Wednesday, February 15, 2023

WEP Gone With The Wind

The first WEP challenge of the year is in honor of the book/movie of the same name: Gone With the Wind. In case you don’t know, this story  follows a headstrong southern lady, Scarlet, and how she survived the American Civil War. The challenge was to adapt a theme from Gone With the Wind and adapt it to fit. Luckily, I already had this available.

 Anyone who has read my first epic fantasy, The Treasures of Carmelidrium, available everywhere. (See sidebar links) May remember King Julian. He is pivotal in how my world developed. Well, at long last, I’m telling his story. You can find it on Kindle Vella, links below.

Since, in my view, everything is essential, I didn’t reduce the word count to 1,000. It sits at 1,277, including the title. I hope you enjoy it.


Tagline: Family Issues


King Julian of Gil-Lael

Marriage ContractKing Julian sat his white charger on top of the bluff that overlooked the valley and château de Panettiere, his brother-in-law’s estate. The reports of the conflict between Duke Victor Panettiere and Lord Ménard Balzac were greatly understated. Instead of fields of wheat, ready to harvest, the valley held tents, campfires, and men in arms as far as he could see.

    “Did you expect this, Papa?” Crown Prince Marcel asked.
    “No,” Julian answered his seventeen-year-old son. He leaned forward a little to see his youngest son next to Marcel.
    Turning back, he noted several men below hurry to mount their horses and gallop toward the pavilions of the three noblemen who wanted revenge, or so the report stated.     Their flags announced them, and their men spread out on the field. Preparations for war were everywhere he looked.  
    The village of surfs directly below the bluff was burned, and the men and women were nowhere to be seen. He hoped they had fled and were safe, but when men grew angry, there was no telling what horrors might occur.
    “What are your orders?” Friend-Brother Joël Chapelle asked.
    “We make camp here. Select five men to accompany me to Balzac’s tent, along with you and Marcel.”
    “What about me?” Prince Loïc asked.
    “You will remain here.” Julian glanced at his fourteen-year-old son. He regretted bringing him. Marcel had to come since he was training to be king one day and must learn what it meant.
    He heard the men give the orders behind him. The noise of horses, hammering, and the flapping of canvas in the wind all reached him. He didn’t turn his gaze from the scene below. Anger settled between his shoulders, making his muscles tense. His brother-in-law had always been impulsive, and it would seem his oldest son was the same. Julian would need to tread carefully, or he’d find himself in the center of a civil war. The entire thing was unacceptable.
    Joël returned, and Julian pulled his stallion away from the men, beckoning his best friend to come with him. Once far enough from the others, Julian turned his horse alongside Joël’s so they might look at one another.
    “The report said there was a disagreement,” Julian said. “This is more like war.”
    “Indeed it is,” Joël said.
    “I only brought five hundred men, I’ll need more if conflict ensues.”
    “Who should I send?”
    “No one just yet. I want to speak to those three men who dare to call to arms against my brother-in-law.”
    “Isn’t this a dispute over a marriage agreement?”
    Julian frowned. “Oui, no marriage contract should result in such conflict.”
    “It seems extreme that such a call to arms would issue over a woman.” Joël rubbed the tip of his nose.
    “We shouldn’t judge without hearing the facts,” Julian said. “Do you have the five men?”
    “I do.”
    “Then let us progress.”
    A road connected the top of the bluff to the valley. Julian’s banner carrier took the lead, holding up the flag of the kings of Gil-Lael. A great oak, with three falcons in flight above it and three stars above those on a blue flag. They broke into a gallop once they reached the valley. The horse’s hooves pounded the dry earth. The wind snapped the banner. Two guards in the front behind the banner carrier and two in the rear. Men lined the drive and bowed to Julian as he passed. Marcel rode behind him, and Joël behind the young prince.
    Smoke from the fires assaulted Julian, and the body odor from a thousand men was sour on his tongue. As he looked at the men, he saw many with injuries, bandaged arms, legs, and torsos. There had already been minor conflicts. He must end it.
They reached Lord Balzac’s large pavilion by midday. His farriers rushed forward to take the reins of their horses. Julian dismounted, his son and friend-brother joined him, and         Balzac stepped forward to bow. Beside him came the two other noblemen, Lord Dufresne and Toutain.
    “Welcome, Majesté,” all three said in unison.
    “You must be tired after such a long journey,” Balzac said. “I have wine, cheese, and bread. So come inside and eat with us.”
    “Thank you, My Lord, for a welcome respite.” Julian set his hand on his son’s shoulder and followed the three noblemen into the tent.
