Be Warned: These are the scribblings of a writer unruly, unsupervised, and largely unrepentant

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

2011 Thank you from my heart

Coming to the end of my first year as a published writer, I'd like to take a moment to thank everyone who helped me get this far. (In no particular order)

My husband for his support and patience, after listening to me complain constantly for a hundred years about being an underappreciated genius.
My dad for gifting me with an imagination, a sense of humor and the love of a good story.
My family for being eager to pick up a copy of every new release and tell me they love it (regardless of whether they do or not!)
My friends, for being the guinea pigs on whom I tried out many of my early efforts.
The agent who tried so hard to sell my work and gave me wonderful advice.
The publishers who finally took a chance on me and said "Heck, why not?".
My fellow writers who have given me laughs along the way, often held my virtual hand, slapped my virtual back and driven me to carry on.
The characters who've inspired me every day to get out of bed, sit before the glowing screen of a dell computer and start tapping away before the birds are singing.
The editors who gently chide me for my excessive use of commas and point out to me the things I'm often too engrossed in the story to notice.
The reviewers who've had such lovely things to say about my work.
And the READERS, who spend hard-earned money on the purchase of my books.
Thank you, each and every one for making this a special year!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

2nd Excerpt from ONCE A ROGUE

He stared straight ahead, not yet trusting himself to look at her again. He smelled the plum wine on her breath, so now he knew the source of her odd smile and the stumbling. Churlish, he thought about finding every jug of that stuff and pouring it out in the yard. It was never wise to let a woman near something so potent, no matter how his mother protested she was allowed one vice in her life. At her age she ought to know better. Fancy giving this wench, who was plainly trouble enough, plum wine, just to add coal to the fire!

Once through the gate and out in the lane, he stopped abruptly, hand still around her arm. “It was you, wasn’t it ?”

“What was?”

“In Norwich.”

All amusement melted from her countenance. She tried to remove her arm, but he gripped her tightly. He would not let her get away again. She’d left him once before, left him to suffer.

“I don’t know what you mean,” she said, eyes flaring, shooting sparks of reflected sunset. “I’ve never been to Norwich. I…I don’t even know where it is.” Up went her eyebrows and the disdainful little nose.

“I met a woman there in a bawdy house, two months ago,” he said slowly. “She wore a mask and wouldn’t tell me her name.”

“A house of ill-repute? How dare you suggest I ever visited such a place!”

Releasing her arm, he muttered, “Can’t imagine where I might get the idea. Can you?”

“Certainly not.” She fussed with those loose strands of hair, trying to put them back under her cap. “And frankly, Master John Carver, I wonder what business you had in such a place either!” She stormed off, head high, as if she had somewhere important to go without him. Oh no, the strumpet would not walk away, dismissive and haughty.

His long stride soon caught up with her. “Nathaniel put you up to it, did he, trollop? Was it another of his little jests to send you to seduce me at Mistress Comfort’s?”

Even her freckles paled. “You stinking, wretched, hypocrite! Filthy, rotten…goatypig!”


“Yes. That’s what you are. A goat,” she held up one hand and then the other, “and a pig.” Clapping her hands smartly together, she just missed his nose. “But with none of the good, just the worst aspects of both rolled into one.”

“You’ve been at my mother’s plum wine haven’t you?”

Hands on her waist, she stood her ground. “So what if I have?”

Glowering down at the bedraggled creature with the stubborn lips and prim, upturned nose, John once again suffered an undeniable jolt of need. At least once a day, since he’d brought her here, these feelings came to him and usually at a very inconvenient moment.

She could deny it all she liked.

But he knew her. Intimately. In every way.

Where had she been before then? How many other men had she known since him? Had she thought of him at all in the time between? Anger, jealousy and hurt battled for supremacy. No woman had ever done this to him. No woman would dare treat him this way.

She was leaving him again, her quick step already passing through the gates to the yard. He followed, grabbed a pitchfork from the hay cart and ran around in front of her, holding it like a weapon. She skidded to a halt, eyeing the pitchfork fearfully.

“Tell me the truth, Friday wench.” She stepped back against the cart and he followed. “It was you, wasn’t it? Confess!”

She regarded him sourly, lips pursed, head on one side. He resettled the pitchfork across his thighs, holding it with both hands.


“I’ve never seen you before in my life. Not before you found me waiting on the Captain’s cart in Yarmouth.”

The little scar under her eye was not familiar to him, but her lips were. So was the dimple and the hair, now its true color began to show. She had the sheer gall to feign ladylike, dainty manners when he knew exactly what she was and what she’d done to him, damn her.

She was the best birthday gift he’d ever had.

copyright Jayne Fresina 2011

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Teaser excerpt #1

So this weekend I will post two teasers from ONCE A ROGUE (Taming the Tudor Male in Three Easy Lessons). I hope you enjoy! Leave a comment below for the chance to win a copy on monday.

First Excerpt - ONCE A ROGUE

May 1588

The first time she saw him, she knew he was the one.

