Chapter One -Jaclyn and the Beanstalk

Hi everyone!

We’re getting close to the release date of Jaclyn and the Beanstalk. Release date: 9/4/2018. I can’t wait for you to read Jaclyn.

This book was the most difficult book I had written to date. Doing research on old language took a bit of my time, and it was not easy to write. But I was determined to make it work, especially when I felt the story should be based on the 16th century. Below is a teaser from Jaclyn and the Beanstalk. Please excuse the format. Enjoy!

Three things you need to know about Jaclyn and the Beanstalk.
1. It’s been optioned by Boilermaker Entertainment.
2. You can pre-order the paperback. Ebook will be on SALE on release day September 4th. Publisher: Vesuvian Media Group
3. You can order signed ISAN and Jaclyn on this link: https://bit.ly/2O52x9L  (Limited offer)

 

Jaclyn and the Beanstalk

By Mary Ting

Chapter 1

Sixteenth Century

Shrieks rent the peaceful night. I bolted upright and gulped air as if I had been under water too long. My heart raced as a white, ghost-like mist escaped my panting mouth. Despite the chill, sweat trickled down my forehead and dampened my back, causing the fabric of my chemise to stick.

I squinted through the darkness; moonlight faintly illuminated the storage chest and a nub of a candle was atop the plain table. In my room—safe. But my heart did not slow, for the cries still echoed in my mind.

Please, go away. Go away.

My head—a pounding mess.

Curling into a ball and covering my ears, I hummed a tune Mother used to sing. The song always had a way of comforting me, but it never made the noise go away.

Thinking the devil waited for me to lose my mind, to seize my soul, I whispered the Lord’s Prayer. “…And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

As the noises faded, I released my knees. Exhaustion consumed me and I found sleep once more.

“Rise, Jaclyn,” Father hollered from the kitchen. “Time for your lesson.”

No, no, no.

I squirmed lower under my coverlet and yawned.

Bodies shuffled and thumped in other rooms. Rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I shivered as frosty air pricked my bones. Outside my window, the sun glowed molten-gold through the cluster of gray clouds.

Perhaps the night before had been a dream. Can one dream the same dream for months on end?

I swept the night’s occurrences to the back of my mind and pulled the bedclothes tighter. I shut my eyes against the light kissing my cheeks and thought only of rest until my chamber door creaked open.

The mattress shifted.

“Father.” I flailed my arms and kicked uncontrollably, laughing and slapping his hands as he tickled my sides. “Cease, cease. I’m awake.”

I sat up and clutched the coverlet, wishing to be honest with him about the nightmares. Swallowing the words, I gave him a sheepish smile. He had a belly full of worries and I did not wish to add mine. I would not have him think the devil damned my soul; Father’s belief would make it true.

He’d aged right before my eyes. Even his garments—dark breeches and a forest-green tunic—drooped wearily, and his muddy black boots had cracked. Father’s thick eyelashes touched his ruddy face when he looked down. His rough hands, callused and dirty from labor, cradled his favorite tatty, brown hat, and he poked his finger through a hole in the top.

“Are you well, Daughter?” The skin around his nut-brown eyes crinkled with concern, and his forehead creased.

No. I hear monsters at night. Something is wrong with your daughter.

“Yes.” I disliked keeping the truth from him. “A little unwell, perhaps.”

I smiled when the aroma of fresh baked bread wafted through the door, but cringed at the sight of rat droppings on the white linens—gifts from vermin in the thatch that had fallen from the roof.

Father raised his chin and wiggled his nose. “Generous this time, were they not?” He chuckled. “They left none for me last night.”

I cursed under my breath, frowning. “They left me plenty.”

“You’re late abed this morning.” Father rubbed his jaw, and pushed his fingers through the white streaks by his temple before placing the hat on his dark head. “Do you want to pass this morning?”

Closing my eyes, I wished my lassitude away. “Nay. I need to dress first.” I plucked at my white chemise.

“Certainly. Clothe yourself and eat some of your mother’s bread. I’ll be tending to the horses.” He ruffled my hair and shut the door behind him.

