A Challenge


Well, let's see if I can get a feel for how many people are really out there. Hmmm...

I am working on my fifth book. It is not a part of the Jonas Watcher Detective Adventure, although the fifth book in that series is in the works. I am introducing a new series called "In Her Majesty's Service". The first book is called "M'Lady's Gentleman". It is an Agatha Wingate Spy Adventure.

The series takes place in the nineteenth century in England.

I am providing the prologue for the book below. The stories will have some historical value but they are fiction. What I need is to find a cover artist who will also provide black and white illustrations. My budget is $150 per book. I need a cover and 6 to 8 B/W illustrations. I have the basic wording for the cover and I have shown here. I am open to change suggestions. I am looking to do six short novels this year in this series and each will have a cover and illustrations. I am looking for a sample of work in a portfolio or it can be emailed to me at gene.poschman@jonaswatcher.com.

Anyone interested in the Jonas Watcher Detective Adventure Series ClickHere

M'Lady's Gentleman


Prologue:

     Victoria stood in the curtained alcove of her sitting room, looking out the window towards the courtyard and waited for her guests to arrive.
     Two days before her uncle had died making her Queen of England. Her sitting room had become an informal meeting room. Various ministers and government officials were stopping by to pay their respects and hoping to make enough of an impression that her Majesty, that she would remember them and perhaps favor their positions in some small way. I've just turned eighteen, she thought, and suddenly I have all this power to make men's careers or fortunes. This is ridiculous! A knock at the door brought her out of her thoughts.

Thank God for Lord Melbourne.     
     He had been at the ready for the onslaught of ministers and members of Parliament who had to see her. He set up a schedule that gave Victoria time to learn deal with the political side of being Queen.
      Victoria took a deep breath and entered her sitting room. She sat down in a red velvet rosewood Chippendale wingback chair and took as regal a pose as an eighteen-year-old girl.
     “Enter,” said Victoria.
     She knew she was seeing Lord Melbourne and the minister of Domestic and Foreign Affairs.
     An odd title for a government agency, she thought. I wonder whose affairs they handle? She smiled and then she admonished herself to be more serious.
     The First Footman entered and stood at the door.
     “Lord Melbourne has arrived with two guests seeking an audience, your Majesty,” he said.
     Two men and a woman entered Victoria's Reception Area.
     Victoria was grateful for the comfortable ambiance of her sitting room. It tended to reduce formality and made these meetings move more quickly. Of course, there would be formal introductions at a later time with all the pomp and circumstance that they warranted. These meetings were to acquaint the young Queen with the players in England's government in a more relaxed environment.
     Lord Melbourne was an imposing man in formal attire. Though not quite an elder statesman gray hair lightly peppered his hair and sideburns. The rest of his face was cleanly shaven. His features were not chiseled but worn upon a kind countenance. He had not become fat on government service as so many she had met had.
     The second man was not as tall Lord Melbourne; he was slimmer and seemed nondescript by comparison. He was clean-shaven, auburn headed, and pleasant looking. He was a younger man and his features were proudly Saxon. He could be a banker or an office worker. Victoria had the feeling that if she saw him again she would not recognize him. His movements were simple but deliberate. His smile was warm and friendly but she had the feeling she would definitely want him as a friend rather than an enemy.
     The woman was dressed simply. She was not wearing any of the undergarments meant to conceal her shape. Victoria recognized the dress from an upscale salon indicating she had some station. From her broad-brimmed hung a veil and while it didn't totally hide her countenance anyone who had seen her in the palace would be hard pressed to recognize her again. A fact that did not escape Victoria's notice.
     Lord Melbourne looked at the footman and he retreated closing the door. Melbourne moved to the door and listened. Victoria started to speak. The Lord held up his hand. Only he would dare to do so.
     “My apologies, your Majesty,” he said.
     There was a slight disturbance outside; Melbourne smiled, nodded and walked to where Victoria was sitting. Victoria raised her eyebrows looking for an explanation.
     While a number of these meetings will be inconsequential, since your Majesty will be formally introduced to the various Ministers, Lords, and MPs in full pomp and circumstance, Sir Alfred Stately will not be there,” he said.
     “Your Majesty,” said Alfred.
     “Don't you like ceremony, Sir Alfred?” the Queen asked.
     “It isn't a matter of what I like your Majesty, but for me to be effective I must remain as anonymous as possible. That is why I may only visit you privately and only at yours or Lord Melbourne's request.”
     The young queen cocked her head for clarification.
     “I am the head of your...” Alfred looked to Melbourne for the appropriate terminology.
     “He is the head of an information gathering agency on behalf of your Majesty,” Melbourne said.
     “You're a spy!” said Victoria with interest.
     “I am the head of the agency,” Sir Alfred corrected. “The young woman with me is a spy.”
     Victoria looked at the woman in earnest. The veil continued to conceal her identity.
     “Is she to remain anonymous also? Then why bring her?” Victoria asked.
     Lord Melbourne indicated for the woman to pull back her veil.
     Sir Alfred cleared his throat, “Lady Agatha Wingate may I present you to the Queen of England Alexandrina Victoria...”
     “Just Victoria,” said the Queen.
     Lord Melbourne paused and said, “As you wish your Majesty.”
     Victoria raised her eyebrows and smiled slightly.
     Agatha curtsied with a modest flair and Victoria nodded.
     “Your Majesty,” she said.
     Lady Agatha was fair skinned, dark hair, green eyes. Her dress was a loose fabric that gave the young woman easy movement and she didn't need any structural undergarments. She smiled modestly and was at ease in Victoria's presence.
     “Have you been to court before?” Victoria asked.
     Agatha simply nodded.
     Victoria stood and looked Agatha over almost as if she was making an expensive purchase. She walked around Agatha and smiled.
     “Would you like to check my teeth?” asked Agatha under her breath.
     The Queen heard her.
     “How marvelous,” she said, “you're impudent.”
     “With respect, Your Majesty,” said Agatha. “You should know your mother hates me.”
     Victoria stood more erect.
     “Does she now. Then you should become a favorite at court, especially if it will have a negative effect on my Mother.”
     Agatha's eyes widened and she looked to Alfred.
     Victoria laughed.
     “I am sorry your Majesty, but for Lady Agatha to be a valuable asset we need you to know who she is, but you cannot openly acknowledge her with any favoritism,” said Lord Melbourne.
     “I cannot engage her in conservation at court?” asked the Queen.
     “Of course you can, your Majesty, just as you might any other member of the aristocracy in public.”
     “In public, and in private, in my private chambers?” asked Victoria.
     The two men stared at each other and seemed to try a form of mental telepathy to provide a united answer.
     Lady Agatha spoke up. “I am sure your Majesty that neither Lord Melbourne or Sir Alfred would interject any comments as to what you do in your own private chambers.”
     Victoria met Agatha's gaze and she returned a smile.
     “I believe that any request I make of Sir Alfred can be delivered in a timely fashion,” said Victoria.
     Her request was not lost on either man and they nodded solemnly in agreement.
     Agatha went to replaced her veil and Victoria stopped her. She embraced her slightly and kissed her on both cheeks.
     “I look forward to our next private meeting,” said Victoria.
     “As do I your Majesty. I'm afraid I insulted your mother and she was within hearing distance when I did.”
     “You did this on purpose?” asked Victoria.
     Agatha only smiled. Queen Victoria gave out with a short laugh. Then she reached up and lowered Agatha's veil for her.
     The trio left Victoria's presence and the young Queen walked to her chair in great pomp, turned and flounced down smiling.

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