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Fiction Friday: Midas’ Daughter – “Show Around”

I’m back with another scene from Midas’ Daughter. This is a pretty short one, and we’re in James’ head as Calla shows him around.

James followed Calla out into the yard. She’d practically disappeared the day before after that meeting in her father’s office. He was pretty sure he’d seen hurt, and possibly humiliation, flash through her eyes before she’d shut it down. He’d almost wanted to tell her he didn’t want her horse. That wasn’t what had caught his eye out there.
It had been her.
And he wanted her. If it took using her horse to have that happen, he’d be perfectly fine with that. She’d learn to get over it.
Her father had been perfectly clear about that. She was strong-willed, and it would take a firm hand to control her. Just like an unruly horse. In fact, that was almost exactly how her father had described her. A creature that needed to be handled, broken, and trained to do what you wanted.
It troubled him, but he couldn’t put his finger on exactly what part caused that reaction. He wanted a woman like his mother. Who his father had molded into just the woman he wanted. Even if it meant breaking her a little first.
Calla described the buildings they were passing. He didn’t really care. They wouldn’t be living here once they were married. He’d move her into his own place. She’d have to get used to it.
She stopped and spun around on him. “Are you paying any attention to what I’m saying? Or are you just watching my…my butt.”
It was kind of cute how she stammered over saying that. That sweetness would definitely serve her well as his wife. But, there were some things she’d have to get used to doing and saying. They had time for that, though.
“I’m paying attention,” he lied. He reached out and stroked a hand down her hair. “Keep on. You have my total attention.”
She scowled at him, and he wasn’t quite sure he’d pulled off the lie. Then, with a sigh, she turned back around and continued on the tour. But, she no longer said more than a cursory description of whatever they passed.
She hadn’t bought it as well as he had hoped. He’d have to get better at charming her. His father was not going to be happy if he screwed up and let this merger fall through.

I may be taking a break from posting from this for May as I’ll be writing short stories each day for the Story a Day challenge. But, I will pick it back up in June most likely.

Fiction Friday: Midas’ Daughter – “After Dinner”

Last week, we got to see more of Calla’s interaction with her father. Today we get just a hint of what might be to come after that.

Calla headed into the dining room after washing the alcohol from her hands. She’d nicked herself at least once with the broken glass, but thankfully it hadn’t bled too much. Although maybe seeing her hands bandaged would get her father to realize what he was doing.
And that he wasn’t only hurting himself.
But, when she stepped into the dining room, it was empty. Where was her father? She thought he would have come right here from his office. Apparently that wasn’t the case, though. And it didn’t sound like he was berating any of the kitchen staff. She’d definitely be able to hear if he was.
She sighed and crossed the room, pushing into the kitchen. Nita turned from the stove. “Calla, dear, what are you doing? Your father-”
“Is probably shut in his room. I just finished cleaning his office.”
“Calla, that isn’t for you to do.” It was the same thing her father had said, but this time there was softness in the words.
“I know. But, none of you should have to deal with the aftereffects of his rages, either.”
“We are paid for it. You aren’t. Instead you feel you need to pay for what he does.”
She shook her head. That wasn’t it. But, she had never been able to put into words just what it was. Before she could try once more, there was a knock on the jamb of the kitchen door. She glanced over her shoulder and saw Murray, the butler, smiling past her to Nita. If her father knew they’d had something going on as long as she could remember, he’d lose it. He didn’t like anyone having loyalties to anyone but him.
One, if not both of them, would be fired. And her life would probably be even more miserable.
“What is it, Murray?” she asked the butler, smiling sweetly. “Does my father need me?”
The smile dimmed slightly, and she imagined it was the mention of her father. She thought that if it wasn’t for Nita, Murray would have given up his position long ago. Frankly, she wasn’t quite sure why any of the employees stayed on and tolerated her father’s behavior. She didn’t have much choice if she didn’t want to live on the streets. Maybe they feared the same thing.
And she thought her father liked it that way.
“No, Miss Calla,” Murray said, nodding at her. “He just informed me he’ll be taking his meal in his room tonight. I shall take it up once it’s ready.”
“Told you,” Calla said, turning back to Nita. “Sulking.” There were shadows in her eyes, though, and she wondered what the older woman knew.
“I’ll let you know when it’s ready,” she told Murray softly.
He nodded and stepped back out of the kitchen. Even though Calla was pretty sure he wanted to come forward and at least kiss the woman. He wouldn’t do that while they were on duty, though. Wouldn’t take the risk. He probably knew how much Father depended on him, but he’d say he could always get a new cook. Murray wouldn’t put Nita at risk like that.
“He is just sulking, right?” Calla asked.
Nita’s mouth thinned, and she turned back to the stove. “Scheming more like it,” she muttered.
A chill went over her. Though it wasn’t like he didn’t scheme every day. Why should this one be any different?

