Friday, July 31, 2015

Sweet Caresses...Sarah Johnson

Available at Amazon
Sarah Johnson visits today with an excerpt/letter from her latest release, Sweet Caresses. It is a compilation of short stories, some modern and some Regency and has some letters mixed in with the stories. This letter from Darcy to Georgiana was exactly what I would have imagined him writing when Elizabeth was staying at Netherfield with Jane. Miss Bingley, well, his thoughts on Miss Bingley and her interference would certainly make Georgiana grin and wince at the same time. I love it! Thank you Sarah Johnson for sharing.

Excerpt from Sweet Caresses – a letter written by Darcy to his sister Georgiana while he was staying at Netherfield Park.

* ~ * ~ *

Netherfield Park, Hertfordshire

October --, 1811

Dearest Georgie,

My greetings this time come not only from me, but also from the other residents of Netherfield. Bingley wishes to extend an invitation for you to visit as well. I have informed him that you insisted on returning to Pemberley and have given your excuses, but he still wishes me to make it known that you may certainly join us if it is your desire to do so.

I must also pass along regards from Miss Bingley. She has said twice since I began this letter how much she wishes me to inform you. It is now my intention to write of anything which shall distract me from the eyes that are constantly upon me while here at Netherfield. You know how I dislike the attention.

As you might have guessed, we have made many a call to the local neighborhood in the few weeks since my arrival. You already know of the assembly we attended, as I wrote of my dancing four times in my last letter. Bingley and I were able to attend a dinner with the neighborhood gentlemen as well as the militia that are quartered here for the winter, and we returned to find that Miss Bingley’s guest for supper was ill. A room was prepared and she has remained here these last few days to recover. Bingley is all excitement as it is the angel of which I wrote about before that has caught his attention.

What a shock it was the following morning when, despite the puddles left by the rain the previous evening, Miss Bennet’s younger sister, Miss Elizabeth, arrived on foot. Miss Bingley is still talking of the six inches of mud on Miss Elizabeth’s petticoats.  You should have seen Miss Bingley’s face when I said Miss Elizabeth’s features were only brightened by the exercise. I need not mention in too much detail how much like a codfish she may have looked.

Speaking of Miss Bingley, I have been asked to include how quite in raptures she is with your beautiful design for a table and that she thinks it infinitely superior to Miss Grantley’s table. I take it you have sent Miss Bingley a drawing of your project? Perhaps you could lend your artistic touch to the old table in the blue sitting room. It is full of scuffs and Mrs Reynolds has asked if I wish it to be sent out for repair. If you wish, you may inform her of my decision to let you paint it instead.

I apologize for my distraction in completing this letter. I place the blame on Miss Elizabeth as she has turned her teasing manner against Miss Bingley and it has been a pleasure to attend to the conversation the last few minutes. Now, however, it is time I retire, so I will continue my letter another time.


Once again we have had a pleasurable evening in the sitting room after supper.  I thought reading the book you sent to me would be distraction enough from Miss Bingley’s attentions, but instead it only made me the focus of her inept attempts at discussing what I read.

Now I must find more on which to write, otherwise I fear I may be expected to attend to every whim of my hostess. She has decided to take a turn about the room. This may be enough of a distraction for my hand to rest for a few moments without Miss Bingley’s constant insistence on mending my quill.
Miss Elizabeth is severe in her teasing. So much so that she reminds me, though maybe just a little, of our cousin. You know the colonel could never pass up an opportunity to raise my ire, but the manner in which he does so leaves me with less of a desirable outcome than Miss Elizabeth. I know you will wish to hear an example of her teasing, so here it is.

I said, “The wisest and the best of men, nay, the wisest and best of their actions, may be rendered ridiculous by a person whose first object in life is a joke.” Miss Elizabeth’s reply was, “Certainly, there are such people, but I hope I am not one of them. I hope I never ridicule what is wise or good. Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies do divert me, I own, and I laugh at them whenever I can. -- But these, I suppose, are precisely what you are without.”

It has given me quite the chuckle as I am certain she only teases to prove herself superior to Miss Bingley. It does not take much. As you can see from just this simple exchange, Miss Elizabeth has captured my attention with her teasing manner. Perhaps this is not something I should be speaking of to my little sister, but I cannot help but think of how changed our lives could be if, perhaps, we had someone like her in our family.

