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Guest Post & Giveaway: In Plain Sight by Don Jacobson

Please welcome Don Jacobson to the blog today with his latest Pride & Prejudice variation In Plain Sight.

As some of you may be aware, Don was challenged by Lory Lilian to write a D/L love story. Joana Starnes also kept pushing/encouraging him to do the same. Well, he finally did it.

Book Synopsis:

“At the end of the day when we are each of us lyin’ flat on our backs, lookin’ at the ceiling, and the vicar is whisperin’ in our ear, the greatest comfort we shall ’ave is to know that we loved well and were well loved in return.”

When Fitzwilliam Darcy’s father slides into an early grave, his son is forced to take on
Pemberley’s mantle. Brandy numbs his pain, but Darcy’s worst inclinations run wild. After tragedy rips everything away, he spends years finding his way back: a man redeemed by a woman’s loving understanding.

Elizabeth Bennet is afflicted with a common Regency ailment: observing the world about her but not seeing those beneath her notice. Then a clarifying act shatters the propriety that has denied her heart the transcendent love she craves.

In Plain Sight explores Jane Austen’s eternal love story by flipping social roles on their heads. From their first encounter, Elizabeth Bennet and the convict known as “Smith” must overcome their prejudices and break through their pride. Only then can they share the treasure hidden in plain sight.

Please welcome, Don, to the blog:

Thank you, Serena, for hosting me today as I continue through the blog tour for In Plain Sight. This vignette is actually an epilogue which could have been presented after the last chapter of the novel. However, I decided that the ending was so much stronger if I left Darcy and Elizabeth and the Pemberley family outside in the great driveway. We know that all will move into their HEA as they are in their Happily-Ever-Now at that exact moment. Yet, for those who might be interested in what happened to our characters in later times, I offer this selection.

An Epilogue of Sorts

Watson’s Mill, Meryton, August 8, 1819

The bread line snaked past the trestle tables set up by the mill’s chained and padlocked iron gate. The counters were staffed by a patchwork of neighborhood notables leavened by folk whose hands showed the wear-and-tear of daily toil. The continuing economic collapse had left those dependent upon the now-silent spinning jennies and looms on the brink of starvation. Even in the midst of this privation, scarecrow children clad in rags gamboled around the flagged mews laid between the five-story brick edifice and the great millpond. The sturdiest mother’s heart or aunt’s nerves palpitated when youthful exuberance overcame good sense as one little one or another streaked toward the greasy waters that usually fed the great wheel powering the factory. The watercourse was still now, its force unnecessary. On the far side of the pool, the Lea-Mimram Canal was filled with a brackish sludge. The refreshing surges of Mimram water that usually swept
through the channel were non-existent in this time of crisis. Great cauldrons of soup steamed in the morning air. Freshly baked bread contributed a yeasty aroma that spoke of brighter days. Granaries controlled by Meryton’s squirearchy had been thrown open to feed the unemployed. Estate mistresses turned out their attics to fill the levy for Longbourn Chapel’s poor box.

Mr. Benton, an archdeacon for the diocese, and Mr. Tomlinson, the town’s Methodist speaker, policed the queue, collecting tidbits of news from their female parishioners. This was not gossip, but rather a taking of the temperature of the neighborhood. Benton would gather tales of drunkenness, illness, pregnancy, and malnutrition and add them to his own
wife’s burden. Mrs. Mary would take that intelligence and confidently march into Meryton’s four-and-twenty parlors of note and prod ladies to do their Christian duty. She was not above leaning upon her connections. Elizabeth Darcy, Jane Bingley, and Georgiana Cecil often would add their considerable social weight through gently worded invitations to
events in town.

Tomlinson, lately a sergeant in His Majesty’s Army, leaned on his earlier experience to winkle out the scent of discontent. He had opened the Good Book when he had closed his military career. Tomlinson believed that a man served the Lord first, but he could also support the realm in second place. Women this day told of caravans rolling north to hear Henry Hunt speak. He knew that his former master, General Fitzwilliam, would take these threads and weave a tapestry that he would lay before Liverpool’s cabinet. The general was settled on a chair leaned against the bolted doors of the tavern opposite the manufactory. His equine companion, Imperator, was left gamboling in one of Purvis Lodge’s paddocks where four or five of his favorite broodmares competed for his affections. Fitzwilliam snorted as he recalled his old friend, nearly twenty he was, prancing about the stable yard, nipping at youngsters to remind them that he was king.

Like Impy, Fitzwilliam was no country squire, wide across the bottom. His usual bluff demeanor and partial deafness gave him an air of rusticated geniality. Yet, he frequently surprised regimental colonels as he explained the facts of life. No officer would ever forget that the horse-breeder at Purvis Lodge regularly cultivated his connections in town’s rarified high country. The militia never gave Meryton trouble.

Comfortably tilted back next to Fitzwilliam was James Foote. Foote’s invisibility, growing from his time as a Longbourn servant, had served the General well as he stage- managed the dark ballet that kept the Czar, Metternich, and Talleyrand in their respective boxes. Foote was adjusting to fatherhood as his wife, the former Miss Tomkins, had recently birthed their second son. She was seated beneath an oak that shaded the town square. Mrs. Foote, along with Charlotte Fitzwilliam, kept a weather eye upon a dozen children from various branches of the Longbourn family.

Also enjoying the shade were two old friends. The black and white board lay upon a portable table set between them. Moves were made, but both men, widowers now after the fever of in the year seventeen had swept off their ladies, spent more time chatting with each other about things of which old men often do, of the world as it was in their youth.

Michael Hastings, now retired, in the midst of his bereavement, had found himself taking advantage of a long-standing invitation to visit Pemberley. There he met his college friend, Tom Bennet, who likewise was draped in black. The two gentlemen sat side-by-side in the great library, a stack of books and a bottle of port between them. Before long, they
reignited their ancient comity. Realizing that loneliness was the quickest path to the grave for men of their ilk, an unspoken agreement was reached. Hastings closed up his Derby house and moved into Longbourn with Bennet.

The judge’s hand hovered above his castle—a staunch tory, Hastings always favored his bishops and rooks. A snuffling sound distracted him.

Affecting a grim look, he speared the miscreant with a beam from beneath bushy brows. The curly headed youngster, old enough to be out of leading strings but not so grown as to have escaped the nursery table, was unmoved. He had the courage of a child well-acquainted with the fact that the Moon and the Sun revolved around him.

Hastings growled. “Well, son, who do you belong to? All of your cousins look like Mr. Bennet here.”—he waved at his opponent who unsuccessfully tried to stifle his guffaw— “and I find myself at a loss.”

The little fellow stood straight and confidently began, “Of course I take after Mr. Bennet. He is my Grandpapa, after all! I am a Darcy!”

Then Master Darcy leaned in and confided. “My Mama told me that we were not Darcys today, but rather Smiths.” So saying he scurried off.

“And where are the…Smiths?” Hastings quizzed his housemate. Bennet pointed with his chin as his eyes returned to the chessboard. “Last I saw, Lizzy and Will were strolling on the towpath.”

###

The shingle crunched beneath their feet as they left Meryton behind and approached Longbourn. The lady was clearly with child.

Elizabeth looked up at Darcy and smiled. “You know how happy you have made Mary and Edward. They have been feeding and clothing the mill families for months. Usually it is just Charlotte and Richard manning the barricades.

“Mary knows that you would be loath to leave Pemberley in August with my pending confinement. I will own that I would have preferred the cooler Derbyshire climes to semi- tropical Meryton. However, you appeared in our sitting room one morning and stated, ‘You are yet able to travel. Edward wrote me telling of their work at Watson’s, and he is concerned that your sister was wearing herself thin. She could use our help.’

“And, you were correct, dearest. Mary is like a terrier and will just not let go or ask for aid.”

Darcy looked down at his wife. The toes of his worn work boots kicked out from beneath the simply hemmed cuffs of his canvas pantaloons. He shifted his shoulders beneath the red-checked cloth of his shapeless shirt. These clothes rarely saw the light of day except when Fitzwilliam Darcy wished to move about incognito, to be unseen by all except the crowd.

“Elizabeth,” he said, “I approached you because I knew that Mary’s silence was out of love for you. Her fear would be that you would become agitated with the knowledge and immediately rush to the stables to have the carriage horses harnessed.

“My own motivation was in a similar vein. I knew that if you had learned of this situation, you would have worried yourself trying to encourage me to overcome my protective nature and allow us to travel. I stole a march on you by acting first.”

He placed his hand atop hers where it rested in the crook of his elbow. “I knew that Bingley would never leave Thornhill, not with your sister so close to her confinement. I hoped to console myself with the thought that Mrs. Denny and Mrs. Keith would be in town, that we could let this opportunity pass. Then I wondered if the militia had relocated to Brighton.”

Elizabeth nodded, “Your instincts were correct. Kitty, as the Colonel’s lady is installed in her Regency Square house lording it over the regiment’s wives. As for Lydia, she has gone to her house in Bristol to await the Captain’s return from the Orient.”

Darcy smiled. “Acting on impulse was the right thing to do. I vow, Elizabeth, I am becoming more like Bingley every day! Speaking of things Bingley, and I ask this for informational purposes only, have you heard anything about the Soamses?”

Elizabeth peered up at him from beneath her brim. “It has been seven years. Not once in all that time have you asked about that awful man and his wife.”

“’Tis a time I would prefer to forget, dearest,” he softly replied, focusing his eyes toward where the arrow-straight ditch crossed onto Longbourn. His wife sighed and answered, “Sir Thaddeus’ son is at Cambridge. His eldest daughter turned seventeen in February. Jane tells me they wished to launch Miss Soames into society this past Season but had to wait until May. They took a house in Portman Square.

“Matlock wrote to say that she assisted, not wishing to punish the daughter for the sins of the parents. The countess found one of her friends to sponsor the girl at court. That acquaintance also threw a small soiree where Miss Soames played and sang. Apparently, that and her £22,000 dowry landed her an offer from a viscount’s second son.”

Darcy nodded as they continued walking. After several minutes he continued, “Lady Soames must had been thrilled with her stepdaughter’s success.”

Elizabeth could feel her husband’s arm tense beneath her hand. “William, it is ancient history. We have three darling children and another on the way. We are done with them.”

Darcy relaxed. “And how many children has Sir Thaddeus gotten upon his wife?”

Surprised at the sudden change in direction, Elizabeth replied, “Five.”

Darcy’s voice rumbled, shivering her entire being. “Hmmmpf. Five to your three, Mrs. Darcy. Miss Bingley, or should I say Lady Soames, is undoubtedly more accomplished than you.”

