I Had to Laugh … Frederick Wentworth is not all that heroic

Persuasion is my favorite Austen novel. My affection for it eclipses any of the others. Writing fan fiction based on the characters puts me in unique position to work with all the text all the time.

BeFunky_Stenciler_1Right now I’m working on a novel, tentatively called “A Plan of His Own Making.” I’m posting it HERE if you want to read it. (This is a free site though membership is required. At the end of each segment is a link for comments. Please feel free.) And though it is a What-if, that doesn’t follow Austen’s original, I still cull through the novel for bits of dialogue, characterization, or narrative to lend a hand with authenticity.

I also am considering a short story about … never mind. Let’s just say I realized that once FW extricates himself from Louisa Musgrove and heads to Bath, aside from his own jealousy, he has easy sailing to the HEA. (Happily Ever After.) Most of FW’s ease is provided by Anne herself. She never makes Frederick sweat it at any point. Anne is never seriously attracted to William Elliot, Wentworth’s only real challenger in Bath. Anne’s internal monologue tells us she is tempted for only a very short time to marry her cousin so she can return to Kellynch Hall as Lady Elliot and take over her mother’s place. Other than that, she’s not even interested in Elliot.

That is Jane Austen’s fault.

west.hindsIf Persuasion were written today, some handy-dandy editor would point out how William is the perfect foil for Wentworth, and that other than his penchant for using people up like his late wife, his friend Charles Smith, and now Smith’s widow, he’s a real charmer. And rich. And related so there would be no need to change the monograms!

Down the road, I think Frederick needs a wake-up call. Anne is worth the fight. Maybe he needs to strap on a pair of dueling pistols and face the cousin.


Posted in Beyond Austen, Persuasion, Susan Kaye | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Accepting Aging

Robin at 2Before I turned forty-five, I really had no understanding of older people. I heard what they said, and I noticed that some things were more difficult for them, but I truly didn’t know how they felt until it happened to me. I turned sixty this past April, and it has rocked my world.cheerleader

During the past fifteen years or so, I have noticed my senses slowly growing duller. I don’t hear as well as I used to. My eyesight isn’t as good, and the later the evening wears on, the more my sight blurs. Food doesn’t taste the same to me. My memory has take a huge hit in the past five years.
Robin & Mandy
Yesterday, I started thinking about what I miss the most.
I miss being able to read late into the night. I miss the unlimited energy I used to have. I miss being able to remember everything in detail. I have finally accepted that I must write everything down and keep the list in a place that I check often, because I’ll forget where I put the list. I miss pretty shoes. I miss being able to think about several things at the same time. I miss my parents. I miss those big family gatherings we had when they were alive. I miss feeling needed. I am very busy, but I now realize that I’m not indispensable. Many others can do anything I can do, and they may do it faster or better than I can.Robin at 45

Robin at 56Let’s end this on a happy note. While I miss many aspects of being young, there are plenty of things I don’t miss. I like that I’m more patient than I used to be. I don’t miss worrying about how I look all the time. I may not be smarter, but I am wiser. I don’t care about impressing people any more. I am what I am. Love me or not; it’s your choice. I’ll survive either way. I dance and sing when I feel like it, and I’m not embarrassed. I am confident of my abilities now, and I don’t miss the feeling of doubting myself. I have accepted that I will never be a tiny person, though I would like to lose weight. I’m trying to smile more and whine less. I am more content. I am finally comfortable in my own skin.

Posted in It's personal, Robin Helm | Tagged | 2 Comments

I Had to Laugh … Cloud Cuckoo Land (More Clouds)

From Wikipedia: “Cloud Cuckoo Land refers to an unrealistically idealistic state where everything is perfect.” That is an apt description of Hollywood.

CuocoThe latest fracas is about someone hacking into the iPhone accounts of mostly female stars and stealing nude pictures of them to sell on the Interwebs. It’s been done before.  Scarlett Johansson had all her accounts hacked a few years ago. And I’m sure it’s been done to death but most keep quiet. Until a biggie like this happens and you can add your voice to a significant chorus.

