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Reading: The Inner Loop and This Is What America Looks Like

For those who missed my March 16, 2021, reading with The Inner Loop, watch the recording. I’m at about 14:15, but don’t miss some of these phenomenal writers.

Instant Gratification by Lauren Blakely (audio)

Source: Purchased
Audible, 8+ hrs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Instant Gratification by Lauren Blakely, an audio with a full cast, was so much fun to listen to. Jason Reynolds and Truly Goodman have significant chemistry but a pact she made with her brother nearly a decade ago stands in their way of getting together, even if they had a one night of hot romance. Both of these workaholics also don’t have time for dating. Jason Reynolds is The Modern Gentleman Of New York and a best man for hire, two jobs he doesn’t want to see collide, and he needs to finish his work as a best man in order to help pay for his sister’s medical school.

While the sexual tension is palpable and the heat rises on more than one occasion, Blakely shines in her comedy. The zingers between the men and their friends, the banter between Truly and Jason is hilarious, and there is so much more fun to be had in this audiobook. There is a full cast of audiobook narrators on this one, and they clearly had a grand time making this one.

Instant Gratification by Lauren Blakely is a riot, and I was laughing out loud. My daughter was dying to know what I was listening to, but sadly this is not for young ears. I needed a good laugh and this book hit the spot. The characters are well drawn and their interactions are believable — for high-end Manhattanites.

RATING: Cinquain

Guest Post & Giveaway: Kara Pleasants’ The Unread Letter

Welcome to another Jane Austen World Excerpt and guest post for a newly published book, The Unread Letter by Kara Pleasants.

Please check out the synopsis:

After rejecting Mr Darcy’s proposal at Hunsford, Elizabeth Bennet is surprised when he finds her walking the next day and hands her a letter. Without any expectation of pleasure—but with the strongest curiosity—she begins to open the letter, fully intending to read it.

It really was an accident—at first. Her shaking hands broke the seal and somehow tore the pages in two. Oh, what pleasure she then felt in tearing the pages again and again! A glorious release of anger and indignation directed towards the man who had insulted her and courted her in the same breath. She did feel remorse, but what could she do? The letter was destroyed, and Elizabeth expected that she would never see Mr Darcy again.

Home at Longbourn, she discovers that her youngest sisters are consumed by a scheme to go to Brighton—and Elizabeth finds herself drawn to the idea of a visit to the sea. But the surprises of Brighton are many, beginning with a chance meeting on the beach and ending in unexpected romance all around.

Doesn’t this synopsis just say there will be some very, very awkward moments? I can’t wait to read it.

Please give Kara a warm welcome:

Thank you, Serena!

Thank you so much for having me share a bit of my novella The Unread Letter with you! This excerpt takes place when the Bennet family has just arrived in Brighton. The premise of the story explores the question of what might happen if Elizabeth had never read Darcy’s letter—and didn’t know that she shouldn’t go anywhere close to Wickham!

So, the Bennets have all gone to Brighton together, but of course they could not afford to stay at an inn or rent a house for an extended holiday. Instead, they planned their trip by agreeing to help care for an aged and distant relative—the widow Mrs. Bartell. I conceived of Mrs. Bartell as a woman who speaks her mind because she can—she is now independent of a husband, has a place of her own, and only herself to please.

I hope you will enjoy meeting her in this excerpt:

With exceedingly great raptures the Gardiners’ note was received accepting the change in plan from the Lake tour to the Brighton seaside. The Gardiners were delighted by the idea of a visit that included the entire family and noted that Brighton was close to the Seven Sisters chalk cliffs, which they longed to see. The only difficulty was that they must postpone their journey by two weeks because of Mr Gardiner’s business. This threw Kitty and Lydia into a flutter of nerves over the thought of even the briefest separation from the officers, until it was decided that the Bennets would travel ahead to Brighton and, within a short amount of time, be joined by the rest of their party.

