Thursday, May 23, 2013

Reader-Suggested Prequel: Boccioli di Rosa

“Piet!” Peter was dragged unwillingly out of his book by the sound of his grandmother’s voice.“Pietro!”
She was calling from the kitchen, where the smell of supper wafted forth, permeating the house with the scent of rosemary and bacon and garlic. 

He’d helped Es and Vee pick tomatoes all morning, and now he just wanted to rest and read a bit. “Si, Nonna?”

“Vieni qui. Come in here and finish pinning the hem of Esterina’s dress” She said in the tongue of her native Rome. Nonna knew precious little English, and spoke even less. Almost exclusively, she spoke Italian. Peter’s father didn’t allow his children to speak Italian, even among other immigrant families. Even at home among themselves. “We’re an American family now,” He’d say, his accent heavy and his language halting and hesitant. “We belong here. Don’t give anyone a reason to say you don’t.” For the most part, they all even went by American versions of their own names. There was one exception to this rule, and that exception was when Nonna was involved in the conversation.  Nonna wasn’t going to change, and nobody expected her to.

“Va bene, Nonna.” He got up from the leaning overstuffed chair, cringing and inspecting his hands. They looked filthy, but after the vigorous scrubbing he’d given them, the coal dust that remained blackening his nails and his knuckles was evidently there to stay. If it didn’t come off then, it ain’t gonna come off on Es’s dress. He grabbed the ragged, dust-blackened sheet that lay crumpled on the floor and hastily tossed it back over the chair, carefully arranging it so that it would protect the threadbare brocade from coal dust tracked into the house by his weary brothers returning home.

He stood, catching his breath, feeling the healing stitches in his hip and side pull and pinch. He couldn’t say he particularly missed being in the mine, but sitting at home with the women and children embarrassed him, made him feel weak and useless. The gasses and dust from the explosion had damaged his lungs, and he was short of breath and a little lightheaded. Still, he was alive in a warm house that smelled like red gravy and bread, with people he desperately loved. He’d get his wind and his strength back, and things would return to normal eventually, and he’d look for work. He headed for the kitchen.

Es stood on a chair, having carefully slipped into the pinned dress Ma was in the process of making her.  She’d grown into a pretty young woman, with long, nearly black hair and luminous brown eyes. Peter wondered if the new dress had anything to do with the Fazzone boy she’d been seeing. I hope not...but if I was bettin’...

Her face broke into a smile when she saw him. “How do you feel today?”

He smiled back, shrugging, and sat down in the chair besides the one she stood upon. “Oh, like I might want to do some pinning.”

She stuck out a foot and nudged his shoulder gently with her toe. “Yeah, you look like that’s what what you want.”

He chuckled, grabbing the pincushion and sizing up the unhemmed bottom of her dress. “Va bene, allora. Stand still so I can do this.”

“You want some bread with gravy, Piet?” Nonna asked him without turning around. She stood at the stove, stirring the enormous pot with a wooden spoon, releasing a cloud of fragrant steam.

Peter’s stomach rumbled. “After I’m done here, Nonna.” He said in Italian. “I don’t want to get Es’s dress messed up before Fazzone even sees her in it.”

“Maybe it’s not for him. Maybe it’s for me.”

He took hold of the gingham and deftly folded it to the outside, carefully leveling the crease with his fingers. He grinned to himself, not raising his head. “Right, Sweetheart. That you went out with him twice in the same week you bought this fabric was a complete coincidence.”

“It was!”

“Va bene, how’s this?” He pressed the crease he’d made against the top of her foot. That’s gonna fall right there.”


Peter scowled, jerking his head up so he could look at her. He held the crease firmly against her foot. “Whadaya mean, ‘higher’?

She rolled her eyes at him as if he were being intentionally thick. “I want it shorter. Make the hem higher.”

His amused distrust of Joey Fazzone started flaring into mild dislike. On one hand, it annoyed Peter that the Fazzones were shop owners instead of miners. He knew it was stupid and unfair of him to feel that way, but he couldn’t help it. On some level, the scars and stains and callus marking his skin and that of his brethren were trophies of having paid their dues, as being part of a brotherhood. On the other hand, he thought ruefully, inhaling deeply and paying attention to the aches and twinges of healing trauma in his own body. If she married him, she wouldn’t have to worry every time he left in the morning if she’d be a widow by nightfall. And who knows what I’ll be doing myself later on. I sure as hell ain’t gonna be working for Whitehurst anymore. Not after breaking his nose...and....well, I don’t remember trying to strangle him, but everyone says I did. In any case, I ain’t sorry.  He shook his head, focusing on his sister Esterina’s face.

