Tuesday, April 21, 2015

An Interview With Melanie Schertz

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

            After seeing the 2005 movie.  I was a late bloomer to becoming an Austen Addict.  After the movie, I read the book.  Then I started reaching out to the JAFF community.  I think my first book from the JAFF world was Linda Berdoll’s Mr Darcy Takes a Wife.  After that, I could not get enough.

What drove you to start writing your own books? Did you write other things before writing PnP variations?

            I have played around with writing all my life, though I kept it hidden, as my skills were not that great.  My mother and brothers did not know until after I published my first books, and Mom was shocked, to say the least.  My daughter, Caitlin, had read the rough of Storm Clouds when she was in high school.  She encouraged me to share the story and the others I had written.  Cate’s view on that book was that it was great until she read the sex scenes and realized “My mom wrote those sex scenes, uck”.  I have written other fan fiction (Harry Potter, Twilight), but they will not be posted anywhere.

Your daughter's reaction is too funny. I can just imagine as I am sure my son would have reacted in a similar manner. Do you have a muse that causes your story to lead you at times or do you use an outline and follow it religiously? What is your writing routine?

            A muse…well, I would call it more of an imp who is mischievous. I don’t use an outline and I allow my stories to follow whatever road they wish to travel.  I tried making an outline once, but the story went so far off on its own, when I looked at the outline, I began to wonder if it was even for the same story.  It is like the line from the movie “Divergent”, when Tris asks her mother what was wrong with her. Her mother said nothing, but her mind goes in so many different directs.  Mine is definitely divergent.  As to a routine, I write when the story is calling out to me to pull it from my mind and put it on paper.  And it is done while sitting on top of my bed, with TV or music playing in the background, and the animals trying to get my attention.  Chaos, and I love it.  At this moment, my grandpuppy, Chewie, thinks she needs to help me type. Darcy, my service dog, is infamous for thinking I should be loving him while I am working.  And my oldest cat, Smoo comes over to walk across the keys, “writing” what she thinks should be in the story.
Is there any setting that is more inspirational to you when writing?
            As before, I sit on top of my bed.  Has to be sounds going on, cannot work in peace and silence.  I will “watch” the same movie over and over, because the noise of it works well for background noise.  And my feline daughters, Darcy, and my grandpuppies attempt to assist me (and if you read what they wrote…).

I love it! (and I would be very interested in what your feline daughters, Darcy and the grandpuppies wrote too! Sounds like my kind of home) I digress, so...now back to your interview, what about the Regency era is appealing to you?

            I grew up with my grandparents, surrounded by antiques which my grandma would allow us to play with (as long as we were careful).  It was a different time, which was not as simple as we have things today.  You have an express rider rushing off to deliver news that is critical in the Regency period, where today, we would pick up the phone and call long distances to relay messages. I am also a born country girl, so I love the sort life which was enjoyed by Elizabeth Bennet taking her long walks about Longbourn. 

I am a country girl, too, Melanie, and I would not have it any other way. I understand you have a new book almost ready to release. Tell us something about it that you love most. (if you can without giving anything away)

            The book I am working on at the moment is The Bennet and Darcy Arrangement.  It starts with some lineage of the Darcy family which splinters off to have the Bennets being one of the branches on the Darcy family tree.  The first name given is Sir John Darcy.  Sir John Darcy was a real life baron, and I am actually a descendant of his.  So the intertwining of the families was what I wanted to play with this time.  And it is the first time I have kept Fitzwilliam Darcy’s father alive in the story. 

That sounds exciting...to be an actual descendant of Sir John Darcy. Wow! I would love to know more about that. This book sounds interesting and I will be looking forward to its release. Is there anything you have learned from writing that has helped you in your daily life?

            It has given me the courage to push myself further.  I am an introvert (many would find that strange, but I really am).  Writing, being involved with others through the writing, learning from others in the field, all have aided me in growing further than I would have ever believed possible.  I am so grateful for everyone who has entered my life due to this amazing field of JAFF.  You have all taken me on the ride of a lifetime.

Isn't it great! I have also met so many neat people through JAFF, including you! I am also very thankful. Is there anything special about yourself (besides what you just shared) or your writing that you would be willing to share with us?

            I am dyslexic, and self-taught to read (what they taught me in school was for “normal” kids, as dyslexia was not really known back then).  It was funny, the first time I really felt strong being a dyslexic was when I went to an advanced fingerprint identification class.  The instructor said at the beginning of the class that anyone who was dyslexic could not identify fingerprints.  I didn’t say anything, and accepted the packet of latent prints and inked print cards. It was one of the advanced packets, because I said I had done comparisons for years.  After finishing the packet, I took them to the instructor to grade. Had a perfect score on the group.  I looked at him and said, “Now you have met someone who is dyslexic who can do fingerprint comparisons.”  I do not like allowing “handicaps” stand in the way.

I would love to have been a fly on a wall and been witness to that. I bet his expression was priceless. Good for you! Do you have a modern day author that has inspired you? If yes, what was it about their writing that was an inspiration?

