Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Pride and Prejudice and a Shakespearean Scholar...Regina Jeffers

It is such a delight to have Regina Jeffers visiting today. She has a new book, Pride and Prejudice and a Shakespearean Scholar, due out December 15th. She is sharing a little about the book and its connection to The Taming of the Shrew. Afterwards, there is quite the fun romp of an excerpt! I think you will enjoy it immensely! Did I mention *hot*???
Welcome, Regina! I always love having you stop by.
One of the main themes in my upcoming release of Pride and Prejudice and a Shakespearean Scholar: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary is the use William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew as a basis of the interaction between Darcy and Elizabeth. My story DOES NOT follow Shakespeare's play exactly, but there is enough similarity in the two for a lover of Shakespeare to take note. Of Shakespeare's comedies, Taming of the Shrew and Much Ado About Nothing are my favorites. 
For those of you who have never read or seen a production of Taming of the Shrew, here is a brief synopsis provided by No Sweat Shakespeare: "The play opens as the student Lucentio arrives in Padua. He hears that the merchant Baptista has two daughters, but the younger, prettier daughter, Bianca, cannot be married before her strong-willed sister, Katherina. On seeing Bianca Lucentio falls in love with her and changes identities with his servant Tranio. Bianca already has two suitors, but doesn’t like either. The elderly Gremio hires Lucentio, disguised as a Latin tutor, to woo Bianca on his behalf, while Hortensio disguises himself as a musician to get access to her. Meanwhile Petruchio, a young adventurer from Verona, arrives to visit his friend Hortensio. He learns about Katherina and decides to woo her, aided by both Gremio and Hortensio.
"Baptista is enthusiastic about Petruchio’s suit because the feisty Katherina is a burden to him and is continually quarreling with her sister and with him. Petruchio will not be put off as he woos Kate and he fixes their wedding day. At the church, where Kate unwillingly awaits him, Petruchio arrives in an absurd outfit and after the ceremony he leaves for Verona immediately, with his new wife. On reaching there Kate is mistreated by Petruchio and his servants, and is denied food and sleep. To teach her to obey him Petruchio does not allow her new clothes or a hat. Eventually, worn down by her husband’s relentless eccentricity, Kate submits and accepts all his eccentricities. They set off to visit her father in Padua.

"On the journey the couple meet Vincentio, Lucentio’s wealthy father, who is subjected to a strange conversation as Petruchio tests Kate’s obedience. The three reach Padua where Hortensio, rejected by Bianca, has married a widow and Baptista has been tricked into believing a passing stranger is Tranio’s rich father. While Vincentio attempts to unravel the complexities of the situation his son Lucentio returns from a secret wedding with Bianca.

"Nevertheless, Baptista holds a wedding feast for both his daughters. As the men relax after their meal Petruchio devises a competition to prove whose wife is the most obedient. Bianca and the widow fail to come to their husbands when called while Kate lectures the women on the duties of a wife." 

One of my favorite film adaptations of the story stars Richard Burton as Petruchio and Elizabeth Taylor as Katherina. When I taught school, I often showed my students excerpts from the teenage-geared film Ten Things I Hate About You, starring Julia Stiles as Kat and the late Heath Ledger as Patrick. In both these films, there is a scene where Petruchio/Patrick must "persuade" Katerina/Kat that he means to marry/date her.

