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Beggars couldn't be choosers, which was what any other governess would say. Fortunately, she wasn't just any governess. She was wealthy enough to live idly; it was by her own eccentric will that she eschewed a life of quiet ease for one which allowed her to use her skills.
Which meant she could choose her employers, and usually did so most reliably. This time, however, fate had intervened and sent her to the Claypoles. The Claypoles had failed to impress. The wind rose in a bansheelike screech, then died to a sobbing moan. Branches shifted and swayed; boughs rubbed and groaned. Honoria wriggled her shoulders. And refocused her thoughts on the Claypoles--on Melissa, their eldest daughter, the prospective duchess. Honoria grimaced. Melissa was slight and underdeveloped, fair, not to say faded. In terms of animation, she had taken the "to be seen and not heard" maxim to heart--she never had two words to say for herself.
The only grace Honoria had yet dicovered in her was her carriage, which was unconsciously elegant--on all the rest she'd have to work hard to bring Melissa up to scratch. To a duke's scratch at that. Taking comfort from her irritation--it distracted her from the thought of what she could not see through the thick canopy overhead--Honoria set aside the vexing question of the duke's identity to reflect on the qualities Lady Claypole had ascribed to the phantom.
He was thoughtful, an excellent landowner, mature but not old, ready, so her ladyship had assured her, to settle down and begin filling his nursery. This paragon had no faults to which any might take exception. The picture her ladyship had painted was of a sober, serious, retiring individual, almost a recluse. That last was Honoria's addition; she couldn't imagine any duke other than a reclusive one being willing, as Lady Claypole had declared this one was, to apply for Melissa's hand.
The gray tugged. Honoria kept the ribbons taut. They'd passed the entrance to two bridle paths, both winding away into trees so dense it was impossible to glimpse anything beyond a few yards. Ahead, the lane swung left, around a virtually blind curve. Tossing his head, the gray paced on.
Honoria checked for the curve, noting that their upward climb had ended. As the weight of his load lessened, the gray surged. Honoria's grip slipped--the reins slithered through her fingers. Cursing, she grabbed and caught the ribbons firmly; leaning back, she wrestled with the beast. The gray shied. Honoria shrieked and yanked hard, for once uncaring of the horse's mouth.
The Bridal Path: Danielle by Sherryl Woods
Her heart racing, she forced the gray to a halt. Abruptly, the horse stood stock-still, quivering, coat aflicker. Honoria frowned. There'd been no thunderclaps yet. She glanced along the lane. And saw the body slumped beside the verge. At her whisper, the leaves sighed; the metallic taint of fresh blood wafted along the lane. The gray sidled; Honoria steadied him, using the moment to swallow the knot of shock in her throat. She didn't need to look again to see the dark, glistening pool growing beside the body.
The man had been shot recently--he might still be alive. Honoria eased from the gig. The gray stood quietly, head drooping; edging to the verge, Honoria looped the reins about a branch and pulled the knot tight. Stripping off her gloves, she stuffed them in her pocket. Then she turned and, taking a deep breath, walked down the lane. The man was still alive--she knew that the instant she knelt on the grass beside him; his breathing was rattly and harsh.
He was lying on his side, slumped forward; grasping his right shoulder, she rolled him onto his back. His breathing eased--Honoria barely noticed, her gaze transfixed by the jagged hole marring the left side of his coat. With every ragged breath the man drew, blood welled from the wound. She had to staunch the flow. Honoria looked down; her handkerchief was already in her hand. Another glance at the wound confirmed its inadequacy. Hurrying, she stripped off the topaz-silk scarf she wore over her dun-colored gown and wadded it into a pad.
Lifting the sodden coat, she left the man's ruined shirt undisturbed and pressed her improvised dressing over the gaping hole. Only then did she glance at his face. He was young--surely too young to die? His face was pale, his features regular, handsome, still holding traces of youthful softness. Thick brown hair lay disheveled across a wide brow; brown brows arched over his closed eyes. Sticky dampness rose beneath Honoria's fingers, her kerchief and scarf no match for the relentless flow.
Her gaze fell on the youth's cravat. Unhooking the pin securing the linen folds, she unwound the cravat, folded it, then positioned the thick wad and carefully pressed down. She was bent over her patient when the thunder struck. A deep resounding boom, it rent the air. The gray screamed, then shot down the lane, a sharp crack accompanying the thud of hooves. Heart pounding, Honoria watched in helpless dismay as the gig rushed past, the branch with the reins still wrapped about it bumping wildly in its wake.