It’s not that I don’t sympathize with people whose privacy is breached. No one should have anything stolen from them, but we live in an imperfect world and thieves gonna steal. Making it worse is the notion that because something is incorporeal, it has little value and therefore safe. This is the reasoning behind lax attitudes about book piracy. The sad truth is, information is king these days, so, your pixel are fair game.

I think it interesting that it’s nude pictures causing all the stir.

The simple answer is not to allow nude pics of yourself to be taken, or not to take nude selfies. With the technology we have today, you can’t control what others do on the sly. When you have a great camera that can show you every curve, people are going to use them with the intention of deleting. But, the phone rings in the midst of the private photo shoot, you talk a while, feed the cat, and then remember Game of Thrones is on! Pretty soon the nude selfie is pushed back in the queue by cat pics, kid pics, and pics of some great shoes you just have to have. Life happens and soon the pics go to the cloud and float there.

Over a decade ago, the women’s group at my church had an evening of sex. No, not like that. The women in leadership agreed to hold a Q&A for the women of the church about sex. No question was off limits. The question of couples video taping themselves having sex came up. (Yes, it was so long ago that iPhones and DVDs weren’t even in the picture.) Eventually, it came down to, what a couple does in the privacy of their marriage bed is up to them. If they are in agreement, anything goes. BUT, if you engage in homegrown stag films, there are images to consider and safeguard.

I think all of us are going to have a lot of surprises cleaning out the houses and computers of our parents and/or elderly relatives when they pass away. And I think our kids will be equally shocked when they have to do it for us.

The problems presented by our technology are many and we do have to deal with them. There are lots of pictures out there, some are selfies and others are pics taken without our knowledge, that are going to haunt us. This latest breach of confidence is only the tip of the iceberg. We don’t live in Cloud Cuckoo Land where everything is perfect. Maybe the solution is low tech: Polaroids and a safe deposit box.

Take care–Sue

UPDATE: I see there are now more “attacks” and attempted hacks. Denise Richards is posting that she has received numerous emails requesting her password and that dire things will happen if she doesn’t confirm. I receive those all the time. Se congratulates herself on deleting them. Those are phishing spam. I get them all the time and I can guarantee you there are no nude pics of me ANYONE wants to see. Or can see. They don’t exist.

The Web is a wild and woolie place. I get the feeling bunches of us are like characters from B&W Westerns; upright, proper Bostonian matrons coming west and stunned to find things a little different than they read in the papers. Throwing in a little Darcy: “You’ll find the society quite savage.”

Gotta strap on a metaphoric six-shooter, folks, there’s a lotta snakes out here!





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The Sisterhood of the Traveling Books (Episode 14)

Last Friday was the final day of the craziest summer of my life. From beginning to end, the weeks were wild and wonderful.

Charlie Cook

Charlie Cook

Irises at Kintai Bridge in Iwakuni, Japan

Irises at Kintai Bridge in Iwakuni, Japan

My daughter Mandy gave birth to our first grandchild, Charlie, in Iwakuni, Japan on May 23, and my younger daughter, Melanie, and I left to visit them on June 2. Melanie and I are both teachers, and the last day of school was May 30. As soon as we were free, we hit the ground running.

After we returned home (June 18), I began teaching summer piano lessons. On July 6, I published my fifth book, Sincerely Yours, the second book in the Yours by Design series. Indie authors know how busy the weeks are just before and after publishing.

Sincerely Yours  Robin Helm

Sincerely Yours
Robin Helm

On July 9, while Melanie was in Bangladesh, I received a text followed by a call from her boyfriend.

He was planning to propose and wanted to surprise her. He had asked her to pick out a ring months before, so she had searched the internet until she found the one she wanted and sent him a picture. He needed for me to tell him her ring size. I am proud to say that I was able to keep the secret.

When they called us soon after she accepted, she was squealing and he was laughing.

Oh, yes.  She was surprised!

Oh, yes.
She was surprised!

Dylan and Melanie after she said, "Yes!"

