|photography from Dreamstime(c)Chaoss|
Although I suspect she still has her blemishes and bruises, she is back. And she is stronger and better.
And I owe it all to a four star review from a person whose opinion I respect and who pulled no punches in telling me what I needed to do, and to the five star reviews which sent a message assuring me The Green Woman was worth the effort. While I was doing a line edit, I found a handful of anachronisms and some inconsistencies in the plot line, trimmed some of the historical facts, and in addition to the proofreading, I made the green woman's encounters with her lover sexier and stronger.
I have learned some lessons from my less than stellar reviews,not just with Green Woman, but with all of my novels. With six books on my Dashboard, I am becoming less thin-skinned and more apt to respond to criticism appropriately. I still read right over my own mistakes, and my betas do not always catch them. When I withdrew Green Woman from Kindle Direct, I was delighted to receive a handful of private messages from people who wanted a copy and complained when they could not find one. A few even bought the paperback at $9.77. I sell so few trade paperbacks that I did not bother withdrawing it until the editing was complete. I am taking steps to make certain those loyal fans get the updated paperback version.
Oh Aye, Thea Jameson is back.
She suffered a fall from #1 to #8 in the ratings during her three week vacation concurrent with a minor price increase. I hope she will recover soon.
I market the Green Woman series under another name,so persons who are accustomed to the factual accuracy of my other books will realize this one is different. This is a robust adventure that mixes fantasy, time slip and a hint of horror.
As to what happens next with Green Woman, I am putting off the sequel until November and the NaNoWriMo event, but below is the Prologue:
Roxburgheshire, Scotland - 1616
Dand Ker was clearing the brush from around the outbuildings when he saw the apparition. At first it had no form. Just as his father had reported the sighting in the barn in 1597, it first appeared as a green glow coming from the loft. Had it not been green, Dand would have overlooked it as mere dust particles caught in sunlight. But then, Ker was familiar with the aura surrounding the Green Woman who had been haunting Ferniehirst Castle since early in the Fifteenth Century. He set his woodman’s axe aside and rushed inside the barn.
And then he saw the child.
His heart fell into his boots. He had raced to the barn in hopes of finding a fully mature and beautiful woman enshrouded in a cloak of gossamer green silk as light as a butterfly’s wings , not a wee female bairn—albeit a pretty lass no older than the milkmaid’s daughter who was four.
She had red-gold hair the color of young strawberries which were set in curls that framed her face, a pert little upturned nose that was running like a seasonal stream, and eyes too swollen and wet to show their color. The child was strangely dressed, not at all like a properly clad Scottish lass. Her kirtle did not reach her knees and her shoes were made of straps and shiny buckles that showed her toes which were painted pink and covered with silver sparkles. She wore a jumper with a picture of a funny looking kitten with a red bow in its hair. Her most distinctive feature was her aura.
‘Are you looking for my Mommy?’
The child was not speaking Scots. For that matter, she was not speaking any English dialect known to Ker, except, of course, that spoken by Helen, who had come to him disguised as The Green Woman but who was not a true ghost because at times she showed herself in flesh and blood and not much else, wearing a green gown a man could see through.
He moved further into the barn and squinted.
‘Are ye searchin’ for a body, Lass?’
She shook her head and sniffled.
‘Are you looking for my Mother?’
‘Ah dinna think ah was. Have ya lost her?’
She screwed her face into a terrible frown and put her white knuckled fists on her hips. She did not answer his question and she did not come down from the loft.
‘How come you knowed my name?’
‘Ah must’a guessed it.’
She seemed more comfortable in his presence and she slowly descended the ladder. He was about to reach out to steady it, but she looked over her shoulder and launched a look that might have been fired from a hunter’s crossbow.
Ker had never been that good with children, having none of his own and he did not know how to converse with a wee lass who had obviously been crying. He might have been a widely feared Border Reiver, but he was intimidated by the little girl, even after her aura faded and she appeared as flesh and blood, just as his Helen had done.
‘Ah once knew a bonny hen name ‘a Helen, the same as ye’ he said.
The frown deepened.
‘. Hens are chickens. They lay eggs. I’m a girl.’ She stuck her lip out in defiance.
‘How did ya get yerself here?’ he asked.
Her lip curled back against her teeth. She was not so defiant now.
‘You’ll spank me if I tell.’
‘Nary once ‘ave ah ever spanked a wee bairn such as yerself-- nae even so much as a swat.’
‘You talk funny.’