Below, find my version of this contest. Darcy has compromised Elizabeth by kissing her at the Meryton Assembly. She thinks her father will cover up her indiscretion, but Mr. Bennet says otherwise. Elizabeth then means to avoid Mr. Darcy and his marriage proposal. 
Excerpt from Chapter 11: 
Darcy stormed across the lawn toward the Longbourn stables, but drew up short when the building came into sight. “How in blazes am I to persuade a woman who barely tolerates my presence to spend the remainder of her days as my wife?” Uncertain how to proceed, he stared up at the wooden structure before him and back to the house. He imagined that canny old Shakespearean scholar was pointing toward the stable, urging Darcy on. “Bennet is as crazy as his daughter,” Darcy grumbled. “I should up and leave them all to share in their delirium.”
But he knew he would not act so dishonorably. Moreover, the idea of marrying Miss Elizabeth Bennet had taken root in his soul. It was as Bennet purported. The woman would enliven Darcy’s days. With a heavy sigh, Darcy closed his eyes, attempting to steel his resolve. He had come to Hertfordshire to escape the guilt he felt in failing Georgiana and to escape Lady Catherine’s marital manipulations, only to land in a trap of his own making. “At least, I can say my future bride did not apply her arts and allurements to bring me to task.” Darcy chuckled to himself. “Certainly did not expect a dip in a creek to lead to marriage vows.”
With that, he strode forward. Reaching the stable door, he swung it wide with enough force to announce his presence to this intended. “Going somewhere, my dear?”
* * *
When the door banged against the side wall, Elizabeth jumped. She had hoped to be absent when Mr. Darcy came calling. “I am not your ‘dear,’” she said baldly. Her shoulders shifted in a defensive manner. Unsurprisingly, so did Mr. Darcy’s.
The gentleman held his position, and for that, Elizabeth was thankful. She did not think she could tolerate his touch at this moment, for the memory of his hands caressing her back were all to familiar. “I disagree. Your father and I have spoken, and you are to be ‘my dear’ for the remainder of our days.”
“My father erred,” she challenged. “I would prefer to live out my days alone than to saddle myself with the likes of you.”
“The likes of me?” he asked as he took two steps in her direction. “And what do you find so offensive with the likes of me?”
Reflexively, Elizabeth retreated a full step. She wished Mr. Darcy was not so  handsome and she did not still carry a very vivid memory of his kiss or of the manner in which his lips had branded hers or of the solid heat of his body as she clung to him.
With a lift of her chin, she said, “From the very beginning, from the moment I may almost say, of my acquaintance with you, your manners impressed me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain for the feelings of others—”
“Selfish disdain for others?” he interrupted. “Did I not show your sister Mary tender care upon more than one occasion? Have I not been an attentive audience for your father? And you? Did I not offer to carry a complete stranger across a chilly creek at the cost of my favorite hat? The most you can hold against me is that I choose not to speak much unless I am among intimate acquaintances or when I share a private conversation with a highly intelligent person, be he male or female. Have I not always provided you my attention when you have a point of reference to impart?”
It was all Elizabeth could do not to stamp her foot in frustration. She despised him when he spoke with logic. “You touched my person without my permission,” she argued. “On more than one occasion.”
Mr. Darcy crossed his arms over his chest and leaned leisurely against one of the support posts. “You held no objections to our last encounter, at least none until we were found out.” He smirked.
“I object now,” she claimed.
“I fear it is too late, my dear.” He emphasized those dreaded words. “We have been observed breaking propriety.”
Elizabeth could still feel the warmth of his breath against her cheek, but she shove that tinge of desire to the side. “It was but a simple kiss,” she contested.
Mr. Darcy straightened. She noted the shift in his demeanor. It would do her well to remember that he was a proud man—a man accustomed to having his way. “The kiss we shared was everything but simple.” He began slowly stalking her. Intent marked his features.
Elizabeth’s nerves hitched higher. Suddenly, she realized why he had previously seemed so relaxed: She had no means of escape. Whatever had possessed her to permit him to corner her so? She should have stormed past him when Mr. Darcy first entered the stable. More importantly, whatever had possessed her to kiss him? Over the years, she had engaged in several flirtations, but never once had she considered an indiscretion, so why was it that she had acted so boldly with the one man who engendered her disapprobation? And what had possessed him to kiss her? Did he often kiss unsuspecting women? The idea of Mr. Darcy embracing another brought a frown to her forehead. Whether she wished his kiss or not, Elizabeth wanted the one they has shared to be a break from his normal interaction with eligible young ladies.
Instinctively, she back-stepped. “Grand or simple,” she declared as her gaze veered upward. Wrapping the length of her riding habit about her arm and catching the nearby ladder, she took the first step. “It was only a kiss. There is no reason for us to marry.” She climbed another rung, while Mr. Darcy moved ever closer.
He paused to look her up and down, and Elizabeth knew a flush of color pinked her cheeks, for surely from her position on the ladder, her ankles were exposed to the gentleman’s view. The heat of their embrace last evening was not part and partial of her imagination. “I cannot permit you to ruin your future,” he declared in tones that should have brooked no argument.
But Elizabeth was never one to avoid an obstacle in her way. “It is my future. My choice.” She continued to climb to the hay loft, while Mr. Darcy reached for the first rung of the ladder to follow her.
“Yet, you do not hold the advantage of making the choice for your sisters’ futures. Your disgrace will affect their chances of finding husbands.”
Looking down upon Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth kicked at the loose straw sending it peppering down upon him. He blinked hard and spat against the dusty deluge. “The matter is not of your concern, sir. I shall explain it all to my sisters.”