Nevertheless, it is time I retire for the evening. My objective in writing you this letter has been fulfilled in that it has kept Miss Bingley from constantly being at my side or wishing to speak of books she has not read. If only it could keep Bingley from his plans to have a ball. He is quite settled on sending around his cards as soon as the white soup has been prepared.

I await your return letter, knowing you will tell me of your own pleasures at Pemberley during this autumn season. Perhaps we should speak soon of our intentions for Christmas. Do you wish to remain there, or would you rather visit London?

Ever your brother,



What a fun and revealing letter from Darcy! I can only imagine what was going through Georgiana's mind as she read this letter. Wouldn't it have been diverting to have witnessed her reading of it?

Thank you for sharing the excerpt/letter with us Sarah. I am ready to continue with the rest of the story now! 


Sarah also has a book that was released June 10, 2015, Cupid's Traps: A Matchmaker's Tale. Be sure and check it out too.

Available at Amazon

The giveaway is for one eBook of Sweet Caresses and it is international. Leave a comment, along with your contact info, to be included. We would love to hear your 'share in the conversation'. What do you think of this letter? Giveaway ends at 11:59 PM 6 August, 2015. Winner should be aware that eBook will not be sent until after the 10th of August. Thank you and Good luck to all!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Inspired by Grace Cover 'Story' with Jeanna Ellsworth

Available at Amazon
Welcome back, Jeanna Ellsworth! It is so good to have you visit again and talk to us about your latest release, Inspired by Grace. This is the Ms. Ellsworth first book that is not JAFF but is time set in the Regency period. Her characters are interesting and well developed and the heroine is portrayed by her daughter, Paige, quite beautifully on the cover of the book. I especially enjoyed seeing the cover 'come to life'. 


Inspired by Grace Cover “story”

Thank you Janet for hosting me on your blog and allowing me the chance to talk about my latest release, Inspired by Grace, published in May. You are the second to last stop on the blog tour so I thought I would talk a little about the cover since you and many of your followers appreciate those kind of things. Here is the back cover intrigue to give you an idea of what the book is about:


“She was never the demure lady who was afraid of getting her petticoat dirty. He was never the calm and collected lad who coddled her. What had started as friendship had evolved into something quite tangible . . .”

A lady always hopes that the man she falls in love with will sweep her off her feet in a dramatic and graceful way. Well, for Grace Iverson, at least it was dramatic. Her childhood best friend, Gavin Kingston—now His Grace, the Duke of Huntsman—is still just as clumsy as ever.
Despite their painful separation as children, a chance encounter has offered them a second opportunity for happiness. But after ten years apart, they both carry hidden scars. Trust takes time. And soon, forces from the past threaten to destroy the love they both have hoped for all of their lives.
Can Grace’s best friend break down her emotional fortress and prove his love before she disappears from his life a second time?
This lovely Regency romance started well before either of them knew what they wished for in a partner; but it will surely be one that stands the test of time.

The main character, Grace, is based off my 18 year old daughter, Paige. We used to call her “Paige-ee” and she was too young to be able to say her nickname so she would call herself, “Gee-Gee”. This is one of the correlations in the book you will find because Grace is called Gigi as well. It was rather fun to think of my daughter and all her great qualities as well as her weaknesses that allowed me to make her character so human and lovable. But it was not hard to decide who I wanted to be on the cover!

My ideas for the cover started on I found a seamstress who could make a Regency dress for about $100.  I got to choose the fabric and everything. I went to Hobby Lobby and perused their fabric. I was particularly thinking of a certain scene that I had written, a ballroom scene, where she wore a blue gown.  I immediately found the perfect blue that would match her eyes and a cord for embellishments that would match the gown perfectly! I fell in love with the antique looking buttons for the back and once I sent her Paige’s measurements and the fabric, the lady shipped the dress back within a week! For those of you who are interested, here is the link to the dress seamstress:

The next step was finding a photographer and a venue. I was referred to Lauren Perry of Periwinkle photography by my best friend and she sent me examples of book covers she had shot and designed. As we talked, she quoted me a price that I could not pass up.  All my other covers had been original paintings, and therefore pricy, (but worth it!). I was quite nervous about using a photograph but took the risk anyway.  I told Lauren the type of book it was, a Regency Romance, and the color scheme I was hoping to have and she found a place called Garden Ward, which is a very old church in downtown Salt Lake City.

