Weekend Writing Warriors ~ A Circlet of Gold

Hello and welcome to another round of Weekend Writing Warriors. I missed last week, but I had a very good excuse; a three night writers’ retreat on the coast. I can’t tell you how good it felt to get away with like-minded folk to do nothing but write, write, write. And chat of course. It’s great to be around people who “get” me and don’t blink an eye when I talk about characters taking over the story and doing their own thing, plot be damned.

So far Prince Gabriel is acting like a well-behaved character should, but there are others lurking in the coming pages who just refuse to cooperate. We’ll be meeting one of them soon, but for now, Gabriel is still preparing for his big speech at this evening’s feast.

***

Gabriel and his unwanted retinue clamored up a wide, winding staircase and soon arrived at his chambers on the third floor. He was stripped, washed clean of mud and dressed in a close fitting tunic quartered in dark blue and black panels. His father’s family crest, a lion standing on its hind legs, was embroidered in red silk thread over his heart. Around his hips he wore a thick leather girdle that held the ceremonial sword he’d been given on his sixteenth birthday.  Wearing this rich attire, he felt slightly less self-conscious about the crown, which was merely a circlet of gold, after all.  It did, unfortunately, serve to set off how much closer to white than blond his hair really was.

Servants held up mirrors, and despite the manly outfitting, Gabriel recognized his mother staring back at him. He shared her blue eyes and slight build, which was fine for a queen but less than desirable for a prince.

“Enough of that,” he said, waving away the attendants, who all seemed very busy though he couldn’t imagine why. At Craigmoor, he’d managed just fine with one manservant.  

That’s the official ten. Here’s a bit more:

He turned to face an array of adornments Webster held out for him on a silver tray. Gabriel was about to wave those away as well when a thought occurred to him.  “Where’s my mother’s brooch?”

“Which one, sire?” Webster asked, face sagging. A dozen fine pendants and pins glinted in the candlelight. Gabriel had left them all behind when he left Rosenthal, tucked away in the black lacquered chest in his sitting room, and he was sure Webster had been delighted to discover them.

“A silver stag’s head.”

Blurb in progress for Snow:

Following the death of his mother the Queen, Prince Gabriel returns home for the first time in three years. Gabriel hopes for a reconciliation with his estranged brother, the new king, but all is not well at Castle Rosenthal. King Tristan has fallen under the sway of a mysterious noble woman with a dark past, and all along the border of the Black Forest, magical denizens are on the move. Gabriel begins to fear for his life. Is the handsome huntsman in on a plot to assassinate him, or is there an even darker, more evil power afoot? A forced flight into the Black Forest may expose ancient magic at work, if Gabriel can survive long enough to uncover it.

***

Don’t forget to check out all the awesome snippets at Weekend Writing Warriors!

Weekend Writing Warriors ~ A Most Alarming Rumor

Hello and welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors, the blog hop where writers from a wide variety of genres share from their work in excerpts of ten sentences, with maybe a few more for those of you have the time.

Happy Spring, everyone! The turning of the seasons kind of crept up on me while I wasn’t looking, and Sunday is Easter! How did that happen? I feel like the little bunny coming out of its burrow, cautiously sniffing the air, munching a dandelion or two while wondering where the winter went.

Today I’m sharing from my romantic gay fantasy, tentatively titled Snow. This scene continues directly from last week. Prince Gabriel has returned home on the evening of the festival of the Hunter’s Moon. As he’s swept up into castle life, he remembers how much he dislikes the politics and pomposity.

***

The courtyard buzzed with activity. Tristan had wasted no time disappearing into the great hall. Servants swarmed around their sodden, inebriated lords, guiding them away toward blazing hearths and dry clothing. High above the inner ward, the clock tower, crowning glory of the new residential wing—new meaning built fifty years ago by his grandfather—chimed eight o’clock. Webster had exaggerated. The feast wouldn’t begin for another hour at least.

Gabriel headed for his old rooms and along with Webster, a flock of unfamiliar servants flustered and cooed after them.  He supposed he’d been assigned a retinue and was again disappointed that he recognized none of them.

“Oh, sir, I did hear a most alarming rumor that you’d been set upon by a centaur and—”

That’s the official Ten. Here’s a bit more:

Gabriel laughed sharply. 

