Friday, September 12, 2014

Mrs. Darcy's Diamonds by Jane Odiwe

available at Amazon and B&N
I'm thrilled to have Jane Odiwe making a return visit to my blog today. Jane is here to talk to us about her new novella, Mrs. Darcy's Diamonds. I love the title and knowing that this is only the first in a series about Georgian jewellery. That is very exciting and gives us readers much to look forward to in the coming months. Isn't this cover beautiful? All of you have the opportunity to win an eBook version but you must leave a comment below to be entered in this giveaway. Now read more about it and be tempted with an excerpt!

Mrs Darcy’s Diamonds - A Jane Austen Jewel Box Novella.

Thank you, Janet, for hosting me on your blog today to talk about my new novella.

It’s no secret that I’m very fond of jewellery and so when the idea to write a series of novellas based on Georgian pieces came to me, I got very excited. I discovered recently that one set of my ancestors were jewellers, silversmiths, and pistol makers, so I think my passion for jewellery must be in my genes!

The first in the series is Mrs Darcy’s Diamonds - I’ve thoroughly enjoyed writing this book, which features most of the characters from Pride and Prejudice. Lady Catherine is a joy to write because she is so horrible, but I’ve had a great time making sure that Elizabeth keeps the upper hand, and even Mr Darcy weighs in to give full support to his darling wife. Almost from the beginning Lady Catherine de Bourgh makes life as difficult as she can for Elizabeth, and the ring is a bone of contention between them. And when the ring is lost, it’s not only Lizzy’s reputation that’s at stake, as she discovers a scandal that seems not only serious enough to ‘pollute the shades of Pemberley’, but also capable of causing its very downfall.  

Elizabeth and Darcy’s marriage is one focus of this story. As newly weds they are still learning about one another, and I really enjoyed writing scenes which explore their growing relationship. But, Georgiana Darcy also has a strong tale of her own in this novella, and she is experiencing what it’s really like to fall in love. Added to the mix are the Bennets, Bingleys and Wickhams, Lady Catherine, of course, her daughter Anne and Mrs Jenkinson - all characters that are such fun to write! Last, but not least, are two characters of my own, Antoine and Louise de Valois, French cousins, who create havoc the moment they arrive at Pemberley. I have so enjoyed writing this story and I hope you enjoy it! My next novella in this series will be Miss Darcy’s Parisian Pin, which follows on from the conclusion of Mrs Darcy’s Diamonds.