The next step was to figure out how to do her hair! Paige’s hair wasn’t particularly long, nor was it thick, and it was as straight as you can get. I called my good friend, Danny Johnson, who I knew had done several bride’s hair and asked her if she could do something. I made some hair accessories with my best friend Christy Barnson since she was an awesome beader. Then it was time to see Danny! She had researched on Pinterest and Youtube how people did hair back then and this is what we got. Amazing! I felt my insides flutter as I saw the hair go up strand by strand. (Paige was making a silly face in the photo).

We all met at Garden Ward and the photo shoot took all of 20 minutes but I could tell we were going to have some fantastic pictures to choose from. My daughter Paige took the shoot totally seriously and the final photo we chose captured the whole look of Grace like I could not explain! It was like Paige knew exactly how to look at the camera and the photographer knew exactly what Grace needed to portray.

When she sent me the first draft I was nearly giddy, as I have been with all my covers, but this time it was even more impressive. It was my daughter on the cover! I am always astounded at the artistic talent people have to capture what is in my head and bring it to life!

Here is the final draft of the photo we used.

Then Lauren went to work and played with the photo until we had this cover to present.

Available at Amazon

I really enjoyed seeing each of my covers come to life and each one holds a special place in my heart. But I am sure that you understand how this one is my favorite so far. All of those contributors made it spectacular!

Thank you again, Janet, for hosting me and letting me talk about my cover. I really appreciate being able to share the “cover story” with someone who truly understands how it works. I would like to say thank you to all you readers as well by giving away a copy of Inspired by Grace to one lucky commenter. All you have to do is comment on the blog or book or my writing and you are entered! The winner will get their choice of either a paperback (U.S. only) or an eBook (open internationally). Good luck in the giveaway!


Thank you, Jeanna Ellsworth, for the sharing how your cover came to be. It is an interesting process that covers and authors go through with the designer to get to that final product. Your cover is lovely, as is your daughter, and I am thrilled to hear how pleased you are with your photographer/designer. It was so good to have you visit my blog again and I hope you have as much success with this book as you have your books of JAFF. 

My readers will be happy with your giveaway and I thank you for hosting it. As Ms. Ellsworth stated, the giveaway is for one copy of Inspired by Grace with details in the paragraph above. Please leave your contact info in the comment so I may reach you should you be the winner. The giveaway will end at 11:59 PM, 3 August, 2015. Good luck to all of you!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Jenetta James and Suddenly Mrs. Darcy

Available at Amazon
Jenetta James is back for a visit and I could not be more pleased! We are talking about her book, Suddenly Mrs. Darcy,  (which is fantastic), her love of Jane Austen and a few other things you will find very interesting! She is also hosting a giveaway so be sure and check out the info at the end of the post. Now, please join me in welcoming the lovely Jenetta James.

Suddenly Mrs Darcy, which was published in April by Meryton Press is your first novel, can you tell me what inspired you to write it and what memories you have of the writing process?

I don’t really know what possessed me to write Suddenly Mrs Darcy but I am glad that something did. I had been reading a lot of JAFF, having discovered it during my second pregnancy and one morning the idea for the prologue just jumped into my head. I wrote that part, which is a little under 1000 words very quickly and then had to build the story up around it. It is quite a short novel – not short enough to be a novella, but it is definitely not a “door stop”. Some parts came quickly and some were harder, but I enjoyed writing it all. At the time, my 2 children napped at approximately the same time each morning so I would take them out in their buggy with my laptop in the shopping basket and as soon as they were both asleep I would rush to our local coffee shop and get typing. The staff found me a very funny daily visitor with my two (mostly) sleeping kids and my ever expanding book. Sometimes my younger baby would wake up and I’d have to nurse, holding him with one hand and typing with the other. People talk about children limiting work but I almost feel that mine helped me. I don’t think I would have written Suddenly Mrs Darcy without them.

The whole book is written in the first person – it is Elizabeth telling her “alternative story”. How do you feel about that now?

I loved writing exclusively from Elizabeth’s point of view and felt that it was right for Suddenly Mrs Darcy, but it was very intense. One of the main conceits of the book is that because she is effectively forced into matrimony very early on and at great speed, it fundamentally changes how Elizabeth is able to approach things. What I hope the reader sees is a battle between Elizabeth’s character and her circumstances, so it feels right to present that through her eyes. It felt very much as though I was in Elizabeth’s head and it is quite different from writing more neutrally in the third person. I guess that it is a bit like method acting, you really begin to feel that you are the character. It was a great experience and I’d like to do it again but I would also like to write stories told in a more conventional way.