“Five minutes back and the tale has grown taller than the castle walls. I wasn’t set upon by anything.”  He knocked a bit of moss from his cuff as he entered a long corridor, muscle memory guiding his feet as his thoughts went hither and yon.  The common appetite for myth and magic could both help and hinder the Rosenthal family. Wonder and devotion battled with fear and superstition.  In spite of that, the queen had been well loved.  Would he be accepted? The people in the town had seemed happy to see him.

“Thank the gods for that,” Webster said. “I set out the pale blue silk your aunt Wren sent for your twentieth birthday. That with—”

“That’s for weddings and parties. I need to look more serious.” He thought of Falkner, dour and intimidating all in black. “Something darker.”

“You’re absolutely correct,” Webster said, “How foolish of me.” 

Gabriel doubted if what he wore actually mattered, but he hated anything that hinted at frippery.  It was bad enough he’d have to wear a crown.  He hadn’t done so in the three years he’d been gone.

***

Photo 97165497 © RealchemystDreamstime.com

Blurb in progress for Snow:

Following the death of his mother the Queen, Prince Gabriel returns home for the first time in three years. Gabriel hopes for a reconciliation with his estranged brother, the new king, but all is not well at Castle Rosenthal. King Tristan has fallen under the sway of a mysterious noble woman with a dark past, and all along the border of the Black Forest, magical denizens are on the move. Gabriel begins to fear for his life. Is the handsome huntsman in on a plot to assassinate him, or is there an even darker, more evil power afoot? A forced flight into the Black Forest may expose ancient magic at work, if Gabriel can survive long enough to uncover it.

***

Don’t forget to check out all the awesome snippets at Weekend Writing Warriors!

Weekend Writing Warriors ~ A Man of Action

Hello and welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors. I’m sorry I missed last week. I had computer issues, and now I return to find WordPress has once again “improved” its interface. Why is it improvements always seem more like irritations than anything actually helpful? Could it be my old brain doesn’t like change? Nah…

So on the snippet. I’m back to sharing from my fairy tale revisited, a reimagining of the Snow White story with a male character in the title role. Last week, Prince Gabriel returned to his family’s castle for the first time in three years, during the autumn Festival of the Hunter’s Moon.

***

The moment Gabriel slid from Tempest’s back in the castle courtyard, his servant pounced.

“Sire! You are due in the great hall in mere moments! Your boots are full of mud and your clothing is inappropriate!” In his panic, Webster impetuously reached out and plucked a twig of holly from Gabriel’s hair.

“I see you’ve recovered from your bee sting,” Gabriel said as he handed Tempest’s reins to a stable boy. Other servants swarmed around them to gather Gabriel’s packs from the horse. “Old Aldous hasn’t lost his touch.”

“Oh, yes, nothing a healing poultice and a brandy couldn’t cure. Although the healer you knew is no longer here. Retired. Gone to live in a cave or whatever it is old alchemists do.”

That’s the traditional Ten. Here’s a bit more for your reading pleasure:

Webster cleared his throat and stared at the cobblestones. “I’m sorry to have abandoned you at such an inconvenient time.”

“Nonsense, Webster. You would have hated tramping through the muck after game anyway.”  Gabriel brushed the remaining petals from his sleeve, disappointed to learn another trusted member of his mother’s court was gone, but determined not to dwell on it.  “I thought I’d remain dressed as I am. Gives me more the appearance of a man of action, does it not?” He ran his fingers through his hair and found another twig, this one still attached to a leaf.

Webster gaped at him in abject horror. The servant himself had donned his finest blue tunic with silver trim and tied his long brown hair back in a tidy bun. He looked more like a worried old woman than ever. Gabriel smiled and Webster let out a breath of relief.

“Oh, sire, you had me—ha, ha—naturally, you wouldn’t—you were joking, weren’t you?”

“I was, but I’m only submitting myself to your tortures because I have to make a speech.” 

