Jazz Age Wednesdays ― Hidebound Hump-Day

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

“Hidebound Hump Day” and “Straightlaced Saturday” —

Re-Beginning “Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers”

Two episodes weekly as prelude to an new serial.

Last week we reached the end of the line, with the final episode for the Jazz Age Wednesdays serial Hullaba Lulu.  It was a dieselpunk series, set in the Roaring Twenties authored by yours truly, and illustrated by Rob Goldstein.  It was a wildly fun ride and everyone who was on the train has my heartfelt thanks for being part of the journey.  

Rob told me that he already missed the characters. We both loved it, even though it was a huge, time intensive effort for both of us.  I thank Rob yet again for the delight of working with him.  Here’s a video Rob made as a finale.

Although Rob may well be back to collaborate on occasional short stories, he said his brain was tired.  Mine is too—

With Hullaba Lulu taking all my writing time, I haven’t been able to finish the editing and proofing of Atonement in Bloom.  That’s another reason I need to make a change to Jazz Age Wednesdays. 

Complicating my conundrum — my Saturday posts.  Several months ago, when I ended Thistledown Midsummer BedlamI took a poll. I gave readers several options and asked their help in choosing what I should do next.  The “winner” was for me to serialize the third of my Atonement novels the “three things” way, to help me write that story.  I meant to go with that reader decision but… I can’t “pantser” that story online without giving spoilers about the other two novels.  So, I’m using my prerogative to change my mind.  Atonement-3 will not be my next serial.

That said, rather than going forward, I’m going back, before the Roaring Twenties.  For several weeks to come, my midweek posts and my Saturday posts will be tied to the Victorian Era.  Announcing… 

Hidebound Hump-Day and Straightlaced Saturday

Don’t fret, I’m finally bringing all this blah-de-blah together.  I’ve decided on what to use for the straight-laced, hidebound Victorian theme — and I’ve decided what my next serial will be!

Some of you will remember my serial about my fictionalized version of Cornelis Drebbel, Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers.  To let my brain rest while I work on the books that are nearly ready, I’m going to re-run that serial. It will post on both Wednesdays and Saturdays.  If you’re new, you’ll meet Cornelis and company. 

Small Cornelis steampunk man dreamstime_xxl_87472463

If you already know this steampunk story, you can get reacquainted for when I’m ready to launch… The Skull of the Alchemist!  I’m going to go the three things way with finishing the second story for Cornelis and Copper.  

Simmer down, that isn’t ready yet.  First I get a lighter work load for a while by rerunning the first serial.  In that story, Cornelis has several different fun steampunk vehicles.  Best of all, that means I can still say — All aboard!

Burrell Road Locomotive

Allow me to re-present…

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

1.  Stilton Cheese, Mare’s Milk, Calamari

I was having second thoughts.  The fishing town was too small for my unconventional presence to go unremarked, plain and simple.  That was apparent as I watched a single carriage pass by on the dirt road and the driver turned to stare.  It was downright obvious from the shopkeeper’s scandalized expression when I stepped inside Best’s General Store.

Yes, I knew I should limit my wanderings to large cities.  However, I was weary of the crowds and odors.  And the noise!  I was desperately tired of the clamor and clang of cities.

Jaime Murray as the woman who wears trousers

Jaime Murray as the woman in trousers

It was a pleasing little town with a salt tang in the breeze and cozy houses.  I liked it the moment I set foot there.  I took a tidy suite in the Belle Inn. 

There was even a store where I unexpectedly found the most marvelous Stilton cheese.  Cornelis would be delighted with that find.  For once, he might not be so grumpy when I wake him, I thought.

However, as I stood in the general store and watched Mrs. Billie Best and her customer from the corner of my eye, I foresaw that my stay in the charming township would be brief.  I blocked any distractions from my mind so I could hear their conversation.  I already knew they were talking about me.  How could they fail to comment on my mannish waistcoat and trousers?

It always raised eyebrows when I dressed that way, but I wanted freedom of movement that I’d never have whilst restricted by the yards and yards of fabric that made a proper skirt and bustle.  Besides, my first thought that morning was “I’ll be damned if I’m going to squeeze myself into a corset today.”

I pushed back my top hat, pretending to read a label while I listened to the two women speculate about me and my strange apparel.  They had the most outlandish conjectures about my foreign accent and from whence I’d come.  A smile quirked my lips and I tried not to laugh out loud.

The proprietor of the Belle Inn stood across the room shaking his head at the foolish conversation.  Ignatius Belle made a good first impression when I checked in at his inn.  He stepped over to me.  I hoped his housekeeping staff had as much respect for guest privacy as he seemed to have.  I’d hate for a curious maid to wake Cronelis.  That would be most unfortunate.  Actually it could get quite ugly.Victorian men hats

“Ma’am, you were right about the mare’s milk,” he said loud enough for the women to hear.  “Doc said there was a fungus in the grass she was eating before she foaled,” the innkeeper said in a respectful voice.  “He said that’s likely what caused the problem.  The Johnsons have a pregnant mare, and they’re going to foster the foal.”