Elizabeth squeaked and slapped his arm in faux outrage.

He recaptured her errant hand.

Then husband and wife, convict and housemaid, moved down the path toward the manor house, its gables barely visible above a copse of oaks.

Giveaway:

Meryton Press is giving away 8 eBooks of In Plain Sight by Don Jacobson.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author:

Don Jacobson has written professionally for forty years. His output has ranged from news and features to advertising, television, and radio. His work has been nominated for Emmys and other awards. He has previously published five books, all non-fiction. In 2016, he began publishing The Bennet Wardrobe Series—

  • The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey (2016)
  • Henry Fitzwilliam’s War (2016)
  • The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque (2017)
  • Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess (2017)
  • The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn (2018)
  • The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament (2018)
  • The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion (2019)

Jacobson is also part of the collective effort behind the publication of the upcoming North and South anthology, Falling for Mr. Thornton: Tales of North and South, released in 2019.

Other Austenesque Variations include the paired books “Of Fortune’s Reversal” (2016) and “The Maid and The Footman” (2016). Lessers and Betters (2018) offers readers the paired novellas in one volume to allow a better appreciation of the “Upstairs-Downstairs” mentality that drives the stories.

Jacobson holds an advanced degree in History with a specialty in American Foreign Relations. As a college instructor, Don teaches United States History, World History, the History of Western Civilization, and Research Writing. He is a member of the Austen Authors Collective and JASNA. He lives in Las Vegas, NV with his wife, Pam.

Guest Post & Giveaway: Rebellion at Longbourn by Victoria Kincaid

Hello readers. Today we have a delightful look at Victoria Kincaid’s latest Pride & Prejudice variation novel, Rebellion at Longbourn.

First, I want to share with you a little bit about the book before we get to Kincaid’s excerpt and the giveaway. Please give her and everyone at Longbourn a warm welcome.

Synopsis:

Elizabeth Bennet’s father died two years ago, and her odious cousin Mr. Collins has taken possession of the Longbourn estate. Although Collins and his wife Charlotte have allowed the Bennet sisters and their mother to continue living at Longbourn, the situation is difficult. Viewing Elizabeth and her sisters as little more than unpaid servants, Collins also mistreats the tenants, spends the estate’s money with abandon, and rejects any suggestions about improving or modernizing Longbourn.

After one particularly egregious incident, Elizabeth decides she must organize a covert resistance among her sisters and the tenants, secretly using more modern agricultural methods to help the estate thrive. Her scheme is just getting underway when Mr. Darcy appears in Meryton. Upon returning from a long international voyage, Darcy is forced to admit he cannot forget his love for Elizabeth. When he learns of the Bennet family’s plight, he hurries to Hertfordshire, hoping he can provide assistance.

Sinking into poverty, Elizabeth is further out of Darcy’s reach than ever; still, he cannot help falling even more deeply in love. But what will he do when he discovers her covert rebellion against Longbourn’s rightful owner? Falling in love with Mr. Darcy was not part of Elizabeth’s plan, but it cannot be denied. Darcy struggles to separate his love for her from his abhorrence for deception. Will their feelings for each other help or hinder the Rebellion at Longbourn?

Isn’t this always how we want to see Darcy? A dashing hero to the rescue.

Hello Serena and thank you for welcoming me back to your blog! Rebellion at Longbourn takes place two years after the events in Pride and Prejudice. Darcy never had a chance to propose at Hunsford. Instead he has been on an extended tour of Canada with Bingley and Georgiana; they have heard nothing of the Bennet family during this time. In this scene they have just returned to London and are awaiting a visit from Bingley’s sisters. Enjoy!

“No doubt your sisters will arrive any minute. I could not allow you to loll about in bed one more minute.” A messenger had been sent to the Hursts’ townhouse very early, and Darcy knew Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst would be eager to share the latest on dits. He experienced a pang of regret; Bingley would be leaving them to stay with his sisters. Darcy and Georgiana had relished his company on their travels.

Bingley sighed and pushed around the eggs on his plate. “I expect I shall receive another lecture about how irresponsible it was for me to gallivant off to North America.”

Darcy grimaced. “At least you have had more practice in saying no to them.” They had criticized Bingley’s decision in every letter. No doubt Bingley would have collapsed into scribbling abject apologies if Darcy had not stiffened his spine. But being on his own had been good for his friend. Bingley had grown far more decided and sure of his tastes when he was away from his sisters’ influence.

“It shall be quite trying when I relocate to Grosvenor Square,” Bingley mused.

“You are welcome to remain at Darcy House for as long as you like,” Darcy remarked.

“It is no imposition.”

Bingley straightened up in his chair. “I may accept that offer.” Darcy knew his sisters would not like it, but obviously Bingley was willing to risk their wrath.

Briggs, the butler, entered the room and announced, “Miss Bingley, sir. And Mr. and Mrs. Hurst.”

Bingley sighed deeply, not like a man pleased to be reunited with his family after a year and a half. Both men stood as the three visitors entered.

The two women gave their brother perfunctory kisses on the cheek, and the men exchanged handshakes. The newcomers helped themselves to breakfast from the sideboard and settled into chairs around the table. Darcy and Bingley talked a little about the details of their trip, but the sour expression on Miss Bingley’s face and the disapproving purse of Mrs. Hurst’s lips suggested they were not particularly interested in that subject. Mr. Hurst was primarily interested in the kippers.

When the weight of disapproval had caused the conversation to wane, Bingley gamely asked, “So, what is the news, eh?”

“You would know if you had ever bothered to write,” Miss Bingley answered tartly.

“I did write.”

His sister rolled her eyes. “I declare it was not above four times! I am overwhelmed by your fraternal devotion. And, of course, the letters were short, dashed-off affairs.”

Bingley rubbed his forehead. “I am a poor correspondent. I acknowledge it, but I am here now. What have I missed?”

This was all the encouragement his sisters needed to launch into twenty minutes of gossip, primarily about people Darcy did not know or could not care about. Eighteen months of freedom from the obligations of the ton had not endeared him to the social whirl, although he supposed he should pay more attention now that Georgiana would be launched in society. Still, he found himself thinking longingly of Pemberley.

His absence had apparently not dimmed Miss Bingley’s hopes of Darcy, for she still addressed the better part of her remarks directly to him, although he had not asked her any questions.

There was only one person he would consider inquiring about, and he did not dare.

Fortunately, Bingley unwittingly assisted him in this endeavor. “What is the news from the Bennet family? You did not mention them in any of your letters.” He leaned forward in his seat.

Miss Bingley blinked. “Why should I?”

“You are Jane Bennet’s friend.”

His sister fluttered her hands. “Friends, Charles? Certainly we were acquainted, but friends…” She gave Mrs. Hurst a sidelong look.

Mrs. Hurst actually giggled. “It is for the best if we do not acknowledge the connection. Thank goodness you gave up the lease on Netherfield!”

Bingley exchanged a glance with Darcy but did not correct his sister’s mistake. Darcy restrained the urge to fidget in his chair as he imagined everything that could have befallen the Bennets.

“Surely you have heard some news from Longbourn,” Bingley said.

“Indeed…” Miss Bingley drew the word out. She was taking pleasure in the suspense.

Darcy’s heart beat faster, knowing that whatever she said would be bad. She would not derive such pleasure from relating news of the family’s extreme felicity. “Shortly after you departed, the father died.”

Darcy could not prevent a gasp. If he had known, he never would have left. If he had known, he would have returned. He was angry with himself for not discovering the news and with Bingley’s sisters for not relaying it. During the early part of the voyage, he had been so intent on endeavoring to forget Elizabeth that he had not sought to know about her family, and this was the result.

“Did Mr. Collins take possession of Longbourn?” Darcy attempted to keep his tone neutral and disinterested.

“Mr. Collins?” Miss Bingley asked. “Oh yes, the clergyman. I suppose so.”

Bingley’s pale face mirrored Darcy’s own distress. “How terrible for Ja—all the Bennets!” Bingley exclaimed. “Where do the sisters reside now?”

A fist clenched around Darcy’s heart. Although he knew change was inevitable, some part of him had secretly expected to find Elizabeth dwelling with her parents at Longbourn just as she had when he departed.

Mrs. Hurst rolled her eyes. “They are hardly the sort of family we would maintain a connection with. How should we know?”

Bingley frowned. “I thought at least you would condole with them, write them a note expressing your sympathy, invite them for tea when they visited town.”

“I am not aware that anyone from the family has been to town,” Mrs. Hurst replied. Strange. Darcy remembered clearly that the Bennets had relatives in Cheapside.

Although Elizabeth might have guessed at Bingley’s sisters’ insincerity, Miss Bennet seemed to believe them true friends. Surely she would have written to them if she visited town—at the very least to maintain a connection with Bingley. Was it possible she had remained sequestered in Hertfordshire all these months? It was scarcely thirty miles’ distance!

The sisters were sharing a conspiratorial smile that triggered Darcy’s suspicions. Surely anything that made these two so very gleeful could not be good for the Bennets.

He crumpled his napkin in frustration. I cannot ask them. I cannot betray too much interest. Patience, he counseled himself. I will learn everything soon.

Aren’t you eager to find out what happens? I know I am.

GIVEAWAY:

One Lucky Reader can receive an e-book of Rebellion at Longbourn. Please leave a comment with email so I can contact you. Deadline to enter is June 24 by 11:59 p.m.

Good Luck, everyone.

Guest Post & Giveaway: The Austen Interviews – An Interview with Captain Frederick Wentworth by Jack Caldwell

Welcome to today’s guest post and giveaway for Persuaded to Sail by Jack Caldwell. This is the third book in this series of books about Jane Austen’s fighting men. Persuasion is my second favorite of Austen’s novels. Caldwell has crafted an excellent interview with Captain Frederick Wentworth and there is a giveaway.

But first, as always, here’s the synopsis of the book:

The long-awaited sequel to Jane Austen’s final novel, Persuasion. After an eight-year separation and a tumultuous reunion, Anne Elliot marries the dashing Captain Frederick Wentworth. The pair looks forward to an uneventful honeymoon cruise aboard the HMS Laconia.But the bride and groom find the seas of matrimony rough. Napoleon has escaped from Elba, the country is at war with France again, and the Admiralty imposes on Wentworth a mysterious passenger on a dangerous secret mission. The good captain is caught between duty to his country and love for his wife. All eyes are trained for enemies without, but the greatest menace may already be on board…

Without further ado, check out the interview:

JACK CALDWELL – Hello, everyone. Jack Caldwell here. It has been a few years since I’ve done one of my famous interviews.

COLONEL FITZWILLIAM (off stage) – Famous in your own mind!

