Monday, March 7, 2011

Catch Me If You Can Blogfest

Thank you to Kristina at KayKay's Corner for hosting this blofest.

The premise:
On Monday March 7, post the first 550 words (or less) of your WIP on your blog.

Hop around on the 7th and 8th to spread the love to the other participants. Feel free to post an updated version after you've gotten some suggestions. Remember: The more comment love you give, the more will come back to you :)
Below is the first 553 words from my work in progress, Courtly Abandon.  Happy reading!  I look forward to seeing what the other participants have posted.

Note: I made some changes based on the comments.  The changes w/in the excerpt are in bold.

Holme LeSeiur, Nottinghamshire, 1573
Jane hefted her full hoopskirts and sprinted across the orchard as fast as she could.  Rufus, the elderly hound, probably thought she was playing but this was not a game.  No, she had to get to the split log fence at the edge of the orchard.  Rufus, the elderly hound and her companion this morning, did his best to lope wide circles around her. She was glad he was enjoying himself, but prayed he would not trip her. She had to get to the split log fence at the edge of the orchard without becoming disheveled.  Arriving at the property line, she realized it might already be too late.
Out of breath, she leaned against a thick apple-tree trunk and ran a smoothing hand over her artfully tousled blond curls and net coif.  She had looked both ladylike and wanton when she left the house.  Now, she hoped her exertion had brought a rosy glow to her cheeks that would make any hot blooded man think of bedding her.  Of course Sir William, Earl of Kingsley, was not any man.  He was the man she was going to marry.  She would make him a wonderful wife – he just did not know it yet.  More interested in farming, he had not even noticed her flirtations.  At least she hoped that was all it was.  She could not abide being married to a stupid man.
Her first husband had been sharp witted.  Though quite a bit older than she, he had treated her well and she had been fond of him.  She had also enjoyed her widowhood.  Immensely.  But, it was time to marry again and Lord Kinglsey was convenient, comely, and amiable enough. 
He frequently made a morning round of his lands.  Jane liked to make herself visible whenever possible.  Bringing the dog along had been a stroke of genius – should Lord Kingsley happen to pass by, he would see her as a lovely young woman, full of life, delighting in country pleasures.  What man could resist such an image?
Jane straightened her emerald green silk skirts and leaned back against the tree in a nonchalant pose.  Lord Kinglsey would never know the encounter was staged.  And, Jane looked down to make sure both breasts were still contained, he would get an eyeful.
She waited, adjusting her position a few times.  Perhaps she had been too late?  Rufus’ bark made her jump.
“Mistress Radclyffe,” the Earl of Kingsley’s called out a greeting, “What a pleasure to see you out so early.”  He remained astride.  Though his voice was courteous, there was no sign of eagerness to see her. 
“I love spring mornings and the scent of the world coming alive.  Everything is so… fertile.  The earth is ripe.”  Nicely done.  Honest, suggestive, and sure to play to his interests. 
            The earl jumped off his horse, but kept hold of the reigns as he toed the ground, careful not to get mud on his boots.  “Right now I smell dung.”  He sniffed the air.
Dung?  Really?  Earl or not, the man could use a lesson in courtly manners.
“It appears that the LeSeiur’s have already had this ground turned with mulch.  Good of them to be so proactive.  The orchard should yield a fine crop.”
            Jane watched his face as he cast a speculative eye over the empty branches of the apple trees.  Lord Kinglsey ran a fine estate, always conscientious of the tenants and almost obsessive in his desire to improve his own knowledge of agriculture.  She admired his devotion, but she certainly hoped that once they were wed he would pay her some attention. 

Don't forget to sign up for my Paint it Purple Blogfest by 3/25!


Anonymous said...

I'm intrigued to find out why "it's time" to marry again. Good job showing Jane go through the motions to 'catch' the Earl's attention.

Heather M. Gardner said...

