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Guest Post & Giveaway: My Mr. Darcy & Your Mr. Bingley by Linda Beutler

Today, I’d like to welcome Linda Beutler to the blog to talk about her latest Pride & Prejudice variation and the poetry. But first, read a little about her book below:

About the Book:

One never quite knows where the inspiration will strike. For award-winning author Linda Beutler and My Mr. Darcy & Your Mr. Bingley, the moment of genesis arrived in a particularly contentious thread at the online forum A Happy Assembly. What is the nature of personal responsibility? Where do we draw the line between Mr. Bingley being too subject to Mr. Darcy’s “persuasion” and Mr. Darcy playing too heavily on Mr. Bingley’s “sensibility”? This is a conundrum guaranteed to raise even more questions.

What happens to the plot and character dynamics of Pride & Prejudice if Mr. Bingley is given just a dash more spine? Or if Jane Bennet decides enough embarrassment is too much? How does Mr. Darcy manage the crucial apology a more stalwart Mr. Bingley necessitates he make? What if Mr. Darcy meets relations of Elizabeth Bennet’s for whom she need not blush on their home turf rather than his? Suffice it to say, this is a story of rebuked pride, missing mail, a man with “vision”, a frisky cat, and an evening gown that seems to have its own agenda.

Please check out her post on Dark Poetry and Othello:

Thanks, Serena, for hosting a stop on the My Mr. Darcy & Your Mr. Bingley blog tour here at Savvy Verses and Wit. The focus of your interest in verse and poetry has afforded me the opportunity to revisit my favorite chapter of the book through a new filter, even though I had no thoughts of writing verses when I wrote it! Poetry isn’t always light and happy and flowers that bloom in the spring, tra-la. By setting the chapter in question during a performance of Othello, the narrative could go to a much unhappier place, inhabited by a scorned lover and a lady consumed by regret, following the lead of that most masterful poet, Shakespeare. Let me explain…

One could go on at great length to describe the poetry in prose, and I shall try to avoid excess! During my years as an English major, my tastes evolved away from poetry as such, perhaps due to becoming exhausted with fretting over the components of it to the detriment of simple emotional enjoyment (scansion and meter and rhymes—oh my!). However, in one particular chapter in My Mr. Darcy & Your Mr. Bingley, I did get a chance to delve back into my poetic roots, in the darkest portion of my story and its link to Othello.

In chapter 15, Of All the Theatres in London, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet take in an evening at the theatre, watching Othello in adjoining boxes not even two weeks after their disastrous conversation at Hunsford. There are several reasons I chose Othello, the most important of which are that it gives a real-life London actress, Mrs. Siddons, a chance to portray a character much younger than herself at the time of the story (which Mrs. Siddons typically did, vain creature!); that Othello is arguably the bleakest of Shakespeare’s plays (we can see the ending coming ten miles off and are powerless to stop it or look away, and such a wicked villain); Othello was the first Shakespeare I saw staged by a professional company (the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon) and the performance thoroughly opened my eyes to the poetry that is Shakespeare.

Although at various points the chapter unfolds through different perspectives, we end with Elizabeth’s point of view before the omniscient narrator ties everything up with a neat if dismal black ribbon. Even in a darkened theatre, it is a highly visual scene, the sort that might have easily been added to Othello. Elizabeth is fearful of Darcy’s mood. Darcy already feels himself to be a damned soul—with nothing to lose. Their relatives are there to see the full display of their mutual discomfort. Elizabeth is in a stunning gown, yet she (unlike Darcy) is the one spending more time staring. And yet, neither Darcy nor Elizabeth witness their own actions with anything approaching accuracy. It is their families who truly come to understand something has happened.

If we look at Darcy and Elizabeth in this scene as Othello and Desdemona, there is one key difference. In Shakespeare’s play, Desdemona is an unwitting innocent. Her trust in her husband (and indeed everyone, more like a Jane Bennet) has been played against her. Desdemona meets her death scene unwittingly. But Elizabeth Bennet knows she has acted wrongly. She has maligned Darcy unjustly and vociferously. She knows she has hurt him, and this unexpected meeting reveals just how much.

And of course Darcy does not wish to murder Elizabeth, but he does wish himself anywhere else but in this particular theatre. If he could snuff out his attachment to her, he would. And yet, at the key moment of the play, when Mrs. Siddons chews up the scenery whilst being strangled, Elizabeth drops her shawl and Darcy does the gentlemanly thing, bending into the adjoining box to fetch it up. Elizabeth thinks she successfully fights the urge to touch his hair with compassion (his head is briefly near her knees). Everyone except Darcy sees the attenuated spasm of her fingers.

Mrs. Siddons dies with a flamboyant gasp as Elizabeth’s love for Darcy sparks to life. Shouts of “Brava!” do not penetrate Elizabeth’s deepening internal shame. Darcy and Elizabeth leave the theatre with superficial anger, but much deeper sadness. Yes, if I do say so myself, with the example of the poetry of Othello before me, it might be the closest I’ve ever come to writing a prose poem. It has what I see as the typical elements of dark epic poetry: strong visual imagery, a clear plot, determined manipulation of the emotions of both the characters and the readers, not a happy ending in sight.

It has long been debated whether poetry has the more adept and profound ability to elicit emotion than does prose. I would rather say it is when prose nears the poetic that it has any emotional power at all. It is when they join, when an author can provide the imagery and action regardless of the niceties of rhythm and rhyme, that sensation is evoked in the reader. With the emotional veracity and imagery of Othello before me, both as vivid memory and the open pages of the text, I hope readers will connect with a distraught Elizabeth and Darcy, comprehending them as I do, and as they cannot comprehend themselves.

~~~~~

I must say this in defense of lighter verse: In my next story, a mash-up of Jane Austen and P. G. Wodehouse, one character is given to limericks of adoration! And if you really want a brilliantly bawdy ballad, I urge your readers to keep an eye out for a forthcoming Meryton Press title, Mistaken, by Jessie Lewis, due out later this year. Thanks again, Serena, for your support of My Mr. Darcy & Your Mr. Bingley, and the kind attention of your readers!

Thank you Linda for sharing your thoughts on poetry, Shakespeare, and your novel for National Poetry Month.

About the Author:

Linda Beutler’s professional life is spent in a garden, an organic garden housing America’s foremost public collection of clematis vines and a host of fabulous companion plants. Her home life reveals a more personal garden, still full of clematis, but also antique roses and vintage perennials planted around and over a 1907 cottage. But one can never have enough of gardening, so in 2011 she began cultivating a weedy patch of Jane Austen Fan Fiction ideas. The first of these to ripen was The Red Chrysanthemum (Meryton Press, 2013), which won a silver IPPY for romance writing in 2014. You might put this down as beginner’s luck—Linda certainly does.  The next harvest brought Longbourn to London (Meryton Press, 2014), known widely as “the [too] sexy one”. In 2015 Meryton Press published the bestseller A Will of Iron, a macabre rom-com based on the surprising journals of Anne de Bourgh.

Now, after a year-long break in JAFF writing to produce Plant Lovers Guide to Clematis (Timber Press, 2016)—the third in a bouquet of books on gardening—we have My Mr. Darcy and Your Mr. Bingley bursting into bloom.  The eBook is available on Amazon; paperbacks coming soon.

Visit her on Twitter, Facebook, and on her website.

Giveaway:

Enter the giveaway for one of 8 eBooks; It’s open internationally.