Love by chance drama
Then lightning cracked. The flash was hidden by the canopy yet still lit the lane in garish white. Honoria shut her eyes, blocking her memories by sheer force of will. A low moan reached her. Opening her eyes, she looked down, but her charge remained unconscious. She was alone in a wood, under trees, miles from shelter, without means of transport, in a countryside she'd first seen four days ago, with a storm lashing the leaves from the trees--and beside her lay a badly wounded man.
How on earth could she help him? Her mind was a comfortless blank. Into the void came the sound of hoofbeats. At first, she thought she was dreaming, but the sound grew steadily louder, nearer. Giddy with relief, Honoria rose. She stood in the lane, fingertips on the pad, listening as the hoofbeats drew rapidly nearer. At the last minute, she stood upright, turning and stepping boldly to the center of the lane.
A massive black stallion screamed and reared over her, iron-tipped hooves flailing within inches of her head. On the beast's back sat a man to match the horse, black-clad shoulders blocking out the twilight, dark mane wild, features harsh -- satanic. The stallion's hooves thudded to the ground, missing her by a bare foot. Furious, snorting, eyes showing white, the beast hauled at the reins. It tried to swing its huge head toward her; denied, it attempted to rear again. Muscles bunched in the rider's arms, in the long thighs pressed to the stallion's flanks.
For one eternal minute, man and beast did battle. Then all went still, the stallion acknowledging defeat in a long, shuddering, horsy sigh. Her heart in her throat, Honoria lifted her gaze to the rider's face--and met his eyes. Even in the dimness, she was sure of their color. Pale, lucent green, they seemed ancient, all-seeing. Large, set deep under strongly arched brows, they were the dominant feature in an impressively strong face.
Their glance was penetrating, mesmerizing -- unearthly. I knew that being a writer meant you had to have imagination and perseverance, but I learned that you also have to have patience. My mom would set a goal of twenty pages per day, and sometimes as we approached the third hour of work, I was ready to burst through the window just to remember what walking felt like.
At other times, though, writing completely inspired me. Writing a great scene makes me feel like I just won a race or climbed Mount Everest. It was sometimes like we were in the middle of the same dream. I started talking about mermaids with wild hair and shimmering tails. These crazy, rushed moments of creativity were intense and exciting and sometimes painful — but that only made the moments when we knew we had written a perfect scene that much more fulfilling. Collaborating with another person may sound challenging -- two minds and conflicting ideas -- but the truth is writing Between the Lines was one of the best experiences I will ever have.
By teaching me how to work toward a goal, my mom made a simple daydream grow into a remarkable book, and turned me from a writer into an author. Most teenage daughters enjoy their five-minute discussions about their school day with their mothers, and are set for the whole week. Not me. I love my mom. To all you readers, I hope you enjoy reading Between the Lines as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Sammy: I was daydreaming in French class I know, I should have been focusing… when I started to wonder what happens when a book is closed. Can they see us? What does it feel like for them, when we read? Through the rest of that period, I tossed around the idea of what would become our book. When I went home I called my mom, who was on book tour, and told her I had an idea for a story. She was intrigued and started adding her opinions — and suggested we write the book together.
EVERY line. Just ask Sammy — I refused to work on the book unless she was there. Sammy: When it came to editing, we were again sitting at the computer together, going through the editorial letter to figure out what needed to be fixed. There was a lot of brainstorming involved in the editing process since we had to add characters and change existing ones, and if we changed one scene it sometimes changed others later on in the book. So: at first that meant for a few hours each weekend, and then when it was summertime, for entire days at a time.
Jodi: My favorite book as a teen was Gone with the Wind — it was so sweeping and romantic and the author created a whole world out of words. I actually read a lot of fairy tales as a college student, and learned how to deconstruct them psychologically. I loved the story about Max running away in his own imagination! But BTL is very different from them. Jodi: Sammy reads a lot of YA stuff but sometimes comes to me for suggestions for adult literature.
Sammy: The character-comes-to-life concept is what popped into my head first. She loved it! Jodi: Um, can you remind me NOT to do two novels at once?! It was really hard, actually, finding enough time to write both. The characters still have to ring true — even if one of them is a fairytale prince. Plus, the themes in BTL — like to whom does a story really belong — are very adult concepts. The difference was the humor. But then there were times it was really amazing to work together. Jodi: We make pretty amazing sugar cookies together…not that I like to brag.