Are you writing anything at the moment?

I am currently working on a second novel which is one part Pride and Prejudice sequel, one part contemporary romance. It is pretty early days and it doesn’t even have a title at the moment. Half of the action takes place in the 1820s and half in 2014 so my imagination has to do a lot of leaping around. There is a big challenge in pulling off two different periods and I hope that I’m up to it! I also have a lot of ideas floating around in my head for other stories, some historical, some contemporary. The big challenge is writing down the outline before it gets forgotten or morphs into another idea.

What got you interested in Jane Austen?

When I was about 12, my aunt gave me the complete works of Jane Austen but warned me not to read it until I was a bit older. She thought that although I might understand the romance, the social satire would likely wash over my head. She was right of course and I have enjoyed all of them as I have grown up. Persuasion is the most adult story and I don’t think I properly appreciated it until I was about 30 although I had read it several times before. I am showing my age here, but I was 13 when the BBC’s Pride & Prejudice was aired in the UK. It was very much what would now be called “water cooler” conversation – even amongst school children. Everyone was watching it and talking about it. A friend and I decided to try to read the book just ahead of the TV programmes. So, we would read a few chapters and then watch the episode. Inevitably we misjudged it a few times. Memorably we were completely shocked by the proposal at Hunsford because we had not quite reached that bit in the book.  Maybe that was a good thing though, I think we appreciated the splendid acting in that scene all the more for being surprised by it.

What makes you love Mr Darcy?

Well, who doesn’t love Mr Darcy? He is the ultimate romantic hero and every woman’s Mr Darcy reflects her own idea of the perfect man. It is like the character that Jane Austen created has been so influential in people’s minds, he has been spun into all kinds of permutations. But when I try to whittle it down and get back to the original, there are a few features that I focus in on. Firstly, I think Mr Darcy is much funnier than he is usually given credit for. He has a dry wit that makes him very attractive. Secondly – he has just the right balance of silence and meaning - he never says too much but when he does speak he says everything that needs to be said. Thirdly and maybe most obviously, he’s bold, passionate and gorgeous. Now who could ask for more than that?

Exactly! Who. Doesn't. Love. Mr. Darcy! Your thoughts on the last question are 'spot on'. His wit and his balance of silence and meaning are impressive things to bring to mind. I like that. The bold, passionate and gorgeous are just the icing on the cake! 

Author Bio:
Jenetta James is a lawyer, writer, mother 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 practises 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. Suddenly Mrs Darcy is her first novel.

Connect With Jenetta James:

Thanks so much for stopping by More Agreeably Engaged again, Ms. James. It had been a delight to chat with you and hear your ideas for future novels and your feelings on Jane Austen, Mr. Darcy and your writing style. Thank you for sharing with us a little bit of 'you'!

If any of you have not yet read Suddenly Mr. Darcy, may I encourage you to do so. It is not a book to be missed and I was much impressed with it and Jenetta James as an author. I will be posting a review in the not so distant future. In the meantime, Ms. James is giving away one paperback internationally to a randomly selected reader. Just leave your comment below along with your contact information so I may find you should you be the winner. The giveaway ends at 11:59 PM, 27 July, 2015. Good luck to all and thanks for visiting.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Yours by Design...Robin Helm

Available on Amazon
It is such a pleasure to have Robin Helm here at More Agreeably Engaged today. This is her first time to stop by and I am happy that she agreed to visit. Her latest series is the trilogy, Yours by Design. This series combines Pride & Prejudice with time travel, a bit of science fiction, fantasy and Christianity. That combination cannot be an easy task to accomplish in writing but evidently Ms. Helm has succeeded quite well. The third book, Forever Yours, has been released and it does sound so tempting. The reviewers are raving about it as well as the first two. Congratulations on your success and I look forward to the opportunity to read all three!


Thank you for letting me interview you, Robin. I appreciate your time and your answers. My first question is one I am always interested in discovering from authors of Jane Austen variations, retellings, and etc. How and when did your interest in Jane Austen and Pride & Prejudice take root?