“Miss Bingley already objects to her brother’s attentions to Miss Bennet. Your family’s connection to me would soften the lady’s disparaging words. Miss Bingley would cherish a continuance of the privilege of being a guest at Pemberley,” he argued, as his slow methodical climb began.
“If I were Mistress of Pemberley, Miss Bingley would only be invited if I chose to do so, and I would never extend my good graces to the lady,” Elizabeth declared before backing away from the opening.
“Bold words, my dear,” he reasoned, “but if Bingley chooses your sister, the future Mrs. Bingley will beg you, for family’s sake, to include Miss Bingley in your plans for the entertainments at Pemberley, and you will no doubt relent, for you love your elder sister. You love all your sisters. And you are willing to suffer the worst you can imagine if doing so would keep them safe from scorn. Even if the worst you could image comes in the form of a gentleman from Derbyshire.” He climbed through the opening to stand before her.
Tears misted Elizabeth’s eyes. She was trapped—both in the hayloft and in a situation she did not desire; even so, she would not surrender so easily. “You know nothing of my nature, sir.” She grabbed a handful of straw and threw it at his face, but only a flurry of dust motes reached him.
“Obviously, I know more of your nature than you do of mine,” he stated in hard tones as he took a long stride to reach her.
Surprised by his boldness, Elizabeth stepped back quickly to avoid him, but her boot caught on some farm wire around the bale of hay, and she pitched backward. She knew Mr. Darcy reached for her, and in desperation, she grabbed his wrist, but it was too late. She tumbled backward, with only a pile of hay to soften her fall, but her shame was not complete, for the gentleman had followed her down. Thankfully, he had the foresight to turn his body so as not to land hard upon her.
Elizabeth attempted to sit up, but before she could reclaim her wits about her, Mr. Darcy had rolled over upon her, pining her in place. “You will release me,” she ordered.
She caught a glimpse of what she thought was annoyance before his expression closed over. “I will release you when things between us are settled.”
“Nothing you can say or do will change my mind.” She wriggled from side to side, but from the waist down, he was firmly planted upon her person.
“Like it or not, you are mine, Elizabeth Bennet,” he growled when they were nearly nose-to-nose. “Your father sent me to find you, and soon someone or more than one person will discover us here together—experiencing a romp in the hay. Although we might have been able to keep last evening’s indiscretion a secret if not for Miss Bingley, this situation will be more problematic. I will simply rest all my weight upon you, and you will not be able to escape. We will wait for our witnesses to our taking liberties with each other.”
Again, she fought him, only to have Mr. Darcy make good upon his threat. His weight pressed her further into the prickly hay. “I will never be yours,” she hissed.
He shook his head slowly in the negative as if he thought her protests were of little consequence before presenting her a cool smile. “Would you not prefer to spend our time in more pleasurable pursuits?” He lowered his head to caress her jaw line with his lips.
“I have no desire for another kiss from you!” She turned her head to the side to avoid his kissing her again, but she could not control the hitch in her breathing as a result of his warmth invading her body.
“I do not need to kiss you to mark you as mine,” he murmured against the side of her neck as his lips skimmed down the column of it.
Even through her objections, Elizabeth felt the return of the stirrings she had experienced last evening. Yet, she was not to know what would come next.
“Lizzy!” She recognized Charlotte’s voice from below. “Are you in here?”
“Please,” Elizabeth pleaded in a whisper.
“I cannot,” he said against her lips. “Your father means for us to marry.”
She stared at him in frustration. Mr. Darcy expected her to surrender, but the word was not in her vocabulary. She dug down deep to claim the presence of mind to once again to defy him. “You will regret this moment, sir. Mark my words.” With that she shoved hard against his chest, and he easily rolled away from her. Standing quickly, she shook the hay from her clothing and moved to the opening. “Charlotte! she said with a well-placed smile, as she peered down upon her friend. “You are to congratulate me. Mr. Darcy has offered me his hand in marriage, and I have accepted.”
Introducing Pride and Prejudice and a Shakespearean Scholar 
Unless one knows the value of loyalty, he cannot appreciate the cost of betrayal.
What if Darcy and Elizabeth met weeks before the Meryton assembly? What if there is no barely “tolerable” remark to have Elizabeth rejecting Mr. Darcy’s affections, but rather a dip in a cold creek that sets her against him? What if Mr. Bennet is a renown Shakespearean scholar who encourages Darcy to act the role of Petruchio from Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” to bring Elizabeth’s Katherina persona to the line.
ELIZABETH BENNET’s pride has her learning a difficult lesson: Loyalty is hard to find, and trust is easy to lose. Even after they share a passionate kiss outside the Meryton assembly hall and are forced to marry, Elizabeth cannot forget the indignity she experienced at the hands of Fitzwilliam Darcy. Although she despises his high-handedness, Elizabeth appreciates the protection he provides her in their marriage. But can she set her prejudice aside long enough to know a great love?
FITZWILLIAM DARCY places only two demands on his new wife: her loyalty and her trust, but when she invites his worst enemy to Darcy House, he has no choice but to turn her out. Trusting her had been his decision, but proving his choice the right one before she destroys two hearts meant to be together must be hers, and Darcy is not certain Elizabeth is up to the task.
NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY! Leave a comment below for the chance at winning an eBook copy of Pride and Prejudice and a Shakespearean Scholar. The giveaway will end at midnight EST on December 8, 2017.  [Note! The book will not release until December 15, 2017. The prize will actually be awarded at that time.]


