The Crimson Gown – Chapter Three

It’s the day after Thanksgiving! Though we’re not having our dinner until tomorrow because of wonky work schedules, so my day will be full of baking and eating and baking and last-minute grocery shopping.

Also, I want to bring you the last preview of The Crimson Gown, Chapter Three in all its entirety.  (If you want to take a gander at Chapters One and Two, go right ahead! I’ll wait.)

Chapter Three crimsonebookcover

There was more than enough tea and several small plates of edible tidbits laid out for Lord Cailvairt and his guests. The tray was heavy, but nothing greater than Lydia was accustomed to dealing with after years of serving the interminable flow of people who had passed through her father’s inn.

She walked up the servants’ stairs, her elbows tucked into her sides. The walls and narrow doorways threatened to knock against the edges of the tray if she failed to pay attention. The main corridor was empty, as she knew it would be, and her own steps sounded loud to her ears as she moved steadily towards the door to the drawing room.

The room itself was also empty. This surprised her, as she’d expected to be called upon to serve the assembled company. Her nerves still overwrought, she placed the tray down on the nearest table and began to fuss over the cups and saucers, the silverware that had been polished and polished again to a high gleam.

Another minute passed, and still no one arrived. Should she simply leave the tray and be on her way? She glanced about the room, its red brocaded walls attempting to lend the space a warmth that belied the chill that persisted outside. Those same walls were hung with portraits of people who meant nothing to her, the heavy frames adding an austere gloom to every pair of eyes that stared down at her. Above her head, the ceiling had been painted with various depictions of mythological scenes. Unfortunately, none of those scenes were of a sort to add any comfort or cheer to the room.

She would leave, she told herself, before anyone else could arrive. One last adjustment to the delicacies on the tray, and she began to move towards the door. Her hand was on the knob when it pushed toward her from the other side, the cold metal turning beneath her hand without any exertion from her own fingers.

Continue reading “The Crimson Gown – Chapter Three”

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Another Day, Another Chapter

Today is my book’s birthday!

*insert triumphant cheers and happy dances*

The Crimson Gown has been set loose today, which is all sorts of thrilling and frightening and so on. This one was a bit more under the radar, because something I’ve discovered the more I write and the more kids I have is that the publishing of books (not the writing, mind you… I still give that my all) tends to not be as Big of a Deal. I’ll keep writing books, they’ll – hopefully – continue to be published. But again, it’s the writing of them that keeps me going, the creation of characters and worlds and stories. By the time one of them goes on sale, I’m already knee deep in the next.

But! Like a forgotten middle child, I do want to remember to shine a light on this story. Because I do adore it. It is important to me. Like when one of my children takes his or her first steps, or learns to remove their underpants from their pants before throwing them in the hamper, I’m proud to see this little book wandering out into the wild.

Yesterday I brought you Chapter One of The Crimson Gown. Today, I will give you Chapter Two. (Tomorrow will bring Chapter Three, so be sure to come back!) Also, check it out on Amazon, if you wish.

Chapter Twocrimsonebookcover

Three days later, the first of the house guests arrived.

Lydia did not spy the carriage upon its approach, nor did she witness the man and woman who  descended from it. But the commotion that accompanied their appearance on the grounds echoed through the lower levels of the house, servants running to and fro with orders to heat water, to lay fresh fires in the cleanest of the rooms and to prepare refreshments for the incoming travellers.

The fires would have to be large, Lydia thought, to keep out the chill that refused to dissipate from the upper rooms of the house. The weather was no aid to their task, regularly sending a brutal wind that lashed against the outer walls while a cold drizzle laced with ice scratched at the windows overnight.

Lydia wondered at the timing of the event. House parties were typically hosted in the warmer months, when the weather was more suitable to travel and there would be the assurance of outdoor walks and activities for the assembled guests. But it was only the beginning of February, with the freezing gusts still howling down from the north and the promise of finer days and sunshine as ephemeral as a dream.

Continue reading “Another Day, Another Chapter”

The Crimson Gown – Chapter One

Today, it is my birthday. On Thursday is Thanksgiving here in the US, and then we’re about a month away from Christmas. The family and I are finally shaking off the last of a nagging, lingering cough/cold that decided it would be great for me to sound like a squeaky-voiced teenager for about two weeks. I’m a bit behind on schoolwork with the kids since I couldn’t go over their lessons with them without descending into a horrible coughing fit, and on Saturday, the temperature here in Central Pennsylvania decided to drop from a lovely 72 degrees to OH LAWD NO IT’S SLEET AND SNOW WINTER HAS COME in the span of about two hours.

And tomorrow, The Crimson Gown releases.

So you can imagine how much marketing and trumpet-blasting I’ve done so far to acknowledge the arrival of my third book.

Yeah, that much.

But as we rush at a terrifying pace towards the end-of-year holidays, I figure I need to be a bit better at announcing this story’s debut. Today, I bring you a treat! And for the next several days, as well! Today, I give you the first full chapter of The Crimson Gown. Tomorrow and the next day, I’ll treat you to chapters two and three, as well, so stay tuned!

Chapter One crimsonebookcover

The air pushed through the interstices of the old house, seeming even colder than when Lydia had still been beneath the burnished blue of the winter sky. She clutched her shawl around her shoulders and ducked through the low doorway, the strike of her heels on the bare floor sounding too loud to her own ears.

Before her, only a few paces ahead, the housekeeper—an older woman who introduced herself as a Mrs. Latimer—drifted on silent feet, only the swish of skirts and the rattle of keys at her waist marking her progress from one room to the next.

“The rugs will all need a good beating,” the woman said, her voice hard, as if she were a mouthpiece for the very bricks and beams that made up the walls surrounding them. “And the draperies need to be washed, some of them mended…” Her words trailed away as they passed into yet another room, all dark wood and darker furnishings, the walls bearing streaks of soot from untended candles and lamps left to burn with wicks untrimmed.

Lydia’s eyes drifted towards the artwork that decorated the walls, the frames thick with dust, some bearing the remains of tattered cobwebs that drifted softly, their ragged tendrils caught by an unseen draft. The canvases were nearly as dark as the panelling behind them, but what could be seen of the images portrayed in the muted shades of paints and charcoals was nothing that could be described as entertaining to the eye.

Grotesque beings gazed out at her, yellowed eyes gleaming, teeth bared, malformed bodies writhing. They were scenes she remembered from her childhood, evenings spent learning her letters over the family Bible. Too well she recalled that good book, filled with etchings meant to remind her of the sin that she nurtured inside her heart, of monsters and demons waiting to tear the flesh from her still quaking limbs should she stray too far from the righteous path.

Continue reading “The Crimson Gown – Chapter One”