WeWriWa—Svetlana and Kroshka


Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. I decided to continue the story of young widower Mr. Lebedev reuniting with his missing daughters, from my first Russian historical, You Cannot Kill a Swan.

It’s now May 1922, in America, and female protagonist Lyuba has fallen unconscious from a very high fever after giving birth to her first child with male protagonist Ivan, about a month premature. A young nursing student and new immigrant, Svetlana, has been coming over to help with the baby, and Kroshka always barks like crazy when she’s there.

Ivan is rocking Fedya at 5:30 when Kroshka comes running into the apartment, right to Svetlana, stirring a pot of beef stew at the coal-burning stove.  This can only mean Mr. Lebedev forget to lock the door when he and his daughters left this morning, and forgot to close the door all the way.

“I’m really sorry for her behavior,” Ivan says as he gets up. “She’s normally so sweet and gentle.  Maybe it’s true that lapdogs have fantasies of being as mighty and powerful as big guard dogs, and this is her way of trying to do just that.  She must sense a stranger’s presence, and wants to protect her friends.”

Kroshka is now jumping at Svetlana’s feet, and won’t stop till Svetlana picks her up.  Once she’s in Svetlana’s arms, she frantically starts licking her face.

The reader has already been introduced to Svetlana, who was sent to Siberia with three of her sisters after the Revolution. In Part II, she was reunited with her cousin Nadezhda, who was captured in Ivan’s place.

Nadezhda told Svetlana her father and five of her sisters escaped to America in the spring of 1921. Nadezhda and her sweetheart Pavel were with them at the port of Tallinn, but weren’t able to get on that ship due to not having tickets. When their enemies found them, Pavel managed to get away on a raft and was picked up by another ship, but it was too late for Nadezhda.

Svetlana’s nursing skills earned her rather decent treatment and an eventual early release. She was unable to obtain Nadezhda’s release along with hers.


Writing about vintage candy (and other sweets)

I’ve always had a major sweet tooth, and love writing scenes with ice-cream, candy, chocolate, sundaes, and baked goods. It’s particularly fun to research vintage candies and sweets, and to create characters with a sweet tooth. My Cinnimin has a particularly intense sweet tooth, and is frequently shown indulging it. Her habit of keeping a bag of candy under her bed and in her purse must’ve been influenced by Claudia in The Baby-Sitters’ Club.

Here are some of the vintage candy ads and dessert recipes I’ve collected, with accompanying excerpts.
Dubble Bubble


Cinni bought the biggest container of popcorn, along with three chocolate egg creams, ten Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews, a giant rainbow-swirl lolly, and a large bag of Dubble Bubble.  Max and Harry got popcorn, egg creams, and a big bag of Tootsie Rolls.  Sparky could only look at all the wonderful candy and treats, imagining what they must taste like.  This might not be a grand movie palace like she’d gotten used to, but it was hardly some hole in the wall.

Chiffon pie


Cinni went around to all the baskets of free samples, taking the biggest pieces and digging for crumbs.  A few of the samples were those dreaded, boring, adult sweets like lemon cookies, almond cake, and maple walnut rolls, but almost everything else pleased her palate—thumbprint cookies, chocolate chip bread, blueberry crumb cake, apricot coffeecake, chocolate cookies, cinnamon buns, raspberry bars, hot cross buns, brownies, cupcakes, chocolate éclairs, cherry danishes, fudge, macaroons, meringues, doughnuts, and cookies and cupcakes made to look like cartoon characters and sporting balls.

Strawberry meringue cake


With the house all to themselves, mostly, Babs and Cinni lay on the living room davenport listening to the radio.  When lunchtime came, Babs went into the kitchen and made them sandwiches with peanut butter, hot fudge, caramel sauce, and marshmallow crème.  She set them on a tray, then added two extra-large glasses of fruit punch with lots of sugar stirred in.

“What are you doing home from school so early?” Mr. Filliard asked when he ran across Babs on her way back to the living room. “I thought I heard the radio in the background, but I assumed it was your mother or aunt, or even that kooky Jasper.”

“Oh, Cinni didn’t feel well, and I took her home.  It’s not a big deal.  She’ll be better by tomorrow.”

“In that case, bring her some sweets.  I won’t hear of my pet child not having her every want catered to when she’s ill.” Mr. Filliard loaded up the tray with fudge, chocolate chip cookies, cherry pie, chocolate doughnuts, and strawberry danishes.

Grape LS


This is yours,” Barry said, extending a large basket. “I’ve never given mishloach manot to Gentiles before, but everyone in your family deserves one for being so good to us.  Without your father, we’d still be in Europe, with God knows what kind of future.”

Cinni returned the smile and eagerly took the basket.  She headed back to the davenport with it, and delightedly discovered oranges, hamentaschen, saltwater taffy, gumdrops, chocolate-covered peanuts, a bottle of grape pop, and five silver dollars.

“I packed that one just for you,” Barry said, smiling at her again. “I know what a sweet tooth you have.  You’d never be happy with the mishloach manot we made for your parents and siblings.”

Black Crows candy


Sparky stood back as Cinni, Violet, Tina, and Babs rang the bell and held out their pillowcases.  The woman who answered the door bent down for a large pail of candy and gave each girl a 5th Avenue bar, 3 Musketeers, Tootsie Rolls, and Snickers bars.  Sparky was a little hungry when she saw all the candy they were getting just for putting on costumes and showing up at someone’s house.

GPC vintage


Ivan comes home to laundry strung through the apartment, the smell of chicken dumpling soup, baby cries, two strangers in his living room, and his fiancée lying unresponsive on the davenport, a cold compress on her forehead.