My relief that the little horse would be well was genuine.  I was glad my off-handed comment had been helpful.  Cornelis always complained that I spoke before I thought, and that I drew unnecessary attention to myself.  Yet it ended well that time, and there was the added benefit that now at least the innkeeper accepted me.  Although I still doubted I would remain there for long.

“Your dinner is on the house tonight.  Whatever you want, and as much of it as you care to eat.  Your comment likely saved the foal’s life,” he said then looked suddenly shy.  “Just a humble way of saying thank you.”

The burst of bashfulness was rather endearing on a man of his stature.  Ignatius Belle did not fit my image of a proper innkeeper.  They should be rotund, pink-cheeked men with aprons.  My host however, was tall and well-made and he wore a suit and a Bowler hat.  He barely gave my trousers a glance.  Interesting.Victorian child cape

The bell affixed to the shop door chimed and a wide eyed moppet came cautiously inside.  She might have been seven years old or she may have been nine.  Disgraceful as it may sound, I knew nothing about children.

An unfortunately familiar odor reached my noise when she walked past me.  The bouquet was dreadful, but it gave the girl my full attention.  She hesitated in her walk, just one step, and then she moved toward the counter.  The shopkeeper frowned and her patron became even more disdainful — if that was possible.  However, their scorn was not due to the odor I detected.  They hadn’t noticed it, but I was sensitive to such things.

She had hair the color of a new penny.  There was a smudge of dirt on her little nose.  Her stylish cape was made of peacock blue wool, embroidered in cream silk thread, with a cream colored tassel on the hood.  Her eyes twinkled with intelligence.

And she reeked of death.

I smiled.

At that very moment I knew that little russet haired child was the reason why I’d come to the out of the way little town.  I didn’t know how it would come about, but I was certain — she would be the heart and soul of the next adventure!

What would Cornelis make of the girl?  He despised anyone who was weak, and children by definition were weak.  So the Dutchman detested children.

I smiled again — broadly.

“Your daddy spoils you too much Copper Hixon, letting you wear your Sunday best when you go out to play,” said the storekeeper from behind her counter.  “Flaunting his wealth on clothes for a child, when there’s others as have to put their noses to the grindstone to get along.”

A barely audible remark came from her customer.  “Spare the rod and spoil the child,” the other woman mumbled.  “She’d best be glad her pa recovered from that influenza last spring, else she’d be in the orphanage, and no fine clothes there,” the customer added in a resentful whine.

child labor“Old Hixon should’ve taken another wife,” Billie Best declared.  “There are plenty of women here abouts who’d make him a good wife,” she replied with a mystified shake of her head.  “But he’d have none of them after that dance hall floozy died birthing this one,” the storekeeper said with an unconcerned wave toward Copper.

“I’d not have that evil child in my house,” said the other woman.  “Any child that kills the mother birthing it is the devil’s own, you mark my words.”

The girl’s eyes widened at the mention of the orphanage and she was clearly afraid.  Copper swallowed hard.  “I need… I mean Daddy sent me to buy food to make dinner,” she stammered.

I noticed that she didn’t specify what food nor did she have a shopping list.  But why would she?  The odor that clung to her was faint.  However, I had no doubt about its origin.  No one told the child what to buy for dinner, but she was hungry enough to think of shopping for it.

The woman behind the counter looked at the girl and her mouth turned down in contempt.  “Did your daddy send you with money to pay his bill?” Mrs. Best asked, emphasizing the payment.  “He’s months behind.  No?” she said when Copper shook her head and looked confused.  “Well, you go back and tell him that hard working folk have to be paid.  Not everybody was born with a silver spoon in their mouth.  He’ll have to pay off the bill he’s run up before he gets another crumb from Best’s General Store!”

“Now was there really any need to speak so harshly to the child?” the innkeeper asked.

The child turned and fled the store.  The tassel on her cape caught on the door and was left behind as she ran.  I excused myself to my new landlord.  Quickly picking up the cream colored tassel, I followed to see which direction little Copper went.  Then I turned and ran back to the Belle Inn.Belle Inn

When I opened the inn’s door, the aroma of fried calamari slowed my stride.  It wafted to me from the kitchen.  It made my mouth water.  I reigned in my haste.  There was no need to run.  The child wasn’t going anywhere.  Not yet.

I popped into the kitchen, profusely complimented the cook, and asked if dinner could be sent up to my room.  Cornelis hated it when I ate in my room, but he didn’t have much choice in the matter.  I couldn’t resist the calamari!

