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Sarah Deckard

Sarah Deckard, Author of Journey

     Sarah Deckard has been writing stories and poems since she could first string words together. Her love of Medieval fantasy has led to an interest in Renaissance Faires, Medieval Times entertainment, and the S.C.A. She graduated summa cum laude from U.T.C. with a Bachelor's degree in English-Creative Writing. Her poems and short stories have been published over thirty times in magazines and anthologies. Miss Deckard has also published a compilation of short stories entitled Tapestry of Tales: Classic Fairy Tales Retold. Journey is the first in an e-book series called Rising from a Bower of Silk: Tales of Transformation authored by Sarah Deckard and published by Gypsy Shadows. She currently resides in Chattanooga, TN with her belovéd German Shepherds and Doberman Pinscher.

Please visit her website at www.sarahdeckard.com for more information as well as updates.
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New Title(s) from Sarah Deckard

Journey by Sarah Deckard Beauty Unveiled by Sarah Deckard First Blood/Breaking the Glass Slipper by Sarah Deckard

 

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Journey by Sarah Deckard





     Princess Victoria’s greatest joy is in Brendan, the prince whom she is to marry. However, she dotes on him so much that she loses her sense of self and this drives him away. Determined not to lose him and to rediscover herself, Victoria runs away from home.
     Disguised as a commoner, she learns lessons in self-reliance from a variety of people—her fairy guardian, a family of gypsies, a kind woodsman, a lonely ferryman, a baker-woman with a sad past, her daughter with an uncertain future, and a wise herbalist. Victoria grows in wisdom, will power, courage, and independence as she journeys. Still, the memory of her belovéd rises at time, testing her resolve. Is she developing her inner strength for herself or ironically because that’s what Brendan wants? Will she find her betrothed or perhaps someone else? Will she wander forever or find a place where she belongs?

                                                                                          
Excerpt
Word Count: 23,800
Pages to Print: 77
File Format: PDF
Price: $3.99
                                                                   
Read the In-House Review!
       


   
Beauty Unveiled by Sarah Deckard




Veronica was born with a hunched back, for which she is ostracized by other children. She grows up playing in her parents’ backyard with animals as her only companions. In adolescence, she breaks her leg. The doctor who attends her has a daughter, Elayne, who becomes friends with Veronica while she is healing. Over the years, Elayne and Veronica become best friends, although Veronica remains hidden from formal society. One day, Elayne gets an invitation to a royal masquerade that Veronica longs to go to. Elayne hatches a plan that will allow Veronica to come to the event in a disguise which hides her back and leg. That night Veronica meets a prince. But will he accept her for her true self when he discovers that she is not what she appears to be?

                                                                                                                          Excerpt
Word Count: 24000
Pages to Print: 75
File Format: PDF
Price: 3.99
 
    

   
First Blood/Breakiong the Glass Slipper by Sarah Deckard














Galina’s father disappeared years earlier while out hunting. Her mother and she are left poor and grieving. She is constantly teased by the village children. Her grandmother has been sick lately. Galina’s mother sends her into the woods to tend “Babushka.” On the path, she meets a hunter who says he is looking for wolves. Is this story beginning to sound familiar? Perhaps, but things are not always as they appear. This girl is cunning and brave. This hunter is an enemy. And though Babushka may turn out to be a wolf in disguise, this story will not turn out to be what is expected. Join Galina on her journey into a nightmare under the Blood God Moon and through the story’s twists to an unexpected ending in which her grandmother may save her far more than she will save her grandmother.

Everyone knows the story of Cinderella, at least the first half. Hear the rest of the tale as told by Mathilde, the fourteen year old daughter of Queen Arabella (a.k.a. Cinderella). She and her younger brother Seth have grown up witnessing their father abuse their mother both physically and emotionally. Over time, Seth starts to succumb to the same outbursts of cruelty he has internalized from watching his father. Princess Mathilde is desperate to stop the cycle of violence from being passed down to her brother—the future king. She sets in motion a desperate plan to save her broken family. And with a little help from a familiar fairy guardian, she just might succeed.

                                                                               Excerpt
Word Count: 10200
Pages to Print: 34
File Format: PDF
Price: $3.99
 
       

   
   

 