This sounds like another great read from you, Regina. I look forward to reading the 'rest of the story'. That excerpt had me fanning and swooning! lol Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your time with us today. Thank you also for the generous giveaway. You are always a welcome guest. Good luck to all!

Monday, November 20, 2017

A Very Austen Christmas

Available at Amazon

Robin Helm, Laura Hile, Wendi Sotis, and Barbara Cornthwaite, the authors of A Very Austen Christmas, are my guests today. We are spotlighting their new release with blurbs for each story and an excerpt from each story. What a fun way to start getting in the Christmas spirit. From what I hear, many are in the spirit of enjoying this book already. The book is ranked the #1 Amazon Best Seller in its category! Congratulations, ladies. That is awesome! I'm thrilled for you. I cannot wait to read this one myself. I love the holidays and one thing that makes them even better is getting to read a good Christmas story. If it's JAFF and four stories instead of one, well, that's even better! :) All of these ladies are fine authors so I'm confident this book will not disappoint. I'm ready for a little holiday cheer. What about you, Dear Readers?


A Very Austen Christmas blurbs

Her Christmas Gift by Robin Helm

Elizabeth Bennet finds herself snowbound at Rosings with two rejected, but highly eligible, suitors. Does either man have a chance? Will her childhood friend, Meryton’s golden boy, win her affection, or will she accept the master of Pemberley? Perhaps she will refuse them both a second time.  Her Christmas Gift deftly combines tension and emotion with humor and romance. 

The Christmas Matchmaker by Laura Hile

It’s raining; it’s pouring – and what could be better than a little Christmas matchmaking? So says Emma Woodhouse who is unexpectedly stranded at Netherfield Park. Mr. Darcy disagrees, for she has someone else in mind for adorable Elizabeth Bennet. Amid meddling, misunderstanding, and an unwelcome proposal or two, will True Love find a way?

No Better Gift by Wendi Sotis

On his way to Derbyshire to spend Christmas with his family, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy plans to retrieve an item he left behind during his rushed escape from Netherfield—and the country miss who touched his heart. Finding Meryton practically deserted, he fears the worst. What fate could have fallen upon this once-thriving village in only three weeks? More importantly, was Miss Elizabeth Bennet in danger?

Mistletoe at Thornton Lacey by Barbara Cornthwaite

When Edmund Bertram realizes that Fanny is the perfect wife for him, he wants to propose without delay. What better time than at Christmas? Ah, but the course of true love never does run smooth ...

A Very Austen Christmas excerpts

Her Christmas Gift (excerpt) by Robin Helm

She turned her head to look up at him and tripped over a root, sending her sprawling in the snow.
Darcy knelt beside her. “Are you injured?”
“No, I think not, though I am a bit humiliated. Will you help me up?” She extended her hand to him.
Darcy tried to help her to her feet, but she cried out as soon as she put weight on her foot.
Without a word, he picked her up as if he were cradling a child.
“Mr. Darcy, you must put me down.”
“You cannot so much as stand, and the sleds are much too far ahead for me to catch them. I see no other solution.”
He began to walk towards Rosings.
“Miss Bennet, ’twould help if you put your arms about my neck. You are dead weight otherwise, and we have over a mile before we reach the house.”
She blushed furiously but did as he asked. “Will you agree to put me down when we are in sight of Rosings?”
“If you are able to walk by leaning on me, I will. Otherwise, I shall carry you the entire way.”
Elizabeth began to chuckle.
Darcy glanced down at her. “You are amused?”
“I am. You are covered in snow and look like a snow beast of some sort.”
“And what are you? My prey?”
She feigned shock. “Do you mean I am in mortal danger? I thought gentlemen protected young ladies.”
“You said I was a snow beast. I suppose that means I am not a gentleman.”
In the midst of their banter, Darcy and Elizabeth had failed to notice the man directly in front of them.
“You will unhand my future wife this instant!”
Thomas had returned; he was very angry.


The Christmas Matchmaker (excerpt) by Laura Hile

Mr. Darcy placed a small table before Elizabeth and then came back with the backgammon board. “Shall we play a game?” he said pleasantly, moving his chair to face hers.
“No!” she whispered urgently. “We shall never hear the end of it.”
His response was to open the board and begin placing the checkers. “When everyone sees how thoroughly you are trounced, Miss Elizabeth, speculation of a romance between us shall cease.”
Trounced? Elizabeth lifted her chin. “If I do agree to play, I have no intention of losing, sir.”
Mr. Darcy’s eyes glittered. “We’ll see about that.”
Elizabeth discovered that she was smiling. “I’ll have you know that I am rather good at backgammon.”
“Ah, but are you good enough?”
Was he taunting her? Silent, taciturn Mr. Darcy? And there was more. When he smiled, his cheeks dimpled attractively. Why had she never noticed this?
“I am not afraid of you, sir,” she countered.
“You should be,” he said, and he held out her dice. What could she do but take them?
Her bare fingers brushed against his palm. “En garde, Miss Elizabeth,” he said softly.
Did he think to confound her with fencing cant? He would soon discover that she was no green girl. “Allez, Mr. Darcy,” she smilingly retorted, and boldly tossed the dice onto the board. 


