Sunday, January 19, 2014


Richard left Robert and headed to St. John’s Wood to his friend Davingdale’s home. Davingdale and William had begun trading business at Tattersall’s and housed their animals at Davingdale’s estate, Merrit
Captain Richard Gaines
Manor. Richard thought to leave Morpheus there while on his journey.
            Richard found Davingdale in the barn. “What ho, Thomas?”
            Thomas Merrit, Earl of Davingdale, labored in a stall mucking manure. He straightened and leaned against his pitchfork. “Richard, what brings you to my humble abode? Have you finally come to your senses and allowed us the privilege of Morpheus’ stud services?”
            Richard smiled. “Of a sort. I must away and have no desire to keep Morpheus in the mews. If he has a care to impregnate your mares whilst here, I’m sure there is nothing I could do to stop him.”
Thomas Merritt,
 Earl of Davingdale

Thomas leaned his fork against the wall and came out of the stall. “Where are you headed?”
            “Runcorn to pick up cargo for Robert. He’s invested in a cotton mill in Manchester and has piece goods he wishes to London.” Richard followed Davingdale to the small office at the back of the barn.
            “I do not understand,” Thomas said. He proffered a well-worn chair to Richard and then sat in the other. “If you are traveling to Runcorn, surely you shall need a decent mount.”
            “I am traveling by ship, Thomas. Robert has asked me to captain his vessel, the Lady Joanna.”
     “This is a surprise. I thought you had sworn off the sea.”
            Richard grinned. “You have not seen the Joanna. I do not think a landlubber like yourself could appreciate her.” Richard rubbed his hands together. “I fear I feel like a lover with my first virgin.” His strong, positive feelings about this new enterprise surprised him.
            “Well, I must say old man, if a pretty new ship is all it will take to put a smile on your face, then have at her. I declare, in all the years I’ve known you, I have never seen you thus.”
            Richard laughed. “And you may very well never again. A virgin vessel is something that only comes around once in a lifetime. I could not refuse.” But there was so much more to this trip than just the sailing aspect. He would find Amanda Wood.
            “Thomas?” a voice called from the depths of the barn.
            “Back here.”
            William Smith, Earl of Westerly, now the newly titled Duke of Caymore stepped into the office. “Richard? I thought that was your  Brabant in the field. What are you doing here?”
            “He is begging us to house Morpheus while he travels to Runcorn for Robert,” Thomas said.
William Smith,
Earl of Westerly
            “Runcorn? What the devil has my cousin going in Runcorn of all places?” William leaned against the door casing.
            “Cotton stuffs from Manchester,” Richard said. “He’s invested in a mill up there and needs someone to captain his ketch.”
            As Richard explained what the late Duke of Cantin had done for his wife, William let out a low whistle.
            “And now, Robert wants to use it to ship his piece goods to London,” Richard finished.
            “And you are going to captain her.” William looked at his friend.
            “He’s as giddy as a goat with his first virgin,” Thomas said.
            Richard laughed. “Your use of the metaphor is highly entertaining.” He looked at William. “Yes, I am as giddy as a goat. However, there is another, rather serious reason for me to embark on the trip.” He lowered his voice. “I met a woman.”
            William whistled again. “First a return to the sea and now a woman. What is to become of you?”
            “I do not know. I cannot explain it. I only know she is in Manchester and I must find her.”
            “Find her?” Thomas asked. “Is she lost?”
            “Of a sort. She is married…”
            “Married? Are you daft?” William asked. “What are you doing chasing after a married woman?”
            “It is not like that,” Richard said. “I met her in front of the Lamb and Lion one night. Her despicable husband left her alone on the street to deal with the trunks and sleeping child after he departed the hired hack. We spoke very briefly, but it seems the woman is a witch. She’s cast a spell over me and I cannot seem to get her out of my mind. Therefore, I will travel to Manchester to find her and break the spell.”
            Thomas and William exchanged glances.
            “Does this sorceress have a name?” Thomas asked.
            “Amanda Wood.”
            “What did you say?” William asked.
            “Amanda Wood,” Richard repeated.
            “I heard you the first time.” William raked a hand through his hair. “I think there may be something to your spell-weaving after all. Penny has just received a letter from her long-time friend Amanda Wood who has just returned from…”
            “America,” Richard said. William and Penny’s wedding had been where he had heard Amanda Wood’s name mentioned. Lady Pen was saddened that her friend could not attend. Lady Pen must have been the person that Amanda wished to see in London.
            “Yes, America.” William shook his head. “Penny is overset that we remained in Trilling. Mrs. Wood was only in London a day before she headed to Manchester. Penny begged me to take her up country. It seems Mr. Wood is somewhat of a cad and Pen fears for her friend’s well-being. She wishes to reassure herself her worries are groundless.” He stared at Richard.
            “Truthfully, Will, that is also one of the reasons I am taking on this job for Robert. In only the span of three seconds, I could see Mrs. Wood was afraid of the man. There is more than enough room on the Lady Joanna if you should like to travel with me.”
            William put up his hand. “Do not put the notion into Penny’s head. As much as an adventure as this might be, we were on our way to Westerly to continue our honeymoon. One I do not wish to share with you or Mrs. Wood.”
            “Westerly?” Richard asked.
            “Yes, the estate my grandparents left to Ellis and me. Formerly known as Easterly, but as Ellis gave it to us as a wedding gift, I decided to change its name to Westerly.”
            “Why do you not change it to Caymore? Better suits your title.”
            “The title is only mine until I have a son. I have no wish to be a duke. To get back to the other matter, I dare say when Penny finds you will be sailing to Runcorn, I’m sure she will ask you to take Mrs. Wood a letter or two. Would you care to stop at Caymore House? She would be most distressed if you do not.”
            Richard nodded. “Of course. One would not wish to have Lady Pen angry.”
            Thomas laughed. “No. Especially not at us.” The three men were great friends of longstanding.
            “Very well,” Richard said. “I must away to the Seamen’s home for my crew and then I shall stop at Caymore House.” He shook Thomas’ hand. “And if your mares refuse Morpheus, do not say I did not warn you. His reputation precedes him.”