Pemberley, Derbyshire - 12th December 1812

Elizabeth Darcy was seated at her dressing table, deep in thought. Newly wed, just a bride of four weeks, Elizabeth contemplated her reflection in the ancient looking glass. The silver filigree mirror was flecked with tiny specks where the metal mercury at the back was worn away, giving her reflection and that of the room a dream-like quality. The scent of lavender, dust-sweet, rose from the drying flowers arranged in a Chinese bowl on the table near the window. Framed within the scallop shells and scrolls she saw the winter sunlight fall in dazzling bars across her Chippendale bed, sparkling on the grey satin of the rumpled counterpane, and glittering the silver thread on the embroidered panels. Soft depressions in the piles of pillows bore witness to the fact that the Darcys had not long risen, and Elizabeth felt the familiar pang of pleasure inside as she recollected last night’s passionate embraces in the arms of her beloved husband. This was, no doubt, her favourite room in the whole house. It was her very own, one of several rooms that Fitzwilliam Darcy had declared were to be her kingdom, for her sole use and pleasure. Her darling husband had his own suite of rooms but it was an infinite measure of delight to her that, as yet, he appeared to have no interest in sleeping in his own chamber.
Her new ring felt strangely unfamiliar on her finger. Fitzwilliam had given it to her last night. She played over the scene in her mind, remembering how as she lay in his arms, he dropped a kiss on the top of her head, before propping himself up on one elbow to gaze at her so intently that she was almost unable to meet his eyes.
‘I didn’t think it was possible to love you any more than I do,’ he said pushing a handful of dark curls from her forehead and kissing her tenderly on the lips.
Reluctantly pulling back again Elizabeth watched his eyes flicker over her face, lingering over her reclining figure. Under his studied scrutiny, she held her breath hardly daring to move, as his mouth came down on hers again, kissing her so sweetly that she experienced a longing to be loved such as she’d never felt before.
‘I have something … just a trifle I wish to give you …’ he whispered.
Leaning away from her, she saw him feeling under the pillows before he drew out a small leather box.
‘Fitzwilliam!’ Elizabeth’s delight was plain to see. ‘But, this is too much coming on top of the beautiful necklace you gave me on our marriage.’
‘Nothing could be too much for my wonderful wife - besides, I must admit that I feel it absolutely necessary. As you know, my aunt will be here in the morning, and it will fall on you to entertain her whilst I am on business. And then there is the upcoming ball - you’ve had so much to do and organise. I just wanted to say how much I love and appreciate all you do.’
 A large diamond encircled by sixteen smaller diamonds, set in a gold ring, winked at her from its velvet-lined box.
‘Oh, it is the most divine jewel I have ever seen! The diamonds are exquisite. Goodness, how many there are!’
‘Sixteen in total - one for each of the children we shall have.’
Elizabeth looked up in alarm at Mr Darcy’s serious expression. His looks were certainly sincere. Then just as the thought of the idea of sixteen children and all that would entail was sinking in she saw his mouth twitch in amusement, which set her off into peals of laughter, as his face changed with a teasing lop-sided grin.
‘Fitzwilliam, you are a rogue! For a moment I thought you were in earnest. My darling, I thank you, but I really do not need such extravagant gifts. Everything I do for you and for both of us, I do with pleasure and joy - I am the one who should be bestowing presents on you. My life and the time I spend with you is the treasure of my existence - you are the diamond of my days.’
He leaned forward to take her hand, placing the ring gently on her finger. Her hand was cold but his was warm to the touch, and she closed her fingers round his wrist relishing the heat. Instinctively, she lifted his hand to her cheek, and no more words were needed, as he held her so closely she could feel the drumbeat of his heart against her own.
Elizabeth felt she’d come home, she felt safe in his arms and knew nothing would ever come between her and the man she loved.
‘Fitzwilliam …’ she whispered. ‘I did not know … I never guessed that I could feel like this … that being together could be so heavenly.’
Mr Darcy smiled and pulled her closer still. ‘It can be even better.’

Ooh, what a marvelous and tantalizing excerpt. You have me ready to read more this minute. Thank you so much for sharing with us about this first book in your new series. I enjoyed reading about your jewellery ancestry too. Thanks to your post at Austen Variations it was fun to view some of your lovely pieces. Thank you for coming by and letting me be a part in getting the word out about this new novella. I hope you will come back and visit again when you have another release in this series.

Thank you also for giving away an eBook to one of my lucky readers! Yes, readers, there is a giveaway of this fabulous novella and it is international. We want to hear your share in the conversation so leave a comment to be entered in the giveawayBe sure to include your email address in your comment. To prevent unwanted spam, put your email address with an (at) instead of @. Winners will be chosen in a random drawing. Giveaway ends at midnight on September 18, 2014. Good luck to all.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Jane and Austen by Stephanie Fowers

Stephanie Fowers stops by today and has so kindly answered some questions for me. Stephanie has a new book, Jane and Austen, that she is presenting to the world. I hope all of you dear readers will take some time to read about this book and get to know Stephanie. Her answers are delightful and touching. It is my pleasure now to introduce the lovely Stephanie Fowers.

How and when did your interest in Jane Austen and Pride & Prejudice take root?

It happened when my sister brought home the six-hour-version of Pride and Prejudice. Oh, how we’re ALL familiar with that moment. Right? I wasn’t really into bonnet movies at the time (as we call them at our house). But at my sister’s urging, we planned to watch an episode a night. Well, one thing led to another and our family watched the whole thing in one night!!! At first I found myself urging Lizzy to forget this snob Darcy and go for that cute Wickham guy. Boy, was I wrong. The whole experience was magical—I felt like I lived the story along with Lizzy. I was taken in by the same villains when she was. I had her same prejudice, and my heart melted about the same time hers did, too. When the movie was finished, I was a die-hard Jane Austen and BBC fan. I’ve since watched the movie more times than I can count. Even my dad has it memorized now.

