Walk With Me by Debra Schoenberger

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

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

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

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

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Debra Schoenberger aka #girlwithcamera

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

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


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

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

First, a bit about the book:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENTER the U.S. giveaway below:

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

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

Photo Credit: John Pagliuca

About the Author:

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

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

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

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

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

First, here’s a little about the book:

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

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

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

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

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

Please give A. D’Orzaio a warm welcome:

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

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

1. 1814 was one of the coldest years ever

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

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

2. Lord Byron published his wildly successful book The Corsair

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

3. Aladdin was onstage at Covent Garden Theatre.

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

4. That red cloak!

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

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

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

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

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

5. The Flu

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

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

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

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

About the Author:

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

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

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

International Giveaway:

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

Terms and conditions:

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

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

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

The Sweetest Ruin by Amy George

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

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

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

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


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

Terms and conditions:

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

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



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

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

About the new volume:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Darcy has won the heart of Elizabeth Bennet. Finally.

Then she vanishes.

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

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

His heart tells him to hold on to Elizabeth.

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

But a secret at Donwell Abbey just might change everything…

About the Author:

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

Visit Diary of an Eccentric for an interview with Ginger.

GIVEAWAY: 1 ebook of The Darcy’s Hope Saga

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

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


Guest Post & Giveaway: Writing with Blinders by Audrey Ryan

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

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

About the Book:

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

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

Please welcome, Audrey.

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

Writing with Blinders

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


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

The Ideal Environment

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

The Soundtrack

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

Physical Place as Inspiration

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

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

About the Author:

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

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

Follow her online:


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

Terms and Conditions:

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

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

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

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

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

About the book:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Giveaway Info: (open internationally)

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

Giveaway & Excerpt: A Very Austen Christmas

With the holidays approaching, I thought it would be appropriate to host an international giveaway for an e-book of A Very Austen Christmas by Laura Hile, Wendy Sotis, Barbara Cornthwaite, and Robin Helm.

Before we get to the giveaway, Laura Hile, author of Darcy By Any Other Name, wanted to share an excerpt from her story, The Matchmaker’s Christmas:

The library door banged closed, and Darcy found himself alone with Emma Woodhouse and Elizabeth Bennet. Miss Woodhouse was busy examining the bookshelves. “Mr. Darcy,” she said, “do you know whether Mr. Bingley has a copy of Debrett’s?”

She looked over her shoulder at Elizabeth “It is a guidebook for the peerage. Surely Miss Bingley has one,” she said, before Darcy could answer. “Depend upon it, she means to marry well. Aha! Here we are.”

Emma removed the book from its shelf and brought it to a table.

“Something Mr. Hurst said interests me.” She smiled at Elizabeth. “He is a funny one, is he not? The sort of person my brother-in-law would call a rum’un.”

“A what?” The words were out before Darcy could stop them. Hurst certainly was, but—Elizabeth’s eyes met his; she gave a gurgle of laughter.

Emma was untroubled. “He seems to be a most peculiar person. My brother-in- law will talk like that, because he is fond of jests and wordplay. I daresay it is also because he is a barrister. Mind, he is quite well-to- do, being a Knightley of Donwell Abbey. But such is the lot of a gentleman’s younger son. He must have a profession.”

“My Uncle Gardiner,” said Elizabeth, “is in the same situation. He is in trade.” She said this with a lift of her chin and a glance in Darcy’s direction, as if it were a challenge. What did she mean by it?

Emma continued to turn pages. “But who is Sir Thomas Bertram? That is the question. Because young Tom is not a younger son. And so his presence becomes, shall we say, interesting?”

Darcy did not care for her implication. “In what way?” he said.

Emma gave him an ingenious smile. “I specialize in matchmaking.”

She specialized in what? Somehow Darcy managed to keep his countenance.

“It is a most amusing occupation,” continued Emma. “My first was ever so successful—my former governess and old Mr. Weston. They are happily settled at Randalls now.”

“How nice for your governess,” said Elizabeth.

“She is the dearest creature and quite the gentlewoman—as the best governesses always are. I have another match in progress, between my friend Harriet and our vicar. I do worry, however, because I am away. Matches, you see, need helping along.”

“So I am given to understand,” said Darcy dryly. A matchmaker in their midst. What next?