Terms and Conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post that has a giveaway attached for the tour. (1 comment/blog post) Entrants should provide the name of the blog where they commented (which will be verified). You may enter once by following the author on twitter and once by following the author on Facebook.

Remember, tweet daily and comment once per post with a giveaway to earn extra entries. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter.

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Good Luck!

Cover Reveal & Giveaway: The Darcy Monologues

I know everyone has been excited to see the cover of this May release in the Jane Austen Fan Fiction community, and I cannot wait to show it to you today.  The anthology itself will be released on May 22.

From Christina Boyd:

The amazing cover art is the genius of Shari Ryan of MadHat Books. She took the cover concept and created exactly as I envisioned. Shari professionally, quickly, and concisely handled my countless questions, suggestions, and “just one more tweak” in the challenging format of the print interior—even had a special script code written to make it happen. And then when the original concept had to be scrapped because of the print-on- demand company’s limitations that were beyond our control (long, convoluted story only to be shared over strong cocktails), Shari AGAIN created the present cover and interior for both print and e-book. I could not recommend her expertise more!

Multi-talented author Beau North designed the individual fantastic short story graphics for our social media promotions. I think each gives a lovely overall feel for each story. And the color concept I think works well with #TheDarcyMonologues branding, too!

About the Book:

“You must allow me to tell you…”

For over two hundred years, Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy has captivated readers’ imaginations as the ultimate catch. Rich. Powerful. Noble. Handsome. And yet, as Miss Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” is established through Elizabeth Bennet’s fine eyes, how are we to know what his tortured soul is indeed thinking? How does Darcy progress from “She is tolerable: but not handsome enough to tempt me” to “I thought only of you”?

In this romance anthology, fifteen Austen-inspired authors assemble to sketch Darcy’s character through a series of re-imaginings, set in the Regency through contemporary times—from faithful narratives to the fanciful. Herein “The Darcy Monologues”, the man himself reveals his intimate thoughts, his passionate dreams, and his journey to love—all told with a previously concealed wit and enduring charm.

Stories by: Susan Adriani * Sara Angelini * J. Marie Croft * Karen M Cox * Jan Hahn * Jenetta James * Lory Lilian * KaraLynne Mackrory * Beau North * Ruth Phillips Oakland * Natalie Richards * Sophia Rose * Joana Starnes * Melanie Stanford * Caitlin Williams

Pre-order here on Amazon.

Before we get to the giveaway, I have another surprise for you. I get to share an image for Karen M Cox’s story in the anthology!

Here’s a little teaser from her story, too:

“You seem to know a lot about this book.”

“You would too if your last name was Darcy.” I mimicked an affected tone. “So, you’re Mr. Darcy. Ha-ha-ha-ha. I’ve been looking for you all my life.” With a grim shake of my head, I took a sip of my bourbon and branch. “His first name was even Fitzwilliam.”

“That sounds a lot like William.”

“Yep. My mother’s little joke–English lit major that she was. Bought me a lifetime of misery with that name.”

About Karen:

Karen M Cox is an award-winning author of four novels accented with romance and history: 1932, Find Wonder in All Things, At the Edge of the Sea, and Undeceived. She also wrote “Northanger Revisited 2015”, which appeared in the anthology Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer. Originally from Everett, Washington, Karen now lives in Central Kentucky with her husband, works as a pediatric speech pathologist, encourages her children, and spoils her granddaughter. Like Austen’s Emma, Karen has many hobbies and projects she doesn’t quite finish, but like Elizabeth Bennet, she aspires to be a great reader and an excellent walker.

International Giveaway:

One winner will be selected to win a Kindle Fire with Alexa, and a 7” display.

This giveaway will take place from March 27 – April 21, 2017. The winner will be announced on April 22, 2017.

The second giveaway is for a $25.00 Etsy gift card.

To enter this giveaway, readers will create a Pinterest Board named The Darcy Monologues and post all fifteen story images from the cover reveals, one per each author included in the anthology, and Tweet the board on Twitter. The Tweet must include the hashtag, #TheDarcyMonologues.

This giveaway will take place from March 27 – April 21, 2017. The winner will be announced on April 22, 2017.

All entries will be entered through the Rafflecopter links shown below:

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***Please stop by on July 3 for my review of The Darcy Monologues***

Guest Post & Giveaway: Caroline: The Music Behind the Woman by Sue Barr

Many Pride & Prejudice variations are focused on Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, but what attracts me to Sue Barr’s variation is that it focuses on Miss Bennet’s nemesis, Caroline Bingley.  (OK, maybe nemesis is a strong word)  Caroline has focused on Mr. Darcy for so long, what happens to her after Darcy marries Elizabeth? How does she cope with that loss and what does she focus on now that he’s out of the picture?  Today, Sue Barr will share with us the musical influences of Jane Austen and how it plays in Caroline’s life.

But first, read more about the book below.

Book Synopsis:

Whatever happened to Caroline Bingley after her brother and unrequited love interest married a Bennet sister? Join me in this story of redemptive love and the healing of broken dreams.

Caroline Bingley, beyond frustrated with her brother, Charles and Mr. Darcy both proposing to the Bennet sisters, dreads their upcoming nuptials. For three years, her sole focus has been on attaining a marriage proposal from one Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley, only to be foiled by a country miss with ‘fine eyes’. Adrift and not sure of her place in life, she meets the mysterious and devastatingly handsome Lord Nathan, who equally vexes and intrigues her.

Lord Nathan Kerr, third in line to a Dukedom, had a well-earned reputation as a Rake. He cast all that and his noble title aside to become Mr. Darcy’s vicar in Kympton, finding contentment in leading his small flock and doing the Lord’s work. His plan for a quiet, country life is thrown into upheaval when he meets the fiery Miss Bingley. Can he reconcile his rising desire for the spoiled miss with how a vicar’s wife ‘should’ behave?

Purchase Links: Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon CA, Amazon AU

Please give Sue a warm welcome.

Thank you, Serena, for inviting me to your lovely blog today to discuss my latest book, Caroline. Today, I look forward to sharing this post with your readers that discusses the musical influences in Jane Austen’s own life, as well as in Caroline Bingley’s story too.

When it comes to musical talents, I have learned that Jane Austen really was somewhat of a proficient and a rather accomplished lady in her musical achievements. From the age of 12 years old, Jane practiced the piano nearly each and every morning. In the evenings, she could often be found performing at the piano for her family and friends.

Even at the age of 20, she was still taking weekly lessons and learning new techniques, which happened to be unusual, even for the accomplished women of her class. Even though her family existed on a limited budget, Jane was always able to have access to a good quality piano. Due to the costs of printed music, Jane belonged to an “informal, women-driven network” of music copyists and borrowers.

In my story, Caroline, I was able to connect Austen’s love for music as we discover that Caroline also has a passion for music which soothes her soul. Whenever troubled, she gravitates to the pianoforte and plays. Personally, I love Mozart and was so glad that he lived prior to the time frame of my story.

One of my favorite movies is Amadeus, not for the characterization of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his protagonist, Antonio Salieri but for the music. There is one song, when the last of the high notes hang in the air before crashing to the end, which gives me goose flesh. The genius of Mozart’s compositions is beyond compare. His piano concerto No. 26 has so many layers in nuance and timing, also any of his Clarinet Concertos, … and who doesn’t love Eine Klein Nachtmusic? Most people listen to the piece with only stringed instruments, but the piano solo, accompanied by woodwinds and stringed instruments is achingly beautiful. I have a CD of his music and love it.

