WeWriWa—No shame in imperfections

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. I’ve been sharing from my alternative history, And Aleksey Lived, which releases 17 July, on my primary protagonist’s real-life 100th death anniversary.

This week’s snippet comes a bit after last week’s, when soon-to-be-Empress Arkadiya began looking at fashion books and magazines with her future sister-in-law Tatyana, to get ideas for her wedding gown. Tatyana has explained each style of neckline and sleeve, and Arkadiya has said she’d prefer not to show her arms. Though the engagement photographs printed all over the world showed the burn scars on her arms, she wants to pretend everyone has forgotten about that.

Arkadiya also references the limp in her right leg, and the additional burn scars on her stomach and abdomen. She laments how she’ll be such a blemished bride.

Tatyana put her hand on Arkadiya’s left arm. “Everyone in this world who’s lived outside of a glass bubble has scars of some sort, be they physical, emotional, or mental.  Many people who appear physically unblemished are deeply scarred where no one can see it.  After what my siblings and I escaped, and what we saw, our hearts, souls, and minds have been riddled by scars we can never get rid of.  These scars make us who we are, and tell stories of survival.  Hiding them and pretending to be perfect gives a false impression.  There’s no shame in having an imperfect body or state of mind.  That’s one of the reasons Sunbeam likes you so much, because you’re not perfect, and have known suffering on a personal level just like he has.”

WeWriWa—Arkadiya and Tatyana

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. I’ve been sharing from my alternative history, And Aleksey Lived, which is scheduled to be released on 17 July, if all goes according to plan. I’ve been so one-tracked over the past few months, finishing up final edits, and know I haven’t been as prompt as I used to be about reciprocating blog visits!

This week’s snippet comes right after last week’s, when soon-to-be-Empress Arkadiya went to talk about the wedding dress with her future sister-in-law Tatyana after luncheon. Tatyana complained about being featured so often in the fashion books and magazines in front of them, and Arkadiya objected to this deprecating comment by saying Tatyana is so beautiful and always well-dressed.

Tatyana, left, with her youngest sister Anastasiya in 1915, at the infirmary in Tsarskoye Selo

“Photographs don’t do your beauty justice.  I already thought you were beautiful before meeting you in person, but now it’s obvious you’re even more beautiful than I thought.  You have the natural look of a princess, someone who’s very special.”

“Thank you very much for thinking so highly of me, but I’d rather be recognized for my nursing and charity work, not any physical beauty or how finely I dress.  God also deserves all the credit for how I look.  All I did was be born.”

Arkadiya looked through the pictures, featuring both Russian women and famous women from other European countries.  Some of the photographs also featured women from North America.  They were all dressed in the kinds of clothes she’d never imagined she’d someday have the option to wear, both on account of their level of finery and because of the world-famous designers.

WeWriWa—In the Poppy Red Salon

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. I’ve been sharing from my alternative history, And Aleksey Lived, which is scheduled to be released on 17 July, if all goes according to plan. This week’s snippet comes right after last week’s, when soon-to-be Empress Arkadiya followed her future sister-in-law Tatyana into the Poppy Red Salon after lunch.

Arkadiya tried not to look too much at the paintings of Tatyana’s parents, which had certainly been brought here by the palace’s new mistress instead of left over from a previous owner.  Other obviously new additions were watercolors of Tatyana, her sisters, and their brother, along with small framed photographs of their family before the catastrophe.

Tatyana motioned to a white and gold satin settee. “Please have a seat, Arkadiya Mikhaylovna.  The fashion magazines and books are right there, with bookmarks in the wedding sections.  I wish I weren’t featured so much in these books and magazines.  Other society ladies should be considered for best-dressed, not someone everyone already knows about.  It feels like cheating to always mention me.”

“Oh, but you’re always so well-dressed, and so beautiful,” Arkadiya said.

WeWriWa—Lunch is served

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. I’ve been sharing from my alternative history, And Aleksey Lived, which is scheduled to be released in exactly a month, if all goes according to plan.

This week’s snippet comes a few lines after last week’s, when soon-to-be Empress Arkadiya met her future sister-in-law Tatyana’s children. Ten-year-old Pavel excitedly told her he’s heir to the throne till his uncle has a son, and 8-year-old Varvara said they used to have two other brothers.

Tatyana suggested they talk about more pleasant things, and calls for lunch.

Nicholas II’s coronation banquet menu

Tatyana picked up a silver bell and rang for the waiters.

The luncheon which was brought forward was just as refined and elegant as Tatyana herself—roast beef tenderloin with foie gras butter, oysters in cream and bacon sauce, candied carrots on a bed of greens, mushroom bisque, baked lobster tails in saffron risotto, and karavay bread with intricate curlicues baked on top, with an assortment of carrot, fig, blackberry, and currant jams. 

The tableware was equally elegant.  Besides the usual sparkling crystal and silverware, the plates, bowls, and platters were white china with a delicate pink rosebud pattern.  Arkadiya still wasn’t sure if she were eating everything with the correct fork and spoon, and hoped none of the china and crystal would break.  Her family had only used such fancy tableware on Easter and Christmas.  The rest of the year, it was shut away in a locked cabinet.

To Arkadiya’s great relief, Tatyana mostly spoke about her work as a nurse, instead of the wedding.  Pavel and Varvara also spoke about their lessons in arithmetic, science, art, music, reading, and French.  They pointed out several photographs of themselves with their tutors, on a table of framed candid photographs documenting the family’s normal, everyday life.

WeWriWa—Tatyana and her children

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. This week’s snippet comes right after last week’s, when soon-to-be-Empress Arkadiya arrived at Yelagin Palace, on St. Petersburg’s Yelagin Island, to discuss the style of her wedding dress with her future sister-in-law Tatyana. Arkadiya has just entered the dining hall.

Tatyana was known as a clotheshorse, someone on whom all clothes looked good. She loved fashion, and was quite good at making her own clothes, and clothes for other people. In her lifetime, she was the most famous and popular of the Tsar’s daughters, both for her nursing work and her exotic, regal beauty. Those who saw her in person said she had the natural look of a princess, someone whom still photographs can’t do justice to.

Tatyana was dressed just as regally and elegantly as she’d been at the measurement session, in a floor-length silk evergreen dress, with elbow-length sleeves, a somewhat defined silhouette, beading, and ruffles.  Her fashionably short hair was framed by an intricately beaded white satin bandeau, which Arkadiya suspected used diamonds.  In comparison to the plethora of jewelry Arkadiya expected all Imperial women to wear, her only jewelry were a simple string of delicate pink pearls, French hook onyx earrings, and her wedding and engagement rings.  The two little girls were dressed in indigo sailor dresses, and the boy wore a matching sailor suit.

“Welcome to our humble home,” Tatyana greeted her effusively. “These are my surviving children.  Pavel recently turned ten, Varvara’s eight, and Galina’s two and a half.”

“I’ll be nine in January,” Varvara said. “I’m eight and three-quarters, not just turned eight.  Galya’s also two and three-quarters, not two and a half.”