Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Tis the Season for Swag: Giveaways Galore Winners Announced!

Merry Christmas fellow Janeites! I know most of you are impossibly busy making this all too short day the best it can be, so I will save my own rhapsodies for another occasion. Let's get on to business! The winners of Giveaways Galore 1 through 5 are:

Giveaways Galore 1:
Sass & Serendipity by Jennifer Ziegler
Winner - Tiffany

Emma & Knightley: Perfect Happiness in Highbury by Rachel Billington
Winner - redrose15*
Giveaways Galore 2:  
The Dashwood Sisters Tell All by Beth Pattillo
Winner - MonicaP
Miss Bennet & Mr. Bingley by Fanella J. Miller
Winner - susied*

Giveaways Galore 3:
Memory Volumes One, Two, and Three by Linda Wells 
Winner - Laura Ferrari

Giveaways Galore 4:
Perfect Fit by Linda Wells
Winner - Meredith* 
Mistress of Pemberley by Isobel Scott Moffat 
Winner - susied

Regarding Giveaways Galore 5 and 6 -
I'm going to go ahead and assume that it was the Christmas season and accompanying madness that prevented anyone from entering the last twp giveaways, particularly number 6, as it is impossible Mr. Darcy is so unpopular. I have therefore decided to extend these last two giveaways through the end of the year. You can click on the links below to enter to win the books and two more sets of cards.

Giveaways Galore 5:
The Darcys & the Bingleys and The Plight of the Darcy Brothers by Marsha Altman
The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathlene Schine
Derbyshire by Marie Hogstrom 

Giveaways Galore 6:
Darcy's Story by Janet Aylmer
Mr. Darcy's Diary by Amanda Grange  
Mr. Darcy's Diary by Maya Slater
The Confession of Fitzwilliam Darcy by Mary Street 

Winners: if there is a star by your name, you also won the greeting cards on offer for your day. Look for emails requesting your mailing addresses so you can claim your prizes.

 Congratulations to all the winners, Merry Christmas to everyone, and a very happy New Year!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Tis the Season for Swag: Giveaways Galore 6

Giveaways Galore Guidelines: To enter, please leave your email address in a comment on the giveaway in which you are interested (you may enter as many as you want), including the name of the book in which you are interested. This giveaway is only open to US residents, I'm sorry to say. All giveaways are open until Christmas, winners being announced on 12/25. In those giveaways featuring greeting cards, the recipient of said cards will be selected amongst the winners.

I can hardly believe we have already come to the bottom of my pile of books, and Christmas is only three days away! I think I've saved a good one for the last giveaway, having a theme for the three final books on offer. It's a poll and party - a Mr. Darcy party! Which of these four classic takes on Darcy is your favorite? Enter to win, or vote in the sidebar, or both!

Darcy's Story by Janet Aylmer  

When Elizabeth Bennet first met Mr. Darcy, she found him proud, distant, and rude—despite the other ladies' admiration of his estate in Derbyshire and ten thousand pounds a year. But what was Mr. Darcy thinking?

Jane Austen's classic Pride and Prejudice has long stood among the most beloved novels of all time. The story of Elizabeth Bennet's blossoming romance with "haughty, reserved, and fastidious" Fitzwilliam Darcy has enchanted readers for nearly two centuries. Yet, Mr. Darcy has always remained an intriguing enigma—his thoughts, feelings, and motivations hidden behind a cold, impenetrable exterior . . . until now.

With the utmost respect for Austen's original masterwork, author Janet Aylmer loving retells Pride and Prejudice from a bold new perspective: seeing events as they transpire through the eyes of Darcy himself. One of world's great love stories takes on breathtaking new life, and one of fiction's greatest romantic heroes becomes even more sympathetic, compelling, attractive, and accessible, all through the imagination and artistry of a truly gifted storyteller. 

Mr. Darcy's Diary by Amanda Grange

Monday 9th September

"I left London today and met Bingley at Netherfield Park. I had forgotten what good company he is; always ready to be pleased and always cheerful. After my difficult summer, it is good to be with him again. ..."

The only place Darcy could share his innermost feelings was in the private pages of his diary... 

Torn between his sense of duty to his family name and his growing passion for Elizabeth Bennet, all he can do is struggle not to fall in love.

Mr. Darcy's Diary presents the story of the unlikely courtship of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy from Darcy's point of view. This graceful imagining and sequel to Pride and Prejudice explains Darcy's moodiness and the difficulties of his reluctant relationship as he struggles to avoid falling in love with Miss Bennet. Though seemingly stiff and stubborn at times, Darcy's words prove him also to be quite devoted and endearing - qualities that eventually win over Miss Bennet's heart. This continuation of a classic romantic novel is charming and elegant, much like Darcy himself.
Pride and Prejudice has inspired a large number of modern day sequels, the most successful of which focus on the rich, proud Mr. Darcy. 

Mr. Darcy's Diary by Maya Slater

(This is the Orion Books publication of the book later renamed The Private Diary of Mr. Darcy)

Literature’s most famous romantic hero opens his diary: it’s intimate, dramatic, deeply passionate, and sometimes downright shocking.

Have you ever wondered what Mr. Darcy was really thinking? Find out his secrets in this captivating novel of love, pride, passion, and, of course, prejudice. Mr. Darcy’s intimate diary reveals his entanglements with women, his dangerous friendship with Lord Byron, his daily life in Georgian London, his mercurial mood swings calmed only by fisticuffs at Jackson’s—and, most importantly, his vain struggle to conquer his longing for Elizabeth Bennet.

The Confession of Fitzwilliam Darcy by Mary Street

Originally published in the U.K., Mary Street's ingenious retelling of Jane Austen's classic story now makes its U.S. debut-to the delight of the fans of Austen's comic masterpiece of divine romance. In Fitzwilliam Darcy, Austen created the ultimate romantic hero. Yet Pride and Prejudice reveals little of Darcy's innermost thoughts. Here, Street unveils the true motives and mysteries of Elizabeth Bennet's enigmatic suitor. Through Darcy's eyes we discover the reality of his relationships with his sister Georgiana, his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam, the dastardly Wickham, his friend Bingley, and his formidable aunt, Lady Catherine. And of course, all his memorable encounters with Elizabeth, from that first view of her fine eyes to his disastrous proposal, and then to a pride and arrogance tempered by an unquenchable love.