***

© Olgasyrova | Dreamstime.com

***

Blurb for Snow (working title):

Following the death of his mother the Queen, Prince Gabriel returns home for the first time in three years. Gabriel hopes for a reconciliation with his estranged brother, the new king, but all is not well at Castle Rosenthal. King Tristan has fallen under the sway of a mysterious noble woman with a dark past, and all along the border of the Black Forest, magical denizens are on the move. Gabriel begins to fear for his life. Is the handsome huntsman in on a plot to assassinate him, or is there an even darker, more evil power afoot? A forced flight into the Black Forest may expose ancient magic at work, if Gabriel can survive long enough to uncover it.

***

Don’t forget to check out the other snippets at Weekend Writing Warriors!

Weekend Writing Warriors ~ Hunter’s Moon

Hello and welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors. When last I shared from today’s story, the pandemic was young and I was still rather enjoying my new found free time (end of the world as we knew it notwithstanding). I confidently set aside this manuscript in order to finish and publish Wild, sure that I’d soon return and get the former done in time for a winter release. Well, flash forward ONE YEAR. The pandemic is quite old and tiresome, my free time has withered on the twin vines of anxiety and despondency, and Snow has sat untouched all this time. This week, I opened it up, brushed aside the digital and mental cobwebs and guess what? It doesn’t totally suck. I like these characters, and this story, and gosh darn it, I’m going to finish it.

This week’s snippet is from Chapter Three, with our hero Prince Gabriel returning to his home for the first time in three years, along with the hunting party he encountered on the road to the royal residence. If you’d like to catch up, you can read past excerpts under the obsessions category Snow. If you want to start at the beginning, scroll down to the bottom of the posts.

***

The townsfolk of Emmerich didn’t seem to notice the lack of an impressive stag or elk on display when the hunting party paraded through the gates. They also did not seem bothered by the steady drizzle or the cold that permeated even the thickest cloak.

True, most of them had been celebrating the Festival of the Hunter’s Moon since midday and were bolstered by generous quantities of mead and mulled wine, which Gabriel could smell brewing in every square they passed through. Lanterns burned brightly and fires danced in open pits. Minstrels played lively tunes, young men pranced about with antlers tied to their heads, and young women screamed and pretended to be frightened.

The people were in a gay mood, and to Gabriel’s surprise, some even called his name and tossed flowers to him as he rode by. Actually, many of them did, so many that Tempest’s mane was soon bedecked with the yellow and red fauna of autumn. Gabriel repeatedly brushed petals from his cloak as he waved at blushing clusters of girls radiant in their festival finery.

No one threw flowers at Tristan, who rode at the head of the party. Those still sober enough to have the wits backed away from his huge black horse and bowed low.  The people had always thrown flowers to their mother, Gabriel recalled, and dampened his smile. He hoped Tristan was too tired and inebriated to notice the difference in their reception.

***

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Blurb-in-progress for Snow (working title), a reimagined fairy tale:

Following the death of his mother the Queen, Prince Gabriel returns home for the first time in three years. Gabriel hopes for a reconciliation with his estranged brother, the new king, but all is not well at Castle Rosenthal. King Tristan has fallen under the sway of a mysterious noble woman with a dark past, and all along the border of the Black Forest, magical denizens are on the move. Gabriel begins to fear for his life. Is the handsome huntsman in on a plot to assassinate him, or is there an even darker, more evil power afoot? A forced flight into the Black Forest may expose ancient magic at work, if Gabriel can survive long enough to uncover it.

****

Weekend Writing Warriors is a blog hop where writers from a wide variety of genres share from their work in excerpts of ten sentences.  Click the link to check out the other writers participating today.  It’s a great way to discover your next favorite book.

Weekend Writing Warriors ~ A Steep Price

Hello and welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors, the blog hop where writers from a wide variety of genres share from their work in excerpts of ten sentences or less. I hope you’re all doing well in these strange times. As an introvert, a writer, and a natural hermit, I must say this stay at home business is rather working out for me, but I feel for my extrovert friends. Someday we shall gather again and make merry, but until then, we have blog hops, zoom meetings, and books. Thank the gods for books!

Believe it or not, I’ve finally reached the end of this chapter and will be moving on to other things. But fear not, I’m making great progress on Snow now that I can set my own schedule and write as much as I darn well please.  Last week, (which you can read here) Gabriel was hit hard by the affects of working magic and Gavin Falkner, the last man he’d expect to do such a thing, offered his support.