What could her father be scheming about? How will it affect Calla? Hold on and you might just find out.


Fiction Friday: Midas’ Daughter – Midas

I’m back with another scene from my fleshing out of Midas’ Daughter. Here we’ll see more of Calla’s interactions with her father.

Calla made her way down to the fountain in the middle of her father’s yard. She settled on the wide base of the pool and trailed her fingers through the water as more trickled down from the three tiers until it fell back into the pool. Something about the cycle of it soothed her frayed nerves. Her father had it installed when he’d moved her mother into the house with him, before Calla had even been born. Maybe that was part of what soothed her as well.
Her father, Dario Midas, was already a wealthy man, so she didn’t understand why he only cared about making even more money. Sometimes she wanted him to see she was right here, to know she mattered more than any business deal or wealth he attained. Other times she just wanted to get away. To find someone who wanted her and not her father’s wealth.
He was in another of his moods today, and it was always best to make herself scarce in these moments. Not that he’d ever raised his hand to her, but she’d be another target for his angry words. Even though, she wasn’t quite sure what had brought this mood on tonight.
She shook her head as she looked into the pool of water in the fountain. All of that was likely wishful thinking. Yet she couldn’t stop it. Everyone said he had the golden touch when it came to business, but he drove every woman in his life away. And he failed to see her, the only one who remained through it all. Maybe she would go as well, if only she had the means. She couldn’t touch any of her money yet, so she was still stuck.
She pushed back up from the fountain, knowing she should go back in and check that he hadn’t done too much damage this time. Hopefully he’d calmed by now anyway. When she stepped inside, the tension was still thick. All of the house employees averted their eyes, and she wanted to head back out of the house. That wasn’t the way to get her father to see her. So, she headed toward his office, even if it was the last place she wanted to be.
She knocked on the door but pushed it open without waiting for a response. Her father sat at his desk, his hands clasped at the back of his head, staring down at the top of the desk. She approached slowly, hoping whatever upset him had passed now.
By the looks of the room, that wasn’t the case. Liquid dripped down the wall on the other side of the room. Glass lay shattered below it. Calla sighed. She’d likely have to order more glasses soon.
“Father, are you all right?”
“Go away, Calla.”
I would if you’d release my trust. She didn’t like the thought going through her head. She was all he had left, and she should want to be here with him. And whose fault is it he has no one else? Certainly not mine.
Another ugly thought that seemed to go through her head at least once a day. She shoved it back down and went to clean up the mess he’d made.
“That’s not for you to do.” There was a distinct snarl in his voice.
“I can handle it, Father. Cook should just about have dinner ready. I’ll meet you in the dining room.”
He sniffed, but his chair creaked as he stood and his footsteps headed toward the doorway. After a slight hesitation, the door closed behind him. Her eyes shouldn’t be burning. She’d brought this on herself. The maids didn’t deserve to deal with the effects of her father’s temper. Still, it was her fault if that’s all he saw her as.

This was actually the opening scene in the original version of this story. Next week, we’ll see the fallout, or at least a hint of it, from this one.

Fiction Friday: Midas’ Daughter – Flip

Last week I shared the first scene of Midas’ Daughter. Today I have the next one. Here you’ll get to meet Flip, who was mentioned in last week’s scene. And if you missed starting this last week, you can read it here.

