A Walk in the Snow (Rainbow Advent Calendar 2019)

Standard

Hi, everyone!

It’s my turn on the wonderful Rainbow Advent Calendar today, so I hope you enjoy the story below, featuring characters from my adaptation of Alfred Noyes’ The Highwayman. Have a wonderful festive period!


A Walk in the Snow by Eleanor Musgrove

Trudging through ankle-deep snow was a chore, in Anne’s opinion, even when one had on a sturdy pair of boots. Every step took a little more effort, every footfall just a little more likely to slip. Yes, snow was a chore – and, like most chores, it became much more pleasant when shared with a friend. Especially when that friend absolutely loved the snow.

“I love the snow,” Bess announced cheerfully, not for the first time during the short walk from the village. Anne had one last customer to deliver newly-altered clothing to, and then she and Bess would part ways. “Especially out on these empty roads, where nobody will laugh at me for playing in it.”

“I might,” Anne teased, though she had no intention of doing any such thing. “Besides, you should be more careful out here, on your beloved empty roads. Haven’t you heard there’s a highwayman abroad?”

“Ooh, yes. There’s another reason to walk slowly. That would be exciting, wouldn’t it?”

“I doubt Tristan would steal from you,” Anne conceded reluctantly, “but I wish you wouldn’t put him in a position where he might risk encountering you.”

“Oh, I’ve nothing to steal. But it would be thrilling, to see the notorious highwayman at work. And out here on this deserted road, with nobody to see us – why, any unscrupulous person could do anything.”

Anne bit back a growl; this was exactly why she didn’t want Bess to walk these roads alone with such delight, why she had rearranged her rounds to go to the Wilson house last, so she could walk her beloved halfway back to the inn she called home. An unscrupulous person meeting Bess on the road – especially when Bess’ hero, Tristan, wasn’t around to save her – was Anne’s very worst nightmare.

“Oh, Anne?” She looked up from where she’d been frowning at her own feet, and a snowball promptly hit her in the face. She’d been worrying about the wrong unscrupulous person all along.

“Bess! I’ve Mrs Wilson’s new gown here, and she won’t want it wet!”

“Oh. Sorry. Is it-?”

“It’s fine. But save the snow-throwing until we’ve dropped it off, will you?” She expected Bess to be disappointed, but the other woman’s expression was triumphant. Anne realised she’d committed to walking a little further with Bess, after all her earlier protests. “Oh, fine. I’ll walk you home. But then I really do have to get back.”

Once they’d dropped off Anne’s last delivery of the day, they headed back towards the inn. Bess would be safer, as well as happier, with her best friend at her side, and now that Anne’s hands were free she could even hold Bess’ hand, just two layers of glove separating them.

“Aren’t you worried someone will see?” Bess frowned at her, and Anne shook her head.

“It’s not like if you were seen with Tristan. Nobody’s going to look twice at two friends holding hands. Besides, there’s nobody out in this weather.” Anne was dreading the lonely walk home, herself, but at least she wasn’t in danger from their local highwayman – and if anyone else tried anything, she had Tristan’s knife strapped safely inside her boot. Most of the others who lived in the village wouldn’t take the risk, anyway. They were alone on the road. “Could even get away with this,” she added impishly, and pressed a kiss to Bess’ lips. They felt warm, despite the cold, or perhaps Anne only imagined that they did. Either way, the kiss made her cheeks burn, and Bess blushed in answer.

“Oh, could we? More than once, do you think?”

“Only one way to find out.”

They did get away with it, several times, before Anne almost lost her footing and had to clutch wildly at Bess for support. After that, they decided to focus on where they were putting their feet, moving steadily on towards the inn.

“Do you have time to stop for a drink?” Bess asked, as they picked their way carefully between particularly slippery-looking patches.

“I’m afraid not. I’ll have to rush home as it is, I’m working tonight-” She cut herself off with a splutter as a ball of snow hit her in the face; Bess let go of her hand in shock as they both looked around for their unknown assailant.

Bess spotted him first.

“Tim, you little imp!” Squinting through the snow clinging to her eyelashes, Anne watched as the inn’s young ostler stepped out from his place behind a tree.

“Sorry. I was aiming for Bess.”

“I shouldn’t set your heart on joining the artillery, then,” she teased – but Tim, as ever, only had eyes for Bess. Anne could hardly blame him for that; she had a hard time tearing her gaze away from her, herself, but she made the effort.

“What are you doing all the way out here?” Bess was asking, and Tim shrugged.

“Your dad sent me to make sure you got home safe- argh!” Anne’s hastily-packed snowball hit him right in the chest, knocking him backwards a few steps. She raised her hands in surrender to ward off any retaliation.

“There, now we’re even. Bess, if Tim’s seeing you home, I should probably get back myself.”

“All right, but let me give you a hug for the road. Keep you warm.”

Bess wrapped her arms around her and took the opportunity to whisper in her ear.

“Coming back tonight?”

“Hardly safe for a young woman to wander the roads at night,” Anne told her sternly, “Tristan might, though.”

“Moonlight?”

“Oh, yes. He’ll come to you by moonlight.” Anne grinned as she pulled back from Bess’ embrace. “You take care of her now, Tim, see you both get home safe.”

“I will, Miss.” The young ostler nodded solemnly, and Bess took the opportunity to drop a handful of snow on his head. “Argh! But first, war. Will you be all right getting home? With the highwayman, and everything?”