She raised an eyebrow, glancing at the crease he continued to hold to the top of her foot. “Well?”

Be nice if I don’t end up having to thrash Fazzone, wouldn’t it? Might work out if he minds himself around my sister.

He tweaked the crease with his fingers, dropping the hemline even lower over her shoes.  Grinning wickedly he jabbed the pin into the fabric, holding it fast. “Yeah, Sweetheart, I think this is just about perfect, too.”


Katrie said...

Oh wonderful!!! :D I was hoping to see some more of Saint's past!!! (did I forget to mention it? I might have, but happy day!)

Also, the only "odd" thing that jumped out at me at my 2am reading (silly Mercedes Lackey and Valdemar keeping me away *again* no matter how many durn times I read that book) is in the third paragraph. I am correct that that just doesn't sound right, si? ;)

" She said in the tongue of her native Rome. Nonna knew precious little Italian, and spoke even less. Almost exclusively, she spoke Italian. "

Regina said...

Thank you, Katrie, good catch. I fixed it. I'd be surprised if that's the only screw up this chapter contains.

This chapter is admittedly a little sloppy...usually, by Thursday, I've proofed the stuffings out of it. This week, however, I've been so busy putting the finishing touches on the book for Amazon...I ended up spending an entire evening I usually would have spent proofing and editing the post working on the Kindle manuscript. So I lost about six or seven hours there.

Guys, listen, this is A LOT of work. It really has been a learning experience. I feel strongly that we will take what we've learned from this experience, and put the next book out a lot more easily and with less hair tearing and gnashing of teeth.

I have made a resolution to be a lot easier on other self-publishers. On one hand, the bar on indie books needs to be raised. On the other hand, people get into this and at first have no inkling about what all is involved. You can run spell checks, grammar checks, etc, put your script through people you know are excellent proofers, re-read the entire book again and polish out even more problems, run your checks AGAIN...and at the end of it all, you're still going to find problems.

It's tough. I do not want this thing floating around out there with problems.

So, yeah. I THINK we are in the home stretch. I know I keep saying that. Even after I release it to Amazon, it's still gonna be about a week before they send me another proof copy of the print version.

Stay tuned.

Katrie said...

I remember the edits I did in AP English in 10th grade especially. The whole class was based on creative writing, and by the end of the year we had a portfolio of work. Each item had at *least* 4 edits done by peers and the teacher (and one's self). I have some fan fiction in there as well as several poems, and a couple of pieces that were done in collaboration with my best friends that were in that class. I know I've lost a lot of that editing skill, but I remember even when we were "done" it never quite felt like we were. I still have that wonderful folder full of stories packed away carefully. I might have to pull it out soon and re-type/edit a couple of pieces that I loved the most. My "biggest" piece which I skimmed over when moving last was a HORRIBLE Mary Sue fan fiction piece involving Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar. I thought I was being clever, but it's very much just a child's fantasy written down. lol

I have a lot of respect for anyone that does the self publishing as a result though, because anytime I even start to think along the lines of "oh why is it taking so long?" I just remember that class. And the editing. and Re-editing. And the re-writing of entire paragraphs. And then I banish the thought from my brain and just enjoy the final product all the more!! :)

Amy Simeister said...

I love it. Pete's reaction to being asked to help his sister show off her ankles is wonderful!!

Regina said...

Yes, Katrie, this is a case of not only a lot of extra editing we hadn't anticipated, but also little technical stuff. We simply didn't know what we didn't know, if that makes sense.

The next one will be easier. We will be setting it up much differently.

If it's any consolation, we resubmitted it several hours ago. We're just waiting on the proof copy for the print book now. It's done. (Please God, let it be done)

Yes, having other people look over your stuff is absolutely imperative. You simply cannot proof your own stuff. You can't do it.

I bet your writing is better than you think. (in any case, I know someone who loves to put fan fic on her own writing site. I'm just sayin...)

Amy: Yeah, she had to know he wouldn't be entirely on board for that. :-DDDD