World Building for Romance

A book is a wonderful and amazing thing. You hold in your hands the key to another world, a world that previously only lived in the mind of another person, who may have died a hundred years ago, or live on the other side of the planet. Inside the imagination of the author live the characters, fighting and loving, the world being born and history happening. Wars, evolution, climate change and all sorts of weird and wonderful events. All entirely imaginary, and yet magical enough to first enthrall the writer, then drag a reader into that world. Who has not looked up from a book, feeling the real world to be but a pale facsimile? Who would not leap through the door into the world or imagination, or dream about the wonders of another’s world? Who has an unrequited love for a cherished book boyfriend? (Conan or Mr. Darcy? Enquiring minds what to know!)

That is the magic and wonder of world building. While I am an author, I was most certainly a reader first, and always. The worlds of others are still as magical and enchanting to me today as my own are.

The building of a world, and a book for that matter can start from the inside or the outside. Ok, what does that mean? You can start with the story, the characters burning to be written and already conjuring scenes. Then you can craft a world that answers the needs of your plot. This is from the inside out. An example is JK Rowling’s description of seeing Harry Potter in her imagination and then crafting a world to house the story.

The other way, and this may well be a hangover from dungeons and dragons and other role playing, is from the outside in. Build the world in detail, then a plot and characters arise from the world you have built, its history, customs and where the privies are. Tolkien for instance would fit into this category, building an entire language before writing a story set in middle earth.

                Which way is for you? I think you probably already know which way you prefer. However, it is worthwhile to consider the pitfalls of both methods. Building the world first may be an absorbing way to procrastinate ever actually writing the story. But it does add a depth of rich detail, and often research will inspire the plot. Building the story first may lead to a lack of description in scenes or running into rewrites due to some problem with the world. But the story is written, and you can add in depth of detail later.

 What aspects of world building are difficult for you? What author is your favourite world creator?

Disclaimer: I write a long running blog on world building, and you can sign up here.

About Cindy

Cindy Tomamichel is a multi-genre author, with her SMP series Druid’s Portal a time travel action adventure romance set in Roman Britain. Short stories of fantasy, scifi and romance can be found on her website, where she blogs on aspects of world building. The 30 Organizing Tips for Writers provides much needed help for authors trying to navigate social media and build an author platform. Doing NaNo this year? Check out her free book NaNoWriMo Ready. Or pick up a copy of the free Romance Short Stories.

Contact Cindy on







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Dinner, Food, and Family in New Orleans:

In New Orleans, Mardi Gras gave way to the somber season of Lent. For many people in this very Catholic metropolitan area, we abstain from meat on Fridays; however, we also love food. As a result, we find wonderful ways to alleviate the pain of our sacrifice. (My words do contain a hint of irony).

New Orleans is a seafood city. In fact, most of southern Louisiana contains people love seafood, and luckily, seafood doesn’t count as meat! Aren’t we lucky? As a result, we munch on boiled crawfish, fried catfish, and seafood gumbo (shrimp, crabs, and sometimes, oysters in a wonderful type of soup). We drink beer and wine and share stories with each other. We discuss all of the things that are fun (music, movies, books) and even controversial things like politics. In Louisiana, we have no shortage of colorful political figures. We discuss our plans for the upcoming Easter holiday; most of us will indulge in barbecue and stroll around the Lakefront or City Park that day. The fasting is over!

For most people, the dinner table brings people together. Most of us talk about our day with our loved ones. We share important information. We say things we regret, and we sometimes argue over trivial matters. Sometimes, we learn something about ourselves or about our loved ones. As I write these words, I think of Magda, the mother in Love at War. She is a native German who married an American during the First World War.  While her sons talk in a too-casual manner about Hitler, the normally staid Magda erupts. She reminds all of them that war means death and destruction for too many people and that not all return home alive or in one piece. 

As we gather over our seafood dinners on Fridays, we, too, remember those who passed before us. We think of those who are victims of war now in places like Syria, Afghanistan, and Ukraine. We hope and pray for peace in this somber and holy season of Lent.

