England

MELAYNIE’S MASQUERADE – CARIBBEAN ROMANCE

Those readers who check my blog regularly will know that I’ve edited over 100 books for authors of all genres, and I’ve also written a book, Melaynie’s Masquerade, and a screenplay, Drake. I like to share preview tidbits to entice you to read my book, and that’s what I’m presenting this time.

I’ve always enjoyed historical fiction and became enchanted with the 16th century some years ago when I enjoyed attending Southern California Renaissance Faires. My fictional character, Melaynie Morgan, lives in Plymouth, England, and when she decides to turn her traditional world upside down, she embarks on a sailing adventure with Francis Drake, a daring Plymouth captain. Drake is sailing to the Caribbean to plunder Spanish treasure; thinking he has met an enthusiastic young boy, he hires Melaynie as his cabin boy. What a masquerade she accomplishes before Drake and his crew sail back to England a year later!

Melaynie's Masquerade - book cover

Melaynie’s Masquerade – book cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Despite her disguise, Melaynie finds romance. The following is a scene from Chapter 51: “My love, my love,” she murmured, pulling herself from his arms and his bed as she reached for her clothes in the small hours of the morning darkness.

         “Melaynie,” he whispered sleepily and stroked her back. “What can I say or do?”

         “There is nothing to say, Bernardino.” She loved saying his name in all its parts, like the beginning of a poem. She bit her lip to hold back tears or the feelings that might ultimately betray her. “Goodbye, my love.”

         Except for the whizzing sounds of insects and the sounds of waves washing upon the not too distant shore, all was quiet in camp as she stepped quickly outside. Celebrators were long in bed or passed out where they had fallen from over-imbibing.

         Their lovemaking had been so insistent and passionate that her limbs felt heavy. They were both sated, but their hours together would have to last a lifetime. She had spent her coin of emotion and feeling for now and felt numb. She dreaded the rush of desire and ache of love that she knew would return in force when she fully awoke in the morning. Worse yet, she would have to bid him goodbye in a casual fashion. It would be the ultimate test of her masquerade.

         Robert did not wake when she crept in. Even if he had, she knew him to be an accepting, unquestioning man, not eager to pry into anyone’s private business. He had long ago made it clear that he did not wish to share what personal life he had left in England, nor was he interested in hers.

         To find out how the book ends in Part 2, Melaynie’s Masquerade is available on Amazon.

ADVENTURES OF FEMALE HEROINES By Victoria Giraud

Many of us, who used to be called the “gentler” sex, are feeling embattled these days. Rather than point out the challenges, I choose to remember some victories in the struggles over female rights, represented by some real gals and even some fictional heroines. On the news there’s Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton… on TV, the gals in  the new TV sitcom about Dallas, “GCB,” and who can miss seeing and hearing about Katniss Everdeen (played by Jennifer Lawrence) in the new film “The Hunger Games.” Meryl Streep won the Oscar this year for playing Margaret Thatcher, surely a heroine as Britain’s Prime Minister for so many years.

I created my own heroine, Melaynie Morgan, for my historical fiction, MELAYNIE’S MASQUERADE. It’s for sale on Amazon in both softcover and e-book format. Over the next few weeks I’m going to be posting what I hope are intriguing tidbits from my novel. If you, my blog readers, are interested in purchasing a version of my book, go to:  http://www.amazon.com/author/victoriagiraud

Melaynie, disguised as a captain’s boy, is sailing to the Caribbean with Captain Francis Drake and his crew.  Her adventure is not without peril. Sent to the Captain’s cabin for Drake’s compendium, here is what follows:

Her inquisitive, intelligent face made him laugh.  What a good natured, willing captain’s boy he was, Drake reflected.

“’Tis yet another instrument to aid in navigation.   Has a sundial. I’m fortunate it was a gift; I personally think it too small and fanciful to be of much use or accuracy, though I’m willing to experiment with it again.”

“Right away, Captain.”

