Welcome to Fiction Friday, my opportunity each week to post an excerpt from one of my books or those of my friends and colleagues.
Today’s excerpt is from Under A Blackberry Moon by Serena Miller. Serena is one of my brainstorming buddies, and the author of both contemporary and historical fiction. Her first novel, Love Finds You at Sugar Creek, was recently made into a TV movie, so stay tuned for dates and times.
The Measure of Katie Calloway, the first in the series in which Under A Blackberry Moon appears, won the Romance Writers of America RITA in 2012. An Uncommon Grace, the second in the series, won the Carol award from American Christian Fiction Writers. All three books are still available.
In Serena’s own words, here’s an introduction to the series. Enjoy a trip back in time.
In my 1867 historical, The Measure of Katie Calloway, a Michigan lumber camp cook saves Moon Song, a widowed young Ojibwe woman and her newborn baby. In Under A Blackberry Moon, one of the lumberjacks, a man nicknamed Skypilot, volunteers to accompany Moon Song and her baby back to her people in the far north. In the following excerpt, Delia, an old prostitute from Bay City who has befriended Moon Song, is bringing her a parting gift (a lovely new deerskin outfit to replace the “white woman” clothing Moon Song has had to wear) just as their steamship is preparing to leave.
“It looks like Delia brought you something,” Skypilot said.
Moon Song and Skypilot started moving toward the gangplank while Delia elbowed her way through the crowd on the shore trying to get closer to the ship. Delia had dressed for the occasion, wearing what Moon Song thought of as the older woman’s war-paint. Rouged cheeks, darkened eyes, bright red lips, a bottle-green silk dress that shone in the sun. She even wore a matching hat with a green plume that rose into the air adding another six inches to her height.
Delia was a parade, even when she was alone.
Moon Song couldn’t help but notice the looks that the former brothel-owner was getting. Disapproving glances by from both men and women. It was obvious that even as rough a city as Bay City was, it still wasn’t uncivilized enough to tolerate a woman like Delia out and about in broad daylight.
The old woman apparently could have cared less. The woman was on a mission.
Moon Song discovered what that mission was the minute they met on the gangplank and Delia clasped her to her powdered bosom.
“This just arrived,” Delia shoved a bundle at her. “It’s for you. I’d been having it made as a surprise, but then you decided to leave so quickly. I hired an Ojibwe woman I know to make it for you.”
“What is it?”
“That would spoil the surprise. Don’t open it until you’re back in your room.”
“We need to take this gangplank up, ma’am, we’re leaving,” a crew member said. “Right now.”
There was another steam whistle blast. Moon Song jumped, and little Ayasha once again started crying.
“Don’t worry,” Delia seemed unperturbed. “They’re not going to just go off and dump us in the lake.”
Moon Song wasn’t so sure.
“If there is one thing I’ve learned down through the years.” Delia patted Moon Song’s cheek. “Listen to me now, child, I’m trying to tell you something important…it is that a woman doesn’t get anywhere in this world by trying to act like she’s something she’s not. About the only thing you get from that is sad. Don’t you ever apologize for who you are, and don’t ever, ever, let other people tell you who or what they think you ought to be. Do you hear me?”
Moon Song nodded.
Delia blew Skypilot a kiss, and took her time sashaying down the gangplank, ignoring the scowls from the bystanders.
Moon Song glanced up at Skypilot and saw that he was grinning as he watched Delia disembark.
“If the Confederate Army had possessed half the brass of that one old woman,” he said. “I think they might have won the war.”