Dru Faust and the Devil’s Due: Part 5

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Upstairs, I found the book I’d been reading and brought it downstairs into the back parlor, where I wound up the Victrola. Strains of “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” filled up the room. I threw myself down on the couch, but no sooner had I opened my book than someone knocked on the door.

“I’ll get it!” I called, bouncing back up again.

The knock came again just as I reached for the knob. Peering through the window. I spotted George’s tall frame.

He face split into a broad grin when he saw me. “I’m so glad to see you. I was worried you got into trouble last night.”

“Well, I did, but not trouble with the law. Not exactly, anyway.” Letting him in, I explained briefly about my mother, the raid, and the breakfast discussion. “I’m still waiting for the hammer to drop.”

“They can’t go too hard on you. You never get in trouble.”

“Well…”

George raised an eyebrow at my hesitation. “The Grants wish Alex and Archie took after you.”

Laughing, I conceded defeat. “I see your point.”

Hands in his pockets, George glanced in the direction of the kitchen. “I’m glad you’re okay.”

“But you didn’t come to see me?” I asked quietly, raising an eyebrow.

He shrugged slightly, a little color in his cheeks.

I looked out the window at the brilliant blue sky. “Wait here.”

Elizabeth had emerged from the apartment by the time I got back to the kitchen.

“Rose, what do you have planned for lunch?”

The housekeeper raised an eyebrow. “If you’re hungry now, maybe you should have had more breakfast.”

“Oh, no. Not right now. But George just arrived. We were thinking of going for a picnic. With Alexandra and Archie, since it’s such a lovely day. You should come too, Liza.”

“Oh, Mama, may I?” Elizabeth asked, the two thick braids at her shoulders swinging as she turned to her mother.

“It’s washing day, Elizabeth. I’ll need your help with the linens.”

“We won’t be gone long. I have to be back in the afternoon to help Daddy with this experiments. If you wait to do the linens last, it will give us plenty of time to get back. And you won’t have to make us lunch. We can just take whatever is in the icebox. There’s chicken from last night, isn’t there? And some of that lemon tarte?”

Rose pursed her lips, but Elizabeth pleaded with her eyes. At last, she sighed, unable to resist the combined force of our persuasive powers. Quickly, before she could changer her mind, Elizabeth got down the picnic basket and we loaded it with the contents of the icebox, adding some boiled eggs, bread and butter, and a few apples.

George’s face split into a broad grin when we came back out to the hall, laden with the heavy basket.

“I hope you’re driving, because Daddy took the car to the hospital this morning.”

“Sure thing.” He took the basket and offered his arm to Elizabeth.

“I should call Alexandra. I told Rose we were inviting her and Archie, and I want to make sure they got home safely last night.”

I lifted the receiver, asking the operator for the Grant’s number. It rang several times before the housekeeper picked up. She confirmed both siblings were at home, but still sleeping. As it was still only nine o’clock, this was hardly unusual. Alex and Archie were both night owls

George’s car was parked on the street in front of the house he shared with his parents. The deep red touring car had seen better days, but George was more proud of it than any other accomplishment. He’d only bought it at the beginning of the summer. It still needed to be cranked, so Elizabeth and I climbed inside and waited while he hooked up the crank to the front of the car, grunting slightly with the effort of turning it. Finally, the engine turned over. Throwing the crank under the front seat, he climbed inside, putting the car into gear and we trundled off down the lane.

“Where are we going?” I shouted as we drove past the park, turning North to follow the river out of town. I had to lean forward over the back of the front seat so he could hear me. The engine roared as we gained speed. I couldn’t help but smile at the rumble that reverberated through my whole body.

“I’ve got a spot in mind.”

Nano Wrap Up & Holiday Blog Break

nanowrimo_2016_webbanner_winnerWhew! It’s over!

Did you make it? Did you bang out a full novel? Did you hit 50,000 words?

Regardless of how you performed, I really happy for everyone who tried! Even if you only wrote 5,000 words instead of 50,000, that’s still 5,000 more than you had at the start of the month, and it was an educational process. Those 5,000 words probably taught you a lot about writing a novel, even if you weren’t able to finish.

This November has been rough. Now that it’s over, I’m going to take a bit of a break. I’m going to step away from the blog for a couple of weeks, but no worries, I’ll be back soon. Knotmagick will be business as usual come December 26, once I’ve had a chance to catch my breath. There will be news, announcements, and of course my annual year-in-review. Happy Holidays!