I have always been an avid reader. My sister, Gayle, taught me to read when I was four years old, and I’ve had a book in my hand constantly since then. I used to hide in closets to read when I was a child, because I knew that if my mother found me, she’d have a job for me to do. There was always housework, yard work, or gardening to be done in a family of six children.
I discovered Austen when I was in high school. I read Pride and Prejudice first, but I soon read Emma, Persuasion, and Sense and Sensibility. Later, I read her other works, but Pride and Prejudice has always been my favorite. I’m a romantic at heart.

Pride and Prejudice is my favorite too. We readers just cannot seem to get enough and I, for one, am thankful for all you authors that love to give us more to read! What drove you to start writing your own books? Did you write other things before writing PnP variations?

For several years, I wrote a column for a local newspaper along with poetry. After I left teaching high school full-time seven years ago, I started looking for ways to fill my time and have an income. Gayle had been editing for several JAFF authors, and she introduced me to the genre. I started out as a beta for other authors, and after Gayle encouraged me to write, I discussed my plot ideas for my first book (and all following books) with her. The concept of Darcy as Elizabeth’s guardian angel captured my imagination and resulted in The Guardian Trilogy (Guardian, SoulFire, and Legacy). It combined my love of science fiction and fantasy with my love of Austen.
So far, all six books I’ve written have been PnP variations, but I will likely write another angel/demon book which will be non-Austen YA in the near future. I also have another PnP variation in mind – a “what if” novella.

That is neat that you and your sister share a love of Jane Austen. Jane lived in a world that fascinates many of us. What about the Regency era is appealing to you?

I like the manners and civility. I think having rules for how one must behave would make life much easier. I also like the manner of dancing. Everyone knows what they’re supposed to do. I wouldn’t care for the lack of indoor toilets, plumbing, electricity, technology, and air conditioning. Stays, corsets, and uncomfortable clothing would also cancel out any pleasure I might have in the behavioral rules. No jeans? No computers or cell phones? Bah! In short, I like to envision it and write about it, but the reality of it would keep me from enjoying living in those conditions.

We tend to forget those realities when we are living in the world of fiction. Those are some sobering thoughts. Will you tell us something about your newest book that you love most.

I love the idea of a time swap between modern Will Darcy and his Regency ancestor (who becomes his descendant). I also love the premise: Fitzwilliam never really changed. He was a different man altogether. Forever Yours is the third in the Yours by Design trilogy. The other books are Accidentally Yours and Sincerely Yours.

I am intrigued! Your premise sounds enticing as well. What have you learned from writing that has helped you in your daily life?

I’ve learned that doing what I enjoy is much more productive and fulfilling than doing what I don’t enjoy. I still teach – music two days a week at a local charter school as well as piano lessons at my church where I am Associate in Music and Music Academy Director.

You are a busy lady. It is amazing that you still find time to write! Is there anything special about yourself or your writing that you would be willing to share with us?

My greatest accomplishment is rearing two lovely, strong, intelligent daughters who aren’t afraid to follow their hearts wherever they lead. My elder daughter served as a Navy nurse for five years before marrying her Captain Wentworth (a Marine fighter pilot) and having a child (soon to be two) with him overseas. She published her own book, The Gifted, several years ago and is now working on a book featuring Anne de Bourgh’s daughter. My younger daughter just married her Mr. Darcy in June and will move across the U.S. with him at the end of August while he pursues his dream career. She is also writing a book – a fantasy. Hmmm . . . Maybe they’re just trying to get away from me. Nope. My husband wrote a book, and he’s still here.

Sounds to me that they just be following in the footsteps of there parents! What a compliment to you both. Do you have a modern day author that has inspired you? If yes, what was it about their writing that was an inspiration?

In my teens and twenties, I read all of Victoria Holt’s (Eleanor Hibbert’s) gothic romance novels, fascinated by a glimpse into that world. I discovered that she had eight pen names, each one specific to a certain genre, so I also read her historical fiction, published under Jean Plaidy, and her modern Philippa Carr books. She showed me that a writer can have different personas and write in different genres.
My attraction to Austen variations began primarily through the books of Pamela Aiden who wrote the Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman series.

I also read Victoria Holt and loved her novels. You taught me something today as I did not know that she wrote under different pen names. How interesting is that? I read and enjoyed Pamela Aiden's work too, and can see how those books would attract you to Austen variations. Since her books focused on Darcy, I now have a very important question for you. We all have our special reasons for loving Mr. Darcy, what are your reasons?

