Hello, there! I’m back after a couple weeks away from the Blog Hop. I’m going to cheat a little this week. Today’s topic comes from Leslie Hachtel:
It’s almost Valentine’s Day. Tell us your favorite Valentine story.
I’m afraid Mr. C and I decided a long time ago that we wouldn’t “do” Valentine’s Day, so that’s my story about this date for lovers. 😊 But that sounds cynical, and that's not true, really. My sister-in-law and her husband were married on this day, and I love them both, so that’s my favourite Valentine story. They went on a holiday to Jamaica and were married in a very private ceremony there. Only their parents knew about it so we were all delightfully surprised when they returned!
Since my contribution this week is so small, I thought I’d skip back to last week’s topic, which I missed blogging about. Last week, A.S. Fenichel set the subject:
Teaser Tuesday: What are you working on? Give us a sample of your work in progress.
On January 18, I finished the first draft of my eighth manuscript. It doesn’t have a title yet, as the one I originally gave it no longer suits the story. But I really like that title, so I’m saving it for another book, which means I don’t want to mention it here. Let’s just call my work in progress Book 8 for now, shall we?
Book 8 tells the story of a forty-eight-year old bookstore manager with an irritating ex-husband and a failing business, who is obsessed with identifying the author of the World War Two journal she unearths, which leads to an unexpected new romance.
When I was searching for my next idea, I knew I wanted to have a mature heroine. While I love writing about twenty/thirty-somethings, I haven’t been one for a while (LOL!). Also, I would love to read more books with older heroines – so why not write one?
I also enjoy reading dual timeline novels, where the past and present are linked and we see scenes in both eras. As I was researching for an idea that could have this structure, I came across the Canadian Letters and Images Project. It is is an online archive of the Canadian war experience as told through the letters and images of Canadians themselves. I found myself fascinated by the voices I read here, and when I came across this diary by William Henry Smith I knew I’d found the germ of my new book.
After reaching out to the Project, I discovered that no one has managed to link this diary to any currently living person. Despite the wealth of information in it, including his regiment, when he shipped from Canada, and the last date he wrote in it, no one knows if William survived the war, or if he died, where he was buried. His family has not been found, either.
I couldn’t resist writing this real-life mystery. Here’s a sneak peek at the scene where the diary is discovered.
It didn’t look dangerous. It looked like a grubby and slightly damp-damaged journal, with less than half of the unlined pages covered in loopy, childish handwriting.
Leeza Boychuk should have known better. She knew words were weapons, knew that, whether written or spoken, they could destroy happiness, batter pride, and bring the haughtiest low. But it was only much later that she realized the power of the book she held in her hand.
It was barely bigger than her palm. The spine was black leather, as were the curling corners. The rest of the cover was a thick, rough, red cardboard. How had it ended up jammed between a trade paperback of Robert Ludlum and a hardcover of Clive Cussler? She put it in the big tote she used as a purse to examine later, and continued to fill the box at her feet with the books remaining on the shelf.
“Did Grampa-Great really read all of these?” Drew, a stack of novels clutched in his large hands, gazed with disbelief at the dozens of books still lining the walls. Her son had offered to help clear out the backroom, but she didn’t think he’d anticipated quite the amount of work it would be.
Mind you, neither had she.
“I imagine so. He loved to read.” She folded the flaps of the box and tucked them neatly under each other to hold them down.
“What are you going to do with them? You don’t sell used books at Millar’s.” Drew handed her what he held so she could start filling a new box, and reached to the top shelf for more. At just over six feet, he was almost a foot taller than her, his height inherited from his father.
She was not going to think of her ex-husband. Not when she was already emotionally drained from dismantling her grandfather’s life.
“No, we don’t. I’m donating them to the thrift store the Hospice Society runs.” In fact, most of the contents of the house were heading that direction. Her grandfather had lived alone, amazingly independent for a man who died only weeks shy of his 100th birthday. He’d spent those last weeks at the local Hospice, and supporting that society was the best way Leeza could think to thank them for their warm and loving care.
It took the rest of the afternoon, but they finally packed the last of the books away. The boxes were stacked two and three high, and filled much of the floor space.
“Almost ready for the new renters,” Leeza said, stretching her back. “The thrift store truck is coming tomorrow.” Drew grunted acknowledgment as he guzzled water from a bottle. Grampa-Great might have read all the books at one time, but it had been a long while ago if the dust coating them was anything to go by. Leeza could feel the grit on her teeth and took a long swallow from her own bottle. “They’re taking everything that’s left. Are you sure there’s nothing else you might want?”
Drew nodded. “I have the photo of him during World War Two, with him on the tank, and the one of the two of us at my high school graduation. That’s enough. If I was staying around, I might have taken some of the furniture, but since I’m not…”
Leeza’s heart pinched, but she kept her expression open. “Yes. It will be easier to buy what you need once you get there.”
“I’m hoping to find a furnished placed to rent. Or maybe share an apartment. Or flat, I supposed I should say.” He grinned, brown eyes glowing.
“Well, when in England…” Leeza smiled, determined not to shadow Drew’s grand adventure with a melancholic mother. When he’d first told her he had quit his job at the bank and was heading to Europe for an indeterminate amount of time, she’d assumed he meant weeks, possibly a few months. She’d known he was restless and dissatisfied at work, even though a job in finance should have suited the Bachelor of Commerce degree he’d completed a couple of years ago. She figured he was going to take some time for himself before settling into a new career path. But that was before she knew he’d accepted a placement at the High Commission of Canada in the United Kingdom—specifically, London. He had been blazing with excitement when he announced he’d been accepted for the position. She would do nothing to dim that joy.
They stepped out the front door into the chilly briskness of a darkening last-day-of-November afternoon. Drew headed off in his soon-to-be-sold sporty sedan to have dinner and spend the evening with friends. He only had a few more days in town, and she wanted to share every second she could with him. But he had his own life and she had…well, her work, at least.
I hope you enjoyed this peek into my next book. I’m hoping to release it this summer, but there is still lots of work to be done. For now, why not hop over to Leslie Hachtel and read about her favourite Valentine story!