Elizabeth briefly doubted her impulse to travel with her family during the chaos of packing trunks and gowns and hats and trims with two younger sisters who fought over every item of clothing. At last, once the coach was loaded, the journey was spent in the highest of spirits and Elizabeth felt her doubts give way to eager anticipation. Even Mary, who never before expressed approval of the scheme and mostly observed her youngest sisters’ antics with a frown, now turned to her oldest sisters with a smile. “I have been reading about the benefits of sea bathing,” she pronounced, “and the sea itself seems to be a great testament to the power of a great God. I do not care for the parties or the dresses, but I do look forward to seeing this wonder.”

“So you are to go sea bathing?” Mr Bennet asked with a wry grin. “Do wonders never cease? I surmise that these new environs will provide opportunities for laughter at other people’s expense in every corner.”

After a stop in London, where the Bennets spent a merry evening with the Gardiners in high anticipation of them all being together again as soon as Mr Gardiner’s business was concluded, the second leg of their journey was more subdued, with nearly all of the party sleeping along the road.

It was evening when the Bennets arrived at the home of their relation. The young ladies were all abuzz when the coach stopped on St James’s Street, and Mr Bennet led them through a narrow alley and back to a quiet lane, known as St James’s Place, where a row of town houses and gardens stood. The four-story red brick town house where they would spend their holiday had a small garden full of roses enclosed by an iron railing.

“How charming! And you cannot hear the noise of the street!” Elizabeth said.

“But my dear you did not tell me that Mrs Bartell lived so close to the shops! So close to everything! Why, what a thing for our girls! I am sure they shall always be thrown in the path of many eligible men. I can hardly speak for happiness.” Mrs Bennet’s mouth was agape at the sight of the stately home.

“You need not speak at all,” Mr Bennet replied. “I would not put much hope in Mrs Bartell’s potential as a matchmaker.”

“Why ever not?” Mrs Bennet said, but Mr Bennet had already opened the gate and walked up the steps to rap on the door. Behind him, the coachmen were huffing as they carried the many trunks.

The door was opened by a woman much advanced in years who led them through a narrow hall into a sitting room where another woman even more advanced in years sat dozing in a blue velvet chair.

The attendant, a Mrs Smith, shook the shoulder of her employer with some vigour. She managed to knock the lady’s cap askew but did not wake her.

With all of them crowding the hall, and the trunks piling up along the wall, there was a moment of tension as they were not entirely sure what to do next. It was relieved by Mrs Bennet, who marched up to their relation and shouted into her ear, “It is so very kind of you to allow us to stay!”

Mrs Bartell opened one eye and shifted slightly. “You are looking old, Mrs B,” she croaked.

Mrs Bennet was so offended that she moved off immediately, whispering to Elizabeth, “She is farther gone than I imagined. Pay no mind to her ramblings. Indeed, I have half a mind not to speak with her much at all—I daresay she cannot understand a word.”

Elizabeth did not rebuke her mother, but moved over to Mrs Bartell. “And you, madam,” she laughed, “do not look a day over twenty!”

Mrs Bartell deigned to open both eyes. “Tom Bennet, this one will do nicely,” she declared, reaching to take Elizabeth’s hand. “You will have to oblige me. My granddaughter has left this morning for the North, and I need looking after. It is part of the arrangement.”

“Lizzy is always very obliging.” Mrs Bennet felt that she must speak again. “We are so very grateful for the most warm welcome into your home.”

“And will you oblige me now by removing all of your relations from my sitting room.”

Mrs Bartell addressed Elizabeth, “Your rooms are on the third floor.” Kitty and Lydia scampered from the room and up the stairs, with the older sisters following closely.

While the others settled their trunks into their rooms, Elizabeth moved through the entire house, curious to see each room and the views they afforded. Upon returning to the blue room that she and Jane had settled on with Mary, Elizabeth flung open the tall windows to breathe in the salty air of the sea. The lights of the city twinkled before her, but in spite of the pleadings of Lydia, who wanted to go and tour the public gardens (where she was certain the officers were waiting), it was decided that the party would go to bed and explore in the morning.

