Hi everyone. I hadn’t intended to post today but in sorting out my e-mail subscriber situation, it said an e-mail would be sent out at 4AM my time and I wanted to make sure it wasn’t a duplicate post of Monet’s garden. (Oh, I hope it works this time!)
If my posts are less frequent overall, I wanted to assure you I am still writing. In fact, I thought I’d include two excerpts here of my latest work. The first is probably longer than it should be because – how many of you read French? Do any of you read French?
I’m working with someone to translate my memoir, Stars Upside Down. She does 7 chapters at a time and sends them to me, I read and make notes, then we get together and discuss it all over lunch. It’s so lovely – no, poignant and magical – to see my words in French. I cried when I read the first chapter out loud to my husband.
So here is the translated last bit of Chapter Six, a part of the book that is very dear to me. If you don’t understand it, feel free to skim down to the English part below:
Elva, mon ancienne assistante, bien qu’ayant déménagé à Taipei, faisait toujours partie de ma vie. Un week-end, elle est venue me voir et m’a emmenée dans les montagnes. J’adorais rouler en mobylette. Grisée par la vitesse en dépassant les gens et en filant le long des paysages, je me sentais libre. Comme le port du casque n’était pas obligatoire et qu’il m’importait peu de survivre ou non à une chute, j’ai laissé le vent s’engouffrer dans ma chevelure et tourbillonner le long de mon corps. Je voulais qu’il arrache la douleur de ma poitrine.
Nous avons d’abord roulé dans les rues familières, bondées, encombrées de marchands bruyants poussant leur marchandise à chaque coin de rue. Nous nous arrêtions aux feux rouges, perdues au milieu d’une armée de motos, les épais nuages blancs des pots d’échappement montant jusqu’au premier étage des immeubles alentour. Puis, la chaussée s’est élargie et nous avons commencé à apercevoir de plus en plus la campagne. Nous avons roulé comme ça pendant plus d’une heure jusqu’à ce qu’enfin, au loin, les montagnes apparaissent.
Nous avons emprunté la large route droite qui traversait les rizières avant d’aborder la montagne. Les virages faisaient s’incliner nos corps d’un côté puis de l’autre au fur et à mesure de notre ascension. Nous avons trouvé un petit espace de terre battue au bord de la route pour nous garer. Dès que le moteur a été coupé, le calme de l’endroit m’a frappée. Il n’y avait personne à part nous.
Nos paniers à la main, nous avons commencé à cueillir des litchis sauvages sur les grands buissons du bord de la route, essayant d’atteindre toujours plus haut au dessus de nos têtes les fruits les plus gros et les plus juteux. Nous nous arrêtions pour peler la peau rose et cartonneuse d’un fruit et sentir son goût douceâtre avant de recracher le noyau lisse et brun, les doigts collants de jus. Une fois nos paniers pleins, nous avons repris la route jusqu’à un large torrent qui dévalait la montagne en sinuant. En son milieu, deux larges rochers dépassant du courant impétueux nous invitaient à nous asseoir.
Des pierres rondes plus petites formant un passage dans le courant nous ont permis d’atteindre en sautillant les rochers du milieu. Là, nous avons papoté, tout en regardant nos coques de litchis vides flotter le long du courant. Quand le soleil a commencé à baisser, la fraîcheur de l’air et la lumière déclinante nous ont finalement fait sortir de notre rêverie. Une fois debout, nous avons retrouvé notre équilibre pour retraverser le torrent sur les pierres et reprendre nos affaires pour rentrer.
Je n’oublierai jamais cette journée dans la montagne, ce jour où les paysages et les sentiments m’étaient si étrangers qu’il me semblait vivre momentanément la vie de quelqu’un d’autre, ce jour où j’ai essayé d’échapper à ma douleur.
Je nous revois, faisant soudain face à la montagne, parcourant librement le dédale de routes jaunes dans une mer de riz doré qui ondulait dans le soleil à perte de vue. L’image de ce soleil brillant, de ce ciel bleu, du riz d’or et des montagnes vertes et brunes au loin, et moi, volant, m’envolant au milieu de tout cela… je crois que cette scène restera gravée dans ma mémoire avec ses couleurs éclatantes jusqu’à mon dernier jour.
So that is the latest news concerning the memoir. Have you wondered about the Regency I’ve been working on for over a year? Well! I’m nearing the end of my first round of edits on the entire thing so that is a huge accomplishment. I’ll soon be entering into 3d draft status. But the story arc and character development still needs tons of work. Fortunately, I have good beta writer friends willing to fill it with red ink and improve it beyond measure.
Never mind. I have to start somewhere. Here’s my 2nd draft edit on the scene I worked on yesterday.