Quite simply, I love him because I think he would have loved me. I was (and am) an obstinate, headstrong girl very much like Elizabeth.

Fantastic answer to the last question, Robin Helm! I like that! I bet he would have loved you too. I am happy that I have had a chance to know you better from your answers to my questions. Thank you again for allowing me the opportunity to chat with you about your writing. I hope you have much continued success. I look forward to your next books. Please come back and visit anytime. 


Author Bio:

Robin Helm taught mainly high school English, Bible, and music for twenty-five years in Florida and South Carolina before she started to write her own books. She began by editing for other authors and publishing her own stories online on four different forums.

She is presently employed as the Associate of Music and Music Academy Director for her church, and she teaches private piano lessons and elementary school music classes.

Mrs. Helm is the author of a modern Austen variation fantasy fiction series, The Guardian Trilogy, which includes Guardian, SoulFire, and Legacy. She has also published the Yours by Design series, an Austen variation Regency/Modern Romance with a paranormal element. All three books of the series, Accidentally Yours, Sincerely Yours, and Forever Yours, are now available

She shares a blog, Jane Started It, with the other writers of the Crown Hill Writers' Guild, and is one of the founders and administrators of, a website for readers with common interests.

She has one husband, one granddaughter, two daughters, two sons-in-law, four family dogs, four part time jobs, and six published books


Connect with Robin Helm:

Blog, Jane Started It
Administrator of Beyond Austen (forum)
Amazon Author Page


Available on Amazon
Available on Amazon

Available on Amazon 


Now dear readers, there is a giveaway! YAY! Robin Helm's giveaway is very generous. One eBook will be given away internationally and either an eBook or paperback, winner's choice will be given away domestically. Also, the winner can choose any one of the books in the series! Isn't that great! Please let me know if you are international or US in your comments along with your contact information. If you are the randomly selected winner, you can then let us know which of the three you would like. Be sure and check out Amazon as I have it on good authority that the price of the first two books in the series has been temporarily lowered! :)  If you haven't already started these books, now would be an excellent time to begin. Now back to the will end at 11:59 PM on 22 July, 2015. Good luck to all and thank you again Robin Helm!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A Will of Iron...Linda Beutler

Available on Amazon
More Agreeably Engaged is the second stop on the Blog Tour for Linda Beutler's latest, A Will of Iron. Linda reveals quite an amusing take on her 'gestation of the plot bunny' for this novel. She leaves us much to ponder. Thank you, Linda, for popping in today!