Then again, why should he object? Because dinner—without Caroline’s repressive formality—was refreshingly agreeable. Charles sat in his place, and the others chose seats as they wished. Jane shyly slipped into the chair at Bingley’s right, with Mr. Bertram beside her.
Elizabeth sat at Bingley’s left. Darcy could not help himself; he claimed the chair next to Elizabeth’s. This meant that he had Miss Bates on his other side, but she was content to talk across the table to Mr. Bertram and Emma.

Darcy hid a smile. Miss Bates could carry a conversation on her own, without stopping to draw breath.

And the wind and rain continued to beat against the house.

This meant that the bridge was still out. Darcy, imprisoned at Netherfield against his will, was forced to endure lovely, intelligent Elizabeth Bennet as his dinner partner. It was all he could do to keep a
foolish smile from his lips.

This time—this time!—he would speak without stiffness or pretension. If Emma Woodhouse meant to match Elizabeth with Tom Bertram, she would have a fight on her hands!

Enter the Giveaway:

Comment about whether you’ve been a matchmaker or have made a match for someone else. Leave the comment by Dec. 5, 2017, 11:59 PM EST. The giveaway is open internationally for those who want 1 ebook.

Good luck!

Guest Post & Giveaway: Writing Process of Riana Everly, Author of Teaching Eliza

I’ve always loved My Fair Lady — the movie — and George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion is on that list of classics I hope to finish reading some day. Riana Everly has taken this classic and mashed it up with Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.  How could I resist? I couldn’t obviously, so today’s the day she stops by to talk about her writing process and my review will appear later in the month.  Enjoy!

About the book:

A tale of love, manners, and the quest for perfect vowels. From a new voice in historical romance comes this sparkling tale, wherein the elegance of Pride and Prejudice and the wit of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion collide. The results are clever, funny, and often quite unexpected….

Professor Fitzwilliam Darcy, expert in phonetics and linguistics, wishes for nothing more than to spend some time in peace at his friend’s country estate, far from the parade of young ladies wishing for his hand, and further still from his aunt’s schemes to have him marry his cousin. How annoying it is when a young lady from the neighbourhood, with her atrocious Hertfordshire accent and country manners, comes seeking his help to learn how to behave and speak as do the finest ladies of high society.

Elizabeth Bennet has disliked the professor since overhearing his flippant comments about her provincial accent, but recognizes in him her one opportunity to survive a prospective season in London. Despite her ill feelings for the man, she asks him to take her on as a student, but is unprepared for the price he demands in exchange.

“With her clever mash-up of two classics, Riana Everly has fashioned a fresh, creative storyline with an inventive take on our favorite characters, delightful dialogue and laugh out loud humor. Teaching Eliza is certain to become a reader favorite. It’s a must read!” – Sophia Meredith (author of the acclaimed On Oakham Mount and Miss Darcy’s Companion)

Please give Ms. Everly a warm welcome:

Some authors are incredibly disciplined. They are able to stick to a routine, and have their plots mapped out chapter by chapter, character by character, with the precision and detail of Sherlock Holmes considering his latest case.

I am not like that! In high school I never missed a deadline, but I was the kid who was up until midnight finishing my papers. In university, I clearly remember one term paper that was due in the professor’s office at 5:00pm. I frantically finished typing up at 3:57, and then flew into a panic because I had no white paper on which to print it, and no time to run out and buy some. But I did have bright green paper! Into the dot-matrix printer it went (yes, I’m THAT old), and with my precious package in hand, I dashed across the city in desperate hopes of making it on time. 4:55! I just made it. I also scribbled a note apologizing for the green paper. I did alright in that course, so I guess the green paper didn’t damage my research paper too badly.

I’ve learned to manage my time a bit better since then, but I still write the seat of my pants. I approach a new story with a general plot outline in mind, but with almost nothing written down. In the case of Teaching Eliza, the story had to conform to both Pride and Prejudice and Pygmalion, but all the details were very, very vague at first. In fact, I tend to let my characters tell me what they want to do, where they want to go. Sometimes I’ll approach a scene with a polite conversation in mind, only to be horrified when an argument breaks out. Other times, I’ll plan for a heart-rending confession, but my characters will end up discussing the weather instead. Occasionally I whip them back into my plot, but more often I give them free rein and see where they take me. (Spoiler alert: I had no notion of anything developing between Richard and Charlotte when I began writing Teaching Eliza, but they fell in love. What was I to do? Break them up? That would have been cruel!)

