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Guest Post & Giveaway: The Fear of Being Eaten by Ronald J. Wichers

Welcome to today’s stop on the spotlight book tour for The Fear of Being Eaten: A Biography of the Heart by Ronald J. Wichers.

What if you married a man who didn’t care about you? What if there was a child in the neighborhood for whom you developed a special fondness but was nine when you were nineteen and twenty when you were thirty with two children and a husband who still didn’t care? And what if you were a boy whose only happy memories were a few soft words uttered now and again by a beautiful neighbor ten years your senior and whose voice and face and figure, back-lighted by the golden light of the setting sun, were all that would sustain you when your life was threatened every minute of every day in the mire of a squalid war nobody wanted?

This is the story of Jacqueline and Tommy, their lives stubbornly paralleling with no convergence in sight until one cold night she sees him starving to death on a crowded street filled with happy tourists.

What would you do if you saw him there almost unrecognizable, just another mass of neglected, invisible wreckage? Turn the pages of The Fear of Being Eaten: A Biography of the Heart and find out what happened to Jacqueline Rhondda and Tommy Middleton.

To follow the tour, please visit Ronald J. Wicher’s page on iRead Book Tours.

Please welcome Ronald as he shares a bit about his Vietnam War connection and how it inspired his book:

“Writing about the Vietnam War” by Ronald J. Wichers

I don’t want to bore anyone with too personal a perspective but I wrote this one to give myself something meaningful to do at a time of grief so deep as to be threatening. Since the year 2000, there had been, in my life, an uncanny string of deaths of significant others, ending with those of my wife and my father.

It seemed the whole world was dying. I had no one to care for, nothing to do but read, write, maintain my property.

I felt as if I were floating in space, literally. The weave of stories created in The Fear of Being Eaten -A Biography of the Heart are episodes in my life and those of old friends that I had wanted to describe for many years but were of a type too dark to attempt. How I could put it together at a time so painful is a mystery to me. But it helped.

The Fear of Being Eaten – A Biography of the Heart. It is biographical and autobiographical, written mostly from memory and cast as an imaginary construction, a simple episodic novel.

With the exception of Lotus in a Sea of Fire by Thich Nhat Hanh, I haven’t read any books about the Vietnam War. I’ve written honestly and I don’t concern myself with how different The Fear of Being Eaten might or might not be. I have no control over that.

 

Buy the Book:
 
Watch the book trailer.
Meet the Author:
 
 

Ronald J. Wichers was born in Lake Ronkonkoma New York in 1947. He attended Catholic School until 1965, studied History and literature at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas until being drafted into the United States Army in 1970. He was assigned to a rifle company in the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam and, after sustaining severe wounds in a gun battle, including the loss of his left arm, was awarded the Purple Heart Medal, the Army Commendation Medal for Heroism and the Bronze Star Medal. He later studied theology full time at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley California. He has published several short stories about the Vietnam war. The Fear of Being Eaten: A Biography of the Heart is his fifth novel.

Connect with the author:
Enter the Giveaway!
Win an ebook copy of The Fear of Being Eaten (open to USA & Canada – 2 winners)
Ends July 28, 2018

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Guest Post & Giveaway: Victoria Kincaid, author of Mr. Darcy to the Rescue, on Rescued Women

I want to welcome Victoria Kincaid, author of Mr. Darcy to the Rescue, to the blog today to talk about the theme of rescuing women in women’s fiction. Stay tuned for a giveaway.

But first, let’s read a little about the book:

When the irritating Mr. Collins proposes marriage, Elizabeth Bennet is prepared to refuse him, but then she learns that her father is ill. If Mr. Bennet dies, Collins will inherit Longbourn and her family will have nowhere to go. Elizabeth accepts the proposal, telling herself she can be content as long as her family is secure. If only she weren’t dreading the approaching wedding day…

Ever since leaving Hertfordshire, Mr. Darcy has been trying to forget his inconvenient attraction to Elizabeth. News of her betrothal forces him to realize how devastating it would be to lose her. He arrives at Longbourn intending to prevent the marriage, but discovers Elizabeth’s real opinion about his character. Then Darcy recognizes his true dilemma…

How can he rescue her when she doesn’t want him to?

Please give Victoria a warm welcome.

Hi Serena. Thanks for having me visit, and thank you for suggesting the topic of “Rescuing in women’s fiction.” It sparked all kinds of ideas for me.

I think it can be problematic in romance and other traditionally “female” genres if the female protagonist is always in need of rescue. It’s a common trope; I can’t tell you how many romances I’ve read in which the heroine is kidnapped and must be rescued by the hero. There are legitimate reasons why this trope works. Good stories need conflict, suspense, and high stakes; being kidnapped or threatened with violence creates a suspenseful, high-stakes environment that keeps the reader turning the pages. Also, romance readers generally like their heroes to be strong and forceful; when the heroine is in danger, it gives the hero a chance to show his skills and courage. That’s why so many of today’s romantic male protagonists are cops, spies, SEALs, etc. who encounter dangerous situations as part of their jobs.

However, it puts the female protagonist in a weaker position if she is frequently in need of rescue. She can appear helpless, lacking in strength and skills, and even stupid (if she does something dumb to get herself into the situation). This may not bother all readers, but I prefer stories in which the male and female protagonists are on a more equal footing, which can be a problem in a genre where the men are always taller, older, and richer than their female counterparts. This is particularly true in a story like Pride and Prejudice where Darcy always has the upper hand because of his wealth and the greater power afforded to men in the Regency time period.

And yet, I still wrote a story called Mr. Darcy to the Rescue. However, I intended the title to be a bit ironic. The premise is that Elizabeth accepts Mr. Collins’s offer of marriage. When Darcy hears about this, he rushes to Longbourn to “save” her from the engagement by offering his hand instead. In other words, Darcy casts himself in the role of rescuer. But when he arrives at Longbourn, he discovers that Elizabeth does not like him and has no desire to be rescued by him. Darcy resorts to trying to break up the engagement by subversive means, but he only makes Elizabeth’s situation worse and must work to clean up the mess he has made. The situation looks dire, and Darcy is in danger of losing Elizabeth forever. He needs Elizabeth to rescue him from a lifetime of loneliness.

I think my slight subversion of the tradition of rescuing women fits in well with the spirit of Pride and Prejudice. Austen does not usually put her heroines into physical danger—eschewing the haunted mansions, shipwrecks, and dastardly villains of many of her contemporary colleagues. Instead, their plights tend to be more societal—facing the loss of reputation or heartbreak. The only rescuing Darcy does in P&P is to “save” Lydia from the consequences of her own stupidity—a mission which is only partially successful. He does help to isolate the Bennets (and Elizabeth) from imminent scandal, but this is a much more indirect kind of rescuing that retrieving the victim of kidnapping or saving someone with a gun to her head. Indeed, Darcy’s primary motivation for rescuing Lydia is to correct his own faux pas when proposing to Elizabeth. In effect, he is rescuing himself from a lifetime of loneliness. I’d like to think that my rewriting follows in Austen’s very big footsteps.

Thanks, Victoria, for sharing this story with us.

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY by leaving a comment on your favorite unconventional rescue story by June 30 at 11:59 PM EST. Open to U.S. residents only. One audiobook.