I love a woman who knows what she wants. I would like to know more about Sir William.
I noticed one little error: Out breath, she leaned.
Thanks for sharing.

Zan Marie said...

Jane definitely wants to catch him, but once she does, will she want to keep him? One has to wonder. Good start.

BTW, I'm following you now. I love Kristina's blogfest. Hope to see you at my post.

Loralie Hall said...

Great job laying out an intelligent and (probably) manipulative woman. She knows what she wants and the best way to subtly get it.

I felt like the snippets about the hound were out of place - you mention he probably thinks she's playing which I would have rather seen shown, and then not until later tell us that he came with her. But you use such vivid description that it should be easy to fix. Great job :-)

Anonymous said...

I felt Jane's disappointment! Great read, I'm dying to know more :)

Lady A x

Kristina Fugate said...

I'm very intrigued with Jane. She seems like a strong-minded woman, and that's always very refreshing. I'd love to read more!

Thanks for sharing :)

Francesca said...

I do like how intelligent your MC seems -- which makes me wonder why she is even giving the time of DAY to this guy, never mind so much forward planning and decolletage. Perhaps he needs to be much richer? ;) something. There's not enough justification at the moment. Also, I agree that since the dog was part of the plan from the outset, he needs to be treated a bit differently at the start - less incidentally.

Nevertheless, I truly did want to keep reading to see when/if this gormless lord was going to see the dainty dish placed before him.

Marie Rearden said...

She's so wicked. :) Very nice.

I'm not a big fan of the name Jane, as it takes me straight to Pride and Predjudice, but your Jane...well, did she kill her first husband? Is this new sugar daddy next on her list? I'd definitely read on to find out, but maybe start with a catching line. "It smells of dung," would pop as a first sentence maybe.

Keep writing!


Susan Kane said...

I love the action created at the very beginning, how the atmosphere came from the events, not the other way around. Jane is definitely a woman to keep an eye on, as she pursues her goal.

Colene Murphy said...

Wow! Well done! I love it and was totally hooked from the beginning!

Erin Kane Spock said...

My rewrite of the first paragraphs based on the comments above:

Jane hefted her full hoopskirt and sprinted across the orchard as fast as she could. Rufus, the elderly hound and her companion this morning, did his best to lope wide circles around her, sure this was some game. She was glad he was enjoying himself, but prayed he would not trip her. She had to get to the split log fence at the edge of the orchard without being disheveled. Arriving at the property line, she realized it might already be too late.

(by the way, Rufus does end up tripping her later)


Erin Kane Spock said...

Oh, strike "sure this was some game."

Unknown said...

LOL nice try your MC staged there, and what an oblivious duke! Is she sure she wants him? Why exactly does she want him?

READ: I'm curious, which is always a good thing in a reader I think!

Anonymous said...

I like the revised first paragraph.

Anonymous said...

I like the revised first paragraph.

Jodi Henry said...

Oh, I like this. It's very suggestive and I love that the MC is a woman who knows what she wants and when she wants it.

Out to catch a man! Love it.


Raquel Byrnes said...

I like the changes you've made. Still one of my favorite openings of a book. She's so clearly represented here.

N. R. Williams said...

I loved it. I think he doesn't have a clue and she has her work cut out for her. Since you are interested in suggestions, I wondered and do not know about the hooped skirts. I assume this is a historical piece and you want to be accurate. Last Sept. at the Colorado Gold Conference I met a costume designer who has offered to help us writers out. Her link is at the bottom of my blog on the left hand side. She can tell you if hoops were in during this time period. Of course, you may already know that.
N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium, Special .99 through April 30

Erin Kane Spock said...

I do know quite a bit about hoops. I chose, in this book, not to call refer to them as farthingales because of beta experiences. I also decided, in this scene, not to mention the multiple layers in order for the scene to play faster. Do you think this is a mistake? It's always a hard call to sacrifice authenticity for readability.
I did not see the link, btw.

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