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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please give Victoria a warm welcome.

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Victoria, for sharing this story with us.

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

Guest Post: Nicky Blue, author of Escape from Samsara, on Writing and Meditation

Welcome readers. Today’s guest is Nicky Blue, author of the novella Escape from Samsara.

He will share with us a little bit about his writing process, but first check out the book!

Barry’s been patient, but after twenty-seven years of trimming hedges for people he hates, he’s had enough. All he wants to do is to find his missing father and to discover his inner ninja. But life’s not done with throwing him curveballs.

A fatal mistake catapults Barry into the adventure of a lifetime. With talking hedges, samurai ghosts, meddling psychotherapists, and an inexplicably non-linear time pattern conspiring against him, Barry must do battle to save his hide, unleash the ninja within, and rescue his father from an ancient army, a dark sorcerer and a raging inferno.

What is the mysterious Prophecy Allocation Department?

Where is The Before and After?

Even more importantly, Will Barry’s underwear hold out until he has saved the day?

Sounds like a fun ride; add it to your shelf on GoodReads.

Please welcome Nicky:

For me it’s vital to dedicate time to developing creativity in my life, without this my writing becomes quite dry. Meditation is a big part of this process, I have been practising for around 20 years. I go on meditation retreats every year and find it a great way to deepen what’s going on for me. I find 20 minutes in the morning a great way to build calm and spaciousness.

Without wanting to sound like a massive hippy, I also try to tap into the unconscious as much as possible. The unconscious is always working in the background. Studies in the fields of both neuroscience and psychology are refining and illuminating how this process works but I find just by asking myself a question before going to sleep i.e. How will my protagonist get out of this corner?  I often wake up with the answer. I think it was Thomas Edison that said ‘Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious.’ This seems to work well for me.

With my first novella Escape From Samsara. (Prophecy Allocation Book 1) The idea began with a gardener I knew, who was always complaining about something, the rain, the sun you name it. I had the sense it would be great fun to take him on a cosmic adventure. I love the interplay between the every day and the magical. I have just completed book two in this series which is called ‘Hot Love Inferno’ and it sees the main character Barry Harris as a younger man engaging in a most dangerous adventure, that of falling in Love. You can get Escape From Samsara for free at my website www.nickyblue/freebie

About the Author:

Hi, I’m Nicky, I am from Brighton in England. I grew up fascinated by books like Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected and t.v. shows like The Twilight Zone. For years I played and wrote songs in an alternative rock band before going back to university and studying English Literature and Philosophy. I now have a passion for writing fantasy and dark comedy fiction. I love stories that dig beneath the surface of everyday life and play in the shadow worlds that we all have.

Guest Post & Giveaway: Catherine by Sue Barr

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

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

About the Book:

Some secrets are not meant to be shared.

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

Some secrets cannot be shared

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

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

Some things are beyond your control

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

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

Please welcome today’s guest, Sue Barr:

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

Catherine (Kitty) Bennet

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

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

Lord George Kerr

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

Mary Bennet

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

Phillip Sheraton

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

EXCERPT:

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

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

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

“What the…?”

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

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

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

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

Good.

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

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

“Oi. Wot do you want wif me?”

The grimy faced urchin kicked and wiggled in vain.

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

“I dunno wot yer yabberin’ about.”

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

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

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

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

No, the punishment had to fitting, yet fair.

“What is your name?”

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

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

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

The young lad stopped struggling.

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

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

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

“Buttons?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I can help you hunt fer gold.”

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

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

“You talk pretty fancy fer a git.”

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

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

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

About the Author:

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

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

GIVEAWAY:

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

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

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

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Good Luck!

The rest of the tour:

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

Guest Post: Top 5 Tips on Promoting Your Book of Poetry by Jeannine Hall Gailey

Last week, I posted my review of Jeannine Hall Gailey’s latest book, PR for Poets, and if you haven’t check out that review yet, just click the link.

I love her poetry, and I love this book just as much, if not more. For a poet like me, who has no advanced degrees and no money to get any, this information is incredibly helpful. As an additional note, my firm Poetic Book Tours is mentioned as well

Today, she’s stopping by to provide us with her Top 5 tips to get you started marketing your own poetry. Please give her a warm welcome.

I’m happy to write this. It’s kind of hard to cram everything in the book into a top five tips, but these are the things I wish I’d known when I first started out.

