We have something new for you (and me) today. I have been tagged by the delightful Viv Drewa in this Author Blog Hop. Viv is the author of THE ANGLER AND THE OWL (which I reviewed here on Vision and Verse on June 25, 2014, for those who want to look in the Archives), THE OWL AND THE SIPAN LORD, and From the Pages of Grandfather's Life. She lives in Michigan and studied Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Michigan. She loves owls and has a terrific sense of humor.
Okay, now for my part.
Carol Ann Kauffman is an American author from Ohio, in the Midwest. She is a retired teacher in the Niles City School district, where she taught first grade for most of her thirty-five year career, but also second and third grade and was a reading specialist for her last three years. She loves to travel, play Bridge, and to garden. She grows African violets and orchids. She is the author of the Time After Time series, which follows a pair of lovers through their many lifetimes together. Her novels, classified as romantic action adventures with a sci-fi/ fantasy twist, are about life, love, loss, and lunacy. Connect with Carol on Twitter at @Cay47. Visit her website at carolannkauffman.weebly.com or visit her blog, Vision and Verse at visionandverse.blogspot.com.
1. What are you working on?
I am working on MacKalvey House, a Time After Time novel.
2. The beginning of your work-in-progress.
Too Many Cooks
“And do not bother me with this nonsense again!”
“Why is it suddenly SO bloody difficult to find suitable, decent, dependable domestic help? My father never had any trouble finding or keeping suitable staff. Are the whole lot of these new domestics slow on the uptake?”
“I believe so, sir.”
“They’d all rather be on the dole than work for a decent wage.”
“What the hell has happened to this country?”
“I have no idea, sir.”
“Thank you, Edwards. I’ll not be needing you for the rest of the evening. Get some rest. You look tired, Bernard. See you in the morning.”
Bernard Edwards gave Mr. MacKalvey a slight nod and disappeared down the hallway and into his room. It was harder and harder to find suitable, decent household help because Mr. Kenneth MacKalvey was becoming more and more demanding, increasingly irritable, and terribly unpleasant. Bernard remembered a discussion with a former employee, the sweet, wonderful, Italian cook, Loretta Colavita.
“Bernardo, does he think he owns us? He is so critical! Nothing is ever to his satisfaction. He is never pleased with anything or anyone. He never smiles anymore. He’s never happy anymore. I hardly recognize him as the sweet, lovable gentleman who hired me years ago. What the hell happened to him? He criticizes everything. He nitpicks about every tiny thing we do. He wants constant perfection. And then he goes on and on like some nag of an old woman. He can be so mean and vindictive. He acts so superior and he treats us all like pond scum. He’s just plain nasty.”
“I know, Loretta. I think he must be a very sad man on the inside.”
“Yea, well, on the outside, too.”
“I’m so sorry to see you go, my dear. You are a terrific cook. I have never eaten so well in my life. And you are… delightful company. You are truly a wonderful woman and… and a joy to be around. And I… I…” he stopped himself.
“Well, I’d rather scrub toilets in a men’s prison for the criminally insane than stay in the same house with the likes of that foul bastard and cook for him one more day. If I cook him one more meal, I swear it will be laced with arsenic. Goodbye to you, my dear sweet Bernardo, and good luck to you, too. When are you going to get disgusted enough to leave that miserable fart all alone, which is what he truly deserves?”
“Oh, dear Loretta, I’m afraid it’s not that easy. I’ve been with his family since I was a child. You could say we grew up together.”
“Except that one in there, he never grew up. He’s still a spoiled little mean-spirited rich boy, who has lost his charm, if he ever HAD any charm in the first place. Which I am beginning to doubt!”
“Oh, that’s not true, Dear Loretta. He is a good man.”
“I know, I know. I’m just so angry with him at the moment.”
“He will regret this day, I assure you, and he will beg you to come back. Goodbye, my dear Loretta. And until that day comes, I shall miss you. Terribly.” Bernard gave her a hug.