Dylan and Melanie
after she said, “Yes!”

During the week of July 20 – 25, I worked in The Way, a church-sponsored ministry to our commmunity, and on July 26 I drove 35 miles each way to the wedding of one of my former students. I was the only one there, much to my surprise, but being the anal person I am, I had the invitation with me. When I checked it, I saw that I was a week early. Ah, the joys of being 60. Melanie went to the wedding with me the following week, and the ceremony was lovely, even if the wedding party had to run from the rain at the very end. After that wedding, Melanie and I rode around to look at reception venues for hers.

The week after they became engaged, Melanie and Dylan set a date for the wedding (June 27) and we went into full-steam-ahead planning mode. Yes, you can plan a wedding in two weeks. Knowing that we would both start back to school meetings by August 7 (and that she wouldn’t function well with all the question marks hanging over her head), we quickly booked the church, the reception venue (The Ivy Place),

The Ivy Place

The Ivy Place

the wedding director, the florist, the DJ, the caterer, the wedding cake, the photographer, the musicians, and the ministers. She called all her bridesmaids and flower girls, we bought the silk flowers for the one church decoration she wanted, and we started looking for a wedding dress. Three dress shopping trips and several upset stomachs later, she found her perfect dress on August 16 at David’s Bridal in Columbia. This past Sunday afternoon, she designed and ordered her invitations, save-the-dates, and thank you notes online. She had already set up her wedding on theknot.com, so she was able to check all that off and stay within her budget.

My trusty cell phone was with me through all that, so all of my books traveled with me. I popped to the kindle app whenever I was waiting for her and read my headaches away. I even took Laura’s Mercy’s Embrace, Book Three, The Lady Must Decide to church one Sunday. When the flute part rests for 20 measures, I can sneak in a little reading.

Mercy's Embrace Book Three The Lady Must Decide by Laura Hile

Mercy’s Embrace
Book Three
The Lady Must Decide
by Laura Hile

While all that was going on, I had new floors installed in most of my house. I love the floors, but Chloe and Toby don’t. They slip and slide around, and the noise their paws makes prevents them from sneaking up on me.

Nana, I do NOT like these new floors.

Nana, I do NOT like these new floors.

I had Open House at school Sunday afternoon, and we started back yesterday. Now do you understand why I haven’t finished writing Forever Yours and I’ve been slack about blogging lately?

I’m presently setting up the Music Academy lesson schedule and looking forward to getting back into my routine. My days at school have changed to Mondays and Fridays, so my blogging and writing days are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

Football season starts next week. Let the games begin! I’ll be cheering for my future son-in-law and his team, the University of South Carolina Gamecocks.20140606_121814 Charlie is ready. She’ll be wearing her infant sized Gamecock jersey signed by her favorite football player and future uncle. Bows and ruffles are courtesy of Mrs. Susie Nichols. A girl must have her lace.

Go, Gamecocks!

Go, Dylan!

If you’re looking for us Thursday night, August 28, Gayle and I will be at Williams Brice Stadium, cheering for the team. Yes, we’ll be tired as we teach on Friday, but these times will soon be gone. I want to enjoy it while I can.

Posted in Granddogs, Humor, I Would Do Anything for Love, In Real Life, It's personal, Laura Hile, Love and marriage, Marriage proposals, Mercy's Embrace, Robin Helm, Sincerely Yours, Sisterhood of the Traveling Books, Southern living, The Writing Life, Vacation, Weddings, Yours by Design | 9 Comments

Sincerely Yours Giveaway Winners!

Sincerely Yours - Robin Helm

Sincerely Yours – Robin Helm

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway for Sincerely Yours, Book 2 of the Yours by Design series.

The winners are:

Sylvia Claire Chan, International


Deborah Fortin, U.S.


Congratulations | Forward this Picture

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Sisterhood of the Traveling Books (Episode 13)

Unpacking canned goods at Hope of Lancaster.

Unpacking canned goods at Hope of Lancaster.