Developing A Will of Iron: from plot bunny to outline
by Linda Beutler

There are two kinds of bunny that hatch out of an egg, the Easter Bunny, and plot bunnies. It was about halfway through the editing of my first novel, The Red Chrysanthemum, that the basis of A Will of Iron was expressed. As Meryton Press editor Gail Warner and I bantered about TRC, we talked about what might happen if Darcy came back to Rosings while Elizabeth was still at Hunsford. Both characters would still be smarting from the Hunsford Proposal. How soon would self-revelation set in?
            First, why would Darcy return—under what circumstances? A death in the family perhaps? Okay…that would indeed pull him back to Rosings, along with not just Colonel Fitzwilliam, but his entire family.
            If Darcy comes back for a funeral, who has died? The obvious choice is Anne de Bourgh, the ever-sickly cousin. In such circumstances, Elizabeth might be asked to extend her stay to assist Charlotte Collins with any burdens placed on the Hunsford vicarage by Lady Catherine.
            (The first scene written was a silent conversation between Darcy and Elizabeth, full of significant eye contact and mimed words, as they see each other across a room at the gathering at Rosings following Anne’s funeral.)
            Of course Anne is sickly, but why would she suddenly die?  Anything catching might carry off another character too, so that was out. Her malady had to be personal—or maybe not just personal, but perhaps an outright secret? Something scandalous, even? What about succumbing to complications of a pregnancy?
            It started to become clear that at least some portion of the story must be told from Anne’s point of view, but with her found dead in the first paragraph of Chapter One, how could this be managed? The opportunity to get deep into Anne’s head was best exploited if she kept a journal.
            (The prologue was the second thing written, consisting of Anne’s last journal entry the night before her death.)
            Why would Anne de Bourgh get pregnant? Ah…to escape her mother. Well I ask you, who wouldn’t search every avenue for respite from such a mother as Lady Catherine? Anne is an heiress, having come of age as defined by the terms of her father’s will at age 25,and ready to cut the cord, fly the nest, beat a hasty retreat. Oh my…those journals could be dynamite!
            (The delivery of the journals to Charlotte and Elizabeth was the third scene written.)
            [Now mind you, all of these musings are shared with my editor as we polish a much different story.]
            If Anne is pregnant when she dies, who was the sperm donor? It had to be someone pretty awful, if she thought carrying his child would buy her freedom from Lady Catherine. But what if Anne left a will? Her moral compass may be as skewed as her mother’s, but she would wish to secure her child’s future as the Rosings heir.
            (The reading of the will was the next scene completed.)
            Having read my other books, many More Agreeably Engaged readers will remember there is a wedding night at the end of my stories—I cannot escape including mature content, nor do I wish to. When three different scenarios for wedding nights intruded into my brain, I had to end the plot with three different couples to use the options. At first all three scenes, of three different couples at three different locations, appeared at first in the same chapter. Then Anne spoke to me from beyond the grave, explaining the need for two chapters to divide the focus properly between the first two wedding nights and the last.
            (Oh dear…the end was written much too soon, yet again. This is getting to be a regular habit!)
            The story took a dark turn, as stories based on a death do, but because it centers so heavily on Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and scrambling in her wake, the toady Mr. Collins, how could it not be a comedy? Perhaps an uncommonly dark mash-up of P & P with A Midsummer Night’s Dream?
            Suddenly there was too much written and not enough bridges between the pieces. Time for an outline, which saw bodies piling up, Anne’s will disrupting the socio-economic order of Jane Austen’s characters, and not a few ill-timed wounds from Cupid’s errant arrows. He has lousy aim.
            My editor describes A Will of Iron as a macabre romantic comedy. Much to my surprise, the outline revealed some interesting explanations for details left hanging in Pride and Prejudice. How did Sir Lewis de Bourgh die? Who exactly purchased Wickham’s commission in the ____shire militia? Is there some mutual consensus that keeps Darcy and his cousin Anne from marrying? Does “Richard” Fitzwilliam always have to be a “Dick”? If your best friend swoons at the suggestion, might he not be Colonel Alexander Fitzwilliam?
This last question I can answer truthfully without fear of spoilers. I have become so fond of the name Colonel Alexander Fitzwilliam—and JA never christened him—that he will remain with this name in all of my future stories.
Outlines are flexible documents, not meant to be written in stone. But they also serve as an often necessary guideline. For me, the outline additionally serves as the repository of perhaps-useful facts and snippets of dialogue, a think tank. In this regard, the AWOI outline worked better than most.

            I hope your readers will be intrigued and open-minded. This story is told with a peculiar voice. Thanks for this opportunity, Janet!


Thank you again, Linda Beutler, for including More Agreeably Engaged as part of your blog tour. I know it is a hectic schedule and I'm happy to have you here. I enjoyed you sharing your thoughts from plot bunny to outline. I am intrigued and open-minded as I feel sure these readers will be too. 

Colonel Alexander Fitzwilliam??? Tell me it isn't so! lol (yes, I know I said I would be open-minded) I had to laugh at your question about "Richard" Fitzwilliam. I will be looking now for Colonel Alexander Fitzwilliam in this and your future releases! :) I guess because we see him so much as a Richard that that is how I think of him. But then, I had never imagined him as a "Dick" either. (chuckling here) He is one of my favorite characters and I always like to see him well portrayed.

Below is the book blurb, buy link, author bio and blog tour schedule, for Linda's new release, A Will of Iron. There is also a giveaway of one eBook and it is open internationally, thanks to Meryton Press and Michele Reed. Please have your 'share in the conversation'. Maybe tell us what you think of the name change from Richard to Alexander for the dear Colonel. What did you think of Linda's revelation of plot bunny to outline? So many questions she posed. I guess one must read the book to find the answers. 'What say you'? As always, please leave your contact information so we may tell you if you are the winner of this book. The giveaway will end at 11:58 P.M. on 13 July, 2015. Good luck to all! Please be aware that the book from the giveaway will not be sent out until about two weeks after the blog tour ends. Keep that in mind if you are the winner. Thanks!