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In Praise of Napping

Today is National Napping Day, a day created by Camille and Dr. William Anthony in 1999 to spotlight the healthy benefits of catching up on quality sleep. Dr. Anthony noted: “We chose this particular Monday because Americans (and Canadians) are more ‘nap-ready’ than usual after losing an hour of sleep to daylight saving time.”

The benefits of napping are many, among them improvements in mental health and working memory (the ability to focus on one task while retaining others in memory) and reduction of coronary mortality. In a recent Greek study, researchers discovered that participants taking daily naps had a 37% less chance of contracting a fatal heart condition.

There is, however, one major disadvantage to napping: A nap is not a permanent solution to reaching daily sleep quotas. Sleep specialist Dr. David Dinges notes: “Naps cannot replace adequate recovery sleep over many days.”

Also, long naps (more than 30 minutes) can result in sleep inertia. As these nappers awaken from deep periods of sleep, they can experience grogginess and disorientation. While these feelings will dissipate within thirty minutes, they can affect performance in high-level tasks.

Afraid of being labeled lazy and slothful, some nappers downplay or conceal this daily practice. Non-nappers hesitate to start the practice, fearing they will develop some form of sleep inertia.

Wherever you are on this continuum, take a few minutes and read about ten high-powered historical figures who celebrated their napping and resulting productivity.

Winston Churchill

Sir Winston regarded a nap between lunch and dinner as essential for maintaining the kind of clear thinking he employed during World War II. In The Gathering Storm, he wrote: “Nature has not intended mankind to work from eight in the morning until midnight without that refreshment of blessed oblivion which, even if it only lasts twenty minutes, is sufficient to renew all the vital forces.”

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Coleridge took what can be considered one of the most famous naps in English literature. After waking up from a three-hour nap, he stumbled to his desk and penned the poem, “Kubla Khan.” He believed in seizing the thread of a dream immediately upon awakening and then taking action.

Leonardo Da Vinci

While painting the Mona Lisa, Da Vinci slept very little each night and took 15-minute naps every four hours. He criticized people who slept long hours each evening, commenting that there’s plenty of time to sleep when we die.

Salvador Dali

The founder of the micro-nap or what he called “slumber with a key,” Catalan artist Salvador Dali napped to stimulate his creativity. He started by sitting upright in an armchair, holding a heavy metal key in his hand. He then placed a metal plate upside down underneath the hand holding the key. Once that was in place, he allowed himself to fall asleep. Once that happened, he dropped the key which hit the plate and made a loud noise. All of this occurred within one-quarter of a second, enough time to revive his physical and psychic being.

Thomas Edison

All that Edison could manage was three to four hours of sleep each night. To compensate and inspire creativity, he power napped throughout the day, adopting a variation of Salvador Dali’s method. Edison held a handful of ball bearings that would clatter to the floor and wake him.

Albert Einstein

Einstein claimed that he needed 10 hours of sleep each night and frequent naps throughout the day. Like Salvador Dali, he practiced micro-napping; each nap lasted only seconds and was designed to boost creativity.

John F. Kennedy

President Kennedy and Mrs. Kennedy enjoyed a one- to two-hour nap each afternoon. Blinds were drawn, and no interruptions were allowed; his staff had strict orders not to disturb him for any reason.


While Napoleon could go for days without lying down for a full night’s sleep, he had the ability to fall asleep at the drop of a hat. Right before battle, he would sleep like a baby, oblivious to approaching cannons. After the battle was over, he would sleep for eighteen hours.

Eleanor Roosevelt

One of the most influential First Ladies in U.S. history, Mrs. Roosevelt sat on committees and gave speeches. Before each speech or public talk, she would sneak in a nap to refresh her mind and body.

Margaret Thatcher

During her tenure as Prime Minister, Lady Thatcher slept four to five hours each night and had a scheduled one-hour nap each afternoon. No one dared disturb her during that time.

Where to find Joanne Guidoccio…

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook | Pinterest | LinkedIn | Amazon

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Writing Through Stress…It’s Almost Spring!