I cannot count how many times I have watched the miniseries. My grandchildren know Mr. Darcy and Lizzy well by now as they have watched with me often. They think Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth are the real ones too. Now back to you, what drove you to start writing your own books? Did you write other things before writing PnP variations?

First I wrote fantasy, but then I looked around at my life and realized that it was more outlandish than anything I could come up with in a fantasy, so that’s when I decided to write a contemporary novel. I felt like Jo in Little Women when I finally began to write what I knew. Since then I’ve written many romantic comedies and a few fantasies, too, but I kept turning to my love of Jane Austen. I appreciated her characters and her portrayal of the social scene. I also realized that I was a bit of a romantic because of my love for regency romances and chick flicks (just like Catherine in Northanger Abbey and her love for gothic romances) and thought it would be funny to base a character on someone like me who adores anything Jane Austen and romantic. And then I’d make her meet her match with the most unromantic, practical guy I could think of.

Last year I went to a play of Little Women. It was fantastic and it revived my love of Jo. Interesting that you felt more like her. Now that you have started writing what you know, do you have a muse that causes your story to lead you at times or do you use an outline and follow it religiously?

I do both. I’m a religious outliner, but I can veer away from that if the story goes a different direction. Originally, I had the main character daydreaming all the time, but it just didn’t fit where I wanted to take the story so I took most of that out.

What is your writing routine?

My writing routine involves turning on the air-conditioner when I get home from work around six. I grab some water and some tissue then sit down on the lazy boy chair (that I bought on clearance from RC Willey—best day ever!). I block all my social media sites with a new writer’s software that I have and then I just go at it. Occasionally real life gets in the way (well, MORE than occasionally), but I prefer that because real life only provides me with more inspiration to write.

You gave us some information about your setting for writing but what about it or any other setting is more inspirational to you when writing?

I usually write in my room with no distractions, BUT I love that I live in the attic. The trees brush up against the window and make me feel like I live in a Swiss Family Robinson tree house. However, the best and most inspirational places where I have sat down to write are the beaches on the Oregon coast, Butchart Gardens, the Alpine hills (close to where I live) in the fall when the leaves turn golden, and my sister’s backyard in Omak Washington with the children running around the pool and laughing. And of course, NOTHING beats writing in a good thunderstorm with a cup of hot chocolate.

All of these settings would be extremely inspirational. I love the sounds of all of them. I recall what you said you about writing a contemporary novel but what about the Regency era of Jane Austen? What about that time is appealing to you?

The romance. The courtship. The rules. The clothes. I am not going to lie—besides a good Jane Austen book, I love a good regency romance where the governess is this young proper miss who turns the household around and everyone falls in love with her, including the dashing hero and the dastardly—though strangely attractive—villain. It’s just so fun!

Oh yes, I must agree with you there. Now, if you will, please tell us something about your newest book that you love most. (if you can without giving anything away)

The valet scene—I’m not going to give that scene away, of course, but it stems from a private joke between me and my sister. When we walked past the bed and breakfast near our house, I always used to tease her that she would find her forbidden love there…and that’s how I wrote it in my book.

I'll be anxious to read that scene. Sounds fascinating. What have you learned from writing that has helped you in your daily life?

Perseverance.  When you’re a writer, you can’t give up or your story will never be finished…never be edited…never be published…never advertised to readers. But when you love to share stories like I do, you can’t give up on any part of the process or all of your work will be for nothing. I try to take on that same attitude with life. Sure, you might get tired, but you can’t give up. You can’t. It will all be worth it in the end!
Is there anything special about yourself or your writing that you would be willing to share with us?
My sense of humor. I think it stems from my family. We’ve experienced a lot of financial hardships when we were younger, but we always found a way to laugh about it. If we couldn’t chase after the ice cream truck like the other kids in the neighborhood, we could pretend that we were princesses caught in a strange kingdom and the guy driving the ice cream truck was a troll who had nefarious plans to draw us out from our castle so he could kidnap us. And then the idea seemed so hilarious that we’d laugh and heap more crazy ideas on top of that. That comes out a lot in my writing. My characters might face tough situations, but they usually take it on with a pretty good sense of humor that makes things fun.