The major followed and lay his hand on Stratford’s arm. “Worthing, wait,” he said. The earl turned and felt the impulse to give him a snub, but he resisted and stayed to see what he would say. “You cannot think she is guilty of everything they’re saying,” the major said.
“I have no reason to disbelieve it, coming from two separate sources.” He stood impatiently.
“Perhaps it will influence your judgment if I tell you Miss Broadmore was in concert with Louisa Price in spreading the rumor.”
The earl turned, an arrested look in his eyes. “This came from Miss Broadmore?”
“I don’t know where she got her sources, but I overheard several people say Miss Broadmore was the one who told them. I’m not in reconnaissance for nothing.” The major gave a wry smile. “Come. Admit that perhaps it has something to do with jealousy.”
The earl considered it, and said, “Perhaps. But this story of her climbing into the dormitory in the middle of the night … surely Miss Price had no benefit in spreading such a tale if it were not true.”
“Forgive my presumption, my lord, but you don’t understand women.” The major turned as Lydia and Emily came up to them. Lydia’s face was white and she was controlling herself with difficulty.
“Stratford, may I have a word with you in private.” The earl started forward as she gave a half-turn, but she faced the major and added, “Mr. Fitzwilliams, if you will be so good as to come, I’d like you to hear this story too.”
They found an unoccupied room off the corridor on the first floor. Stratford went in, followed by the major. “Emily already knows,” Lydia said, “and Anna you may as well hear this too.”
When the entire party was assembled in the room, Lydia spoke. “Stratford, you know how I was when my father died. He always made me feel special. He was the only one in the family to show me affection. Usually I was foisted off on the nurse, but when he was around, he would spend hours talking to me. After he died, I had no one. Of course, I don’t blame Freddy now, for I can see he has quite his share of burdens that come from running the estate. But I held it against him at the time.”
She paused, and her lack of reproaching—or even mentioning—her mother was felt by everyone. “I fell into a dark place when Papa died, and I didn’t want to do anything anymore. That’s when my mother dismissed the nurse, who she said had put tragical notions in my head by reading too many novels, and sent me to school where I met Eleanor.
“Eleanor was good to me. She never complained about her situation and I know it was difficult for her to have lost her father then have her mother run off and marry someone, and leave her behind. I began to cheer up around her and try and pay attention in my studies. Only …”
She continued with difficulty. “The Latin teacher was most attentive, and I fear he saw in me an easy prey. He convinced me to run away with him, and he was charming, and older, and I… I was weak and I agreed to it. I confided in Eleanor and she dissuaded me most earnestly to turn from what she said would be a ruinous path. I didn’t listen to her, and she locked us both in the room and pocketed the key. When I threatened to scream or grab it from her, she told me to go ahead, but she put one foot over the windowsill and began to climb down. She knew I was terrified of heights.
“I was mad enough that I could have screamed just to make sure she got caught. Except that I thought it would all come out that I was the one who was going to elope. I have an inheritance and they would have no trouble believing it was me.”
“Why didn’t she stay in the room with you? Why did she need to climb out the window?” Stratford paced the room, angry with Lydia for being selfish, angry with himself for believing something against Eleanor, angry with the Latin teacher for seducing innocent girls.
“Because the Latin teacher said he would wait for me at the same place and same time every night until I came. He knew it was not easy to get away when one wanted to and he was determined that I would eventually come. She thought the best way to get rid of him was to go in my place and say I was not interested. Except…”
“Except he took her with him,” the major finished.
“Yes.” Lydia looked at him for the first time, blushing but refusing to look away. “And she never told me how she got away. I only know she did because I heard her creep back into our room in the middle of the night.” She lowered her eyes. “I was so angry I didn’t speak to her for the entire week before we left on Christmas break. And by the end of the break, I had realised the extent of my folly and begged Eleanor’s forgiveness. She forgave me instantly.”
Anna darted a look at her brother and said, “Was she able to escape with her virtue intact?”
“Anna,” Emily admonished quietly.
“It’s a fair question,” Anna protested. “Perhaps, through no fault of her own, there is some substance to the rumours.”
Stratford’s jaw worked furiously. He spun around and strode to the fireplace, then turned and came back to the group. He was just in time to hear Lydia say in a succinct voice, “Eleanor has no cause to blush.”
So those are my works-in-progress. It’s slow-going for sure, and it means my blog posts are a little on the light side, but I love the idea that I’m always moving towards a completed novel. (Two books, if you include the memoir in French).
It’s a little early to announce this, but if you haven’t had a chance to read my clean, modern romance that just had its one-year anniversary, The Viscount of Maisons-Laffitte will be on sale for .99 on Amazon US, Amazon UK, and in Canada. (Click the pink for the link). The sale begins Monday, May 8 and lasts though Sunday.