So…Yikes! I missed my last posting date! I’m not sure why, but I feel bad! It’s been five months!

Obviously, I survived the stress of the holidays! Actually, our holidays were pretty nice. I ended up doing a significant amount of unplanned hosting, which got to be a little old by New Year’s. Ha! I do enjoy hosting, but it was a lot! I only have to show up and help for the next holiday gathering, so there’s that at least.

Our son’s wedding was beautiful and amazing. They did such a good job with everything. They sang to each other during the ceremony and I bawled like a baby. The food turned out well, too. It was a long but awesome day!

So now we’re getting ready to enter Spring! I definitely don’t hate the season, but it seems like it takes forever to get to the time where you can actually plant things! Mother Nature is fickle, too. Well, she pretty much has been all winter, so that shouldn’t be a huge surprise! I am looking forward to putting flowers in, getting my plants back outside, and some of the projects we have planned.

Our calendar has very few open spots, which is equal parts distressing and exciting. Lots of fun stuff, but also a lot of work weekends helping my sister get her property ready for our niece’s wedding.

Other than that… the writing is going really well. I had an idea while on vacation and finished that book up a few weeks ago. It needs some seriously heavy editing, which I will get to shortly. Right now, I’m in the middle of the second book and working on editing a novella. I’ve been doing okay squeezing my writing time in with everything else, but this last weekend was rough.

And that is all! I hope everything is as good as it can be in your world! If it’s not, hang in there!


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An Ode to My Favorite Writing Buddy, Sweet May

By Jeanine Englert

Although it is a bit out of the norm, I decided to dedicate this month’s SMP blogpost to my sweet Maggie May, our beloved hound dog rescue who passed away on January 28th after battling a bad respiratory infection for several weeks. She was 14 and ½ and we adopted her when she was just a tiny 8-week-old puppy at Petsmart. From the moment my husband picked her up and she peed all down his shirt, we were smitten. She was a feisty, fiercely loyal, amazingly stubborn, and beautiful girl. She was also the absolute best companion and “dogger” (dog daughter) we could have ever asked for.

It’s also a terribly odd thing to be writing this, and well anything, without her. She was always with me, often right by my side at my desk or on her dog bed sleeping nearby as I wrote. She never failed to nudge my elbow until I couldn’t type anymore without a million errors to remind me to take breaks or get some fresh air outside with her. She was with me during house moves, job changes, brutal losses, and great gains. She was a constant and steady presence even when the world seemed to shift beneath my feet.

Maggie Never Met a Blanket She Didn’t Like and Was the BEST Nap Buddy

Our sweet younger pup Bella is doing her best to fill our house with love, laughter, and her usual dachshund shenanigans to lighten the loss, but it is impossible to fill the void of Maggie’s absence. It will always be there. My only hope is that she knew how much we loved and adored her and that the void may come to feel a bit smaller as time goes on and sweeten into fond memories and soft smiles as we think of her.

If you have a pet and favorite writing buddy, don’t forget to give them a tighter squeeze and extra kiss, for they are always, always, always, gone far too soon.

Especially our sweet May.

Rest easy now, sweet girl.

Jeanine Englert’s love affair with mysteries and romance began with Nancy Drew, Murder She Wrote, and her Grandmother’s bookshelves full of romance novels. She is a VIVIAN® and Golden Heart® Finalist as well as a Silver Falchion, Maggie, and Daphne du Maurier Award Winner in historical romance and mystery.

Her Scottish Highland historical and historical romantic suspense novels revolve around characters seeking self-acceptance and redemption. When she isn’t wrangling with her characters on the page, she can be found trying to convince her husband to watch her latest Masterpiece or BBC show obsession. She loves to talk about books, writing, her beloved rescue pups, as well as mysteries and romance with other readers. Visit her website at

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Care to learn how to record the memories of others and join a live discussion on writing for a changing social conscience?