JC – Quiet in the peanut gallery! Now, where was I? Oh, yes. To celebrate the launch of my tenth novel, PERSUADED TO SAIL, a sequel to Persuasion and Book Three of Jane Austen’s Fighting Men, I have returned to this studio outside of time and space to interview the second most romantic man in the Jane Austen Universe. Let’s have a big hand for Captain Frederick Wentworth!

CAPTAIN FREDERICK WENTWORTH – I thank you, Mr. Caldwell. But the second? Who would be the first?

JC – Number One in the fans’ mind would be Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.

FW – I do not know the gentleman.

JC – No, you wouldn’t, being stuck out in the middle of the ocean all the time.

FW – I would not refer to serving in His Majesty’s Royal Navy as being “stuck” anywhere.

JC – Her Majesty’s.

FW – I beg your pardon? Has something happened to King George?

JC – Queen Elizabeth II rules Britain now. This is the year 2020.

FW – I see. But Britannia surely continues to rule the waves.

JC – Not anymore. That would be the United States Navy.

FW – What? The colonialists? That cannot be!

JC – Hold your horses there, Freddie. The Royal Navy’s a solid Number Two. Besides, we’re allies now.

FW – My name, sir, is Wentworth. And I must say I do not care for this “Number Two”
business.

JC – You’ll get used to it. It’s better than what happened to France. But, let’s get back to you. You may not be the JA fans’ ideal lover, but you write a mean letter. You’ve been melting hearts for two hundred years. How did you come up with that note?

FW – I simply wrote the words emblazoned upon my heart for eight years.

JC – Wow, that’s a good one. I have to remember that for my anniversary. Which brings me to my next question. Why’d you wait eight years?

FW – I was jilted in 1806, if you recall.

JC – Yeah, but you were just a commander. Two years later you made post. Why didn’t you try again in 1808?

FW – I suppose I could use a broken heart to excuse myself, and there is some truth to that. But I must own it was my pride.

JC – If I understand you correctly, your success, which led to your advancement and wealth, made you too proud to return to Miss Anne Elliot?

FW – Yes. In my pride, I thought myself above the daughter of an impoverished baronet, especially one who was persuaded to jilt me only two years before.

JC –Anne would have welcomed a renewal of your attentions.

FW – I know it well, and it tortures me! What a fool I was! Years of happiness I could have had with my sweet Anne wasted because of my stupid pride!

JC – Not just pride. Weren’t you just a little jealous when you did return to Kellynch Hall?

FW – Yes, I was. Pride and envy—are they not two of great sins we are warned against? Upon my return, I wished to prove that Anne had no power over me, that I was free of her. My pride got me nearly entangled with Miss Louisa Musgrove. How ill-used that poor girl was! Thankfully, she recovered from her fall, fell in love with Benwick—an outstanding gentleman—and forgave me my caddish behavior. And when I knew myself, I thought I was too late, that Anne would accept Mr. William Elliot. The pain my jealous heart caused me! I was well paid for my foolishness.

JC – You were fortunate that Anne figured out Elliot’s game. And you were fortunate no one saw that letter before Anne got it.

FW – Boldness has served me well, both at sea and on shore.

JC – Looks like you and Mr. Darcy have something in common. I refer to writing awesome letters.

FW – I must meet this Mr. Darcy someday. He is married, I trust?

JC – He sure is. Now, my new novel, PERSUADED TO SAIL – on sale now! – chronicles your honeymoon cruise with Anne to Bermuda. But there are surprises—

FW – Chronicles? You write about my voyage? Were you on board?

JC – Of course, I was. I’m the author. As I was saying—

FW – Sir, I must ask your meaning! Were you spying on Anne and me?

JC – That’s my job.

*** (SOUND OF SWORD LEAVING ITS SCABBARD) ***

FW – Stand up, sir! I will have satisfaction!

JC – Wait! You don’t understand! That’s not how this works! I write about Anne and you, the readers read it, and they fall in love with the both of you all over again!

FW – No one spies on my Anne! No one!

COLONEL FITZWILLIAM (off stage) – Need any help?

JC – Oh, wonderful! SECURITY! Thanks, everybody for stopping by this episode of the Austen

Interviews! I think Serena is offering a giveaway for you. Just check below. SECURITY!

FW – Fitzwilliam, hurry along! He is getting away!

JC – SECURITY!!

Giveaway

Leaving your comments and your e-mail address below this post you can get a chance to win one (1) physical copy and one (1) e-book copy of PERSUADED TO SAIL. (Note: Only U.S. addresses are eligible for physical copy, so please add the country you are writing from in your comment).

This giveaway ends on June 23, 2020, at 11:59 p.m.

Excerpt & Giveaway: Outmatched by Jayne Bamber

Today’s guest is Jayne Bamber and her new book, Outmatched, which is a mash up of Mansfield Park and Sense & Sensibility. New alliances are formed in this novel, and there are elements of self-discovery, redemption, and conspiracy.

Before we get to today’s post, check out the book synopsis below:

When Sir Thomas Bertram returns home to Mansfield after his year in Antigua, he expects respite from his many troubles, in the bosom of his family. Instead he is met with blackmail, collusion, and the ominous threat of scandal.

When Mrs. Margaret Dashwood takes her daughters from Norland to Barton Park, she carries with her a secret hope that they might someday return, though she is not yet ready to pay the price for it.

A mutual connection bent on manipulation and revenge sets the stage for heartbreak, intrigue, and plenty of surprises as the worlds of Sense & Sensibility and Mansfield Park collide. Alliances shift along the way as familiar characters, bound by family ties, descend on Norland Park. There everyone has their own agenda, and constant peril looms as a large party of relations all scheme to outwit, out-maneuver, and outmatch their opponents.

Please welcome, Jayne Bamber:

Hello, readers! It is a pleasure to be welcomed here at Savvy Verse & Wit. It is Release Day for my fifth novel, Outmatched, a fusion of Mansfield Park and Sense & Sensibility, and I am particularly excited about the excerpt I am sharing today!

I have never wanted to admit how very much I like Mary Crawford, but I am sure readers will detect it over the course of the story. She has all the wit and sparkle of Elizabeth Bennet, though with sharper edges to be sure, but I cannot think her indefensible. She cares for her roguish brother, perhaps to a fault, but I am willing to argue her loyalty does her some credit. I cannot completely fault her in her dealings with Edmund Bertram, either – she knows what she wants, and bristles at the prospect of having to compromise. In truth, I think it brave of her, and quite right – she knows she does not wish to be a parson’s wife, and no community would be served by the parson’s wife not fulfilling the obligations of her position begrudgingly. Even at the end, when Tom is very ill, perhaps she ought not to speak as she does, but come on, we were all thinking it!

If my attempt at vindication has not entirely put you off, I do hope you will enjoy this little glimpse at my rendition of Mary Crawford. This scene takes place a few days after the large cast of characters converges at Norland, with one fairly logical friendship for Mary, and another that, though far from obvious, hold some promise….

***

Edmund was not amongst them in the drawing room, but Mary was determined neither to notice nor mind his absence; she played her harp for herself, and for her new friend Marianne. After a few minutes it was not such an effort. She had always loved playing, loved the feelings of peaceful pride that came with willing the strings to do her bidding. She played a piece she knew by heart and closed her eyes, shutting out her audience to lose herself in the music.

The effect might have been too engrossing, for when she opened her eyes at the end of her song, she was almost startled at the applause from more than a dozen people.

Marianne, who had been most insistent on the use of Christian names, rushed toward Mary at once. “Come, you must play a duet with me at the pianoforte,” she cried. She caught Mary by the hand and led her to the instrument, where she assaulted Mary with a tremendous quantity of sheet music to look over. The conversation in the room started up as Mary looked over the music; with so many people, it was all just a strange, euphoric buzzing in her ears.

All this had transpired within but a moment of Mary’s song, and she was still nearly in a trance from the emotion of her performance. This tranquility was now abruptly cut through by the voice of Mrs. Jennings, an old widow who had shown a peculiar obsession with the Dashwood sisters, and a delightful degree of conversational indiscretion.

“Colonel Brandon,” she cried, and every head in the room turned toward the doorway.

Mary felt the sheet music she was holding fall through her fingers, and looked down, watching the handful of papers slowly float toward the carpet until they were strewn at her feet, and then her head snapped back up. Had she conjured this man into existence with her silliness before?

Beside Mary, Marianne let out a low squeak, and behind the cover of the pianoforte Mr. Willoughby, looking rather startled himself, placed his hand atop Marianne’s.

Mary could not take her eyes off the handsome newcomer, and felt instinctively that he had been watching her for some time. John Dashwood was beside him, and now led the colonel into the room. “Yes, well, sisters, here is your friend from Devonshire come to call. What a fine thing for you girls! I have invited him to stay and dine with us.”

Mary glanced over at Marianne with some astonishment. How could the girl have an acquaintance such as this and not spoken of it during their fanciful conversation before? She looked back at Colonel Brandon, savoring the expression upon his countenance, pensive and enigmatic, sorrowful and yet hopeful – and such intelligence about the eyes. What a man! He made his introductions to those of their party he did not know, and spoke to the other Dashwoods – but now he was coming toward them.

Marianne moved away from Mr. Willoughby and linked her arm through Mary’s, as Mary continued to wonder why her friend could look so unhappy to see such a man as this seeking them out. He was on the wrong

side of five-and-thirty, perhaps an ill thing for a girl so young, and yet he wore his silvery hair so well. His stride was graceful, the curl of his lips almost outrageously sensual, his attire very fine but not ostentatious, and his voice, when he spoke, was deep and sonorous. 

“Miss Marianne, I hope you are well.”

“I am.” Marianne forced a smile. “I have just been getting better acquainted with my new friend, Miss Mary Crawford. She and her brother accompanied my Bertram cousins to Norland.”

“And what a lovely destination,” said the colonel. He bowed to Mary, and she dropped into a curtsey, keeping her head low enough to conceal her blush. She suddenly recollected the sheet music scattered about her, and dropped to the floor to gather it back up. Colonel Brandon must have seen her acting quite the fool, and she was heartily embarrassed for it. 

The colonel instantly mirrored her gesture, and began to assist her, but this only heightened Mary’s mortification. She focused on not letting her hands tremble, and wondered what had come over her to be so affected by this great pillar of masculinity. “I am afraid I took you all by surprise,” he said softly.

“Indeed, I had grown rather lost in the music, and was not thinking at all – what a silly mess I have made.” Mary gathered the last of the sheet music and stood. She handed the pages off to Marianne as the colonel did the same; Marianne received the rumpled sheets with a nervous laugh. 

