Honest

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Honest. [More info]

Photo by Mabel Amber

Scott R. Rezer ~ 
From my WIP—The Haberdasher’s Wife:
His hands lifted to her face, cradling it gently. His eyes darted between each of hers. “You can be the most willful, infuriating, stubborn woman I’ve ever met, but I love you, Josefa, and I want to give you, and your unborn child, a second chance. Marry me. I cannot promise you prosperity and a life of ease, but I can promise I will love you always, if you’ll have me.”
His raw honesty scared her. His words, meant to convince her of his sincerity and love, only made her realize the wide gulf that existed between their lives, and it scared her. He offered her everything she needed, but one. Security. She couldn’t deny she felt something for him; she might even have begun to love him as well. But, it wasn’t enough.

Split

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaboration is Split. [More info]

Photo by Manfred Richter

Join

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Join. [More info]

Photo by Nisha Gill

Relaxed Friday 25

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

~ Jessica Marie Holt ~
(from a new WIP)
Ellie nodded, then frowned. “We do still think it’s a noble cause, right?”
June sighed. “Sarah is still pretty angry with me for interfering in her life. What about James?”
“James was angry at first, and that was rough,” said Ellie, her eyes filling with tears. “But darling boy that he is, he has forgiven me, and now things are right as rain.”
“I think, in time, Sarah will come around, too. We have to keep focusing on the greater good. Helping people find their happy-ever-after.”
“Yes! Look how successful we’ve been!” Ellie’s eyes gleamed in the fluorescent light.
“We do have a knack for this, it seems. I think . . . it’s our calling.”
“Yes! Finally, at our age, we have found what we were meant to do.”
“I think we owe it to the world to share our talents, and help the lonely. Or, at least, to the residents of Shady Oaks.”
“And Fairview.”
“Yes, fine, Fairview, too,” June grumbled.

State

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is State. [More info] There are so many meanings of the word, but the puzzle on this page contains all fifty states of the United States of America. In case you are considering a rise to the challenge, we’d like you to know beforehand there’s no answer key provided and you’ll need to look in every direction—even diagonally—to find them all.

Character

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Character. [More info]

Image by Charnchai Saeheng

Little

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Little. [More info]

Photo by Erik Karits

City

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is City. [More info]

Photo by Michael Pewny

How

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is How. [More info]

Photo by nextvoyage on Pixabay

Relaxed Friday 24

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

Photo by annca

Why

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Why. [More info]

Photo by RÜŞTÜ BOZKUŞ

Where

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Where. [More info]

Photo is by NASA/JPL-Caltech/SAO. It is slightly altered. More specifically, CleanWIP Magazine enlarged a portion of the original photo for use on this article.

Scott R. Rezer ~
The Haberdasher’s Wife
1800—Überlingen, Imperial Free City of the Holy Roman Empire.
Change is on the wind. A new century has begun and war with Napoleon Bonaparte continues to spread like wildfire, while the Enlightenment quietly breaks down traditional barriers of class, education, and the arts, in the last holdouts of Absolutism in the old German States.
For Josefa von Bandel, a nobleman’s daughter, her life on the quiet shores of the Bodensee is caught up in the dramatic changes sweeping across Europe—and in her own troubled life. She is young and beautiful and willfully stubborn. She risked her reputation for a scandalous affair—but will she sacrifice everything else for love?

Arthur Daigle ~
William Bradshaw, King of the Goblins
The Kingdom of the Goblins boasts the largest maze on the world of Other Place. Nearly every square yard of it has been trapped, and a fair number of goblins live in the maze full tim e. The maze grows by the day as goblins tirelessly and pointlessly add to it, with overhead walkways, underground tunnels, and always more traps.
Most mazes have a reward for success, but not here. Goblins are dead broke and plan on staying that way, thank you very much. This means there is no reason whatsoever to enter the maze, and few if any even consider it. Nevertheless, goblins continue work on their maze as the poorly built eyesore takes up ever more real estate.

