Week In Review – 26 September 2018

I realized after I wrote the post that I didn’t actually have a picture of the lemon trees. How embarrassing.
Image courtesy of Stockvault.

I haven’t gotten much writing done this week, although I can say I’ve caught up on some stuff I’ve wanted to read. All of it is some old stuff I grabbed from Project Gutenberg. Their stuff is in the public domain, so it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg (or anything – it’s free).

It would have been nice to get another chapter banged out or a short story finished, but some weeks aren’t meant for it. All this past week it’s been cloudy and raining where I’m at. It’s the end of September, and there’s that general feeling I get when it’s Fall. There aren’t many leaves getting ready to turn, though, and the weather itself feels like it’s still the dead of summer.

Besides that, I’m noticing that I pay more attention to the change of seasons as I’ve aged. My youth was spent looking forward to specific dates; the seasons were just inconveniences of too much heat or cold or wet or wind. Nowadays, I wonder how this winter is going to behave. Every year since I’ve moved back to Alabama, the winter’s been either too mild or damp. It feels like a slightly chillier version of what I experienced back in Florida.

At any rate, I’ve also been busy with some other projects. I’ve got several lemon trees sprouting up inside. They’re going to stay indoors with a couple of peach trees and some peppermint. In a few months, I’m going to plant some superhot peppers – ghost peppers, Carolina Reapers, scorpions, and habañeros to name a few. The idea is to make some exceptionally effective chili powder and hot sauce. If I stop posting abruptly, they might have been a little too effective.

What I’ve Been Working On – 19 September 2018

Image courtesy of Stockvault.

Author’s Note: Here’s a piece of the new beginning I’ve worked out for a fantasy novel I’ve been working on. It’s still rough, but the general gist is what I’m eventually going to go with.

Although the Novington estate sat comfortably on fifteen acres outside the city of Five Pillars, there weren’t many places to have privacy. Ellie Novington, daughter of Lord Tommas Novington, the owner of the estate, had surveyed the best places and found only one suitable to her needs. There was a small alley created by the back of the horse stables and the brick wall which ran along the perimeter of the estate. None of the servants had a reason to go back there, except to mow grass, but it was late winter and the grass was yellow and dead. If all went well, she’d be ready by the time her father came home from his long voyage overseas.

Early in the morning, Ellie put on thick stockings and three Land’s End wool petticoats for a long day in the cold. She went out through a door next to the kitchen, making sure to avoid Nanne the cook, who was already up and baking bread for breakfast. Thirteen rolls sat cooling on a sideboard just next to the door, delicious steam wafting up in the cool air. Ellie took one, paused, and then went back for another before continuing outside to the horse stables.

On her way to the stables, she encountered Findlee (the “d” is silent, because he was from Western Halver, and they tend to speak quite differently there) the family butler, inspecting the empty flower garden patch on the southern side of the house. He was dressed suitably for the cold, in wool trousers and a heavy brown work coat, but he had his tricorn hat pushed back on his head to expose his unruly gray hair which stood on end in any direction it pleased. Spotting Ellie in the gray almost-morning light, Findlee doffed his hat and bowed, saying, “Morning, Mistress Ellinor. Come to inspect the flower beds for spring with me?” As a Halverish butler, one of Findlee’s jobs was to make sure the grounds were suitably dressed during the year. Tommas Novington was a lord, and as such needed to be ready to host any manner of gentility which might call.

Ellie replied, “I’m afraid not, Findlee. This morning I hope to pursue my private studies.” She winked.
Findlee replaced his cap and smiled knowingly. “Well, you’ve picked a good time for it. No one is scheduled to mind the southern stables today. I’ll try to keep nosy Wonda and Prim away, just in case.” He scratched his left elbow, just underneath the strap for his wooden prosthesis. “My arm’s been giving me grief, though. Should be a cold one, so keep bundled up.”

“Naturally,” said Ellie. A loud crack broke the quiet morning, followed by the scattering of birds. “Oh gods, was that a cannon?” It came from the woods owned by their southern neighbor, Petty Lord Kesselbridge.

“Bet my good arm on it,” Findlee confirmed. Ellie paled at the joke; she was aware he lost his left arm to a Savoisian cannonball in the last war. It was only when he chuckled that she was able to breathe again. “We must find you a Halverish sense of humor one of these days,” he said. “Kesselbridge is senile but harmless. He just got an old cannon from Krakowie. Fires the thing off every morning.”

“I see,” said Ellie, whose voice indicated otherwise.

“Off with you,” said Findlee, shooing her away with his hand. “Good luck with your studies. Your secret’s safe with me.”

