(Not quite the way I picture the kitchen in the Greybeal House, but since I rely on CC0 images, it has to do. I do like the stove, though.)
One of the things about living in an era of social media is that authors are advised to blog on a regular basis and "connect" with readers on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. The end result for many of us is that the more time we spend on blogging and other aspects of social media, the less time we have to work on our projects.
So... to that end I am instituting "Writing Wednesday," where I will focus on something I am working on or have already published.
What I've got at the moment is the pre-beta reader material for A Good Community, book 5 in the Saint Maggie series. It is posted below as part of this blog, rather than as a Scribd document.
The blog about the Gettysburg ghost tour will be up on Friday, I won't deprive you of its spooky goodness!
Now, for the writing. The piece below comes from the first chapter of A Good Community. Several things are happening: 1) Emily Johnson has gone into labor and the family is awaiting a baby; 2) Eli makes a suggestion to Nate; 3) and whiskey comes out of the cupboard, much to Maggie's disgust. Set as it is in the first chapter, the scene helps establish relationships as well as the interplay among the characters.
Suddenly feet pounded down the winder stairs. Its door abruptly flew open, launching Birgit into the kitchen.
Nate saw her and staggered anxiously to his feet. “Is it here?”
“Not yet, Mr. Johnson,” the young woman said in her Irish brogue, “but Dr. Lape says it should arrive very soon.” She now turned her attention to Frankie. “Your sister says we need the water right away. Could you get the cold while I get hot, and help me take both buckets upstairs?”
Frankie turned questioningly to her mother.
Maggie said, “Of course. I’ll keep an eye on the beans for you.”
Relieved, Frankie fetched a bucket, plopped it in the sink, and energetically worked the pump for the cold water. Birgit meanwhile picked up another bucket near the stove, set it under the wash boiler, and turned the spigot to get the hot.
As Maggie opened the door to the oven, she said, “Moira, it looks as if the potpies are done. Would you help me take them out?”
On her way past the table, Moira noticed that Nate’s cup was nearly empty. “I’ll freshen that for you, Mr. Johnson. If you wish.”
Before he could answer, Moira picked the cup up, took it to the counter, and set it down. Then she wrapped her apron around one hand and pulled a potpie out of the oven, which she then sat on the stove. Turning to the teapot, she began refilling Nate’s cup.
To add to the activity, the door to the expansive kitchen abruptly flew open, and The Register’s staff to blew in: Eli, chief reporter Chester Carson, Grandpa O’Reilly, apprentice printer Andy, receptionist Danny, and reporter/telegrapher Edward Caldwell.
The second Eli’s eyes landed on Nate, he jokingly said, “Say, weren’t you in that same position when I left this morning?”
Nate sighed miserably. “Baby’s still not here.”
Moira set the cup of tea back in the saucer before him. “But it should be soon. Don’t fret, Mr. Johnson.”
Nate picked up the cup and took a weary sip.
Eli eased himself onto the chair beside his friend. Lowering his voice, he said, “Look, why don’t you just go upstairs and be with your wife? It might ease your mind.”
Nate grimaced. “I don’t think I can watch all that.”
“Of course you can. You should go up. Why, the most wonderful moment of my life – aside from marrying Maggie and adopting Bob - was watching our little Faith enter the world.”
“I don’t know. Even if I wanted to, Emily’d probably throw me out of the room.”
Eli waved the idea away. “Bunkum! Women say all sorts of things when they’re giving birth.” He lowered his voice further. “You know, Maggie said she’d never let me touch her again.” Sitting back in his chair, he cocked an eyebrow knowingly at his friend. “I’m here to tell you she was wrong.”
Nate managed a wan smile.
Eli feigned a sigh of relief. “Thank God! A response. I was running out of encouraging things to say.”
That made Nate chuckle, which made Eli feel as if his mission had been accomplished.
Maggie placed a bowl of biscuits on the table. “Is there anything I could help you with, Nate?”
“No,” Eli said. “We’re just having a little manly chat.” Grabbing his cane, he struggled to his feet. “All of which has caused me to believe that our Mr. Johnson is in need of some liquid courage.”
Irritated, Maggie watched her husband peg his way to a cupboard. “Elijah, no! It’s dinner time.”
“Not yet, it isn’t.” Opening a door, Eli reached inside and retrieved a bottle of whiskey. “I’m doing this for medicinal reasons, sweetheart.”
Moira stifled a giggle. “That’s what m’ Pap says. And it makes Mam furious.”
“Well,” Maggie muttered, “it’s not making me happy, either.”
The imbibing of alcohol was a mild point of contention between husband and wife. Over the nearly four years that Maggie and Eli had been married, they had developed a routine: Eli would mention taking a drink, Maggie would act shocked, Eli would take a drink, Maggie would heave a sigh. If Emily was around, she would remind Maggie that she was temperance, not teetotal, and then Maggie would have to admit that she did indeed take strong drink – but only occasionally and for medicinal purposes. To Maggie’s annoyance, it was the “medicinal purposes” clause that had become Eli’s all-purpose excuse to take a snort now and then.
He uncorked the bottle, poured about an inch of whiskey into a water glass, and gave it to Nate.
Maggie watched with minor disapproval as he reached for another tumbler. “Pray tell, who is the other glass for?”
“Thank you, dear chap.” Carson gratefully received his tumbler of whiskey.
Eli poured a third drink. “Grandpa.”
“About time,” Grandpa said. “I’m parched.”
Eli glanced at Edward. “Do you imbibe?”
Edward eyes flickered in Maggie’s direction. Even though her skin was white, her expression reminded him of his mother – and that was enough. He shook his head. “No, thanks, sir. My mother frowns upon it.”
“I understand.” Eli poured whiskey into one more glass. “As you may have noticed, my dear wife does not care for drinking, either.”
Andy cleared his throat. “Mr. Smith? What about me and Danny?”
“That would be ‘Danny and me,’” Eli corrected. “And no. You’re too young.”
Maggie’s eyed her husband. “That glass must be for you, then.”
“Indeed it is, sweetheart.” He lifted it in a toast. “Gentlemen, to our friend, Nate Johnson and his beautiful wife, Emily. May she safely be delivered of a fine, healthy child.”
The others lifted their glasses, crying, “Here, here!” And they all took a sip.
“Thank you.” Nate stood now and lifted his glass in a toast. “I’m blessed to have such good friends. To all of you and to our continued friendship.”
“Here, here,” they cried once more and tossed back their whiskey.
Eli’s instincts about Nate proved right. The drink seemed to have relaxed him and cleared his head.
Nate said, “You know, Eli, I think you’re right. I need to be upstairs with my wife.” With that, he put the glass down on the table and marched from the kitchen to the winder stairs. He was followed by the encouraging cries of his friends.
Seeing her opportunity, Maggie quickly picked up the whiskey bottle and, with a little smirk, corked it. “I’m glad you all have such brotherly affection for one another.” She strode to the cupboard and returned the bottle to its proper place. Turning, she smiled at the gathered family. “Now… let us be seated, thank God for our food, pray for Emily and the child, and enjoy our dinner.”
Hope you enjoyed it!
Until Friday, fiends... I mean, friends. (I'm thinking ahead to the ghost tour. LOL)
Janet Stafford, Squeaking Pips Founder