I also wanted Caroline to have layers with her love of music and there were many great Masters to choose from, but I looked for something different. I Googled popular composers in the time of 1812 and Ignaz Pleyel popped up. You Tube is a wonderful place to lose yourself and I listened to many tracks until I found his sonata in F Major. I thought I’d share a link to the scene from Amadeus where Solieri, played by F. Murray Abraham, is describing the music of Mozart to a young priest. I think he won the Oscar from this scene alone.

I challenge you to listen to some classical music, if you don’t already love it. Really, really hear what these Masters composed. Imagine flutes, oboes and clarinets, joined by an bassoon providing the much needed lower layer and then along comes the violin, piercing the air with each rising crescendo in harmony alongside the cello and in the background, bass drums, like a heartbeat.

Can you hear it?

Reference: JOHNSON, CLAUDIA L. and CLARA TUITE (eds). A Companion to Jane Austen. Blackwell Publishing, 2009. Blackwell Reference Online. 25 February 2017

Thanks, Sue, for sharing this with us. I can hear the music now. I’m sure my readers can, too, and I bet they’re excited to enter to win!

About the Author:

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

Sue is a member of Romance Writers of America and their affiliate chapter, Love, Hope and Faith as well as American Christian Fiction Writers. For more information about her other books, visit her website, her blog, and on Pinterest, Facebook, GoodReads, and Twitter.

Enter the Giveaway:

Three winners will receive a paperback copy of Caroline and a Jane Austen Journal and three separate winners will receive an ebook copy of this book. (All giveaways are open to international winners.)

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Breaking and Holding by Judy Fogarty & Giveaway

Source: TLC Book Tours
Paperback, 358 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Breaking and Holding by Judy Fogarty is set during what some call the golden age of tennis during the late 1970s when John McEnroe was an up-and-coming star and Jimmy Connors was at the top of his game. Patricia Curren is a beautiful woman who looks as though she’s stepped off of a magazine cover and in a way, she did after her husband discovered her and used her in a rebranding campaign when she was younger. A man bent on building his business and maintaining the perfect facade through intimidation, Jack Curren will stop at nothing to get what he wants while expecting loyalty and acquiescence from those closest to him. It’s clear that his relationship with his wife is far from blissful, and something is about to break.

“This isn’t my story. It’s Patricia and Terry’s. But in the summer of 1978, their lives were wound around mine like strands of twine around a spool. Twine. Rope. Barbed wire by August.” (pg. 1)

The Curren’s take a trip to Kiawah, S.C., to their beach house, and when her husband returns to New York for work, she stays behind. She’s looking to change to become stronger, to break out of her melancholy and aloofness, and to be more like Jack’s assistant Lynn.  Here Patricia transforms into Tricia with the help of Terry, a summer camp teacher who wants to be a professional tennis player on the circuit.  Both are broken and both find that they can repair themselves through the uncomplicated love they have for one another, but the secrets they hold threaten to break apart everything.

Fogarty has created a set of deeply flawed, broken characters who must make peace with their own pasts in order to move forward.  The tennis matches mirror the volleying between Tricia and Jack, Tricia and Lynn, Jack and Lynn, and the volleys between Tricia and Terry, Terry and Baze (his friend), and Terry and Nona (a woman interested in sponsoring his pro career). Told from Lynn’s point of view, readers are pulled into the mystery of these relationships, and the tangled webs they’ve all created until they nearly strangle one another.  Each has to decide when the tipping point is and when to take a chance and go to the net for match point.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

Judy Fogarty lives, writes, reads, and runs on the historic Isle of Hope, in her native Savannah, Georgia. She holds a Master of Music degree from the University of Illinois and has served as Director of Marketing for private golf and tennis communities in the Savannah/Hilton Head area, including The Landings on Skidaway Island, Berkeley Hall, and Callawassie Island. She is a devoted (even rowdy) tennis fan as anyone who has ever had the pleasure (or displeasure) of watching a match with her will attest. Breaking and Holding is her debut novel. She is happily at work on her second, and as always, enjoys the invaluable support of her husband, Mike, and children, Colin and Sara Jane. Visit her Website, Facebook, or Twitter.

To Enter for 1 copy (US/Canada addresses only; age 18+): Leave a comment about who your favorite tennis player is and an email. Enter by March 22, 2017, at 11:59 PM EST.

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Why Mansfield Park? by Kyra Kramer

Mansfield Parsonage by Kyra Kramer is a behind the scenes tale of Mansfield Park by Jane Austen.  It tells another story; the story of Mary Crawford.

When her widowed uncle made her home untenable, Mary made the best of things by going to live with her elder sister, Mrs Grant, in a parson’s house the country. Mansfield Parsonage was more than Mary had expected and better than she could have hoped.  Gregarious and personable, Mary also embraced the inhabitants of the nearby Mansfield Park, watching the ladies set their caps for her dashing brother, Henry Crawford, and developing an attachment to Edmund Bertram and a profound affection for his cousin, Fanny Price.

Mansfield Parsonage retells the story of Mansfield Park from the perspective of Mary Crawford’s hopes and aspirations and shows how Fanny Price’s happily-ever- after came at Mary’s expense.

Please welcome Kyra Kramer today, as she speaks about why she decided to write a book based on Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, rather than a different one of her novels.

Why did I want to tell the story of Mansfield Park, one of Austen’s least-loved novels, from the point of view of the anti-heroine, Mary Crawford? To be blunt, it was because her treatment at the hands of the protagonists, Fanny Price and Edmund Bertram, appalled me. She was nothing but kind to both of them and they threw away her friendship like garbage when she turned out to be less rigidly moralistic and judgemental than they were. From the first time I read Mansfield Park, I wanted to call Fanny and Edmund onto the carpet over their shoddy behaviour toward Mary and to vehemently defend Mary’s ‘evil’ indelicacy. Mary’s great sin was that she wanted to save Edmund’s sister, Maria Bertram Rushworth, from disgrace after Maria left her husband to run off with Mary’s brother, Henry Crawford.

Golly, how horrible to want to keep Maria for being cast out of good society forever! And make no mistake – it was Maria she was trying to save, perhaps at the expense of her own brother’s happiness. After all, as a man, Henry Crawford was going to get off relatively scot free after running off with another man’s wife, but Maria was going to become a total pariah unless Henry married her. So, even though Henry didn’t love Maria, his sister Mary was going to try to get him to wed her in the hopes of preventing her social death.