It is the best of weeks; it is the busiest of weeks. For one week each year, my church participates in something called The Way. I believe this is the eleventh or twelfth year of this layman-led week of service to our community. When my younger daughter was in the eighth grade, our youth made a mission trip to Charleston to help elderly residents of a neighborhood there with lawn mowing, landscaping, and home repairs. 2014-07-21 19.32.43They came back saying it was wonderful to go to other places and minister, but we should do that in our own community as well. From that vison, one of our men was motivated to start this ministry.
Weeding at the Pregnancy Care Center

Weeding at the Pregnancy Care Center

There are twenty-four different tracks on which people can choose to participate. I lead the media track (still photography), and my team goes to the other twenty-three tracks to shoot pictures and video. We show our work during dinner and at the worship service following track time each night.IMG_0507

Repairing the flooring in the house of a handicapped man

Repairing the flooring in the house of a handicapped man

So far this week, I (or members of my team) have been to the Pregnancy Care construction site, the preschool care, VBS, crafts, worship, culinary, evangelism, PetCare, Hope of Lancaster, Handyman (four locations), Boys Home, creative, International (three locations), Caroline Court, Council on Aging, Jackie’s Place, The Closet, Livi’s Library, Washing Clean, grasscutting, and the hospital. Nearly all of these are service tracks; our members go into the community and build handicapped ramps, repair floors, fix water pipes, play with children, provide school supplies and clothing, organize food distribution centers, wash cars, use their creativity with face painting or manicures, and generally show people that we love them.

DSCF2530“For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’” Matthew 25:35-40

Laura Hile's  So Lively a Chase, Mercy's Embrace, Book 2, entertains a hedgehog. Writers keep strange company.

Laura Hile’s
So Lively a Chase, Mercy’s Embrace, Book 2, entertains a hedgehog. Writers keep strange company.

We end these weeks realizing that we have received more blessings than we have given. It really is true that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

Of course, I needed a little reading material during down time. Guess what I found?

Posted in Devotional, I Would Do Anything for Love, Inspiration, Laura Hile, Mercy's Embrace, Pets, Robin Helm, Sisterhood of the Traveling Books | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Sisterhood of the Traveling Books (Episode 12)

July is Stay-Home-And-Write month for me, and camping is Camp NaNoWriMo. So the only traveling I’m doing these days is running errands. At 91 degrees and sunny, we webfoots are wilting in the heat today. Yes, we are that pathetic.

So let's go to Peet's Coffee, conveniently located in Fred Meyer.

We’re off to Peet’s Coffee, conveniently located in Fred Meyer. Note that I took this when the light was red.

Everybody knows Freddy's. So in we go.

Everybody knows Freddy’s. So in we go.

Hanging out at a trendy coffee house is part of the writerly vibe, right? Except I live in a suburb of Portland, some distance from trendy NW 23rd and its hipster haunts. What can I say? One does what one can.

Fred Meyer is a Pacific Northwest institution, home of one-stop shopping. It’s still the best place to buy reasonably-priced organic produce and health food products. And clothes. And gardening supplies. And home decor items. And home electronics. And school supplies. And…everything.

And here is Peet’s Coffee, tucked in behind the produce department. Fred Meyer also has a supervised childcare area. That’s right, drop the tots and shop! A quiet cuppa alone, even for ten minutes, brings joy to a busy mom.

Come in and have a seat! the sign says. Wonderful idea!

“Come in and have a seat!” the sign says. Wonderful idea!

Peet’s lacks the Starbucks vibe, but it serves up good coffee. Hey, next time I’ll take you on a tour of all the Starbucks locations within a one-mile radius of my house. There are, like, at least five.

Sincerely Yours by our own Robin Helm

Sincerely Yours by Robin Helm

My Kindle Fire has all the books I need, including Robin Helm’s newest release. It’s like a library in my purse!

I do love Robin’s beautiful cover, even if it’s hard to see in this shot. Time slides sideways in this Pride and Prejudice variation, which explains the face on the clock.

I also like Fred Meyer because two of my three sons work here. One in management, the other in Home Electronics while pursuing graduate school.