My next planned story will be a bit of a challenge for me. For this year’s NaNoWriMo, when much of my writing gets done, I have a mystery in mind. I have always thought that there is no much more to Mary Bennet than we see in Pride and Prejudice, and wanted to explore that a bit. She’s quiet and bookish, but I think she’d make a great investigator because she sees so much and thinks about what she’s seen. However, I need to plan this out a lot more carefully than my usual stories. We need a cogent plot, a series of clues, an overarching narrative involving existing and new characters, and a resolution that makes sense but (hopefully) isn’t obvious, and all of that can’t happen by the seat of my pants. I’ll be as interested as anyone to see whether Mary will follow along with the story line I’m planning for her.

In general, I write quickly. As I mentioned, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is my best friend because it gives me a deadline and a word goal, and I need those. My family hardly sees me in November, but I can usually write about 100,000 words in those 30 days. Most of them are garbage, but it’s a necessary place to start.

Then the real work begins. I tend to let my first draft sit a very long time before I pick it up to edit. Often I’ll write another story in the interim, before going back to reread my draft with fresh eyes. I find this gives me the distance I need to see the flaws and problems and to begin the whole process of editing and rewriting. The scene that I thought was so brilliant at first might now be dull, and I might decide to complete rewrite or even cut it. And characters who I threw in for plot purposes might suddenly take on new life and become much more important to the story as a whole.

After this second go-through I send the story to my amazing beta readers. Usually they have the best ideas, and contribute so much to the stories that I feel I ought to list them as co-authors. There aren’t enough words to express my appreciation. Donna and Sophia – you ladies ROCK!


My Writing Space

I have included a few photographs of my writing space. My desk is usually quite messy, and even cleaned up, it’s messy! You’ll see I have a magnet board for my notes. Despite being quite comfortable with matters digital, I find that I prefer to jot down my notes on paper. Sometimes I use diagrams which don’t work so well on a computer, and sometimes I like to have things sitting there in front of me without having to find the right screen or program for my notes.

I have a few writing buddies who live on my desk as well. I love to crochet, and sometimes interesting creatures emerge from my craft bag. Book Cat was just fun to make, and who could resist Poe and his raven? And when I found this pattern for Jane Austen herself, well, it was fated! Reading Fairy was a gift from Sophia Meredith, a very fine author, a dear friend, and my inspiration to get my stories off the computer and out into the world.

About the Author:

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

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

ENTER the Giveaway!

The Welcome Home Diner by Peggy Lampman (giveaway)

Source: TLC Book Tours
Paperback, 352 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

The Welcome Home Diner by Peggy Lampman offers a platter of new characters set in Detroit, which is beginning its renaissance. Cousins Addie and Samantha risk everything to buy a nearly hollowed out diner and a crumbling home that they divide into two livable spaces. They hope that through the meals they serve, using organic ingredients, they can make a successful eatery. However, they fail to take into account how their new venture will be received by the community.  As pressures mount, their relationship begins to fray and readers will see just how the past and present influence their future.

Through alternating points of view between Samantha and Addie, readers are able to see the quirky characters that make up their diner family. But through the atmosphere built by Lampman, it is clear something ominous is on the horizon, especially after an unexpected letter arrives. The author has drawn not only the main characters well, but also the secondary characters, creating a well rounded meal on which to chew. Some of the best parts of this book involve food and those recipes are in the back of the book, and I loved the material about WWII polish immigrants like Addie’s grandparents.

The Welcome Home Diner by Peggy Lampman is a succulent dish served in the evening with wine and a good dose of humor.  Readers will have watering mouths as they work their way through this renaissance for Detroit, Addie, and Samantha.

RATING: Quatrain

GIVEAWAY:  U.S. residents age 18+ Enter by leaving a comment about this review and book by Oct. 31. Good Luck.

About the Author:

Peggy Lampman was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. After earning a bachelor’s degree in communications—summa cum laude—from the University of Michigan, she moved to New York City, where she worked as a copywriter and photographer for a public-relations firm. When she returned to Ann Arbor, her college town, she opened a specialty foods store, the Back Alley Gourmet. Years later, she sold the store and started writing a weekly food column for the Ann Arbor News and MLive. Lampman’s first novel, The Promise Kitchen, published in 2016, garnered several awards and accolades. She is married and has two children. She also writes the popular blog www.dinnerfeed.com.

It’s Just Nerves: Notes on a Disability by Kelly Davio

Source: purchased
Paperback; 144 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

It’s Just Nerves: Notes on a Disability by Kelly Davio, on tour with Poetic Book Tours, is a candid collection of essays and vignettes that illustrate how having an autoimmune disease not only affects how you live, but also sharpens your perspective on pop culture, healthcare systems, advertising, trite statements from well-meaning people, and much more.  Her writing is precise and sharp, forcing readers to reassess their views on disability and how to engage with those whose bodies are not “healthy.”  Even the term “healthy” takes on new meaning in these essays.