***

For one brief moment, Gabriel experienced a fantasy of leaning into Falkner and allowing the man to support him.  He shrugged off the weak notion and blinked away the encroaching mental fog. “I’m fine, he said, and dug deep into his reserves to pull free of Falkner’s hand.

He made it back to the meadow where the horses were without falling on his face and was relieved to hear excited chatter about the great white stag and the blessing of the gods.  As he put his foot in the stirrup and swung onto Tempest’s back, he considered for the first time that Tristan might be right, in a fashion. Maybe the forest gods had indeed favored him— not Tristan, but Gabriel, the one who had stopped the killing of the divine emissary. Immediately, his mother’s voice interrupted this line of thought, warning him against hubris.  When the gods meddle in the affairs of humans, she’d always said, trouble is never far behind. Their gifts come with a steep price.

***

© Jakub Krechowicz | Dreamstime.com

Blurb-in-progress for Snow, a reimagined fairy tale:

Following the death of his mother the Queen, Prince Gabriel is called home by his brother, now King. Gabriel hopes for a reconciliation with his estranged brother, but all is not well at Castle Rosenthal. King Tristan has fallen under the sway of a mysterious noble woman with a dark past, and all along the border of the Black Forest, magical denizens are on the move. Gabriel begins to fear for his life. Is the handsome huntsman in on a plot to assassinate him, or is there an even darker, more evil power afoot? A forced flight into the Black Forest may expose ancient magic at work, if Gabriel can survive long enough to uncover it.

****

Weekend Writing Warriors is a blog hop where writers from a wide variety of genres share from their work in excerpts of ten sentences or less.  Click the link to check out the other writers participating today.  It’s a great way to discover your next favorite book.

Weekend Writing Warriors ~ Blood and Bones

Hello and welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors, the blog hop where writers from a wide variety of genres share from their work in excerpts of ten sentences or less. I hope you’re doing well,  and staying safe and sane in these strange times. For me, the sane part is the hardest. Thank goodness for writing and the company of my characters!

I’m particularly fond of Prince Gabriel, the MC featured in my waiting-in-the-wings project Snow, which I’ve been sharing from while toiling on my next Jacqui the Cat mystery in the background. I’m excited that I’ll finally be able to turn my full attention to Gabriel’s story.  Currently, he’s dealing with the aftermath of having wielded forbidden magic, and he hasn’t even arrived at his destination yet; his home of Rosenthal Castle. You can read last week’s snippet here.

***

After a last look at where the great white stag had stood, Gabriel turned and trailed after the rest of the hunting party.  He found it hard to lift his feet, the physical toll of wielding magic still working its way through his blood and bones. With his gaze focused on the patch of forest floor directly before him, he walked carefully to avoid stumbling over roots. The thought of the ride to Rosenthal Castle exhausted him, and that was just the beginning of the evening. He would have to present himself in the grand hall to all the ministers, lords and ladies gathered there. He was, after all, a prince returned to his realm, expected to officially declare his support for his brother and to properly grieve his mother’s death at her tomb.

All he wanted to do was sleep. Darkness invaded the corners of his mind and he slowed.

A strong hand gripped his arm from behind, steadying him.

“Are you all right?” Falkner asked in a low voice.

***

© breakermaximus | Dreamstime.com

***

Blurb-in-progress for Snow, a reimagined fairy tale:

Following the death of his mother the Queen, Prince Gabriel is called home by his brother, now King. Gabriel hopes for a reconciliation with his estranged brother, but all is not well at Castle Rosenthal. King Tristan has fallen under the sway of a mysterious noble woman with a dark past, and all along the border of the Black Forest, magical denizens are on the move. Gabriel begins to fear for his life. Is the handsome huntsman in on a plot to assassinate him, or is there an even darker, more evil power afoot? A forced flight into the Black Forest may expose ancient magic at work, if Gabriel can survive long enough to uncover it.

****

Weekend Writing Warriors is a blog hop where writers from a wide variety of genres share from their work in excerpts of ten sentences or less.  Click the link to check out the other writers participating today.  It’s a great way to discover your next favorite book.