Tuesday, 29 July 2014

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROSE: The Story That Surprised Me

I read a lot of books, and I try to write a lot of them. I've heard of authors who, while working on one project, are completely smote by another. And, though I've experienced that in a minute degree, never have I so completely as now.

Once upon a time--not very long ago, actually--I was struggling to come up with ideas for my other story, A ROSE FOR A DREAM. Nothing was clicking, and my brain was snagged by another concept. I wanted a more mysterious story than the ones I was currently working on--one that matched my love of CRUEL BEAUTY by Rosamund Hodge and THE QUEEN'S THIEF series by Megan Whalen Turner.

What do you get when you marry those two stories, and add a sprinkling of PERSUASION by Jane Austen?

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROSE, the story that dropped into my lap.

Now, elements of this story stem from an idea for the Five Enchanted Roses contest I'd been kicking around with Hannah, but an idea I'd rejected initially. But as I started thinking about it more and more, the story suddenly struck me all at once. I'd been handling my main character all wrong--and, once I started seeing her differently, the elements I loved from Hodge's main character Nyx found new and different life in my main character Leta.

I can't say much more than that for fear of spoiling everything. So here's more about the actual story itself, as little as I can offer you:

Leta Ashworth's life has finally returned to some hint of normalcy now that her father has been released from prison. She and her family, though reduced to poverty, make the most they can out of their new, meager roles as fisher-folk.

But one day a familiar face rides through her village, and Leta finds herself facing a man with the potential to be her beloved--or a beast. Either way, his life may be in danger, and only Leta can save him.

 A retelling of Beauty and the Beast and Jane Austen's Persuasion, where neither the Beast--nor the Beauty--are truly what they 


To get a taste of the characters and setting, you may visit the story's

(from the beginning of the story)

Then, from the corner of her eye, she noticed a lone horseman riding through the village. Travellers were not uncommon, but this particular traveller was no stranger to Leta's gaze. She was the only one compelled to leave her station and watch the man as he rode along the dirt road, his cloak whipped about by the wind.

“Leta! Get yer hind over here!”

She turned back to her fish, but not before casting one last look over her shoulder. A knot of emotions twisted in her stomach, and the familiar sting of fish in her nostrils suddenly did not seem so comforting. Bile rose in her throat. To the astonishment of her fellow women, Leta, with a stomach better than any man in the village, sank to her knees and retched.

Friday, 11 July 2014

By Request: Until Midnight

By the request of a young woman named Raechel on Pinterest, I have decided to share my short story, Until Midnight, with you all here on the blog. I wrote it last year for the Five Glass Slippers Contest hosted by Rooglewood Press. It retells Cinderella from the point of view of the eldest stepsister--who may be more of a fairy godmother than anything else...

While it is a novella, I have no intention of ever publishing it now; at the time, I enjoyed writing it, but it is definitely not my best work. However, I hope you will all gain some enjoyment from it! :) 

I will be posting it chapter-by-chapter, sometimes with two chapters to a post depending on how long they are.

So, without further ado, the first two chapters of Until Midnight.