Davio is serious and funny, and what she has to say is something that we all need to listen to.  All people deserve respect and compassion, and no one should be made to feel like they are worthless or not who they once were should disease strike.  Compassion is a tough business, but we have a duty to defend it and to engage with it head on.  Stories like hers will make you yelp in shock, and make you angry that others treated her as they did.  But what’s even more telling is how Davio views herself.  Has society played a role in how we view ourselves and aren’t those lenses just a little bit too cloudy with other people’s judgments?  I think so.

It’s time to be real with one another and with ourselves.  Davio does nothing less in this essay collection. A stunning read and one you won’t want to put down once you get started. I know I didn’t. I read it in one sitting. It’s Just Nerves: Notes on a Disability by Kelly Davio is a memoir and essay collection in one.

Don’t forget to enter to win:

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY (3 copies up for grabs for U.S. residents, age 18+; ends Oct. 31, 2017)

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

Kelly Davio is the author of Burn This House (Red Hen Press, 2013) and the forthcoming The Book of the Unreal Woman. She is the founding editor of Tahoma Literary Review and the former Managing Editor of The Los Angeles Review. While in England, she served as the Senior Editor of Eyewear Publishing. Her work has appeared in Best New Poets, Verse Daily, The Rumpus, and others. She earned her MFA in poetry from Northwest Institute of Literary Arts. Today, she works as a medical editor in New Jersey.

Spotlight & Giveaway: These Dreams by Nicole Clarkston

I want to welcome Nicole Clarkston back to Savvy Verse & Wit.  If you’ll recall, I loved her book, The Courtship of Edward GardnerShe has a new book out, These Dreams, and I cannot wait to read it when life starts to slow down a bit.

About the Book:

An abandoned bride
A missing man
And a dream that refuses to die…

Pride and patriotism lend fervor to greed and cruelty, and Fitzwilliam Darcy is caught at the centre of a decades-old international feud. Taken far from England, presumed dead by his family, and lost to all he holds dear, only one name remains as his beacon in the darkness: Elizabeth.

Georgiana Darcy is now the reluctant, heartbroken heiress to Pemberley, and Colonel Fitwilliam her bewildered guardian. Vulnerable and unprepared, Georgiana desperately longs for a friend, while Fitzwilliam seeks to protect her from his own family. As the conspiracy around Darcy’s death widens and questions mount, Colonel Fitzwilliam must confront his own past. An impossible dream, long ago sacrificed for duty, may become his only hope.

Newly married Lydia Wickham returns to Longbourn- alone and under mysterious circumstances. Elizabeth Bennet watches one sister suffer and another find joy, while she lives her own days in empty regrets over what might have been. Believing Darcy lost forever, she closes her heart against both pain
and happiness, but finds no escape from her dreams of him.

About the Author:

Nicole Clarkston is a book lover and a happily married mom of three. Originally from Idaho, she now lives in Oregon with her own romantic hero, several horses, and one very fat dog. She has loved crafting alternate stories and sequels since she was a child watching Disney’s Robin Hood, and she is never found sitting quietly without a book of some sort.

Nicole discovered Jane Austen rather by guilt in her early thirties―how does any bookworm really live that long without a little P&P? She has never looked back. A year or so later, during a major house renovation project, she discovered Elizabeth Gaskell and fell completely in love. Her need for more time with these characters led her to simultaneously write Rumours & Recklessness, a P&P inspired novel, and No Such Thing as Luck, a N&S inspired novel. Both immediately became best selling books. The success she had with her first attempt at writing led her to write three other novels that are her pitiful homage to two authors who have so deeply inspired her.

Nicole was recently invited to join Austenvariations.com, a group of talented authors in the Jane
Austen Fiction genre. In addition to her work with the Austen Variations blog, Nicole can be
reached through Facebook at http://fb.me/NicoleClarkstonAuthor, Twitter @N_Clarkston, her
blog at Goodreads.com, or her personal blog and website, NicoleClarkson.com.

International Giveaway: 1 e-book of These Dreams by Nicole Clarkston. 

Enter in the comments by Oct. 8 11:59 p.m. EST. 

Leave a comment about what you’re looking forward to most about her book and an email for me to contact you.