    A large table with three chairs held the food and wine.
    “Please sit, Majesté,” Balzac said with a wave of his arm. He signaled a servant who soon returned with three more chairs. Julian’s guards stood at attention close by.
    After downing a goblet of wine to quench his thirst, Julian took a square of cheese and bit into it. The three nobles before him looked haggard as if they’d been without sleep for a long time. All three needed a bath. Dried mud and horse hair were caked to their clothes and hands. A scented oil lamp hung from one of the poles but could do little against the smell of manure and perspiration.
    Julian cleared his throat. “The report mentioned this as a dispute over the marriage contract between Master Cyril, Panettiere’s oldest son, and your daughter, Balzac. Is the contract not suitable? Did your daughter displease Cyril, or was it the other way around?”
    Balzac looked at his friends, and for a moment, no one spoke. Then he turned toward Julian, took a long swallow from his goblet, and began. “My sweet Auriane has been betrothed to Cyril since the age of ten. But she met a young man while visiting her cousin and fell in love. So she sought to leave the contract to marry him instead of Cyril.”
    “Was that acceptable with you?” Julian broke the bread apart and took a bite.
    “I wanted her to fulfill the marriage agreement with Panettiere since it would have elevated her to a duchess and given me a much-needed tax break. But she begged me, and…well, my love for her persuaded me that she should have what she wanted.”
    “A tax break?”
    “Oui, instead of the thirty percent I pay now, it would have been fifteen.”
    Julian frowned. He’d given Panettiere a position to collect the taxes due him from this part of Gil-Lael. Ten percent for himself and five percent for his brother-in-law. It would seem Panettiere was overreaching at thirty percent. His anger began a low burn, but he didn’t indicate this to the three nobles.
    “What did Panettiere receive with this agreement?”
    ”Our family goes back many generations here in the southern part of Gil-Lael. I offered an old estate that we no longer use.”
    “So, your daughter fell in love and wished to marry another. You annulled the agreement?”
    “I take it Panettiere was displeased. Is there anything else?”
    Tears formed in Balzac’s eyes. He looked at his friends as they studied the floor. Julian could feel the change in the atmosphere. There was a tremendous sorrow that fell over the three noblemen before him.
    Looking back at Julian, Balzac said, “Panettiere didn’t mind, but his son was angry. He stormed out of the meeting and…and.” Balzac’s shoulders began to shake. He grabbed a cloth and pressed it to his eyes. A low howl left his lips, and he began to cry. It was Lord Toutain who continued.
    Cyril, along with his two brothers and his friends rode out, hunted down Auriane, beat and murdered the young man she wished to marry before her eyes, and then took turns raping her. The Good Sisters took care of her, but heartsick, she took her own life a few days later.”
Word count: 1277
Holy smokes! I hope that left you curious for more. Currently, Kindle Vella is only offered in the USA. I encourage all of you to write to Vella, and if you aren’t eligible, contact Amazon and express a desire to write to Vella. I am making enough money to cover the cost of advertising.
The first 3 episodes are free. You just read episode 1. If you’re new to Vella, Amazon will give you 200 tokens so you can pay to read more. If you have an e-reader, the story will automatically download if registered with Amazon. If you read on your computer and don’t have an e-reader, it won’t.
I also have a sweet romance available. 5 Friends & Lovers. 


Thank you to the lovely ladies at WEP for their work in monitoring these stories. To read what others have shared, go here.

I'm cool with feedback and comments. Give it to me. 




Tuesday, November 29, 2022

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face Write Edit Publish Bloghop

Celine Dion The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.

The last story of the year for Write, Edit, Publish is based on the song, ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. One of my absolute favorite songs of all time. This song can mean so many different things to people. My take is below.

I want to thank our lovely ladies for their hard work sponsoring this bloghop. Denise, Olga, Laura, Renee, Nila, and Jemma.

Tagline: Love, acceptance, compassion.

His Face…

Absolute love and acceptance. I hadn’t expected this. I was raised in a strict Christian religion and hadn’t gone for years. Yet, despite all my mistakes, there was no judgment. Only love. Love permeated the core of my being.

“I had a baby,” I said.

He smiled. “Yes, my beloved. Your son is healthy.”

“A boy.” I was old school and wanted to be surprised.

“You have a choice,” Jesus said. “You can stay or go back.”

“Oh…” to stay in all this vibrant beauty, unconditional love, and acceptance. But…”I have a baby.”