Until Midnight
by Rebeka Borshevsky

Where It All Begins
When Maman told us we would be purchasing another servant, I did not expect my late stepfather’s daughter to be the unfortunate victim. Upon returning to the mansion after my usual afternoon carriage ride through Le Parc de Roses, I found my stepsister scrubbing the floor of the main hall. Light poured through the high, narrow windows, illuminating Elle’s golden curls.
I stopped, staring. “What are you doing that for? It’s the servant girl’s job.”
Elle looked at me with her mournful blue eyes, and my jaw dropped in that unladylike manner Maman detested. “Why?” I whispered.
She swallowed. “Papa left everything to your mother,” she said, her voice choked. “I have not a penny to my name.”
I blinked. Monsieur Renard must have been very ill—and Maman at her most manipulative. Stooping beside her, I said, “I’ll give you money.”
Her shoulders sagged. “Do you have any money to give?”
I gnawed my lower lip. “No,” I conceded. Maman was the one who doled out allowances.
She nodded. “There you go.” She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and sucked in a deep breath. “I will make the best of it.”
I left her there crying into the soapsuds and stormed into Monsieur Renard’s study. Maman sat at his old desk, twiddling a quill between her fingers as she studied accounts. “Eloise Gertrude D’Arcale, what did I tell you about stomping your feet?”
What did you do to him?” I snarled, ignoring her reprimand.
She arched a perfectly shaped brow. “Do to whom?”
Monsieur Renard! There’s no possible way he would have left everything to you and nothing to his only daughter!”
Her eyes flashed. “Why not?” she asked. “I am his wife and the mother of his children.”
You don’t act like one to her,” I said. And we weren’t his children—just his stepchildren.
She sighed, tapping the end of her quill against the desk. “This is about that coachman again, isn’t it?”
I stiffened, a flush creeping over my neck. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
She snorted—a delicate snort, as was becoming of one of her station. “He approached me to ask for your hand in marriage,” she said.
Idiot. I bit back a scowl, hiding clenched fists behind my skirts.
I refused,” she continued, watching me from the corner of her eye.
I’d expected as much. If mon père was still alive, he would have welcomed the match. Michael was an honest man, a hard worker, and most of all, he respected me. Papa would have preferred I marry a good poor man than a rich cruel one who would only parade me around to feed his own vanity.
Maman’s sights soared far higher than Papa’s modest wishes for my future.
I shrugged. Michael had refused on the grounds of honour to elope with me. So here we were, waiting. But I would not allow Maman to see how much her words affected me and let her win yet another battle.
I’m sure he will be sorely disappointed,” I said.
Her lips twitched with a frown when I did not give her the outburst she’d wanted. I almost smiled.
A Noblewoman and Her Coachman
The next afternoon, following lessons with my tutor, I ventured into the city. Unlike most noblewomen, I sat atop the box with the driver for the company. I gripped the seat as the carriage jolted over the cobbles, swerving around sharp corners and sending my hat flying into the air. I snatched it back, pulling it over my trundled curls.
We passed girls selling flowers on corners, clothed in bright-coloured rags. Shops lined the street—dressmakers and candlestick makers and the bakery. The rich aroma of fresh baked bread made my mouth water. I leaned out, inhaling deeply and closing my eyes to savour the flavour. Warmth fell across my eyelashes, the sun smiling down on us from his court in the bright blue sky.
Beside me, Michael sat as straight and stiff as a horse whip. I ignored him, focusing on the greenery of Le Parc de Roses as it appeared to my right. Birds chattered from the trees, squirrels dashing across the vibrant lawns. It was the nicest spot in the city of Avive, full of benches on which to perch and peruse a book. Many an afternoon I had done just that, lost in another world as la Seine gurgled past my feet on its path to the palace.
We turned through the gates onto a side avenue of Le Parc, the trees casting cool shadows over our heads. It was quiet and private here, so I dared remove my hat and use it to fan my face.
Michael slumped back, scuffing his toe along the rim of the box. “She said no.”
I told you not to ask her.” I pulled a book out of my satchel and flipped through it.
What was I supposed to do? Elope with you and be dragged to jail for abducting a noblewoman?”
I scowled. “It’s hardly abducting. I would go quite willingly. I am twenty-one years old, for pity’s sake. I’m surprised Maman hasn’t despaired of marrying me off and forced me into servitude.” My tone was sharper than I’d intended.
Michael’s expression softened. “I’m sorry to hear about Elle,” he said. “The poor girl.”
Penniless,” I spat. “And Maman lavishes money on dresses and makeup for Ilyse and I while refusing me the only thing I want.”
Michael shifted. I knew he wanted to wrap his arm around me to offer comfort, but it was improper when we were alone and had not even the hope of a future betrothal. I looked into his tanned, laugh-lined face. His dark brown hair was streaked with sunlight. His brown eyes regarded me with the same intelligent thoughtfulness as always, but this time there was an element of sorrow.
I fear I may have to request being moved to a new family,” he said quietly.
My throat choked up. The mere finger-length of distance between us suddenly felt far wider. “Why?”
Because if I continue in your employ, I fear I may do something we’ll both regret later.” He sighed. “I want to marry you, but to have you dangled in front of my face and told I can’t—” He looked at me, his face grave. “It’s torture for a man in love.”
I nodded. “I understand,” I said. “I—” I broke off. I would not tell him how much I’d miss our daily rambles in Le Parc de Roses, chatting about politics and literature and music while laughing at the nobility’s ridiculous sense of fashion these days. To ponder what we’d lose would only make everything more difficult.
How….how long do you think it will take you to find a new situation?” I croaked.
It depends. It could be anywhere between a day and a month. But I will start looking now.”
I turned to stare at the trees, which all blurred together as we went by. Something fell into my lap.
A copy of Love and War by Petrov Skimov, a prevalent writer from the empire of Rus to the east. When his novel had first been translated, it had been all the rage.
I’d read it in its original form, before it became a hit in Avive and the rest of Freanc.
It was the book that brought Michael and I together. When I had passed the stable and spied a lowly coach boy reading the novel in its difficult Rusian language, my interest had been piqued. We’d maintained a close friendship ever since, but it wasn’t until mon père had died and Maman married Monsieur Renard that I realized how much Michael meant to me. He had come with us to Monsieur Renard’s mansion, and I’d naively believed we would somehow be together forever.
Now I gripped the novel in my hands and clutched it to my heart.
“‘Love without war in the soul is not love at all’,” Michael quoted.
I sniffled. “‘And love that bests that war is the best one of all’,” I quoted back.