P.S. If you’ve been looking for the next chapter of Dru Faust and the Devil’s Due, I’ve been having some technical difficulties which have prevented me from getting at the file. I’m going to work on that over the break, and it should resume the week after Christmas, if not sooner. Cheers!

Nano Check In: Week 3

How’s it going? On par? Behind? Already past the finish line?

I compared this year’s stats with previous years, and this is far and away my most difficult Nanowrimo ever. I’m just barely holding steady at par; usually I keep 1-2 days worth of words in the bank, if not more. I actually skipped writing altogether one day this week, but was able to put in a good chunk of words over the weekend–apparently my brain has decided that instead of writing action packed sleuthing scenes that are usually my bread and butter, with would rather write fluffy romance–and I usually avoid romance like the plague. But hey, whatever gets the words down.

I do think that regardless of where this book is on November 30, I’m going to shelve it for a while at the end of Nano. I’m just not in the head space for it. I fought with it all month, more from a sense of obligation and from being too stressed out to come up with something new, and I just want to let it go right now. I love the world and the characters, and have no doubt I’ll be back at it soon enough, but for now it’s just not working for me. Instead, I’m going to concentrate on querying Off the Rails, and probably finishing the third Evie book.

And probably on doing a whole lot of knitting.

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Stress Knitting Finished Objects

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socks-0With all these socks I’ve been knitting, I guess you could say I’ve really been stepping it up, huh?

It felt so good to get these teal socks off the needles. I started them way back in July, as one of my village crafting projects. I worked on them off and on, but my new character for the 1890s is focused more on writing and suffrage, so I found myself doing a lot less crafting this summer.

socks-03The pattern is Hermione’s Everyday Socks, and it’s the second time I’ve made this pattern. My first pair was a birthday gift for my mother, but these are mine. ALL MINE. I used Knitpicks Comfy Fingering. I think the color is Planetarium, but I’m not entirely certain. I think for this yarn I probably should have gone down a needle size in retrospect because the fabric is really loose–not the best for socks. But they area really comfy, the fit is great, and I love the color. And it’s not like I’m running marathons or going on long distance hiking trips, so I’m not too worried about it.

img_20161112_080034My second pair of socks is the same pattern, also using Knitpicks, though this time it was Stroll Handpaints in Hollywood.

This yarn was so frustrating at first. I tried three different patterns before I found one I liked–as much as I love the colors, they pooled really bad. Normally pooling doesn’t bother me, but this was BAD bad. I finally solved the issue by replacing the purl stitches in the leg/foot pattern with a s1, yarn in front. For the gusset, I had to resort to knitting from both ends of the ball on alternating rows to avoid getting vertical stripes down the foot since it number of stitches for each round lined up almost exactly with the length of each color repeat.

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I’m really happy with both pairs. The Hollywood socks are so bright and cheerful, they just make my day. I’ve still got a bunch of yarn leftover, and I’m considering a colorwork sweater–sometime, next year, maybe.

Oh, I also got to try out my brand new sock blockers! This was my first time blocking socks, and I have to say I really noticed a difference! Usually I just throw my socks in the washer and dryer (yes, even the hand knits. Sue me), but the handwashing/blocking really makes a difference in the fit and the fabric. Now I think I need a second pair of sock blockers so I can start washing 2 pair at once and leaving them in the bathroom to dry (I miss having a laundry room).

But wait! There’s more!

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Lastly, I bet you weren’t expecting to see this! According to my Ravelry project page, I cast this on a little under a year ago–sometime in December 2015. I got halfway through the color work before ripping back to the ribbing and starting over. But it’s done now, and I got to wear it for Thanksgiving.

I’ve still got the purple socks on the needles, but hope to finish them this weekend. I’ve also pulled out an old sweat that’s been languishing for nearly a year and have started working on it again. You can bet there will be more pictures to come!

 

Nano Check In: Week 2

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How is everyone holding up? Don’t know about you guys, but week two was rough for me. On top of everything else, I wound up scrapping the bulk of my outline and starting fresh. My new outline seems okay–so far–but we’ll see how long it lasts. If I’m lucky, it’ll make it to the end of the month.

I’m still not back where I want to be. I’ve been fighting tooth and nail just to stay on par. So far, I’ve been keeping up, but it’s been a struggle. I find myself writing a lot of flashbacks and backstory that I know will be cut from the final draft, but for the moment they’re helping get me in the right head space to move forward. This book is going to require some serious revision come December.

What about you guys? Still on target? Have you scrapped your outlines yet, or are you still following them verbatim?

Stress Knitting WIPs

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My stress levels have been through the roof lately. I really, really need a vacation.

