The ‘Winter Tale’ with more to tell by Alys West

The Dirigible King's Daughter by Alys WestRegular readers of this blog will recall that in November 2014 the Write Romantics published an anthology called Winter Tales – Stories to Warm your Heart.  My contribution to the anthology was a steampunk story called ‘A Pistol for Propriety’ about a very independent young lady called Harriet Hardy and her encounter with the rather dashing Viscount Ripley.

After the anthology was published a few people said they felt I’d only told part of the story.  They wanted to know what happened next.  Did the police catch up with Harriet?  Was she arrested for trying to shoot the Alderman?  At the time I was busy working on a first draft of the next Spellworker Chronicles book but increasingly I found Harriet and Charlie (which is the name of the dashing Viscount) kept popping back into my mind.  I was supposed to be concentrating on druids and spellworkers on Orkney and I’d got these two very determined steampunk characters chattering away at the back of my brain.  In the end I decided that, as ignoring them wasn’t working, the only option was to leave the druids for a while and write Harriet and Charlie’s story.

shutterstock_278293358When I got started I expected it would become a novella but my characters had very different ideas (mainly because I couldn’t get them to stop talking!) and in the end I had a short novel of just under 60,000 words which is called The Dirigible King’s Daughter.  Let’s just say that things do not go smoothly for Harriet and Charlie and their full story is a far rockier road than even I’d anticipated.  But there’s some fun along the way with a trip to a fabulous steampunk version of Scarborough fair, a glamorous night on the town in London and a rather thrilling flight on a dirigible.  There’s an extract from The Dirigible King’s Daughter below and if you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available from Amazon here.

Extract from The Dirigible King’s Daughter:

‘Oh Charlie, I have missed you.’ The words broke from her.  A second too late her gloved hand rose to her mouth to stop them. 

‘Really?  Because I was starting to think you’d forgotten all about me.’

A half smile as his hand reached for hers. ‘Not all about you.’

‘Good.’ Gently, he took her hand, turned it, brought it to his lips and kissed the inside of her wrist just above her glove.   ‘Harriet.’  His voice was deeper, softer.

steampunk_girl_by_kiza_nya-d57n0s4She looked up.  There was a tremulous moment of hesitation then the space between them closed and he kissed her.  Beneath the prickle of his beard there was the unexpected softness of his lips.  So tentative and gentle on hers.  It was like breathing him in.  She’d dreamed of this so many times and it was better than anything she’d imagined. 

Too soon he pulled away. 

‘I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that.  Much as I want us to be, we’re not yet engaged.’

‘Oh, stuff and nonsense.  Don’t stand on ceremony with me now.  I’m glad you did and you can do it again if you want.’

And with that he took her in his arms and kissed her soundly.

‘You’ve kissed me in a church in the sight of God, Harriet Hardy,’ he said when they finally broke apart.  ‘You have to marry me now.’

Oh my! Why had no one told her kissing was that delightful?  And if they were married they could do it all the time.  Now wasn’t that an enticing thought! Grateful for the support of the door behind her as her knees had taken on the consistency of putty, she put a steadying hand on his chest and felt, beneath the leather of his flying jacket, his heart pounding as hard as hers.   ‘That’s poppycock, Charlie and you know it. Ask me again when I’ve cleared my name.  I can’t say yes when I might be arrested at any minute.’

3568764500_3bb84baa2c_bPushing his hair back from where it had again flopped into his eyes, he put his hand over hers.  ‘That answer will do for now.  In the meantime I shall do the proper thing and court you. Take tea with me tomorrow afternoon?’

‘I have to work, remember?’ she said, yanking the door open.  ‘I’m not one of the idle rich, you know.’

‘Take tea with me or marry me.  It’s your choice.’ 

‘When did you become so very persistent?’ The wind whipped around her, catching at her skirts, as she stepped outside.  Only a smattering of stars relieved the darkness. The lights from the town below shone across the harbour but the church, and the Abbey behind it, were engulfed by night. 

‘When I had to spend eight years looking for you!’

There was no answer to that.  Taking his arm, she said, ‘Tea tomorrow would be splendid.  If I’m not in police custody, you can pick me up at the office at four.’

You can read a review of The Dirigible King’s Daughter by author and blogger Barb Taub here

The Dirigible King’s Daughter is available to purchase as an ebook here and Winter Tales – Stories to Warm your Heart is still available here and continues to raise money for two charities doing vitally important work.

You can find out more about me on my blog www.alyswest.com, on Twitter: @alyswestyork and on Facebook: Alys West Writer. You can also check out my steampunk inspirations (and a lot of fabulous frocks) on Pinterest at Alys West Writes.