Guest Post & Giveaway: Catherine by Sue Barr

Good morning! I hope everyone is enjoying their first week of June. Today, we have the wonderful Sue Barr as a guest and a giveaway for her new book Catherine, which is the second book in her series. The first book was Caroline.

Please read the book details below and check out today’s special guest post.

About the Book:

Some secrets are not meant to be shared.

Catherine Bennet, known as Kitty to close friends and family, knows this better than anyone. She also knows that she will never marry and it never bothered her before she met Lord George Kerr at Elizabeth and Darcy’s wedding. He’s determined to breach the walls of defense she’d
carefully constructed around her heart, and she’s just as determined to stay the course.

Some secrets cannot be shared

Lord George Kerr knows this better than anyone. For five years, as a spy for His Majesty the King, he played the part of a Rake, concealing his espionage activities beneath a blanket of brothels, drink and loose women. Even though he’s forced to resume his regular life within London’s finest society, he still must keep some things hidden.

One thing he does not hide is his attraction to Miss Catherine Bennet of Longbourn. Enraptured by her beauty and warmth of character, he plunges headlong into winning her heart, only to find it carefully guarded and she’s unwilling to give him even a small pinch of hope.

Some things are beyond your control

When circumstances bring Kitty’s secret into the open, she fears the tenuous bonds of friendship she’s forged with Lord George will be lost forever along with whatever love he proclaims to have for her. With the very lives of England’s vast network of spies working undercover in Bonaparte’s France hanging in the balance, she’s forced to face her worst nightmare.

Her secret is laid bare, can he love her enough to overcome what he learns?

Please welcome today’s guest, Sue Barr:

When an author begins to write their story the words that make it on to the page is not the WHOLE story. Every character has a history, even if it’s in the author’s mind. Today I thought I’d share a few highlights of some of the characters (without giving away any spoilers).

Catherine (Kitty) Bennet

We all know her as the fourth daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. The one who Elizabeth dismissed by saying, ‘and wherever Lydia goes, Kitty is sure to follow’. In CATHERINE, the reader is re-introduced to her at Elizabeth and Darcy’s wedding breakfast and by this time she’s been out of Lydia’s shadow for about six months, maybe more. This is all according to canon.

What I did was create a backstory for her, complete with a secret that no one besides Mr. Bennet is aware of. The burden she carries from this secret makes her believe she will never marry, so, when Kitty meets Lord George she wants to indulge in daydreams, like any girl of ten and eight would, but forces herself to rein in her emotions and not allow her heart to become involved.

Lord George Kerr

Lord George is the next eldest brother of the Duke of Adborough. The reader is introduced to him in the very first chapter. He is a spy for the Crown and has been for over five years. What the reader doesn’t know is that George rescued Evangeline, the Countess of Anstruther (his espionage counterpart) in a daring rescue from France. Evangeline will get her own story – An Elaborate Ruse – but not until Georgiana’s story is complete. George is a master of disguise, adept at many languages and trades, an expert marksman and superb horseman. He is above all, a gentleman. I lurve him. He and his two brothers have a close relationship and family is very important to him. His good will and protective streak also has him taking care of those who enter his life in interesting ways.

Mary Bennet

Mary is the middle daughter and according to canon is annoyingly pious and boring. I wanted her to have her own secret, which is revealed in a fun way when she and Kitty have a lovely sister moment early on in the book. I decided to write Mary as being clever. Elizabeth, Jane and Lydia all cast long shadows with their various personalities and it was time for Mary to step out into the light. The reader will find that she plays beautiful music, having learned some skills from Miss Darcy, reads novels and has a sly sense of humor. I enjoyed expanding Mary’s
character and I hope the reader comes to like her as do I.

Phillip Sheraton

My favorite new character is Phillip. If you don’t fall in love with this cheeky boy…

EXCERPT:

With an agitated whinny, Buttons suddenly reared, unseating George who promptly landed in the ditch filled with water. He fully expected the horse to bolt, but all his patient training kept the handsome steed close, albeit a little skittish by whatever spooked him.

He pulled himself from the water and scrambled onto the road, snagging the horse’s halter in case he changed his mind and decided to make a break for Keswick Manor.

“What is it, boy? What has got you all fired up?” George spoke in a soothing voice and ran an experienced hand over the horse’s flesh, checking to make sure there wasn’t some unseen injury. He paused when his fingers ran across a small welt on the horse’s right hind quarters. At that exact moment he felt a sharp sting on his neck.

“What the…?”

His hand flew up to swat whatever had bit him. Within his peripheral vision he caught sight of a boy, seated in a tree by the side of the road. He pretended he hadn’t seen the little blighter and spoke to the horse in a louder than normal voice.

“Well, there must be some wasps out now that the rain has stopped. I hope they don’t interfere with my digging for gold.”

As he suspected, the boy lowered the device he’d used to sling tiny rocks, clearly intrigued by the thought of gold. Thank goodness it hadn’t been anything more sinister. His mental musings about Catherine had dulled his senses. Had this been France, he’d be dead.

He swung up into the saddle and flicked the reins. Buttons obliged by moving off at a slow walk. Now that he was aware of the child, George clearly heard him clambering out of the tree and trying to follow in the rain-soaked underbrush. The boy was going to become very wet.

Good.

He continued past the drive to Keswick Manor and headed for the small house where their groundskeeper took lodging. He stopped in front of a small barn, slid off Buttons and tied him to a post, then strode around to the back of the house and waited for the lad. He didn’t have to wait
long. No more than five minutes passed before he heard shuffling behind the stone fence that encircled the small yard and garden.

When he judged the boy was passing by his location, he stood and with a quick hand reached over the low fence and grabbed him by the shirt collar.

“Oi. Wot do you want wif me?”

The grimy faced urchin kicked and wiggled in vain.

“I would like to know why you attempted to injure my horse.”

“I dunno wot yer yabberin’ about.”

George hauled the boy over the fence and plunked him down, keeping a firm hand on his neck.

“You launched a rock and hit my horse on his flank, which I know you thought was funny as I fell arse over tea kettle,” – the boy sniggered – “but what if the horse landed into a rut and broke his leg.”

“I never thought of that.” The boy stopped struggling and lowered his head. “Wot you gonna do wif me?”

George paused and thought about his options. By the amount of filth encrusted on the child there was a good chance he didn’t have caring parents. Or at least parents who could afford to keep their children clean. He seemed slightly malnourished, given how he could feel fragile
bones through the threadbare shirt.

No, the punishment had to fitting, yet fair.

“What is your name?”

“Phillip.” The boy dared to glance up at him.

“That is a good strong name. One you can live up to.” George glanced toward Keswick Manor. “I have a task you can do which is quite fitting for the crime.”

At the word ‘crime’ the boy began to squirm again. He tightened his grip, trying not to bruise the frail child. “Settle down, Phillip. I am not turning you over to the magistrate.”

The young lad stopped struggling.

“Seeing as you nearly caused irreparable harm to my horse, I believe I shall have you water, feed and care for him while I’m here in Cambridgeshire.”

“I cain’t feed yer ‘orse. Ain’t got no money fer that.”

“I shall provide everything you require. Your job is to take care of Buttons.”

“Buttons?”

Phillip grinned, showing a gap between some of his teeth, which made George think he was only about eight or nine years old. At least that was how old he’d been when all he had to show for a smile was his two front teeth and nothing on either side.

“Yes, my horse’s name is Buttons. Are we in accord you will look after him?”