I admit to feeling some pain in giving up these beloved volumes as well as intentionally withholding Pamela Aiden's novels form the list, for her Darcy is my favorite, and I cannot bear to part with him, but I included him in the poll regardless. I'm looking forward to seeing who wins. As usual, the winners will compete to win the following set of Austen-inspired greeting cards: 

To receive so flattering an invitation! ...  so warmly solicited!
It was a delightful visit; perfect, in being much too short.
"Ha! Is it you? Thank you ... This is treating me like a friend."
"Do you not know that such a report is spread abroad?"
Best of luck to all the entrants. Don't forget all the giveaways will be open through Christmas Eve, and that you may enter as many as you like, as long as you leave your email address and have a North American mailing address. Merry Christmas!

Giveaways Galore 1: 
Sass & Serendipity by Jennifer Ziegler
Emma & Knightley: Perfect Happiness in Highbury by Rachel Billington 

Giveaways Galore 2:
The Dashwood Sisters Tell All by Beth Pattillo
Miss Bennet & Mr. Bingley by Fanella J. Miller

Giveaways Galore 3:

Memory Volumes One, Two, and Three by Linda Wells 

Giveaways Galore 4:
Perfect Fit by Linda Wells 
Mistress of Pemberley by Isobel Scott Moffat 

Giveaways Galore 5:
The Darcys & the Bingleys and The Plight of the Darcy Brothers by Marsha Altman
The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathlene Schine
Derbyshire by Marie Hogstrom 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

"Twas the night before Christmas, when all through Pemberley ..."

Some of you may remember the adaptation of "The Gift of the Magi" I wrote for the holidays two years ago (read "The Darcy's Gift" here). Here is something in the same vein for your season amusement. Clement Moore, like Miss Austen and Mr. O'Henry before him, will forgive the liberty, I am sure.

I also thought to use the occasion to unveil the cover design for the novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo. Holidays at Pemberley: A Tale of Less Pride and Prejudice Concludes spans from the end of First Impressions, through the course of Second Glances, and wraps up the story of my re-imagined Darcys and Bingleys.The action, as you may guess from the title, is centered around the Christmas holidays, when Charlotte Lucas, the heroine, visits Pemberley. Look for it this time next year. I am sorry that it looks like Second Glances will not make its debut until January. Stay posted for more information as I receive it.

The following tale should in no way be mistaken as a reference to or reflective of my novels, despite my opportunistic promotion of the latter. Enjoy!

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through Pemberley
The people were engaged in seasonal festivity.
Each hall bedecked in evergreen boughs
Muffling the echoes of footsteps oft loud.

The fires roared in joyous determination
To add to the momentous occasion,
And as for stockings from the mantels hung there
They might just get singed if no one took care.

How fortunate then for these halls reputed
To have by Bennets been thusly polluted,
That the matron of this slandered clan
Should be standing by, ready at hand. 

For action swiftly must be taken
Against an addition most mistaken,
No time to summon a footman here.
In just a moment the Darcys may appear.

No matter that the table was tall,
Nor Mr. Bennet predicting her certain fall, 
The situation must be rectified.
She could not patiently sit by.

Upon the table she determined to mount,
Decrying the servants, "Could they not count?
Why should they hang up stockings four,
When only three Darcys are here anymore?"

Her sad words were undeniably true,
For children the house was now one too few.
The baby who last year brought joy to their fireside
 Was now but a memory - a dream of eventide.

Beside Mr. Bennet, the young master stood sage,
A sturdy young man far too old for his age.
To contradict Granddad would be horribly rude,
But Grandmother's actions he wholly approved.

For it would not do to remind Mama again
Of the sweet little sister whose loss brought such pain
To his once happy family, especially his mother,
Whom he loved above and beyond any other.

The morning all had enjoyed a ride in the sleigh,
And the gathering of greenery, wherever it lay,
But though she had smiled, acting as if all were well,
Something troubled Mama. He could always tell.

"There!" cried Mrs. Bennet, flourishing her trophy,
But just at that moment, in walked Mrs. Darcy.
She looked up at her mother, perched shakily on high,
Her son studying closely, to see if she should cry.

When all of a sudden there rose such a clatter
That all felt alarm to see what was the matter.
 It was with relief they were able to discern
That Elizabeth was laughing, her face far from forlorn.

"Mama! Please tell me what on Earth you are doing,
Besides spoiling the surprise Fitzwilliam and I have been brewing."
She helped her mother step down to a chair.
"I said not to meddle," Mr. Bennet declared.

Mr. Darcy came in, and perceiving the scene,
He glanced to his wife and saw her eyes beam.
Both mother and father took their son by a hand,
And made such announcements as must always be grand. 

The springtime would see the birth of a new child.
A fitting event for a season so mild.
The wise little man knew not what to do,
But to ask once again, "Can this really be true?"

Upon much assurance he allowed himself to feel
That their trials were over: that now they might heal.
And throwing his arms round her neck oh so tight,
"Happy Christmas," he lisped, "the best of all nights!"

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tis The Season for Swag: Giveaways Galore 5

Giveaways Galore Guidelines: To enter, please leave your email address in a comment on the giveaway in which you are interested (you may enter as many as you want), including the name of the book in which you are interested. This giveaway is only open to US residents, I'm sorry to say. All giveaways are open until Christmas, winners being announced on 12/25. In those giveaways featuring greeting cards, the recipient of said cards will be selected amongst the winners.

Four novels on offer today: loved by me but ready to bring new joys to you. Blurbs are taken from Amazon. One lucky winner will win both of the first two novels:

The Darcys & Bingleys and The Plight of the Darcy Brothers by Marsha Altman

The former:
A Tale of Two Gentlemen's Marriages to Two Most Devoted Sisters

Three days before their double wedding, Charles Bingley is desperate to have a word with his dear friend Fitzwilliam Darcy, seeking advice of a most delicate nature. Bingley is shocked when Darcy gives him a copy of an ancient, illustrated book of sensual secrets-but it does tell him everything he needs to know.