“Including Doctor Baumgarten?” Ellie asked, referring to her tutor. He was from western Gorschwein, and a very practical person who frowned on her extracurricular pursuits.

“I make no promises with that one,” said Findlee. “He’s a slippery, clever one. Can’t keep secrets long from him!”
“Please do your best,” said Ellie, starting towards the stables. “I intend to surprise father upon his return, which could be any day now.”

“Then you’d better hurry,” Findlee called out, and returned to fretting over where he was going to plant Geveldian tulips.

Bad Latin III

Image courtesy of Stockvault.

Author’s Note: This is a short fiction posted in installments. Click the links below to read previous parts.

Bad Latin, Part I
Bad Latin, Part II

In unplanned unison, each of the survivors pulled out their mobile phones and dialed three numbers. No one could get through; their earlier descent had been too far. Peter and Petra held hands for mutual support. Leon and Chastity shared a nervous glance. Ducky withdrew into his robes and leaned against the surprisingly warm stone of the mine’s rock wall. He rocked back and forth, muttering, “I don’t want to be here anymore.”

Petra sneered. “Shut up. You’re not helping.”

Chastity rose to his defense. “Shut it, Petra. You’re not helping, either. We need to figure a way out of here.”

“Don’t talk to my sister like that,” Peter warned. He stepped between Petra and Chastity.

“Please,” said Leon, who had taken out his phone and used its light to look down each tunnel. “We’ve got worse things to worry about.”

“Hooves,” said Ducky. The other four looked at him. “In Zazzy’s blood.” His voice broke.

Chastity went and put an arm around Ducky. “We’ll make it out, Ducky. I promise.”

“You can’t promise that,” Petra said from behind her brother. “We never should have come out here.” She hesitated, and then narrowed her eyes. “Unless that’s what you had planned all along, Chas.”

“Don’t be paranoid,” Leon said, eyeing one corridor and then another.

“Didn’t you say you were making progress,” Peter said. He didn’t take his eyes off Leon.

Chastity frowned, looking to everyone in turn. “That’s not exactly true,” she said. Leon stopped his examination of another path and put his light on her. She took her arm from Ducky. “We had no idea what we were doing. Then…we thought we should expand the circle to see if that would work.”

Everyone got quiet, including Ducky, who stopped muttering and rocking. In the dim light of their phones and flashlights, each of the would-be summoners looked different. None of them could explain the change, as if the mine itself might have been toying with them. Like their discovery of being isolated beneath the earth, each person watched their friends wrestle with their fear of the dark, the mine, and the thing that slaughtered Zazzy.

Somewhere – the echoes made it difficult to determine – a low noise rumbled rhythmically through the chamber. Chastity leaned back against the rock wall, and Leon stood underneath one of the mine’s old wooden supports. The twins flung themselves to the ground next to Chastity, anticipating another collapse.

None came. Rather, the sound they all heard grew a bit louder until Ducky recognized it with a childish squeal of dismay. “It’s calling for us,” he squeaked. He licked his lips. “Can’t you hear it? I – I have to see for myself!” On his feet in an instant, Chastity moved too slowly to stop him from barreling down one of the tunnels. She only grabbed hold of his cloak, which came off entirely and fell loosely to the ground.

The remaining people in the chamber, paralyzed with complete terror, listened helplessly for their friend who had lost his mind. Chastity considered for a moment running after him, but the beast’s low calls prevented her from summoning the courage. All she could hear was the grunted panting of Ducky and his quick footsteps carrying him away from them and the safety of the group.

When she thought she couldn’t hear him anymore, another noise came from the tunnel which he ran through. The sound was higher, almost the opposite of the beast’s. Chastity couldn’t tell if it was laughter or screaming. She held her breath and listened some more until her mind finally grasped what she was hearing.

It was both.

Procrastin – Er, Book Research

This week, I’ve decided to share some of the interesting videos I found while researching 17th and 18th century stuff on the Internet. While these videos might not be a substitute for further inquiry, they are a great starting point for getting ideas about writing anything using this era’s technology. The first video concerns cavalry arms and armor during the 17th century English Civil War. Note the difference between it and the stereotypical cavalry one might find just several decades later in the 1700’s.

In the 18th century, affluent men had to devote more time and money to their appearance than they might today:

For women in that time, clothing definitely had bigger pockets than they do today. Definitely it involved a surprising amount of sharp objects:

On a side note, if you’re interested in how working women got dressed back then, here is another video. Regardless, I found these videos to be quite enjoyable and informative. Next time, I’ll try not to watch them so close to trying to a writing deadline.