How did Edmund and Fanny respond to Mary’s attempts to save Maria? By throwing her goodwill back in her face and telling her she was disgusting for even thinking of it! In the original novel, Edmund describes his reaction to Mary’s offer:

As soon as I could speak, I replied that I had not supposed it possible, coming in such a state of mind into that house as I had done, that anything could occur to make me suffer more, but that she had been inflicting deeper wounds in almost every sentence. That though I had, in the course of our acquaintance, been often sensible of some difference in our opinions, on points, too, of some moment, it had not entered my imagination to conceive the difference could be such as she had now proved it. That the manner in which she treated the dreadful crime committed by her brother and my sister (with whom lay the greater seduction I pretended not to say), but the manner in which she spoke of the crime itself, giving it every reproach but the right; considering its ill consequences only as they were to be braved or overborne by a defiance of decency and impudence in wrong; and last of all, and above all, recommending to us a compliance, a compromise, an acquiescence in the continuance of the sin, on the chance of a marriage which, thinking as I now thought of her brother, should rather be prevented than sought; all this together most grievously convinced me that I had never understood her before, and that, as far as related to mind, it had been the creature of my own imagination, not Miss Crawford, that I had been too apt to dwell on for many months past. That, perhaps, it was best for me; I had less to regret in sacrificing a friendship, feelings, hopes which must, at any rate, have been torn from me now. And yet, that I must and would confess that, could I have restored her to what she had appeared to me before, I would infinitely prefer any increase of the pain of parting, for the sake of carrying with me the right of tenderness and esteem. This is what I said, the purport of it; but, as you may imagine, not spoken so collectedly or methodically as I have repeated it to you. She was astonished, exceedingly astonished—more than astonished. I saw her change countenance. She turned extremely red. I imagined I saw a mixture of many feelings: a great, though short struggle; half a wish of yielding to truths, half a sense of shame, but habit, habit carried it. She would have laughed if she could. It was a sort of laugh, as she answered, ‘A pretty good lecture, upon my word. Was it part of your last sermon? At this rate you will soon reform everybody at Mansfield and Thornton Lacey; and when I hear of you next, it may be as a celebrated preacher in some great society of Methodists, or as a missionary into foreign parts.’  She tried to speak carelessly, but she was not so careless as she wanted to appear. I only said in reply, that from my heart I wished her well, and earnestly hoped that she might soon learn to think more justly, and not owe the most valuable knowledge we could any of us acquire, the knowledge of ourselves and of our duty, to the lessons of affliction, and immediately left the room.

There it is. Edmund’s response to Mary’s kindness – to tell her he was shocked she turned out to be such a horrible skank and he hoped she became less skanky over time. Worse, he also whinged to Fanny about Mary’s “total ignorance” of proper moral rectitude and her “perversion of mind which made it natural to her to treat the subject as she did”. He practically wept about her “faults of principle” and her “blunted delicacy and a corrupted, vitiated mind”. Strong words about a woman whose only crime was trying to save Edmund’s sister from permanent alienation!

Moreover, Mary was the most amusing, most vital, and most complex character in the book; the opposite of the stodgy Edmund Bertram and milquetoast Fanny Price. As I explain in my preface:

The delight of most Austen’s characters, for good or for ill, is in their flaws. Whether they are comic relief or fodder for scathing social commentary or beloved protagonists, they were imperfect. Austen’s strong-willed heroines are particularly relatable for the reader because they are not pure paragons. Elizabeth had her prejudice, Anne was too persuadable, Marianne was too romantic, Elinor was too pragmatic, Catherine was naïve and overly imaginative, and Emma was subject to vanity. They are loved because they are inherently decent people, and lovable because they aren’t revoltingly perfect models of submissive 18 th century feminine ideals. Fanny Price, the heroine of Mansfield Park, stands alone as the main protagonist who was unable to make a mistake. Fanny Price is an apotheosis of delicacy, modesty, and tenderness. She is so meek, mild, and righteous that it is almost impossible not to hate her. Mary Crawford is the sharp one in the book. Mary Crawford is the one with uncongenial character traits to be overcome. Mary Crawford is interesting.

In summary, I wanted to tell Mary’s story because she was treated unfairly and was the most charismatic person in Mansfield Park. Although I stuck to the narrative plot of Mansfield Park like glue, I did everything I could to secure the reader’s sympathy in the place I believed it should naturally lie … in Mary Crawford’s perspective. I present Mary Crawford as Austen did; as a good-natured and realistic woman of the world and her time. Unlike Austen, however, I did not condemn Mary as “ruined” by her tolerance of the social shenanigans which surrounded her and her clear-eyed view of English religious hypocrisy. Considering that Austen’s other novels also evince a knowledge of how ridiculousness clergymen could be and how the detection of sin, rather than sin itself, was treated as the true evil, I can only wonder if Austen was trying to “punish” herself for her overly-sardonic worldview by making Mary Crawford the antagonist. If so, she failed, because Austen’s caustic take on the Regency’s sociocultural norms, which are nevertheless threaded with real hope for domestic happiness, remain as charming as Mary Crawford. We, like Mr. Darcy, are still enthralled by the mixture of sweetness and archness in Austen’s tales and have fallen in love with them. Mary Crawford, with her good nature and searing wit, belongs in the ranks of Austen’s heroines more than the tepid and creepmouse Fanny Price ever will.

About the Author:

Kyra Kramer is a medical anthropologist, historian, and devoted bibliophile who lives just outside Cardiff, Wales with her handsome husband and three wonderful young daughters.

She has a deep – nearly obsessive – love for Regency Period romances in general and Jane Austen’s work in particular. Ms. Kramer has authored several history books and academic essays, but this is her first foray into fictional writing.  Visit her website, Twitter, and on Facebook.

Giveaway — win an e-copy of Kramer’s Mansfield Parsonage; Comment by March 6, 2017 at 11:59 PM EST.

Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey by Ginger Monette

Source: the author
Paperback, 413 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey by Ginger Monette is the second book in a series of Great War Romance novels, and while you could read this as a stand alone novel, I wouldn’t recommend missing the two-book experience. Set during WWI, Monette captures the uncertainty of war-time romance with Pride & Prejudice‘s most beloved characters. If Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy were able to overcome their preconceived notions about one another in a shorter period of time, but become separated by the war, would their love endure the miles and trauma of war?

With all of Darcy’s resources would he be able to find Elizabeth if she disappeared, even as he is stuck at the front in battle? Could spies and Germans keep them apart with their war efforts, or would love and chance find a way to keep them close? Without giving away the details of this book, readers will find that the hardened Darcy of book one has been softened by his love for Elizabeth. But in this one, Elizabeth is wary of discovery as she strives to hide and protect her loved ones from reputational harm.

Monette’s settings and characterizations are in line with the time period, when women were gaining ground in male-dominated roles and expectations of marriage as the only option beginning to wane. The tension between Lizzy and Darcy has dissipated somewhat as they face new challenges outside their control, and they must not only learn to make their own decisions but also bear in mind how those decisions could impact the ones that they love. Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey by Ginger Monette is a solid follow-up to the first book, and I loved every minute of it. She has a strong sense of historical facts and the original Austen characters. This is by far one of my favorite P&P re-imaginings. Don’t hesitate, get books 1 and 2.

RATING: Cinquain

Other Reviews:

Darcy’s Hope: Beauty from Ashes

About the Author:

The teacher always learns the most. And in homeschooling her children, Ginger Monette learned all the history she missed in school. Now she’s hooked—on writing and World War I. When not writing, Ginger enjoys dancing on the treadmill, watching period dramas, public speaking, and reading—a full-length novel every Sunday afternoon.

Her WW1 flash fiction piece, Flanders Field of Grey, won Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s 2015 Picture This grand prize.

Ginger lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she happily resides with her husband, three teenagers, and two loyal dogs.

Visit Ginger Monette on Facebook, on GoodReads, or on her website. Purchase the book here.

Giveaway- – Downton Abbey Tea!

Three lucky winners will each receive a tin of Downton Abbey Tea!
(Open to US residents only)

Guest Post & Giveaway: The Power of Song by Anngela Schroeder

A Lie Universally Hidden by Anngela Schroeder envisions an Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy on parallel courses to marry out of duty and for money. Readers will wonder how these characters could ever come together for their happily ever after as Jane Austen prepared for them. I’m really looking forward to reading this one, and I wanted to share with you a little about the book and a guest post from Anngela Schroeder. And, there’s a giveaway!