Eventually, of course, Jane finds this remarkable volume and in utmost secrecy shows it to her dear sister Elizabeth, who goes searching for a copy in the Pemberley library...

By turns hilarious and sweet, The Darcys & the Bingleys follows the two couples and the cast of characters surrounding them. Miss Caroline Bingley, it turns out, has such good reasons for being the way she is that the reader can't help but hold her in charity. Delightfully, she makes a most eligible match, and in spite of Darcy's abhorrence of being asked for advice, he and Bingley have a most 

And the latter:
In this lively second installment, the Darcys and Bingleys are plunged into married life and its many accompanying challenges presented by family and friends.

With Jane and Elizabeth away, Darcy and Bingley take on the daunting task of managing their two-year- old children. Mary Bennet returns from the Continent pregnant by an Italian student promised to the church; Darcy and Elizabeth travel to find the father, and discover previously unknown—and shocking—Darcy relations. By the time Darcy discovers that there's more than one sibling of questionable birth in the family, the ever-dastardly Wickham arrives on the scene to try to seize the Darcy fortune once and for all.
The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathlene Schine
(read my review here)

Betty Weissmann has just been dumped by her husband of forty-eight years. Exiled from her elegant New York apartment by her husband’s mistress, she and her two middle-aged daughters, Miranda and Annie, regroup in a run-down Westport, Connecticut, beach cottage. In Schine’s playful and devoted homage to Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, the impulsive sister is Miranda, a literary agent entangled in a series of scandals, and the more pragmatic sister is Annie, a library director, who feels compelled to move in and watch over her capricious mother and sister. Schine’s witty, wonderful novel “is simply full of pleasure: the pleasure of reading, the pleasure of Austen, and the pleasure that the characters so rightly and humorously pursue….An absolute triumph” (The Cleveland Plain Dealer). 

Derbyshire by Marie Hogstrom

As the wife of Mr Darcy, Elizabeth realises that some of the closeness that formerly existed between her and Jane is now present between man and wife. But there are some things she cannot confide even to her husband. Bound by a vow of silence, as well as unsure of her own reactions, Elizabeth is forced to judge the events she becomes a witness to alone. Who is the beautiful Miss Byron, whose presence awakens Darcy’s joy at the same time as he is unwilling to reveal his relationship to this lady? How tolerant is the social sphere that Elizabeth has married into towards a woman who falls in love with a man far below her station? How will the woman’s brother react if he fears that the man in question is another gold-digger with his eyes set on her fortune? What does one say to a friend who has entered into a marriage of convenience, when she suddenly experiences what the force of passion makes a human being capable of?
Each of the winners will be entered in a second drawing, the winner of which will also receive a set of the following Christmas cards, made by myself, on unbleached paper:

Will you come & spend some time at Cleveland this Christmas?
... your Christmas in Hertfordshire may abound in the gaieties ...
These kind of things are very well at Christmas
Is it the Christmas gaieties he is staying for?
You are all to come to Pemberley this Christmas

Good luck to all the entrants, and be sure to check out the other giveaways. remember, you can enter as many as you want. Merry Christmas!

Giveaways Galore 1: 
Sass & Serendipity by Jennifer Ziegler
Emma & Knightley: Perfect Happiness in Highbury by Rachel Billington 

Giveaways Galore 2:
The Dashwood Sisters Tell All by Beth Pattillo
Miss Bennet & Mr. Bingley by Fanella J. Miller

Giveaways Galore 3:

Memory Volumes One, Two, and Three by Linda Wells 

Giveaways Galore 4:
Perfect Fit by Linda Wells 
Mistress of Pemberley by Isobel Scott Moffat 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Mixed Up Mashup: In the Kitchen


Introduction / In the Rose Garden / Tea with George / The Ladies at Longbourn / Finding Hunsford / Somewhere Over Surrey / An Awkward Business

Too much cannot be said of Mrs. Hodge at such a moment. Though the cares of a shifting reality lay just as heavily on her shoulders as on those belonging to the assembled company in Donwell's best drawing room, the latter did not need to concern themselves with how to procure sustenance for such a crush, including no less than two baronets, when the butcher has disappeared.

The nightmare began that morning when William Larkins burst into her office demanding whether or not she knew the world had been turned upside down. She did not, and a quick assessment from her window proved that the world was very well right side up, which she told him, though how to account for the familiar sight of Hartfield, looking anything but ordinary sitting no more than fifty yards distant, just as if it had always been so close, she did not know. "And how is a man expected to get anything done on an estate which had mostly vanished?" he inquired. Again, answers were unavailable, resulting in the rousing of Mr. Knightley, an audience for his complaints far more satisfying than Mrs. Hodge. Though Mr. Knightley was no more able than his housekeeper to address William Larkin's concerns, speaking with the master made him feel as if he were doing something.  The two men went outside to inspect the situation, while Mrs. Hodge set about the none too easy task of calming the alarmed servants. Before she could convince them to take up their customary duties, she found herself beset by the arrival of an angry crowd of discommoded gentry. The maids no longer had anytime to cry over the end of the world, for the ladies needs must be met, and refreshments must be prepared.

A moment of true panic came when Miss Woodhouse, no doubt meaning to be helpful, called upon Mrs. Hodge to join her in a survey of the pantry. Though flattered by the lady's praise of her arrangements, and while the dishes she suggested be prepared were very reasonable and showed a great deal of good taste, Miss Woodhosue seemed totally unaware that with the disappearance of the farm, and with no hide nor hair of Highbury to be seen, there was almost no meat to be found. When Mrs. Hodge attempted to voice her concerns, they were airily dismissed. "Under such circumstance, Mrs. Hodge, everyone can certainly make do with a light repast. They will all have born worse fare. Some of the most exclusive assemblies in town are known to offer only scant refreshment. I have no doubt Lady Catherine and Miss Elliot have attended Almacks, but to ask them such a question," she laughed, "would only earn them my disdain, and I dare not afford them such ready bait."

"But Miss Woodhouse, how many must be fed?"

"I think we are about twenty now, but there may be more," she said reflectively. "I am sure we will make do very well," and she left Mrs. Hodges to the more stark realities of their circumstances.