Thank you, Kara, for sharing this excerpt with us. I can’t wait to read the book.

About the Author:

Kara Pleasants lives in a lovely hamlet called Darlington in Maryland, where she and her husband are restoring an 18 th century farm in Susquehanna State Park. They have two beautiful and vivacious daughters, Nora and Lina. A Maryland native, Kara spent a great deal of her childhood travelling with her family, including six years living in Siberia, as well as five years in Montana, before finally making her way back home to attend the University of Maryland.

Kara is an English teacher and Department Chair at West Nottingham Academy. She has taught at the secondary and collegiate level at several different schools in Maryland. Her hobbies include: making scones for the farmer’s market, writing poetry, watching fantasy shows, making quilts, directing choir, and dreaming about writing an epic three-party fantasy series for her daughters.

GIVEAWAY:

Follow the blog tour and leave a comment to be entered in the tour-wide giveaway for an ebook of The Unread Letter.

Mailbox Monday #623

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has it’s own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Leslie, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what we received:

Where Do You Hang Your Hammock? Finding Peace of Mind While You Write, Publish, and Promote Your Book by Bella Mahaya Carter for review in June.

In Where Do You Hang Your Hammock? seasoned coach and author Bella Mahaya Carter shows writers how to use their present circumstances as stepping-stones to a successful and meaningful writing life, navigated from the inside out. It encourages writers and authors to rethink their ambitions (which may be fueled by the tyrannical demands of the ego) and trust in their heartfelt purpose and values in the journey to becoming, or continuing on, as authors.

Many writers believe their self-sabotaging thoughts are trustworthy and true. They take rejection personally. They surmise that if they don’t achieve their goals they have failed, and lose sight of who they are and what matters most.

This book is for writers looking for inspiration and for authors daunted by the publishing process, who might lack the requisite author platform to get published the way they dreamed, or whose careers may not be unfolding as expected. It aims to be the friend and trusted expert writers turn to when hijacked by their own thinking. Ultimately, it reminds authors that they are infinite creators.

The Unread Letter by Kara Pleasants, a guest post in March.

For every one of his smiles, she thought of his letter and blushed with shame of what she had done. Oh, that she might have just looked at it!

After rejecting Mr Darcy’s proposal at Hunsford, Elizabeth Bennet is surprised when he finds her walking the next day and hands her a letter. Without any expectation of pleasure—but with the strongest curiosity—she begins to open the letter, fully intending to read it.

It really was an accident—at first. Her shaking hands broke the seal and somehow tore the pages in two. Oh, what pleasure she then felt in tearing the pages again and again! A glorious release of anger and indignation directed towards the man who had insulted her and courted her in the same breath. She did feel remorse, but what could she do? The letter was destroyed, and Elizabeth expected that she would never see Mr Darcy again.

Home at Longbourn, she discovers that her youngest sisters are consumed by a scheme to go to Brighton—and Elizabeth finds herself drawn to the idea of a visit to the sea. But the surprises of Brighton are many, beginning with a chance meeting on the beach and ending in unexpected romance all around.

What did you receive?

Black Girl, Call Home by Jasmine Mans

Source: Publisher
Paperback, 256 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Black Girl, Call Home by Jasmine Mans is a collection of poems that explore mother-daughter relationships, identity, and the racism many Blacks face every day. There are so many moments in this collection where your heart will break, just as the relationship between mother-daughter breaks. The narrator of these poems struggles with who she is and how to reconcile that with her mother’s disappointments about that identity.