No Better Gift (excerpt) by Wendi Sotis

Growing up, Darcy’s mother had often told him that love was something to be cherished. It was her fondest wish that he and his sister would love their marriage partners someday.
At his mother’s graveside, even though his father was utterly distraught, he confided that no matter how much pain he experienced at losing her, he would have done nothing differently. Loving her was the wisest thing he had ever done.
If love was such a glorious thing, why then had falling in love with Elizabeth caused him so much pain?
After a quick review of all his past dealings with Elizabeth, using this new insight into her thought process as a lens, he now understood he must have affronted her at every turn.
He shuddered to think of how, at gatherings they had both attended, she must have interpreted his inability to keep his eyes from following her every move. At the time, he had scolded himself, thinking she would recognize his attraction, so he tried his best to avoid her. In truth, at the very least, his behaviour must have left her confused. Perhaps even unsettled — or worse.
How could he have been so ignorant of causing her distress?
He glanced over at her, walking beside him.
Knowing she disliked him — for if she thought he had done nothing but criticize her in the past, how could she feel any other way — would it be easier to forget her?
He must decide, and quickly. If he was to speak to her about this, it had to be within the next minute or two, for they would soon come upon Baxter. Once at the house, there would be people all around them. And tomorrow, when Roberts returned, perhaps he should leave, after all.
His heart faltered. If he left while they were on these terms … chances were that he would never see her again.
No! He could not just go on with his life knowing he had insulted her so badly and leave it at that. It was selfish, but he could not bear to have Elizabeth think ill of him for all eternity.
He swallowed hard and turned to the lady of his heart. “Miss Elizabeth, I would like to make it perfectly clear that I never meant to insult you. It was done most unwittingly.”
She kept her gaze directed at the path.
“I hope you accept my sincere apology.”
Perspiration broke out across his brow as he waited for her answer.


Mistletoe at Thornton Lacey  (excerpt) by Barbara Cornthwaite

They walked on in silence for another minute and then Tom said, “Well, he is settled and happy in his situation. I suppose the next thing he will do is find a wife. We must be sure he marries to advantage, Susan. A good wife would complete his happiness, and a bad one would cut up his peace forever. He is too good a man to have his soul galled perpetually by an awful woman. The aggravating thing is that I can’t think of anyone hereabouts who would be suitable. There is a depressing dearth of young people in the neighbourhood.”
“I often think the same about Fanny,” said Susan. “She would shine as a wife, but there is no one that comes to Mansfield, and she never travels further than Thornton Lacey.”
The same thought struck both of them at that moment. They turned to each other, Tom’s mouth slightly agape, and Susan gasped.
“Oh, do you think we could contrive—?”
“Not for us to think of it,” said Tom, after a moment’s pause. “Really, none of our business.”
“No?” said Susan. “I am persuaded that they would do very well together. And so are you. You were thinking so just now.”
“If you are contemplating laying some sort of plot to match the two of them, I beg you would forget it,” said Tom. “Elaborate plans always misfire, somehow.” He paused, ruminating. “Not but what a word might be dropped here and there—in season, of course.
They are not together as much as they might be,” said Susan. “Edmund is so much at Thornton Lacey.”
“Perhaps we could contrive at that, if the opportunity arose.”
At that moment, Pug emerged from a rhododendron, where, it appeared, he had been exploring—and perhaps rolling in—some muddy ground. The subject of a match between Edmund and Fanny was dropped, but not forgotten.


A Very Austen Christmas author bios

    Robin Helm's time revolves around music as she dances (as badly as Mr. Collins), sings (a little better than Mary Bennet), plays (better than Marianne Dashwood – almost as well as Caroline Bingley), and teaches (channeling her inner Elinor). Her books reflect that love, as well as her fascination with the paranormal and science fiction.
    Her latest publication is Understanding Elizabeth, in which Darcy must decide how much he’s willing to pay to have what he wants. Previously published works include The Guardian Trilogy (Darcy is Elizabeth’s guardian angel), and the Yours by Design series (Fitzwilliam Darcy switches places in time with his descendant, Will Darcy).
    She lives in South Carolina and adores her one husband (Mr. Knightley), two married daughters (Elizabeth I and Elizabeth II), and three grandchildren.   

    Readers are loving Laura Hile's joyous Regency novels. Her signature style – intertwined plots, cliffhangers, and laugh-out-loud humor – keep them coming back for more.
    The comedy Laura comes by as a teacher. There's never a dull moment with teen students!
    She recently released Darcy By Any Other Name, a comic 'body swap' romance based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.
    Laura lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and sons. Her fiction is for everyone, even teens.
    Wendi Sotis lives on Long Island, NY, with her husband and triplets. While searching for Pride and Prejudice from Darcy’s point of view, she became thoroughly enamored with Jane Austen Fan Fiction or JAFF. In early 2010, she dreamed an idea for a story and hasn’t stopped writing since: Promises, Dreams and Expectations; All Hallows Eve; The Keys for Love; Safekeeping; The Gypsy Blessing; Foundation of Love (The Gypsy Blessing 2); and A Lesson Hard Learned.     
     Some of her works-in-progress have branched away from JAFF to Regency Romance (The Pact, due to be released in 2018) and Contemporary Romantic Mysteries (Implicated, working on a series). Wendi will also continue bringing Darcy and Lizzy together again and again in an unusual manner.
     Barbara Cornthwaite lives in the middle of Ireland with her husband and children. She taught college English before "retiring" to do something she loves far more; her days are now filled with homeschooling her six children, trying to keep the house tidy (a losing battle), and trying to stay warm in the damp Irish climate (also a losing battle).
   She is surrounded by medieval castles, picturesque flocks of sheep, and ancient stone monuments. These things are unappreciated by her children, who are more impressed by traffic jams, skyscrapers, and hot weather.
   Barbara is the author of the George Knightley, Esquire series, and A Fine Young Lady