Full of energy she raced down the steps of the companionway.  Just as she was about to open the cabin door, she felt a hand on her buttocks, a far too friendly hand, bent on something other than good fellowship.  The hand squeezed the well-rounded cheek firmly and then there were two hands firmly grasping both buttocks and moving to grasp her missing testicles.  She shuddered, outraged at this unwanted familiarity.   She turned around abruptly to face the dark-haired sailor with the walleye, a fellow she had since found to be named Jerome.  His good eye was fixed lasciviously upon her crotch.  She had no doubts what he was about.  She shuddered again, involuntarily, and grimaced.  He smiled at her distaste, as if he were used to this reaction and expected it.  His teeth were dark, one of the front ones missing and a fetid, noxious odor came from his mouth and body.

His build was slight. He was taller and probably stronger than she was, but he had no idea of her determination.  She would yell if she had to, but she sized him up quickly as a coward who would prefer to intimidate her, using sly ways to force his will upon her.  He might be satisfied with the occasional fondle until he saw the best opportunity to take full advantage.  She counted on her wits and her allies to prevent that from happening, but she must make a firm stand now.

He attempted to put his hands on her arms to pull her to him.  She slapped his hands away, lowered her voice and gave him her most savage look, “Ye’ll get nowhere with me, you gruntle-faced meschant.”

Jerome laughed, “He has spirit, he has.  The perfect cobb for one as randy as me. I’ll have yer bonnie johnnie afore this voyage is over.”

Melaynie had pulled her knife from the pouch around her waist, keeping a firm grip.  She kept it lower than her waist but knew he had seen her movement and could see the knife.

“I can use it well, and I shall if I must,” she spat at him.

He laughed again, menacingly, thinking that he had months to force himself upon this callow boy, turned on his heel and went back up to the deck.  She wasn’t sure if she had bested him or not, but at least he knew she would not be an easy mark.  It would teach her to be more aware, a good lesson considering all the challenges she faced on this voyage.

She shook off her fears, delivered the compendium and watched in wonder as Drake opened up its round brass case.  It had seven layers consisting of spinning rings, and flip-up pointers, each layer inscribed with tables, and its own small sundial.  She wished she could understand it all.

“Christopher, I want you to order Robert to make us a special pottage for dinner using fresh vegetables we have left…potatoes, peas, and let’s see, have him use the venison.”

“Yes, Captain.  Right away,” she answered and scurried off.

Melaynie’s Masquerade – a sample

In the beginning of this chapter, Melaynie has sailed from England pretending that she is a captain’s boy for Francis Drake.

THIS BOOK IS AVAILABLE ON AMAZON  

As the sun rose early the next morning Drake’s ships were maneuvering rapidly over the gray-green waters of the choppy Channel. The early summer weather was unpredictable; flashes of sunlight alternated with blustery, sudden showers.  Strong winds and full sails left England but a memory and drove them into the open sea, its liquid surface waiting for them to carve their story upon it.

Life as a captain’s boy in those first weeks developed into a pattern of early rising, devotional services, meals, a great deal of fetch and carry for Drake and scarcely a minute to herself.  Melaynie found that the moments when she could look out upon the sea’s vastness, the sight of water to all horizons after a life of confinement in a small English town was awe-inspiring.

Only the weather, the shape and variety of clouds determined the look and feel of their lives now. It was frightening and at the same time opened her heart to the excitement of the uncertain future, to being part of and swept along by something that was far bigger than herself.

After the evening meal if she were on deck and Drake was properly satisfied, she loved to listen to the sailors’ music.  Several mariners played a wooden flute, a couple of them had brought a lute, and there was always someone to play an accompanying drum. The others knew how to sing popular ballads of the day.  There were some good strong voices among the crew and a few who loved to sing despite their lack of talent or decent harmony:

The roaring cannons then were plide,

And dub-a-dub went the drumme-a

The braying trumpets lowde they cride

To courage both all and some-a.

 

The sea ballad of John Dory, though not particularly cheerful since it concerned a traitorous Englishman revenged by a Cornishman two centuries before, seemed to suit most of the men. They gleefully sang the many verses ending:

 

The grappling-hooks were brought at length,

The browne bill and the sword-a,

John Dory at length, for all his strength,

Was clapt fast under board-a.

 

Evenings were an excellent time for relaxation except for the men on watch posted at the mainmast’s topcastle, high above the deck.  Besides the musically inclined, there were those who preferred cards and dice, and she had noticed a chess game or two.