Photo of St Mary’s church, Whitby by Simon Gman

 

 

 

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Monday Special – The Life of a Cystic Fibrosis Patient

Mondays aren’t a regular posting day for us but, when we do post on our blog on a Monday, it’s for a ‘Mega Monday Announcement’ and signals some amazing news for The Write Romantics such as a signing with an agent, a publishing deal, or a book release. Today is not a Mega Monday Announcement. It’s something very different and very moving.

As regular followers will know, we launched our debut anthology of short stories – Winter Tales: Stories to Warm Your Heart – last month. We’re incredibly proud of this anthology because, not only is it the first time in print for most of us, it’s raising money for two amazing charities – Teenage Cancer Trust and Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

We’ve been really touched by the support of our guests and many of their friends and contacts. A couple of weeks back, Jane Turley who runs the humorous blog ‘The Witty Ways of a Wayward Wife’ posted a more serious blog post introducing us to Derrick LoRusso, a Canadian teenager. It moved us all so much that we had to get in touch with him and invite him onto our blog. Thank you, Derrick, for sharing your courageous story with us.

The Life of a Cystic Fibrosis patient

Derrick in Paris
This is a photo taken of me a few years back. I was in Paris, notably at the base of Arc du Triumph while vacationing with my parents.

The first thing I ate there was a Nutella stuffed crepe. My dream of eating one in the middle of Paris came true. I can’t argue with French logic of loving chocolate and Nutella!

On the outside it would appear I can do anything. You wouldn’t guess I was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, Crohn’s disease and even cancer.

This is a photo of my lungs taken only three months ago.

Derrick lungsOn the bottom left is a big white blob. This blob is a virus slowly taking over my airwaves. Which makes it extremely difficult for any CF patient to breathe normally. It is a constant battle of survival. According to my doctor, the only solution is to perform a bronchoscopy and have aggressive treatment of antibiotics to kill a virus that should of died back in 2008.

For me this CT scan image said more to me than any doctor or therapist could say. It was only a year ago I was hospitalized due to a scare of a virus threatening to take my life, and the complete accident of finding a tumour on my pancreas and having half of it removed.

My day starts with a fit of coughing. Only is this quelled when I use one of the three inhalers I take daily. Beginning with Ventolin, which helps opens up the airwaves. After an hour of letting it work, Pulmicort aids mucus to work it’s way up. The third, Symbicort, does the work of both when real emergencies arise. This being when I feel as if I’m being strangled on the inside, and am unable to even grasp for air without coughing or wheezing heavily.

Come meals I have to take enzymes. Cystic Fibrosis has killed any chance of my body absorbing nutrients and helping digest properly. Enzymes absorb every nutrient from the food I eat. Along with lactose aid, multiple vitamins of various types finish off breakfast alone. In total I will take over 300 pills in just a month for breakfast alone. By year end I will have taken more than a 1200 pills total. Not as hard to swallow for me as you think.

Once I have eaten, therapy takes up most of my morning. There are exercises we do to not only aid in breathing even a little better, but force stubborn phlegm out. These exercises have recently taken so much wind out of me, it’s become impossible to even do them properly. When that’s complete, on to the actual therapy of inhaled medicine called Tobramycin. The medicine is in liquid form, and must be evaporated into a mist and inhaled via a compressor attached to a nebulizer. This alone can also be painful, sometimes I don’t even finish the therapy due to extreme uncomfortable irritations in my chest and plenty coughing up of sputum. I do this twice a day, everyday. It is not the medicine at work doing this, it is my body trying hard to exhume the virus constantly, and slowly, drowning me.

I currently have three viruses that will forever grow within me. Pseudonymous can be killed off and can stay at bay for awhile. Microbacterium is permanently within me, however lies dormant unless triggered. The third, called Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA,) presumed gone in 2008, has returned. The problem lies within the Microbacterium and ABPA. Were the doctors to treat one, the other will be triggered, and cause unseen consequences and possibly even worse ill health. It seems the only way to combat the virus is to literally vacuum out the upper airwaves and have three days of therapy on intervenes medicine.

Even with all these problems, and more to surely come, I do not let these get the better of me. I finished college and became a freelance journalist, and am planning on a vacation in October to return to beautiful Paris, and even see London. To me nothing says victory over impossible odds than to fly halfway across the world, and see France, a country my ancestors came from. That is the only cure I need; the freedom to enjoy life.

Derrick

Anthology coverThe Write Romantics send their thoughts to Derrick and his family and wish him well with his travels next year. We’re delighted that we’ve chosen Cystic Fibrosis Trust as one of the charities to receive funds from the sale of Winter Tales to help individuals like Derrick and Alys’s three-year-old nephew. Thank you, Derrick, for sharing your experiences with us and helping bring to life this disease that we knew very little about until now.

Winter Tales is available via Amazon now in paperback and e-book formats.

Jessica and Alys on behalf of The Write Romantics