Book Synopsis:

Fitzwilliam Darcy was raised to never stray from the path set before him: ensure the continued prosperity of his estate, Pemberley, protect and educate his sister to become an accomplished woman, and marry the woman his mother chose for him—his cousin Anne de Bourgh. With a letter bearing his late mother’s signature, Darcy presumes his fate is sealed and prepares to wed one he does not love. However, his destiny begins to unravel when he glimpses a pair of fine eyes on a quiet, country road.

Elizabeth Bennet is the second daughter of a respectable though insignificant gentleman. She is flattered to have captured the attention of a local squire, a childhood friend, and everyone believes her path is secure—until a handsome, rich gentleman arrives at a neighboring estate. Happenstance begets the unlikely pair together, bridging a forbidden love long past a mere friendship.

In A Lie Universally Hidden, two of literature’s most beloved romance characters are destined to marry for fortune and obligation rather than love. How will Darcy and Elizabeth fulfill their true destiny under such circumstances? Shall honor, decorum, prudence—nay, a signed letter from the grave—forbid it?

Please welcome Anngela Schroeder — who was recently interviewed on Good Day Sacramento — as she talks about the power of song in her new novel, A Lie Universally Hidden.

Serena, I’m so excited to join you and your readers today at Savvy Verse & Wit. My little book has been on a whirlwind journey these last two weeks, and I am grateful for such a hospitable stop to be its last.

I thought long and hard about what to pen for today, and decided I was going to focus on one aspect of my story which to some may be insignificant, yet it is actually a thread tying two characters together. These characters will never meet, but the song, “The Rose of Tralee,” sung by their lips, has a similar effect on Darcy.

We first hear the song in Chapter 1, when Lady Anne Darcy, on her deathbed, is singing it to her beloved son, Fitzwilliam. The words seem innocuous enough when we hear the lyrics from the first verse: “The pale moon was rising above the green mountain, the sun was declining beneath the blue sea, when I strayed with my love to the pure crystal fountain, that stands in the beautiful Vale of Tralee…” The song continues on about two young lovers who are destined to be apart and how the young man longs for Mary, his Rose of Tralee.

I took liberties by using this song in the novel, the main one that it was not written until roughly 1843, thirty years after my story takes place. However, once you hear the history of the piece, you’ll understand my need to incorporate it in my book.

Written by Irishman William Mulchinock, ‘The Rose of Tralee’ is an elegy of the life he briefly had, but then it was snatched away from him. Having been born into wealth, he was visiting his family’s estate, when he went up to the nursery to see his nieces, and he met the new nursemaid, Mary O’Keefe. He fell in love immediately with her. Unfortunately, his family objected to his feelings, and things became even more complicated when circumstances came about in his life and he was accused of murder. (I really couldn’t make this story up!) He was sent to India to avoid prosecution, and stayed there for six years. Upon his return to Ireland, he discovered that his love had died only days before his return. He then married and moved to America, before abandoning his wife and two children to return to his homeland and die alone.

In my novel, Lady Anne sung it as an old Irish folk melody, and that is how William had always recognized it. But, when he heard Elizabeth sing it in the emptiness of Ashby Park, the meaning became clear to him. It was not longer the sweet ballad of his youth. It now had even more significant meaning to him. Here she was before him; his own Rose of Tralee, Elizabeth Bennet: she who he loved, but could never have. They were destined to be apart because of their own social standings, as well as preexisting circumstances beyond, what they believed to be, their control.

The song itself also speaks of the depths of Darcy’s love: that it was not a superficial kind of feeling. “Yet 'twas not her beauty alone that won me; oh no, 'twas the truth in her eyes ever dawning, that made me love Mary the Rose of Tralee.” A pair of fine eyes, perhaps? Darcy’s love also was not based solely on Elizabeth’s physical appearance. We know that she had more accomplishments to recommend herself, yet painting tables and netting purses were things that were of little consequence to him. Darcy wanted a woman of substance, and that is what he found in Elizabeth Bennet, the one woman who he felt spoke to him like no one else, save his mother, the first love of all little boys.

I sprinkled this song throughout the story, always trying to connect Elizabeth and Darcy with Lady Anne, in an attempt to wreak havoc on Darcy’s understanding of himself and his mother. Whenever he thought things were under control, ­ BAM! There was the song, throwing off his equilibrium.

I do hope you have enjoyed this look into this meaningful aspect of my story, and I hope it helps you understand Darcy’s struggles a wee bit more.

About the Author:

She has a degree in English with a concentration in British Literature and a Masters in Education. She loves to travel, bake, and watch college football with her husband of 16 years and 3 rambunctious sons. She lives in California where Anngela dreams of Disney adventures and trips across the pond. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, and on Amazon.

Giveaway:

Anngela is giving away two autographed hard copies (US mailing addresses only), 2 kindle versions (Open to international winners), an autographed copy of Then Comes Winter (US mailing address only) and an autographed 5×7 of the A Lie Universally Hidden book cover.

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Spotlight & Giveaway: The Riverman by Alex Gray

Synopsis:

Fans of atmospheric police procedurals will love watching Glasgow vividly come to life with the shocking twists and turns that have made Alex Gray an international bestseller

When a dead body is fished out of Glasgow’s River Clyde the morning after an office celebration, it looks like a case of accidental death. But an anonymous telephone call and a forensic toxicology test give Detective Chief Inspector William Lorimer reason to think otherwise. Probing deeper into the life and business of the deceased accountant, a seemingly upright member of the community, Lorimer finds only more unanswered questions.

What is the secret his widow seems to be concealing? Was the international accounting firm facing financial difficulties? What has become of the dead man’s protégé who has disappeared in New York? And when another employee is found dead in her riverside flat these questions become much more disturbing. Lorimer must cope not only with deceptions from the firm, but also with suspicions from those far closer to home . . .

Genre: Police Procedurals
Published by: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: January 10th 2017
Number of Pages: 368
ISBN: 0062659138 (ISBN13: 9780062659132)
Series: A DCI Lorimer Novel, #4
Purchase Links: Amazon ? | Barnes & Noble ? | Goodreads ?

Excerpt | The Riverman by Alex Gray

PROLOGUE
April

THE RIVERMAN

The riverman knew all about the Clyde. Its tides and currents were part of his heritage. His father and others before him had launched countless small craft from the banks of the river in response to a cry for help. Nowadays that cry came in the form of a klaxon that could waken him from sleep, the mobile phone ringing with information about where and when. It wouldn’t be the first time that he’d pulled someone from the icy waters with only a hasty oilskin over his pajamas.

This morning, at least, he’d been up and doing when the call came. The body was over by Finnieston, past the weir, so he’d had to drive over the river towing a boat behind him on the trailer. He was always ready. That was what this job was all about: prompt and speedy response in the hope that some poor sod’s life could be saved. And he’d saved hundreds over the years, desperate people who were trying to make up their mind to jump off one of the many bridges that spanned the Clyde or those who had made that leap and been saved before the waters filled their lungs.

George Parsonage had been brought up to respect his river. Once it had been the artery of a great beating heart, traffic thronging its banks, masts thick as brush-wood. The tobacco trade with Virginia had made Glasgow flourish all right, with the preaching of com-merce and the praising of a New World that was ripe for plucking. The names of some city streets still recalled those far-off days. Even in his own memory, the Clyde had been a byword for ships. As a wee boy, George had been taken to the launch of some of the finer products of Glasgow’s shipbuilding industry. But even then the river’s grandeur was fading. He’d listened to stories about the grey hulks that grew like monsters from the deep, sliding along the water, destined for battle, and about the cruise liners sporting red funnels that were cheered off their slipways, folk bursting with pride to be part of this city with its great river.