The dairy and poultry yard were still existent, a great relief to all at Donwell concerned with the making and procurement of food, and the men were able to shoot a few birds, but as the evening drew nearer, and the world had still not returned to normal, Mrs. Hodge became desperate. The numbers of  hungry ladies and gentleman continued to swell upstairs until near sixty were assembled, and while the dining room at Donwell could accommodate so many, it had not been called on to do so in the past forty years. As footmen began calling, bearing bandboxes and portmanteaus containing evening dress for their masters and mistresses, it was becoming increasingly clear to the harried housekeeper that a disaster of epic proportions was close at hand. Unwilling to completely empty her storeroom, not knowing how she would feed the household tomorrow if she did, every extra hand available was employed in quickly assembling as extensive a meal as the circumstances allowed, while the rest of the staff, idle workmen included, struggled to prepare quarters to serve as dressing rooms for the guests.

Mrs. Hodge troubles were unnecessarily increased by one of the gentleman - a querulous baronet by the name of Sir Walter Elliot - who seemed to require just as much or even more care than the most demanding of the gentler sex. Her patience in listening to his derision of the footman who had been ordered to assist Sir Walter, Mr. Knightly not keeping a man of his own, was an act of rare fortitude, draining the poor woman of almost every last ounce of energy yet remaining. When she fortified herself enough to enter the kitchen and gauge the progress being made there, she was almost entirely undone by the sight of a most unusual woman - genteel or not she could not tell - laughing bemusedly as she pulled several bizarre packages from a large bag, all made of some unrecognizable material, to the attentive audience of the entire kitchen staff. Upon spotting Mrs. Hodge, she abandoned her display to grasp the lady's hand familiarly, exclaiming in unusual accents: "And you must be Mrs. Hodge! To forgive me for the inexcusable predicament I have thrust you into. I had no notion of all the trouble I would cause, let alone that there might be any need for the practical necessities of daily life to be considered. I have nothing but my own ignorance to excuse me, which is rather shabby, don't you think?"

Finding herself expected to reply, Mrs. Hodges managed to murmur an ascent.

"I am doing my best to ease any difficulties until we can sort the whole fiasco out. You must let me know your needs, and I will see to them as best I can. I was fairly certain that Donwell was unlikely to be prepared for such a crowd as you are entertaining tonight, as I imagine Mr. Knightly usually entertains but seldom, and so went to the supermarket on your behalf. I know the plastic is strange to your eyes, but I assure oyu it is perfectly safe. Here are several roasts, all trimmed and ready for cooking. These are chicken breasts. As I was just explain to "Cook", as I understand she is called, that the bones have already been removed. Really rather inexcusable of Austen, is it not Mrs. Hodge, to have paid so little to head to the serving classes? You should be thankful for your name. That is a turkey. You will be unable to prepare it, I am afraid, for several days, for it is frozen. I do hope the rest it is enough to feed your guests. I know they will be expecting a great deal of protein. Had I though tofu might suffice, I would have brought you pounds of the stuff." 


"It's a bean curd product. Very nutritious, but no substitute for English mutton," she laughed. 

Mrs. Hodge tried to join in, but her failed smile was little more than awkward. Fortunately, the lady did not seem to mind.

"I think I can get a bushel of crabs tomorrow. No packaging, so they will appear just like you epect. Would that be satisfactory Cook?"

"Yes, ma'am. The master likes a buttered crab very well."

"Good. How I'm to sustain the grocery bill, I have no idea, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it."

Mrs. Hodge, in spite of her troubles, was too thankful to anyone, no matter how strange, who was so willing to assist in overcoming the seemingly insurmountable obstacle of food preparation when there was no food to be found, without expressing her sincere gratitude. No matter if it came wrapped in strange film, compensation must be addressed, but the lady dismissed it, insisting that she would return later that evening to speak with the company upstairs, and instructing Mrs. Hodge to let Mr. Knightley know to expect her. It was only then that Mrs. Hodge thought to ask for her card. Again, she laughed inexplicably, exclaiming that she did not have one, but assuring the housekeeper that Mr. Knigtley would be happy to receive her, and causally informing the housekeeper of her name, just as if such a form of introduction was perfectly unexceptional, and departed.

"I'm grateful to the lady, no doubt of it, Mrs. Hodge," said the cook, after the door had closed behind her, "but I don't know why anyone would kill so many chickens and only cook the breasts. It makes one think the rest of 'em must still be running about somewhere."

Mrs. Hodge had no time to dwell on the implication of mutilated chickens. Seeing everyone go back to their work, she sought Mr. Knightley, only recently returned, and shared with him her tale of unexpected bounty.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Tis the Season for Swag: Giveaways Galore 4

I'm going to state the rules upfront this time, to make sure there is no confusion. To enter, please leave your email address in a comment on the giveaway in which you are interested (you may enter as many as you want), including the name of the book in which you are interested. This giveaway is only open to US residents, I'm sorry to say. All giveaways are open until Christmas, winners being announced on 12/25. In those giveaways featuring greeting cards, the recipient of said cards will be selected amongst the winners.

Now that that is out of the way, and I hope said perfectly clearly, let's chat about "said cards". It occurred to me, as I glued together the most recent batch, that the images I'm posting do not well explain how the cards are constructed. In case anyone might be interested, I am making the cards out of cards stock cut with the aid of stencils. I have been very fortunate to find many cute Christmas stencils for free at www.fashion-era.com, several of which I have used in my Austen cards. I cut the paper and glue it on the cards, which I have used the simple expedient of the household printer to emblazon with Austen's witticisms. It's a humbling hobby, but one which is all the rage witrh me at the moment. Here are images of the set just completed. Only four cards this time, and just general greetings, rather than the Christmas cards I've been offering thus far. As I explained in Giveaway Galore number 4, I made two identical sets: one on bleached paper, the other on unbleached. One of the winners of today's giveaway will also receive the unbleached set. I'm really pleased with these:

To receive so flattering an invitation! ...  so warmly solicited!
It was a delightful visit; perfect, in being much too short.
"Ha! Is it you? Thank you ... This is treating me like a friend."
"Do you not know that such a report is spread abroad?"