In “We Host These Variables,” she says, “There’s something I want to honor here. I/ want to honor the silent story, the emotions/unaccompanied by human language. I want to/honor the weight of stillness. I want to/honor the silent ceremony between mother/ and daughter.” In this poem she explores the silence that become tense between mother and daughter because they are mirrors of one another. Later, she says, “I know the/distance between mother and daughter. How/we are many burned bridges, as well as a/wealth of brick and clay, ready to be made/anew from everything unmade of us.”

Mans explores the harsh history facing Blacks — women who get the worst part of it all. Men with the dreams, but the women who bear the burden of those dreams. One of the most powerful poems in this collection that brings this history to the forefront is “Nerf Guns: Christmas 2019 Tulsa” where the past and the burdens of racism are never far away. “The/only way a bullet becomes laughter is when it/plays pretend in its own foam shadow./” In this poem, little boys play with nerf guns and play dead and the narrator was never allowed to until she was grown and playing with her cousins. She realizes the ironies and implications of this game, while her cousins do not. “My father knew death too well to let us mimic it. Or, maybe death mimicked us too well for him to allow it’s ‘pretend’ in his house.” She wraps “herself in/that joy. The joy that nothing spilled of them/but the sound of their own silly.”

Black Girl, Call Home by Jasmine Mans is a journey of identity and learning how to cope with the past to bring oneself into the future. There are truths in this collection that shouldn’t be shied away from, especially for Black men and women. We need these stories to remind us that we can do better. “I know trauma uses silence as a survival mechanism.” Let’s break that cycle and break that silence.

Rating: Cinquain

Guest Post: Jimy Dawn Shares a Poem from Sun and the Son

Jimy Dawn’s debut collection of poetry, Sun and the Son, is raw and honest, but it also is filled with difficult truths and romantic hope.

Please welcome Jimy Dawn, who shares with us a poem from the collection and an audio reading of “cloud spotting.”

cloud spotting

The other day a boy found a man playing in his backyard.
He didn’t know what to do, so he asked the man to leave.
The man wanted to play more but he thought it would be
better if he left so as to not cause difficulties. He loved
the boy but he didn’t know how to say it. The boy said he
understood but there was nothing he could do.

When he left his home for the last time the clouds looked
anxious but he didn’t care because he knew what he was
doing. There are some who stay, others who stay but leave
and a few who leave. For a time he knew what to do and
then, suddenly, he didn’t. That’s when he dreamt the clouds
forming.

He shot a man in Reno just to watch him die and as he left
the scene a silent breeze slept through the leaves and left
the trees with a life that passes through us and keeps us
here for now because that’s who we are and all our names
rhyme with wind anyways. The crime was not having done
something, it was being someone.

I have my father’s name. I think that was important to him,
though he never told me.

Listen here:

Reading: The Inner Loop Presents This Is What America Looks Like

The Inner Loop is hosting a reading from This Is What America Looks Like, featuring Elizabeth Kadetsky.

Poets include:
Serena Agusto-Cox
Hayes Davis
Kristin Ferragut
Matthew Hohner
Courtney Sexton

Fiction writers include:
Amy Freeman
Melanie Hatter
Len Kruger
Kirsten Porter

I hope you’ll join us at 7:30 p.m. on March 16.

Mailbox Monday #622

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has it’s own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Leslie, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what we received:

The Elsewhere: Poems & Poetics by Philip Brady for review.

The Elsewhere is a new book with a long history. In a new arrangement of three books of poetry, a verse memoir, a poetic prose memoir, and essay collections on poetics, as well as new poems, The Elsewhere re-scores a life alert to the workings of line and sentence upon eye, heart, breath, and the world.

 

Usborne Illustrated Originals: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, which was a gift for my daughter’s birthday.

Anne Shirley, a mistakenly adopted orphan falls in love with Green Gables. Despite her hot temper, vivacious imagination, and gift of making amusing bobbles, she slowly wins the hearts of her adoptive parents. In this beautifully written and illustrated book, the reader is sure to be entertained for hours by Anne and her comedic conundrums. This version is complete and unabridged.

