Monday, June 8, 2009

A Pre-Conference Snippet

Posts have been scant of late; I've been busying preparing for the Historical Novel Society Conference I will be attending in Chicago this coming weekend. I am excited on many counts: I will be meeting my agent in person, as well as many of the writing friends I've made over the internet during the last two years. The list of authors attending this year's conference is quite impressive: Edward Rutherford, Margaret George, Diana Gabaldon, Sharon Kay Penman, Michelle Moran, C.W. Gortner, Catherine Delors, to name only a few. It will be an amazing opportunity to learn from these writers' experiences and expertise; I'll be wandering around like a star-struck teenager. I will also be having two pitch sessions with editors. Since I've been rereading my first novel, The Measure of Silence, in preparation, I thought I'd share a snippet with you:

Copyright 2009 by Julianne Douglas

She heard his tentative steps on the stairs, the stifled curse when he tripped on the landing. He eased open the chamber door, blinking like a startled mole when the light from her lamp fell upon his face. “Wife. You don’t sleep.” His cheek twitched, a telltale sign of his discomfort.

“Hush. Come in and shut the door.” He shuffled into the room, mouth slack and eyes bleary. “What happened? Did that fool of a farrier lighten your purse again?”

The hand he ran through his hair left a trail of haphazard spikes in its wake. “Had a bit of bad luck, is all. I’ll make it up tomorrow.” He loosened the thong of his smock and pulled the garment over his head, lingering long within its folds. His ribs strained against the pale skin of his chest.

Jollande turned back to the table and wiped her pen. “Remember the poem I’ve been working on? The one about Diana and her bow? I just finished it.” She hated the false brightness in her voice.

The bed creaked as he sat down. “Diana?” The unfamiliar name foundered on a ragged belch.

“The goddess of the moon. The virginal huntress.” She hesitated, then turned and held a sheet out towards him. “You may read it if you’d like.”

“Goddess? Could she help me win tomorrow?” Arnault chuckled, pleased at his own cleverness. He waved the paper away. “Show it to your friends in town. It’s wasted on me.” He yanked off a shoe and tossed it to the floor. The caged finches erupted in a paroxysm of frightened twitters when the wooden heel smacked the boards. Arnault groaned and covered his ears with his hands.

Jollande released the breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding. As she swung around to return the paper to the desk, her elbow bumped the ink pot, overturning it. Channeled into grooves scored by her pen, the dark ink sketched a feathery web of half-formed letters and superimposed words as it spread across the tabletop.

Arnault’s voice rose to a pitiful wheedle. “Come to bed, wife. Perchance my luck will take a turn for the better.” He slumped back on the bolster, cheeks flushed, eyes watery slits. By the time Jollande wiped up the mess, Arnault had fallen asleep.


I'll post about the conference as soon as I return. Say a prayer my work gets a better reception than poor Jollande's poem did!


Jessica said...

Lovely! Thanks for sharing, Julianne!

Courtney Allison Moulton said...

Very intriguing. I like the way you write. You've got two interesting characters here. Poor Jollande!

Kerri said...

It's very elegant. I especially like the Diana reference.

sunna said...

This is great, very vivid and eloquent. I'm already hoping Arnault meets an untimely end sometime soon, just like I suspect Jollande is. :-)

JKB said...

Quite fine. It's lovely!

sue laybourn said...

Lovely. I love the richness of your descriptions. I love the scene. My hubby has come home in a state like that more than once, in the past, so it strikes a chord with me.
Poor Jollande :(

So jealous that you're going to the conference. Impressive lineup of speakers. I'm looking forward to your report.

Stephanie said...

This is beautiful and heart-breaking. I hope you'll post more next week, I'm very intruiged!

Gretchen said...

One of the (many) things that I adore about this is the fact that I know right off the bat, from the first paragraph, and without you "telling" me so, that we are not in the here and now. The language choices in the dialogue and descriptive launch my into this historic world right away. Fantastically done.

Rose Pressey said...

Wonderful. I love the characters.

Sarah said...

Gorgeous! Love the description here. I want to read that poem!

hope101 said...

Your writing is so lush I'm envious. Love the blog design, too. I'm a newbie to blogging and appreciate how your esthetic reflects your work.

Jan (aka hope101)

Catherine Delors said...

Looking forward to meeting you, Julianne! Yes, I am sure you will meet with a better reception than Jollande.

Kim said...

Poor Jollande! I immediately get the sense that her husband is the terribly "practical" sort that's no bit of fun. ;)

Anonymous said...

Loved it. Amazing description. Just the right amount of vivid detail.

Enjoy the conference. And Diana Gabaldon! Swoon! I would love to hear her talk about writing. trickywoo

Julianne Douglas said...

Thank you all for your lovely comments. Yes, poor Arnault does meet an untimely end--on the first page of the novel, actually. He's really not a bad chap, just not in Jollande's league. Of course it was an arranged marriage. Don't worry--she'll meet her match, in love and lyricism!

I am SO excited about the conference. The best part is that the published authors mingle freely with us unpubbed plebs all weekend, so one actually gets to meet and chat with one's idols! I probably won't be able to post until I return home on Monday, but I will share all I can then.

Thanks again for reading!

Marg said...

I am totally jealous of everyone who is going to the conference! I can't wait to hear all about it.

HT said...

Very bummed that I didn't make it to the conference. We're waiting for an update--all of us want to live vicariously through you and the others who got to go!


Julianne Douglas said...

My post about the conference is coming...I was working on it when I got Holly's comment. This thing called real life keeps getting in the way...Sorry for the delay!