He nodded, accepting my choice.

Eleanor heard the beeping of the monitor before she opened her eyes. And, the memory. The sweet, sweet memory.

He stood before her, his robes glowing with white brilliance, her savior. His smile filled her with peace and love, deep and all-consuming. Then she heard the monitor.

Eleanor opened her eyes to a room full of medical equipment lit with fluorescent lights. Her husband was sprawled in a chair, head back, mouth open, snoring. He hadn’t shaved, and his face was splotched with whiskers too dark to just be a day’s worth. How long had she been dead?

Yes, she’d been dead. She was sure of it. Her memories of heaven were too complete and more real than this world.

“Josh.” Her mouth was dry, and it came out like a squeak. “Josh,” she said again, a little louder.

He jerked, opened his eyes, and then sat. Fear creased his brow, and she watched as it smoothed and then a smile. His smile. The one she fell in love with on their first date years ago.

He stood and came to her taking her hand. “You’re alive. You made it!”

“I am. I did. The baby?” She didn’t care about anything else at the moment. It’d been a struggle to get pregnant. Years of trying only to lose several babies until this one.

Josh bent and kissed the back of her hand. Then, grinning, he said, “It’s a boy. He’s perfect.”

“I know,” she said.

He didn’t act surprised. “I’ll tell the nurse to bring him.” Josh hurried out the door.

He was back, followed by a nurse who checked her vitals. “You’re a miracle,” the nurse said.

“I died,” Eleanor said.

“Yes,” the nurse answered. “Dr. Allen worked hard to save you.”

“I want to see my baby,” she said.

The nurse nodded and left. Shortly afterward, she was back pushing the hospital crib. Once there, she lifted the tiny bundle and nestled him in Eleanor’s arms. Everything slipped away as she gazed at her newborn’s face. Perfection in each detail, from his tiny nose to his eyebrows and mouth. Her body seemed to glide, and the room, nurse, and even Josh faded. She stood once more beyond the veil in a lush and vibrant garden. Love surrounded her. Acceptance and tenderness. Her baby boy opened his eyes, and she lifted her gaze to Jesus.

“My baby,” she said.

He smiled and touched the infant’s forehead. “Blessings on you both.”

“I give him to you.”

“I promise to always be with him and with you.”

Then, she was back in the hospital. The nurse was gone. Her heart was so full of love that she thought it would burst.

“What shall we name him?” Josh asked.

They’d been talking about a few different names. “Peter,” she said. It hadn’t been one they discussed, but it felt right. In fact, everything felt right.

“Peter,” Josh repeated. “It fits.” Then his fingers ran along the baby’s face, just as Jesus had done. Their baby smiled.

“We must go to church,” Eleanor said. “But maybe not my old one.”

If Josh was surprised, he didn’t show it. “Which one do you want to attend?”

“I don’t know.”

Josh leaned forward and kissed her, then he said. “We’ll figure it out.”

Word Count 648.

I’ve been watching near death-experience videos under Destiny Image on YouTube. What strikes me is how people relate the love of Jesus and his face. I remember the first time I looked at my daughter’s face after she was born. My heart swelled with love. I thought she was perfect. So, it seemed right to combine the two.

I hope that you will find encouragement in this story in some small way. Nancy

To read what others have written, go here.


Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Moonlight Sonata Write Edit Publish August bloghop 2022

 Welcome to this month's WEP challenge. There's still time to join the fun. Simply go here and sign up. You can share pictures, write a poem or short story or even share a memory. You can also view what others in this bloghop have done.

I want to thank the ladies who volunteer to help: Denise, Olga, Laura, Renee, Nila and Jemma.

Want to listen to Moonlight Sonata? Click here

Tag line: When life is stressful, time off is everything.

 Moonlight Sonata


Jessica leaned back in the rattan chair and shut her eyes. She breathed in deep the scents of tropical flowers, the smell of sizzling pork, and sunscreen. It had been five years since her life was free of stress. She shut her eyes and smiled. The waitress brought her a Piña Colada. She sipped the smooth coconut and pineapple drink. She’d never had it before but while in Hawaii, she thought.

“May I join you, Mademoiselle?”

Jessica opened her eyes to see a man, forty maybe, standing before her, straw hat in hand with brown hair and eyes. Suspicion filled her mind immediately. But his French accent soothed her fears as well.

Why not? “Sure,” she said.

He smiled and settled into the rattan chair next to her. “Is this your first time in Hawaii?” he asked.

