WIPpet Wednesday—Violating the Nativity Fast

Fourteen years ago today, I finished the first draft of You Cannot Kill a Swan after 8.5 years! As much work as I did on rewrites, revisions, and edits over 4.5 years a decade later, the fact remains that I still wrote that complex saga between ages 13–21.

I’ve put my primary energies this week towards a final edit of The Twelfth Time: Lyuba and Ivan on the Rocks. I’m mostly cleaning up some surprisingly infodumpesque dialogue I’m really surprised I didn’t see that way during the previous edits. It’s not really classical “As you know, Bob” dialogue, but more like overstating established information from the first book, and not sounding like realistic, natural dialogue.

I’ve been having continued issues with my third lobe piercings, which are five months old now. I’m hoping the irritation bumps and bleeding go down now that I’ve changed out the initial peacock opal labrets for lightweight French hooks, resumed saline soaks, and iced them down. The labrets feel so much better in my first lobes, which I’ve had for 28 years. My thirds feel slightly better now that they can breathe more freely and don’t have posts rubbing against the back.

After the traumatic experience I had with my seconds and how long they took to finally heal, I take no chances with the health of any other ear piercings. It was precisely because I had such an awful experience with my seconds that it took so many years to get more ear piercings. I still want to fill up both of my ears, but given the difficulties I’ve had with my thirds, I’ve half a mind to postpone the fourth lobe piercings I’d planned for next month and just get my navel instead. I’ve wanted that for a long time, and contrary to the popular image, you don’t have to be 16 and a size 6! Depending on body shape, it can be a bit above the actual navel, to allow for better healing and less chance of rejection.

Meanwhile, my new rook piercing is doing great, and hopefully will continue healing nicely. I went pretty hardcore for my first cartilage piercing, but I love the look of it, and how it’s not yet trendy. Lots of people have helix, tragus, and even conch piercings, but not too many people have rooks.


WIPpet Wednesday is a weekly bloghop hosted by K.L. Schwengel. Excerpts must be related to the date in some way. I’m just sharing 26 lines, for the 26th of August. This scene takes place in December 1918, during the wedding banquet for the three oldest grand duchesses. All Imperial weddings took place in the Grand Cathedral of the Winter Palace, and this reception is held in the Nikolay Hall of the Neva Enfilade.

After the three couples have been announced and joined the reception, the food is brought out, and the Dowager Empress is scandalized to see her grandson eating normal food.


The Nikolay Hall, the largest room in the Winter Palace

Aleksey could no longer even remember the last time he’d seen such copious amounts of food in one place, or such wonderful food altogether.  Even considering this was during the Nativity Fast, there was still plenty of good food.  The new palace cooks had made tomato soup, potato soup, mushrooms stuffed with walnuts, eggless pancakes, several types of salads, fresh fruit and berries, an eggless apple cake, butternut squash soup, risotto with cashews and oranges, noodle pudding, rice-stuffed tomatoes and peppers, fried potatoes, and a sweet made mostly of some kind of crushed sugar and walnut paste.  Then another cook came over and set down a tray of roasted chicken with turnips, hard-boiled eggs, several types of cheese, and broiled salmon encrusted with pistachios.

“Here you go, Your Majesty.  Your uncle told us to make some normal food especially for you.  You’re so lucky you get to eat regularly during this fasting season.”

“What is this?” the Dowager Empress demanded after the cook had walked away. “This madness has now even extended to violating fasts?  I wish I had the authority to get you another Regent!”


Grand Duke Mikhail and his morganatic wife, Countess Natalya Brasova

Mikhail cut into a stuffed pepper. “Believe me, I thoroughly consulted with the five new doctors about this.  Don’t you want your grandson to live long enough to become Tsar in his own right?  Eating normally year-round could be the difference between life and death for him.  It was madness how his parents didn’t modify his diet enough, and let him keep all these fasts like a normal boy.”

“But that’s not proper Orthodox behavior.  The Emperor must be Orthodox, as must his consort.  Don’t tell me you’re going to find Baby a bride from a non-Orthodox land and not even make her convert.  This Regency just gets more and more insane.”

“And that’s another thing.  You and his sisters really need to stop calling him Baby.  That’s a really embarrassing nickname for a fourteen-year-old.”

The Dowager Empress shook her head. “Perhaps captivity made you all go balmy, on top of how Baby was already coddled too much by his mother.”

“Who are you to talk about coddling when you’re still calling him Baby, like he’s two years old?” Natalya asked. “That’s a very big disconnect in thought and behavior.”


4 thoughts on “WIPpet Wednesday—Violating the Nativity Fast

  1. I never had any problems with lobe piercings but I did with my cartilage piercing. The diamond stud earring sank into my cartilage, so that if you ran your finger over it, the top of the diamond was level with my ear. My sister had to use tweezers to pull it out. I let it heal…don’t remember how long it took…and got it re-pierced years later. It healed just fine the second time and I can still put an earring in if I chose to but I don’t.

    Oh, and about my newsletter…the first sign up form on my blog didn’t work properly. That’s why you didn’t get a confirmation email. I had manually added you though so that’s how you got the newsletter yesterday. 🙂


  2. I love this excerpt, and you’ve really got my craving pistachio-encrusted salmon, now – I think I’ll have to mention that to the chef in my life! =)

    One thing, though- when Natalya says, ‘disconnect’, it pulls me out of the story a little. Maybe the word would have been used in that time period, but it hits my ear as too current.

    I will think healing thoughts for both of your ears, and hope that Aleksey can enjoy tucking into his personal feast.


  3. I agree with Shan on the word ‘disconnect’. That sentence sounded far too modern and jerked me out of the excerpt. Otherwise, another nice look at Aleksy’s life. And I continue to like Mikhail.


  4. Funny what different people notice. I didn’t care much about the food, but the whole time, I kept feeling bad for Aleksey…everyone has an opinion about him, but no one seems to be asking him! I imagine having them publicly argue over him has to be just as embarrassing as being called “Baby.”


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