Two books for entrants to choose from today, blurbs courtesy of Amazon. First, keeping the Linda Wells' love flowing (those of you familiar with her very mature novels will please excuse that horrific attempt at innuendo - such banter is not my forte):

Perfect Fit by Linda Wells
(read my review here)

Perfect Fit is a modern fairy tale featuring the characters of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Billionaire William Darcy is burdened with maintaining his family’s legacy following the tragic deaths of his parents, and must also attempt to restore his young sister’s spirit after becoming the victim of Internet luring by a former family friend. Elizabeth Bennet is a popular author of young adult mystery novels. She began writing as a way to escape first the behavior, and then the memory, of a dominating former lover. These two lonely people meet at a wedding, over a broken shoe, and learn that once upon a time can lead to a happy ending. This low-angst story contains scenes of a mature nature. Linda Wells is also the author of Chance Encounters, Fate and Consequences, Memory and Imperative.

And second: 

Mistress of Pemberley by Isobel Scott Moffat

The trials and tribulations of the Bennet family continue. Elizabeth, now Mrs Darcy and mistress of the great estate of Pemberley, is blissfully married and considers it her responsibility to ensure that Darcy's sister, Georgiana, and his cousin, Anne, daughter of the daunting Lady Catherine de Bourgh, achieve a similar state. Yet Georgiana and Anne are both so shy that surely they will require a helping hand from Elizabeth, and how is she to outwit the formidable Lady Catherine? But while Lizzie has her attention on those at Pemberley and Rosings, intrigue is afoot at her former home of Longbourn, where her sisters, Kitty and Mary, and, more alarmingly, her father, seem to have all fallen under the spell of a certain Mrs Castlemain. Only one more thing is needed for Elizabeth and Darcy's happiness to be complete. But, in the meantime, Darcy is once again confronted with the shadows of the past, and Elizabeth is horrified to find that she might be turning into her mother! A charming sequel to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

Be sure to check these other posts to enter for your chance to win!

Giveaways Galore 1: 
Sass & Serendipity by Jennifer Ziegler
Emma & Knightley: Perfect Happiness in Highbury by Rachel Billington 

Giveaways Galore 2:
The Dashwood Sisters Tell All by Beth Pattillo
Miss Bennet & Mr. Bingley by Fanella J. Miller

Giveaway Galore 3:
Memory Volumes One, Two, and Three by Linda Wells

Good luck and happy holidays!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tis the Season for Swag: Giveaways Galore 3

How the last five days swept by without a single post I have nt the slightest notion. There is so much to share, and so little time!

One big giveaway today: three books in a single haul. This will make a truly sizable dent in my crowded book shelves, as residents of North America enter to win all three volumes of Memory by Linda Wells (read my review of the trilogy here). Just leave a comment with your email address before Christmas. Here are blurbs on the books from Amazon:

Memory Volume One: Lasting Impressions

In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet meet when their personalities are fully formed. Influenced by their experiences and the people around them, they must endure a year of transformation to find their love. What effect would the sight of their soul mates have upon Darcy and Elizabeth if it occurred at a much earlier and vulnerable moment? How would this shared memory change his advance into arrogance and pride, and her sensitivity to the opinions of others? And ultimately, what will happen when they finally meet somewhere beyond their imaginations? The Memory series is a story of family, and how the love affair of one couple influences the lives of everyone around them. Volume 1: Lasting Impressions begins on a fateful day in Hyde Park when 15-year-old Elizabeth Bennet spies the handsome 22-year-old Fitzwilliam Darcy. Instead of wondering over his status: bachelor, rich, gentleman . . . all of the qualities she had been taught by her mother to seek for her husband, she saw only the sorrowful man in need. Darcy heard laughter and saw a girl and a smile. Both have much to overcome before they can be together, but one thing is certain, they would have loved each other no matter where or when they had met. The story continues in Volume 2: Trials to Bear, and Volume 3: How Far We Have Come. These stories contain scenes of a mature nature.

Memory Volume Two: Trials to Bear

The second volume of the Memory series, Trials to Bear, follows the newlywed couple Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy as they move beyond the heady days of courtship (Volume 1, Lasting Impressions). Both of them are very young, at only eighteen and twenty-four years old, neither is completely confident in their position and will rely heavily on each other to grow as one challenge after another comes their way. They will face the demons and fears of Darcy's past, and provide an example of love and felicity that influences and ultimately changes everyone who touches their lives. Elizabeth will grow assured, no longer a shy girl insecure of her beauty or worth; she will become every day the woman who will undoubtedly be a force in London society, in whatever capacity she chooses to excel. The pride that Darcy feels for her will be evident no matter how it is displayed and he will confidently settle into his position as the master of Pemberley. The story continues in Volume 3: How Far We Have Come. These stories contain scenes of a mature nature.

Memory Volume Three: How Far We Have Come

The third volume of the Memory series, How Far We Have Come, finds the Darcys with a family of their own, fully matured and comfortable with their positions as the master and mistress of Pemberley. The fears and demons of Darcy's past have been addressed, and the formidable Fitzwilliam family has accepted and embraced the unique and exceptional example of marriage that the Darcys display. Now it is Elizabeth's turn to finally put to rest the pain of her history, while at the same time influencing her sisters to grow and become women to be admired as well. The Darcys often bemuse their friends and family with their approach to addressing the many facets of their lives, however, all are quick to admit that they are better for knowing them. The story contains scenes of a mature nature.

New, these books cost more than $20 a pop, and as they provide over 1600 pages of Elizabeth and Darcy (and pretty much ALL of Elizabeth and Darcy, at that), I have to tout myself on what an awesome present this will make some lucky Janeite. Merry Chrsitmas, indeed!