And we like to shop together! Sammy: I do contemporary dance, play softball, act in musicals, and volunteer weekly at a homeless shelter. Jodi: I learned what I had long suspected: that Sammy has an incredibly creative mind. With mashed potatoes and green beans. Stop kissing my head all the time! Sammy: I have a long list of Miley Cyrus songs from when I was in middle school that I cannot figure out how to delete from my iPod, but I am proud to say I do not own a single Justin Bieber song. Jodi: I do, but I also believe you can fall in love at first sight several times in your life.
Sammy: Many of them are my pets. The rest just tumbled out of my mouth when we got to a point where we needed a name. Jodi: Modern Family is pretty hilarious.
They act exactly the same. At some point I Googled the name, and it turns out the doublet is the pants. Which meant that for about pages, Oliver had stuck a book, a dagger, and various other items in his crotch. It was simultaneously funny…and totally gross. Sammy: It was really hard to figure out a way to get Oliver out of the book — without the book sucking him back in every time the pages are opened. We created so many rules about the way the book functioned that in a way it was virtually impossible to get the ending we wanted.
Both silhouette and pencil drawings abound; characters climb in and around the text to excellent effect. Younger readers and their parents will appreciate the gentle, wholesome romance, with nary a shred of paranormal action. The tender, positive tone and effective pacing that builds to a satisfying finish will inspire readers to pass the book to a friend—or reread it themselves.
Book lovers in particular are likely to get a kick out of the blurring of the lines between character and reader, fact and fiction. Fizzy fairy-tale fun. Do you remember making up stories when you were little? Sammy: Yes, the farthest back I can remember was from 2nd Grade, Mr. And so they lived happily ever after.
Jodi: I remember when you were really, really tiny. When other kids would just play with their stuffed animals, you would hide yours all over the house. Jodi: Prince Oliver, because he has to come farthest in the book. His whole character journey is learning how to care about someone other than himself. I love him for that, and I love him for his British accent. What about you?
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Sammy: My favorite character would be Frump, the dog. I like how he never gets too down on himself although he has reason to be. Jodi: How did you come up with the idea for this book, and what did you do once you had come up with it? So then I just expanded that and thought of this whole story. Sammy: Oh my goodness, yes! I would see something outside and want to go outside, but no! It was a great experience but it was hard. To me that means that even though you may not recognize a comma if it hit you between the eyes, you have an unerring sense of conflict, resolution and character.
Ultimately Between the Lines asks to whom a belongs: the person who writes it, the characters who inhabit it, or the reader. I loved that meta-detail. We were writing a book about a girl who is falling for a prince who is a character inside a book but who has a rich and varied life inside the book. I have absolutely no idea what it was about. I think she still has it. Jodi: If you had to be marooned on a deserted island with 2 characters from this book, which ones would you pick, and why? Jodi: We had a lot of moments where we laughed really, really hard.
Jodi: Right? So , anyway, we thought that a medieval jacket was a doublet. When he first meets Delilah he literally takes his pants off. We laughed really hard at that. You were always talking about what the mermaids looked like, or what the writing on the rock wall looked like. Do you see the action unfolding in your mind before you put it on paper, is it like a movie? Sammy: Yeah, it kind of connects to what you were saying about how not everybody can be a writer, although everyone can write.
You might have the grammar rules down well, not me , and spelling and stuff like that and be able to craft a sentence, but not everyone can come up with stories. It feels like a movie in my mind. And the mermaids are coming! Sammy: What was it like to spend years writing alone and then having to write with another person?
The Bridal Path: Ashley
Jodi: Well, it was not the first time I had to collaborate on something. When I wrote Wonder Woman for DC Comics I was working with an editor and with a penciller and an inker — we all had a hand in the story so we had a lot of collaboration during that process. The act of collaboration was kind of fun but an added wrinkle was that I was collaborating with my teenage daughter — which made it very rewarding but also difficult. Admittedly there were times when…perhaps you were not as focused as you could have been!