These stories sound delightful! Thank you so much for stopping by and letting us read a little about your Christmas book, A Very Austen Christmas. It's great that you are sharing the spotlight with Emma and Fanny, not just Darcy and Lizzy. Don't get me wrong, I love reading about Darcy and Lizzy but it was neat to see some of Jane Austen's other characters get some page time, too. This looks to be a fabulous read! I'm thrilled that you visited today. Thank you.

It's international giveaway time! Robin Helm and the authors of this fine book are giving away one Kindle copy to one of you lucky readers! Be sure to leave a comment to be entered. If I don't have your contact info on file, you will need to leave that too. Tell us something you like about Christmas. What did you think of the blurbs and excerpts? Pretty exciting, huh! The giveaway will end at 11:59 P.M. on the 25th of November. Thanks for popping in and Good Luck to all!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice in 61 Haiku...James Gaynor

Available on Amazon
James W. Gaynor, author of Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice in 61 Haiku, is my guest and I must say, I am fascinated with his book. Dare I admit this? I guess I might as well, so here goes. I have not been much familiar with Haiku! There! I said it! This post has been a learning experience and I have enjoyed it immensely. Thank you, James. 

I love that James Gaynor has taken the opening lines of Pride & Prejudice and then written a Haiku for each. Of the ones that I have read, they are perfect. some are hilarious, and his process is intriguing. In this post he shares two different opening lines and the corresponding Haiku with us. Was Jane Austen giving us an extra message in some or all of these 'first sentences'? 

I must mention the cover of Mr. Gaynor's book.  This cover is eye-catching and I like it! :) The design features a peacock motif and pays homage to the first illustrated edition of P&P (Illustrated by Hugh Thomson). As many of you are aware, I love peacocks and the peacock edition of P&P. I paid homage to it myself a couple of years back. (Psst, Jim's giving a paperback away!)

I hope you all get as much enjoyment from reading this post as I did. It was neat learning how this book came into being. Rather than prattle on, I give the floor to James Gaynor.

Emily Dickinson once famously remarked that if she felt as though the top of her head were taken off, she knew she was reading poetry. And who hasn’t read “It is a truth universally acknowledged, …” and felt our heads explode?

In my work as a poet, I’ve long been fascinated by memorable opening and closing lines in classic novels. I believe that the sentences we often know by heart are, in fact, short, unacknowledged poems that get lost in the sentences, paragraphs and chapters that follow.

So, I decided I would create a series of poems based on my favorite novel-openings, and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice seemed a logical place to start. I soon realized that the first line’s fame has, in a way, cast a shadow over all the other chapters’ first lines.
I began to wonder if the 61 chapter-opening lines of Pride and Prejudice could, in fact, be the basis for a series of haiku. If each sentence was a kind of short poem, why couldn’t it be “translated” into that short, classic form of Japanese poetry? There is something wonderful and powerful in the format. Children study their three-line format in grammar school (5 syllables / 7 syllables / 5 syllables) and, in my teaching experience, adults always seem to enjoy learning how to write them.

That’s how the book happened. I had no idea what I was going to do when I finished, but I had a strong sense that I was onto something interesting about Austen’s style and messaging.

Isolating Austen’s chapter-opening sentences led to more than one surprise for me. The classic haiku attempts to answer three questions:

       What? (the object, the action, e.g., falling leaf or petal, sound of water)
       Where? (geography, e.g., house, garden, mountain)
3     When? (seasonal reference, e.g., spring, summer, winter, fall)

When I started analyzing the beginning of Chapter 56, I saw something I had never before seen:

One morning, about a week after Bingley’s engagement with Jane had been formed, as he and the females of the family were sitting together in the dining-room, their attention was suddenly drawn to the window, by the sound of a carriage; and they perceived a chaise and four driving up the lawn.

Until I paid attention to the “Where?” of the chapter’s opening line, I had never fully appreciated that Lady Catherine’s enormous carriage --- powered by four horses carrying a groom, a driver, Lady Catherine and (probably) her daughter — arrives at Longbourn and drives up the lawn!  Not the drive, but the lawn. The damage to the turf must have been extensive, and more than likely took out a Bennet chicken or two — but of no concern to Lady C. “Shades of the guillotine,” as one of my academic readers wryly remarked.