“Yes, I saw,” Colonel Brandon replied. “That is, I came in at the end of your performance – I did not wish to interrupt what was so delightful to so many, including myself. I hope to hear you play with Miss Marianne, if that is your intention.”

Seeming to recall Marianne, the colonel returned his attention to her with an odd look about him. “I happened to be in the area – I have been in Sussex since leaving you all last week. When I realized Norland was so near, I thought it right to pay my respects, and I have heard such praise from all your family of the place.”

“Pray, what brings you to the area?” Mr. Willoughby smiled at the colonel, but Mary sensed something hollow in it – something strange indeed. 

They were to receive no answer, for Mrs. Jennings was bustling over to them. “Well, Colonel Brandon, what a to-do! Are we not a large and cozy party here? But what a perfect addition you make! I hope you mean to stay amongst us!”

The colonel looked uneasy, though Mary supposed such a reaction must be perfectly rational. “Mr. Dashwood has invited me to stay the night and dine with you all.”

“Very good, very good,” Mrs. Jennings cried, even as Marianne and Mr. Willoughby exchanged a look betraying the opposite sentiment entirely. “It is the finest house I have ever seen, I am sure – but you must stay more than a night! We are all snug and easy here, and you will not want to be going away so soon.”

The colonel smiled wistfully, and Mary was intrigued by what dolorous sentiments might engender such an expression. “I have no doubt you get on very well. The house is most impressive – Mr. Dashwood was so kind as to show me about the public rooms. You were all out of the house when I arrived, and I had no wish to interrupt your excursion. But one night must be enough, for urgent business calls me away again tomorrow.”

“Impossible,” Mrs. Jennings cried. “Surely not the same great matter that drew you from Delaford the day of our poor picnic!”

The colonel’s lips tightened. “It is a matter that requires my immediate attention,” he said firmly. “Indeed, Mr. Willoughby, as it involves a mutual acquaintance of ours, perhaps I might speak privately with you. At once.”

Mr. Willoughby grew very pale indeed, but had not time to reply before Mrs. Jennings cut him off. “What mutual acquaintance? Oh, dear me – not Lady Allen! La, but she is so very old – I do hope she is quite well!”

He bowed again. “Mrs. Jennings, Miss Crawford. Miss Marianne. I hope we shall speak later.” Mary was inclined to agree as she watched him lead Mr. Willoughby from the room, but had little time to ruminate on the matter before Marianne latched onto her.

“Forgive me, Mrs. Jennings, but I think my cousin Maria is calling for a game of whist. I do not mean to play myself, though I know you favor the game. Mary, might we take a turn about the room?”

Mrs. Jennings laughed and fixed them with a knowing look. “Well, keep your secrets – I am sure I know them all already, or very soon shall!” At that she turned her attention to the card party that was forming, and Marianne hastened to draw Mary in the opposite direction.

“Oh, Mary,” Marianne whispered as soon as they had walked some distance. “I am sure I should have fainted dead away!” Mary arched an eyebrow and smiled – no little resemblance to her own feelings indeed! And yet she was, more than anything else, recovered enough from the oddly flustering encounter as to be intensely curious.

“Why should you do such a thing? Surely you prefer your Mr. Willoughby to the colonel, even if he is so very handsome.”

“Colonel Brandon, handsome?” Marianne laughed. “Surely you mean to tease me worse than Mrs. Jennings.”

“Certainly not! If I ever did such a thing as that you should be obliged to lock me up.”

Thank you, Jayne, for sharing this excerpt with us.  We hope you’ll all check out your own copy and enter the giveaway.

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!

 

Excerpt from Mr. Darcy’s Clan by Lari Ann O’Dell & Giveaway

I just love the supernatural and well-written vampire novels, so when I heard about this P&P variation, I couldn’t resist hosting. Today’s guest Lari Ann O’Dell is going to share with us a scene from her new book, Mr. Darcy’s Clan for today’s blog tour stop. Please check it out and enter the giveaway.

About the Book:

The upper echelon of English society—comprised of vampires, or Firstborn Sons—is a world Elizabeth Bennet has no desire to join. She has little exposure to Firstborn Sons until Mr. Bingley arrives in the neighborhood and falls in love with her sister Jane. His mysterious friend, Mr. Darcy, attracts Elizabeth’s attention but she is convinced he is hiding a dark secret. In spite of this, powerful feelings draw her to him. She learns a shocking truth when Mr. Wickham appears and disaster strikes at Netherfield. Forced into Mr. Darcy’s supernatural realm, a confusing new world of danger threatens their deepening love. How can they find eternal happiness when members of his illustrious clan are plotting her demise? Can Mr. Darcy rise beyond his past to save her or will he lose her for all eternity?

Please welcome, Lari Ann O’Dell:

Hello dear readers and followers of Savvy Verse & Wit. I am grateful to be here today to share an excerpt from my newest release, Mr. Darcy’s Clan.

The scene I am sharing today is one of the first scenes of my book to exist and immediately became my budding inspiration for this untraditional rendition. When I was watching the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice for the umpteenth time, the line “Your hands are cold,” jumped out at me. Recently, I had just finished rewatching all the episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so naturally, I thought, what if Mr. Darcy was a vampire? The idea continued to intrigue the muse.

In this excerpt, we find Darcy and Elizabeth alone in the Netherfield gardens. It is early on in their acquaintance, and instinctively, Elizabeth becomes suspicious when she sees him out in the middle of the night. She is currently unaware of his true identity as a vampire, and her suspicions that he is hiding something are only further aroused when she discovers that his hands are cold.

Elizabeth could not sleep. Jane was slumbering in the room next to hers, and the book Elizabeth had chosen was not diverting. She changed from her nightgown into a dress, and put on her pelisse. The Netherfield gardens were beautiful, and she had not seen them in many years. Perhaps some fresh air and a bit of exercise would help her sleep.

A full moon hung in the velvet sky. A slight breeze rustled the trees and the two fountains in the garden gurgled softly. Elizabeth walked beneath a rose-covered arbor and down an immaculate promenade. The gardeners at Netherfield were certainly talented.

She was startled by a noise behind her and turned to discover she was not alone. Mr. Darcy stood several feet away, fully dressed but rather disheveled. A trail of blood ran down his chin and dripped onto his starched cravat.

Elizabeth longed to escape. Civility did not allow that yet propriety demanded it. She could not be discovered alone, in the middle of the night, with Mr. Darcy. Even so, she stood rooted to the ground as he approached.

He wiped away the blood before speaking. “Miss Elizabeth, forgive me for startling you. I did not expect anyone to be in the garden at this hour.”

“Nor did I,” Elizabeth said, eyeing him suspiciously.

Darcy seemed to sense where she was looking. “I fell on my way back to the stables.”

“Perhaps you should not be riding in the middle of the night then, sir. If you will excuse me …” Elizabeth was intent on brushing past him and running back to her room before her reputation could be tarnished … but she stumbled on a stone.

Darcy grabbed her hands and caught her, helping her to right herself.

Elizabeth was startled, for neither of them wore gloves. His hands were like ice. It was an unseasonably warm night, so the weather did not account for it.

“Your hands are cold,” she said.

Darcy seemed to remember himself and quickly released her hands. “I apologize. Is your sister showing any signs of improvement?” he said, looking rather abashed.

“She is asleep; and we should be as well. Good night, Mr. Darcy.” With that, she hurried back into the house.

Darcy’s blood pounded in his veins, urging him to follow her. He had not been sure until he had taken her hands, but it was undeniable now—his blood cried out for her, and he longed for her in a visceral manner. Elizabeth Bennet was meant to be his Eternal Partner. Darcy was mortified. What chance did they have? She was undoubtedly beneath him. Pride, honor, and duty revolted against such a match.

He should not have come into Hertfordshire.

Oooh, what a titillating moment for this duo. I cannot wait to find out what happens next. Enter the giveaway below.

About the Author:

Lari Ann O’Dell first discovered her love of Pride & Prejudice when she was eighteen. After reading a Pride & Prejudice variation she found in a closing sale at a bookstore, she said, “This is what I want to do.” She published her first novel, Mr. Darcy’s Kiss, two years later. Born and raised in Colorado, she attended the University of Colorado in Boulder and earned a bachelor’s degree in History and Creative Writing. After graduating college, she wrote and published her second novel, Mr. Darcy’s Ship. Her third novel, Mr. Darcy’s Clan, is her first supernatural variation, and she is working on two more fantasy variations. She is now back at school and pursuing a degree in Nursing. She adores her two beautiful nephews, Hudson and Dean. She currently works at a middle school and writes whenever she can. Visit her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon.

GIVEAWAY:

Lari Ann O’Dell is giving away 8 eBooks of Mr. Darcy’s Clan. The giveaway is international.

ENTER HERE.

Deleted Scene from When Duty Calls by Belén Paccagnella & Giveaway

Writers can write entire scenes or even more than one scene that they have fun writing, but soon discover it has no place in the novel they are writing. When this happens, authors are left with delightful deleted scenes. Thankfully, Belén Paccagnella is one of those writers who saves her deleted scenes.  She’s going to share with us one such scene from her new book, When Duty Calls for today’s blog tour stop. Please check it out and enter the giveaway.

About the Book:

The Netherfield ball brings about many changes for the population of Meryton, and more so for the female residents of Longbourn. Mr. Bingley’s departure leaves the eldest, Jane Bennet, heartbroken whilst Mr. Collins’s proposal induces Miss Elizabeth to make a hasty escape. During her flight, she happens upon Mr. Darcy, a gentleman she despises. A moment of solitude in the woods leads to rather improper behavior, and the couple departs with the promise they will tell no one about their minor indiscretion. When their secret is finally uncovered, marriage becomes the only solution to saving Elizabeth from social disgrace. Her other grudges against Mr. Darcy are amplified by resentment and the prospect of spending her life with a man she can never respect. Nonetheless, the marriage takes place, forcing the young couple to deal with their pride and prejudices as husband and wife.

Please welcome, Belén Paccagnella:

Thank you, Serena, for having me at Savvy Verse and Wit. It’s always a pleasure for me to share new material with the readers. For today’s post, I selected a scene that I had a lot of fun writing but that I finally decided to cut. I think it’s perfect for this stop of the blog tour.

With all matters concerning Miss Lydia’s elopement settled, and the special license obtained, Miss Lydia’s wedding to Lt. George Wickham finally took place. The couple was married on a rainy Friday morning of April in a discreet and simple ceremony with only the Gardiners and Mr. Darcy in attendance. Mrs. Wickham’s displeasure for not having the entire regiment present at her wedding was great, but of short duration. Her spirits were restored when she was informed that she would spend her first night as a married woman in a fancy hotel in London, courtesy of her wealthy brother-in-law.