In honor of Women’s History Month, I’ve been asked to present a Zoom program at the Sno-Isle Library System in Washington on March 23rd from 11 to noon Pacific Standard Time. Anyone can join in the FREE workshop/discussion on how to navigate the changing social conscience in writing. Seeing your smiling faces and hearing opinions from both readers and writers would be fabulous. Here’s a description of the program that the Adult Services Librarian wrote:

In writing the memoir of a friend’s girlhood in Java during WWII, author Sally Brandle was challenged by disturbing truths about privilege and oppression, as well as contradictions in historical accounts, depending on the perspective.

Sally will share strategies for encouraging recall of memories and events when writing or ghost-writing a memoir, then recounts the fascinating life of a girl uncomfortable with her mixed-race heritage, caught in the tragedy of wartime in the Pacific Theater. The story raises complex questions of race, privilege, politics, and social justice – questions that are as relevant today as they were during 1930s Dutch colonial rule of Java, Indonesia, and the ensuing Japanese occupation during WWII. It’s easy to register below, and you do NOT need to join this library.

In the meantime, I’m working on Book 4 in my series. This note from a reader made my month: “❤️– I just finished the third book in the series I hope there’s a fourth one coming ! I absolutely loved them all couldn’t put them down! Hope Elon has a child!”

Posted in Inspiration, Romance, Simply Stated By Sally!, Women's Fiction | 6 Comments

Social Media Shake-Up

Part of me loves living in the age of social media, where it is easier than ever for me to connected with authors I admire and readers who love my work. I’ve found fans, colleagues and friends on Facebook and Twitter. Heck, I’m old enough to remember Livejournal fondly, even as that long form platform gave way to shorter text based mediums. Both Facebook and Twitter are fading a bit now, reminding me of Livejournal in its twilight years as more and more of my friends left the platform. TikTok and Instagram are the new hot places to hang out, which makes me a little sad as a writer since both of them are visual mediums and I’m much better with words than video or pictures. I do have an Instagram account now, and maybe with time I’ll get used to it–though so far I haven’t even managed to post!

Photo by Yan Krukau on

I have invested more time in BookBub and GoodReads which aren’t exactly traditional social media but do allow interactions, and I can share my love of books, which is really what I want most from social media! I’m also on Discord for the first time ever, which has been fun, if very, very confusing–the conversations there move too fast for me most of the time. None of those site have the same level of connection as Facebook or Twitter, though, so I keep trying other new things as well. I keep hoping for is an alternative to Twitter without all the technical issues that seem to plague the site more and more.

There have been a number of alternatives to Twitter created or popularized in the last few months: Mastadon, Hive and most recently Spoutible. I was really excited about Spoutible as it seemed to have most of the features of Twitter but with a stronger anti-harassment stance, at least on paper. Spoutible is really, really new though and it devolved into a flame war to put any Twitter pile-up to shame over the weekend. I was disappointed with the way it went down, though I guess better to have it happen now than later, when I would be even more invested in the site. Still, this is just the kind of thing that is the worst about social media, and makes me wish I could live like a hermit on a mountaintop!

But since that’s not really an option, I’m on the search again, and would be interested to hear your thoughts–what social media sites do you use and what do you like best about them? Have you tried out any new ones lately? Or have you managed to cut the social media cords entirely, and how is the view from up there?

Jaycee Jarvis has been an avid romance reader since devouring all the Sweet Dreams books her middle school library had to offer. Also a fantasy fan from an early age, she often wished those wondrous stories had just a bit more kissing. Now she writes stories with a romantic heart set against a magical backdrop, creating the kind of book she most likes to read.

When not lost in worlds of her own creation, she resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three children and a menagerie of pets.

Jaycee is a Golden Heart® finalist and author of the Hands of Destin series. The award winning first book in that series, Taxing Courtship, released in June 2018. The final book in that series, Crowning Courtship, came out in May 2021.