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So I would have to make you sit down and focus again. However, there were other times when we were having such a good time writing because things were really flowing. Sammy: We had the last sentence written at the start of the book…and then we just wrote the entire story above it. The final moment of writing this book was just adding that last sentence. Jodi: It was cool to be able to write towards that moment because we knew exactly what was coming. You envisioned that scene really early on when we started talking about the story. Sammy: Oh, wow! Then we had to go back and make changes. In the end though, I agree with everything that the editors said and the book is so much better now.
Sammy: The changes to the characters. We completely changed the personalities of the mermaids, for instance. Jodi: True. Jodi: Yeah, especially when you described that visual imagery -- seeing things like a movie. Jodi: Yes! I do, I hear their voices! Sammy: Three things that stand out to me. Two are in the editing process. That was hilarious.
Sammy: And then the last one happened during one of my distracted moments. Seuss hat, or sunglasses…. Sammy: If you could change or add anything in the book, would you? And if yes, what would you change or add? It would be really fun to see more of the back story of some of these characters. How about you? Sammy: My crazy obsession with the mermaids. I would just write their story. We have all these inside jokes and no one understands us a lot of the time.
Jodi: O. A lot of teenage girls would rather die than go on a multi-continent book tour with their mother. How do you feel about it? We know how to make each other laugh really hard. Like to the point of almost peeing. But she does eventually get the guy. I guess it would be really fun to be Prince Oliver. He has a really strong drive to find out more about his life and how he can break free of it. Even in school, I am a more physical person.
I see things better when I dissect, for instance.
I can see things, feel them, and find where they are visually. I love writing and I will always write poetry, which expresses who I am. But I think I have to pursue other interests as well. Sammy: If I could do anything… I have two. First—I know this sounds weird—I would be the penguin poop scrubber at the aquarium. Jodi: So, this is a good career path for you. Jodi: Seals are like dogs but with flippers. I think Alvin would love him. It would be large enough to hold me and act like my bodyguard.
And I would probably name it…. Sammy: No, listen. It could rock me to sleep. And then it would have the pouch of a kangaroo so I could sleep tucked inside it. Sammy: Yeah, but you know what? Not when you have a giant purple gorilla. Jodi: Why would I want to live in an acorn? I would want to live in the Maldives. In the Four Seasons hotel. Where would you live? Jodi: Oh right, we already established that.
What was your last dream or nightmare about? Sammy: I know it is. Often, you have nightmares that would make Stephen King…. You can swim so fast. Jodi: Wait a second, which is the one that carries the purse? Jodi: La La would be Jake because he sings all the time. That this role I performed over and over was just that — a role. And that in order to play it, there had to be another party involved — namely one of those large round flat faces that blurred the sky above us every time the story began. In other words, we all have lives outside the lives that we play when a reader opens the book.
For everyone else here, that knowledge is enough. It stands to reason that if I have a life outside of this story, so do the readers whose faces float above us. So where exactly are they? And what do they do when the book is closed? Once, a reader — a very young one — knocked the book over and it fell open on a page that has no one but me written into it.
For a full hour, I watched the Otherworld go by. These giants stacked bricks made of wood, with letters written on their sides, creating monstrous buildings. They dug their hands into a deep table filled with same sort of sand we have on Everafter Beach.
They stood in front of easels, like the one Rapscullio likes to use when he paints, but these artists used a unique style — dipping their hands into the paint and smearing it across the paper in swirls of color. Finally, one of the Others, who looked to be as old as Queen Maureen, leaned forward and frowned. This is not how we treat books , she said, before shutting me out.
When I told the others what I had seen, they just shrugged. Queen Maureen suggested I see Orville about my strange dreams, and ask for a sleeping potion. Frump, who is my best friend both inside the story and out, believed me. And really, who would ever choose to be a talking basset hound?
He follows me around like, well, a faithful pup. Not that again. Frump rolls onto his back. What if you could be anywhere — anything —you wanted to be? I have this dream. A girl hurries past me, her dark hair whipping behind her like a flag, and in her haste she crashes into me.
When I reach out to help her up, I feel a spark ignite between us. Her eyes are the color of honey and I cannot turn away from them. Finally , I say, and when I kiss her, she tastes of mint and winter and nothing like Seraphima He laughs. Change a published story. Everyone else in this book seems to be perfectly happy with the fact that they are part of a story; that they will wake up and do and say the same things over and over, like a play that gets performed for eternity.