The romance and nostalgia had persisted for decades after the demise of shipbuilding and cross-river ferries.Books written about the Clyde’s heyday still found readers hankering after a time that was long past. The Glasgow Garden Festival in the eighties had prompted some to stage a revival along the river and more recently there had been a flurry of activity as the cranes returned to erect luxury flats and offices on either side of its banks. Still, there was little regular traffic upon its sluggish dark waters: a few oarsmen, a private passenger cruiser and the occasional police launch. Few saw what the river was churning up on a daily basis.

As he pushed the oars against the brown water, the riverman sent up a silent prayer for guidance. He’d seen many victims of despair and violence, and constantly reminded himself that each one was a person like himself with hopes, dreams and duties in different measure. If he could help, he would. That was what the Glasgow Humane Society existed for, after all. The sound of morning traffic roared above him as he made his way downstream. The speed of response was tempered by a need to row slowly and carefully once the body was near. Even the smallest of eddies could tip the body, filling the air pocket with water and sending it down and down to the bottom of the river. So, as George Parsonage approached the spot where the body floated,his oars dipped as lightly as seabirds’ wings, his eyes fixed on the shape that seemed no more than a dirty smudge against the embankment.

The riverman could hear voices above but his eyes never left the half-submerged body as the boat crept nearer and nearer. At last he let the boat drift, oars resting on the rowlocks as he finally drew alongside the river’s latest victim. George stood up slowly and bent over, letting the gunwales of the boat dip towards the water. Resting one foot on the edge, he hauled the body by its shoulders and in one clean movement brought it in. Huge ripples eddied away from the side as the boat rocked upright, its cargo safely aboard.

The victim was a middle-aged man. He’d clearly been in the water for some hours so there was no question of trying to revive him. The riverman turned the head this way and that, but there was no sign of a bullet hole or any wound that might indicate a sudden, violent death. George touched the sodden coat lightly. Its original camel colour was smeared and streaked with the river’s detritus, the velvet collar an oily black. Whoever he had been, his clothes showed signs of wealth. The pale face shone wet against the pearly pink light of morning. For an instant George had the impression that the man would sit up and grasp his hand, expressing his thanks for taking him out of the water, as so many had done before him. But today no words would be spoken.There would be only a silent communion between the two men, one dead and one living, before other hands came to examine the corpse.

George grasped the oars and pulled away from the embankment. Only then did he glance upwards, nodding briefly as he identified the men whose voices had sounded across the water. DCI Lorimer caught his eye and nodded back. Up above the banking a couple of uniformed officers stood looking down. Even as he began rowing away from the shore, the riverman noticed a smaller figure join the others. Dr. Rosie Fergusson had arrived.

‘Meet you at the Finnieston steps, George,’ Lorimer called out.

The riverman nodded briefly, pulling hard on the oars, taking his charge on its final journey down the Clyde.

Excerpt from The Riverman by Alex Gray. Copyright © 2017 by Alex Gray. Reproduced with permission from HarperCollins | WitnessImpulse. All rights reserved.

About the Author:

Alex Gray was born and educated in Glasgow. After studying English and Philosophy at the University of Strathclyde, she worked as a visiting officer for the Department of Health, a time she looks upon as postgraduate education since it proved a rich source of character studies. She then trained as a secondary school teacher of English.

Alex began writing professionally in 1993 and had immediate success with short stories, articles, and commissions for BBC radio programs. She has been awarded the Scottish Association of Writers’ Constable and Pitlochry trophies for her crime writing.

A regular on the Scottish bestseller lists, she is the author of thirteen DCI Lorimer novels. She is the co-founder of the international Scottish crime writing festival, Bloody Scotland, which had its inaugural year in 2012. Connect with Alex Gray on her Website ? & on Twitter ?.

Giveaway!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Alex Gray and William Morrow. There will be 3 US winners of one (1) PRINT copy of The Riverman by Alex Gray. The giveaway begins on January 9th and runs through February 23rd, 2017.

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Guest Post & Giveaway: The Best Part of Love by A. D’Orazio

Welcome to our tour stop for The Best Part of Love by A. D’Orazio

We want to welcome you to a cut scene from the novel in which Darcy, Colonel Fitzwilliam, and Wickham are in coversation, but first check out the book’s blurb below:

Book Blurb:

Avoiding the truth does not change the truth

When Fitzwilliam Darcy meets Miss Elizabeth Bennet he has no idea that she — that indeed, the entire town of Meryton — harbors a secret. Miss Elizabeth, a simply country girl from a humble estate, manages to capture first his fascination and then his heart without him ever knowing the truth of her past.

When she meets Darcy, Elizabeth had spent the two years prior hiding from the men who killed her beloved first husband. Feeling herself destroyed by love, Elizabeth has no intention of loving again, certainly not with the haughty man who could do nothing but offend her in Hertfordshire.

In London, Elizabeth surprises herself by finding in Darcy a friend; even greater is her surprise to find herself gradually coming to love him and even accepting an offer of marriage from him.  Newly married, they are just beginning to settle into their happily ever after when a condemned man on his way to the gallows divulges a shattering truth, a secret that contradicts everything.  Elizabeth thought she knew about the tragic circumstances of her first marriage. Against the advice of everyone who loves her, including Darcy, Elizabeth begins to ask questions. But will what they learn destroy them both?

And now for the conversation:

……………………

For those of you who have a copy of the book already, this interview might have come somewhere in the middle of chapter 20.

……………………

By silent agreement, it was Colonel Fitzwilliam who conducted the interview. Darcy knew that his anger, a deep anger fed by his growing fears, prohibited him from being a disinterested inquisitor and as such, he ceded the office to his cousin.

Wickham had acted stupidly brave for a time, but when at last it appeared the other two men would leave him to his fate, he relented. At length, he realised candour was in his best interests, as well as Darcy’s, and he promised to tell them the truth as he best remembered it.

“Very well,” said Colonel Fitzwilliam. “Perhaps it might do to begin with how came your involvement in this dreadful business.”

Wickham sighed heavily. “Does that honestly matter?”

“Oblige me.”

After a moment’s pause, Wickham spat out, “I was cheated but then again, when is it that life does not present to me its very hindquarters? All is well and good for those of you who sit, high and mighty, who know not the deprivations of—”

Darcy waved his hand tiredly. “Yes, yes, we know your song, you have sung it many times over to any who will hear you. Do go on with something we do not know.”

“It was a design from the beginning, to see me a part of it. I hardly remember the night, ’twas such a bosky sort of evening but the long and short of it was that I ended with empty pockets and then some.”

Fitzwilliam snorted. “This is hardly anything we did not know or at least might have imagined. Who did you owe?”

“I knew them not but could easily discern they were high, very high. They were not the sorts to be easily put off. They wanted their due, immediately.” Wickham swallowed hard.

“But you did not have it.”

Wickham shook his head. “It was an amount not easily laid by for such a man as myself. Ah but if only I could have had the living your father promised, Darcy. Then I think I should have been—” Darcy stopped him with a glare and a word. “Enough.”

“I was given a day to come up with it.”

“Knowing you as I do, I would suppose you used that reprieve to try to escape,” said Darcy.