While sitting here, I remembered I needed apples and avacados.

Handy location, right? While sitting here, I remembered that we needed apples and avocados.

Hey, thanks for coming along this afternoon! Next time, we’ll do the Starbucks tour! Or Voodoo Doughnuts. Or (thank you, Susan Kaye!) the Greyhound bus depot.

Posted in Sisterhood of the Traveling Books | 9 Comments

Goin’ to the chapel and we’re go-nna get ma-r-r-ied …

Design-Apparel-Costume-French-Theater-maleSMCelebrate with us her at Jane Started It! the 230th wedding anniversary of Sir Walter Elliot of Somerset and Elizabeth Stevenson of South Park in Gloucester!

Without this dubious marriage of beauty and brains, the world would not have been given, what in my opinion, is Jane Austen’s finest novel, Persuasion. (All you P&P fans can argue with me later.)

No Elizabeth, “Icy” Elliot. No Mary, “Pass-me-a-hanky,” Musgrove, and no Second Chances Annie, who but for the grace of God escapes spinsterhood by the skin of her teeth.

The image to the left is Sir Walter on his wedding day. What a great excuse for new clothes, a party, and maybe a trip to the shore. Can you imagine the honeymoon? No, I WON’T either.

Later, when you relax at the end of busy summer day, remember to thank Jane for her great characters, and the fact that she uses enough dates in her work that give me something to blog about.

Have a happy!



Posted in Austen men, Eye Candy, Susan Kaye | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

I Had to Laugh … If Only it Could Happen

At my house, we are going through a serious Top Gear crush. It has taken over from The Big Bang Theory as my husband’s nightly laugh fest.

There are lots of reasons that I may go into at a later date, but I have to tell you a story. My daughter was watching Season 14 the other day when she said, “You know, Richard Hammond (one of the hosts of Top Gear) is the child you would get if Davy Jones and David Tennant had a baby.

By golly, without getting into the weird SF possibilities of it all, SHE’S RIGHT:



Posted in Humor, I Had to Laugh, Susan Kaye | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Sincerely Yours Launch and Giveaway

This morning I woke up to the ultimate book traveling experience – publishing and sending a book out internationally.

Sincerely Yours Yours by Design, Book 2

Sincerely Yours
Yours by Design, Book 2

My newest release, Sincerely Yours, Yours by Design, Book 2, is now available in Kindle on Amazon and in e-pub (Nook version) and in lrf for Sony readers on Smashwords. The print copy should be available on Amazon some time today, though I know from experience that it will take a couple of days for Amazon to link the print and Kindle versions.

My sincerest thanks are extended to my editing team: Gayle Mills, M. K. Baxley, Wendi Sotis, and Stephanie Hamm from the Beyond Austen community. Terri Davis served as a cold reader. The above and beyond the call of duty awards go to Gayle Mills for doing the final read through and edits and Wendi Sotis, who formatted my files for Kindle and Smashwords. I worked all day Saturday, between church services yesterday and into the night so that it would be up and active today. Wendi was right there with me yesterday, furiously e-mailing files back and forth. This morning, I had e-mails from Kindle Direct Publishing and Smashwords alerting me that my files had been approved and the book is available.

In honor of this auspicious occasion, I am giving away an autographed print copy of Sincerely Yours to a U.S. winner and an e-book to an international winner. You may enter as often as you wish.

Each time you tweet this post; mention it on Facebook or any other social media; comment here or in any other social media; put the book on Pinterest or Instagram; “like” it anywhere; or follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, or Goodreads, it counts as an entry. Just let me know that you’ve done that in comments here or PM me. I also need to know if you’re in the U.S. or you’re an international entrant. If you’re from the U.S. and you’d rather have an e-copy, that’s fine. Just let me know. I rarely buy print copies any more myself.

The giveaway will end on Monday, August 4th.

Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Posted in Beyond Austen, Giveaways, Good news, New Book Release, Publishing, Robin Helm, Sincerely Yours, Yours by Design | 33 Comments