They probably think that the people in the Otherworld have the same sorts of lives we do. I guess I find it hard to believe that readers get up at the same hour every morning and eat the same breakfast every day and go sit in the same chair for hours and have the same conversations with their parents and go to bed and wake up and do it all over again. I think more likely they lead the most incredible lives — and by incredible, I mean: different every day. I wonder all the time what that would be like: To start the day not begging the queen to let me go on a quest.
To avoid getting trapped by fairies and run ragged by a villain. To fall in love with a girl whose eyes are the color of honey. Or swimming across the ocean to get into the record books. Or picking a fight with someone who cuts in front of me. I glance around at the others.
Between readings, our real personalities show. One of the trolls is working out a melody on a flute he has carved from a piece of bamboo. And Seraphima…. But her shoe size is bigger than her IQ. For example, she honestly believes that just because I save her over and over again as part of my job, I must truly have feelings for her. Beside me, Frump lets out a long, mournful howl. Into your positions!
I grab my doublet jacket and my dagger. What would happen, I wonder, if I was late? Would it stay sealed shut? Or would the story start without me? Experimentally, I slow my pace, dragging my heels. But suddenly I feel a magnetic tug on the front of my doublet, propelling me through the pages. They rustle as I leap through them, my legs moving in double-time as I stare down, amazed. I can hear Socks whinnying in his stall at the royal stables, and the splash of the mermaids as they dive back into the sea, and suddenly, I am standing where I am supposed to be, before the royal throne in the Great Hall, at dispute court.
At the last moment there is a brilliant slice of light that opens above us, and instead of looking away like we usually do, this time I glance up. So I turn away from those eyes, the exact color of honey; from that mouth, its lips parted just the tiniest bit, as if she might be about to speak my name. I turn away, and clear my throat, and for the hundred billionth time in my life, I speak my first line of the story. I did not write the lines I speak, they were given to me long before I remember. It is as if the action and sound on our tiny remote stage is being broadcast in the thoughts of the reader.
In the story, of course, he has no daughter. But this reader looks — well, she looks to be about my age. Surely she knows — like I do — that fairy tales are just stories. Just the ones that come in a paper bag with a small toy ; and showers something you take before bedtime that leaves you drenched.
Now means now! I have heard this reader speaking to the older woman before. She is always telling Delilah to put the book away and to go outside. To take a walk and get some fresh air. To call a friend and go to a movie whatever that is. Sometimes she does go outside, but opens the book and starts reading again. I cannot tell you how frustrating this is for me. Here I am, wasting away inside a book I wish I could escape, and all she wants to do is stay in the story. Believe me, it was the very first thing I attempted when I started to actively dream about life in the Otherworld.
However, the people holding the book only saw me when the story was playing, and when the story was playing, I am compelled to stick to the script. Listen to me! Anything, to keep her seeing me. Can you imagine what it would be like to know that your life was just going to be a series of days that were all the same, that were do-overs? As Prince Oliver, I may have been given the gift of life…but I have never been given the chance to live.
The thought of not having to go through the motions again — is a gift, an absolute gift. Before I can finish, however, I find myself flying head over heels as the pages are rifled through, and our world reopens on the very last bit of the story. Frump has a wedding band tied to a silver ribbon around his neck. The trolls are holding the pillars of a bridal bower; the pixies have spun silken ribbons that wrap around them and blow in the sea breeze.
The mermaids gather in the shallows of the ocean, watching us bitterly as we wed. The chessboard. The pixie chesspieces are gone, certainly, but the squares I drew with a stick — the proof that there is life in this book when no one is reading it — are still carved onto the beach. It never makes mistakes like this; every time we are flipped to a new page we will find ourselves ready, in costume, with any necessary set in place.
Maybe, for all I know, this has happened before and I never noticed it. But it stands to reason that if I noticed; someone else might too. Okay, Oliver, I tell myself. This is not a disaster. People read a fairy tale for the happy ending, not to hunt for a faintly visible chessboard scratched into the sand on the final page.
Still, I try to pull Seraphima toward me, in an attempt to hide the chessboard beneath the fabric of her billowing dress. Seraphima, however, misinterprets this to mean that I might actually want to get closer to her. She tilts up her chin and her eyes flutter closed, waiting for her kiss. The trolls, the fairies, the mermaids. The pirates with their anchor lines tightly wrapped around Pyro the dragon to keep him subdued. The reader is waiting too.