“I dunno. I’m supposed to help me mum and there ain’t no pay lookin after yer ‘orse.”

What a sad state of affairs that a child had to worry about bringing money home for the family.

“What would you say if I paid you a half guinea for a job well done.”

“A half guinea?” Phillip squeaked out, his eyes wide.

“For a job well done,” George stressed. “You must do a good job in order to receive the full amount.”

He already knew he’d pay the boy a half guinea even if the job was incomplete, but Phillip didn’t need to know that.

“I can help you hunt fer gold.”

George had to swallow a laugh. He’d forgotten about mentioning gold, clearly Phillip had not. Smart lad.

“I am not here for gold. That was a ruse to entice you behind the house.”

“You talk pretty fancy fer a git.”

George crouched down so he could look Phillip face to face.

“Take care how you speak to me, Master Phillip. This ‘git’ is the one who will pay you a good wage for honest labor.” Assured he had Phillip’s complete attention, he rose to his feet.

“We shall settle Buttons and then you can commence with the job at hand.”

About the Author:

Sue Barr resides in beautiful Southwestern Ontario with her retired Air Force hubby, two sons and their families. She’s also an indentured servant to three cats and has been known to rescue a kitten or two, or three…in an attempt to keep her ‘cat-lady-in-training’ status current. Although, she has deviated from appointed path and rescued a few dogs as well.

Sue is a member of Romance Writers of America and their affiliate chapter, Love, Hope and Faith as well as American Christian Fiction Writers. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, Pinterest, and her blog.

GIVEAWAY:

Three winners will receive a copy of Catherine. Two winners will receive eBooks and one winner will receive an autographed paperback book of “Catherine.” All giveaways are open to international winners.

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once each day and by commenting daily on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached to this tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented.

Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international. Each entrant is eligible to win one eBook or paperback book.

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Good Luck!

The rest of the tour:

May 28 / My Jane Austen Book Club/ Launch Post & Giveaway
May 29 / From Pemberley to Milton/ Excerpt Post & Giveaway
May 30 / Just Jane 1813/ Guest Post & Giveaway
May 31 / More Agreeably Engaged/ Author Spotlight & Giveaway
June 1 / So Little Time… / Excerpt Post & Giveaway
June 2 / Liz’s Reading Life / Book Review & Giveaway
June 4 / Diary of an Eccentric /Book Review & Giveaway
June 5 / My Vices and Weaknesses / Book Review & Giveaway
June 6 / Savvy Verse & Wit / Guest Post & Giveaway
June 7 / Margie’s Must Reads/Book Review Post & Giveaway
June 8 / Obsessed with Mr. Darcy / Book Review & Giveaway
June 9 / My Love for Jane Austen / Excerpt Post & Giveaway
June 10 / Babblings of a Bookworm / Excerpt Post & Giveaway
June 11 / Austenesque Reviews/ Guest Post & Giveaway

Guest Post & Giveaway: Jenetta James on the Process of Title Choice for Lover’s Knot

I want to give Jenetta James a warm welcome today as she walks us through the title selection process for her novels, including her latest Lover’s Knot.

Of course, there will be a giveaway and you’ll learn about the book below. Enjoy!

About the Book:

A great love. A perplexing murder. Netherfield Park — a house of secrets.

Fitzwilliam Darcy is in a tangle. Captivated by Miss Elizabeth Bennet, a girl of no fortune and few connections. Embroiled in an infamous murder in the home of his friend, Charles Bingley. He is being tested in every way. Fearing for Elizabeth’s safety, Darcy moves to protect her in the only way he knows but is thwarted. Thus, he is forced to turn detective. Can he overcome his pride for the sake of Elizabeth? Can he, with a broken heart, fathom the villainy that has invaded their lives? Is there even a chance for love born of such strife?

Lover’s Knot is a romantic Pride & Prejudice variation, with a bit of mystery thrown in.

Take it away, Jenetta:

What’s in a name? Finding a title for “Lover’s Knot”

Firstly – a big thank you to Serena for having me to visit Savvy Verse & Wit as part of the “Lover’s Knot” blog tour. It is a pleasure and an honour to be here.

The first time I mentioned the title of my latest JAFF story to my family, there were looks of bemusement all around. “That doesn’t sound like a Pride & Prejudice variation” was the universal response.

The truth is that I enjoy the challenge of thinking up titles, but that doesn’t mean it comes easily to me. In the case of my first published story – “Suddenly Mrs. Darcy” – the title, which reflects a rapid forced marriage scenario, did just come to me one day. It turned up like a fortuitous taxi and I immediately knew that it was right, so it stayed, and that was that. For “The Elizabeth Papers”, I had more of a struggle. I wanted to elude to the mystery in the book, but also place the Darcys centre stage (as they are in the story). I had a number of possible titles and a piece of paper with dozens of words scrawled all over them. Hours would go by with me swapping them about and reading them out loud. Just when I began to think it was a hopeless task, “The Elizabeth Papers” revealed itself to me.

Now it is fair to say (I think) that the majority Pride & Prejudice variation stories have titles that in some way reflect the original. Alliterative plays on Jane Austen’s title and titles including the names of the major characters and of the major houses in the story, are rightly popular.

Lover’s Knot does not fit in with that – so where does it come from?

As many of you will know, a lover’s knot it is a well recognised type of knot – featuring more than one – usually two – knots threaded together. In addition to fastening things, it is a popular motif in jewellery – made most famous by the Cambridge Lover’s Knot tiara worn by Queen Mary, Diana,
Princess of Wales and now the Duchess of Cambridge.

Why did I chose it for my title?

The novel itself features a leather lover’s knot and it was only after I had written it that I quite realised the usefulness of the knot as a way of thinking about the story. It comes just before the end of part 1 that the reader is shown an item – a clue – which is fastened by lover’s knots. It isn’t particularly valuable – but it is difficult to explain and it seems important. When Mr. Darcy begins to investigate the crimes that have taken place, part of what he is seeking to explain is the item with the knot. It is a sort of symbol of the “whodunnit”. If he can sort out the clue – he might be able to fathom the mystery.

On top of that, the lover’s knot is a symbol of other things. It has a character which is both useful and decorative which is also apposite to the story.

This strong fastening is, and has been since antiquity, a symbol of love and friendship. Now that is useful in itself because love – and specifically the love between Mr Darcy and Elizabeth is the heart of this story and most other variations. However, there is more to it than that. Being a knot – it also represents a tangle – a thing to be unfastened if the occasion demands it. In “Lover’s Knot” – as in Pride & Prejudice – both Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy get themselves in something of a muddle. By reason of pride, prejudice and social mores, they each find themselves locked into unhappy situations. This is exacerbated in Lover’s Knot by the fact of the crimes that have taken place. For the story to resolve to provide for their happiness (which of course, it must do!), that knot has to be undone.

So, that is my explanation. What do you think? What are your favourite JAFF titles and why?

About the Author:

Jenetta James is a mother, writer, lawyer and taker-on of too much. She grew up in Cambridge and read history at Oxford University where she was a scholar and president of the Oxford University History Society. After graduating, she took to the law and now practices full-time as a barrister. Over the years, she has lived in France, Hungary, and Trinidad as well as her native England.