My hatbox was on a high shelf.  I carefully took it down and opened it.  An object that appeared to be a ball covered by a satin scarf was inside.  My top hat would fit around it, as a form to keep the hat’s shape.  But in truth it was no such thing.  I removed the scarf and held up a human skull.

“Cornelis,” I exclaimed.  “Adventure is afoot!  This is no time to be lazy, Cornelis Drebbel.  Wake up!” I said and placed the skull back in the hatbox.

Skull Victorian setting pink

My eyes closed against the bitter chill that blew through the room.  A moment later I looked into the eyes of the Dutchman.  Though he stood no taller than me, his presence was forceful.  

Cornelis was a handsome man.  He had light hair, bushy eyebrows, and a mustache and pointed beard, much like a Musketeer.  However, the disgruntled expression on his face belied his gentle manners.  He gave a polite bow, yet managed to make the movement seem sarcastic.

“Why such haste?” he asked drolly, and smoothed back hair that perpetually looked mussed from a nap.

“Don’t be such a grump,” I said, and holding up the parcel of Stilton cheese I watched his nose twitch in anticipation.

To the Dutchman’s consternation, I held back the cheese.  I wouldn’t share that until I got what I wanted.  When I handed him the cream colored tassel from the girl’s cape he was hardly mollified.

“This bauble does not seem so portentous,” he complained.

As one eyebrow climbed toward his hairline, I knew he’d been won over, despite his sullen look and tone.

“Stop sulking and tell me about the girl,” I said, trying to be firm.  One had to be firm with Cornelis. If he saw the slightest weakness…

“Ah, so that’s it is it?  You think it’s her?  Bringing on a child would complicate things enormously,” he asked, finally showing interest.  “It seems awfully — how to describe it?  So unassuming,” he said with a little twist to one side of his mouth as he looked at the tassel.  “Do you really think she is the one?” he asked, his tone softening.

“You tell me,” I prodded.

Cornelis shimmered and blurred before my eyes, as his mind traveled.  Then with a sharp pop he disappeared.

 ***

To be continued…

***

Diary Notes

The original post featured a (then) first-time participant to begin this “interactive” serial — John W. Howell and his novel from back then, My GRL.  I hope you’ll visit his wonderful blog and take a look at his book too.  You’re sure to enjoy your stay there.My GRL coverI hope all of you are aboard for this rerun.  Hugs!

***

Now some shameless self-promotion. 

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This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2015 and 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 

92 thoughts on “Jazz Age Wednesdays ― Hidebound Hump-Day

  1. Pingback: Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 16 | Teagan's Books

    • Oh! You really did want to start from chapter 1. Thank you Nicole!
      I’m not good at telling ages period. I always think women look younger than they are, and I think men are a lot older than they are. Children… I can’t even try. 😀
      That also gave me wriggle room, since this story is 100% unplanned. I had no idea where it would go, and the non-specific age was less worrisome. Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: #BadMoonRising: The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee by Teagan Geneviene #IndieAuthor #urbanfantasy @TeaganGeneviene – Books and Such

  3. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    We were all very disappointed when Jazz Age Wednesday finished, however satisfactorily… however, Teagan Geneviene is not one to leave her readers in limbo for long and is sharing one of my favourites.. Copper, The Alchemist and the Woman in Trousers.. if you missed this serial the first time round, or need a refresher I suggest you head over to read part one that went out on Wednesday and you can catch up on Saturday’s episode at the same time.. #recommended

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t believe I caught the beginning of this story before, so thanks for the rerun, Teagan. I think I may have jumped onboard, midway last time, maybe after discovering you and your wonderful blog.
    Enjoy the upcoming long weekend in your part of the world.
    Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m delighted that you’re onboard again, Hugh. Yes, it’s the Labor Day holiday weekend here. Monday is normally my work at home day, but lately that’s no less stressful than being in the office. So I’ll have a nice long weekend.
      Thanks for taking time to visit. Huge hugs right back. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I haven’t read the finale to Lulu’s story yet and I must go looking for it, but this story has certainly captured my attention!! While I shall mourn that Lulu is finished (perhaps just for now 😉), I’m very much looking forward to more of this one! Wow, woman – you have imagination!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you kindly, Christoph. I can’t remember how hard I had to wrack my brain to do that — and it’s probably just as well! LOL. Every *space* could use more light these days — even Space Force! 😱
      Great big hug right back! 💙

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I love this story! I know it’s a rerun, but I’m on-board and looking forward to a wonderful adventure. I am also very happy that you will have time to edit “Atonement in Bloom” because that needs to hit the self. I hope you have a great week.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for that validation about the Atonement books, Andrea. The more I thought about it… it just didn’t work in my mind. Besides the fact that it would be the devil to try that one in pantser form… Yikes!
      I’m really happy that you’re getting on the new/old train. Hugs to you and Winston.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so happy to hear that, Jacquie. This one was a wild, fun ride. After the reruns are done, I’ll take “three random Victorian things” from readers for a new Cornelis Drebbel serial. I love involving everyone. Thanks for visiting. Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Haha! You made my day, Brad. Maybe I should recommend a caftan? Not as risky on a windy day as a kilt. ^^’ It’s not your usual Victorian, so I hope you will enjoy the ride. I’m absolutely delighted that you’re aboard the new/old train. This story is the wildest my imagination has ever gone. Mega hugs!