            I would have to say JK Rowlings.  I didn’t get into her books until about the time the 5th book of the Harry Potter series was released.  Her writing style is the sort I am able to read with no problems (some styles are very difficult for me to make my way through).  Once I began reading her books, I was an addict.  

Sadly, I have not read her books but have watched every movie that was made in the Harry Potter series. We anxiously waited for each new movie to be released. Ok, now for a very important question, we all have our special reasons for loving Mr. Darcy, what are your reasons?

            I have had 2 men I was involved with over the years, both of them bad, and have finally learned the difficult lesson of waiting for what is best for me, rather than settling just to have someone in my life.  I want a relationship where I am loved and cherished, as Darcy does Elizabeth.  I also love the character, because in many ways, I am like him.  I am misunderstood, as I keep myself pulled back in many ways.  And I have difficulties in large groups, fumbling about with my tongue trying to remember how to speak. 

I can identify with most of what you said above as I have had similar experiences. I am also very uncomfortable in a crowd.  If I know someone I have no trouble talking but otherwise I get all tongue tied and stumble on my words. I have always hated that about myself. It makes me more nervous and I do worse. On the opposite end of that, when I worked for Southwest Airlines, I could talk to anybody on the plane with no trouble at all. Weird, huh! (most I would never see again and that made some difference) Well, this was supposed to be about you, wasn't it! lol  

I am so glad that you visited today. It has been a pleasure getting to know you better. I hope you have much success with all your works and I hope you find you own Mr. Darcy someday. Wouldn't that be wonderful!

Here is the link to Melanie's author page on Amazon where you can find all of her books. 

Available on Amazon

Author Bio:

A retired crime scene/lab technician, Melanie now spends time reading Pride and Prejudice variations, making jewelry, and most importantly, spending time with her children and grandchildren. Her children include a daughter by birth, two daughters and a son by choice, and one canine & four feline daughters. She also has 3 grandchildren by choice. Has lived in the Salt Lake area of Utah for nearly 30 years, after being born and raised in central Illinois.

Adopted a handsome dog and cute little kitty in September of 2012, 2 days after receiving my first ever royalties check. Of course, the handsome puppy is Mr Darcy, and the kitty is Lizzy. Darcy is being trained as her service dog, as a mobility assistance dog.

Melanie has a Bachelor's degree in Criminalistics with a minor in Photography. 

Melanie was invited to post on DarcyandLizzy.com, and is now an author there. She is also a member of Austen Authors and can be found on Good reads as an author. Her blog is http://melschertz.com

Thank you again for being my guest. I hope you will come back soon for another visit. Melanie Schertz is generously giving away one eBook of her latest release, The Bennet and Darcy Arrangement, due out this week. It is international so please leave a comment with your contact info to be entered in the giveaway. Giveaway ends at midnight April 27th. Thank you, Melanie, for the giveaway for my readers and best wishes on this new release. By the way, I love the photo of you with your furry baby! :)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

How much of the author is reflected in her work

I am very pleased to be a part of the blog tour for A Peculiar Connection by Jan Hahn. Thanks to Jakki Leatherberry for setting up the tour and gathering all the media information for us and making it so easy. I appreciate your hard work, Jakki.

Dear readers, you are in for a treat with this post. As many of you know, Jan Hahn is a personal friend and as she mentions in her post, she is a private person.  Jan, I for one, enjoyed your post and was touched by your honesty in how much of you may be revealed in your books. I appreciate that you were willing to share those thoughts with us.  Thank you for being my guest today. It is  always a pleasure to have you visit.


How much of the author is reflected in her work?

Available at Amazon
Thank you, Janet, for participating in my blog tour and for inviting me to visit today.  I’m always happy to be your guest and to interact with your readers.  I also want to thank you publicly for the beautiful cover you designed for A Peculiar Connection.  It’s one of my favorites!

The title of this post has intrigued me for some time.  In this genre, writers use characters created by Jane Austen. I often wonder how much of Austen is reflected in her characterizations.  There have been some excellent books on the subject, and I will not address that topic today, but a similar question nags at me.  Can an author write a story without revealing some of him or herself?  Even though I make a conscious effort to remain true to Austen’s portrayals, how much of me seeps into my work?

I fear that I am quite unobservant if and when this happens.  A reader made this comment about my body of work: ‘I admire the consistency of a particular world view in your stories which always includes redemption and forgiveness.’  Until I read her remark, I had failed to even notice that pattern in my work.

Available at Amazon
My oldest daughter says I wrote The Secret Betrothal with a desire to “fix” Wickham because for a long time I attempted to “fix” my first love, which, incidentally, should never be attempted.  I’ve also been told that the strong protective nature I give to Mr. Darcy mirrors that of my darling husband.  Perhaps that’s why I always thought of him as my Mr. Darcy. 