Melaynie soon grew used to the motion of the ship as it rode the endless waves, sometimes smoothly, other times pitching and rolling, fighting the wind as the ship came about.  Melaynie’s body adjusted, automatically compensating for the ship’s tilt as she performed her duties on decks that were constantly in motion.

BIRTH OF MELAYNIE’S MASQUERADE

On a summer visit at age 10, I sat down in front of a portable typewriter at my grandparents’ home in Jacksonville Beach, Florida and wrote (hunt and peck version of typing) a short story about a dog. I’d already been an avid reader, so the action was probably inevitable. In high school I began writing for the newspaper and continued in journalism for years afterward—news, interviews, play reviews, etc.

Our paths in life have many detours and branches. I think I always knew I’d end up writing a book of some sort. The inspiration for Melaynie and her adventure came rather indirectly, as things do. History was always fascinating to me, and I got to combine my interests when I wrote stories for the local newspaper about the yearly Renaissance Faire in Southern California. Faire visitors and vendors alike wore wonderful colorful costumes, and there were actors who played the important roles of Queen Elizabeth and Sir Francis Drake.

After reading James Michener’s huge tome Caribbean, which was a collection of stories about history-makers in that area, I became even more intrigued by Sir Francis Drake, England’s famous 16th century adventurer, pirate, and second man to sail around the world. Drake had bedeviled the Spanish time after time in the Carib Sea, as they called it then, and carried home to England various Spanish ships, jewelry and gold to share with Queen Elizabeth. He was also a major player in defeating the Spanish Armada in 1588.

Sir Francis Drake -- my hero!

In the 1990s, I wrote a screenplay about Drake’s forays against the Spanish and went through some of the machinations necessary to get it made into a movie. Considering how difficult it is to get a film produced, not to mention how many years it might take, I began thinking about using Drake as the basis of an historical fiction novel. I’m no longer sure where Melaynie came from or even the reason I spelled her name so differently.

I’d been intrigued by gender roles and exchanges, a theme explored many times throughout history in the arts of ancient Greece and Rome, and, of course, by Shakespeare. I always liked the final musical number from “A Chorus Line:” all the male and female dancers had on a variety of top hat and tails, and I had made that a Halloween costume for myself over the years.

Coincidentally, a knick-knack I’ve kept and displayed in my home since the late 1960s is a 16th century ship made of tin, similar to one Drake would have commanded. Little did I know I would be writing about life onboard such a ship. In the 1980s I asked a psychic if I would ever write a book. She told me I would write a novel and the subject would be something about voyages.

In the opening pages of Melaynie’s Masquerade, my 16th century heroine is having a dream that she’s a Viking warrior. Melaynie is sixteen and not looking forward to a female role in life, especially when she hears her brother David is going to sign on to Francis Drake’s upcoming voyage to the Caribbean.

My book about her adventures (including a romance), Melaynie’s Masquerade is available on Amazon. I’ve recently made some minor revisions and plan to create an E-book to sell on the Internet.

 

More about Melaynie in upcoming blogs.

 

 

Is It The Great American Novel?

The Ultimate Writer -William Shakespeare

Writers continually joke about writing the “Great American Novel.” Did Hemingway do it, Fitzgerald, Faulkner or Steinbeck? What about more contemporary writers like Philip Roth, John Irving or T.C. Boyle? Do the authors have to be American males? Does the subject matter have to be American? I suppose history will judge. In the meantime, I enjoy reading all sorts of books.

I didn’t worry about writing that “Great American Novel,” when I started creating my book. Once inspired by the story of Sir Francis Drake of England, I decided I needed a novel to accompany my screenplay; if one didn’t sell, the other would. I’ve always enjoyed history and was intrigued by the possibilities of historical fiction, which is based on actual history with the addition of fictional characters.

My fictional characters: the young 16th century maiden, Melaynie, and her father and brothers seemed to spring out of nowhere. My active imagination must have been storing up ideas for years. I had been a fan of the annual Renaissance Faire, Shakespeare, Queen Elizabeth I, etc. And being an independent-minded female, it was natural to concoct someone with my tendencies. I haven’t disguised myself as a male and sauntered off on a distant voyage, but I’ve enjoyed imagining it. Being an Army brat often endows one with extra “moxie” and a lack of fear about traveling alone.