Be sure to check back for yet more giveaways and enter those that proceed this one:

Giveaways Galore 1: 
Sass & Serendipity by Jennifer Ziegler
Emma & Knightley: Perfect Happiness in Highbury by Rachel Billington 

Giveaways Galore 2:
The Dashwood Sisters Tell All by Beth Pattillo
Miss Bennet & Mr. Bingley by Fanella J. Miller

All the winners will be announced December 25th. Good luck!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Tis the Season for Swag: Giveaways Galore 2

I am changing how this is going to work. Entrants may choose whichever book they wish to receive, and the winners from each giveaway will be in a new drawing, the winner of which receives the cards as well as their books. This is unless no one actually wants the cards at all, in which case I suppose my relations will have to enjoy them. If you like them, please let me know. I made two new sets, all different this time, though still Christmas themed. Each set of five is virtually identical, only one is on bleached card stock, and the other on unbleached. As you can see, I solved my crappy handwriting issue by employing modern technology. Yeah printers! I'm sorry, but I am a bit backwards about these things. I really am rather fond of them, and if you are too, now would be the proper time to encourage me to continue making them by sharing your thought sin a comment below. Thanks!

I have three books which entrants may choose from today (blurbs courtesy of Amazon):

The Dashwood Sisters Tell All by Beth Patillo
(read my review here)

Ellen and Mimi Dodge have never been close, but their mother's dying wish sends them on a walking tour of Hampshire, England, that follows in the footsteps of Jane Austen. Their mother also left them something else: a diary that belonged to Jane's sister Cassandra. These pages shed light on the secrets that nearly tore the Austen sisters apart and inspired one of the greatest love stories of all time. They also bring Jane to life in a way that no one has ever seen before: through the eyes of her sister. As the Dodge sisters embark on their walking tour, they too are drawn together in ways they never expected. They also discover that Cassandra's diary holds secrets, and someone doesn't want Ellen and Mimi to discover the truth. As they stumble on their way toward love, the women learn how Jane and Cassandra Austen inspired the original Marianne and Elinor Dashwood and come to realize that despite their very different personalities, they are a vital part of each other's happy endings.

Miss Bennet and Mr. Bingley by Fanella J. MIller
(read my review here and my interview with Ms. Miller here)

In Miss Bennet & Mr Bingley, Fenella J Miller returns to Jane Austen's best loved novel, Pride and Prejudice, giving an insight into both Charles and Jane's private thoughts through that difficult year. We discover what Jane did in London and how Charles filled the days until he was able to return to Netherfield. This book takes us past the wedding - when Kitty Bennet becomes the heroine of the hour. ""Jane Bennet is in the spotlight in Fenella-Jane Miller's delightful novel. We see Jane's growing love for Bingley as well as her view of Elizabeth and Darcy's unfolding relationship, and we find out what happened to her in London when she thought all was lost. Humorous, engaging and true to Jane Austen's world, this is a charming read for Austen fans." - Amanda Grange (bestselling author of Mr Darcy's Diary, Mr Knightley's Diary, Captain Wentworth's Diary)

The Mistresses Black Veil by M.K. Baxley
(read my review here)

In this new twist to Jane Austen's favorite romance, M. K. Baxley explores the road that might have been taken had one small alteration occurred in the original plot. Instead of Lydia Bennet going to Brighton while Lizzy toured the Lakes, what if she had gone instead while Elizabeth visited Charlotte in Kent?

In this tale of Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth was called home immediately after receiving Mr. Darcy's letter. Her father, while searching for his youngest daughter in London, succumbed to a cold and later died of heart failure. The subsequent events that follow are told in the narrative fashion of Henry Fielding's Tom Jones and within the manner of Jane Austen.

The Mistress's Black Veil begins five years after that fateful day at Hunsford Parsonage when Mr. Darcy proposed to Elizabeth Bennet. The Bennets, now reduced to poverty after the death of Mr. Bennet, are barely surviving, having been thrown into the hedgerow by their cousin, Mr. Collins, at the directive of his noble patroness Lady Catherine de Bourgh. As the situation becomes even more desperate, Elizabeth makes a difficult and irrevocable choice that will forever change her life and the lives of the ones she loves. In the end will she and Fitzwilliam Darcy find their way to their happily ever after?

The Mistress's Black Veil, influenced by Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story, "The Minister's Black Veil", is for mature readers only.

North American residents only, I am sincerely sorry to say. Typically, I do make my giveaways international but my pockets, like everyone else, are currently feeling the holiday pinch. Winners will enter a drawing to win the bleached Christmas cards. Don't forget you can enter any and as many of these giveaways as you'd like. Winner will be announced the 25th. To win a copy of either Sass & Serendipity by Jennifer Ziegler or Emma & Knightley: Perfect Happiness in Highbury by Rachel Billington, follow this link to the previous giveaway post. Merry Christmas!  

Monday, December 3, 2012

Austenesque Artwork

I call this painting Kitty Coughing, though it is not a title Masha Laurence, the artist, gave to it. Isn't it lovely? I was so fortunate, amidst all the joy that was Austen in August, to win a commissioned watercolor by Miss Laurence, the Antique Fashionista. It arrived during NaNoWriMo, which is why it took me so long to openly declare my thanks, where all may read it and share this beautiful addition to my art collection. I plan to hang it beside the only other Austenesque artwork I own, an image of Cassandra and Jane walking through the snow by Jane Odiwe (see it here, at the bottom of my review of Searching for Captain Wentworth).

As part of my prize, I got to choose the idea for the painting, and having just finished Second Glances, which is primarily about Kitty, I asked for a rendering of my favorite Kitty moment in Pride and Prejudice:
Mrs. Bennet deigned not to make any reply; but unable to contain herself, began scolding one of her daughters.

"Don't keep coughing so, Kitty, for heaven's sake! Have a little compassion on my nerves. You tear them to pieces."

"Kitty has no discretion in her coughs," said her father; "she times them ill."

"I do not cough for my own amusement," replied Kitty fretfully.
Having had frequent bouts of bronchitis as a teenager, I always sympathized with Kitty so much at this moment. It is easily argued that Austen was illustrating the weakness of her character by giving her such ridiculous words to say, but it is here when Kitty comes most alive for me. I love the perspective which Miss Laurence's chose for her portrayal. Mrs. Bennet is seated in green beside Mr. Bennet, hiding behind his paper. Lydia is standing, and Jane and Elizabeth are seated behind her (I like to think Elizabeth is in yellow). Kitty, of course is the lady holding her hand to her mouth. I really like the fact we can't see her face, as it gives me leave to think of her not as coughing, but laughing, as Elizabeth appears to be doing, at the ridiculousness of her family. It is also reminiscent of Cassandra's watercolor of Jane, in which we only see her back. I do miss Mary, but we must assume she is busy adding her share to the scene in the form of atrociously played music. I am absolutely delighted. Thank you, Masha, for doing such a beautiful job.

