The Keeping House blog tour is finished, things have calmed, and I’m well into my next writing project, this one. Striking Balance is over 68K at this point, but it’ll eventually wind down and probably suffer some cuts because that sometimes happens.
Happy Wednesday! My Wednesday shares have become shorter and serialized, and for now, they’re coming from my current WIP (work in progress), Striking Balance. You’ll be able to find all the ones that pertain to Striking Balance under the Categories drop down to your right.
Striking Balance is an M/Queer Historical Paranormal Fantasy story set within my Appalachian Elementals series. It’s a freestanding tale, so you don’t need to have read the other stories within the series to delve into this one.
This is installment twenty, “Soulful Eyes,” and it picks up directly where the last installment, “Spring Restock,” ended. The main character in Striking Balance is Benjamin (Nub) Schnell, the possessor of secrets twice his size and seeming age. He’s been working for nearly a decade on the same small farm as his friend, Conall Baldwin, who acts as the farm’s manager. This story begins during the American Revolutionary War years, 1779 to be precise, in the Nolichucky river basin of Northeast Tennessee.
This picks up with the last line from “Spring Restock” and we now know why Master Gow and his men are there, but someone else has come along too. The last line comes from last week’s post.
I shut the door and lower my breeches and… I’ve never been happier that I placed a full door on this privy so no one can see which way my feet turn when I drop water. Mary’s gifts are still stuck in my breeches too. In fact, one of them had been Conall’s pillow. I muse over this, at the irony, and set them against my waist so I can secure them. Whenever I get to my loft, I’ll hide them with my worn one.
The woman is staring at me when I exit the privy, scrutinizing. She’s in plain wear, an obvious Daughter of Liberty, but she’s no servant. Her mob cap is linen and her apron is held up by silver pins. “Ye built th’ cook hearth in there?” She points toward the cabin.
“Yes, miss.” She wears no ring though she looks marrying age, and her eyes are deep, soulful Mutti would say. She comes with Master Gow once or twice a year. Her name’s Alexandria, and she runs Master Gow’s household since he’s not married either.
Such relationships can be nebulous around these parts, and it’s impolite to ask, but Conall and I have pondered them on many a winter’s evening. Master Gow and Alexandria are friends we believe, and she has his respect and probable friendship but not affections. Master Gow’s lead man, Ceardach, seems to have Alexandria’s favor. I found them kissing in the root cellar once, on their knees in a strong embrace. Neither seemed embarrassed by it, but I was for some strange reason. Regardless, I know enough to leave the topic alone aside from speculation.
“Master Gow goes on about th’ hearth so. Will ye show it tae me?”
If you’ve read Keeping House, you know who Alexandria is, so you’ve probably had an aha moment when reading this WIPpet. Yes, she’s been around for quite a while. One of the joys of having immortal characters is that their influence can stretch across long time periods.
You can check out the other stories within the Appalachian Elementals world by clicking one of the covers to your right. Cleaning House: A Contemporary Appalachian Fantasy, is #1, Keeping House: a Paranormal Appalachian Fantasy, is #2 and was released July 8th, 2019, and Mama, Me, and the Holiday Tree is a sweet little novella that tackles holidays and family relationships between two characters within the series.