The Floating Palace~ (Book One)
ELLIE DUNKLING’S life long dream has been to work on one of Lake Champlain’s steamboat, the Ticonderoga. There’s only one problem. Men, not women, are hired to work on ships. Ellie, however is determined to change that. After all, it is 1923 and far from the dark-ages.
Captain PHILIP LAWHORN is a man’s man. When Champlain Transportation Inc. informs him a woman has been hired to work on his ship as stewardess, he’s anything but pleased. First, he doesn’t appreciate the fact someone’s hired on his twenty-eight-member crew without his knowledge. Secondly, how is he supposed to handle this company mandated—sure to be—disaster?
"Excuse me, captain?"
Philip whirled on his heel. A petite woman with a creamy complexion stared at him with wide, hazel eyes. "Yes?" The lady hesitated then put one foot into his room. She held out a gloved hand, which he took automatically. No matter how glad he might be for a distraction, passengers weren't supposed to be in his quarters. He made a mental note to have a word with his crew later. For now, he had to find an inoffensive way to get rid of this interloper.
"What can I do for you, miss?"
She withdrew her hand and lifted her chin. Determination sparked in her eyes, and Philip hoped what he'd heard about redheads wasn't true. The last thing he needed right now was a hot-tempered, stubborn woman -- however beautiful she may be -- to upset things even more. He took a step closer and held out his elbow. "Let me escort you back to the purser's desk to find someone to help you locate your stateroom."
The woman frowned as if he spoke a different language. Finally, she smiled. Her whole face radiated warmth that enveloped him. "I don't think you understand. I'm Ellie Dunkling, your new stewardess."
"My... my what?" So much for distracting him, she was the distraction.
He cut her off with a wave of his hand. "I heard you, but I don't agree." He wheezed, "You are not a steward."
Her arched brows drew together. "There must be some misunderstanding. Mr. Trembley said you were expecting me."
Expecting her? Not hardly.
"Lady." He shook his head. "You have no idea." The situation was so ludicrous he was tempted to pinch himself. However, the only thing he was sure to wind up with was a bruise for his efforts. Before him stood an elegant woman in a long, drop-waist garment, insisting she had a place of employment... here.
If there had to be a stewardess, shouldn't it be a frumpy, gray-haired spinster with thick round glasses and a substantial waistline? At least then he wouldn't feel as uncomfortable about the dirty, difficult responsibilities she would need to carry. Nor would he have half the worry over the reputation of his crew and boat, or even the state of his heart for that matter.
Special Surprise from the Author:
If a reader posts a link to Facebook, Twitter, or their own web-page back to this post about THE FLOATING PALACE, they will be entered to win a $10.00 Visa gift card. Winner will be drawn 8/20/11.
A bit about the journey of writing this story~
If I've learned anything through the journey of writing it's that like in life, you never know what (or who) God will use. A few years ago, my husband's family came up for a visit and we went to the Shelburne museum for the first time. As soon as I stepped aboard the S. S. Ticonderoga, I fell in love with it. One fact totally captured my imagination. In 1923, the first female stewardess was hired. It didn't take long for seeds to be planted for The Floating Palace. (Book One of a three part series.)
Fast forward a few months...
Our family was invited to dinner at the a home of a couple in our church. I don't even think they realize what a blessing this was for me. We went downstairs to see some of their "toys" when a box caught my eye. Bob, the fellow said someone in the family had given it to him, it was a treasure chest of information about... can you guess? Yup, the Ticonderoga and 1923. He let me take this box home and I was able to look through headlines of newspapers and such. That box was like an energy drink for my story. It helped me get a clearer picture of the life and times.
Guess what else I discovered about 1923? Betti Dunkling, also a member of our church, was born this year. When I first started asking her questions about what she might know of this time period, I didn't realize this was the year of her birth. Isn't it just like God to give us sweet surprises like that? In honor of Betti, I used a derivative of her name, Ellie Dunkling. Betti is such a remarkable woman and tremendous role model for me. Although her life experiences varied greatly from the main charter in The Floating Palace, they both share the same spunk. With Betti's help, the rest of the cast was set in motion as I asked her what names were popular in Vermont when she was a girl. After our visit, I sat down with the list and chose the names according to the role they played in the story. It's a special memory for me and I enjoyed working with her on this project.
God's hand has guiding this story since the very beginning. I'm praying that He would continue to do so to accomplish His great purposes... in my life and in the lives of others.
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