Here’s the haiku:
Lady Catherine
was unwelcome everywhere.
That never stopped her.

My new awareness wasn’t limited to Lady Catherine’s aristocratic behavior. I recently spoke at New York’s Fordham University — and the students were very interested in the first line of Chapter 43:

Elizabeth, as they drove along, watched for the first appearance of Pemberley Woods with some perturbation; and when at length they turned in at the lodge, her spirits were in a high flutter.

Prior to studying the first lines, I hadn’t really noticed the use of the word “flutter.” Elizabeth Bennet, as we all know, is really not a flutterer. So, why now? Why the use of a word more commonly associated with Regency heroines falling in love and teetering on the edge of a swoon?

I love this! Don't all of you?
The answer, I think, is that Austen is giving us exactly that clue: Elizabeth has fallen in love. With Darcy as he is represented by his estate, the beloved order-created-from-chaos so near and dear to the late 18-century English ideal. She does not fall in romantic love with Darcy because he is handsome (we don’t really know what he looks like) — she falls in love with him because he has purpose. And, of course, a sizeable estate, but that is really secondary — and the haiku reflects this interpretation:

Pemberley produced
a flutter effect. Could this
be real (-estate) love?

After the lecture, one young woman told me the Jane Austen we discussed was exactly the voice she needed guiding her love life — which confirms for me that, 200 years after her death, Austen continues to exert her subtle influence.

The book, Everything Becomes a Poem, the first book by James Gaynor
and illustrated by Kelly Duke McKinley, just won a national design award! Congratulations!

Author Bio:

James W. Gaynor, author of Everything Becomes a Poem (Nemeton Press), is a poet, artist, editor, and writer. A graduate of Kenyon College, he lived for years in Paris, where he taught a course on Emily Dickinson at the University of Paris, studied the development of the psychological novel in 17th century France, and worked as a translator. After returning to New York, Gaynor worked as an editor at Grosset & Dunlap, Cuisine magazine, Scriptwriter News and Forbes Publications. His articles, book reviews, poems and essays have appeared in The New York Observer, OTVmagazine.com, The Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide, and Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine. As #HaikuJim, Gaynor publishes a daily haiku drawn from current newspaper headlines and is the creator of Can You Haiku? — a corporate communications workshop based on using 17th-century Japanese poetry techniques to improve effective use of today’s digital platforms. Gaynor recently retired as the Global Verbal Identity Leader for Ernst & Young LLP. www.jameswgaynor.com

Above: Photo of James Gaynor leading corporate haiku workshop (for Ernst & Young in Cleveland)
It is out of the ordinary. Poetry. Who knew? :)

It has been such a pleasure having you stop by, Jim.  I love meeting new authors and having first time guests and I thank you for being one of them. It's been great having you share Haiku with me and my readers. Learning something new and enjoying it, at the same time is a treat.

I read your interview by Rita at From Pemberley to Milton and found it enlightening and interesting. When she asked you what readers could expect from your book, your answer was especially touching and made an impression, especially the part I put in bold type. 
It’s my hope that readers will find themselves smiling knowingly from time to time as they travel in this redesigned Japanese vehicle across Austen’s familiar English landscape — and that they will forgive my star-struck attempt at what is essentially one long love-letter-poem written to the extraordinary woman who still speaks to us in such modern ways. 
Tuesday I was visiting with Jan Hahn via the telephone.  Jan is doing a proof of my 2018 calendar and we were going over some of the quotes. When she read the Haiku, one, in particular, Jan laughed out loud, and not just a little. Believe me when I tell you that is a rare thing! This Haiku is one of the month quotes for December and is amusing. Jan loved it and so did I. But, Dear Readers, I'm not going to tell you what it is! *evil laugh* I will tell you that James W. Gaynor and his book, Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice in 61 Haiku is one of the featured ads and quotes inside the calendar. Shameless, aren't I!

Moving on...I have some good news to share. Jim will have an audiobook in January --- a Cambridge scholar read the P&P sentences, and Jim recorded the haiku. Won't that be fun? I can't wait.

Jim is offering one paperback copy of Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice in 61 Haiku to one of you and this giveaway is international. Leave us a comment and tell us what you think about Haiku. Are you familiar with it? I would love for you to have your share in the conversation but don't forget to give me a way to reach you should you be the lucky winner! Giveaway ends the 20th of November at midnight. Good luck everyone.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

A Most Handsome Gentleman Blog Tour Winners

A Most Handsome Gentleman Blog Tour

Your eBooks will be sent within the next few days.
8 eBook Winners:

Miriam Bresticker
Sheila L. Majczan
Eva Edmonds
J. W. Garrett
Denise Holcomb

Congratulations, and thanks to all of you, bloggers and readers,
for your support of this and all Meryton Press Blog Tours.
You are appreciated!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Chance and Circumstance...Kara Louise

Available on Amazon
I am so thrilled to have Kara Louise as my guest today. She is one of my all-time favorite writers and it has been way too long since she has been my guest! Today she is giving us the description for her newest release, Chance and Circumstance, and she is telling us a little about it. Sounds exciting, doesn't it! Wait until you read about Darcy's rival! I will stop chatting and let you start reading. Thanks, Kara Louise, and welcome back! Oh, she has an awesome giveaway too! :)

Darcy’s Rivals… by Kara Louise

Thanks, Janet, for letting me come by today and talk about my new book, Chance and Circumstance. You may wonder about the title of the blog post. Rest assured, I am talking about Darcy’s rivals (in general) and not “Mr. Darcy’sRival,” (the book which I published in 2015).