Jenetta currently lives in London with her husband and children where she enjoys reading, laughing, and playing with Lego. She has written, Suddenly Mrs. Darcy and The Elizabeth Papers as well as contributed short stories to both The Darcy Monologues and Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes and Gentlemen Rogues. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

GIVEAWAY:

Jenetta has selected a lovely giveaway package where one lucky winner will
receive a Pride & Prejudice scarf, a Kindle cover and paperback copies of all five of her JAFF books.

To enter, answer Janetta’s question about your favorite P&P titles.

Terms and conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once each day and by commenting
daily on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached to this tour.
Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented.
Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is
international. Each entrant is eligible to win one eBook.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Guest Post & Giveaway: Riana Everly, Author of The Assistant: Before Pride and Prejudice, Speaks about University of King’s College

I want to welcome Riana Everly back to Savvy Verse & Wit today with her new book, The Assistant.

About the Book:

A tale of love, secrets, and adventure across the ocean.

When textile merchant Edward Gardiner rescues an injured youth, he has no notion that this simple act of kindness will change his life. The boy is bright and has a gift for numbers that soon makes him a valued assistant and part of the Gardiners’ business, but he also has secrets and a set of unusual acquaintances. When he introduces Edward to his sparkling and unconventional friend, Miss Grant, Edward finds himself falling in love.

But who is this enigmatic woman who so quickly finds her way to Edward’s heart?

Do the deep secrets she refuses to reveal have anything to do with the appearance of a sinister stranger, or with the rumours of a missing heir to a northern estate? As danger mounts, Edward must find the answers in order to save the woman who has bewitched him . . . but the answers themselves may destroy all his hopes.

Set against the background of Jane Austen’s London, this Pride and Prejudice prequel casts us into the world of Elizabeth Bennet’s beloved Aunt and Uncle Gardiner. Their unlikely tale takes the reader from the woods of Derbyshire, to the ballrooms of London, to the shores of Nova Scotia. With so much at stake, can they find their Happily Ever After?

Please give Riana a warm welcome.

In The Assistant, Edward Gardiner has recently returned to England after completing his degree at King’s College in Nova Scotia. Having grown up in Canada, I had known about The University of King’s College for many, many years, but the university reasserted itself in my consciousness about five years ago when my son was starting to explore options for his own degree. He ultimately decided to go elsewhere, but he was very much taken with both King’s and Halifax, where the university is now located. When a friend’s son did choose to attend King’s, I was all the more impressed with the institution and what it has to offer, because it has been a terrific experience for this young man.

But what makes King’s so special? Every place has its first-rate institutions of higher learning. One of the many things that fascinated me about King’s was its history, reaching back to the 1700s, not a mean feat for such a young country as Canada.

The University of King’s College was founded in Windsor, Nova Scotia, in 1789. It was the first university to be established in what is now English-speaking Canada, and is the oldest English-language university in the Commonwealth outside the United Kingdom.

King’s actually began its existence in New York City, where it was founded by King George II on October 31, 1754. However, in 1776 the college was forced to halt operations for eight years due to ongoing revolution, warfare and social strife. During that time the library was looted and the university’s building was commandeered by both the British and American forces for use as a military hospital. When the school was taken over by revolutionary forces, the Loyalists, led by Bishop Charles Inglis, fled to Windsor, Nova Scotia. There, they founded the King’s Collegiate School in 1788, and the following year, the University of King’s College was established as a permanent institution. It was there that Edward Gardiner received his education just five years later.

And the old King’s in New York? After the revolution it was revived and renamed and is now located at Broadway and 116 th Street, New York City. These days, it is known as Columbia University.

There are a few more interesting points about King’s. It was modeled on the English universities, which were residential, based on a tutorial system, and were closely linked to the Church of England. In fact, until the end of the nineteenth century, all students had to be Anglican and take oaths affirming their assent to the 39 articles of the church. This is unlike Scottish universities of the time, where there was no religious test for students.

Of more interest to many sports fans, it is possible that the first game of hockey was played by King’s students in Winsdor, around the year 1800, when they decided to strap on skates and play a version of the field game of Hurley on the frozen pond. I am no tremendous sports fan, but there is something fun about imagining a very young Edward Gardiner being one of the first people to venture onto the ice and engage in an exciting game of Ice Hurley… or Ice Hockey!

These days, King’s is located in the city of Halifax, where it is affiliated with Dalhousie University. It remains, however, an independent institution, and one of the finest in Canada, with a world-wide reputation.

~*~ (Excerpt from Chapter One)

It was Edward’s own mother, Mary, who had convinced James Gardiner that young Edward needed an Education. Not of the social class to consider Oxford or Cambridge for their son, the Gardiners embarked upon a quest, and eventually determined upon the colonies. An old friend of Gardiner senior made the suggestion of King’s College in Nova Scotia, along with the offer of an apprenticeship in his export business there, which sent timber and furs across the ocean. The double allure of a classical education and personal experience in another part of his own family’s trade was too great to refuse, and upon completing his primary education in the local parish, Edward was sent to the small town of Windsor, Nova Scotia, some fifty miles from Halifax, the capital of that colony.

His three years abroad were initially lonely ones for the shy young man, but along with an excellent education, he also acquired the social skills required of a successful businessman. He learned to meet people and engage with them on their own terms; he learned that a pleasant smile and a friendly demeanour would better recommend him to others than mere social éclat; he learned the importance of business in keeping the blood of the Empire flowing; and most importantly, he learned that, in this less stratified world of the Atlantic colonies, tradesmen and sons of local magistrates were social equals, who could converse intelligently on matters of consequence. Edward returned home educated and mature, with a knowledge of his place in the world, but with the skills to move beyond his circles. He could discuss business affairs with his fellow merchants, fashion with the Ladies who sought unique decorations at his establishments, literature and sport with the gentlemen who accompanied them, and was a competent and sought-after chess partner.

In short, Edward Gardiner had every prospect of outshining his father.

Thank you, Riana, for sharing the history of King’s College and early hockey.

About the Author:

Riana Everly was born in South Africa, but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a Master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specialising in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11, and has never looked back.

Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading! Visit her on Facebook and at her website.

GIVEAWAY:

ENTER HERE.

Walk With Me by Debra Schoenberger

Source: the author
ebook, 108 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Walk with Me by Debra Schoenberger is just that a journey along with the photographer as she explores not only her own city of Victoria, British Columbia, but places to which she’s traveled. Her pictures range from the mundane moments of empty chairs in a restaurant to the pilled moisture on fruit. Her macro shots are detailed and well contrasted, and her close-ups of people illustrate the unbridled joy found in daily jaunts.

Schoenberger chooses to frame not only every day moments, but also colors that we often forget we see.  Highlighting the rainbows present in our busy lives demonstrates to readers of her book that there is more to our life than those scheduled appointments and deadlines. We need to remember those colors, those giggles of children’s laughter, and soft touch of petals on our skin. We can breathe in the scent of life to calm us and look at our neighborhoods to find the humor lost in large window displays.

Walk with Me by Debra Schoenberger is a journey, a meditation, and a pause for readers. I would like to have known where some of the photos were shot because there are some really interesting places captured here. They could be anywhere in the world, or right down the street.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Debra Schoenberger aka #girlwithcamera

“My dad always carried a camera under the seat of his car and was constantly taking pictures. I think that his example, together with pouring over National Geographic magazines as a child fueled my curiosity for the world around me.