“You must be kidding me.”
A part of Flip Castellan wanted to shrink away from the angry man. The same part that always had from the time he’d moved here with his father as a just barely sixteen-year-old. Six years later, and he still hated it just as much. So, he shoved it away and stood a little straighter. “I’m not, Mr. Midas. I told you when Mr. Dobrin called the other day, that he didn’t want to go through with the deal any longer.”
“What the hell did you do to make him change his mind?”
Of course, it was his fault. Everything was always his fault. Even when it wasn’t. “I didn’t do anything, Mr. Midas. He-”
“Maybe that’s the problem. Your father never would have let this happen. Letting him put you in charge was a mistake.”
Flip’s hand tightened into a fist at his side. His father had needed to step back. His health had been declining. It had improved once he was away from the stress of dealing with Dario Midas’ temper tantrums. Flip had been picking up the slack for him even before he’d taken that step back. Who was Mr. Midas to tell him he couldn’t do the job when he’d been doing it all along?
But, he didn’t bother trying to interrupt his boss. He’d learned long ago, that there was no point in that. He’d just keep railing on, and it could very well cost Flip his job. He couldn’t let that happen. For more than just the money it brought him. But, he didn’t let his gaze go anywhere near the main house. Near Calla. That would give everything away.
He was still ranting along, but Flip barely heard anything he said. It wasn’t important what he said anyway. He was laying all the blame for what had gone wrong on Flip’s shoulders.
“You better fix this,” Mr. Midas said. “You have until the end of the week.”
“But, that’s tomorrow,” Flip said. Then added quickly, “Sir.”
“Then, you’d better get on the phone and figure out where you went wrong. And be quick about it.”
He turned and strode out of the barn, leaving Flip standing there. Flip fisted his hands a couple times, trying to let go of the anger as well. That man didn’t know just how much he did around here, while he was shut in his office or meeting with his fellow rich men. And he didn’t get, probably never would, that it was his own attitude that tended to lose him deals. Not anything Flip did or didn’t do.
He left the office in the barn and headed down the aisle to the only occupied stall. He reached up and petted the mare’s face. “He doesn’t even see, does he? Not what he does to himself. Not what he does to you or Calla, either. Not that I think he’d change if he did know.”
The horse snorted and nudged his shoulder. As if she agreed with him, or maybe it was just the mention of her mistress’s name. He dug a carrot out of his pocket and offered it to the mare. “I’m sure she’ll be to see you as soon as she can.” And it would probably be best if he wasn’t around when did come. He couldn’t risk Mr. Midas seeing them together and making assumptions.
He patted the mare’s neck. “I better go start making those calls. If I get canned, I won’t be able to take care of you or her.”
And that was something he couldn’t let happen.


WeWriWa: Into the Sun

This is my first time joining in with the Weekend Writing Warriors. I usually post with the WiPPet group on Wednesdays, but figured I’d join in with this one, too. Here, I’ll be sharing from a project I’ve been working on over weekends since about April. Into the Sun started as a short story, but it’s looking like it may be more of a novella. I have 9 sentences for my initiation post from pretty close to the beginning of it.

“Trace,” she called out to me, “you don’t have to do this.” But, I did. She knew I did. “Your father-” My head jerked up at that one, finally looking at her. Another day, the anxiety in her eyes, the fading bruise on her cheek, the way she hung back would have made me want to comfort her. “Don’t call him that. Don’t you ever dare call him that again, Mom.” “He raised you,” she insisted, her gaze darting out into the yard before coming back to me.

I wanted to share the next line, but that’d break the rules. So, come back next week, and hopefully I’ll share it with you. Also, thinking of merging this and my Sunday RoW80 check-ins(with the check-in after the excerpt, of course). Or wondering if I should just keep them separate. Any opinions on that?

Novella or Novel

This morning, I finally finished the WiP I started back in September of last year. It took me a total of 188 days to finish it. But, I actually only wrote on 66 of those days. Which is not normal for me. I only spent 35% of the last six months writing this WiP. The novel I worked on from May-August I spent 72% of the time writing(83 out of 116 days). And the one  wrote for last year’s NaNoWriMo(and finished in December), was 84%(42 out of 49 days). So, that shows how much more I’ve struggled with this one. And I think I know the reason why. Fear. Mostly that I’m going to totally screw it up, particularly details involving the fire department. Which is such a big part of my life, with being married to a fire fighter. I didn’t want to get anything wrong, so I was afraid to write anything it seemed. I forgot what I’ve always told myself, just get it down and it can be fixed later. I usually don’t worry about all the details so much in the first draft. But, because of this fear , there were a couple times when I put it aside and wasn’t sure if I’d even finish it. So, just finishing the first draft is a victory for me.

But, now that is is finished, I have a decision to make. It came in at 55,502 words. Most of mine are between 80-90,000. It’s too long to really be considered a novella. But, it’s really pretty short for a novel. So, I need to decide if I can cut at least 10k from it and still leave the story whole, or if there’s somewhere I can add like another 20k. Of course, I’m not going to start editing it right away. I’ll let it sit for about a month before I look at it again. Get some distance from it. But, I’d still like to know going in which direction I’m going to take it. I guess I still have some time to figure it out though.


Tidbit Thursday: Stained Snow Blurb

I figured since I am just about done with this round of edits on my novella and will be on a search for Beta Readers for it, today I would post the page summary I wrote up during plotting.