Dand wondered how it was that he got tagged for being the one who was the intruder and speakin’ strange when he had been born here and lived here most of his life. It had been the same with the other Helen- the one who called herself Thea and came from someplace far off and strange.
‘How ‘boot ah promise not to spank ya and ya tell me how ya got here?’
The child lowered her chin until it fell against her chest and glared from under her furrowed brows, but she did not approach.
Then she raised her head and look directly in his eyes. She had stopped crying and he could see hers were green, the color of jade.
She scanned the corners of the barn and spoke in a hoarse whisper as if even the cows were suspect.
‘I sawed the picture of your big castle on my mommy’s book and I dreameded my way here. I sawed you chopping something up so I hided in the barn.’
‘How do ye know ye are dreamin’, Lass?’
‘Cause when I went to look for Mommy and I putted on my sweater, Hello Kitty was not green but now she is and so are my shoes.’
‘How ‘boot yer eyes?’
‘I was bornded with green eyes, Mister Silly.’
He could not suppress a chuckle nor could he stop himself from asking: ‘Is yer mammy’s name Helen, too?’
‘No way! Mommy’s name is Dora Thea, like Dora-Thee in the Wizard of Oz.’
‘Actually, Lord Oxnam or whoever you are, my name is Dorothea Jameson.’…
Dand raised his hand to stifle the expletive coming from his lips.
He wanted to grab the lass and carry her into the castle to the kerry-twisted staircases where they could sit and talk without the others interrupting. Often when he had been alone with the Green Woman and they sat on the counter-clockwise turret stairs, she who called herself Thea would cast aside her aura and be his Helen.
Sometimes they did not spend all of their time talking.
The passage of time had dulled his sense of loss but not his memory.
A shrill voice called his name from outside the barn and he stepped back to look. It was his gudewife Margaret coming from the henhouse carrying the basket she used for gathering eggs. In the instant it took him to turn his head, the wee girl and her aura were gone. All that was left was a whiff of lavender.
He remembered the scent of lavender in his lover Helen’s hair. It had lingered on him long after she had disappeared.
‘Aright, Dand Ker. Woods ye care to spit out what ye were doing out in front a’ the barn talking tae yerself?
‘Ah thought ah saw somebody.’
‘Oh Aye! Off ye go again-- lookin for yer precious Green Woman.’
She was laughing when she said it. But then, she only knew half of the story. He was overcome by the sighting of the child but he could not let it show. He went looking for the Goose Boy, who had been the only other soul at Ferniehirst who could see the Green Woman when she put aside her aura. Once he had caught a glimpse of the Goose Boy and Helen holding hands and the sight had made him jealous. Until that moment, he had been the only one able to see her when she was flesh and blood. That had been before Dand and his father had returned from London Town in a chariot led by two black beasts that were half horse and half dragon and driven by a Woman as hard and shiny black as obsidian who said her name was Nyx.
He had watched the Goose Boy whose name was Michael climb into the chariot and ride away with Nyx, who called to him with the name Thanatos, which meant Death.
But the next day, Michael appeared at the usual time with his gaggle of hungry geese and seemed to be the same ill-mannered mortal Scottish foundling he had always been.
And Helene was nowhere to be found.
He thought he had put it behind him. Until he saw the lass in the loft, he had all but convinced himself that the great adventure of his life had been nothing but a dream.
Because the council of the Scottish Kirk considered those who commensurate with ghosts and spirits to be witches and dealt with them accordingly, Dand never shared his tale with others. He had gently prodded his father Sir Andrew Ker of Ferniehirst who had been there for part of it, but it was obvious to Dand that his da remembered none of it. But whenever he was alone with the Goose boy, he was aware that Michael knew it all.
He met the boy on the path leading from the river.
‘Where are the geese?’
It was unusual to see the boy without them.
‘They are in the pond in the rocks... They will find me when they want some a’the scratch from my sack,’ he said, patting the burlap pouch that he had tied around his waist.
‘I saw a wee lass in the barn a bit ago.
Methinks she was Otherworldly. She said her name was Helen and she was lookin’ fur her mammy.
‘Dinnae know how she got here, but she said she had dreamed her way. I dae nae s'pose ye might know who she is and what she’s doin’ here.’
The Goose Boy grinned.
Whenever he was in Michael’s presence, Dand was never quite certain if he was being teased or taunted, but he did know that. Michael was not an ordinary boy.
‘The lass ye saw this mornin’ came because she was drawn here. Methinks 'twas the Green Woman what made her come,’ he imparted with certain smugness that Dand found annoying.
‘And why would that be?’
‘Methinks she is yer dotter.’