I am a documentary photographer and street photography is my passion. Some of my images have been chosen by National Geographic as editor’s favorites and are on display in the National Geographic museum in Washington, DC.  I also have an off-kilter sense of humor so I’m always looking for the unusual.  Website ~  Facebook ​~ Instagram ~  Pinterest

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY:

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Giveaway & Interview with John Kessel, Author of Pride and Prometheus

It has been quite some time since I’ve conducted an interview with an author, but today, John Kessel, author of Pride and Prometheus, will answer a few questions. And there is a giveaway to be had.

First, a bit about the book:

Pride and Prejudice meets Frankenstein as Mary Bennet falls for the enigmatic Victor Frankenstein and befriends his monstrous Creature in this clever fusion of two popular classics.

Threatened with destruction unless he fashions a wife for his Creature, Victor Frankenstein travels to England where he meets Mary and Kitty Bennet, the remaining unmarried sisters of the Bennet family from Pride and Prejudice. As Mary and Victor become increasingly attracted to each other, the Creature looks on impatiently, waiting for his bride. But where will Victor find a female body from which to create the monster’s mate?

Meanwhile, the awkward Mary hopes that Victor will save her from approaching spinsterhood while wondering what dark secret he is keeping from her.

Pride and Prometheus fuses the gothic horror of Mary Shelley with the Regency romance of Jane Austen in an exciting novel that combines two age-old stories in a fresh and startling way.

Now, for the interview; give John a warm welcome:

1. When did you start writing and what was the first story or poem you wrote?

I was writing stories as early as grade school and sent my first submission to a magazine when I was in seventh grade. It was a terrible little one-page science fiction story that ended with a pun. I sent it to the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and it was rejected, but I was very excited to have the form rejection slip, which meant that some editor had read my story. I was not discouraged.

I did not send another story out until I was in college, and did not sell a story that actually appeared until I was in my late 20s. Ironically, my first sale that eventually got published was to the same magazine, Fantasy and Science Fiction, where I have since sold eighteen stories.

2. Why Jane Austen as a basis for a novel?

I love Austen’s novels but I would not have considered writing a novel based on Pride and Prejudice if I had not seen the opportunity to fuse Austen's characters with the characters and plot of Frankenstein. I became intrigued as much by the differences between Jane Austen’s and Mary Shelley’s writing as by the similarities, and in writing the book thought a lot about the differences between the novel of manners and the gothic, and the odd ways in which they might speak to one another. Also, it was fun, a kind of challenging puzzle, to make them come together in a satisfying way without disrespecting either writer or her work.

3. What character surprised you the most when writing Pride & Prometheus?

Mary Bennet surprised me the most. The Mary portrayed in Pride and Prejudice is a minor character, the most socially maladroit of the Bennet sisters, the only one who is not pretty. She’s the bookish one who quotes morality at her sisters and who cannot see how odious Mr. Collins is. Every time she appears in the book she says something pompous or clueless and everyone ignores her.

But I picked her to be my heroine, so I had to try to understand her and imagine how she might have an interior life that would not make her obnoxious or tedious even though others might see her that way. I had to grow her up—my story happens 13 years after Austen’s, so Mary has had a chance to evolve and mature. She became a stronger and more admirable character the farther the story went, and I liked her more and more. She
struggled to make things better in situations where others would give up, and she said and did a few things that surprised even me.

4. What was left on the cutting room floor during the editing process that you love most?

I don’t remember having to cut anything very substantial that I regretted losing. Mostly the story grew with successive drafts. There were some options I considered early on—notably a number of different endings—that I let go of as I worked through the story, but I think the ending I came to is the right one for this book.

5. What is next on the writing horizon? Future book?

I have been working on a story about the assassination of President William McKinley by the anarchist wannabe Leon Czolgosz at the Pan-American Exposition, a world’s fair, in Buffalo, New York in 1901. I grew up in Buffalo. Czolgosz was the son of Polish immigrants; my father was a Polish immigrant. The turn of the 20th century was a time of great wealth and poverty, political, and social change—like our own time. The fair was designed to promote electrification and the wonders of the future, a subject of interest to a person as obsessed with science fiction as I was as a young man.

There was an attraction at the fair called “A Trip to the Moon,” the first “dark ride” ever designed, like the ones at Disneyworld or Universal. One could take this ride to the moon and meet the underground Selenites, modeled after H.G. Wells’s novel First Men in the Moon. I think maybe Leon Czolgosz went to the moon before he shot the president. I think there’s a story in this, an opportunity for comedy and tragedy and social comment, though I am not sure exactly how it will work out. My tentative title is The Dark Ride.

Thanks, John, for taking the time to share with us your latest work and how Mary Bennet surprised you.

ENTER the U.S. giveaway below:

1. Leave a comment on the post with an email
2. Share on social media #giveaway #Pride&Prometheus @SavvyVerseWit #JohnKessel for another entry

Deadline to enter is March 14, 2018, 11:59 PM EST

Photo Credit: John Pagliuca

About the Author:

Born in Buffalo, New York, John Kessel’s most recent book is the new novel Pride and Prometheus. He is the author of the earlier novels The Moon and the Other, Good News from Outer Space and Corrupting Dr. Nice and in collaboration with James Patrick Kelly, Freedom Beach. His short story collections are Meeting in Infinity (a New York Times Notable Book), The Pure Product, and The Baum Plan for Financial Independence.

Kessel’s stories have twice received the Nebula Award given by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, in addition to the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, the Locus Poll, and the James Tiptree Jr. Award. His play “Faustfeathers’” won the Paul Green Playwright’s Prize, and his story “A Clean Escape” was adapted as an episode of the ABC TV series Masters of Science Fiction. In 2009 his story “Pride and Prometheus” received both the Nebula Award and the Shirley Jackson Award. With Jim Kelly, he has edited five anthologies of stories re-visioning contemporary short sf, most recently Digital Rapture: The Singularity Anthology.

Kessel holds a B.A. in Physics and English and a Ph.D. in American Literature. He helped found and served as the first director of the MFA program in creative writing at North Carolina State University, where he has taught since 1982. He and his wife, the novelist Therese Anne Fowler, live and work in Raleigh, N.C.

Guest Post & Giveaway: Fun Facts of A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity by Amy D’Orzaio

Today’s guest post is from Amy D’Orzaio, author of Jane Austen fiction A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity.

First, here’s a little about the book:

Is not the very meaning of love that it surpasses every objection against it?

Jilted. Never did Mr. Darcy imagine it could happen to him.

But it has, and by Elizabeth Bennet, the woman who first hated and rejected him but then came to love him—he believed—and agree to be his wife. Alas, it is a short-lived, ill-fated romance that ends nearly as soon as it has begun. No reason is given.

More than a year since he last saw her—a year of anger, confusion, and despair—he receives an invitation from the Bingleys to a house party at Netherfield. Darcy is first tempted to refuse, but with the understanding that Elizabeth will not attend, he decides to accept.

When a letter arrives, confirming Elizabeth’s intention to join them, Darcy resolves to meet her with indifference. He is determined that he will not demand answers to the questions that plague him. Elizabeth is also resolved to remain silent and hold fast to the secret behind her refusal. Once they are together, however, it proves difficult to deny the intense passion that still exists. Fury, grief, and profound love prove to be a combustible mixture. But will the secrets between them be their undoing?