Other than Miss Laurence and Miss Odiwe, I know of only one other Austenesque artist, Dawn Schreiner, an illustrator who did a fabulous series of portraits featuring some of the actors who have interpreted Austen's heroes (see them here). Perhaps one day there will be a gallery featuring nothing but Austen inspired artwork, or even an entire Austenesque art movement, and my nascent collection will then be of great value. Regardless, these paintings inspired by Jane will be a continual source of joy to me and many others. Please keep painting ladies!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Tis the Season for Swag: Giveaways Galore One

I have two things happening here: a need to engage in some shameless self-promotion before Second Glances is released, and a bookshelf overflowing beyond capacity. The answer to both problems is clearly a massive giveaway.

As well a divesting my bookshelves of several volumes of Austenesque, I have also been toying around with scissors and glue, making Austen themed greeting cards. The first set of five I am giving away are Christmas tree cards, featuring seasonal quotes from Austen's novels. Though they give me cause to lament the appalling nature of my handwriting, I do think they came out kind of cute. 

So here is how this is going to work. There will be rounds of giveaways leading up to Christmas (I'm not yet certain how many there will be), and all the winners will be announced on December 25th.  To enter, please leave your email address in a comment indicating which item you are interested in receiving. If you want a combo of items, just mention this giveaway on the social media venue of your choice (and be sure to let me know about it). There are three items up for grabs in round one: the handmade Christmas cards, a hardback copy of Sass & Serendipity by Jennifer Ziegler (read my review here) and a paperback version of Emma & Knightley: Perfect Happiness in HIghbury by Rachel Billington.  I am sorry to say I cannot make these giveaway international, but finances confine me to North America. Be sure to check back as the month progresses for lots of other books on offer, including copies of First Impressions. Happy Holidays Janeites!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

NaNoWriMo Retrospective

Ha ha! I did it. Excuse me, but I must gloat.

I embarked on this experience because the holidays were coming, and there was a story brewing in my brain. If I did not get this down now, there is a very good chance it never would have happened. Why not sign on for NaNoWriMo, a thing I've always wanted to do, and see how far I can get before my life is completely usurped by baking and parties? I really had no expectation of writing a full 50,000 words, nor did I anticipate how the story would end up unfolding.

I need a new name for the book. The working title is Third Encounters (yes, of the strange kind): A Tale of Less Pride and Prejudice Concludes. Now I'm leaning towards Pemberley Holidays: A Tale of Less Pride and Prejudice Concludes. If anyone wants to suggest a name and I use it, I will thank you in the book and send you a copy when it is available. And on that note:

Ms. Dawn! Are you out there?

I want to send you your copy of Second Glances when it is released. Please get in touch with me.

Back to business. Pemberley Holidays begins close to the end of First Impressions, at a Christmas ball at Netherfield, encompasses Second Glances, and continues though the Christmas following that book's end. The story is primarily that of Charlotte Lucas, but it also fills in some holes that were weighing on my conscience. The story, in its current state, is rather a mishmash of not always sequential scenes, but most of the major moments and themes are recorded. The notion of editing a manuscript in such condition is a bit daunting, but as it will have to wait until the new year anyway, I hope the time away will give me a clearer head with which to tackle the task. I did not plan for the book to have a Christmas theme, but when I got stuck half way through the month, I couldn't resist the temptation to go holiday. I have every intention of having the editing complete in time for publication a year from now, so that it might be seasonally relevant.

So I'm feeling pretty excited about pounding out a novel. I would definitely participate in NaNoWriMo again, if the stars again aligned in such a way as to make it possible. I think I learned a lot about how I function as I writer over the past 29 days, because I was forced to examine my habits in a way I never had to before. The rush was somewhat exhilarating. I wrote nearly 10,000 words last Tuesday, a level of productivity I never before come close to achieving. Though I'm mentally beat, part of me is actually sorry it's over ... must be the exhaustion.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Second Glances: A Tale of Less Pride and Prejudice Continues (Chapter Three)

Mr. Simon Brooks had only been in town for a week when he ventured forth for an evening at Covent Gardens. He had expected the play to be his main source of entertainment, not being the sort of gentleman who enjoyed the theater only for the sport of socializing with and gossiping about the other members of the audience, but upon entrance of a blonde vision of loveliness, his interest in the drama was entirely overthrown.

“Who is that?” he inquired of his companion.

“Miss Georgiana Darcy. Quite a beauty, is she not? The man who claims her hand will be a lucky one, that I promise.”

“How come?”

“Why, my dear Simon, she has a fortune of no less than thirty thousand pounds, let alone a bevy of accomplishments.”

“I'm not sure I care much for the fortune, but she is scholarly, you say?”

His friend laughed. “Not so much of a blue stocking to interest you, I'm afraid, but by all means, go introduce yourself! Never any harm in testing the waters, you know!”

So it was that at intermission Mr. Brooks presented himself in Lady Catherine de Bourgh's box, the Darcy ladies' hostess for the evening. He presented his card and was gratified by a warm welcome.

“Mr. Brooks! Of course, you are Cordelia Fitzroy's son. There are few among the dead whom I miss so much!” declared the forthright Lady Catherine, who numbered her own late husband amongst those less mourned.

“It is good of you to remember me, Lady Catherine. Surely it has been at least fifteen years.”

“If not twenty, but you are the precise image of your father. I would know you anywhere. This is Mrs. Darcy, Fitzwilliam's wife, of course, and I do not believe you would have ever met Miss Darcy.”

“No, I have never before had that pleasure,” he said with a deep, particular bow. In some, such behavior might seem the practiced arts of the rogue, but Simon Brooks' every action spoke to his sincerity. Georgiana blushed deeply, while Elizabeth Darcy's eyes sparkled with amused delight, quite aware that she was witness to the possibility of romance.