“Oh, I’ll be fine. Highwaymen don’t scare me.”

She turned, at a bend in the road, to see the two she’d just left running around, hurling snow at one another, as if they didn’t have a care in the world. As she watched, Bess raised her hands in surrender, slinging her arm around Tim’s shoulders and turning them both back towards her father’s inn. Anne smiled to herself and turned back towards her own home.

Bess really did love the snow… and Anne loved Bess.


Thanks for reading this story. If this time of year puts you in a charitable mood, please consider supporting Shelter or the Albert Kennedy Trust. Thanks again, enjoy the rest of the calendar, and have a wonderful holiday season!

Rainbow Advent Calendar 2019!

Standard

Hi, everyone!

I meant to post about this earlier, but a wild computer problem appeared. Better late than never…

Banner for Rainbow Advent Calendar 2019

Yes, this year I’ll be taking part in the Rainbow Advent Calendar once again – along with the people listed in the graphic below. Between us, we’ll be bringing you LGBT+ festive content every day until Christmas Eve, and we’d love you to join the Facebook group here so you don’t miss anything. Or you can keep an eye on Alex Jane’s website here for a masterpost of all the stories!

Banner for Rainbow Advent Calendar with authors listed

Talk to you all very soon!

Secret project revealed!

Standard

Hi, everyone!

Well, I’ve been talking on and off about a new project I’ve been working on, so here’s the ‘big reveal’, as it were. Quite a small reveal, actually, but… I’ve been writing a podcast! Listen to the trailer here and, if it sounds like your cup of tea, keep an eye out for the launch in January.

Welcome to Wandering Mind, an audio tour of some of the most incredible holiday destinations you can possibly imagine…

So far, I’ve had a lot of fun writing in this fictional world, and I’m really looking forward to other people getting to visit it, too!

This is a new genre for me – and a new medium – and I’m really enjoying it, so I hope you will too. I am still attempting NaNo – it was going so well at first – but I’ll tell you about that in another update.

Talk to you soon!

It’s been a while. Again.

Standard

Hi everyone!

…Yeesh. I have been awful at keeping you guys in the loop lately. I’m really sorry about that. The truth is, there hasn’t been a lot to tell. I moved house seven months ago and the dust hasn’t really settled yet! There are still things in boxes. Lots of things.

However, I do have a project on the go that I hope I’ll be able to give you more information about soon – it’ll probably be launching early next year and it might appeal to the more audio-minded of you. I will tell you it’s not an audiobook of anything you’ve previously heard about here, but that’s it for now… I’ll use ‘giving you more information’ as my motivation to post here more often!

I am… tentatively… planning to do NaNoWriMo as usual this year (I’ve got two linked manuscripts to finish drafting, so I’m rebelling to do that, unless I get a last minute idea and drop everything for it) and after that there will probably be festive shenanigans to fit in around the prep for the above-mentioned ‘secret project’ so it might get a little hectic. That will either translate into lots of blog posts or no blog posts at all. We shall see, I suppose.

Anyway, if you’re still following this blog, thanks for your patience, and I’ll talk to you soon!

Be My Valentine?

Standard

Valentine's Bash Facebook event graphic. Go to Cafe Lima - Ana Newfolk's Hangout to join 30 authors sharing free flash fiction.

Hi, everyone!

I know – it’s all very sudden. But I’d love it if you’d join me for a bit of a Valentine’s get-together. 30 authors, including yours truly, are (virtually) meeting to share new free flash fiction with the world. There will also undoubtedly be giveaways, opportunities to ask any burning questions, and plenty of fun to go around!

I’ll be taking over the lovely Ana Newfolk’s Facebook group, Cafe Lima, for an hour on the 10th of February, starting at 20:00 GMT, which is 15:00 EST. You can check what time that is where you are by clicking here. See you then?

Valentine's Bash Facebook event graphic. My hour is 15:00 EST on the 10th of February.

Talk to you soon!

Surprise! Preorders open now.

Standard

Hi everyone,

Yes, I know, I vanished again. But I’m back, and I have exciting news! Well, I’m excited, anyway, and I hope you will be too.

Preorders are now open for my brand new eBook, The Highwayman (universal link). It’s a short story inspired by Alfred Noyes’ 1906 poem of the same name, a poem I’ve loved since I first heard it 17 years ago. Life is tough at the moment, for a lot of people, and I wanted to give the story a bit more of a hopeful slant – and, because I could, a bit of an LGBT+ angle.

Here’s the blurb – and the cover, based on a gorgeous image from Petrafler on Shutterstock.

Silhouette of a highwayman on blue background. Text reads: The Highwayman. Eleanor Musgrove, inspired by Alfred Noyes.

Bess lives a simple existence as the daughter of an innkeeper – or so it seems. But she and her forbidden lover, the notorious highwayman plaguing the area, have more secrets to keep than just their clandestine moonlit meetings. Even one overheard conversation could change both of their lives forever.

Inspired by Alfred Noyes’ tragic poem of the same name, this adaptation reimagines the story of the ill-fated lovers with an LGBT+ twist – and a touch of hope…

It’s available for $1.99 or about £1.52, and I hope you’ll enjoy it! Preorders are open now, and the book will be out on February 3rd.

I’ll be back next week with a bit more information about a couple of promotional activities, but if you’re interested in the story please do preorder it!

Talk to you soon!