“Well, until that cold day in hell comes, I shall miss you, too, sweet man,” said Loretta, kissing one cheek, and then the other. And the exceptionally good Italian cook, Loretta Colavita left MacKalvey House. Bernard waved as he watched her car pull out of the driveway and disappear down the long road toward town.
“I miss Loretta Colavita already, Sir,” Bernard sighed.
“Damn it, Edwards! I know you do! I saw the way you mooned after her. I heard her call you ‘Bernardo’ and ‘sweet man’. I saw her fuss all over you when you caught a cold or complained about a sore throat. I miss her, too,” he sighed, “very much. So let’s not go getting so attached to the next cook, what do you say?”
The delightful Loretta Colavita was followed by three less than stellar cooks. The red-haired Irish woman told him off, brandishing a kitchen knife at him, and left within the week. She was followed by the Swedish matron who only made fish, fish for breakfast, fish for lunch, fish for dinner. She lasted almost three weeks, and that was only because she understood very little English and had no idea the Master of the House was insulting her and her cooking day in and day out after every meal.
“Bloody hell! I feel like a hapless prisoner of war aboard a Viking warship in the middle of the damn miserable ocean! Fish. Fish. Fish. MacKalvey House positively reeks with the disgusting smell of dead fish! Luckily our nearest neighbor is more than thirty-two kilometers away, or they’d all be complaining about our stench and reporting us to the clean air authorities.”
The Swedish matron was replaced by Greta, a German woman who hardly spoke and made decent, stick-to-your-ribs food three times a day with absolutely no conversation.
“Well, finally, some luck in the kitchen! The Italian, though an outstanding cook and a good woman with a heart of pure gold, was just a tiny bit over-sensitive to criticism. The Irish woman was obviously part of a coven. And the Swede was trying to kill us both with mercury poisoning. But this German woman, the food is decent and she is nice and quiet, she’s okay.”
Greta stayed in her room when she wasn’t cooking. She spoke to no one. She looked hauntingly out the window. One Tuesday evening, after dinner, she shot herself.
“I can hardly believe this bad luck of mine! I can’t seem to find a decent cook without mental problems!” said Mr. MacKalvey after the police and coroner left the next day about noon.
“Loretta Colavita was wonderful, Sir. No mental problems. Excellent mushroom risotto. Exquisite lasagna Florentine. Wonderful woman,” sighed Bernard nostalgically.
“And now that the police and the coroner have finally finished, I have to have that room cleaned and repainted and hardwood floor refinished. Buy a new mattress set and bed linens. A new small carpet. A completely unnecessary expense. AND I need to find another cook! I tell you, Edwards, it’s a bloody nightmare!”
“Yes, sir. A bloody nightmare,” agreed Bernard. It must have been a bloody nightmare for poor Greta also, he thought, with never a kind word or a nod of appreciation in her direction. Never a soul to talk to, no one to care. Maybe if she had someone to talk to, things would have turned out differently for her.
“Sir, did you remember today is Wednesday?”
“Wednesday, yes. What of it?”
“Miss Michelle Rosemont is coming today to photograph the grounds of the estate for the May issue of Historic Hazelton Magazine?”
“Oh, damn the hell, YES, I forgot all about it. Edwards, can you be a dear a handle it for me? I haven’t the stomach for schmoozing with an American photographer today, when I have all this dead Greta mess to deal with. I don’t feel like chatting. And I hate painters in the house. They’re messy and smelly. And noisy. And talk about noisy, hardwood floor refinishers with their power equipment, my head will ache for a week after they are done! Do you think we could find one who doesn’t use power equipment?”
“So, you would like one quiet man, preferably a mute, who uses only sandpaper?”
“Yes, Edwards, that would be lovely! Could you?” Mr. MacKalvey perked up.
“I’ll make some phone calls, sir, and see what I can find to suit you.”
“Thank you, Edwards.”
“Ahh. sir? You also invited Miss Rosemont to have lunch with you here at the estate when she was finished. I think you shall have to chat and schmooze, just a little.”