I present the evidence:

20161117_215406Do these socks look a little familiar? It’s the same yarn I attempted to make socks with a while back, but wound up frogging. I’m once again using the Hermione’s Everyday Socks pattern, but making the leg shorter since that is what the recipient prefers. I can’t say I object–after knitting this pattern four times in the last year, three times in the past four months, I can finally say I’m starting to get bored with it, even if it’s still my favorite sock pattern.

I’ve also been working away at the sweater vest. Last time you saw it, I’d just finished the colorwork portion. And here we are now:

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I’m getting ready to split for the V neck. Once I finish the straps, I’ll just have to graft them together and do the edging. I should have a new sweatervest to wear by the end of the year (maybe the end of the month at this rate).

I’ve also got 2 finished objects to show you, but I want to save them for next week–especially since one of these projects might be joining them!

Dru Faust and the Devil’s Due: Part 4

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The next morning was bright and clear, and already warm by the time I came down to breakfast at eight o’clock.

Mother and Daddy were already sitting at the table. Daddy had that crease between his brow, which could only mean Mother had already told him about my escapade the night before.

Slinking into my place at the table, I offered Rose, our housekeeper, a half smile as she set down a plate of eggs, bacon, and toast in front of me. Mother, in her dark blue uniform, gave me a stern look over the pitcher of orange juice. Before she could lecture me, however, Daddy folded up the newspaper he’d been perusing. “Tell me about last night,” he said, his voice neutral, as though asking my opinion of the weather.

I took a tiny sip of juice, my mouth already dry. “I went out with some friends.”

“That’s funny, because I thought you went to bed early last night.”

I stared at my toast. “I’m really sorry. Really. I shouldn’t have gone.”

“What you did last night was reckless and dangerous, not to mention illegal. And how does it look for my own daughter to be pulled out of a raid in handcuffs, smelling like a bottle of gin?”

“Mother, I swear, I wasn’t drinking. I’ve helped Daddy with enough of his tests to know how dangerous it is. I was drinking water, and the gin must have spilled when the police came–”

Daddy held up a hand for silence when it looked like Mother would launch into a full-scale diatribe. “I think we are all aware that last night was a mistake.” I nodded guiltily. “Dru, you’re hardly the type of girl who gets into trouble. I think what your mother is trying to say, is that we don’t understand what precipitated this.”

Daddy’s disappointment was even worse than Mother’s anger. I fiddled with my fork without picking it up. “I just wanted to have some fun. To go out and dance with my friends. I knew it was wrong, but I just wanted to try it, just once. It’s what everyone is doing these days.”

Mother opened her mouth, but Daddy held up his hand again. “Finish your breakfast, Dru. Your mother and I will discuss an appropriate punishment later.”

Mother didn’t seem any more pleased with that response than I was, but I nodded anyway. I took a few bites of my eggs, but they were already cold.

“I need to get to work,” Mother said at last, brushing crumbs off her hands and onto the plate.

She gave Daddy a perfunctory kiss. As she came around the table to me, she stroked my light brown bob. “I’m not angry with you, Dru.”

“You’re a little angry.”

“Well, yes. I’m a bit angry. But was more worried when I saw Bill O’Neil leading you out of that place. Promise me you’ll never do anything that reckless again.”

“I promise, Mama.”

“Good girl.” She kissed the top of my head, then disappeared into the hall.

“So what are the plans today?” Daddy asked when she was gone.

I shrugged. “I don’t know yet. I might stay home and read. I have some new library books.”

Daddy smiled. “Don’t devour them too fast. Make sure you save room for dinner.” He refilled his coffee cup and added a spoonful of sugar. “Do you think you could help me with some tests this afternoon?”

“Of course. What are we testing?”

“Samples taken from the raid last night. The police want to know what’s in the alcohol.”

“Do they think it’s linked to the case last week?” Recently, many people had fallen sick after consuming bad bootleg liquor. There were at least eight people in the State Hospital downtown, some of them on the brink of death after ingesting a toxic combination of mercury and methanol, a potentially lethal chemical found in some of the homemade alcoholic drinks people had started making since Prohibition went into effect.

“That’s what we mean to find out. If we can find methanol in the same concentration as the other samples, they we may be able to prove a link between them, and help the police trace the alcohol back to its origin.”

“I’d be glad to help,” I said. Helping Daddy in his lab downstairs was one of my favorite things.

“Excellent. I’ve got some patients to see at the hospital this morning, then I’ll pick up the samples on my way home.”