Book Blurb:

The untimely death of Anne de Bourgh, only days after his disastrous proposal at the Hunsford parsonage, draws Fitzwilliam Darcy and his cousin Colonel Alexander Fitzwilliam back to Rosings Park before Elizabeth Bennet has left the neighborhood. In death, Anne is revealed as having lived a rich life of the mind, plotting rather constantly to escape her loathsome mother, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Anne’s journal, spirited into the hands of Charlotte Collins and Elizabeth, holds Anne’s candid observations on life and her family. It also explains her final quirky means of outwitting her mother. Anne’s Last Will and Testament, with its peculiar bequests, upheaves every relationship amongst the Bennets, Darcys, Fitzwilliams, Collinses, and even the Bingleys! Was Anne de Bourgh a shrewder judge of character than Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy combined?

Buy Link:

Author Bio:

Linda Beutler is an Oregon native who began writing professionally in 1996 (meaning that is when they started paying her...), in the field of garden writing. First published in magazines, Linda graduated to book authorship in 2004 with the publication of Gardening With Clematis (2004, Timber Press). In 2007 Timber Press presented her second title, Garden to Vase, a partnership with garden photographer Allan Mandell. In 2013 Linda began working with a new publisher, and writing in a completely different direction. Funny how life works out, but more on that in a minute.

Linda lives the gardening life: she is a part-time instructor in the horticulture department at Clackamas Community College, writes and lectures about gardening topics throughout the USA, and is traveling the world through her active participation in the International Clematis Society, of which she is the current president. Then there's that dream job--which she is sure everyone else must covet but which she alone has--Linda Beutler is the curator of the Rogerson Clematis Collection, which is located at Luscher Farm, a farm/park maintained by the city of Lake Oswego. They say to keep resumes brief, but Linda considers Garden With Clematis (Timber Press, 2004) her 72,000 word resume. She signed on as curator to North America's most comprehensive and publicly accessible collection of the genus clematis in July 2007, and they will no doubt not get shut of her until she can be carried out in a pine box.

And now for something completely different: in September 2011, Linda checked out a book of Jane Austen fan fiction from her local library, and was, to put it in the modern British vernacular, gob smacked. After devouring every title she could get her hands on, she quite arrogantly decided that, in some cases, she could do better, and began writing her own expansions and variations of Pride and Prejudice. The will to publish became too tempting, and after viewing the welcoming Meryton Press website, she printed out the first three chapters of her book, and out it went, a child before the firing squad. Luckily, the discerning editors at Meryton Press saved the child from slaughter, and Linda's first work of Jane Austen-esque fiction, The Red Chrysanthemum, was ready for publication in September 2013.

Linda shares a small garden in Southeast Portland with her husband, and pets that function as surrogate children. Her personal collection of clematis numbers something around 230 taxa. These are also surrogate children, and just as badly behaved.

Blog Tour Schedule:

7/6: Review at Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell 
7/7: Guest Post & Giveaway at More Agreeably Engaged
7/9: Review at Wings of Paper
7/10: Guest Post & Giveaway at So Little Time… 
7/11: Review at Half Agony, Half Hope
7/12: Excerpt & Giveaway at My Jane Austen Book Club 
7/13: Review at Songs & Stories
7/14: Review at Austenprose
7/15: Guest Post & Giveaway at Babblings of a Bookworm 
7/16: Review at Margie's Must Reads
7/17: Excerpt & Giveaway at Best Sellers and Best Stellars 
7/18: Guest Post & Giveaway at My Love for Jane Austen 
7/19: Excerpt & Giveaway at The Calico Critic 
7/20: Review at Diary of an Eccentric

Thank you again, Linda Beutler, Meryton Press and Jakki Leatherberry! Best wishes for the release and the blog tour. I hope everyone will take time to stop by all these fabulous blogs and check out the offerings.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

And the winners are...

Congratulations to the winners of some fabulous paperbacks and eBooks. I have the winners for the books of the last three guest spots. I will start with the most recent and go back to the earlier post this time! Thank you to Regina Jeffers, Victoria Kincaid and Maria Grace for being my guests and having these giveaways. 

The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy's Cousin by Regina Jeffers
2 eBooks:

Sophia Rose

Pride & Proposals by Victoria Kincaid
1 paperback

MaryAnn Nagy

Mistaking Her Character by Maria Grace
1 eBook

Jennie Colleen561

Again I want to congratulate the winners and thank you for your support of my blog. It is always a pleasure to hear your 'share in the conversation'!