I am working on a suffrage talk with a colleague, on protest and art, because here in NZ this month we celebrate 125 years since women won the right to vote.
The research has been great fun, delving into the writings of the early feminists, although suffrage isn't the only topic. It covers anti-apartheid tours, anti-nuclear, gender equality, and even dress reform from the early 1900s. Check out this link from Heritage Images, of a fabulous photo of a dress reform wedding, and you'll see what I mean.
On to the romance... I have been struggling a bit with The Heart of Matthew McLeod, but am hoping - hope is such an odd thing, I've concluded - to have it out next month. I'm pretty pleased with it and even more so, to be back in Frazier Bay. Here's an excerpt. It is still a work in progress and may change but for now... Enjoy.
The fire alarm sounded as Alexandra Fuller was a whisker away from making a fool of herself in front of pre-schoolers and their parents.
She was equally wary of both.
She took off the gold princess crown, shrugged out of the white fairy wings and stood up from the pink beanbag. The children were still waiting for storytime to begin. In spite of the volume of the alarm, the adults were only just beginning to look up from their phones.
“Where’s the fire?” one asked.
Alex set the books on the beanbag. “I can’t say.” It was probably a drill. “But we may need to leave the building. There’ll be a message on the loud speaker if we do. It would pay to get ready to leave, now.”
“No!” A scream came from one of the children as she ran up and wrapped her arms around Alex’s leg. “I want a story from the fairy princess.”
“I – um.” She stared down at the girl’s ginger hair. Should she untangle the child? Would the mother come and rescue them both? The mother, Alex noted, was settling an even younger child into a pushchair.
“The real princess,” Alex began stiltedly, “I mean the other princess, will be back next week. She’s got sick today, so she couldn’t be here and I’m just the temporary storytime princess. I mean, the storytime fairy.” What she actually was, she hadn’t been sure. Apparently the role was fluid. She patted the little girl’s head in short, uncomfortable movements. “You can come back next week when the real – the other – princess fairy is here.”
The tone of the alarm changed as the pre-recorded message announced it was time to evacuate the building, and Alex’s shoulders slumped with relief. Finally.
The mother reached for her daughter’s hand. “Come on, Ava, say goodbye to the fairy princess, we’ll come back another time.” Between protests and sobs, she was dis-entangled from Alex’s leg and ushered down towards the main entrance where staff were shepherding the crowd out.
For a small town like Kingston Falls, it had been a crazy, busy morning in the library.
For a small town librarian, whose job title said nothing about being a storytime princess, Alex had to wonder what on earth she’d been thinking? She made a quick scan of the area, gestured for a student at the table to leave immediately. What had she, of all people, been thinking, volunteering to do that?
You’re a walk-over, that’s why. She shepherded more people out, noted there was a backlog at the main entrance where two pushchairs had collided and books had gone flying. She could deny it all she liked, but this, right here, was a prime example of someone who should learn to say no occasionally.
A hand touched her shoulder. “Excuse me?”
“Sorry but you need to leave the building.” She gestured vaguely to the ceiling where the message sounded above the siren, and turned to the man. “We have to--”
Her voice stopped as she stared into the eyes, brown black eyes, of a man she’d met before. It took just a couple of seconds before she put a name to the face.
“I’m not leaving." Desperation shimmered in his voice. "I’m missing a child.”