Usborne Graphic Classics: The Wizard of Oz by Russell Punter and Simona Bursi, which was a gift for my daughter’s birthday.

After Dorothy’s house is carried off by a tornado, she finds herself in the strange and magical Land of Oz. With the help of her new friends the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion, she must persuade the Wizard of Oz to help her get back to Kansas. L. Frank Baum’s timeless fantasy is beautifully recreated in this enchanting graphic novel.

Real-Life Mysteries: Can You Explain the Unexplained? by Susan Martineau and Vicky Barker, which was a gift for my daughter’s birthday.

WINNER OF THE BLUE PETER BOOK AWARD 2018 – Best Book with Facts. Have you ever wondered what exactly does go bump in the night? From mysteries like Shackleton’s ghostly companion to the Loch Ness Monster and friends, read the amazing evidence about these mysterious cases and make up your own mind. Things are not always what they seem – until they are, then you might wish you had never asked!

No Worries! An Activity Book for Young People Who Sometimes Feel Anxious or Stressed by Dr. Sharie Coombes, which was a gift for my daughter’s birthday.

No Worries! Mindful Kids: The encouraging and simple activities and exercises tackle anxiety, sadness and stress; children will enjoy using their creativity to combat negative feelings, work out why they feel worried and how to put stress back in its place through writing, colouring, doodling and drawing.

Forensic Science by Alex Frith, Kuo Kang Chen, Lee Montgomery, Stephen Moncrieff, and  Sherwin Schwartzrock, which was a gift for my daughter’s birthday. 

Explains how forensic scientists use different evidence to solve crimes, and presents true-crime cases in comic book format.

Never Get Bored: Draw and Paint, which was another gift for my daughter’s birthday.

Discover how to doodle a sloth, turn pencil shavings into pictures and draw in ways you never imagined. Then try printing, spattering paints and painting with dots. There are ideas for portraits, patterns, optical illusions and more, so you’ll soon have enough artworks for your own exhibition — and this book will show you how to stage one too.

The Mystery of the Painted Dragon by Katherine Woodfine, which was a gift for my daughter.

The Mystery of the Painted Dragon is the third novel in The Sinclair’s Mysteries book series by British children’s author Katherine Woodfine published by Egmont Publishing. The novel is the third book in a four book mystery-adventure series set in Edwardian England.

History Uncovered: The U.S.A. by Kristine Carlson Asselin, which was a gift for my daughter.

This stylish atlas features key moments of American history in an innovative format, with each die-cut spread building on the last as more states are added to the union, culminating in a modern-day map of America. From the 1700s through today — one layer at a time — it’s filled with dates, facts, and historical figures.

A Life Worth Choosing by Anngela Schroeder, which I won in a giveaway.

“You could not have made me the offer of your hand in any possible way that would have tempted me to accept it.” Reeling from the unexpected rejection of his proposal, Fitzwilliam Darcy prepares to quit Hunsford for London but not before he defends himself against Elizabeth Bennet’s accusations. He cannot forgive her harsh words; her assertion Mr. Wickham would have made a better son has cut him to the core. Suffering an accident while delivering the fated letter, he wakes to a world he does not know—and to those who do not recognize him. With a new life, a different name, and a fresh chance at winning the woman he loves, Darcy must decide which is “A Life Worth Choosing”––the past he remembers or a future he has created for himself.This Regency variation of Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ by bestselling author Anngela Schroeder, is appropriate for all who wish to lose themselves on another path towards Darcy and Elizabeth’s happily ever after.

What books did you receive?

Book Spotlight: Black Girl, Call Home by Jasmine Mans

Normally, I don’t post book spotlights, but I have been looking forward to reading Mans’ collection: Black Girl, Call Home. Stay tuned for my review later this month.

About the collection:

A literary coming-of-age poetry collection, an ode to the places we call home, and a piercingly intimate deconstruction of daughterhood, Black Girl, Call Home is a love letter to the wandering black girl and a vital companion to any woman on a journey to find truth, belonging, and healing.