Learn more about her around the web:

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Time travel romance – Druid’s Portal series

Today I thought I would share the opening scenes of the first book in the Druid’s Portal series. The news? I am nearing the end of writing this adventure that now spans five books. Each generation of time travellers in the Aurelius family will meet their soul mate on an adventure 2,000 years into the past of Roman Britain. It’s an epic series that starts at Hadrian’s Wall, twists into an alternate time line at Stonehenge, and will end in one of the most turbulent times of the ancient past – the Boudiccan revolt.

Druid’s Portal: The First Journey – Hadrian’s Wall

Lightning cracked across the storm-dark sky and the wind rose, heavy with the promise of snow. Janet and Hugh dodged around the massive oak trees in the museum grounds, crashing through the shrubberies and garden beds. Their lungs heaving, they reached the end of the gardens and crouched behind a gnarled old tree. Oak leaves tore across the sky, swirling across the wide granite steps of the museum. The robed man they followed had reached the top of the steps, and Janet squinted as the lightening flashed brightly. For a moment, the wind whipped the leaves into a barrier around him, and she heard him curse as he wrestled with robes wrapped tight as a shroud.

Janet and Hugh watched as the man they had followed across Newcastle fumbled at the heavy doors. ‘Look, he has a museum key!’ Hugh said, as the tall, carved wooden doors creaked open.

‘I don’t care if he has a key to the city,’ snarled Janet, her dark blue eyes smouldering as she watched the man. ‘He’s a thief, and he’s in my museum!’  She jumped up and bolted toward the entry steps as the doors slammed shut.

Janet pounded up the steps and fumbled in her pocket for her keys. Entering, she pushed the doors shut against the wind, then looked around the foyer, checking the familiar glass cabinets.  The red night-security lights gave a semblance of life to the long-dead stuffed animals, and a blood-stained aura of menace to the weapons and skulls. On the floor was an oak leaf, and she picked it up, showing Hugh. ‘It’s damp. He must have gone this way, into the Hadrian’s Wall exhibit.’ She raced down the corridor. From the tall arched windows lightning flashed on the modelled Roman soldiers, their swords glinting as though they still stood guard against the enemy.

‘There he is—we’ve got him now!’ Janet’s red plait flew out behind her as she panted down the familiar corridors and zig-zagged around display cabinets of broken pottery and remnants of leather sandals. She could hear Hugh clumping along just behind her, his massive boots bouncing echoes into the cathedral ceilings. ‘He’s not going to get away this time,’ Janet gasped, ‘It’s a dead end up ahead.’

They ran into the Celtic gallery, catching sight of the robed figure near a low glass-topped cabinet. Around him the figures of wild Celtic barbarians with blue painted faces glared defiance from their pedestals. In the far corner, a display of dark- hooded Druids raised arms to a painted moon, their crescent-shaped bronze knives gleaming. The man glanced at Janet and Hugh as they ran into the room, but his face was hidden by the cloak he wore. The glass lid creaked as he reached inside and grabbed a golden casket.

‘Hey, get out of there!’ Janet jumped as lightening lit up the room. ‘That belongs to the museum!’ Thunder boomed, and she jumped again as the windows rattled like a volley of gunshots.

Hugh stood in the doorway, his tall muscular bulk barring any escape. He drew out his police service revolver. In the silence after the thunder, the release of the safety catch made a menacing, metallic click.  ‘Step away from the cabinet, and put your hands in the air . . .’ he started.

The man ignored them both, tossing the golden casket onto the floor. In his outstretched hand dangled a chain with a large gold pendant. He started chanting in an unknown language, and a weird hum filled the room, echoing as if it came from a place far distant.

Hugh held onto Janet as the windows banged open and a gale tore through the room, heavy with the scent of forest loam, oak leaves and thyme crushed underfoot. Above the man, a black shadow gathered, silver sparkles gleaming in its impossible depths. Janet shook off Hugh and edged closer, trying to convince herself the ceiling was only a few feet above the void.

The blackness slithered down in long tendrils, and as it reached the man’s hands, Janet leapt forward, catching hold of the pendant. Startled out of his chant, the man held the chain tight even as the dark void began to swallow him.