Please give A. D’Orzaio a warm welcome:

Thank you, Serena, for hosting me here at your wonderful blog for the launch of my new release, A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity. Today, I am sharing a post about the time period in which this story is set. Most of us who regularly read Austenesque stories are pretty well versed on the
years in which canon takes place, 1811-1812.

A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity, however, is set a little bit later, from autumn 1813 into spring 1814 and because I am a research-loving writer, I naturally set about to learn all I could about that time. I thought it might be fun to talk about some of the things which were happening in England at this time, to give everyone a little flavor of the world of my D&E. This list isn’t comprehensive by any means — but it is a list of things which have relevance to my story!

1. 1814 was one of the coldest years ever

From the end of December 1813 into January 1814, temperatures averaged -0.4◦C (24◦F) making it one of the five coldest winters in recorded history (up to that time — England has suffered worse since) Temperatures fell as low as -13◦C (8◦F), and the Thames froze solid enough to host a fair and provide support for an elephant to traverse it. It was also the most snow that England had for three centuries prior and for some time, drifts of snow 6 feet high blocked roads and halted the mail service.

There was an unexpected warming trend at the end of March and April proved uncommonly warm, almost summery (personally I am hoping for the same this winter!)

2. Lord Byron published his wildly successful book The Corsair

Le Corsair sold 10,000 copies in its first day of release (Dang!) In comparison, Pride and Prejudice, which was released only the year before, sold 1000-1200 copies in its first year and was also considered an enormous success.

3. Aladdin was onstage at Covent Garden Theatre.

While previously it had been performed as a juvenile pantomime, a new version of Aladdin debuted in 1813. It was touted as “a grand romantic spectacle” to differentiate itself from the prior, failed performances.

4. That red cloak!

Okay so this one doesn’t just pertain to 1814 but it’s on the cover of my book, so I thought it was worth a mention.

I will be honest and say I had previously thought red cloaks were the style of younger, more brazen type of women, an opinion which probably formed when I saw Kitty and Lydia Bennet sporting them in the 1995 miniseries of Pride and Prejudice.

A little research proved me entirely wrong! The red cloak was a staple of any fashionable English lady’s wardrobe for many decades, beginning in the latter part of the 18th century. Made of double-milled wool (to improve weather resistance) and lined for functional use and warmth. Some women had them for evening wear as well, made of light, unlined silks or velvet.

Why red? It was likely that the ladies were, in some sense, adapting the style of the military, as is often seen in war times, regardless of what century you live in. Red was considered a symbol of power and wealth, as well as patriotism — it was the red of the cross of St George, and the red
which dominated the crest of the House of Hanover, King George’s ancestry.

The extended reign of the red cloak lasted well into the 19th century, finally considered outmoded somewhere around 1830.

5. The Flu

Most of us who think of Regency England think of the Napoleonic Wars, but there were over 60,000 British soldiers (regulars and militia) who were in North America fighting the War of 1812.

The young men who traveled to North America from their homes in England faced danger not only on the battlefield but also from disease. North America and its people (including Native Americans) had particular strains of illnesses like the flu and pneumonia to which the young men from England had no immunity. Most historians believe it was disease, more so than battle, that killed the men who died in the War of 1812.

Those who did not succumb to the disease themselves were often sent home where they exposed people in England to these diseases. As a result, there was a near-epidemic of pneumonia and fever in London and in the towns and villages which hosted military units.

Thanks, Amy, for these interesting facts. I cannot wait to read this one.

About the Author:

Amy D’Orazio is a former breast cancer researcher and current stay at home mom who is addicted to Austen and Starbucks in about equal measures. While she adores Mr. Darcy, she is married to Mr. Bingley and their Pemberley is in Pittsburgh, Pa.

She has two daughters who are devoted to sports which require long practices and began writing her own stories as a way to pass the time she spent sitting in the lobbies of various gyms and studios. She is a firm believer that all stories should have long looks, stolen kisses and happily ever afters. Like her favorite heroine, she dearly loves a laugh and considers herself an excellent walker.

Visit her on Twitter, Facebook, GoodReads, and Meryton Press.

International Giveaway:

8 eBooks of A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity are being given away by Meryton Press and the giveaway is open to international readers. This giveaway is open to entries from midnight ET on Feb. 21 – until midnight ET on March 8, 2018. ENTER HERE.

Terms and conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once each day and by commenting daily on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached to this tour.

Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented.

Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international. Each entrant is eligible to win one eBook.

The Sweetest Ruin by Amy George

Source: publisher
Kindle, 150 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

The Sweetest Ruin by Amy George is a modern retelling of Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen set in Sin City — Las Vegas, Nevada.  Yes, that sin city! William Darcy is a workaholic and his family is deeply concerned about his health. After his doctor orders him on bed rest, Darcy finds himself smothered by love and concern, and too much attention to his work habits. The walls are closing in on him, and he takes off for America.

There’s an old saying about Vegas: “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!”

Unfortunately, how Darcy meets Elizabeth is not at all what readers will expect and what happens in Vegas will likely not stay in Vegas if he has anything to say about it. He’s fallen head over heels and he has to break it to his over-protective sister, Georgiana.

“There was no sound coming from England. No breathing, no thudding telephone. It was the quietest his sister had ever been.”

Darcy and Lizzy not only have to come to terms with their quick romance, but also how different their lives are from one another. Will secrets he’s keeping wear their thin connection away or will their love conquer all? Even his condescending and rude sister?

George’s novella shows a delightfully carefree Lizzy living in Nevada, and even though she’s lost much, she’s created her own family from the friends she encounters. Her support system is strong and fiercely protective, like Darcy’s sister. Despite a few editorial misses in the copy I had, the story was fast-paced and full of romance and humor. I particularly loved Thad and Damien and, of course, Lizzy and Darcy. There were a few things that were wrapped up rather quickly, probably because it is a novella, but I wish there had been a few hints dropped earlier about how Georgiana would come around to liking Lizzy.

The Sweetest Ruin by Amy George is delightful in its demonstration of how a workaholic can find the balance he needs with the woman he loves by his side.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Amy George is a middle-aged woman who got rid of her old lady/grown up and has since purchased an unreasonably small car. She refuses to listen to its radio at a reasonable volume, especially when the Beastie Boys or the Violent Femmes are playing. She lives in a small town in the Midwest where the bookstore and yarn shop are neighbors and most food is fried. Her household consists of a dog, a man, a hermit, and stubborn soap scum. She has been writing since she was a child and ran the Hyacinth Gardens, a popular but defunct JAFF site.

Fun fact: My birthday is January 30th so this is like a big birthday party.

Find her on Facebook, GoodReads, Meryton Press, and Twitter.

Giveaway:

8 eBooks of The Sweetest Ruin are being given away by Meryton Press and the giveaway is open to international readers.

Terms and conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once each day and by commenting daily on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached to this tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented.

Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international. Each entrant is eligible to win one eBook.

ENTER HERE

GOOD LUCK, EVERYONE!

Spotlight & Giveaway: Darcy’s Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes and Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey by Ginger Monette

Ginger Monette’s Darcy’s Hope: Beauty from Ashes and Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey have been combined into one volume. I loved both of these books. I cannot recommend them enough, and now you can just buy one volume.

About the new volume:

Escape to the era of Downton Abbey with Lizzy and Darcy! Immerse yourself in a sweeping romantic and drama-filled saga that includes two full-length novels—both Darcy’s Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes and Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey.