“You are Sir James Stratton's neighbor, are you not?” Georgiana queried. 

“Yes! Sir James is my very dearest friend,” he enthusiastically replied.

Georgiana laughed, feeling far more at ease than she expected to, Elizabeth's approving nod giving her courage. “I remember hearing him speak of you fondly, Mr. Brooks, though it has been some time since we last saw him. Your boyhood must have always been most exciting together.”

“He never could abide a dull moment,” he nodded in agreement. “Did you ever hear tell of the time he thought he had discovered how to fly?”

“No!” she giggled. “But I am not surprised.”

“We were quite young – he was maybe seven, so I would have been five – and had just learned the story of Icarus flying too close to the sun. James said he had better have used plaster rather than wax, and we went right to work on his own version of the wings. It took us two months before they were ready. I was to be the first to try them – James said he had to make observations – and we were on the roof of Teggington, ready to take off, when our tutor discovered us. Never was I so incensed with someone for saving my neck!”

“Oh my! Your poor tutor. When Sir James would visit Pemberley, I recall him being quite the bane of our governess.”

Lady Catherine and Elizabeth exchanged knowing glances as they observed Mr. Brooks and Georgiana fall into such easy conversation, stationing themselves at the far end of the box where they could discuss the matter unheard. “He is very handsome and seems perfectly agreeable,” declared Elizabeth. “Who is he?”

“Owner of Turnley – not the greatest estate in the county, as it is right next to Teggington, but his family is one of the oldest in Cornwall. The house was remodeled not thirty years ago and is quite comfortable. I believe Cordelia's entire dowry went into it. He must have five thousand a year, perhaps a bit more if he has been an attentive landlord.”

“So he is perfectly unexceptional!” Elizabeth said with a smile, knowing that such a statement would provoke a contradiction from her companion, who obligingly frowned in response.

“It is not a great match for Georgiana. There would be those who would say she could do far better.”

“But you would not be amongst them, would you, Aunt Catherine?”

“Certainly not,” the grand lady bristled. “It would be a perfectly acceptable connection.”

“Excellent, for they do seem to like one another, do they not?”

“It is too early to say, but never mind about them, Elizabeth. I have something rather important to discuss with you, and I will not lose this opportunity while Georgiana is distracted,” she dictated, leveling an appraising eye at Elizabeth. “How are you feeling, my dear?”

Elizabeth, who was the picture of health, was a bit taken aback at the inquiry. “Perfectly well, I assure you. Do I seem ill?”                                

“No, Elizabeth. You are more plump and rosy than ever. Have you experienced a change in appetite?”

“I may have put on a few pounds,” she admitted, “but it is certainly due to Cook's chocolate soufflé, which he has quite perfected.”

“My dear, must I be more explicit?” Lady Catherine whispered, bemused that the quick Bennet wit, which she so enjoyed, was proving so obtuse. “Is it possible that you are increasing?”

Elizabeth listened to the question in shock. For a moment or two she said nothing, considering her response. “I suppose it is possible, but I had not imagined it until now,” she blushed.

“So I see! You had best speak with Mr. Messling, if you are unsure.”

“I think that might be premature. I will wait a few weeks, and if the doubt remains I will seek his advice.”

“My dear, if I can tell, than it certainly cannot be premature,” Lady Catherine declared. “I am particularly observant of such matters. It was I who spotted your sister's condition, you know, and correctly predicted the delivery month, but even I cannot see what is not there.”

“Oh! May it only be true!” she said excitedly, the notion of having a child beginning to take hold. “Fitzwilliam would be so delighted!”

Lady Catherine smiled benignly, quite delighted in her own right. “Yet you mustn’t say a word to him until you are quite certain. There are some things gentlemen need not know. When does he return from Bath?”

“We expect him Saturday. It just gives us enough time to refresh Kitty's wardrobe before the Hamilton's ball.”

“I still do not know why he must go away, just when I am in town,” Lady Catherine grumbled. “A servant could have conducted Miss Bennet, and I will be gone before he returns! I think it vey inconsiderate of Darcy to not have considered that this was just the time I was likely to come to town.”

Elizabeth concealed her amusement. “Kitty and Fitzwilliam have developed quite the close friendship. He cares for her just as he would Georgiana,” she explained.

“So were it Miss Lydia, a servant would have sufficed!” Lady Catherine complained. “I see where I stand in my nephews affections!”

“My dear Aunt Catherine,” Elizabeth laughed, “were it my youngest sister who was coming to us, sending Mr. Darcy to retrieve her would be like sending him to the slaughter. We must be thankful that Kitty can be relied upon not to talk his head off.”                             


That she certainly could. Mr. Darcy and Miss Bennet, who was pleasantly surprised when her brother himself came to collect her, made for quite amiable companions. Kitty had spent a great deal of time at Pemberley since her sister married Mr. Darcy, and each was used to the ways of the other. It was her tendency to idolize all he did, a flattery which proved no barrier to his growing affection for her, while he steadfastly encouraged her friendship with Georgiana. It was through his suggestion that Kitty had spent the previous summer and winter holidays in their company, and it was he who had engineered her current good prospects. She would enjoy all the privileges of his house, the best attire money could buy, and have access to the best society. Furthermore, and unbeknownst to all but Mr. Bennet, Mr. Darcy had secured a small dowry on both Kitty and Lydia. Five thousand pounds would provide independence, should either lady ever require it, and the peace of mind that knowledge bought him amply justified the expense. A year of marriage to Elizabeth had taught Mr. Darcy much about the precarious situation of the impoverished gentlewoman. It was not that he did not know what hardships such a lady faced before, but Elizabeth had helped him understand the fearfulness of her predicament. The idea that Elizabeth might have been reduced to such condition was a nightmare that haunted him whenever he considered how near such a fate could have been hers. Were he ever to have a daughter of his own, he would take extra care to protect her rights. Never should she have to fear for the future. 


Check back for giveaways and other promotional goodies pre-publication!

First Impressions: A Tale of Less Pride & Prejudice is available on Amazon now (buy it here). Second Glances: A Tale of Less Pride & Prejudice Continues will be available soon.