Despite a head cold which is annoying the crap out of me, I've been managing to keep writing when not at work, which is mainly weekends when I don't write anyway because the house being full of people - oh right, they're my family, that's it, I keep forgetting.
Anyway, I'm writing the current family drama saga story, just another 30k or so to go and the first draft is finished. Yay! I love it when a book will just sings to me. I feel such a sense of achievement when the first draft is done, as the bulk of the work is over and I can then spend time polishing and editing and adding flesh to the bones.
Researching, as always, has been popping into the flow at times, but thankfully I don't mind researching and learning new things. When I'm feeling better I'll post some links to the research I've been reading.
Until then, I'll post this excerpt of one of my early novels, Kitty McKenzie.
Kitty McKenzie Blurb:
1864 - Suddenly left as the head of the family, Kitty McKenzie must find her inner strength to keep her family together against the odds. Evicted from their resplendent home in the fashionable part of York after her parents’ deaths, Kitty must fight the legacy of bankruptcy and homelessness to secure a home for her and her siblings. Through sheer willpower and determination she grabs opportunities with both hands from working on a clothes and rag stall in the market to creating a teashop for the wealthy. Her road to happiness is fraught with obstacles of hardship and despair, but she refuses to let her dream of a better life for her family die. She soon learns that love and loyalty brings its own reward.
“Kitty. Kitty!” Mary’s urgent whispering had Kitty rushing to her side and they both stared as an enormous carriage, pulled by four, proud, black horses, halted outside the shop windows. The frantic murmurings behind hands at the other tables held Kitty’s attention for a moment, but it was soon diverted back to the front entrance. A small, plump, elderly lady, dressed in a coffee-colored gown of silk with a large hat decorated in red feathers, walked in. Her hair was light gray and beautifully arranged under her hat, but it was her eyes that drew Kitty’s attention for they were the most brilliant blue.
“Would you care to be seated, madam?” Kitty nearly curtsied such was the woman’s regal manner.
The older woman ignored her for a moment while she took a good look around the premises. Some of the other ladies seated nodded their heads in acknowledgment, but no one spoke.
“I do believe these rooms look quite adequate,” declared the grand lady, “and you, miss, what is your name?” She turned an inquisitive gaze to Kitty.
“Miss Katherine McKenzie, madam.”
“And these tearooms are yours, no doubt?”
“Indeed they are, madam.” Kitty nodded, wishing with all her heart she had gone with Ben to Australia. She didn’t know how long she could cope with such scrutiny.
“I do confess this table here will do nicely, yes?” She looked at Kitty for confirmation.
Kitty stepped forward and pulled out a chair for her. “If madam wishes it.”
The proud little woman sat at the table by the window. She then turned to the two ladies sitting behind her. “Mrs. Pollock, and you, Mrs. Seymour, is this establishment to your liking?”
Kitty closed her eyes and held her breath.
The two ladies, surprised by the question, hesitated. “Well, yes, Mrs. Cannon. We find it most agreeable,” they parroted each other.
The old woman nodded, turning back to Kitty and Mary, who hung a little behind. “Miss McKenzie, I’m Mrs. Dorothea Cannon, of Cannonvale Park. How do you do?”
“Very well, thank you, Mrs. Cannon, and you?” Kitty forced a smile.
“Fine enough at the minute, though I shall die of thirst any moment.” She frowned, but Kitty saw a twinkle in her eye and managed to grin back.
“Would a pot of tea be to your liking or maybe coffee perhaps?”
“Coffee, I think. Make certain it is fresh and of good quality.” Mrs. Cannon waved a hand towards the display counter. “An array of those dainty little cakes too, if you please.”
“Of course, madam.” Kitty walked away with Mary at her heels. Going into the backroom, Kitty nearly collided with Connie and Alice who stood listening in the doorway.
“Who’s she?” Connie whispered.
“A Mrs. Cannon, now help me make some fresh coffee.” Kitty rushed into the larder. “Mary, go out front and fill a small stand for Mrs. Cannon.”
For half an hour Mrs. Cannon drank her coffee and nibbled at the cakes Mary placed before her. It was not until the other ladies seated behind her rose, paid for their tea and left that Mrs. Cannon beckoned Kitty over to her. “Sit down, girl,” she demanded airily, with a wave of her jeweled hand to the opposite chair.
Kitty sat, not at all sure what was required of her.
“Now, let me tell you something. I came here today to have a good look at you and this establishment because of one thing,” Mrs. Cannon paused, eyeing Kitty warily, “my grandson.”
“Indeed. You see he told me he had fallen for a young woman who was beautiful, intelligent and most of all, worthy.” Here, Mrs. Cannon paused again and peered closely at Kitty. “So I thought I must meet this young woman to satisfy myself whether she deserves my grandson’s affections.”
Kitty felt the blood leave her face. Oh, Lord. She really couldn’t face another confrontation with a member of Ben’s family. “You are Benjamin’s grandmother?”
Dorothea Cannon’s lips twitched. “Indeed, and I like surprising people.”
“You have certainly done that today, Mrs. Cannon.”
“Let me tell you of the sensations that have come about since you appeared on the scene. My daughter has plagued me night and day over you. She has recited every detail of your two brief encounters, and let me assure you, Miss McKenzie, my daughter is a woman whom you wouldn’t wish to have as a foe.”
Kitty closed her eyes momentarily. “Please believe me, Mrs. Cannon, I would be most happy to befriend Ben’s mother, but alas, she will not see beyond my current status as a shop owner.”
“Do you believe you are worthy of my grandson’s affections?”
“Whether I’m worthy or not is something I cannot answer. However, I do know I love your grandson most desperately and with all my heart.” Out of her pocket, she pulled Ben’s letter and handed it over for Dorothea to read. Maybe then she would see the love they felt for each other.
Kitty waited while the other woman read the letter.
“Excellent. That is the first hurdle over with. It is obvious the depth of feeling between the two of you.” Dorothea returned the letter and smiled. “Benjamin visited me before he sailed and I was delighted at the change in him. I do accept my daughter has been at fault for Benjamin’s unhappiness. She is far too controlling for her own good and I’m afraid it has all been for nothing. Ever since Benjamin was a child, all he wanted to do is be away from her and her complete devotion for him. Which in turn, distresses my daughter and makes her more determined to be closer to him.”
Dorothea sipped her coffee, staring thoughtfully out the window at the passing traffic. “I’m ashamed that my daughter is a woman whom one can not easily befriend. She was thoroughly spoiled by my late husband and I’m afraid John does not stand up to her as much as he should.”
“I found Mr. Kingsley most agreeable. I liked him a lot.”
“Yes, dear John, he is a good man. Oh, do not have me mistaken, Miss McKenzie, I love my daughter most dearly and I love her more the less I see of her.” Dorothea chuckled at her own joke and Kitty hid a smile with her hand.
Dorothea suddenly rose from her chair and Kitty did also. “I must be on my way now, my dear. I would like to call again, if I may?”
“Oh, yes, please do, Mrs. Cannon.”
“Call me Dorothea, my dear, and I believe you are known as Kitty?”
“Yes, I am, and thank you, Dorothea. It has been such a pleasure to meet you.” Kitty held out her hand and Dorothea took it.
Together they went outside to the carriage. As Dorothea was handed up the carriage step, she paused and turned back to Kitty. “I shall tell all my friends and acquaintances about your lovely tearooms, my dear, be assured of that. We must keep it in the family, you know.” Dorothea winked at Kitty, before resting back against the leather bound seats. With a flick of the reins, the carriage rolled away.
For more information on Kitty and her story, go to my website;
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