~Volume I: Darcy’s Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes (on my Best of 2016 list)

Heartbroken. Devastated. WWI Captain Fitzwilliam Darcy was rejected by the woman he loved and vows, “No more sentimental entanglements!”

But an undercover assignment at a field hospital brings him face to face with his beloved Elizabeth—who’s working with a dashing American doctor and a prime suspect in the espionage plot.

Forced to grapple with his feelings for her, Darcy has only a few months build a lasting bridge to her and uncover the truth before she’s condemned to a traitor’s noose.

~Volume II: Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey (On my Honorable Mentions list last year)

Darcy has won the heart of Elizabeth Bennet. Finally.

Then she vanishes.

Still reeling from the loss, Darcy attempts a heroic feat and only survives by the daring rescue of his faithful batman John Thornton. But the damage is done. Darcy is plunged into a dark and silent world.

Sent to Donwell Abbey to recover, he’s coaxed back to life by an extraordinary nurse determined to teach him how to live and love again. A woman whose uncanny similarities to Elizabeth invite his admiration and entice his affections.

His heart tells him to hold on to Elizabeth.

His head tells him to take a chance with his nurse.

But a secret at Donwell Abbey just might change everything…

About the Author:

Ginger Monette currently writes riveting romances inspired by Donwton Abbey and Jane Austen. Her use of compelling plot, vivid historical detail, and deep point of view has earned her stellar reviews for her Darcy’s Hope saga and a grand prize for flash fiction. Living in Charlotte, NC, Ginger enjoys Pilates, period and Turkish dramas, public speaking, and reading—a full-length novel every Sunday afternoon. Check out the book trailer. Visit her on Facebook.

Visit Diary of an Eccentric for an interview with Ginger.

GIVEAWAY: 1 ebook of The Darcy’s Hope Saga

Leave a comment about in what era you’d like to see Darcy and Elizabeth fall in love.

Comment by Jan. 31, 2018.  Spread the word and leave me a link where you shared and get another entry.

GOOD LUCK!

Guest Post & Giveaway: Writing with Blinders by Audrey Ryan

I want to welcome Audrey Ryan to the blog today. She will share with us a bit about her writing process.

Before we get to that and the international giveaway, please read about her modern Pride & Prejudice, All the Things I Know.

About the Book:

Lizzie Venetidis is confident in her decisions. Moving to Seattle with her sister Jane after she graduated from Stanford, for instance, was a no-brainer. Adult life, however, turns out to be more difficult to navigate than she expected.

What career should she pursue with a bachelor’s degree in art history and no marketable experience amongst a tech-heavy job market? How responsible is it to drink that fourth cocktail while out with friends? And what should she do about Darcy—the aloof yet captivating guy she
met her first night in town? All the Things I Know is a one-mistake- at-a- time retelling of Pride & Prejudice, set against the backdrop of modern-day techie Seattle. Full of wry observations, heartache, and life lessons, All the Things I Know shares the original’s lessons of correcting ill-conceived first impressions and learning who you really are.

Please welcome, Audrey.

Thank you for welcoming me for during the second week of my blog tour! I thought for this guest post, I would delve into some of writing techniques and inspirations. I hope they are not only interesting, but also inspire many “to be” writers! I have five topics I thought to share.

Writing with Blinders

The greatest fault I have as a writer is “looking back” and rewriting. Let me explain. Revising and improving are a wonderful practice as a writer, but if you’re like me, this has to come when the story is complete. Why? Otherwise it will never be completed! I remember the first novel I started in college. This novel was a YA Urban fantasy that I had fully plotted, but never reached past ten chapters. These ten chapters I continued to rewrite for about four years straight. I wanted them to be perfect and I constantly doubted them. I made the mistake of dwelling on them too much and did not let myself keep going. Part of the problem for me in those early days is that I wrote in one huge word doc, so I would feel compelled to read from the beginning when I started writing instead of picking up where I left off. When I started writing All the Things I Know, I made a conscious decision to employ “chunking” and to also not look at what I had written when I had finished it. I had to keep moving forward. Perhaps when I would “stitch” my chapters together, I would make edits here and there, but I wouldn’t question the words I put to page. That was to come in the editing process.

Chunking

Chunking is typically a method used to make reading more digestible and speedy. You often see it employed as top ten lists, for instance. I use it a bit differently when writing fiction. Instead of reading in digestible chunks, I write in them. I set a word count goal for a chapter and then a small outline that includes every point I want to address in that chapter. Then, with each theme/scene/goal in mind, I write in small chunks. This particularly helps me keep my momentum going when I’m not feeling particularly inspired. True, there are times when the inspiration fairy glitters all over me and I can write to my muse’s content, but that’s not the reality in most cases. More than half the time, I’m sitting at the computer wondering what I’m trying to say and how I want to say it. By boiling down the main points into small scenes with easy to attain word counts, I take the stress out of my progress. I don’t look back at what I’ve written until it’s time to stitch the scenes together. Sometimes I over-write and sometimes I under-write when I come to that phase, but I find it easier to edit and “massage” a chapter when I already have a jumping off point.

The Ideal Environment

Due to the fact I have a full-time job and an hour commute on public transportation, my ideal writing environment is not always available. I am most prolific when sitting at a coffee shop, not connected to the Wi-Fi, and listing to my inspiration playlist. Why does this work for me? Well, to put it bluntly, I am a procrastinator. If I’m grabbing an hour to write at home, I’m spending thirty minutes of that distracted by Facebook. Add to that that once I’m home for the day, all I want to do is snuggle with my cat and talk to my husband. Once the “at home” outfit is on, I am reading a book with no thoughts to productivity. Take me out of that environment and it’s a different story. If I’m in a busy coffee shop, I feed off the energy of those around me. True, I am wearing headphone (I call them “my office”) to help with concentration (otherwise I would be eavesdropping like a creeper). My husband is also a writer and we will have writing dates at one of our favorite coffee shops. Those are the best for me. I set myself a writing goal and just go. Plus, it’s very rewarding to tell him how many words I completed in our few hours together.

The Soundtrack

I have a few soundtracks I depend on when writing. My go to general writing soundtrack is to go for word-less piano music. Philip Glass and Dustin O’Halloran are among my top artists. However, one of my favorite things to do is create a soundtrack to the story I’m writing. Generally, I tinker with this playlist a lot until it feels like just the right mix. When I’m knee deep in a story, I will listen to this soundtrack ad nauseam; whether I’m writing, commuting, cooking, or at my day job. For All the Things I Know, I created a playlist early on Spotify. It’s a mix of New Wave, New Wave covers, and Indie Pop songs that remind me of Lizzie, Darcy and points in the story. In fact, I often would sit and listen to this soundtrack and play a mindless game on my tablet in order to find inspiration. It’s like staring at the wall 2.0. And if you’re curious, yes I did make this playlist public. You can listen to it yourself here.

Physical Place as Inspiration

As you may have gathered by reading other posts along the blog tour, the sense of place was very important in the creation of All the Things I Know. In some sense, it was easy to write about because I know Seattle so well. In other cases, I used my real setting to inspire my fiction. Taking the tool of my soundtrack, finding alone time in many of the settings that inspired me helped me get ideas. For instance, there is a tea shop in Ballard called Miro Tea and a coffee shop a few blocks away called Caffe Fiore. In my mind’s eye, Cafe Longue was a mixture of the two. Taking myself to the physical places and writing observations helped me to create the atmosphere of these scenes. Sort of like sketching from a real-life model of still life. A flat picture as reference is nice, but the real place is better.

