Thursday, May 27, 2010

Mini Are You Hooked #8

TITLE: Steam Palace
GENRE: Steampunk

Lady Victoria Stratton cradled the dead baby in her arms. She huddled on her magnificent brass bed in the center of the master bedchamber of Stratton Manor. The beautiful girl was blue and still. For a heart-wrenching hour, the newborn had gasped and gurgled, then her motions ceased. Another child dead--gone before she could even meet her father. Curse that wretched King and his demands.

"I'm so sorry," said Beatrice. Her husband's sister approached, a youthful widow with no business at this manor. The oil lamps flickered against the night. "Please, let us lay her to rest. She's in God's hands now." She held out her arms to receive the corpse.

"No!" How could a mother not hold her child? "Everyone, leave me! Now!" The attendants gathered up the bloodstained birthing towels and shuffled off. Victoria motioned to Beatrice who followed. "You. Stay. I wish not to be alone."

She reclined in her bed, pressed the baby to her breast, and stroked her back in forlorn hope. Beatrice sat at her side and caressed Victoria's head and shoulders. Victoria slumped, unable to maintain her vigil. A newborn's cries awoke her.

"My baby! My baby is not dead!"

The tiny body had rolled away in the night, her eyes unblinking, her body cool and stiff. "NO!"

Beatrice stumbled out of a chair. "What?"

"Shh! Listen." The cries echoed from elsewhere in the manor. Victoria wrapped the body and rushed from the room, dizzy from her ordeal, and traced the sound.


  1. As a mother myself, I'm caught by Victoria's emotions. I'm guessing there's another baby she's going to raise as her own. I'm intrigued by the genre and the situation and would read on. However, I did think it a bit strange that Victoria would want Beatrice's company when her sister-in-law had tried to take her child's body away, especially when she said earlier Beatrice had no business here. Are the two women normally close? Also, the dialogue seemed a bit too formal at times (My baby is not dead--"isn't dead" would be more natural.)

  2. What other baby was crying in the manor? I must know what's going to happen! You had me hooked from the very beginning. Love this!

  3. I'm definitely caught up in this situation. Everything about it --the dead baby, the mysterious live baby-- is gripping.

    I second the comments that the dialogue felt a touch stilted, though, and that Beatrice seemed an unlikely choice for a companion.

    I would love it if you slowed us down a bit and put us more in touch with Victoria's emotions. This is a heart wracking situation, but something about "Another child dead--gone before she could even meet her father. Curse that wretched King and his demands" feels, well, distant. Controlled.

  4. I'm hooked! And I love steampunk, so I'd definitely read on. :)

  5. I was thrown a bit by the dialogue (I know it is Victorian era, but the dialogue still sounded stilted to me and awkward in the wording).

    Other than that, I am hooked. There is mystery and tragedy and it is only the first page :)

  6. I like it and I am hooked. I am picturing a baby switch or something.
    I am kinda confused about Beatrice though.

  7. I agree with the comments already given (stilted dialog, odd choice in Beatrice, a little distant from Victoria's emotions), but like the others, I'd read on. The title and genre don't hurt either :-)

  8. I had tears in my eyes after reading this. The woman's actions were so authentic. My heart aches for her.
    I want to read on for sure.
    Great job :)

  9. Totally hooked. I want to know more.

  10. Hi everyone. I'm the author.
    I think this went much better than last time. I glad you liked it.
    The dialog is just a style I'm using.

    @Sandra: Good guess! Hmm, maybe I can have Victoria have B stay close instead of with her.

    @Andria: What's going to happen is...

    @Jane: She is the closest to family Victoria has at the manor...except a 6yo daughter who's not mentioned here. Slow it down??? Bite your tongue. Besides...the story isn't about Victoria, it's about the babies. (oops--did I just say babies?)

    @Robin: Steampunk FTW!

    @Nobu: Dialog noted. Tragedy indeed.

    @Margaret: Thanks!

    @Iwanna: It becomes more clear. Beatrice is the witness/accomplice to what is about to occur.

    @Adam: I'm wondering if I just change it to Beatrice's POV, because Victoria is really a minor character whereas Beatrice appears throughout the book

    @Raven: Aww. :(
    Those tears would dry up when you see what Victoria does next. ;)

  11. @enewmeyer: Thanks!

    And I forgot, big thanks to Authoress for hosting these things! I'm getting a lot of great feedback!

  12. I'm hooked! Truly. :)

    The writing needs a good dose of tightening, and I agree you need to work on the dialogue. In historical settings, it's important that our characters don't sound like people TRYING to sound correct for the time period.

    But aside from obvious editing (which all our work needs!), I am absolutely compelled to know what happens next!!

  13. Not hooked, I'm afraid, but that's a personal opinion entirely; I tend to prefer more casual, slang-y writing.

    Still, the writing is pretty solid, and the scene is intriguing, so I have no doubt it'll appeal to plenty of others. Good luck!