“I’ll be ready and waiting.”

Daddy, too, got up, leaving a kiss on top of my head on his way out the door. I was left with my unpalatable eggs.

With a sigh, I collected the plates and took them into the kitchen.

Rose was just drying the pans used to make breakfast.

“Oh, Miss Dru, you don’t need to do that. I was just about to clear the table myself.”

“It’s no trouble, Rose. I like helping.” I scraped my uneaten breakfast into the bin.

“Are you feeling well?”

“I’m fine, just not hungry.”

Rose put the dirty plates in the sink and began wiping away at them. “It’s laundry day. I’ll be sending Elizabeth up later to get your things. Everything in the basket?”

I nodded, picking up a cloth to dry the dishes as she set them on the counter. Our housekeeper, Rose, had been with us since I was small.

“You’re awful quiet this morning. Everything copacetic?”

I nodded again, giving her a smile. “Just remembering the day you and Elizabeth came to live with us.”

Rose’s lips twitched a little. “No one’s ever been so kind to me as your mama and Daddy. I thought we were gonna lose everything when my Billy died, be out on the streets. I didn’t know who would look after my baby if I was working. I thought I’d have to go back to my family in Georgia. And then Mr. Faust comes to me and he says, ‘Rose, we don’t want you to go. We got a little room in back. You’ll have your own entrance, your own space, it’s sunny and warm in the winter, and got lots of windows to open in the summer.’ Well, I nearly died on the spot. I started bawlin’ so hard, he must have thought I was touched.”

I giggled a little. “I remember. Daddy didn’t know what to do with you.” Like most men, my clever, intelligent father was at a loss when it came to tears. Thankfully, he hadn’t been upset when Rose threw her arms around his neck in gratitude. Still, it had been Mother who showed her to the room. Nearly the size of our sitting room, it now had a thin wall down the middle so Rose and Elizabeth could each have their own small bedroom. Rose’s room, the one the back door opened onto, also doubled as their sitting room.

Rose put one arm around me in a slightly soapy hug. “I’m just glad I didn’t have to leave one of my girls behind. You almost as much my little girl as Elizabeth.” She kissed the top of my head and I hugged her back. Sometimes, I felt like I had two mothers.

“You know, we’d both be upset if something happened to you, Dru.”

I sighed. “You heard all that, huh?”

She nodded. “Comes from workin’ in the kitchen. You hear everything.”

“Well, I don’t have any more plans to sneak out. I think I’ll save my dancing for the Widow’s and Orphan’s fund.”

“Sounds like a good plan. Now scoot. I got work to do, and it’s too nice a day for you to be in here doin’ other people’s work.” She swatted me lightly with a tea towel. Laughing, I danced out of her way.

Nano Check-in: Week 1

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How are you all? If you’re in the US, then this past week has probably been particularly rough.

I took two days off writing. I just didn’t have the heart or the energy. My villain was hitting too close to home. I thought about dropping out of Nanowrimo completely.

But after a couple of days, I decided I wasn’t ready to give up. I may not hit 50,000 words this year, but I think now more than ever the type of story I’m writing needs to be told. And if we can’t defeat our real life villains at the polls, then I can at least defeat them in literature.

I’m back on target–barely. I haven’t been able to muster the strength to build up the cushion at had this time last week, but I’m getting there.

I’m not giving up yet.

Feeling Blue

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I don’t even know what to say after the events of this week. I feel like the country I love has set itself on fire, and far, far too many people are happy about it.

I know things are not going to end well. It has taken me days to work through the grief enough to put my thoughts and emotions into words.

I’m mad as hell.

We have made so many strides in the last few years, working toward a healthier, greener nation, building bridges with the LGBTQIA community, working to overcome racism. We still had a long way to go, but ever since a certain cheeto-faced muppet entered the race, more and more people have been stepping up to show that violence and hate have not been defeated.

I don’t know where we go from here. For the moment, I am focused on trying to limit the damage. If you would like to help, here are links to two petitions. This one is to abolish the electoral college, because just like in 2000, the candidate who won the popular vote is not the one who was declared the next President of the United States. We have until the electoral college casts its official vote on December 19 to fix this. You can help by finding out who casts the electoral votes for your state, and writing to them, asking them to vote with the people. More information on that can be found here and here.

This petition is to have Garland appointed to the Supreme Court before our new president can appoint one of his friends–the list he is already putting out of changes to make and people to appoint show just how unqualified he is.