When

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is When. [More info]

Photo by Vincent Ciro

What

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is What. [More info]

Scott R. Rezer ~
WIP—The Haberdasher’s Wife:

“You—in love?” he said, chuckling again. He held her by the arms and kissed her brow. “I didn’t think you, of all people, were interested in love, Johanna. I thought you had devoted yourself to the life of a spinster.”
His words struck her like a slap across her cheek. It stung, but immediately she wondered if it was true. She had never considered it. Had twenty-eight years of turning away proposals, hardened her heart to reality of love? Did she even know what the love between a man and a woman was—or had she mistaken the playful games of romantic rendezvouses and secret trysts she and Friedrich had enjoyed for the last six months as love?
“A spinster, am I now?” She pulled him down again to her mouth and kissed him more passionately than she ever had before, her breath quickening with each prolonged moment.

Who

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Who. [More info]

Relaxed Friday 23

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

Photo by Leonardo Valente

~ Jessica Marie Holt ~
(sharing a favorite scene from a WIP)
Pa,” Louis said gently. 
“Yes, son?”
“I’m sorry.”
“You should never be sorry about telling the truth.”
There was a long silence. Then Louis spoke again. “Pa, I’m taking the position.”
Pa nodded. “As you should.”
“Really? You’re not upset about it?”
Pa puffed on his pipe. “Right is right. It don’t really matter how I feel about it.”
“But Pa–” 
“You just do a good job, son, and never give him a reason to doubt your character.”
“Yes, sir.” Louis exhaled slowly into the evening air. “Pa?”
“Yes?”
“I plan to marry Nellie. She’s already agreed.”
Pa smiled, and his eyes flickered in the lamplight. “Is that a fact?”
“Yes, sir.”
“Well, ain’t that somethin’.”
“I’d like your blessing.”
Pa sent a few more rings of smoke upward toward the porch roof. “Well, you have it. Nellie’s a good woman. I hope . . .” Pa shifted in his seat and gazed up into the sky. “I hope you have a good long life together.” He put his pipe back in his teeth and said nothing more. The two of them sat until the sky darkened into a gray void pierced with twinkling stars, and the trees turned into looming black shadows in the distance.

~ Scott R. Rezer ~
From my current WIP, The Haberdasher’s Wife… 
The sting of her brother’s rebuke was like a slap across her face. She hadn’t planned to do as he said, but it hurt that he thought she would. They had never been close. They had rarely ever spoken together alone except in the presence of other family members. She knew nothing would ever draw them close. They were just too different. Despite their differences, they both shared their father’s stubborn willfulness.
“I admit we have never been close, Anton, but I would never do something so cruel as to expose your secret for my own gain, no matter what you may think of me,” she said, emboldened by her words. “If anything, I hoped it might make you amenable to the offer I wish to make to you.”
“What kind of offer? An offer of money?” he asked, a dark, thin eyebrow arching, intrigued. A hopeful gleam registered in his calculating eyes.
She stepped closer, arms crossed. Steeling her resolve, she lifted her chin, letting her hands drop to rest protectively on her belly. “As head of our family, I want you to stand as my child’s sponsor at its baptism. And by so doing, taking on the full responsibilities of a godfather in all its conditions. I’m told by old women who claim to know such things that I carry a son. If so, I wish to have him named after Father.”

~ Laurean Brooks ~
(sharing an excerpt from Not What He Ordered)
Josh was trailing Carrie. And she didn’t like it. Did he think she was a thief–that she would steal a fancy dress from Carina’s Style shop? Or that she would pocket an item or two from Woods’s mercantile? The shimmery pink fabric sprinkled with baby blue flowers was the only thing that had caught her eye.
Why didn’t Josh just come out and accuse her? He’d stuck to her like a tick to a dog. When he wasn’t breathing down her neck, he was no more than a holler away.
Carrie decided to give him a dose of his own medicine. “You insisted on following me to the dress shop. I noticed you didn’t buy anything either. You didn’t even look at the merchandise, except when you checked the price tag on that expensive green dress.”
He’d walked the aisles to keep her in sight. Like he was doing now. She squirmed under his dark gaze like a jackrabbit caught in the sights of a rifle. It was as if he could see through to her soul.
“No, I didn’t buy anything.” He clapped a hand to his face, arched his back, and spoke in a falsetto voice, “Sonja didn’t have a single dress that flattered my figure.” Carrie giggled in spite of herself.