Janet staggered as the pendant was released. Hugh pulled her backwards as the man cursed them, the unknown words of power loaded with rage and venom. Through the fading blackness of the void, Janet glimpsed a horde of dark beasts, and felt the warmth of carrion breath. As the void faded into silver sparkles, the man’s curses became an incoherent roar of rage and anger, echoing into the distance.

 And then there was nothing. The man had vanished.

Druid’s Portal – time travel romance in Roman Britain near Hadrian’s Wall. Join archaeologist Janet and Roman soldier Trajan on an adventure with plenty of barbarian fighting, ancient goddesses and druids. It’s not your typical romance, but it will set your heart racing!

This link will take you to the Amazon site of your country.

Druid’s Portal:

Video book trailer:

About Cindy

Cindy Tomamichel is a multi-genre author, with her SMP series Druid’s Portal a time travel action adventure romance set in Roman Britain. Short stories of fantasy, scifi and romance can be found on her website, where she blogs on aspects of world building. The 30 Organizing Tips for Writers provides much needed help for authors trying to navigate social media and build an author platform. Doing NaNo this year? Check out her free book NaNoWriMo Ready. Or pick up a copy of the free Romance Short Stories.

Contact Cindy on







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Valentine’s Day an the Meaning of Love:

The Feast of St. Valentine celebrates the life of one of two Christian saints. According to legend, St. Valentine ministered to Christians imprisoned by the Romans. In other legends, he married Christians forbidden by Rome to marry. In modern times, Valentine’s Day has become a commercial celebration of love, but it is important to remember the more somber aspect of this feast day. The martyrdom of St. Valentine illustrates the sacrificial and selfless aspect of love.

No one should seek love believing it will result in unlimited blessings and endless joy. The joy is found in the life we forge with a partner, not in endless fun or untested love. On the contrary, true love survives in the face of disappointment, challenges, and adversity. As in the case of St. Valentine, true love involves risk and sacrifice. True love involves placing trust in someone who may disappoint or betray with the hope that the object of our affection will respond like the hero/heroine we hope him or her to be.

In my novels, I tell the tale of true love. The characters in my novels meet many challenges. In Love at War, Nuala and Keith must survive numerous obstacles to find happiness. In From Ice Wagon to Club House, Jude Mooney finds love and redemption in the arms of his fiery Irish beauty. In the Progeny, Jude’s sons fall in love with a woman of both beauty and character. In Buccaneer Beauty, Grainne O’Malley achieves greatness with a man every inch her equal in tenacity and cunning. All of these stories involved sacrifice, determination, and selflessness.

Valentine’s Day has become a commercial celebration, but the sacred origins of the holiday hold a lesson for modern celebrants. Love is not easy or cheap. True love adheres, holds, and gives of itself.

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The Write Word with Wareeze

The story before the story


Hello again,

Welcome to the Soul Mate Publishing blog. For those of you new to the blog, I write historical romance with a twist of suspense under the pen name Wareeze Woodson. I have seven novels available on Amazon and the Soul Mate Publishing website. My first novel forward: Conduct Unbecoming of a Gentleman, An Enduring Love, A Lady’s Vanishing Choices, Captured by the Viscount, The Earl’s Scandalous Wager, After She Became a Lady, and my historical western romance, Bittersweep all listed on my

Below is a glimpse of the love story in, my work in progress, Vanessa. My tribute to Valentine’s Day.

The moment the vision of loveliness crossed the threshold of the parlor, Lord Danville caught his breath. His first glimpse of his ward staggered him. Young, and in his eyes, the most exquisite creature he’d ever seen. Lovely beyond compare, she represented endless trouble, difficulties, and complications with her beauty along with her sensuous grace. A problem he didn’t need and couldn’t deal with until Neiif, the ruthless assassin was captured or eliminated completely. He had no time to spare for this fascinating piece of femininity plus at one and thirty, he was at least thirteen years her senior. He withdrew, not physically but in his mind and hopefully in his emotions. She wasn’t for him, and he must guard his heart against her.