“I did,” Wickham admitted. “But they anticipated me. I was moments away from boarding a coach when one of the men appeared, and looking none too pleased to see me. A veritable brute he was, and quite undignified in the manner that he took me to see his friend.”

“His friend?”

Wickham nodded. “A friend called only Smith. He sat with another man in a brothel where we met several times. He was there with another man. He did not speak — Smith spoke for him but I had no doubt it was he who called the tune.”

“And what did Smith talk to you about?” Fitzwilliam asked.

“He spoke to me about helping them out a bit. Said my expenses — including my debt from the table — would be taken care of and I would receive payment besides.”

“Naturally the money spoke to you, and never mind what you had to do to earn it.” Darcy shook his head.

“Your father was a good man, I cannot bear to think of his feelings if he knew what you were.”

“I had no choice,” Wickham replied defensively. “Make no mistake of it, the payment was for my silence. If I had refused my task, I should not have left the room under my own power — of this I can assure you.”

“So you took the money, that much we know.” Fitzwilliam leant forward, fixing Wickham in a steely blue gaze. “But my question is: did you do what they asked?”

Author Bio:

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

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

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Guest Post & Giveaway: Dear Almost by Matthew Thorburn

Matthew Thorburn’s poetry has been reviewed on the blog before, and I’m happy to welcome him (whom I interviewed for 32 Poems) today as he discusses how he became a writer.

His latest collection, Dear Almost, recently toured with Poetic Book Tours this fall.  This collection is an emotional poem that reflects on miscarriage and its impact on those left behind and the small person who never fully developed to experience all that life has to offer.

About the book:

Dear Almost is a book-length poem addressed to an unborn child lost in miscarriage. Beginning with the hope and promise of springtime, the poet traces the course of a year with sections set in each of the four seasons. Part book of days, part meditative prayer, part travelogue, the poem details a would-be father’s wanderings through the figurative landscapes of memory and imagination as well as the literal landscapes of the Bronx, Shanghai, suburban New Jersey, and the Japanese island of Miyajima.

As the speaker navigates his days, he attempts to show his unborn daughter “what life is like / here where you ought to be / with us, but aren’t.” His experiences recall other deaths and uncover the different ways we remember and forget. Grief forces him to consider a question he never imagined asking: how do you mourn for someone you loved but never truly knew, never met or saw? In candid, meditative verse, Dear Almost seeks to resolve this painful question, honoring the memory of a child who both was and wasn’t there.

Please give Matthew Thorburn a warm welcome:

Thanks so much for inviting me to share a guest post for Dear Almost, my new book of poetry. I appreciate the opportunity to talk about my reading/writing life and what led me to become a writer.

It’s hard to remember a defining moment—as if I have just always wanted to be a writer, which seems pretty much true. Books have been important to me for as long as I can remember. Many of my fondest childhood memories involve them: listening to my dad and mom read stories to me, listening to stories on records and cassettes (remember those?), working my way through The Wind in the Willows and The Mouse and the Motorcycle and, eventually, just about all of the Hardy Boys books as a school kid. (What a thrilling discovery it was to read my first Hardy Boys mystery, love it, and then see there were thirty more on the classroom bookshelf.)

I sometimes think growing up as an only child made me more likely to enjoy the worlds of imagination that books offer—and more likely to want to create my own as a writer—though of course plenty of wonderful writers have siblings. However, I can pinpoint two experiences that got me started on the path to writing poems.

First, I fell in love as a reader. I remember one day in eleventh grade literature class we were reading Antigone aloud. Since I hadn’t been assigned a part, and didn’t really like the play (Sorry, Ms. Sullivan!), I was flipping through our textbook when I happened upon Allen Ginsberg’s poem “First Party at Ken Kesey’s with Hell’s Angels” and, on the next page, Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “Fortune has its cookies to give out.” I had enjoyed reading Frost, Dickinson, W.C. Williams, and other poets in American Lit class the year before, but these poems were something different.

I was blown away by the sense of immediacy and the impressionistic details in Ginsberg’s poem, the way he telegraphs the scene to us in images—and I loved Ferlinghetti’s sense of nostalgia and romance, and the quiet, tender humor in his poem. Both poets made a place and time I’d never experienced feel familiar and immediate. It wasn’t long before I got my mom to drive me to Jocundry’s Books, out by the Michigan State University campus, where I picked up the pocket-size City Lights editions of Ginsberg’s Howl and Ferlinghetti’s Pictures of the Gone World. These books still mean a great deal to me as a writer.

Second, I found a supportive, encouraging community in which to write. In my senior year, our AP English class took part in the International Poetry Guild (IPG), an initiative run by the Interactive Communications & Simulations (ICS) group at the University of Michigan’s School of Education.

IPG brings together students at schools in the United States and around the world to write poems, share and discuss their work online, and give each other constructive feedback and encouragement. Students at the university also serve as mentors, critiquing the poets’ work and fostering an ongoing discussion of the creative process. Each school also edits, designs, and publishes a journal of student poems at the end of the year.

Keep in mind, though, that I went to high school in the late 1980s/early 1990s. IPG truly was an innovative idea in those days of dial-up modems and bulletin board systems. Today, IPG operates via the web. But amazing as it seems now, back then I’d never seen a website or sent an email. The whole enterprise had an air of mysteriousness and wonder. My friend Laura, our communications editor, would download and print out a new batch of poems and responses for us each day, then upload our latest poems so the other schools could read them.

Participating in IPG gave me my first real sense that there were others like me, at my school and around the world, who liked to write poems and were interested in reading each other’s work. It was also my first taste of how technology can bring writers and readers together—through a blog like this one, for instance. IPG provided an irresistible mix of opportunity and encouragement, a place and time dedicated to poetry.

I wrote so many poems that year. They were the poems of a seventeen-year- old, and I probably wouldn’t want to re-read them now (or have you read them). But IPG marked the beginning of my poetic apprenticeship, laying the groundwork for the nearly 25 years of poem-writing that have followed (and the many more years of writing I hope are still to come). I’ll always be grateful to my AP English teacher Jan Kesel, who got our school involved in IPG and encouraged us to make the most of it, and Jeff Stanzler, who directs ICS and was the guiding spirit behind IPG. They are two of the shining stars in my sky.

About the Poet:

Matthew Thorburn is the author of six collections of poetry, including the book-length poem Dear Almost (Louisiana State University Press, 2016) and the chapbook A Green River in Spring (Autumn House Press, 2015), winner of the Coal Hill Review chapbook competition. His previous collections include This Time Tomorrow (Waywiser Press, 2013), Every Possible Blue (CW Books, 2012), Subject to Change, and an earlier chapbook, the long poem Disappears in the Rain (Parlor City Press, 2009). His work has been recognized with a Witter Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress, as well as fellowships from the Bronx Council on the Arts and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. His interviews with writers appear on the Ploughshares blog as a monthly feature. He lives in New York City, where he works in corporate communications.

GIVEAWAY: U.S./Canada residents only. Deadline Dec. 7, 2016

Leave a comment below about your favorite poets.
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Darcy’s Hope: Beauty from Ashes by Ginger Monette & Giveaway

Source: the author
Paperback, 278 pgs.