EXCERPTS

Journey
     Princess Victoria stood looking out the window of her bedroom high in the castle. Her eyes reflected the green of the deep forest upon which she gazed. A gentle rain began to fall.
     “Oh, I hope this rain doesn’t interfere with whatever plans my darling has made for us, today,” she said to Malinda, her lady-in-waiting.
     “I’m sure Prince Brendan will think of an alternative if that is the case,” replied Malinda, as she continued to brush Victoria’s long hair, which shone the golden-brown of a gryphon’s wing. “Perhaps you could suggest some activity?”
     Victoria wrinkled her nose. “Brendan doesn’t seem to like any of my ideas lately. So I just let him take the lead. You know how men are.” She shrugged and gave a little sigh. “Still, I wish he wouldn’t spend so much time outdoors. It’s always horse racing or hawking, fighting with one of a half-dozen weapons or wrestling in the courtyard with his companions. It’s never a dance or a tea or something we can do together.” She sighed again, this time with more longing.
     “You have no idea how tedious it is to watch the same events over and over. It’s not like the grand displays of pageantry at a tourney—the colorful banners, the knights in burnished armor, the mighty warhorses, the crowd cheering, Brendan with the best prowess on the battlefield ceremonially handing me the favor he has just won at a joust.”
     Her mind cast back to the days before her acceptance of Brendan’s proposal, before he had even come to live at the castle to press suit for her hand, before she had abandoned the simple as well as ornate pleasures of her life to become a mute spectator of all Brendan’s glorified but grubby daily pursuits.
     She remembered the first time she had seen Brendan in action. His armor gleamed in the sun—which had given its golden-tone to his skin as she would soon discover. The red plume crested his helm. His robust and fiery mount pawed the ground in anticipation of the first charge, while his tabard and trappings all gallantly presented his royal coat-of-arms. She noted his superior strength during the first few rounds of the joust. But her heart had not yet fluttered. For, he had not yet taken off his helmet, letting loose his flowing hair—the same golden-brown as her own—revealing the broad forehead and strong jaw line she had come to know so well. He had not yet turned his autumn-hued hazel glance in her direction. Nor had he smiled in that fetching manner to see her in all her finery, with her skin glowing like moonlight on silver maple trees and her calm face sparkling with delight upon seeing his countenance.
     Ah, but then . . . He had turned his high-stepping warhorse in her direction. Lowering his lance—tipped with the laurels won from the joust—to the level of her royal seat among the spectators, he offered Victoria his winnings with which to wreathe herself. All this before he had even discovered her name. He would later tell her that her smile had captivated him, drawing him to her, out of all the beautiful maidens and noble ladies at the tournament.
     “You were a pearl among the lovely seashells,” he had told her with his off-handed but gallant flair. “And though shells upon the beach may be charming, the rare gem is far more alluring with it subtle sheen than even the most lively colored casings that house no pearls.”
     Victoria reined in her thoughts to the present. How long had it been since he had given her such a winning compliment? The days seemed to grind by slowly without her usual pastimes of embroidery, weaving, teatime with friends, playing the psaltery, giggling with her ladies over feminine pleasures, or the rarer amusements of grand feasts and fabulous dances. These leisurely pursuits had all ceased in the wake of Prince Brendan. Not at first, of course. Rather, they had slowly evaporated from Victoria’s life as she invested more and more of her time and energy in her lover.
     Victoria was startled out of her reverie by Malinda’s voice. “I understand you must get bored of the daily activities of men, but your love for Prince Brendan is so touching. Only true love could engender such devotion on your part. I know I could not endure watching the man I love rolling with his fellow knights on the greensward getting dusty and sweaty each day. I have to retreat to my feminine diversions, but not you. You and the prince are practically inseparable. Everyone in the castle thinks you two are the perfect couple and we can’t wait for wedding.”
     The princess heard Malinda’s words. They confirmed for her that what she gave up to be near Brendan was not only worth her boredom, but also was the proper way to reverence her future husband and lord. She thought of how he had kissed her the day she had accepted his proposal. Not the exhilarating kiss they shared only moments after she had said yes, but the one later that evening at the celebration. The long tables were laden with roasted meats, tangy cheeses, and succulent fruits. The heady wine flowed copiously from pitchers to goblets to the mouths of the numerous guests assembled for her father’s official betrothal announcement.
     After the king had spoken, Brendan had offered a toast to his future bride. He took Victoria’s hand and she rose with him. He raised his goblet with the carelessness of a man well on his way to inebriation. A mouthful of dark red wine swished over the rim and splashed against the lace neckline of her pale beige evening dress. Victoria turned more towards Brendan to hide the spreading stain, though no one seemed to notice as the entire hall cheered the couple.
     Just when Victoria was about to sit down again and try to discreetly soak up the stain with a napkin, Brendan had grabbed her around her waist and pulled her to him for a full-mouthed, if besotted, kiss. There in the great hall, in front of her parents and her sisters, his knights and their squires, as well as an array of guests, Brendan kissed her unabashedly. Her surprised resistance faded along with the new-sprung blush on her cheeks. She found herself forgetting the dress and the spilled wine as her heart palpitated with the greatness of her love for him. She thought, “Well, a stained gown is only a small thing, even one as fine as this. I have plenty of dresses but only one true love. Besides, he didn’t spill wine on me intentionally. He was just caught up in the moment, in the thought of us, in his love for me.”
     Ever since that day, Victoria had rationalized away each part of herself that she gave up for Brendan’s sake in the same manner she had done with the stained dress. It was for him, for love, even if it was no longer for her too.
     Victoria remembered one clear morning in late spring. At breakfast, she had voiced a grand idea. “I am planning a banquet. Do you think we should serve rose pudding or Lombard slices for desert? I’ve put a lot of thought into possible decorations but I waited for your opinion.”
     Brendan stifled a yawn. “I am not the expert on banquets, which I find to be a frivolous sort of amusement. However, if you want to have a banquet, make the arrangements and I will attend.”
     Victoria lowered her head and sighed. Brendan didn’t seem to notice her disappointment. Instead, he bowed and took his leave. She did not even have to ask; he was headed for the lists. Victoria sat alone in their private breakfast alcove next to the window overlooking the gardens, gazing at the flowers blooming in rows of variegated gay colors. “Then why,” she wondered, “despite this picturesque view, does my heart feel so withered?”     Back to Journey
 