“Papa, I’m very hungry,” Tatyana announces. “Did you buy me candy after you left work?  I didn’t eat any lunch.”

In a daze, Ivan opens his metal lunchpail and hands her two Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews, with the wrappers open for her convenience. “Can someone care to explain to me what in the world happened today?”

Whitman's 1944


Yuriy turns into the first ice-cream parlor that appears and finds a green corner booth that almost matches his uniform.  He translates the menu for Inga, and she orders a sundae with chocolate ice-cream, hot fudge, cherries, and crushed candy bars, with an orange egg cream.  Yuriy orders a humbler strawberry ice-cream float.

Orange LS


Inside the theatre, Vsevolod gets Nadezhda a chocolate ice-cream soda with a cherry and whipped cream on top, and gets himself buttered, salted popcorn.  He wishes he could try all the candy on display to make up for twenty-six years of subsisting on reindeer meat, root vegetables, winter berries, and bread.

Horny Hump Day—Nadya and Pasha

Warning:  Not safe for work or appropriate for those under 18!

Welcome back to Horny Hump Day, a weekly hop where writers share three erotic sentences of a book or WIP. Last week I introduced one of my favorite couples from my Russian historicals, Pavel (Pasha) Teglyov and Nadezhda (Nadya) Lebedeva. They’ve been in love since they were teenagers, but theirs was no ordinary relationship.

The orphaned Nadya turned to prostitution after her uncle was taken away, figuring it wouldn’t be a big deal since her virginity had already been stolen from her. She became the top prostitute at the brothel run by Pasha’s sleazy benefactors, but eventually she and Pasha ran away. While Pasha was able to escape on the Estonian coast and go to America, Nadya was apprehended by her repugnant ex-boss and spent the next 12 years in Siberia.

Finally, in June 1933, at the age of thirty-one, they’ve gotten married. Nadya is looking forward to getting to know what it’s like to experience a loving sexual act for the first time in her life, and has just teased her new husband by asking if he’s just going to look at her all night.


He removes his suit as fast as he can without tearing it, deposits it on a chair, heads for the bed, and lustily takes his bride in his arms.  Nadézhda feels a sensation she’s never felt before as he touches her body for the first time, and as she gets acquainted with his body in return.  Now that she’s finally touching and being touched by the man she loves, the sensation is pleasant, exciting, electrical, arousing.


Horny Hump Day—Nadya and Pasha

My What’s Up Wednesday post is here.

Warning:  Not safe for work or appropriate for those under 18!

Welcome back to Horny Hump Day, a weekly hop where writers share three erotic sentences of a book or WIP. This week I’m introducing one of my favorite couples, whom I created when I was all of 16 years old and starting the second major phase of my first Russian historical. Nadezhda Lebedeva and Pavel Teglyov have been in love since they met as teenagers, and Pavel never cared that his girlfriend was the head prostitute in his benefactors’ brothel, nor that her innocence was stolen by the Bolsheviks who murdered her parents when she was fifteen.

They finally ran away and made their way to Estonia, hoping to sail to America, but they ended up at the wrong place in the wrong time. Nadya was discovered in Lyuba and Ivan’s place, and wasn’t fast enough to get away with Pasha. She was given ten years in Siberia for being a work-shirker, and then had two more years pasted on when she let it be known she’d been a prostitute.

In March 1933, she was released, and made her way to America with an unexpected friend. She initially believed Pasha’s phony wedding ring was real, but soon understood it was only to deter suitors and that he still loved only her. They rekindled their long-ago romance, and now, in June 1933, are finally married at age thirty-one. Like Lyuba and Ivan, it’s a pairing of a virginal man with a far from virginal woman, but he’s the only man she’s been with out of love.


Nadézhda wastes no time and immediately slips off her wedding dress, grateful she chose a loose-fitting style she didn’t need to be laced, hooked, corseted, or buttoned up into by several people.  When Pável walks into their new shared bedroom and sees her in just a slip, silk stockings, and a camisole, he turns into a giant smile.

“Are you just going to look all night?” she teases him.


Weekend Writing Warriors Inaugural Post—Movie Surprise

Though Six Sentence Sunday has come to a close, a new, similar Sunday bloghop has been created, Weekend Writing Warriors. This weekly hop requires eight sentences, and has already accrued some of the Six Sentence Sunday regulars for its first-ever week.

For the inaugural post, I’m sharing something from my current WIP, my third Russian historical novel. In Chapter 8, “San Francisco,” main character Lyuba’s stepcousin Nadezhda Lebedeva arrives in America with Vsevolod Smirnov, a man with a connection to her family. Nadezhda has been in Siberian prison camps for the last 12 years, and Vsevolod is from a small Siberian town, so American life in 1933 is full of constant surprises for them.

Nadezhda hasn’t seen a movie since 1917, and hasn’t lived in civilization since 1921. Several people have told her that she’s in for a surprise when she goes to the movies, but she doesn’t understand what that means until tonight. She and Vsevolod have gone to the new Mary Pickford movie Secrets at a grand movie palace, and Nadezhda is wondering where the orchestra pit is. Then the movie starts and she gets a big surprise.


Nadézhda sets her ice-cream soda on the drink slot in the arm rest as the credits come onto the screen.  Then something amazing happens.  After an opening sequence of a man riding a nineteenth century bicycle, the woman next to Mary Pickford opens her mouth and sounds come out.  Real sound, real words.  Then Mary Pickford also opens her mouth and speaks real words.  Nadézhda shrieks, her heart pounding.  The fact that Mary Pickford no longer has her famous long golden curls is less of a shock to her system than hearing people really talking in a movie.  She begins laughing in amazement and delight after she gets over her initial shock.