“You have been too generous with them, Mr. Darcy.” Mr. Gardiner commented that night during dinner. “After all you did for the Wickhams, sending them to a hotel is a much better wedding present than they deserve.”

“I fear I was not being generous to them, but to you and to your family. You have endured Miss Lydia’s presence in your home for an entire week, and I thought best to spare you from the displeasure of receiving her husband here as well, even if for only one night. Of all the expenditures I made on Mrs. Wickham’s behalf, this is by far the most pleasurable one.”

“Still, I do believe it is unfair that you should carry the entire financial burden of this wretched business upon your shoulders.” Proceeded Mr. Gardiner. “Mr. Bennet ought to know, as well as Lizzy, that it was you who found Lydia and the one who granted her a better future. I cannot agree with your decision to withhold this information from them.”

“Please, grant me this favour, if you may. I feel highly responsible for Mrs. Wickham’s fate. Had I exposed Wickham’s true character before, none of this would have happened. By helping the Wickhams and securing them a better future, I am also preserving the harmony of my own home. Elizabeth had suffered enough because of this and knowing the extent of my dealings might only add to her distress.” Darcy was determined. “The Bennets must not know, nor should Elizabeth. I trust that you will never tell her.”

“You have my word, sir.” Mr. Gardiner sighed, clearly disapproving of Darcy’s decision.

“I do not think Lydia has come to realize the trouble she had brought upon herself —to all her family!” Mrs. Gardiner interjected, addressing Darcy. “Such an unfortunate match!”

“It was prone to happen sooner or later. She should be happy and grateful that she has a generous brother-in-law to come to her rescue,” said Mr. Gardiner while cutting his meat. “I have always found reproachable the liberality and general permissiveness my brother and sister bestowed upon their children. Lydia has always been a reckless child, spoiled by her mother and ignored by her father. She would have benefited from more restraint and discipline in her upbringing.”

“Your children are still small, my friend. You will soon learn the difficulties of educating an adolescent lady. Sometimes all the discipline in the world cannot preserve a girl from making the wrong decision.” Darcy offered smilingly. After what happened to Georgiana,
who almost suffered Lydia’s fate, he was not in the place to judge his father-in-law for his want of severity and parental guidance.

“Your hand looks much improved now,” Mrs. Gardiner changed the subject, much to the younger man’s relief. “The swelling is almost gone. Does it hurt?”

“Not at all,” Darcy replied. “I can move my fingers quite well.”

Mr. Gardiner chuckled. “You did what many other men would have liked to do: punch George Wickham in the face! Pity it cost you a broken hand.”

“Watching that scoundrel bite the dust was worth the inconvenience. He certainly got some of what he deserved,” Darcy laughed along.

“It was such a charming wedding,” Mrs. Gardiner observed while passing the bread to her husband. “And Lydia looked so pretty! Even though we had little time to find her something suitable for the occasion, I think she was a lovely bride. Do you not think so?” The question was meant for Mr. Gardiner, who was sitting across from her at the table.

“Yes, I do.” It was Darcy who was the one who replied, much to the Gardiners’ amusement. “I must say that I was impressed with her gown. The colour of choice was very convenient. It matched perfectly with the purple on Wickham’s eye.”

Wasn’t that delightful?! I hope you enjoyed the deleted scene. Please leave a comment below and enter the giveaway for When Duty Calls.

About the Author:

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Belén Paccagnella discovered the world of Jane Austen fan fiction after watching the 1995 BBC miniseries of Pride and Prejudice. In her teens, she lived in Brazil when her family moved to the city of Curitiba due to her father’s work. She moved back to Buenos Aires a few years later, where she studied agronomy but finally pursued a different career and started working in the development and administration of shopping centers.

In 2001, she began writing both Regency and modern stories, adapting the Pride and Prejudice storyline to different backdrops, merging drama, humor, and adventure while creating characters with unique traits. Almost two decades later, she published Obstacles, a modern variation released in 2018 by Meryton Press.

Belén still lives in the suburbs of Buenos Aires where she shares her home with her pets while spending her time working, reading, and writing. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

GIVEAWAY:

Meryton Press is giving away 8 eBooks of When Duty Calls.

ENTER HERE.

 

Giveaway & Interview with Sue Barr, Author of Georgiana

Please welcome author Sue Barr. We’ll be talking about her latest Pride & Prejudice continuation and her writing habits and workspace in our interview today. Stay tuned for some goodies too.

About Georgiana:

She longs for true love…
A dowry of thirty thousand pounds places a hefty weight upon the shoulders of Miss Georgiana Darcy. Her tender heart has been broken before by a cad who cared not one whit for who she was, but as a prize to be won, and she fears no man will ever see the worth of her heart.

Duty and honor…
These are the stalwart columns which hold up the life of Maxwell Kerr, Fifth Duke of Adborough. After rescuing Miss Darcy from an inescapable compromise, an offer of marriage is as natural to him as breathing air. When he discovers this is not the first compromise she has evaded, anger becomes his faithful companion and threatens their tenuous bonds of love and respect.

Doesn’t this sound intriguing? I know I’m curious to see what happens for Georgiana.

Thanks, Sue, for agreeing to our interview:

If you were to live in Jane Austen’s novels, which character would you be and why?

This is a HARD question! I know most people say Elizabeth Bennet, but there are times I want to shake her. Obstinate, headstrong girl! That said, I’d want to be her because of the deep love she and Darcy eventually find. Like her, I’m not in awe of someone’s rank (ask hubby, he was in the military and almost died when I approached the Base Commander at a function and asked him if he’d like to dance), and I appreciate great conversation that’s not ‘fluffy’.

What inspired you to give secondary characters like Georgiana, Caroline, and Catherine their own novels?

It all started with one little question. ‘Whatever happened to Caroline Bingley after her brother and Mr. Darcy got engaged to a Bennet sister?’ The series sprang from there and I never hesitated in taking on the secondary characters with the usual suspects delegated to minor roles.

Georgiana carries a heavy burden of expectation and duty for her Darcy family; Explain the process of creating this character harmed by a cad who has all of these expectations for her coming out into society and her eventual marriage, especially given so little is known about her from Austen’s original novel, Pride & Prejudice.

I decided that while Georgiana regretted her mistake, she did not regret the ideals she’d held when contemplating marriage and family. Elizabeth is a strong influence and from her Georgiana gains much strength of character, which she draws upon during the course of this story.

Do you have novels outlined/percolating in your mind for other Austen characters, such as Mary or Lydia Bennet or Anne de Bourgh?

Yes! I’m working on Mary right now. I haven’t thought of the others too much, although Anne de Bourgh would be a delicious character to sample.

Offer one piece of writing advice that you wish someone had told you and one piece of writing advice you did receive that you found helpful in your career.

Writing advice I’ve given and received.

BICHOK: Butt In Chair Hands On Keyboard, or as one of my fellow writers said, “vomit” words onto the page. The visual is disgusting but the advice is pure gold. You cannot edit a blank piece of paper, but you can work with drivel.

When not writing Jane Austen-inspired novels, what do you love to do? Special/unique hobbies?

I love canning/preserving food. I want to know what I’m eating and so I make almost everything from scratch. The only programs I watch are Classic movies, cooking shows, News, and Survivor (don’t judge). I also read – voraciously and as grandma to seven kids ranging from newborn to twelve, I don’t have a lot of down time.

When and where do you most often write? Do you have special totems on your desk? Music playing in the background? Paint a picture of your writing space and day, or include a couple of photos.

I retired in 2015 and one year later hubby and I moved into our dream home where I have my own office space. No totems and no sound. I wake fairly early and start my bread. While the dough is rising, I go through e-mails and social media. Put bread in oven and check out A Happy Assembly to see if new posts have been added to stories I follow. Bread is done and now I can focus on my manuscript and try to get in a few words. I’m an extremely SLOW writer. The rest of my day is taken up with light housework, grocery shopping if required, three demanding cats, and meal prep. I could not be happier. Well, I could, but hubby doesn’t retire until next year.

I love learning about writers and their writing spaces, their hobbies, and their writing advice. I hope everyone enjoyed learning about Sue’s new book and is ready for the giveaway!

About the Author:

“The prairie dust is in my blood but no longer on my shoes.”

Sue Barr coined that phrase when once asked where she came from. Although it’s been over thirty-seven years since she called Saskatchewan home, her roots to that straight-lined province and childhood friends run deep. The only thing strong enough to entice her to pack up and leave was love. When a handsome Air Force pilot met this small-town girl, he swept her off her feet and they embarked on a fantastic adventure which found them settled in beautiful Southwestern Ontario when hubby retired from the military and began his second career as an airline pilot.

Sue started writing in 2009 and sold her first manuscript in 2010. For four years she was published under the pen name of Madison J. Edwards, and in 2014 began to write sweet contemporary romance under her own name. Always a reader of Regency romance, she discovered Jane Austen Fan Fiction through a childhood friend who writes under the name of Suzan Lauder. Almost immediately a question popped into her head, “Whatever happened to Caroline Bingley after her brother and Mr. Darcy became engaged to a Bennet sister?” and the “Pride & Prejudice Continued…” series was launched.

Sue is a member of Romance Writers of America and its satellite chapter, The Beau Monde. She is one course away from achieving her Professional Creative Writer’s certificate from the University of Western Ontario’s continuing study curriculum. In her spare time, she cans and preserves her own food, cooks almost everything from scratch and grows herbs to dehydrate and make into seasoning. Hubby has no complaints other than his trousers keep shrinking. At least that’s what he claims…. Oh, the kids and grandkids don’t mind this slight obsession either. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon.

GIVEAWAY ALERT:

Sue is also gifting three e-copies of GEORGIANA to three lucky winners via Rafflecopter.

Open internationally through March 12.

If you can’t wait, here are the BUY LINKS:

Two More Days at Netherfield by Heather Moll

Source: Publisher
ebook, 406 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Two More Days at Netherfield by Heather Moll finds Elizabeth Bennet and her sister at Netherfield like they were in Jane Austen’s novel, Pride & Prejudice.

While at Netherfield nursing her sister back to health, Elizabeth comes to realize that her first impressions of Mr. Darcy may have been wrong. At the same time, through teasing, she makes him realize that he may have been hasty in his opinion of her. As they continue to be in each other’s company, will they come to realize that they are more alike and complementary to one another than they initially thought?

These two begin to share their love of poetry and intellectual conversation. They start to view one another as friends, even if they do continue to verbally spar. Mr. Wickham arrives on the scene and their friendship, which is blatantly obvious to the scoundrel, hatches a plan.