Beauty Unveiled
The midwife handed the newborn to her mother, whispering to the exhausted woman, “It’s a girl.” The new mother glowed as she held her little girl for the first time.

The moment was serene, for the child had stopped sobbing and had begun to snuggle into the warmth she instinctively knew was “Mother.”

Not long after, “Father” was called in to see his newborn. He wiped his wife’s moist brow with a cool washcloth, and then kissed her on the forehead. She smiled up at him from where she lay and held out the small bundle for him to hold. He gently took the baby into his arms, beginning to rock her in a soothing motion. He cooed to her and kissed her.

After a few minutes, the midwife said, “That’s enough for now, my lord. Both child and mother need some rest.”

Reluctantly, the new father handed his first born child back to her mother. He lingered for a moment by his wife’s side and was promptly shooed out by the midwife.

As he passed through the bedroom door, the midwife followed him. She shut the door behind her.

“Master,” she said. “There is something you need to be told. Your baby’s back isn’t formed properly. I may be mistaken. However, she seems to be curled too tightly and there is a large lump on her back. I’m not a doctor, but you will want to consult a physician soon. I didn’t want to say anything in front of the mistress that might worry her. She needs to rest. Still, I am concerned about the baby.” The midwife wrung her hands and began to wipe at her eyes with her kerchief.

“Don’t fret,” Father said, though his voice quavered. “I will send tomorrow for the best doctor I can find. I must be sure my little one is healthy.”

The next day, a specialist in childhood ailments was brought in. He inspected the baby with thorough care. After the examination, he turned to the new parents. His face betrayed his concerned.

“She has not formed properly,” he said in a dull tone. “Her back will never be straight. There is nothing I can do. She will grow up to be a hunchback. And there may be other problems internally. Although her heart and lungs sound fine, it is difficult to tell if any other parts of her are malformed and could cause problems later.”

“What complications will arise from her back problems?” Father swallowed hard.

“Well, she may be in pain most of the time, but perhaps not. The more she tries to sit or stand straight when she is older, the more painful it will be for her. However, with her back bent, her weight will be thrown forward. This imbalance may cause difficulties in learning to walk and, after that, in walking normally. She will probably shuffle when she walks.”

Father sighed and Mother began to weep as they thought of the future obstacles their child would face.

The doctor added some consolation. “Then again, she will have dealt with this burden from birth so she may compensate naturally, without knowing any other way to be. As I said, her heart and lungs are strong. She may not have any other complications than this.”

“Don’t you think this is enough?” asked Father, near to tears. “How do you think this will affect her socially? Children can be cruel. Then, when she is a young woman . . . Friends, suitors, a future with children of her own? Are these all beyond her sphere? Is she fated to be denied a normal life from the moment she is born?”

“I cannot foresee her life’s course. You have mentioned significant concerns. The best you can do is to love her and try to shelter her from the callousness of the world. I’m sorry. I wish I could do more, but this is a birth defect. It cannot be altered by medicine.”

After the doctor left, Father held his grieving wife in an attempt to console her.

Together, they worried about complications in their daughter’s health, discussing the hindrances she must overcome and the future struggles she would have to endure.

Finally, Mother said, “I’ve thought about it; I think we should name her Veronica because it means true image. I hope people will be able to see past her physical form to the true image of her beautiful spirit.”

“That’s perfect,” Father replied. He hugged his wife and kissed baby Veronica.

Silence filled the room, but it was not a comfortable feeling. Instead, troubled ghosts of thought furrowed the brows of the couple. Fears, both named and unforeseen, rustled about in their heads. Time hovered, heavy with foreboding.