I have tried to keep this blog positive, and peace oriented, staying out of the politics, but I can’t do that anymore. Hillary Clinton is a qualified candidate with experience in both domestic and foreign affairs, and the open mind we need to move forward. No, she is not my first choice. But the alternative is a man endorsed by the KKK, with 75 opens suits against him ranging from fraud to rape to human trafficking, who invited his followers to assassinate his opponent and use violence on her supporters. That is not the man we need in the Oval Office.

We have to fix this before our country tears itself apart.

Dru Faust and the Devil’s Due, part 3

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The room fell into stunned silence before everyone made a mad rush to the door. Glasses hit the floor and shattered. I knocked over a chair in my haste, eyes darting all over the room for my friends, but George and Alexandra were nowhere to be seen.

Archie grabbed my wrist, pulling me to the corner where everyone seemed to be going. The crowd surged and my hand slipped free. Archie was lost in the sea of humanity.

Several loud bangs announced the entrance of the police. The door at the top of the stairs burst from its hinges, hanging sideways as policemen poured into the speakeasy.

I tried to hide my face, to push my way closer to the front of the crowd, but it was no use.

Someone grabbed me around the waist, lifting me off my feet.

“No! Put me down!” I cried, panicking. I kicked and struggled, but was handed off to another officer. This one, at least set my feet on the ground, but twisted my arms painfully behind my back, snapping a pair of handcuffs into place.

I flinched. “Please, stop! You’re hurting me!”

The cop grabbed my shoulders, spinning me around. “Dru Faust?”

Blood drained from my face, and I groaned inwardly. “Hi, Mr. O’Neil.”

The policeman frowned. “It’s officer. Come on.”

He dragged me roughly up the stairs. On the street, police vehicles waited, including three large wagons to take prisoners downtown. This time when I groaned, I did it audibly.

A police woman waiting by one of the vans saw us and ran forward. “What on earth–Dru? What are you doing here?”

“Hi, Mother.” I hung my head, mortified. This was exactly what I’d been trying to avoid.

“I found her downstairs with the rest. Thought you’d want to take care of this yourself.”

“Yes, thank you.”

Officer O’Neil unlocked the handcuffs, then hurried back down into the speakeasy. More officers were coming out now, leading handcuffed dancers in front of them. Some were still struggling, and had to be dragged by force. I looked for any sign of the others, but couldn’t see them.

Mother pointed to the stone steps in front of a stationary store across the street. “Sit down. Wait for me. By rights, I should arrest you myself!”

“Yes, Mama.” I did as I was bid, waiting on the cold stone as two dozen revelers were loaded into the trucks, including one of Archie’s girls. The clarinet player was still holding his instrument awkwardly behind his back as one of the policemen helped him into the truck.

“I ain’t sittin’ next to no nigger!” shouted a man already inside the truck.

“You shoulda thought of that before you broke the law. Now sit down and shut up!” the officer shouted right back, brandishing his club.

It was another twenty minutes before the police managed to round up everyone and get them loaded into the wagons. Mother exchanged a few words with Officer O’Neil, who then climbed into one of the police cars and started the engine.

Mother came over to me. She wasn’t a tall woman, but from my perch on the stoop she towered over me, arms folded over her ample chest as she glared down at me.

“I’m sorry?” I tried. “It was only the once. It will never happen again.”

“It had better not. Do you know how dangerous being here tonight was?”

“We were just dancing. I wanted to get some more practice in–”

“These clubs are illegal, Margaret! The swill they serve borders on poison, or haven’t you been following your father’s reports? And as if that weren’t bad enough, you could have been hurt in the raid, or, heaven forbid, killed driving home!”

“But I wasn’t drinking–”

“I can smell it on you, Drusilla Carolyn!”

Well, there wasn’t much I could say to that. While I was waiting, I noticed a damp patch on my dress, and realized Alexandra’s drink–or someone else’s–must have spilled in the mele. I’d barely had a sip of gin, but I sure did smell like a bar.

Mother took a deep breath, calming herself, and sighed. “Where’s the car?”

I pointed to the end of the block. I’d parked just around the corner.

She held out her hand, and I gave her the keys. “We’ll talk about this in the morning. Do you have money for the streetcar?”

I nodded.

“Good. If you hurry, you’ll be able to catch the last one of the evening.”

Standing, I continued to stare at my shoes. My beautiful, new shoes. “I’m really sorry, Mother.”

She sighed again, repeating, “We’ll talk about it in the morning. I’ll be home soon.”

Checking my watch, I saw it was almost eleven. I would have to run if I was going to catch the streetcar, and home was much too far away to walk.