Now, the story before the story begins with the heroine, Vanessa. A physical description is necessary. Golden-brown hair, eyes the color of amber, slender, graceful, beautiful enough to take Lord Danville’s breath away, and alone in the world except for her obnoxious stepfamily plus the all-important guardian, Lord Danville.

The scene below is not in the book. Some elements of her character are obvious even in her childhood:

Vanessa slowly twisted the glass knob and pushed the door inward listening for the squeak of the hinges. Barely inside the room, a strange awareness overwhelmed her, breathless and disturbing like in her nightmares. In all of her five years on this earth, after such an occurrence, some incident always happened. Being in her own home at Hill House with the shiny oak floors and big rooms had nothing to do with the sensations. It made no difference. The impressions came anytime, anywhere. Shrugging, she pushed the feeling aside.

Quietly shutting the troublesome door, she leaned against the wooden panel with her hands behind her back. Gazing around the room at the ivory wallpaper, she sighed and took a quick breath. Yes! She was alone in her mama’s bedroom. Course the room on the other side of the private parlor belonged to her daddy, but that had nothing to do with anything.

Hadn’t her mama always told her to use her imagination? That’s what she intended to do today. She would pretend she was at the ball tonight wearing a lovely pink gown and her mama’s locket. She began to dance, twirling around and around, her arms extended, her pink skirt billowing out with her movements until she nearly fell.

Sinking to the floor to stop the dizzy spinning of her head, she inspected the shiny wooden bed with its four posters rising up and up way above her. She liked the silky, lavender bedspread, soft and smooth under her fingertips. Not that she touched the coverlet, but one day, she had allowed her hand to accidently on purpose slide across one corner.

Light streamed in the two long windows through the lace curtains and sparked in the shimmering reflective glass above the vanity. She loved that huge mirror. She could view her entire length in it if she stood on the vanity stool.

Climbing up on the bench, she plopped down on the padded cushion and traced the pattern of roses across the top of the vanity with one finger. This place smelled like her mama, sweet soap, body lotion, perfume, and sachet in a little pouch.

Opening the top drawer in the middle, she caught her breath with excitement. She’d found her mama’s hairpins, and imagined herself all grown up, her hair curled, dressed in a fancy pink dress. She gazed at her reflection staring back at her with big light brown eyes, nearly amber, rosy cheeks, and golden-brown hair brushing against her neck.

Her hair didn’t suit her, so she divided the locks into sections, lifting a few strains and curling the hair around one finger. She pushed the curl to her scalp and pinned it in place with a hairpin just like her mama’s maid did when mama dressed for a party. Laboriously, Vanessa twisted another curl, then another. Finally finished rolling her entire head of hair, she delved further into her mama’s vanity.

She opened another drawer, storage for her mama’s jewelry collection when not in the vault. At the center, a gold locket in the shape of a heart inlaid with several rubies sparkled even in the dim light afforded deep in the drawer. Not daring to pick up the necklace, she allowed her fingertip to caress the stones, cool, alluring, and forbidden.

Footsteps! She jerked to attention, her heart pounding so fast it nearly choked her. Was that Nanny Franks? Vanessa slid to the floor and began to tip-toe toward the door. If her nanny found her in her mama’s room…she didn’t want to think of what might happen to her as punishment for disobedience, and she didn’t want Nanny Franks to be in trouble because of her either.

An adventuresome child, inquisitive, deeply sensitive, with a lively imagination and a kind heart. All the above describes Vanessa. Her appearance is detailed. Her mischievous nature is revealed along with her sensitivity and kindness. A glimpse of the child, already with signs of her adult character is displayed. The story about her young childhood is not in the book, Vanessa. It is the story before the story began. There is wealth in the family and this young daughter is well loved. What she will or will not do are developed as she grows, but the foundation is laid in the scene above.

I hope you have enjoyed this brief glimpse of Vanessa’s life before her story begins. Vanessa is my work in progress. Thank you for sharing your time with me. For more about my writing, visit my website and social sites listed below.

Respectfully submitted,

Wareeze Woodson

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