Squinting through a peephole, heartbeat falling like coins from a tumbler’s pockets, Lucasta Collyer made the decision that changed her life.

To this man, a complete stranger, she would give her maidenhead.

She watched him for a while. Careful assessment suggested he was ideal for the job: sturdily built, quietly confident, a man of few words. Compared to the other available choices at hand, he looked sober. Participating in none of the games taking place, he sat at one corner of the hearth, mellow-tempered and disinterested, legs stretched out and crossed at the ankle. One might even say he looked bored, until one of the resident old dogs slouched over to inspect him. Then his eyes lightened, his face relaxed in a smile and he leaned down to pet the animal. He wore no doublet, just a shirt with a jerkin over it, loose breeches and lugged boots. A simple peasant, with broad shoulders and a build carved through hard physical labor, he was certainly no one she was ever likely to encounter elsewhere. Their worlds would never meet again after tonight.

“Yes. He’ll do.” A pulse, reckless and runaway, hummed through her veins, but her voice remained composed. She hoped.

Mistress Comfort, the proprietress of this establishment, needed no assistance from her sharp eyes while efficiently counting the coin in her wrinkled hands. Instead she stared curiously at Lucy. “Are ye quite certain, madam?”

“Yes. The dark-haired man by the fire. Now I’m in haste. Where might I…” Tattered courage momentarily deserted her, shortened her breath so words expired on her tongue. Planning this daring escapade was one thing; actually carrying it out another. “Where might we have privacy?”

She was escorted up a narrow set of stairs and along a dark hallway to one of the small bedchambers. Mistress Comfort asked no further questions. The weight of her coin purse would silence any. Sometimes it was useful to have a wealthy father, although until now, as the somewhat inconvenient, least favored child, Lucy had never felt much benefit.

“This is my best chamber, madam,” the old proprietress assured her. “It is on the quieter side of the house,” she added.

Eager for some fresh air, Lucy hurried around the bed to open the window. It was a chilly evening with a hint of rain, but she would rather be cool than too hot. The sudden introduction of a sly breeze woke the few lit candles from their lazy slumber and long shadows danced, stretching around the walls, fluttering wings of light beating across her face. She drew a steadying breath and, in this flickering, capricious glow, inspected the scene of her imminent ruination.

A low table stood in one corner, holding a ewer and washbasin, a chipped chamber pot beneath. There was evidence of some effort to make the room appear more luxurious: a pair of threadbare, moth-nibbled tapestry curtains draped around the bed and even a small bowl of dried rose petals set nearby to sweeten the air. After all, this was the finest whorehouse in Norwich. Apparently.

Mistress Comfort, eager to impress, had carried up a jug of wine on a tray with two dented pewter cups. Unfortunately her lurching, crook-backed gait was not conducive to an even hand, and as she shuffled by Lucy to set her burden down, several puddles of vinegary liquid sloshed onto the tray. A shiny black beetle, caught napping on the small table beside the bed, was too slow to escape its doom when she brought the tray down with a clatter.

“A little something extra, madam,” she grunted, hobbling back to the door. “Free o’ charge.”

Free of charge, indeed! She’d paid a small fortune for the use of this chamber and the old crone’s discretion.

Fingertips tentatively pinching the dusty folds of the frayed bed curtain, contemplating a damp patch  on the wall, Lucy muttered, “Well, now I’ve come this far, I may as well proceed.”

She was aware of Mistress Comfort’s beady eyes assessing her critically. The old hag must be wondering why she wore a leather mask over the top half of her face and why she was there to buy a man for the evening. Lucy certainly wouldn’t tell her.

Releasing the curtain, she whirled around. “Bring him to me, then!” As always, when she was anxious, Lucy’s voice grew tight and clipped.  She heard the tone, but could do nothing to soften it, Her mouth was dry, her tongue might seize up at any moment. Eager to get this over with, she jerked off her hood. “Make haste, woman!” she added, pretending not only that she purchased a man’s company every evening of the week, but she didn’t hear the little skip of panic in her own voice.

Mistress Comfort retreated quickly, closing the door behind her, and Lucy began to undress before she changed her mind.

He’d better have clean hands. She didn’t want him getting any dirt on her. A quick glance at the ewer assured her there was enough water to make him wash them. Good. And he could wash his other parts too, thank you very much, before they came anywhere near her. She looked at the bed, nervously pacing around it. There would be fleas, more than likely. She itched already at her arms and the back of her neck.

Lifting the wine jug, she sniffed daintily and immediately wrinkled her nose, almost retching. Stale, as she suspected, and there were flies floating there, merrily drowned. She set the jug back on the tray with trembling hands and ran to the window, afraid she might be sick. It was nerves, of course. Taking a few deep breaths, she bolstered her courage with a hasty self-lecture, for this was no time to be squeamish. At six and twenty, with only days left before her wedding to a man she despised, it was high time.

copyright Jayne Fresina 2011