Repair

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Repair. [More info]

Photo by Ryan McGuire

Here’s a #CleanWIP #ThemeBender from The Haberdasher’s Wife  by Scott R. Rezer. The Haberdasher’s Wife is a work-in-progress that is nearing the final stages before publication. As for the #Themebender, it was created back in early February of this year when several historical fiction authors were not amused by the announced RADIO theme. We decided to add #ThemeBender to #CleanWIP tweets and posts whenever only a very loose connection with the theme is possible. This helps avoid theme confusion among the authors and lets readers know we’re aware of the stretch.

In this case, Scott is fixing his character’s problem…

“I understand you wish to withdraw from the world for a time to have your child and reassess your life and future. Obviously, those are not your exact words, but I believe they sum up your request, do they not?”
Josefa nodded. The request sounded so simple, so distant, yet near—as close as a whisper. She slid forward on the edge of the hard wooden chair. “It does, indeed, Mother Abbess.”
“And the child? Do you still intend to leave it with us when you return to your life in Überlingen?”
“I do,” Josefa said. A pang of regret nearly choked the words in her throat. “What will happen to my baby?”
The Abbess clasped her hands on the desk. She had no doubt had the same conversation before with more than one young noble woman who found herself in similar straits. “If it is a girl, we will keep her here with us and raise her as one of our own—you are noble born, after all; if it is a boy, however, he will be given to one of the local farmers. Does this trouble you?”
“No,” she said, fighting back tears. She failed. A hot tear slid down her cheek. She dashed it away with the edge of her shawl. “It is probably better the baby never knows its parents or that it was unwanted.”
“No child is ever truly unwanted, my dear. Your child will find a home, even if it is not with those who gave it life.”

Chaos

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Chaos so we’re asking authors to introduce one of their more chaotic characters from either a work-in-progress or a published book. However, we’re asking them to be as nice as is practical with their introductions. [More info]

Photo by Hans Braxmeier

Scott R. Rezer ~
The main character from my current WIP, Josefa, is a spoiled, arrogant, and willful noblewoman who discovers that she would sacrifice everything she knows for true love.

Order

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Order. [More info]

Photo by Coco Parisienne

~ Jessica Marie Holt ~
“You should have shot him,” said Henry. “That dog’s a menace. I ran at him with a pitchfork the other day, and he lunged at me like he wasn’t even scared. Once I whacked him with it he knew I meant business, and he ran off.”
“I told Frank if he didn’t get him under control, I’d end up shooting him eventually.”
“Why does Frank even keep a dog like that?” asked Henry.
“Vernon Peedin got him for protection when the Willis brothers threatened to burn his house down, with him in it, after he testified against them in court. Vernon kept the thing on a good solid chain, and he always took proper care of his fences. And, the dog obeyed him. But you know Frank. He’s lazy and careless. He don’t even look after his mama, let alone keep his dog secure.”
Henry shook his head. “Some folks just don’t have any sense of decency.”
“Too true,” said Jim. He turned to Louis. “So, your first order of business is going to be filling in the hole that hell hound made, and making sure the coop is secure.”