“She has no beauty! I have twenty thousand pounds!”

Moll’s Elizabeth is outspoken and braver than the Lizzy in Austen’s novel. She makes the first move in some situations where she should be reserved. This, however, is not to say that she diverges too far from Austen’s character. The machinations of Mr. Wickham and Miss Bingley, though not in concert, are even more devious. I love that Moll made Wickham and Bingley more evil than in Austen’s book. Both of these characters know what they want and what their motivations are and they are committed to the last. Watch out Elizabeth and Darcy.

Bingley and Jane find their happiness more quickly but little else has changed, though there is no chance meeting at Hunsford for Darcy and Elizabeth. All of these changes are well done and not missed when Moll’s book unfolds.

Unfortunately, after Darcy and Lizzy get together and past all of their misconceptions and worries, the pace quickens. The novel fast forwards to when they are already married. As these chapters propel the reader into the future of their lives, I felt as though I was missing some great moments of connection between them. Aside from that, Darcy and Lizzy have a balance in their relationship that they hadn’t had before. Two More Days at Netherfield by Heather Moll is a heartwarming novel that brings Darcy and Elizabeth together in a way that makes them partners in all things. Partnerships in love are the best kind.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Heather Moll is an avid reader of mysteries and biographies with a master’s in
information science. She found Jane Austen later than she should have and made up for lost time by devouring Austen’s letters and unpublished works, joining JASNA, and spending too much time researching the Regency era. She is the author of Two More Days at Netherfield and His Choice of a Wife. She lives with her husband and son and struggles to balance all of the important things, like whether to clean the house or write. Connect with her on Facebook,
Goodreads, Instagram, and Twitter.

GIVEAWAY:

Quills & Quartos Publishing is giving away one ecopy at each blog stop of the Two More Days at Netherfield blog tour. All you need to do to enter the giveaway is comment on this blog post, and Quills & Quartos will randomly choose one random winner after Feb. 21, 2020. So, make sure you join in the conversation!

Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway: Mr. Darcy’s Perfect Match by Kelly Miller

Today’s guest is Kelly Miller who is here to talk about her latest release, Mr. Darcy’s Perfect Match.

Before we get to her guest post about the ghosts in the Tower of London, let’s learn a little bit about the book.

About the Book:

When secrets are revealed and a family agenda works against him, can Fitzwilliam Darcy recover his damaged spirits and find happiness?

Following his disastrous proposal to Elizabeth Bennet, Fitzwilliam Darcy returns to London from Kent broken-hearted and dejected. One bright spot penetrates his sea of despair: his sister, Georgiana, has finally recovered her spirits from the grievous events at Ramsgate the previous summer. She has forged a new friendship with Miss Hester Drake, a lady who appears to be an ideal friend. In fact, Lady Matlock believes Miss Drake is Darcy’s perfect match.

Upon Elizabeth Bennet’s arrival at the Gardiners’ home from Kent, she finds that her sister Jane remains despondent over her abandonment by Mr. Bingley. But Elizabeth has information that might bring them together. She convinces her Uncle Gardiner to write a letter to Mr. Bingley providing key facts supplied to her by Mr. Darcy.

When Mr. Bingley discovers that his friend and sisters colluded to keep Jane’s presence in London from him, how will he respond? Given the chance, will Darcy and Elizabeth overcome their past misunderstandings? What will Darcy do when his beloved sister becomes a hindrance towards winning the lady he loves?

Without further ado, please give Kelly a warm welcome.

In Mr. Darcy’s Perfect Match, the primary characters visit The Tower of London, a location with a grisly and controversial history. A number of ghosts have been associated with this famous tourist attraction. Luckily, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth do not encounter them in my story, yet I thought it would be interesting to examine the ghostly reports that have been made over the years.

The White Tower, from which the Tower of London got its name, was built in 1078 on orders of William the Conqueror. A total of 133 confirmed executions were performed at the Tower of London. The first of these executions was of Sir Simon Burley on May 5, 1388, for the crime of “Supporting the King’s struggle for absolute power.”

One victim of the most common method of execution employed at the tower, beheading, was a Darcy: Lord Thomas Darcy of Templehurst, who met his end on June 30, 1537. His alleged crime was noted as “Treasonable Correspondence with Robert Aske re Pilgrimage of Grace (a widespread uprising against Henry VIII).”

The last confirmed execution was of Josef Jacobs on August 15, 1941, by firing squad for the crime of “Spying.”

A number of former inhabitants of the tower have reportedly been seen over the years in ghostly form. King Henry VI, who had been imprisoned in 1465 by his cousin Edward IV, is believed by historians to have been killed at Edward’s command. Henry VI lost his life on the evening of May 21, 1471. It is said that Henry VI’s ghost appears each year at the anniversary of his death in the Wakefield Tower where he met his end.

The two princes, Edward V and his brother, Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York, were imprisoned in the tower by their uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester in 1483. The so-called Lord Protector had declared his nephews to be illegitimate, and ascended to the throne as Richard III. The two princes were never seen again after the summer of 1483 and were presumed murdered by Richard III. Richard III had already ordered the deaths of the boys’ uncle, Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl of Rivers, and half-brother, Sir Richard Grey. Ghostly sightings of the two princes have been reported since the 15th century. Many have seen the ghosts clinging to one another and sobbing, but a more recent sighting in 1990 described the ghostly princes to be giggling.

Queen Anne Boleyn was charged by her husband King Henry VIII of treason, adultery, and incest (with her brother, George Boleyn, Lord Rochford), and imprisoned in the tower. She was found guilty on May 15, 1536. George Boleyn and other men accused of being the queen’s lovers were also found guilty and executed. Queen Anne Boleyn met her end on May 19, 1536, a beheading accomplished with the single stroke of an expert swordsman. The following poem is thought to have been written either by Queen Anne Boleyn or her brother George Boleyn as they awaited their fate:

“O Death Rock Me Asleep”

O death! rock me asleep,
Bring me on quiet rest;
Yet pass my guiltless ghost
Out of my careful breast:
Toll on the passing bell,
Ring out the doleful knell,
Let the sound of my death tell,
For I must die,
There is no remedy,
For now I die
My pains who can express?
Alas! they are so strong,
My dolor will not suffer strength
My life for to prolong:
Toll on the passing bell, etc.
Alone, in prison strong,
I wail my destiny,
Wo worth this cruel hap that I
Should taste this misery:
Toll on the passing bell, etc.
Farewell my pleasures past,
Welcome my present pain;
I feel my torments so increase
That life cannot remain.
Cease now the passing bell,
Rung is my doleful knell,
For the sound my death doth tell,
Death doth draw nigh,
Sound my end dolefully,
For now I die.

Although the ghost of Anne Boleyn has been sighted many times in or around the church near the tower, at times carrying her head under her arm, a famous sighting occurred in 1864 by General Dundas. The general reported seeing a ghostly white figure floating towards a guard in the courtyard of the tower. The guard charged her with bayonet raised and moved right through her. At the realization that he had seen a ghost, the guard fainted.

Margaret Pole, the former Countess of Salisbury, was imprisoned in the tower for being a part of the Pilgrimage of Grace two and a half years before her execution on May 27, 1541. Warring testimony accounts for the brutal manner of her death. One witness stated that an inexperienced axeman took eleven blows to affect her death; another claimed that the extra blows were due to Lady Salisbury’s attempt to run away from her fate.

The following poem had been carved upon the wall of the countess’s cell:

For traitors on the block should die;
I am no traitor, no, not I!
My faithfulness stands fast and so,
Towards the block I shall not go!
Nor make one step, as you shall see;
Christ in Thy Mercy, save Thou me!

Over the years, Lady Salisbury’s screams have been heard and her ghostly form seen on the tower green; others have reported seeing the giant shadow of an axe coming down at the site of the countess’s execution.

Some visitors to the White Tower have reported a most disturbing crushing sensation while in the room where Henry VIII’s armor is displayed. Fortunately, this frightening sensation disappears once they leave the room.

Lady Jane Grey and her husband Lord Guilford Dudley were sentenced to death by Mary I and were killed on February 12, 1554. Lord Dudley is said to haunt Beauchamp Tower by weeping in his cell late into the night, and is thought to be responsible for the word “Jane” etched upon the wall. Lady Jane’s ghost has been seen wandering the battlements alone.

Lady Arabella Stuart was imprisoned in the tower and died in 1615. She may have been murdered but others say she succumbed from her own refusal to eat. She is said to haunt the Queen’s house and has often been seen weeping.

Even the animals from the Royal Menagerie have reportedly haunted their former living space. Visitors have reported hearing the cries of animals long dead. In 1815, a sentry was outside the jewel house when he was approached by the ghost of a bear. The incident was supposed to have so traumatized the man that he passed away weeks later.

I love a good ghost story! 🙂 I would love to visit the Towers of London to see some. 😉

And now, for that moment you’ve been waiting for — an excerpt from Miller’s latest book, Mr. Darcy’s Perfect Match.

In this excerpt, Darcy meets Georgiana’s new friend Miss Hester Drake for the first time at
the Darcy town home in London.

At the faint knock upon the door of his study, Darcy called out, “Enter.” He stood and the line of his mouth softened into a smile as his sister slipped into the room and stood before his desk. “Yes, Georgie?”

She skimmed the papers on his desk before facing him. “I wanted to remind you that my friend Miss Drake is due to arrive in thirty minutes. You did say you wished to meet her today.”

A depth of compassion swelled within him at the sight of his sister’s slumped posture and hesitant tone. His introduction to her friend meant a great deal to her. Darcy had been trying, for her sake, to act as though all was well. Had he been successful? With luck, his sister’s new friend would distract her from noticing anything amiss. “I have not forgotten. I shall join you after she arrives.”

Georgiana responded with a brilliant smile. Her words rushed out. “Thank you, Fitzwilliam. I need to go now and prepare.” His sister dashed from the room.

***

Darcy timed his appearance in the east sitting room for ten minutes into the call. The ladies and their companions rose at his entrance.

With a grin, Georgiana came forward to stand beside him. “Miss Drake and Miss Green, please allow me to present my brother, Fitzwilliam Darcy. Brother, this is my friend Miss Drake and her companion, Miss Green.”

After he bowed to their curtsies, Darcy surveyed the young lady and her companion.

Both displayed smiles and were well dressed with Miss Drake in the more expensive, stylish cut of gown as appropriate for her station. “Miss Drake, Miss Green, it is a pleasure to meet you both.” Both ladies replied in the usual way and took their seats at his urging.