Never giving up and a sense of humor in tough situations are great attributes. Your answer was inspirational and moving. Thanks for sharing it. What about modern day authors? Is there one that has inspired you? If yes, what was it about their writing that was an inspiration?

James Herriot—I remember picking up one of his books “All Creatures Great and Small.” It was so far from the normal romance that I liked to read. But when I opened it, I found myself laughing so hard that I cried.  His descriptions were so vivid and the situations he brought up were so ridiculous, yet so real—I could see them happening to me. Afterwards, I had the biggest crush on this author (though I had never seen him—no internet at the time—I imagined him as a distinguished and slender British man who looked like the human version of the Great Mouse Detective). For the longest time after reading those books I wanted to live in Yorkshire and be a veterinarian. That soon faded when I realized that I was awful in all of my science classes, so I settled for writing those kinds of adventures instead. The thing that I hope to emulate from him is the sense of love in the depths of chaos.

That is a good thing to emulate. Speaking of love, I now have a very important question. We all have our special reasons for loving Mr. Darcy, what are your reasons?

The way he looks at Lizzy. Have you noticed? His heart is in his eyes. He would willingly do anything for her, sacrifice everything to make her happy. No ulterior motives, he just loves her. Even in the book you can tell he’s looking at her that way.
And then you can’t forget that lake scene in the six-hour version, plus the storm scene in the Keira Knightley one. Beautiful, beautiful man.

Thanks for featuring me on your site, Janet. I love it here!

I'm so happy to hear that. Thank you for being my guest. Your post was enjoyable and helped me and my readers get to know you better. I wish you much success with your book, Jane and Austen. It sounds delightful. I also found your answer to the last question quite touching.

The book blurb, author bio and links to Stephanie's books plus contact information are below. 


Meet Jane - an impractical, starry-eyed wedding planner, if love can't match what she's read in a book, she doesn't want it. And then there's Austen - a pragmatic, logical-to-a-fault financial consultant; even if he were interested in someone, he wouldn't know. Jane believes that if Austen could just experience a fairy tale romance, he would secretly love it. And Austen's pretty sure that if one of Jane's beloved heroes escaped from the pages of her dog-eared novels, she'd run and hide.

But when Jane's life turns upside down, the only one she can turn to is Austen; thought he's got his own troubles of the heart...and she's afraid that he's enjoying them more than he should. 

Author Bio:

Stephanie Fowers loves bringing stories to life, and depending on her latest madcap ideas will do it through written word, song and/or film. She absolutely adores Bollywood and bonnet movies; i.e., BBC (which she supposes includes non-bonnet movies Sherlock and Dr. Who). Presently, she lives in Salt Lake where she's living the life of the starving artist. Stephanie plans to bring more of her novels out to greet the light of day. BE sure to watch for her upcoming books, including YA fantasy, steampunk, science fiction, mysteries, a compilation of short twisted fairy tales, and more-many more-romantic comedies. All of them clean and all of them fun. May the adventures begin.

Jane and Austen (Hopeless romantics)
Clean, light and fun romantic comedy, PG

You may contact Stephanie Fowes at her website, blog, on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

Thank you again for being my guest today, Stephanie. It was great to have you. I hope you will visit again when some of these other novels 'greet the light of day'. I noticed you have others that have already done so!

Stephanie has very generously offered a $10 Amazon gift card for giveaway. The giveaway is available for gift cards from Amazon US and Amazon UK. Thank you so much, Stephanie! We want to hear your share in the conversation so leave a comment to be entered in the giveawayBe sure to include your email address in the comment. To prevent unwanted spam, put your email address with an (at) instead of @. Winners will be chosen in a random drawing. Giveaway ends at midnight on September 15, 2014. Good luck to all.