Scott R. Rezer ~
From my current WIP, The Haberdasher’s Wife
“Herr Trinkaus,” she said, removing the hood of her cloak and gloves. “A joyous New Year to you.”
He rubbed his meaty hands together and winked at her. “And to you as well, fräulein. Might I interest you in some chocolates, today?”
It was a familiar game. One she often lost. “Not today,” she said, laughing, though she loved the rich chocolates that had made Herr Trinkaus the talk of the city. “Perhaps just a strudel for my mother and me.”
He touched a finger to his lips, smiling. “I have some that just came out of the oven.”
He led her to the counter, where she waited, glancing over the assorted baked goods in the display case while he assembled her order. A few moments later, he returned. The divine scent of the warm cinnamon and sugar wafted up from the package as he fastened it with a length of twine. He leaned over the wooden counter, pretending to brush off some imaginary crumbs with a cloth. “I included a few krapfen for you and your mother. A treat for New Year’s.”
Josefa giggled like a schoolgirl. “You will make us both very fat with your generosity, Herr Trinkaus, if you insist on adding treats to my order every time I come in here.”
“Indulge me, fräulein, and consider it favor to an old man,” he said, winking. “I have little to delight in beyond seeing the joy it brings you.”
“Very well,” she said, “but I insist on paying for it mind you.”
He held up a hand and shook his head. “Then you will simply force me to add a few more.” It, too, was another game they played together. He never let her pay for more than she ordered. He had never had a daughter and found it a joy to spoil her.

Certain

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Certain. [More info]

From the upcoming The Haberdasher’s Wife by Scott R. Rezer.
~~~
Her brother was never good at hiding his displeasure. She often wondered if their father had been same. Anton’s eyes narrowed, his gaze dark and turbulent. His thick, brooding eyebrows too often reminded her of winter storm clouds just before they broke over the rough waters of the Bodensee.
“I’ve heard certain rumors circulating throughout the city that trouble me,” he said, biting down on the stem of his pipe. “Rumors about you, Johanna.”
“You need to be more specific. Tongues have always wagged in Überlingen about our family, Anton. Not everyone in this city likes us. Father had enemies as well as allies, and too many of those friends are now gone.”
“All the more reason not to feed the whispers with the way you conduct yourself in public.”
There it was—he had said it. Finally. She had waited for months for him to mention her secret trysts and late night rendezvouses with Friedrich. She knew she hadn’t been discreet enough, even when she tried. Last night was only the latest example. But she didn’t care. Not any longer.
“How I conduct myself, is my affair, Anton—not yours.”

Possible

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Possible. [More info]

Photo by An Brechtel

Relaxed Friday 22

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

~ Scott R. Rezer ~
Just finished editing the 13th chapter of my current WIP—The Haberdasher’s Wife—one my favorite chapters, and thought to share a small bit…
Josefa had fallen in love with the church at once, its plain exterior awash in soft pink and white, surrounded by trees and vineyards and the overarching blue sky; it was a jewel of the Baroque style so prominent in the churches of southwestern Germany. Its plain, but beautiful exterior, though, belied the rich interior that overwhelmed the senses with color and light and ornamentation worthy of a pilgrim church. The schemes of pink and white and glittering gold extended to the inside. Every statue and painting exuded a sense of movement, of life, a place where light and shadow could dance together.
Aside from the gorgeously painted fresco arching overhead, she adored the Honigschlecker—the honey sucker—a gold and white plaster sculpture of a cherub sucking honey from its finger that it had just drawn from a beehive. She couldn’t keep her eyes off of it. It made her smile to see such playful artistry amid the sensory-numbing opulence of the Wallfahrtskirche. Pilgrim visits had certainly filled the coffers of the church to overflowing to infuse the building with so much beauty and art.
In the opulence and breath-taking art surrounding her, she caught a small glimpse of the deep, abiding faith of the creators that had given birth to such beauty. It called to the depths of her soul, and her soul responded in kind.

~~~
Earlier this week…

War

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is War.