      Like

    • Hi Teri. I had only been blogging a couple of years when I started this serial, so it will be new to a lot of people. That was one reason why I decided to go with this plan. I’ll be posting it on Wednesdays and Saturdays… but I really have to lighten my workload for awhile. My brain is tired. And I’ll never finish Bloom if I don’t.
      I’m tickled pink (or mauve if we’re going Victorian!) that you are on this steampunk locomotive! Mega hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Teagan,
    I’m one that did not read this on the first go around. I’m looking forward to the story. I’m amazed that you manage your time to get all this done and keep up with other’s blogs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Chuck. You are so kind. I try, but I realize that I don’t manage to visit everyone as often as I’d like. My “real job” really has me fit to be tied.

      I want to thank you for your previous comment about the Atonement church and school in San Antonio. I don’t know what your “mindset” might be but… the comment was just so profound. I didn’t know about the church. But previously I had considered moving to San Antonio (and gave up). I’ve been trying and failing (to get a new job there) to move back out west for six years.
      Anyhow your comment caused me to take a close look at the area right around the church. The church and a house (for sale nearby) were both on streets with Robin in the name. That was my late sister’s name. She died when we were both children.
      It turned out that I can’t afford the house (not without a job already in place). But your comment lead to such a powerful experience that I wanted to thank you publicly.
      Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Teagan,
        Wow! This is coincidental. The Atonement Church and school was just a shot in the dark using a google search. I found that and the small town out in West Texas you mentioned. I lived in SA from 1966 – 1983 and would be still living there if I hadn’t met my husband and moved to be with him in Florida. We have been together since 1983 and are now legally married. I never thought I would see the day that our relationships would be accepted and legalized. When I looked at the Atonement Church, I believe it was built after I left SA. I graduated from UTSA and there wasn’t much out in that area when I went there. Thank you for all your support and suggestion on my writing. If you like, we can correspond privately. My email address is listed on my website. HUGS 😎

        Liked by 1 person

        • Legal marriage is such a big milestone for all my LGBT friends. I’m so happy you two could do that. Maybe “what the world needs now is love” — but it needs more acceptance too. I think that is constantly improving for LGBT, but it’s slower acceptance for people who are different spiritually. Back to work now. Hugs.

          Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Mae. It’s great to see you. I remember your fondness for the Victorian Era.
      No (imagination) holds barred in this one. I went way off the rails as the story went along. I’m tickled “mauve” that you’re on this new/old train! Great big hugs to you and Raven. 🐱

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m glad you’re focusing on your Atonement books, Teagan, (and without putting spoilers on the blog). Is Atonement in Bloom ready for an advanced read? I’d love to get my fingers on it and have a review ready for your launch. (No pressure though, just asking). And I missed much of this serial so most of it will be new to me. Great start. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are so kind, Diana. I didn’t make any huge changes in this round of edits. I have a couple of chapters to go (and then another proof read) but I can go ahead and make you an updated advanced read. I really appreciate you being in on that. I’ll email you. Yay! 😀
      I’m glad you’re on this new/old train. Great big hug!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I, for one, am glad you are so busy you had to re-run this serial. I’m sucked in already! I can’t wait to see how this one unfolds and since I missed it the first go-round, it’s all new to me. I love Rob’s Grand Finale video! Fantastic!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jan. I really appreciate *all* your support, including the TX thing.
      I’m happy you’re on this new/old train! I really let my imagination run off the rails as this story went along. I hope you’ll enjoy the ride.
      Rob will be happy about the video too. Great big hug!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Never too many re-beginnings…and just in case you’re not enough, dear Teagan (which you are, more than enough, you’re a ray of light), look at all the lovely bloggers included in this delight-filled bundle! 🙂
    Thanks for the Wednesday lift and I can’t wait for more, more, more!!!
    Mega never disappear with a sharp pop or another other way please please please hugs!!! xoxoxox
    Off to share! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Donna, I’m so happy to see you. You’re the one who gives a lift. When Robert G. Ingersoll said “We rise by lifting others,” he must have been thinking of you.
      I’m really trying to lighten my workload, so this serial will also be used for my Saturday posts. Thanks for being on the steampunk locomotive! Mega hugs right back!

      Like

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