I do believe I will be purchasing singed when it comes out!! Is there a way of getting an alert so I can leap to Amazon??

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