Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Spindle And The Queen

Though my story for Rooglewood Press's Five Magic Spindles contest is yet untitled, for now I am calling it The Spindle And The Queen. I have begun a Pinterest board for the story for those of you who are curious for the photographic inspiration behind it. I am thrilled to have set The Spindle in Romania at the beautiful Peles Castle. I'm privileged to have been twice to this location and to have hands-on research to help me in my writing...paired with the historical research required (Princess Maria of Romania was a legitimate person and died at the age of three), I'm quite excited and stocked-up-on-ideas for this story. Let me practice pitching The Spindle And The Queen to you:

Hunted by a rabidly envious gypsy-witch, Maria, princess of Romania, must decide in which era she truly belongs. Carlotta the Maleficent meant to keep a century between herself and her arch-rival, but when American Maria Weid stumbles into the past through a shattered bookcase in Peles Castle, the gypsy's carefully-sculpted plans are destroyed. If Maria, heir to the Romanian throne, discovers her true identity, she will alter the course of a history selected for the world by the maleficent lady. With Maria's intern hunting the truth this side of the century and the young princess, in possession of The Spindle, struggling to make sense at the other, Carlotta must wage her war. 

One princess buried , one gypsy queen vanished, one hundred-year gap. One book, which achieved it all, suspended between.

And now for the snippets, because I know all of you are absolutely dying (har, har) to read about the Sleeping Beauty!

The glass casing hummed beneath her hand, its beauty physically drawing her near: hundreds of unfamiliar stories in unfamiliar languages, made friends by their livery of leather and cloth and gold-leaf. If only there was no barrier between her and the books. If only she could touch them—just touch their spines and run her fingers across a page or two…the glass…how strong could it be? Would they even have an alarm system?

Don’t panic, Itty. Don’t you dare panic. She forced several calm breaths. See, that’s air. That’s oxygen. You’re fine. It loomed behind her memories, though, older than nightmare: a great blackness—layers of it—blotting out light, just as if she’d been put in a heavy, narrow box.

“Karl!” Elisabeth’s tone stung more than she intended and her husband’s blue eyes darted, troubled, to her face. The look melted her. Cold he certainly was, but he was not cruel. “Karl,” she tried again, “do you ever wonder how different our lives might have been if…”

A high, cadenced ceiling rose up, up, up above her; a ceiling just like music.

She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and smiled. “P-pace.” There was no hand offered to shake so she went for the traditional cheek-kiss. The man backed away.

Monks. Right. Monks.

Heath was too clever to fall for the favorite “Americans are stupid so I will try to lie to them” trick. “Ma’am, all I know is that your bookcase swallowed up my boss and there is an entire film company in America who will be beating down the doors of this castle unless you tell me where she went.”

The tour-guide’s honey-hued eyes riveted Heath as if she’d taken her hand and tipped his chin to force the connection. He found an alluring, unsettling conviction in their touch. “Peles,” she said melodically, “is a palace, not castle.”

Could a more pleasant Alpine afternoon be asked for? Heath forced himself to notice the wide, forest-lined avenue and the sound of a river purling a short distance away. He passed a sign warning the pedestrian of possible bear sightings, and grimaced. If a bear would show up now and take care of everything for him, he’d probably not mind as much as he would have this morning. Before Maria had been so asinine. Before she’d vanished in a wall four inches thick.

“So unlikely,” Carlotta muttered. How many times had she searched through the tour groups, knowing that Maria, daughter of Elisabeth of Wien, would, by Fate’s hand, try to come home? How many times had her suspicion landed upon a woman fair in form and face, light and laughing as the child had been last she saw her? How many times had she watched such women, guided them away from the bookcase, sing-songed them to the safety of the outer court? And this one—this very American, brown-haired, green-eyed person, slightly plump and not graceful in movement—had slipped past her notice. Why? Because she had not considered a Romanian princess could have been so wonderfully…commonplace.

A young Romani boy—a gypsy, as were the rest of her household—scuttled off the front porch and came to her. She ruffled his hair and put away her golden magic for a time.

She took his hand in her own and swung her arms. “What has Tamara made for dinner?”


“Mmm. Did you go to school?”

Daniel scuffed his toes in the clean white gravel of the courtyard and looked off to the rose-beds. Carlotta sighed and chucked under his chin.

“Daniel, you know you must attend school.”


“Because.” She pulled him along.

“Because why?”

“You are a gypsy. You know what they think of us.”

Daniel’s dark eyes searched her face mischievously. “What? That we cannot learn?”

“That we are too shiftless to want to learn. I know that is not true. And so do you.”

“Maybe I do not want to learn.”

Carlotta’s voice dipped to the coaxing tone to which she seldom stooped. “You want to learn to make magic, don’t you? Like your ancestors?”

His black eyes riveted on hers. “I want that.”“Mmmmm. Good,” she hummed, and pushed open the heavy, gilded door.

Out of desperation, she had traded her Toms for an ensemble resembling more a feed-sack tied with a woolen scarf than anything recognizable as fashion, and a pair of ugly leather clogs. The trade had hurt her worse than she’d thought it would. Those glorious Toms…formed exactly to the shape of her foot….gone to an old, sewage-scented woman who appeared to be growing a beard of all things!

She knew the way to the palace. She felt odd, knowing, for it was clear to her that Peles was not entirely built. Workmen and carts crammed the road which led to the castle. Here a long-eared, sad-eyed donkey looking as if doomsday drew nigh, there a random knot of sheep and a lanky shepherd. She knew more of the palace than the palace knew of itself. It dizzied and enchanted Maria, and for one fleeting moment, she forgot her terror.


Elisabeth Grace Foley said...

Oh, wow. This sounds fascinating!

Riley Pleasants said...

oh Rachel this sounds so good! I'm intrigued.

Anonymous said...

SO GOOD! I can't wait to read! :)

Skye Hoffert said...

Love this, hope it makes the collection. I loved On the Windy Side of Care.

Esther Brooksmith (wisdomcreates) said...

This is my favorite yet!

Jamie said...

Sounds like a delightful meeting of modern and historical! I'm a sucker for time-crossing stories anyway; based on my favorite fairy tale? Let's just say, if you don't submit it to the contest, I sure hope you publish it anyway!

Katy said...

Super excited to read this - and I think I remember the post regarding the inspiration for the door...many moons ago now!