            Thomas smiled. “I’m sure there will be a contented filly in the meadow before too long.”

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Hocus Pocus Focus

Between the holidays and the volunteer position I have for my daughter's school, the last couple of months have been crazy nuts. As you know, during this time I've also been trying to finish THE CAPTAIN'S COINCIDENCE. Believe me, I learned my lesson and I will remember this for next holiday season and schedule myself accordingly.

During Thanksgiving week (which we had vacation) I literally chained myself to the computer. I think I mentioned that. I was trying to finish the book by Christmas. It didn't work.

During the holiday break (19 days) I did the same thing. I practically blew my family off on Christmas Day because I received my critique partner's critiques on Christmas Eve and I wanted to work on the story while her changes were still ringing in my head.

One of the things my "critter" said, was that the book was all about Richard.
Richard and Robert
Richard and the pirate
Richard and his crew
Richard and the boat

There was really nothing written about Amanda. Two very short chapters and maybe an inserted scene into one of Richard's chapters. And then my Critter asked "Where is the chapter between Penny and Amanda? Aren't they friends? Isn't that who Amanda wanted to see from the beginning of the book?"

Duh. Talk about a face palm. Because my focus had been entirely on Richard, I pushed Amanda out of the story almost completely. And you can't have a romance if you don't have two people. So for the last two weeks, I've been working only on the chapters between Amanda and Penny. I finished them a couple of days ago and sent them off to my #1 Critter. Guess what...she loved them. Totally loved them. Aside from a few minor word changes, they're good to go.

While writing the book, I noticed I hadn't written much on Amanda. I kept putting it off, focusing on the research (which by the way, was a BEAR), and trying to keep my pirate stories straight. A lot of twisting and turning there. I assumed I would just get to her when I did. I wasn't worried, okay, maybe a little nervous. I needed to tell Amanda's story and I didn't know where to put it. Thankfully my Critter is an amazing writer herself and when she asked me about Penny, it all clicked.

Now, I'm going to tell you a secret about writers. We generally can't write our characters (men, women, vampires, yetis, aliens alike) unless we take a little piece of ourselves and insert it into that character. And this piece doesn't have to be much, but it has to be there. My trouble with Amanda was that I had no idea which part of me I wanted to give her.

Richard had already had my commanding presence. (ha, get it. When I worked in the restaurants, I was in command. He's Captain on a ship. Get it. Never mind.) However, I had no idea what to give Amanda. And that's why she's been so blocked for me. Once I realized Amanda and Penny were going to have "girl talk" and Amanda poured out her soul, BAM, there it was. That little piece of me she needed to give her "character". (If that makes any sense. Well, it does, but that needs to be another blog post.)

I also have to tell you, that while my focus was entirely on Penny and Amanda, I wrote about 2000 words a day. Which for a working professional writer should be a piece of cake. However, the last few months, my words counts were in the hundreds per day. (That itself is so discouraging. When you either don't have the time to focus, or just can't focus because of the events of the day, writing feels like a ball and chain.) I also have to say, that within these chapters, editing was a piece of cake. Not so many corrections, just a few word choices I had to change.

So, I guess I've found my focus once again on this book. With 8 years behind me, Richard and Amanda's story is finally being told. I really really really want to finish this by the end of January. If nothing else gets in my way, I think I will.

If you'd like to read the first chapter, you can go to Amazon or Smashwords and grab a copy of  A HUSBAND FOR MISS TRENT. At the back of that book, is the first chapter. (Give it a couple of weeks for Sony, Apple, Kobo)

Thanks for stopping by. Have a great week.

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014