This is not the end yet,” he said, taking the reins in hand. “Unless we let it be.” And with a cluck to the horse, we sprang forward into a gallop. My hat flew off and my curls tumbled from their careful pins on top of my head. This time I let them all fall and leaned forward to kiss the wind.

Til Next Time...

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

What I'm Writing Now: Entry #1

Hey there, folks! It's contest time again, and that means, of course, I am pretty busy attempting to come up with novellas. This year, I'm forcing myself to only focus on two projects until they're completed, though I have ideas for a few more. But I'm determined to submit more than one this year--and that means discipline!

So, I'm going to share a bit about my two stories on this blog, now that the ideas for them have solidified into actual write-ableness.

Today I'm going to share about the first, and the one I'm currently writing, which is entitled...


Cover by the ever-talented HANNAH WILLIAMS

Ruta is a young woman determined to serve the Creator she loves by becoming a missionary to the World Beyond the Sea. But first, she must pass her uncle's test: she must serve a Penitent, an ex-criminal undergoing severe penance to show his remorse and desire to re-enter society. The challenge will test Ruta's faith in ways she can never imagine--especially since Favian, her Penitent, is far more than he seems... And not only could this cost her heart, it could cost her life--or her soul.


This story comes out of many places and tales--it combines the tales of Beauty and the Beast, Bearskin, and the eerie legend of Faust. Originally Ruta was going to be an innkeeper's daughter, but eventually my own interest in missions--and love of The Sound of Music--crept in. Now Ruta is something of a mix between a novice nun and a missionary. Some of my German and French heritage has also offered itself up setting-wise. And hints of The Hunchback of Notre Dame inevitably worked their way in to my ideas for the climax. This is a story with many threads woven from what I love--and I hope to share it with you all!


Since I don't want to spoil the story too much, I won't share a whole lot about my characters--just the two main ones.

Her looks were partially inspired by this beautiful piece of art.
Ruta Albrecht

Despite wishing to become a missionary, Ruta lacks some of the patience and compassion necessary for such a feat. To test her, her uncle orders her to serve a Penitent. His reasoning: "Before you can save souls, you must care about souls." Unfortunately for Ruta, her time with Favian stretches her to the breaking point...

Was inspired partially for his appearance by this picture.
Favian Rosengart

For the majority of the story, Favian looks nothing like his normally handsome self--in fact, he looks more like a Beast. At first, Ruta and others assume he is a Penitent due to his appearance: long, unshaved hair and beard, untrimmed fingernails, and the horrid bearskin he has to wear all the time. Not to mention the smell. But Favian has far more intriguing--and sinister--reasons behind his looks... And the closer he gets to Ruta, the more sinister the consequences become.


You can find the Pinterest board for this story here.


This is just the smallest of excerpts, and it's from my outline, so it may not even make it into the story. But it gives you a bit of time with dear Ruta:

“As part of your training, Ruta, you will serve a Penitant for the span of one year,” her uncle said, his finger tracing the beads of his prayer chain.

A shiver traced its course along her spine. Raising her gaze to meet her uncle's, she fought against the protest battering the back of her teeth. He watched her struggle, a smile hidden in the tweaking corners of his lips.

“Why?” she blurted out at last.

Sinking back, he clasped his hands together before him. “Because before you can start saving souls,” he said, “you must care about souls. And there are few souls more in need of your care than Penitents. And there are few souls who will test your care more than they. If you can finish your year with more love in your heart than when you began, you will be ready to go beyond the known world.”

That's all for me right now--keep watch later on for a post about my second entry! :) What are you all writing these days?