From spoken word poet Jasmine Mans comes an unforgettable poetry collection about race, feminism, and queer identity.

With echoes of Gwendolyn Brooks and Sonia Sanchez, Mans writes to call herself–and us–home. Each poem explores what it means to be a daughter of Newark, and America–and the painful, joyous path to adulthood as a young, queer Black woman.

Black Girl, Call Home is a love letter to the wandering Black girl and a vital companion to any woman on a journey to find truth, belonging, and healing.

Aren’t you just riveted? Check out her collection, Black Girl, Call Home, new on the market this month.

Photo Credit: Redens Desrosiers

About the Poet:

Jasmine Mans is a Black American poet, artist from Newark, New Jersey. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin Madison, with a B.A. in African American Studies. Her debut collection of poetry was published in 2012, (Chalk Outlines of Snow Angels). Mans is the resident poet at the Newark Public Library. She was a member of The Strivers Row Collective.

Guest Post & Giveaway: Interrupted Plans: A Pride & Prejudice Variation by Brigid Huey

Today Brigid Huey is here to talk about her writing process as it relates to her new book, Interrupted Plans.

Before we hear about her process, check out the book:

Suppose Elizabeth Bennet never visited Pemberley…

It is October of 1812. Elizabeth Bennet and her family have seen dramatic changes in the past few months—none of them welcome. Her sister Jane needs a fresh start, and Elizabeth is no less eager to leave behind the pain and confusion of not accepting Mr. Darcy’s proposal.

Fitzwilliam Darcy has not seen Elizabeth since he offered for her—and she adamantly refused him. When she appears in London, he is determined to gain her friendship and make amends. When a carriage mishap throws them together, Darcy does all he can to demonstrate his changed behavior.

Though their renewed acquaintance seems to be growing into a genuine friendship, a family secret constrains Elizabeth. As she falls deeper in love with the man she rejected, does she dare tell him the truth?

Doesn’t this sound intriguing? I just love the “what if” stories that spur novels in the Jane Austen universe. Please welcome, Brigid:

Thank you so much for hosting me today! I am so pleased to be here at Savvy Verse and Wit.

As a writer, I am always fascinated to hear about other authors’ writing processes and what influences their work. I thought I might share a little bit about my own process today.

The idea for Interrupted Plans came to me in pieces. There were certain elements I knew I wanted to include. I could see Darcy and Elizabeth in a ballroom, and there was definitely an emotional exchange in the snow. As is often the way with me, these scenes came to me on their own and the rest of the story grew up around them.

I write at a local coffee shop every Thursday. It’s my “day off” from my regular life of homeschooling two kids. When working on a story, I usually write out scenes that are playing out in my head. Then I spend several weeks dreaming about the storyline and writing notes as I go so I can remember good ideas!

Once I have a rough outline of the story, I get back to the serious business of writing. I often have to tweak the timeline or add new characters. It’s a very organic process!

The last, and hardest, part of the writing process for me is deciding on a title. I have never been apt at choosing titles, but for whatever reason Interrupted Plans came rather quickly to me. I wish it was always that way!

Thank you for listening to my rambles! I hope you enjoy Interrupted Plans!

Thank you, Brigid, for sharing your process with us. Now for the giveaway

Meryton Press is giving away 8 eBooks of Brigid Huey’s Interrupted Plans, and the giveaway is international.

ENTER HERE.

About the Author:

Brigid Huey has been in love with Jane Austen since first seeing the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice as a young girl. She lives in Ohio with her husband and two kids and spends her free time reading and writing. She also has an assortment of birds, including five chickens and too many parakeets. She dreams of living on a farm where she can raise as many chickens, ducks, and goats as she likes and write romance novels in an airy study overlooking the wildflowers. Check out her website; her Facebook Author Page, and follow her on Instagram and Twitter.