“Lunch? Chat? Schmooze? LUNCH? I did? Yes, I did, I remember now. Oh, no!”
“Yes, sir, that was before Greta so rudely offed herself, without giving any consideration to your ever-expanding social calendar.”
“This is such a major inconvenience! What on earth would possess me to DO such a thing?”
“I don’t know, sir. It seemed so very out of character for you at the time, I almost doubted your sanity. It was so… social.”
“What in heaven’s name was I thinking?”
“I have NO idea, sir.”
“We have no cook. Well, just tell her… tell her I’m… ill,” said Mr. MacKalvey with a dismissive wave, turned, and went upstairs to his suite and closed the door.
A few hours later, the doorbell rang and Mr. MacKalvey heard the lilt of a female voice in the house. He crept to the top of the stairs where he could hear everything, but still remain hidden. Lovely voice. Now he remembered her voice from their phone conversation. He knew that voice. It made him smile. Pleasant. Cheerful. Silken. But from where? That voice, THAT’S what made him invite her to lunch, the sound of her voice. He wanted to hear more of it. Damn siren’s call. It compelled him. She was probably horrendously ugly and shaped like a manatee.
“Miss Rosemont, I am so very sorry to inform you that Mr. MacKalvey is very ill and will not be able to join you for lunch, but I could fix you a bowl of shredded wheat and a cup of tea if you wish, because our cook is just dead.”
“No, please don’t worry about lunch. I’m not hungry. But I am so terribly disappointed! I was so looking forward to meeting THE Kenneth MacKalvey.”
“You were? Why on earth?”
“Something about that man fascinates me, Bernard.”
Kenneth MacKalvey leaned his head back on the door and gave a little smile as he listened to the conversation. That sweet, lovely voice! Saying sweet, lovely things. About him.
“You’ve got to be joking,” Edwards said with a laugh.
“No, Bernard. I’m not. I only agreed to do this photo shoot way out here in the middle of nowhere so I could get to meet him. I’m really disappointed that he’s ill. I do hope it’s nothing serious.”
“Oh, I’m afraid it is. Terminal, in fact. Have you heard about his reputation?”
“His reputation? As an author? Or as an art critic, you mean?”
“Ah, yes! That’s the one I mean.”
“Well, I heard he can be a little harsh at times as an art critic. But I’ve read every book and article he’s written that I could lay my hands on, and I love the way he writes. I love his choice of words. I love the way he weaves in nuances and undertones, always completely proper, but with whispers of deep, white-hot passion hidden just beneath the surface, laced with longing, regret, and unspoken desire. It has movement as natural as the ebb and flow of the tides. Sometimes it’s like a warm, bittersweet dance with your former boyfriend on his wedding day to a really nice girl. And sometimes, it’s more than that, it’s like a telepathic orgasm with a total stranger across the room, sizzling, white hot, overpowering, wild, crazy, blissful, quivering, flushed, standing in a crowded room, with no one else around you having any idea of what just happened. You gulp hard and lick your lips. No evidence. And then, from across the room, you see him. He raises one eyebrow, with just the faintest smile. Ahhh!”
Kenneth MacKalvey felt himself blush. His heart was racing. Finally, someone who understood the height, the width, and the depth of the emotion in his work and actually appreciated it. Most people didn’t get it at all.
“No, no, my dear, this is KENNETH MacKalvey we’re talking about.”
“Yes, yes, I know. Kenneth. He’s so multi-layered!”
“Like an onion, you mean?”
“And SO-O insightful!”
“Really? James MacAdoon reckoned Mr. MacKalvey’s treatment of him was more like a public flogging.” Kenneth MacKalvey stiffened and held him breath. Why would Edwards want to bring that up now in front of her? Michelle let out a little giggle.