Thank you again for hosting me on the blog tour! Good luck to all the readers on the giveaway!

About the Author:

Audrey Ryan is the nom de plume of Andrea Pangilinan: daydreamer, wife and step-mother, and obsessive story consumer. She studied writing in college, dreamt about becoming a novelist and slowly forgot about it when real life took over. With a particular affection for contemporary retellings, adapting Pride & Prejudice to modern day has always been a dream.

When she’s not reading and writing, Andrea is a marketing slave to the internet industry. She enjoys talking crazy to her weirdo cat, consuming copious amount of wine and coffee with her girlfriends, and record shopping with her husband. Oh yeah, and there’s that small Jane Austen
obsession. That doesn’t take up any time at all.

Follow her online:

http://audreyryan.merytonpress.com
https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAudreyR/
https://twitter.com/AuthorAudreyR

Enter the Giveaway for 8 e-books of All the Things I Know by Audrey Ryan

Terms and Conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented.

Remember: Tweet and comment once daily to earn extra entries.

Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.

Guest Post & Giveaway: Dubious History of Austen’s Romances Opens Door to Story of Love by Collins Hemingway

Collins Hemingway has visited us before with Vol. II of The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen. And I’m happy to announce that he’s back with Vol. III, which will be published on Nov. 30.

About the book:

In the moving conclusion to The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen, Jane and her husband struggle with the serious illness of their son, confront a bitter relationship with the aristocratic family who were once their friends, and face the horrific prospect of war when the British Army falters on the continent. The momentous events of the Napoleonic wars and the agonizing trials of their personal lives take Jane and Ashton to a decision that will decide their fate—and her future—once and for all.

Stay tuned for the giveaway details below.  Let’s give Collins a warm welcome:

Dubious History of Austen’s Romances Opens Door to Story of Love

Jane Austen’s life is relatively well documented, as a dozen biographies attest. We know she was born and raised at Steventon, Hampshire, moved to Bath (unhappily, it seems) when her father retired in 1801, and moved in 1809 to the now famous cottage in Chawton where she dedicated the rest of her short life to fiction.

But what of the years between her middle twenties until she went to Chawton? Unlike the rest of her life, this seven-year period between 1802 and 1809 goes puzzlingly blank. She remained in Bath until after her father died in 1805 and then, along with her mother, sister Cassandra, and family friend Martha, shuttled around southern England looking for cheap places to live. That effort ended at Chawton when their brother Edward, adopted heir of the Knight family, gave them a permanent home.

Two things are interesting about the seven-year period. First, this spans the years of which her beloved sister Cass destroyed virtually all her correspondence, along with any journals she may have kept. Second, it’s when Jane had one or more serious romantic relationships. One can calculate that there must be a connection.

From the time Jane’s extant letters begin in 1796 until they end with her death in 1817, the surviving correspondence is relatively steady at ten or so letters a year. Yet in her mid-twenties, this dramatically changes.

In this time, we have a three-and- a-half- year gap in Jane’s letters, 1801-1804; a year-long gap, mid-1805 to mid-1806; and a 16-month gap, February 1807-June 1808. We have only 13 letters—not quite 2 a year—from 1801 to late 1808, when they begin again with some regularity. Besides the occasional passing reference to her in other people’s letters and diaries, we know nothing of Jane’s whereabouts or doings for this time.

The romances are of this time, too. According to the family, in 1828 Cassandra saw a man who reminded her of a one-time suitor of Jane, and she told her nieces Caroline and Louisa that they had met the beau on the Devonshire coast in 1801, he and Jane had fallen in love, and they were to meet again, when a proposal was expected. Instead Jane learned that he had died. Cass says he was “pleasing and very good looking,” but never provides the man’s name.

Manydown Park, where Jane Austen attended many balls and, according to one niece, accepted and rejected a marriage proposal.

What’s odd is that Cass does not mention this story until 1828— more than a quarter-century after it is supposed to have happened! The nieces cannot even agree about where on the Devonshire coast this romance occurs. Cassandra spreads more confusion than information about that circumstance.

Even speaking about this expected proposal, she apparently fails to mention to her nieces a proposal that Jane supposedly did receive in December 1802. Biographers dutifully recount the engagement to Harris Bigg-Wither, when (the story is) she accepted a proposal from the wealthy but boorish young man, recanted it overnight, and, humiliated, fled back to her parents in Bath.

Harris Bigg-Wither was supposed to have proposed to Jane Austen, but the provenance of the story is confusingly suspicious.

What is strange, however, is that this purported engagement and refusal, which would have created a scandal, does not appear to show up in any surviving contemporaneous letters or journals by anyone who knew Jane. The event is not recorded until nearly 70 years later by one of same nieces, Caroline, who was not even alive when it supposedly occurred in 1802!

Caroline sourced the story to her mother, Mary, who died in 1843—26 years after Jane died, 41 years after the event, and 27 years before Caroline’s telling. How would Mary have recalled the exact dates, December 2-3, 1802, of a proposal involving a sister-in- law she was not close to?

The proposal is recounted in the first memoir of Jane, put together by James Edward, Caroline’s older brother, with Caroline’s help. James Edward was 19 when Jane died—he attended her funeral on behalf of his father—yet he sources his younger sister for the tale of the botched proposal. Wouldn’t he have heard the story around the dining room table from his parents himself?

How is it this story is handed down by a niece too young to have known about it directly but not by the many other nieces and nephews who were alive?

Both of these “romances” come across as a bit unreal. There are too many specifics in one major encounter (Bigg-Wither) and far too few in another (the mysterious suitor on the beach). Were there separate romantic encounters, each one ending disastrously, or perhaps one relationship that these inconsistent stories point to—or are designed to point away from?

When Austen began to be famous and her family took notice, society was now in the middle of the repressed Victorian era. As the memoir makes clear, her nieces and nephews were happy to bury any suggestion that Austen would have ever done anything untoward such as write to make
a living or—fall in love. (The author Virginia Woolf, in contrast, says that “Persuasion” proves that Austen had loved intensely and by 1817 no longer cared who knew.)

One does not have to be a conspiracy theorist to envision the possibility that there may have been a very serious relationship overlooked or even hidden by her prim and proper descendants. What if Jane Austen had married? What if she had met someone very much her equal but also the sort of man a Victorian might want to lose in the mists of time?

What kind of man might that be? How would their relationship have begun? (Might bits and pieces of the history be true?) How would it have developed? How would it have ended? This possibility led me on a lengthy research and writing project culminating in the release this week
of the third and last volume of “The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen.”

The trilogy spans these seven years of 1802-1809: Volume I, a love story; Volume II, a deep psychological portrait of a woman’s first year of marriage; Volume III, which tests Austen’s courage and moral convictions as she must face the most difficult choices of life.

My goal was to tell a tale of a meaningful relationship built upon the “understanding” Austen often writes about. I wanted to see how, as a married woman, she might have fit into the large and turbulent world of the Regency. Perhaps most important, I wanted to see how the archetypal
woman of the period would have handled all that marriage meant for a woman of that day.

Giveaway Info: (open internationally)

Enter by Dec. 5, 2017, to win one e-book volume of your choice from Collins Hemingway or a print copy if you live within the United States.