Darcy forced himself to smile. Miss Drake was a pretty, poised young lady with reddish-brown hair, flawless, ivory skin, and an oval face. Her piercing green eyes—not as fine as Miss Elizabeth’s brown, expressive eyes but still quite attractive—seemed to indicate a keen mind. The lady had an admirable, full figure though not as light and pleasing as Miss Elizabeth’s form. What was he doing? Blast! He had to cease referring to Miss Elizabeth! He turned away, ran a hand through his hair, and took a seat across from Miss Drake. A moment later, his smile was back in place. “I hope your family is well. I attended university with your brother James, though we have not spoken in a long while.”

Miss Drake’s dulcet voice was infused with esprit. “Yes, Mr. Darcy. My family is exceedingly well. My brother James and his wife recently returned from an extended stay in Margate.”

He nodded and broadened his smile; it was the expected response. “I have been to Margate several times. It is a lovely town. When you see him, please pass on my best wishes.”

The young lady’s eyes held a vivid sheen. “I thank you. I shall do so.”

Darcy continued to chat with Miss Drake, but he also directed a couple of polite questions to Miss Green. At his first query, the companion sputtered in her response and her eyes widened; she had not expected to be addressed by him. And why would she? He would not have done so in the past—not before Miss Elizabeth’s chastisement. Blast and damn—he was not to think of her! Yet it was due to her alone that he strove to make improvements in his conduct. It was a shame she would never know of it.

After a few more minutes of conversation, Darcy rose. “I shall leave you ladies to yourselves. It was very nice to have met you, Miss Drake, Miss Green.” With a bow, he retreated from the room and made his way back to his study.

About the Author:

Kelly Miller is a native Californian and Anglophile, who made her first visit to England in 2019. When not pondering a plot point or a turn of phrase, she can be found playing the piano (although like Elizabeth Bennet, she is errant when it comes to practicing), singing, and walking her dogs. Kelly Miller resides in Silicon Valley with her husband, daughter, and their many pets.

Mr. Darcy’s Perfect Match is her second novel published by Meryton Press. Her first was the Regency novel Death Takes a Holiday at Pemberley, a Pride and Prejudice romantic sequel with a touch of fantasy. Her third novel, Accusing Mr. Darcy, will be released later in 2020. Visit Kelly’s blog page, her on Twitter, and on Facebook.

GIVEAWAY: 8 ebooks; Enter HERE:

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Mr. Darcy’s Perfect Match Blog Schedule

January 27 Austenesque Reviews

January 28 My Jane Austen Book Club

January 29 Austenprose

January 30 So Little Time…

January 31 Babblings of a Bookworm

February 3 More Agreeably Engaged

February 4 Savvy Verse & Wit

February 6 Donadee’s Corner

February 7 Diary of an Eccentric

February 10 From Pemberley to Milton

February 11 My Vices and Weaknesses

Guest Post & Giveaway: Thaw by Anniina Sjöblom

I have relatives in Finland, and I often find Finish perspectives in fiction fascinating. This is probably the main reason I wanted to host Ms. Sjöblom and her book for this blog tour. It’s rare that I find a variation that’s written by someone outside the United States and Britain. I cannot wait to read this book myself, but today, I have a Character Interview to share from the author.

Stay tuned to enter the giveaway as well.

About the book:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that one false step can involve a lady in endless ruin. On a rainy November day in 1811, Miss Elizabeth Bennet finds herself wondering why no one ever bothered to tell her about this.

A few blithe steps on a morning walk, taken after a succession of rain, lead to unexpected events that irrevocably change the course of Elizabeth’s life, placing her fate in the hands of the haughty and conceited Mr. Darcy – the last  man in the world she had ever thought to marry.

As long winter days slowly pass, she writes letters to her loved ones, trying to come to terms with her new role as a wife and the Mistress of Pemberley. But can she ever learn to love her husband? Will he overcome his arrogant notions of rank and circumstance?

And most importantly – will the shades of Pemberley ever recover from being thus polluted?

Without further ado, please welcome Anniina Sjöblom:

Hello everyone—I’m glad you’ve found your way to Savvy Verse & Wit today! And thank you to Serena for inviting me to stop by here as a part of the blog tour for my new novella, Thaw!

Thaw is very much Elizabeth’s story, so to balance things out, today’s post is an interview with Mr. Darcy. When I first posted Thaw online, I wrote some spoofy diary markings by Mr. Darcy in the comment thread of the story to accompany each post. As the online versions of Thaw have since been removed, the diary markings are also a thing of the past. For today’s post, I’ve resurrected a few of them from my archives.

They’re (very) silly, rather modern and quite full of expletives—and in no way reflect the tone of the actual story. Consider yourselves warned!

****

Dear readers, with us today is Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, of Pemberley, Derbyshire. In the wake of the recent release of a collection of private letters by his wife, Mrs. Elizabeth Darcy, Mr. Darcy has agreed to give us an exclusive interview and share a few markings from his personal diary to shed light on his perspective to the events that have unfolded.

Welcome, Mr. Darcy, and thank you for taking the time from your busy schedule to talk to us today. You are known to be a very private man. Do we have your wife to thank for the privilege of taking a peek at your private diary markings?

Well, yes. She thought it might lighten my public image. It seems she has had a bit of a difficult time convincing her friends and family that I am, in fact, someone worth her good opinion. I have not the least idea why.

Well, we thank you heartily. It seems you and your wife had some trouble communicating in the early days of your marriage? In her letters, she describes numerous occasions when you were alone in a room together but barely said a word to each other. Could you tell us of your thoughts at the time?

It is true that our marriage did not have the most auspicious of starts. At first, it seemed like even the most mundane of topics could lead to an argument. Less than two months into our marriage, I admit we were barely talking—though by that time, I found myself very much hoping that we would. But after weeks of silence, how is one to start? Here is one of my diary markings from that time:

January 25th, 1812. Made a bloody fool of myself. Again. Just stop stalking about like a useless dimwit and say it, you big idiot! How hard can it be? It is not as if things could get any worse, is it? Dear wife, have had the hots for you since I first saw you at that godforsaken assembly, and would very much like to throw you over my shoulder and carry you to bed. Plus, am reformed and love you. Most ardently. There, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

At the time, your sister Georgiana and your cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, were with you in Pemberley. Is it really true that you accused your wife of flirting with the colonel?

It is. Not my finest hour, to be sure. I have since come to know the error of my ways. An utterly absurd notion on my part, really. But at the time, I must admit I was quite tired and rather blinded by jealousy. I am not proud of the diary markings I made at the time:

January 27th, 1812. Burned my fingers because my damnable flirt of a cousin dared me into playing bloody snap-dragon. Wanted to throw the damn raisins at his face, but tried to act cool because the wife was present—she already smiles too much at him and not enough at me. Note to self: next time Richard comes to visit, hide the brandy. And the raisins. And the wife.

Your false assumptions led to a rather substantial disagreement between you and Mrs. Darcy, did they not?

To put it mildly. In retrospect, I have come to understand that I should have stayed at Pemberley after our fight, but I confess it was all rather too much for me. I wrote my wife a letter and fled to Chesterfield, on what I let her understand was a trip of business—but perhaps it is now time to confess that, in truth, I sat alone in an inn for a week and moped like a world champion.

January 30th 1812. Urgent business in Chesterfield, must leave immediately. Wrote the wife a letter to explain myself. Perhaps I should wait by the front door until she reads it? Maybe she will come running after me, begging me not to go? ‘Where will I go, what will I do?’ she will say. And I will coolly reply: ‘Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a crap.’ Not likely.

Well, I must say we are glad that you did not stay in Chesterfield for long. As I am sure is your wife. After your return, it seems things started to look up?

Indeed, they did. As my diary markings of the time will testify, it was not long after my return that I started to appreciate the power of a simple, honest conversation:

February 11th, 1812. Finally talked with the wife. Thank goodness. Nearly dropped off my chair when she smiled at me. At me! In your face, Richard! How could I ever think that having the wife as the mistress of Pemberley would be a bloody degradation? Badly done, Darcy. Badly done. Without her, this place would be just a pretentious, lonely pile of bricks.

Your solicitor has advised that you do not wish to talk about the ordeal between Mr. Wickham and his wife. Your wife, too, is rather vague on the subject. But could you perhaps tell us, even just briefly, what it took to solve the unfortunate situation?

I am afraid not. My wife has addressed the topic in her letters and we have agreed that it is all we wish to say on the topic. Suffice it to say that I can be quite persuasive when I want to:

March 17th 1812. Bending it like Beckham on Gracechurch Street—kicked That Bastard so hard in the butt that he flew all the way to Grosvenor Square and back. Hurt my foot in the process, but maybe that’s a good thing? If the wife sees me coming home, limping like a war hero returning from battle, maybe she’ll forget all about how much my damned pride has cost her and come running to me?

Very well, we understand. One last question, Mr. Darcy: do you still keep a diary?

Ahem. I do not. I was quite an avid writer during the early days of our marriage—and perhaps sometimes rather too outspoken and a tad too colourful—but I have since given it up. There was a bit of an incident, you see, after a particularly spirited entry on a rather private topic, that made me reconsider the wisdom of keeping a diary. I do not quite know how to explain it, but perhaps the very last marking in my diary will offer some indication of the nature of the incident:

April 1st, 1813. Dear Husband. Found your diary. I think we must talk.

Sincerely,
The Wife

P.S. If your gig really is so much better hung than the colonel's, why is it that we always use the barouche?

Thank you, everyone, for stopping by today to take part of the blog tour! If you have any wise words to Darcy, do leave them in the comments—the poor guy’s diary leaves me suspecting he might be in need of a few. Also feel free to ask me any questions—and if you want, you can look me up on Facebook.

Thank you so much, Anniina Sjöblom, for joining us today on the blog. Doesn’t this sound delightful?! Don’t forget to enter the giveaway.

About the Author:

Anniina Sjöblom lives in the beautiful but cold Finland and works in university administration. She has an MA in History and enjoys a long-standing love affair with the works of Jane Austen.

Her previous works include titles such as Thirteen Days, Fix You and When He Comes Back, published in various online Austenesque forums under the pen name boogima. The new novella Thaw, expanded from the original version of the story first published online in 2011, is her first commercially published work.

When not writing, Anniina spends her time hanging out with friends, binge-watching TV dramas and re-reading her favourite books while the stack of new ones still waiting to be read piles higher on her nightstand. She can ride a unicycle, and once, after losing an unfortunate bet, ate a bowl of ice cream with green dish soap as dressing. She does not recommend attempting it to anyone.

GIVEAWAY:

Quills & Quartos Publishing is giving away one ebook of THAW per blog tour stop.