“I don’t want to have another baby after Veronica,” Mother finally spoke. Her lips were drawn and her eyes misted with pain. “I’m afraid. What if the next child has similar problems?” She swallowed, “Or, worse yet, doesn’t survive because he or she hasn’t formed completely. I couldn’t bear that. My heart is already breaking for Veronica’s condition. But to lose a baby . . .” Mother covered her face with her hand. She began sobbing again.

“I understand,” said Father in a pinched voice. “Our future will be hard enough. I support your decision. Don’t worry, my dear. We’ll provide Veronica with a safe and loving home. She will have special needs that we’ll have more time to attend to if we don’t have other children to care for.” The tones of justification were in his voice.

The couple had originally planned on having several children but life has a way of interfering with dreams.
Back to Beauty Unveiled
 
First Blood/Breaking the Glass Slipper

                                                                First Blood

The girls in the village used to call me Chucha Krásniy, or Little Red as a joke because I always wore the same burgundy woolen cloak.

“It’s red like blood,” they said. “Did you bleed on it?” Then they’d all laughed, though I didn’t know why.

“No,” I told them. “My mother made the dye for me because red is the color I like best.”

True, my cloak was old and had dark stains which wouldn’t wash out because I had worn it so often. It was my only cloak, which showed how poor Mama and I were. Ever since Papa went out to hunt last winter and never came home, we had not had enough to eat. So there was no money for a new cloak.

My face felt hot. I thought the other children found it funny that I couldn’t afford new clothes. They must have thought because I was poor I was dirty, too. So I said, “I have never bled on any of my clothes.”

“Never bled, never bled,” they chanted.

And sometimes one of the older girls would snicker. “Well, you will soon.”

Then they all scattered like a flock of geese as I charged into them, my hands in fists, saying, “I’ll make you bleed first. You see if I don’t.”

When this first happened, I went home to my mother and told her what the other girls had said. I asked her why they were so cruel to me. “Don’t the poor deserve kindness like everyone else?”

Mama’s face scrunched up like it does when I come home covered in pine needles and mud stains. I thought she was going to yell at me, but she continued to stir the soup without saying anything for many moments.

Then she told me, “The children are not laughing because your clothes are old.” Her voice was serious and a little sad. She did not go on.

So I asked, “Then why do they ask if I bleed on my clothes?”

“Because women bleed,” she said, her voice hard and sharp like the edge of a knife. She looked into the steam as if she saw something far away there.

I asked her what she meant.

“Galina,” she said, her voice soft as wool now. “When you become a woman, you will understand. But you are only ten now and can still afford to be a child. Don’t listen to what the older girls say. There is more than one way a person can bleed. Go play now. You will find out what kind of blood they mean in time.”

As I left the cottage, I knew she was thinking about Papa, because I was. Our hearts bled; he was gone forever. After I had closed the door, I could hear my mama crying inside. I went into the woods to sit alone and think about what she had said.

*****
That happened three years ago. Now I knew what kind of blood the other girls meant. But I still had not bled the woman’s blood. Mother said it was getting to be past time for me to have it. Yet I could not bring it on, any more than I could stop the bleeding in my heart for my father’s loss and for my mother’s sorrow. I still had the red cloak, which the children teased me about. My body was small for my age so the cloak fit, even though it was too short to look proper. It had become very stained by then, and worn through in places. We couldn’t afford extra fabric to make patches to cover the holes. Nor did we have old clothes we could spare to cut into patches.

So I wore my old cloak to spread seeds for the geese and gather their eggs. When I slopped our hog, the muck of it sloshed onto my now brownish-red cloak, which was covered in bits of fur from tending our goats. Dirt stains came from sitting on the ground, weeding our little garden. And, as always, little threads got pulled and balled up from blackberry thorns and pine bark as I gathered the fruits and nuts among them.

For almost a month, I had been visiting my babushka, who lived in the woods a half day’s travel from the village. She had been sick with some mysterious illness. My mother charged me with her care. So I took her herbs, eggs, goat cheese, and milk. I couldn’t tell exactly what was wrong with her, and she would not say. But she felt warm to the touch and she acted different. She asked me each time I visited to bring her meat, even though she knew Mama couldn’t afford any. Babushka told me to slaughter the sow; but she was to give birth soon. It wasn’t yet autumn—the time to butcher the suckling pigs and cure their meat for the winter. Babushka had eaten her own geese already, as well as her goat. I wondered how she would have any eggs or milk besides what I brought her. She was almost too old, and certainly too sick, to go out in the woods and hunt for wild carrots, leeks, pine nuts, and other plants to eat. I worried for her.

She also talked of Papa.

“Viktor,” she said, “he hunts deer, rabbit, squirrel, sometimes even bear. But it is no good, not enough. I need more meat, sweet Galina, to keep up my strength.”
 
Back to First Blood/Breaking the Glass Slipper
 
 
 
 


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