1. Your marketing and publicity efforts should be authentic and align with both your personality and your book.

This is a tough and wide-ranging piece of advice, because it involves having to know yourself and know your book. If you write a book of comic book/fairy tale poems and are an extrovert in her early thirties (like I was for my first book,) then it’s a great idea for you to do a little book tour, a few ‘Cons, three separate parties in three different towns, visit colleges and do lots of readings. If you are an introverted nature poet who lives in a small town, however, your authentic path will be different – and unique to you.

For me, it was great to work with other creatives when the book came out – an artist who did comic book/fairy tale art and musicians who wrote fairy-tale-based songs and other people who aligned with my ideals and values. Some of that is luck or fate, some is going to depend on who you hang around with, what you like to do, and where people seem to be receptive to your type of work.

There is no right or wrong way – there is only the way for you and your individual book at the time it comes out. If you try things and they don’t feel right for you, follow those instincts. Not everyone’s going to be an Instagram star or a college-reading-circuit champion. Maybe you love visiting local book clubs, or you’re a star at reading on the radio. Maybe you’ll start a podcast. Everyone’s path is going to reflect them. I know a poet who was invited to mermaid festivals to read about mermaids. It was a very authentic choice for her.

2. Do as much as you can ahead of time and expect the life of the book to be long, not short.

One of the things I talk about in the PR for Poets book is doing as much as you can before the book comes out – because you’re going to be stressed and overwhelmed when the book comes out and you’ll be happy that “past you” did the work. And remember that for poetry, the best sales might be in the second year of the book, not the first. Poetry can be a slow burn, and a lot of the sales might be through good word-of-mouth. Maybe your book gets taught after someone sees you read at a festival a year after the book is published. You never know going in.

3. Find your audience. The weird thing is, unlike a fiction or non-fiction book, with poetry you won’t really know exactly who your audience is until your book comes out. Friends and family may be willing and want to support you, but they are not the main audience for your book. It’s interesting to remember this because it’s hard to think about the real audience for our work – imaginary beings that are out there and will be impacted positively by your poetry. So don’t be discouraged if your friends don’t line up at your readings and buy twenty copies of your book to hand out to strangers. You will connect with your audience eventually. They might be a different audience than you imagined.

4. Social media is important for sales, but it is constantly changing, so spend your time wisely. The same could be said of book publishing and book sales. All these games are changing all the time. We have to be willing to update and learn as we go along. Just be flexible and stay aware of how the book world is changing. I spend quite a bit of time covering social media in PR For Poets, but be sure to keep in touch with your younger, more tech-savvy friends and keep your finger on the pulse of what’s what.

5. Manage your own expectations. Don’t knock yourself out for your book; similarly, don’t despair if it doesn’t shake the world when it comes out. No matter how sales go, remember that you can and will keep writing. Don’t drag yourself to all fifty states to sell the book – choose a few places that you love and make those events special. Decide on a time, energy, and monetary budget that you’re willing to spend promoting your book and try to stick to it. It’s so easy to get burned out with that first book, when you don’t know what’s happening yet and it’s so easy to say “yes” to everything even when that isn’t a good idea. Try a few things, see what you’re good at AND what you enjoy and see what happens. Pajama party poetry readings? I’ve had friends who’ve done that. Poetry reading at a comic book convention? I’ve done that.

OK, so, as a final note and reminder, if you want more specifics and more details, I’ve written a 200+ page guide with just that called PR for Poets: A Guidebook to Publicity and Marketing, which contains wisdom not just from my own experiences, but the advice of publishers, librarians, public relations experts, and more. I hope this was helpful!

About the Author:

Jeannine Hall Gailey served as the second Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington. She’s the author of five books of poetry: Becoming the Villainess, She Returns to the Floating World, Unexplained Fevers, The Robot Scientist’s Daughter, and Field Guide to the End of the World, winner of the Moon City Press Book Prize and the SFPA’s Elgin Award. She’s also the author of PR for Poets: A Guidebook to Publicity and Marketing. Her work has been featured on The Writer’s Almanac, Verse Daily, and The Best Horror of the Year. Her work appeared in journals such as American Poetry Review, Notre Dame Review and Prairie Schooner. Her web site is www.webbish6.com. Twitter: @webbish6.