Photo by Alexa

~ Scott R. Rezer ~
(For the soon-to-be-released The Haberdasher’s Wife.)
1800—Überlingen, Imperial Free City of the Holy Roman Empire.
Change is on the wind. A new century has begun and war with Napoleon Bonaparte continues to spread like wildfire, while the Enlightenment quietly breaks down traditional barriers of class, education, and the arts, in the last holdouts of Absolutism in the old German States.
For Josefa von Bandel, a nobleman’s daughter, her life on the quiet shores of the Bodensee is caught up in the dramatic changes sweeping across Europe—and in her own troubled life. She is young and beautiful and willfully stubborn. She risked her reputation for a scandalous affair—but will she sacrifice everything else for love?

Peace

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Peace. In addition to sharing lines from works-in-progress, we also encouraged authors to introduce us to a peacekeeper of one of their published works. [More info]

Photo by David Mark

~ Jessica L. Elliott ~
In my Through the Rainbow series, Treasa is often the peacekeeper between her sisters Dierdre and Darcie. She also tends to be more level-headed, which between impulsive Dierdre and snarky Darcie is important.

~ Katy Huth Jones ~
The title heroine of my fantasy series, He Who Finds Mercy, is a pacifist Healer in an often violent medieval society. She remains true to her vow of peace even when it would sometimes be easier not to, and ends up encouraging others to rethink their less peaceful ways of dealing with situations. The first book (standalone) is Mercy’s Prince.

~ Laurean Brooks ~
My heroine’s Aunt Violet was the peacemaker in Journey to Forgiveness. She keep Jenny Largent (heroine) from acting on her impulses. One example: Jenny labels Austin Brady (hero) a thief when she spies him fleeing with her vanity case at the train depot. Later, Austin stands behind the podium at Aunt Violet’s church to ask for an offering to help victims of a tornado in South Pekin (actual event 1938). Jenny is sure Austin will keep the money for his own use. Aunt Violet tries to reason with her, but to little avail.

~ Scott R. Rezer ~
In my Biblical novel, Shadow of the Mountain, the peacekeeper character is Noah’s wife, Naamah. Although the book is written entirely from Noah’s POV alone, she is the ever-constant presence that keeps the peace in the family and peace to her husband’s often troubled heart.

Trust

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Trust. [More info]

Photo by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Doubt

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Doubt. [More info]

Photo by Deedster from Pixabay

Cherry Christensen ~
Excerpt from Love’s Full Circle: With that painful realization, Liam climbed out of his silver Jeep Cherokee and slammed the door. He headed for his office, thankful he didn’t have a class to teach for another hour. Perhaps by then he’d calm down, but he doubted it.
Dr. Kayden James.
The name echoed in his mind as he paused at the stairwell leading out of the garage, gazing up at the fifty-four story Elway Plaza where the KDEN traffic copter circled in for a landing on the roof. He stared a long moment before letting the door close behind him and his fantasies.

Faith

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Faith. [More info]

Photo by Annette Meyer

~ Scott R. Rezer ~
From my soon to be released novel, The Haberdasher’s Wife:
She laughed to herself about the thought of her meaningless prayer. Despite an upbringing by the faithful friars of the church, she was hardly the sort God would listen to her prayers. She was never a praying sort of woman, nor devout in her beliefs, or mindful of anything else having to do with the church, though she did go to confession, but only to please her mother and to try the patience of Father Anselm. Ironic, since she and her mother had lived by the good graces of the friars of the Franziskanerkirche. Just that day alone, she had found herself praying several times for her mother that she would recover from her current illness. Prayer wasn’t a habit she had thought she would start at her age.

Cherry Christensen ~
An excerpt from Love’s Full Circle: Kayden lifted her head slightly and observed the plane. She gulped and wadded a handful of Liam’s shirt in her fist.
“Liam, if we don’t make it…”
“We’re going to be fine,” he said, cutting off her words. “Have faith.”
Kayden’s knees weakened as she worried about the people on the plane. She tightened her grip on his shirt, stifling a scream. The balloon blustered again as smoke plumed in the cockpit of the plane.
“Listen to me,” she pleaded. “Things can’t end this way with us.”