When rancher, and sometimes deputy sheriff, William Jensen, returns home from taking a bank robber to trial, he cannot believe what he finds. His wife and son are dead and his home had been burnt to the ground. He does not have to wonder who is responsible for this. After burying his family, he starts searching for the man, his own brother.

He quickly catches up to his brother and is wounded in the resulting confrontation. He is taken in by a fellow rancher and his daughter, Alice, who tries to offer more than just a warm place to stay. Until she learns he is Thomas’s brother and plans to kill him if he can’t take him in. William learns his brother has all ready been there and had told his own tale of what happened.

As William heals, his resolve to bring the man who killed his family to justice only strengthens. He’s sure by now, his brother will think he’s gotten away with it, and knowing his usual haunts, it won’t be difficult to find him. He starts out one morning, leaving Alice in tears, but is turned back when a blizzard strikes.

William has to wait out the blizzard at the ranch and steer clear of Alice’s advances while trying not to hurt her. He cannot even imagine having someone in his life after losing the wife he loved. But, by the time he is able to leave a second time, he feels as if he is leaving a part of himself behind.

As he closes in on his brother, he begins to wonder if either of them will survive this search for justice. And even if he does, will life be worth living with his family gone and his mission complete? Or can he let someone else in and give meaning to it again?

Tidbit Thursday: Stained Snow Excerpt

This is an excerpt from my novella that I am currently editing. It is from the beginning of Chapter 2 and the protagonist, William Jensen has just left town heading back to his ranch after being gone for about a week.


William stopped beside the stream that he knew meant he had less than an hour to go until he was home again. Even though he was eager to be home, he let the horse have a few minutes to drink from the stream and pull up some grass to eat. While he waited, he pulled out some jerked meat to chew on. It was not much of a meal, but he just needed something to hold him over until he would get a home cooked meal again.

When William figured the horse had enough rest, he swung back up into the saddle. “We’re almost there,” he murmured and kept repeating it as if it was the only think keeping him going. As if he felt his rider’s excitement, the horse picked up his pace. But, as he rode through the gate of his ranch, William yanked on the reins, bringing the horse to a quick stop.

“No.” The single syllable was a strangled sound in his throat that barely made it across his lips.

The house he’d been looking forward to getting back to no longer existed. Smoke still rose from the ashes of what he had called home for just over half a decade. “Anna. David,” he breathed the names of his family. Had they been there when the fire started? He hoped not. But with a lead weight in the pit of his stomach, he started the horse forward. “Please, God, please let them not be here.”

The horse pulled up several yards from the house, stamping the ground and snorting as he threw his head from side to side. William knew the smoke and the smell left over from the fire made him nervous. He slid from the saddle and rubbed a hand along the horse’s neck. “It’s all right, Boy. Stay here. I’ll check it out.”

He left the horse standing there and made his way closer to the house. As the acrid smell of smoke and burnt wood started to overwhelm him, he pulled the bandanna he wore around his neck up over his mouth and nose. And he told himself that the tears pooling in his eyes was from that smoke and not the fear of what he would find as he started through the rubble of what had once been his home.

Tuesday Short: Stained Snow Synopsis

You may have noticed that I changed the name of Tuesday’s posts. I did that because I may not always have a flash fiction piece to share(like today), and I’m not going to rush to write one just so I will. And I don’t just want to skip a day because then that may become a habit. so, instead I decided that Tuesdays will be either for flash fiction, or a short excerpt or synopsis of what I’m working on. So, I decided today to share the synopsis of the novella I’m working on now, Stained Snow. This idea was inspired by a piece of flash fiction I wrote last year.

William Jensen is a rancher and sometimes deputy sheriff who is eager to get home to his family after taking a bank robber to his trial. He gets held up on the trail by weather and other circumstances. Before heading back to the ranch, he stops in town to visit the grave of his stepfather, who was recently killed.

But when he does return home, he finds his family dead and his house burnt to the ground. He does not have to wonder about who is responsible for this, he knows. After burying his family, he goes in search of the man, his own brother. He soon catches up to him, wounded is taken in by a fellow rancher and his daughter. As he spends time with them, he starts to have feelings for this young woman, which weigh him down with guilt for the wife he has just buried. And when he learns his brother has all ready been there and told his own story, he sees his chances of a new life shattered before it could start. When William regains his strength, he starts on the trail again, only to be turned back by a blizzard.

Now, as he closes in on his brother, he wonders if either of them will survive his search for justice. And even if he does, will life be worth living without his family to return to? Can he face that lonely existence once his mission is complete? Or will he be able to let someone else in and give meaning to life again?

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