Monday, June 8, 2009

Something new for this Tuesday Teaser

All right, so I went back and had a look at my first completed novel, 'Fields of Gold, Fields of Red'. Sadly, I could finally see why no one was jumping up and down to read's kinda...well...slow. One agent, commenting on the first 5 pages had complimented me on my writing but suggested there would be more interest if it was set today, rather than during WW1. I thought about it and decided that my heart wasn't in it.

Until last week.

Thursday morning, I was hit upside the head with a sledgehammer and now I'm possessed. This is the first few paragraphs from my new WIP, A Poppy for Christopher. This is all I'm putting up on this blog from this, for now. There's a long row to plough before it's finished. But, I wanted to put it 'out there'. Enjoy.

“Arse like a fry cook,” Harry declared.

Grace glanced up from the hoof she was examining. “Whose got an arse like a fry cook?”

“This horse, Boss.”

She straightened up and looked at the second travelling lad. He had just finished putting the shark’s tooth quarter- marks on Allonby’s hindquarters and had stepped back to admire his handiwork. Considering that he had probably spent at least three hours in the pub after morning stables, he looked relatively sober. The quarter-marks were perfect and the colt’s coat gleamed like varnished oak, even in the gloom of the saddling enclosure. Grace had learned that Harry could be as pissed as a rat and still turn a horse out to a very high standard.

“He does look good, doesn’t he?” A racehorse trainer had once said that a good horse should have ‘the look of eagles’. Grace was pleased to see that Allonby had that look as he lifted his head and surveyed the activity on the lawn beyond the enclosure. His ears were pricked and his eyes were fixed on something that no mortal creature could see. That serene and arrogant stare gave her goose pimples and she knew that she was looking at the winner of the night’s five-furlong sprint. She patted his neck and glanced at her watch. “The General should be here soon.” The paddock was filling up with other horses, trainers, grooms and owners, standing in knots on the lawn. Women dressed in summer finery enjoying the soft warmth of the July evening as they strolled across the lawn. Grace envied them their Pimms and gin and tonics as she took a sip of lukewarm water from her plastic bottle and searched the crowd for Allonby’s owner. The jockeys were already making their way out of the weighing room and she spotted Billy Riley in the General’s grey and claret silks. To her relief, Allonby’s owner, guest in tow, was right behind him.

Grace allowed herself a relieved smile as Billy handed her the saddle, grateful that the General was one of those owners who stayed out of the saddling enclosure. She hated the owners that lingered in the box, pestering her with questions and talking as if they knew something. She tightened the girth and patted the colt on the rump as Harry led him out towards the paddock. She watched Allonby walk, remembering another pearl of wisdom, ‘walk like a hooker’. He had a loose, easy swinging walk and, although he was busy looking around, the lead rein remained relaxed and his ears twitched as he listened to Harry talking calming nonsense.

“He looks good, Miss Webb,” Billy observed as they walked towards the owner.

“He does. I reckon, if you behave yourself, we might win this one.”

The jockey laughed, “Don’t you worry. I’ll save the bad stuff for after, fancy joining me?”

“No thanks. You know me, no stamina these days. Plus, Dad’s up at York tonight so I’m in charge tomorrow.”

“You always have an excuse, boss.”

“With good reason, remember the last time we went out? I don’t think I stopped vomiting for days. You have lousy taste in restaurants, Billy.” Grace smiled as she approached the General. He was easy to spot in a crowd, with thick white hair and an alarmingly red complexion.

“Hello Grace,” he took her hand and kissed her cheek. “It’s lovely to see you.”

“It’s lovely to see you, too.”

“I brought a guest, I hope you don’t mind. Mary couldn’t make it, bridge tournament or something.”

“No, I don’t mind.”

“This is Christopher Beaumont. I served with his father in the Army. His family and mine have been friends for years.”

Grace became aware of his companion for the first time, a tall lanky man with short, tousled hair and almond shaped eyes the color of strong tea. “It’s nice to meet you,” she murmured as he shook her hand.

“It’s nice to meet you, too. I’ve heard a lot about you, Miss Webb.”

‘How,’ she wondered, ‘am I supposed to concentrate on a race with this distraction?’ “All good things, I hope.” She offered him a smile and took in the jeans and the blue and white striped shirt. My God, he’s beautiful.


  1. PONIES!!!

    Glad I got that out of my system.

    I was very entranced by your description on Allonby. I could really see the cat-like swing in his gaits. And your dialog, as always, is flawless. Fantastic, love!

  2. Great snippet, Sue! Your enthusiasm for this new story shines through.

  3. I like the horse talk. Takes me back to when I used to ride. :D One suggestion, her introduction to Christopher seems to be slightly out of order - she doesn't react to his physical description, only the clothing description makes her decide that he's beautiful? Reads a little like she has a jeans fetish.


  4. Beautiful.

    I love the description of the horse --polished oak coat and distant stare, loose walk-- but I agree with Para: I'd really like to see a little more of that applied to Mr. Christopher. Because, you know, he's clearly hawt. :D

  5. Ooh, chiming in to agree. I'm not a horse person, but you did a great job of brining me up close to one. But yes - more description of Christopher! I want to know why Grace is so immediately distracted by him. Off to a great start, I'd say!

  6. Very nice! I always love reading the vivid descriptions in your teasers. Stick with this one, I can't wait to read more!


    Really quite good. Very british, too, which is always a ++++ in yr favour. :)

    Well done!

  8. I'm still chuckling at the last comment. Loved it! It read smoothly and with great visuals. I know nothing about horse racing (other than what I've seen on TV) and this is really great! It gives the reader enough information to learn something yet doesn't make them (me) think I'm reading a text book!

    Great job!!

  9. I see JKB has already been here as I knew she would. I have to say that's one of the best opening lines I've ever read. I don't know a lot about horses and really enjoyed this b/c it was so much fun to read and easy to understand.

  10. LOVE "Arse like a fry cook." If I had a dime...

    Ahem. I'm totally intrigued by your characters right off the bat. Would love a little more "white space" in that first long paragraph, as it seems slower than the pace you've started off with. Otherwise, very, very strong.

  11. Loved the first line. I felt as if I was right there, so great description. I was at Churchill Downs this morning, by the way. lol.

  12. Oh my God, this absolutely sings! You can feel yourself right there. Just beautiful. Keep at this, lady!! xx

  13. Others may praise your literary achievement, but I would just like to say that I like how this teaser IS IN A BIG FONT!!!! (hint, hint, other teaser tuesday participants!) :)

    Okay, I'm partly kidding, but I'm an old lady and I've always been farsighted so I did appreciate the read-a-bility! Also liked the insider horse-training stuff. "A look of eagles" indeed.

  14. I know nothing about racing and horses, and you come across with great authority on the subject.

    You have a good ear for dialogue. More of that and less description, please. :)

    Jan (aka hope101)

  15. Well done! I won't comment on the text because you must stop for nothing. You must not edit. You must not look back. Get it all out and then become the ruthless editor. Then see what people think of it. For now-- WRITE! This is the magic time.


  16. Very nice read - and I, too, know nothing of horses.

    One sentence: Women dressed in their summer finery enjoying (enjoyed?) couldn't tell if it was an intentional fragment.

    And for the record, I enjoy novels set in WWI. So keep at it! Trickywoo