I think it’s fun to give Mr. Darcy a rival in a story, as it humbles him and makes him examine himself more deeply. I think I have given him a rival in every one of my books where he and Elizabeth are not married, except “Darcy’s Voyage,” (or “Pemberley’s Promise” if you read the original self-published version with that title).

In “Mr. Darcy’s Rival,” his rival was a cousin of Anne’s on the de Bough side of the family. In “Pirates and Prejudice,” it was a cousin of Elizabeth’s on her father’s side of the family, and in many books (including Pride and Prejudice) there is always Mr. Wickham.  For the record, in Chance and Circumstance, Elizabeth finds Wickham interesting and engaging, but he is never truly a rival for her affections. His lies about Darcy, of course, and encourages her to dislike Mr. Darcy more.

Mr. Darcy’s rival in Chance and Circumstance, however, is none other than his good friend, Mr. Bingley! Here is the book description:

Chance brings about an early encounter between Charles Bingley and Elizabeth Bennet soon after his move into Netherfield. He soon begins to favour this pretty and lively young lady. Circumstances have kept Jane Bennet and Mr. Darcy from the neighbourhood, thereby changing the events that Jane Austen penned in "Pride and Prejudice."

When Mr. Darcy finally arrives, will he be able to keep from interfering when he meets this young lady his friend so greatly admires? When Jane returns from touring the Lake District with her aunt and uncle, will the young gentleman who returns with her prove to be better suited for her than Mr. Bingley ever was?

In this "Pride and Prejudice" variation, chance and circumstance greatly affect the way several of Jane Austen's characters arrive at their happily ever after, but not necessarily in the way you think.
Because Mr. Bingley meets Elizabeth first, as both Jane and Mr. Darcy are away, he begins to show her particular attention. When Mr. Darcy does arrive, Mr. Bingley is well on his way to being in love with her. Oh dear!

This changes things for Mr. Darcy and makes things difficult. First, when he meets Elizabeth, he finds himself fighting the attraction as he realizes she is very much the kind of woman he could love. His integrity will not allow him to even consider trying to steal her from his good friend. (Well, perhaps not in a way Bingley would notice.) Secondly, he feels she and Bingley are not well-suited at all and does not think his friend should have begun to show such favoritism to a young lady so early, despite his own heart’s inclination to do the same.

So our Mr. Darcy is faced with having to stand back and watch the interaction between the two. Elizabeth seems to return Mr. Bingley’s admiration, despite what Darcy sees as some great differences between the two in intellect, interests, and personality.

And what does Mr. Bingley think of Miss Jane Bennet? She does not return to Longbourn until just before the Netherfield Ball, because she has been in the Lake District with her aunt and uncle. While up there, she meets some previous acquaintances of the Gardiners who have a son she has come to admire. When Jane and her aunt and uncle return to Hertfordshire, he joins them. Will these mixed-up couples be able to get things straightened out? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

If you would like to read the chapters I posted online, (about half of the book), you can find Chapter 1 here: Austen Variations

Links to the book:

I am offering a copy of a paperback (US) and also an ebook (US or International) to 2 commenters whose name will be drawn at random.

Thank you, Janet, for allowing me to visit!

You are welcome, Kara Louise. It has been so good having you stop by and I hope it won't be too long before you visit again. You are always welcome. As you know, I love your writing and am always excited when I hear you are working on a new book. I can't wait to read this one. 

I  loved the title of this post and the implication, almost, of your previous book, which I enjoyed tremendously. When you mentioned Darcy's Voyage, I swooned. Oh, how I love that book! It is such an awesome read. I may have to read it again soon. In most of your books, you do give Darcy some serious rivals, even a dog named Reggie once. (Master Under Good Regulation) Well, I guess he really wasn't a rival though, was he? He was adorable, I must say!

Thank you again for sharing a little about your new book with my readers and for offering them such a generous giveaway. Dear Readers, to enter please share some love with Kara Louise. Tell us what you think of Darcy's rival. Can you believe it is Bingley? I know, I know! Fascinating, isn't it! The giveaway will end at 11:59 PM Central Time on the 13th of November. Remember there are two books up for grabs. One paperback, US only, and one eBook, US or international are being given away. Good luck to all of you.