Writing a book is a fascinating process, a great deal of it unconscious. While I was in the act of creation, I was thinking about the story, planning how I was going to set it up, making notes about the various scenes.  I needed to do lots of research into the 16th century, which I loved. The Internet wasn’t the effective tool it is today and I used libraries for most of my research.

When I needed to describe a 16th century ship or the variety of clothing worn then, I headed for the children’s section of bookstores or libraries. Picture books were just the thing. I had to know how my heroine was going to accomplish her daring feat, how she would look, and what her family home would look like. The various Time-Life historical series were also a great help; they always had lots of graphics.

Queen Elizabeth I

It doesn’t take long before the story and its characters take control. I was living with them in my head, so no wonder. Many authors verify that oddity. Behind-the-scenes, my subconscious and my own past mingled together in the ethers, at least that’s how I explain it. I did a lot of creating while I was swimming in a pool. Water was the best element to get my “flow” going, especially since I was devising a sea adventure.

I finished the book, after five years of creating, letting it lie dormant and then recreating. During one of my last readings/proofing of the book, I began to realize why many of my feelings had come forward, unconsciously, in the book. I had given my heroine a kindly, generous father and three brothers who spoiled her. My stepfather, the US Army officer who raised me, was a very thrifty taskmaster. He saved his charm for others, his strong sense of discipline for the family. How clever and comforting for me to create an imaginary father I would have completely enjoyed!  What fun to be the heroine who succeeds in her adventure! Plus, interestingly enough, actual history made it easy to manipulate and blend real facts with my imagination.

Since I believe in reincarnation, perhaps I actually was a sailor in the 16th century. In the 20th century, I also had sailing experience as an Army dependent passenger on several ships.

I’ve always been an adventurer, but certainly not as daring as my heroine, Melaynie. Of course, she has many of my traits—how could she not! Her feminist ideas were mostly mine, but I wasn’t consciously creating them. All these factors snuck up on me! Or did they?

For those interested in reading my novel, Melaynie’s Masquerade, it may be purchased on Amazon and there is a link       on my web site www.victoria4edit.com to buy it. My web site is also linked to my blog.

The “How-To” on Melaynie’s Masquerade

The cover of my historical fiction novel

Writing a book is a fascinating process, a great deal of it unconscious. While you’re in the act of creation, you’re thinking about the story, planning how you’re going to do it, making notes, maybe using index cards for the various scenes. In my case, since I wrote an historical fiction novel, I needed to do lots of research into the 16th century, which I loved. The Internet wasn’t the effective tool it is today and I used libraries for most of my research.

When I needed to describe a 16th century ship or the variety of clothing worn then, I headed for the children’s section of bookstores or libraries. Picture books were just the thing. I had to know how my heroine was going to accomplish her daring feat, how she would look, and what would her family home looked like. The various Time-Life historical series were also a great help; they always had lots of graphics. I’ve always been a history buff and had attended many a Renaissance Faire where I’d seen Queen Elizabeth and Sir Francis Drake in action, not to mention all the hired characters and faire-goers in costume.

It doesn’t take long before the story and its characters take control. You’re living with them in your head, so no wonder. Many authors verify that oddity. Behind-the-scenes, your subconscious and your own past mingles together in the ethers, at least that’s how I explain it. I did a lot of creating while I was swimming in a pool. Water was the best element to get my “flow” going, especially since I was devising a sea adventure.

I finished the book, after five years of creating, letting it lie dormant and then recreating. During one of my last readings/proofing of the book, I began to realize why many of my feelings had come forward, unconsciously, in the book. I had given my heroine a kindly, generous father and three brothers who spoiled her. She needed one brother’s help to fulfill her dream adventure of sailing with Francis Drake on one of his early voyages to the Caribbean.

My stepfather, the US Army officer who raised me, was a very thrifty taskmaster. He saved his charm for others, his strong sense of discipline for the  family. How clever and comforting for me to create an imaginary father I would have completely enjoyed!  What fun to be the heroine who succeeds in her adventure! Plus, interestingly enough, actual history made it easy to manipulate and blend real facts with my imagination.

I’ve always been an adventurer, but certainly not as daring as my heroine, Melaynie. Of course, she has many of my traits—how could she not! Her feminist ideas were mostly mine, but I wasn’t consciously creating them. All these factors snuck up on me! Or did they?

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