Now, lest you wonder if the idea for A Peculiar Connection came about because I fell in love with my brother, let me relieve your minds at once.  Absolutely not!  The truth is I have no idea where the notion came from.  One day, it was just there.  That’s all I can say.  The struggle of Catholics in Regency England and Ireland plays a part in the story, but I am not Catholic.  I did have the benefit of a Catholic beta reader, and that was a definite advantage.  I consciously incorporated names of characters into the story from a BBC television series set in Ireland called Ballykissangel.  It was my own little love letter to the show.

A reader warned that one must read A Peculiar Connection with a box of tissues nearby.  I did not set out to write a sad novel, but I did write the book the year before my husband died.  Because of the wide difference in our ages, ours was a bittersweet love. It was fair to assume that I would most likely outlive him.  That knowledge made our time together much more precious, and the year I wrote this book I was aware of how quickly our love story was drawing to a close.  Among the blessings of our marriage―and there were many―was the fact that we did not take each other for granted.

So, to sum up this post, I fear I do not know the answer to my own question.  I’m a rather private person.  One thing I love about writing is the belief that I can hide behind my characters, but now…I’m not so sure. 

If you’re a writer, how would you answer this question?  Or if you’re a reader who knows certain writers well, have you been able to detect parts of them in their work?  


Book Blurb:

Will a mysterious note from the past doom the love of Jane Austen’s most beloved couple?

A Peculiar Connection begins near the close of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Bent on preventing the engagement of her nephew to Elizabeth Bennet, Lady Catherine de Bourgh declares that any union between Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth would be “a sin against Heaven itself!”  Her shocking revelation, along with a cryptic message written over twenty years earlier, thrusts the couple into a whirlwind of heartbreak and disbelief.

Could a deserted mansion in Derbyshire or a small church hidden in the wood hold the key to solving the puzzle?  And why is Elizabeth inexplicably drawn to the portrait of three young boys in Pemberley’s gallery?  

Determined to confirm or refute Lady Catherine’s accusation, Darcy and Elizabeth are forced to embark upon a twisted trail into bygone days and family secrets.  All the while, they must endure the exquisite torture of denying the indisputable desire that still hovers between them. 


Author Bio:
Jan Hahn is fascinated by Jane Austen, 19th Century England, and true love. A storyteller since childhood, she's written skits and plays for local organizations and owned a business recording, writing and publishing oral histories. Jan is a member of JASNA and began writing novels based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in 2002.
Jan's first novel, An Arranged Marriage, won the award for Best Indie book of 2011 from Austen Prose. The Journey, published in 2012, was selected by Austenprose as one of the Top Five Austen Inspired Historical Novels of 2012, and it won the Favorite Pride and Prejudice Variation/Alternate Path of 2012 award from Austenesque. Her latest book, The Secret Betrothal, was published in 2014.  Jan is currently working on Stolen Past.
Jan has five children, seven grandchildren, and is a native Texan. In her dream world, she lives in England in a place called Pemberley.


Author Links:



3/30: Review at Savvy Verse and Wit
3/31: Excerpt at Songs and Stories 
4/1: Guest Post & Giveaway at My Jane Austen Book Club 
4:2: Review at Babblings of a Bookworm
4/3: Author Interview at  The Little Munchkin Reader 
4/4: Review at Margie's Must Reads
4/5: Guest Post & Giveaway at My Love for Jane Austen 
4/7: Guest Post & Giveaway at More Agreeably Engaged 
4/8: Excerpt at Laughing with Lizzie 
4/9: Excerpt & Giveaway at So Little Time…
4/10: Review at Diary of an Eccentric
4/12: Review at The Delighted Reader 
4/13: Excerpt & Giveaway at Austenesque Reviews 
4/14: Guest Post & Giveaway at Babblings of a Bookworm
4/15: Review at Warmisunqu's Austen



What do you think, readers? Wasn't this an interesting look into how much of an author is reflected in her/his work? This was a rare glimpse into some of Jan Hahn's personal feelings and how those feelings may have influenced her writings. I found it to be both poignant and fascinating. Thank you again, Jan, for opening up to my readers. I wish you much success with A Peculiar Connection. On another note, I'm thrilled that you like the cover. It is one of my favorites but that it is also one of yours, makes it all the better!

Meryton Press is giving away one Trade Paperback of A Peculiar Connection and it is an international giveaway. Thank you Michele Reed. Please leave a comment below to be entered in the giveaway. Thank you for commenting and don't forget to include your email address for contact purposes should you be the winner. Giveaway ends at midnight April 13, 2015. 


Jan Hahn and I are hosting a giveaway for some very special soaps made just for A Peculiar Connection. Evie Cotton of Shirley's Handicrafts on Etsy created a Celtic duo of soaps in honor of Jan's book. I hope you will love them as much as we do. They have the nice clean scent of Irish Sea Fragrance. Each bar is made with olive oil and shea butter soap bases, activated charcoal, cocoa powder, liquid glycerin and gold dust. A Celtic cross of 22 karat gold plated pewter is attached to the ribbon of the brown and gold bar. We are giving away two sets of the duo and this giveaway is for US addresses only. In your comments, please leave US in the comment to be entered in the soap giveaway. Giveaway ending date is the same as the book giveaway. Good luck in all the giveaways.