“Oh, Jimmy MacAdoon is as overly-sensitive as they come. He cries easily. I’VE made him cry, and I’m a gentle soul. Scottish men are unreasonably hard on themselves and each other,” she said with a giggle. “They hold themselves and their male countrymen up to unbelievably high standards on conduct and accomplishment. That’s why they as a group have made such terrific contributions to society in general. Cloning. Engineering. Banking. Golf. Tennis. William McKinley. Alexander Graham Bell. Charles MacIntosh, the raincoat. Highway surfacing, John MacAdams. Steam engine, James Watt. John Boyd Dunlop, tires. Postage stamps, John Chalmers. Kirkpatrick MacMillan, the bicycle. James MacGregor, bleach. John Logie Baird, the television. John Paul Jones, the U.S.Navy. Sir Robert Watson Watt, radar. John Napier, logarithms, Alexander Fleming, penicillin. James Young Simpson, anesthetics. Shall I go on? They just need a little extra attention every once in a while, and they’re just fine.”
Kenneth MacKalvey rushed to his room, changed his shirt, washed his face, combed his hair, and put on a little cologne, all of a sudden craving a little attention from this obviously intelligent, gentle and kind woman, even if she were very homely. Looks are highly over-rated. An ugly woman can still be a great companion when she’s this intellectual and perceptive, and appreciates a man of his caliber and distinction. He casually strolled down the hallway and the staircase.
“Oh, Edwards! I’m suddenly feeling much better. Is Miss Rosemont still about? Edwards? Edwards!” No answer. He heard a car door shut and looked out the window just in time to see a black Nissan sedan pulling down the driveway, and Edwards waving her off.
3. Links in to my work:
I have eight books online at amazon.com., five full-length novels in the Time After Time series, BLUE LAKE, BELTERRA, THE BASLICATO, BENTLEY SQUARE, and LORD OF BLAKELEY, a novella Waiting for Richard, a short story/cookbook Echo of Heartbreak, A Recipe for Life, and a Christmas short story Madison's Christmas. Another full length novel, CHARMING DECEPTION, is at my editor's, and is not yet available online.
Twitter @Cay 47
Also on Goodreads
4. What is your writing precess like and what makes your work different?
My work does not follow any formula or rules. I have given up the outline and the notecards because my stories tend to stray too far from them. I write about life, love, loss, and lunacy. Once I begin and story and it starts to roll along, it takes on a life of it's own. I incorporate actual events into my stories, my experiences, or those I am familiar with, and real life doesn't follow an outline. My work is not sexually explicit or graphically violent.
The series, TIME AFTER TIME, follows a pair of quintessential lovers, Richard and Nicole, through their lives together, in different places, in different times, with different names and faces and sometimes even on other planets. This follows the alternative theory that the relationships we forge in this lifetime, both the good and the bad, are continued into the future, and are rooted deeply in our past. Whatever we do, whomever we love, and the good and evil deeds we do today follow us into the future. Unsettled issues will present themselves again and again, until they are ultimately resolved. Those people who have had a profound effect on us in this lifetime will find us again in the future. And although everything changes, love remains.
5. Hop Along Time!
I tag fellow authors Kathy Bryson and Josie Cara. These two are terrific. Great writers and terrific human beings. I leave you in good hands and hearts.
You are it, Kath and Jo! Post on August 18.
Kathy Bryson Bio:
Kathy Bryson knew she wanted to be a writer when she finished reading through her school and local children's libraries. She spent 20 years honing her writing skills on marketing brochures, websites, and several unfinished manuscripts before going into teaching and finishing a book with all the stuff she enjoys most - from coffee to love to Shakespeare! Kathy lives in Florida where she caters to the whims of two spoiled cats and wonders what possessed her to put in 75 feet of flower beds.
Her first book, Feeling Lucky, won the 2014 National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award for Best First Book.
Josie Cara"s Bio:
Once I decided to end my working career, the desire to write became more and more prominent in my mind. Living in NYC all my life made it easier for me to find a home base for my stories. NYC is a wonderland of information and ideas. My first book, In a Heartbeat, is based on a two minute news story I heard late one night and it just caught my attention. Before I knew it, I had a story going on in my head. But, life itself brings many stories our way and these are what I want to write about, especially how life affects women in today's world. I hope you enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoy writing them.