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

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

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

About the Book:

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

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

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

Take it away, Jenetta:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why did I chose it for my title?

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

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

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

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

About the Author:

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

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

GIVEAWAY:

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

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

Terms and conditions:

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

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

About the Book:

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

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

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

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

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

Please give Riana a warm welcome.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~*~ (Excerpt from Chapter One)

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

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

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

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

About the Author:

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

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

GIVEAWAY:

ENTER HERE.

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.

Guest Post: 3 Tips for Launching a Successful e-Commerce Store

Owning an eCommerce store can be one of the most fulfilling ventures into entrepreneurship there is. Not only is this a chance to own a business, but be a part of a community or industry that you’ve always wanted to contribute to. However, with how competitive eCommerce can be, it can be tough to know how to get started, which is why I’m giving you a few helpful tips on how to get started. Check them out below:

Figure Out Your Structure

Perhaps one of the first steps to launching an eCommerce store is defining your structure. Not only will this determine the inventory you receive, but how you’ll deliver that to your customers. And whether that be through epacket tracking or dropshipping, these steps are going to be crucial in figuring out your ROI; because as noted by Business Insider, 82 percent of businesses fail because of cash flow problems. Which, the best way to avoid that is by having a stable revenue structure in place.

To begin, look at what inventory you’re going to have, as well as where you plan to source from. For example, if you’re selling your own line of t-shirts, then your primary driver will be the quality and price point of your supplier. However, if you were to say be a shop for athletic apparel, then pulling in from multiple sources in a timely fashion would have higher precedence. All-in- all, your structure should be focused on producing the best quality product and experience at the best price for both you and the consumer, so take your time in getting this right.

Come Up With A Solid Brand

Once you’ve learned what you’re going to sell, it’s time to think about the identity of your company, as well as how that’s going to connect with its audience. And with competitive the world of eCommerce can actually be, coming up with a solid brand is a must. Not only is it going to give you a sense of the type of products that you sell, but will additionally give your company a personality and voice that can resonate with your customers. However, being successful with branding is going to take a fair amount of self-reflection beyond just how you’re going to attract customers, but build a community.

In analyzing what brand you’re going to have, you first need to decide on where this will fit, as well as what purpose it’s going to serve. Remember, your brand should be the identity that sets you apart from the crowd, showcasing the kind of problem you’re looking to solve with your eCommerce shop, as well as why you exist. This will go into having an overarching aesthetic, as well as what builds up to that.

An excellent example of this is how color and typefaces come into play. For example, as noted by Lucidpress, color increases brand recognition by 80 percent, which you can see in numerous brands. The vape company Juul, for example, uses tropical colors combined with thin typefaces to display their flavorful line of flavors. All-in- all, your branding assets should be something you invest a lot of time it at first, as this will be something that could potentially last you a lifetime.

Have A Consistent Plan For Marketing

If there’s one thing step that’s constantly going to be important for your success, it’s coming up with a plan that allows you to be consistent with your marketing efforts. As a lot of what you’re going to be pushing is online, there’s no excuse for why you can’t keep up with at least social media, email, and SEO on a regular, if not daily basis. The trick here, however, is to hedge your bets based on your skill level and capacity.

Let’s say for example that you enjoy working with social the most, but don’t always know how to keep producing posts every day. As noted by Shopify, this can be a great strategy to earn more, with Facebook alone producing a conversion rate of 1.85 percent. However, by studying what the strategy of others are doing, this process can be much simpler.

Start looking at case studies of other examples on how some campaigns do their social, highlighting the benefit of their call-to- action. For example, if you have a lookbook video that you want to showcase, then looking at something like how the trailer for the independent film People You May Know was able to capitalize on their social strategy might be helpful. Overall, marketing is about frequency as much as it is quality of posts, so make an effort to find your balance and stick with it.

What are some things you’re looking forward to with launching an eCommerce store? Comment with your answers below!

Guest Post & Giveaway: Writing with Blinders by Audrey Ryan

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

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

About the Book:

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

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

Please welcome, Audrey.

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

Writing with Blinders

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

Chunking

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

The Ideal Environment

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

The Soundtrack

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

Physical Place as Inspiration

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

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

About the Author:

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

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

Follow her online:

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

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

Terms and Conditions:

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

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

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

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

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

About the book:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Giveaway Info: (open internationally)

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

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!