Determined to begin the day afresh and forget the previous night, I took out a boy’s breeches and tunic from my chest. Mother had frowned when I wore them at first, but ceased when she grew tired of mending gowns.

Father had been training me to use a sword and other weapons, so I had no choice but to dress accordingly. Our only neighbors were hills and forest—no townspeople to scandalize.

Hunger pangs grew as I opened my chamber door. Just before I closed it behind me, I glanced about. I had smoothed the coverlet, shut the chest, and ensured nothing lay on the dirt floor. The small chamber left no room for a mess.

“You’re awake at last.”

Mother’s smile and sky-blue eyes warmed me better than the fire under the big kettle.

I smiled back. “Good morning, Mother. Thank you for the delicious meal I’m about to eat.”

A tankard of milk and a wooden trencher bearing a piece of bread with sweet butter had been set on the table. After I said grace, Mother tugged at my long, brown hair as I devoured my meal.

“You’re sixteen and you can’t even comb your own hair. What if a suitor comes to call? You should at least appear presentable.”

Mother yanked back my bushy hair and worked it over with my favorite brush. I’d had it since I was a baby and always loved the vine carvings on the handle.

“I shall tie it up.” I paused to swallow a bit of crust. “And I don’t want a suitor, even if one happened to wander into the hills.”

Mother did not reply. I winced and yelped quietly as she pulled and twisted my hair, determined to produce a miracle. She captured two tight braids and secured them atop my head. Not a strand of hair strayed out of place, but the cool air tickled my bare nape.

“There.” She set her eyes on mine. “Beautiful. You can wear a brown sack if you choose, but your face Jaclyn, is a thing of beauty. You’ve got regular features, thank goodness, nothing like your father’s crooked nose. And if I did not know you, I’d swear you’d painted those lips rosy. I’ve always said give me a pair of handsome brown eyes over flighty blue any day. You’re living proof.”

I shrugged away her compliments. “You’re my mother. You’re supposed to tell me lies to make me feel better.” I turned away and bit off a hunk of bread.

“Nonsense.”

Mother huffed and tended to the pot hanging over the fire. Stone by stone, Father had built the fireplace many years past.

I rose. “Shall I help you?”

“Nay, finish your meal. Father awaits.” She stirred the previous night’s stew with a long wooden spoon.

I sat back down and ran my finger along the ridges of the wooden table, also Father’s handiwork. “When will we visit town? I miss the market.”

I swallowed my milk after finishing the delicious bread. I wanted to ask for more, but with winter approaching, I kept my lips sealed.

Mother picked up a spoon from a washbasin and wiped it on the fabric around her thin waist. “Do not change the subject of our talk.”

“I am not, Mother.” I frowned and stood next to her as she dried another spoon.

Mother crinkled her nose. “Don’t fret. You’re of marriageable age now. We must think of finding you a husband or your time will pass. I’m only thinking of your future, Jaclyn. I want to see you settled soon. Your father and I are not getting younger.”

“Getting married and bearing children is not for me. There’s much work to be done.”

I slipped my arms around her waist and pressed my head to her back. I inhaled deeply as warmth enveloped me and her love replaced the fright from my nightmares.

Safe. I am safe. No monsters.

“Our life is good here. Why would I want to fix what is not broken?”

“’Tis what we do. People will talk.”

“Let them.”

I scowled, anger boiling through my veins. I tended to not raise my voice, so I softened my tone out of respect.

“I will not be handed to a suitor I do not love.”

Mother patted my arm. “My child, you have much to learn. Love comes later. I did not love your father at first.”

“I will not follow other people’s ways.” Pouting, I shuffled my feet on the dirt.

She released a deep sigh. “Oh, Jaclyn. Your time will come. Everyone has a destiny. Everyone has a story to tell. Some more than others. We shall see what lies ahead for you. Fate will lead you to the path you are meant to take.”

I wished I had eyes for the future. I wanted to know a demon would not seize my soul, and I wanted to see a path without the nighttime cries. They must be monsters. I’d never heard a human throat make such tortured sounds.

What fate awaits a girl who hears monsters at night?

Illness swept through my stomach. A shudder racked me, beginning in my gut, forewarning me.

 

Thank you for your time,

Mary Ting

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