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“‘Dum spiro spero! Dum Spiro Spero!’ While I breathe, I hope.” (pg. 10-11)

Darcy’s Hope: Beauty from Ashes by Ginger Monette has created a believable catch-22 for Mr. Darcy of Pemberley, now a British captain during WWII. He is sent to France after losing nearly all his men at the Somme and months after his failed proposal to Elizabeth Bennet, a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse’s assistant. At The Ritz, Darcy is confronted with all of the feelings he’s denied on the battlefield and he must confront his vow of never again having attachments. Elizabeth, on the other hand, has put the blame on Darcy all this time — his military requisitioning of her family home, the death of her father, and much more. She’s vowed to loathe him for eternity, but can she keep that vow as the ravages of war continue to push them together and force them to work together to keep the hospital going and saving the casualties of WWI?

“He was no more distinguished than a tiny grain of sand on an endless beach.” (pg. 56)

“So many of the conclusions she had glibly drawn about people and situations — and stood upon as a firm foundation — were now shifting like sand beneath her feet.” (pg. 137)

Monette has set the tone early on, and these characters will be tested in terms of their perceptions, values, and character. Darcy is more stoic in Monette’s novel; he’s a man hammered by war and burdened by a secret mission he feels ill-equipped for. But he still plods onward, doing his duty and nothing more. Elizabeth has come into her own as an independent woman, finding her way in the medical field and hoping for a future where she doesn’t need to depend on anyone. Both are closed off, but under the threat of the Germans and the constant barrage of casualties, they are forced to re-examine themselves and what it means to truly be a casualty of war.

Darcy’s Hope: Beauty from Ashes by Ginger Monette peels back the layers of the ways in which we protect ourselves from pain to reveal that we all want to be loved, protected, and esteemed.

RATING: Cinquain (I cannot wait to read book 2)

gingermonetteAbout the Author:

The teacher always learns the most. And in homeschooling her children, Ginger Monette learned all the history she missed in school. Now she’s hooked—on writing and World War I. When not writing, Ginger enjoys dancing on the treadmill, watching period dramas, public speaking, and reading—a full-length novel every Sunday afternoon.

Her WW1 flash fiction piece, Flanders Field of Grey, won Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s 2015 Picture This grand prize.

Ginger lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she happily resides with her husband, three teenagers, and two loyal dogs.

Watch the book trailer.
Listen to an audio excerpt.
Add it on GoodReads.
Visit Ginger Monette on Facebook.

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Giveaway:

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With Darcy’s Hope set during the era of Downton Abbey and the tour being right before Christmas, I thought it would be fun to use Downton Abbey ornaments as the giveaway.

Seven ornaments will be given away and is open to U.S. residents in the continental US. The prize for residents of the continental U.K. is a Downton Abbey mug.

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Guest Post & Giveaway: The Writing Space of Pamela Lynne

family-portraits-cover-ebook-largeWelcome to today’s guest post and giveaway with Pamela Lynne.  Her latest Jane Austen inspired novel, Family Portraits, hit shelves earlier this month, and it is garnering some great reviews.

About the Book:

In Dearest Friends, Pamela Lynne drew complex and interesting characters who joined Darcy and Elizabeth on their road to happily ever after. But, what happened after ‘the end’? Did Lydia survive her time at Rosings? Did Jane find fulfillment as Mrs. Bingley? Did Mary and Sebastian adhere to duty or allow their hearts to lead them? Follow the Fitzwilliams, Bennets, Gardiners and Darcys through portraits of their lives at two, five and ten years after the Darcys’ marriage. Their canvas is studded with heartbreaking loss, new beginnings and, through it all, the indelible bond of family.

Without further ado, please welcome Pamela as she shares her writing space with us.

Hello everybody! I am so happy to be here at Savvy Verse and Wit for the very first time! Thank you, Serena, for hosting me. This is the last stop on my Family Portraits blog tour and Serena has asked me to share my writing space with you all.

I admit, I panicked a little at first when Serena made this request. My desk is a drop down style that can be closed to hide the mess inside, and it is always messy inside! All week I told myself I would straighten it up a bit and take pictures. Procrastination coupled with waking up with a nasty head cold determined that you will see me in all my disorganized glory instead.

closeddeskOne day, I will have a lovely space of my own that opens up into a beautiful garden (that someone else tends), but until then, I share my writing space with my husband, three kids, two cats, and one overly attentive dog. My husband gave me this desk for Christmas the year we moved into this house. The gesture actually meant a lot to me. I had just finished Dearest Friends two months prior and was still not sure this writing thing would stick. He wasn’t sure either, but said the desk was there just in case.

peacockThankfully, it did stick and I have managed to write two more books while sitting here, or at the library, in my bed, at the kitchen table, or at Panera Bread. When I am up late at night this is where I sit with my mug of green tea as the characters in my head have their way with me. The décor on top changes from time to time. Right now you see most of our Vanity and Pride Press releases along with my A Moment Forever (Savvy Verse & Wit review) hope chest and my IPPY bronze medal. In the next week or so the peacock will likely be replaced with a scarecrow or a Halloween tree, but the books will remain. Along with Cat’s and my books, I have my favorite copy of Austen’s complete novels, a well-worn paperback of Jane Eyre and two books I sometimes use for reference and inspiration while writing my Austen inspired work. Those will change as my needs change and are not always stacked so neatly.

dewshineInside, we see not only my writing necessities, but those of the family as well. I have two pencil boxes full of pens, pencils, scissors, and sharpeners and a pottery crock containing the same things. They are never moved, but how many times a night do I hear, “I can’t find a pencil.”? Several. I also have some items that make me smile. The Dew Shine is another gift from my husband. I have a non-Austenesque plot bunny set in Tennessee during prohibition. You can probably guess moonshine is involved. My dear man saw this in the store and remembered me telling him about the idea. I now have proof that he does listen to my ramblings! Hanging up beside it is a note card with a picture of my favorite Darcy drawn by the fabulous Janet Taylor, sent to me by the equally fabulous J. Dawn King. Next to him is another favorite, the Darcy featured in Cat’s Denial of Conscience. (Savvy Verse & Wit review) We had a blast sharing Darcy on his bike with readers all over the world. I keep him there as a reminder of how much fun this JAFF world can be.

pencildrawingOn the other side of Iceman is a picture drawn by my daughter. I have several handmade items my kids have given me either in celebration of a release, or as encouragement. This one has a special place of honor as it was the very first one of its kind, presented to me after I told her about the friends I have made in the online Austen community.

Finally, we have my two most important pieces for writing—my laptop and my “scratch paper.” So far, I have written three books on three different laptops. Dearest Friends was written on one that was truly on its last legs. It did not survive long past the last paragraph. I purchased a pretty purple Dell that housed Sketching Character lynnecomputerthrough publication, but not long after, it succumbed to a cup of hot coffee. I really hope I break the streak and get at least one more book completed on this one before I somehow destroy it as well. I won the notebook, which is a novel journal of Emma, at another wonderful blog, Austenesque Reviews. It goes wherever I go, and for the past year I have been jotting down ideas and bits of dialogue that will make it into my next novel.

So, that’s a look into the most photographable part of my creative space. In truth, I can write pretty much anywhere I can find a quiet space, as long as the Muse is cooperating. Thank you all for reading, and thank you, again, Serena, for having me! Happy reading, everybody!

Thanks, Pamela, for sharing your space with us!  It’s always fun to see a creative person’s writing space.

INTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAY:

Up for Grabs: 1 copy of any Pamela Lynne e-bookSketching Character, Dearest Friends, or Family Portraits.

Leave a comment here about your own reading or writing space, and leave a way for me to contact you if you win.

Deadline is Oct. 5, 2016, 11:59 PM EST

GOOD LUCK!

THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED!! The winner is Priscilla T.