All you need to do to enter the giveaway is comment on this blog post, and Quills & Quartos will randomly choose winners for the entire blog tour on January 22. So, make sure you join in the conversation!

Guest Post & Giveaway: The Making of a Memoir-in-Conversation by Robert Jacoby and John Robinette

We have some local authors today on the blog who will talk about the memoir, Never Stop Dancing.

For those in the Washington, D.C., area, our memoirists will be at the 11th Annual Takoma Park Book Fair on Dec. 14, 2019. I encourage you to go.

If you can’t make it to the festival, you will have an opportunity to win a copy of the memoir if you live in the United States. But you’ll have to read this guest post and leave a comment by Dec. 19, 2019.

About the book:

Born of a year’s worth of candid interviews, Never Stop Dancing avoids clichéd takeaways about grief and healing to chart a deeper, thornier examination of loss and regret. Robert and John are transformed through their shared experience, too, emerging strengthened and with an abiding male friendship that cuts against the grain of pop-culture trends of quick fixes and easy answers. This memoir-in-conversation provides hard-won reassurances that one can and does go on after loss.

Without further ado, please welcome John and Robert:

Never Stop Dancing: A Memoir is an unusual book, not only in its subject matter but also in how it came to be. The book results from a collection of interviews captured after John’s wife, Amy, was killed in a pedestrian traffic accident April 29, 2010, on a street in Washington, D.C.

By 2010, we had been friends for about eight years and enjoyed deep and wide-ranging conversations over every imaginable subject. And so it was, in July, about two months after Amy’s death, Robert asked John to sit together and talk about, and record, John’s experiences as they unfolded. For John, as he describes it, sitting in conversation seemed a natural part of the grieving process.

We met on eight different occasions over the first year after Amy was killed. As the interviewer, Robert helped steer the conversations, which usually started and grew organically. He would ask John how he was doing or what was on his mind. Other times John wanted to talk about something specific.

Sometimes during the sessions, talking became too difficult, for John, for both of us, and we had to stop. The recorder was turned off, and we would take a break.

Sometimes we cried, other times we laughed. Can you believe that? Yes, sometimes we did laugh together. And that’s okay. We were two close friends talking, and even in something heavy like death and grief, we knew that it was okay to find things to laugh about.

Robert started work on the raw transcripts immediately, in the fall of 2010.

May 2011 is the earliest occurrence of Never Stop Dancing as a possible title in our email exchanges.

In August 2011, Robert sent John the first draft of the book, and its working title was After Amy. In October John wanted to write an Afterword, and he completed that a few days after New Year’s Day, 2012.

Throughout 2012 we revised the book and started sending it out to book agents. Robert had a very short introduction, and the book included some blog posts John had written interspersed; we included some back-and-forth of our conversations from our interview sessions to give it that “interview” feel, too.

During 2013 and 2014, we experienced more changes. John re-married (teaser: the origin story of this marriage is in the book), and the manuscript seemed to be idling. In May 2014, Robert reached out to his book editor, Robyn Russell, for help. It was her suggestion to us to choose to keep Robert entirely out of the book, or entirely in the book. Her vote was definitely in. We talked and decided quickly: Robert needed to be in the book. Robyn also suggested the seasonal divisions. Up to then we had chapter divisions that were a bit unwieldy. We also finally settled on the book title as Never Stop Dancing.

In February 2015, our second book editor took over for Robyn. This was her colleague, Jason Bucholz, who also happens to be a novelist. We worked with him until early 2017.

John and I both worked off of Robyn’s and then Jason’s suggested revisions. John trimmed about 20,000 words from the manuscript, and Robert had to add an entirely new Introduction, all of his introductory pieces for each season, and then more text pieces for our “breaks” during the interview sessions. It was challenging for Robert to go back in time to place himself in those interview sessions and re-live those moments. Every new read became a new trauma. As we worked through the revisions, John expressed similar feelings to the point where he now never again wants to read the first 50 pages.

In 2018, we started querying our lists of agents and publishers. We had some interest, but no takers.

In early 2019, we decided to do it ourselves. Proofreading the text with a professional editor, working with the book designer.

John and I started this project to document his journey through his grief experience and out into new life. At the beginning, we couldn’t know what that life would be. And here we are, these many years later, sharing our story with our readers: John’s story of his grief journey through that first year after losing Amy; Robert’s story of being John’s friend through that time; and the story of us together, two male friends, in deep conversation.

Thank you, John and Robert for sharing your story. I can’t imaging how hard it must have been to write about this experience and relive it with each edit.

Please see their appearance on the show Good Morning Washington.

GIVEAWAY:

To win a signed copy of the memoir, Never Stop Dancing, please leave a comment and email by Dec. 19, 2019.

You must be 18 years of age and have a U.S. address.

Guest Post & Giveaway: Jessie Lewis, Author of Speechless, Talks About Historical Buildings and Inspiration

Today’s guest is someone new to the blog — Jessie Lewis — and she will share with us some of the inspirational historical buildings she’s used to write her novels. First, please read what her new novel, Speechless, is about:

Could anything be worse than to be trapped in a confined space with the woman you love? Fitzwilliam Darcy knows his duty, and it does not involve succumbing to his fascination for a dark-eyed beauty from an unheard of family in Hertfordshire. He has run away from her once already. Yet fate has a wicked sense of humour and deals him a blow that not only throws him back into her path but quite literally puts him at Elizabeth Bennet’s mercy. Stranded with her at a remote inn and seriously hampered by injury, Darcy very quickly loses the battle to conquer his feelings, but can he win the war to make himself better understood without the ability to speak?

Thus begins an intense journey to love and understanding that is at times harrowing, sometimes hilarious and at all times heartwarming.

Being trapped in a confined space with Mr. Darcy, who wouldn’t love that? This sounds delightful, doesn’t it? If you agree, stay tuned for the giveaway. Please welcome Jessie Lewis.

Thank you, Serena, for hosting me on your blog today to talk about my new novel, Speechless. I love the Regency era and am lucky enough to be surrounded by historical buildings and places here in England, many of which have been inspirational to my writing. I thought it would be fun to share a few pictures of those that inspired the setting for this particular story.

In Speechless, Darcy and Elizabeth are stranded together at an inn called The Dancing Bear, owned by the kindly Mr Timmins. The inn boasts a large stuffed bear at the foot of the stairs, which Elizabeth nicknames Mr Collins. You would be forgiven for thinking this is a little odd, since bears are not native to the UK—or if they ever were, it was a really long time ago. In fact, I based The Dancing Bear on a real pub called The Bear of Rodborough, situated in the Cotswolds. It’s so called because it famously has a large stuffed bear in its foyer. (The bear was presumably hunted and imported at some point in the past, the ethics of which I shall not venture to discuss here!) A big scary bear just seemed to suit the location of Mr Timmins’ inn—on the outskirts of a village, surrounded by woods—as well as the events that take place there, which are, at least at the beginning, pretty frightening for our dear couple. Thus, The Dancing Bear was conceived.

The room in which Darcy and Elizabeth spend most of their time in the story belongs to Mr Timmins’ sister, who acts as a housekeeper-come-cook. Her role is pertinent because it demanded certain features be in the room that were essential to the story. I took the inspiration for this room from the housekeeper’s apartments at the beautifully restored Regency Townhouse in Brighton (a visit to which I heartily recommend to anyone interested in Regency life). The room at the townhouse (pictured) differs from the one in Speechless in that it is bright and airy as opposed to dark, dingy and cluttered—but it was the design of the space that really interested me.

Purpose-built for a housekeeper by the C19th architect, it has a large walk-in cupboard where she would have kept all the most expensive domestic items carefully locked away. You’ll have to read the story to find out why this was such an important feature to have in the room, though…

The taproom at The Dancing Bear is themed around the interior of a wonderful old hotel in my own hometown of Hertford. The Salisbury Arms (originally The Bell) is a coaching inn dating back to the fifteenth century. It has two front parlours, a taproom and a restaurant; three more rooms than I gave The Dancing Bear, which only has one taproom. The gorgeous old room in this picture shows the mixture of bricks, plaster and timber frame that I imagine made up the walls of Mr Timmins’ humble inn.

In complete contrast to all of this is Darcy’s townhouse. I admit, I have never visited the place in this picture. I’m not even sure where it was taken—it’s an image I stumbled across on the internet a long time ago—but I used it to help me envisage one of the most pivotal scenes in the story. Not, as you might think, for the splendour, though it is beautiful. In fact, it was, again, the layout that inspired me. The logistics of where things are in whatever imaginary world I’m writing about can prove problematic if I don’t have a clear idea of that space. Characters can end up whispering to someone too far away to hear, walking through a door that wasn’t there moments before, sitting down in a chair where another character is already perched … the potential for pitfalls is endless. I find that having in mind a particular room I’ve visited or seen in a photo, or even sketched out on paper, helps me better inhabit the space I’m describing, thereby ensuring that what I write makes sense. The way the furniture is arranged in a circle around this particular room, with one chair closest to the door, from which a person might hold a quiet conversation with someone half-in and half-out of the room whilst everyone else talks amongst themselves, proved remarkably useful to a certain gentleman protagonist in Speechless.

Of course, I also like to think of Darcy’s houses as tastefully and gorgeously decorated, so this photo was no hardship to work with.

So, there is a small glimpse of the world I lived in while I was writing Speechless. I hope your readers have just as much fun imagining their own setting for Darcy and Elizabeth if they have the chance to read the story themselves.

Thanks, Jessie, for sharing all of these glorious, inspirational buildings with us.

GIVEAWAY:

Quills & Quartos Publishing is giving away one ebook of Speechless per blog tour stop. All you need to do to enter the giveaway is comment on this blog post, and Quills & Quartos will randomly choose winners for the entire blog tour on December 19. So, make sure you join in the conversation!

About the Author:

Jessie Lewis, author of Mistaken and The Edification of Lady Susan, enjoys words far too much for her own good and was forced to take up writing them down in order to save her family and friends from having to listen to her saying so many of them. She dabbled in poetry during her teenage years, though it was her studies in Literature and Philosophy at university that firmly established her admiration for the potency of the English language. She has always been particularly in awe of Jane Austen’s literary cunning and has delighted in exploring Austen’s
regency world in her own historical fiction writing. It is of no relevance whatsoever to her ability to string words together coherently that she lives in Hertfordshire with two tame cats, two feral children and a pet husband. She is also quite tall, in case you were wondering.

You can check out her musings on the absurdities of language and life on her blog, LifeinWords.blog, or see what she’s reading over at Goodreads. Or you can drop her a line on Twitter, @JessieWriter or on her Facebook page, JessieLewisAuthor.