“It is, and you?”

“Oui, a dream come true.” He played with his hat moving it in a circle.

Nervous, Jessica thought.” It is that.” She agreed. “Very relaxing.”

The show began, and they looked at the musicians and dancers in grass skirts.

Women have come a long way, Jessica thought. The French guy smiled, viewing the show. His drink came, champagne. The show ended, and they joined the line to help themselves to what the hotel touted as the traditional Hawaii dinner.

“I am Jules Cousteau, and you are?” He sat, once more, in the rattan chair, his plate on the table between them.

“Jessica Turner,” she said and cut into the pork.

They ate, and Jessica glanced at him. His light brown hair was neatly trimmed, and he had laugh lines crinkled beside his eyes. That was a good sign, she supposed.

“Where in France are you from, Jules?” she asked.

He swallowed, wiped his mouth, and said. “Ah, Paris.” He pronounced it with an ‘e’ sound at the end. “And you?”

“New York.” She didn’t have the classic Brooklyn accent. He lifted both brows. “Born and raised in Colorado,” she added.

“Colorado? Another destination someday. And you, will you visit France?”

“Maybe.” She looked away from him at all the couples, most retired, which surprised her.

“Are you here alone, Jessica?”

Her eyes pulled away from the couple she’d been studying. “I am, and you?”

“No, my daughters are in the pool.”

“In the pool?”

“Oui, they are teenagers.”

Jessica nodded, wondering where the wife was. Probably in the pool too.

“What are your plans while here in Hawaii?” he asked.

“I want to see the volcano for sure,” Jessica said.

“I plan to see it too. Would you honor me by coming with me?”

“I think your wife should go with you.” Not in this life, gigolo!

“She has passed. Cancer.”

She caught the sad note at the end of his sentence. Slight, but still there.

“Oh, I’m sorry.” she was glad she hadn’t spoken out loud about her earlier thought. “I’d be happy for the company. Will you bring your girls?” Jessica hadn’t planned on hooking up with a man, let alone a Frenchman with family. But, there was something about him that made her feel at ease.

“Shall we go into their lounge?”

Instant warning signs popped in her head. “Why?”

“They have a piano.”

“Do you play?”


Hmm…that was interesting. This was starting to be a lot like a Hallmark movie. They stood and walked toward the hotel lounge together.

“What do you do?” he asked.

“Me?” Her job rushed back into her thoughts, and she could feel her energy drain. “I’m a prosecutor.”


“Not exactly. I go after big-time criminals. Most of my work is tracking down witnesses, collecting evidence, and putting the case together for the New York DA.”

“I am impressed, Mademoiselle. I have never previously known anyone who worked in such an important job.”

“Thanks,” she said.

They entered the lounge and sat near the piano. A man was playing Elvis Presley. They ordered more drinks, she a wine cooler and he more of the bubbly.  The atmosphere was beyond chill, with a Hawaiian sunset painted on all the walls.

“What do you do, Jules?” she asked. It was only fair, after all.

The pianist got up and left for a break.

“I will show you,” Jules said. He stood and went to the grand piano. Sitting, he stretched his fingers, shut his eyes, and began playing  Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.

Jessica couldn’t stop her mouth from opening slightly. Jules seamlessly went from that song to another one of Beethoven’s classics. She loved classical music. So soothing.

When he finished, Jules stood and shook the hand of the piano man who’d returned. Then, he came back to his seat.

“That was beautiful. I love Beethoven.” Jessica smiled.

Jules nodded. “I thought you might.”

“So, you play the piano for a living?”

“I do. I am a member of the Paris orchestra and also visit other venues. I’ll be in New York next month.”


The remainder of her vacation was spent with Jules and his girls. All of them were excited to meet someone from New York. They peppered her with questions and begged their papa, as they called him, to take them when he was to have his concert.

Home and alone, Jessica flipped open her laptop and started her research on Jules Cousteau. He was a well-known and highly respected concert pianist and widow at forty-seven. It mentioned his three daughters too.

He hadn’t lied to her. Not even once. A huge plus since she was sick of liars. Warm memories of their Hawaiian adventures filled her with happiness. She pulled out the ticket and backstage pass he’d given her for his concert. In a month, they’d be reunited. For the first time in five years, she felt hopeful. Maybe life wasn’t as bad as she had come to believe.

Word Count: 973

Comments are always welcome and if you want to add critique that's okay.

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Coming, Nov. 30, 2022

Book 4 and the end of the series.