I’m at about 75,000 words of Bandit Girls, the first installment in my Tales of Port Saint Frey. The world is coming together in a cohesive way in this project that I can only attribute to experience. I’m getting better at this gig with every book.
75,000 words means I’m at the end game for a roughly 100,000-word novel, which is where I’m hoping to end up. The manuscript is littered with ALL CAPS notes to myself, everything from RESEARCH BENJAMIN FRANKLIN ERA PRINTING TECHNOLOGY to REMEMBER TO PUT IN THE PART ABOUT THE DUMBWAITER IN CHAPTER ONE.
Because if there’s a dumbwaiter in Chapter One, you know someone has to hide in it in Chapter Twenty-One. Anyone remember Harriet the Spy? This is definitely a(n) homage to Harriet the Spy.
I’m having a blast, you guys.
From Bandit Girls:
Jalana held onto her hat with one gloved hand and tight to her shawl with the other as the wind caught both the instant she stepped outside the kitchen door. Goodness knew what promises she would have to make to the manager of the housing agency about not letting Uncle harass the girls. They would have to keep this one, because Mother as cook would only end badly.
And then she would go on her other errand.
Mastrini’s Household Staffing Agency was on the second floor of a crooked row of shops that was one street up from the harbor. The traffic bustled here and Jalana had to step lively over the cobblestones. Carts rumbled up and down the steep street, for though this wasn’t the Crescent it still rose up the hills overlooking the harbor. She stepped aside for a beer wagon laden with casks and pulled by a team of huge sorrel horses with flaxen manes.
Six years ago she would never have come here — well, of course, she told herself, because she had been a child. But if House Mederos had retained its status she would never have come here at age twenty unescorted. Suddenly she saw that despite everything, their loss had given her something unexpected — her freedom.
Here the people were surly and busy, but they looked her in the eye as equals. No one tugged his forelock or curtseyed, and one young man even took her elbow and pulled her aside to make room for two men coming up the hill with their sailor trunks hoisted high on their shoulders. He was off before she could do more than stare at him with an open mouth.
She could hear the strange calling shouts of the hawkers on the street below, their singsong notes a kind of language that she could almost understand. People threaded themselves all around her, and soon she fell into the same rhythm. She lengthened her stride, her skirts swishing, and walked purposefully like everyone else. She did have somewhere to go. She had business to attend to.
There was Mastrini’s. Its sign with its white glove signifying household staff pointed upwards, a clever direction. She hastened up the narrow stairs and came to a single door at the landing. The same white glove, this time in a come in position, beckoned to her. Jalana knocked, and then let herself in.
The clerk looked up at Jalana’s entrance and then made a face in distaste.
“Miss Mederos,” she said starchily, for all that she was Jalana’s age or even younger. “Really, we can’t continue on like this.”
Jalana was dimly aware of a personage in plain rough clothing and a deep poke bonnet sitting on the bench by the door.
“It won’t happen again, I promise,” she said. “He will listen this time.”
“Heather Moon said that he was lewd and unbecoming.”
Yes. That was Uncle. She looked the clerk straight in the eye.
“I will make him stop,” she said. Her declaration was met with the clerk’s skeptical demeanor. “Please,” she added, desperate. Otherwise my mother will try to cook.