Tip My Hand Tuesday

I’m editing today. “No One Cared to Notice” is a short story that interrupted things with In Favor of His Constancy. It may be the story I place in an anthology, or I may just put it up at Beyond Austen. There is no telling these day.


Not the smile he was expecting! Photo: Daniel Johnson (Creative Commons Flickr)

To add insult to serious injury, my mouse is dying. (I know this is not a mouse. But, the internet is taking it’s time getting a pic from my phone to my email so I have to improvise.) I use a laptop and despise the touch pad so I have a wireless mouse as my writing companion. But, Purp is dying a slow and frustrating death. When mice die, they refuse to perform properly. So, highlighting is impossible, pointing is whimsical, and clicking is nearly out of the question. Another mouse is coming from Amazon but won’t be here until Thursday. I’ve got a couple of says to figure out how to dispose of the body and then I will have to learn to use the new on. It has buttons and such that control CPI and DPI. I don’t know or care as long as I can point and click without all the drama.

I’ve saved the best for last on this bright May Tuesday. My daughter’s mother-in-law has suffered from COPD for years. Last Wednesday she was taken to the hospital with a serious viral infection. It was serious enough that all the proper papers were signed and the conclusion was that she was not coming home. I mean in the people-flying-in to say good bye way.

She came home yesterday.fireworks-light-japan-festival-66277.jpeg

I am grateful to live now when medications are wondrous things. But I also know this woman is stubborn as HELL. To the point of emotional damage in some cases. But in this case, Welcome Home, Sue.*

MY lesson in this is not to roll over and die when things look bad. Literally.

*There are a lot of weird coincidences between my daughter’s MIL and myself. Too many for me to be comfortable with.


Tip My Hand Tuesday


This is supposed to be terrible. Original clip art: Flickr

The first half of last week’s scene has been reworked, added to, and generally cleaned up. This is all first draft material so there will be other edits and more smoothing out. There are also ebbs and flows of energy in the writing. Again, that will be smoothed out with time.

The scene is in the middle of the novel so there are references to information revealed elsewhere, and information not revealed yet.

I’m not bothered by spoilers but if you are you might want to avert your eyes on Tuesdays.



“This is what comes of bringing persons of obscure birth into undue distinction. I am sure the man’s father, and if he knew his place, his grandfather would be shocked and ashamed at his taking on such airs as to ask for the hand of a baronet’s daughter.” Sir Walter drank the last of his brandy and slammed the glass to the table. Lady Elliot feared for her crystal stems.

In his tirade, there was no mention of Anne by name, merely her standing as it related to her father, and that she was the object of the commander’s audacity. Not a thought to her heart or her prospects in a small country life. Well, there wouldn’t be, now would there? Commander Wentworth’s prospects were not certain, but he did have some. This made it impossible for her mother not to consider announcements of newly made sirs and lords being created almost daily. With the war, most of these were coming from the ranks of the navy and the army. If her husband would take a breath, she might say as much.

“After he left, I was saying to Lady Russell that—”

“Jane was there? She spoke with the Commander?”

“No, no. But she was waiting to see me when the man left. They passed one another in the entryway. As I was saying—”

It was galling enough that her husband was just now telling her about the Commander’s proposal, but to know that Jane was privy so soon after the fact was an embarrassment.

“—she reminded me that this is no different than the tenants wanting new rooves after all the damage of last winter’s snow and icy storms. The very idea that I should be persuaded, nay bullied into paying for the damage that God wrought is absurd.” He eyed the brandy but changed his mind and approached her. “Have no fear, my lady, I have put the barbarian to flight. We are safe once more.” He kissed his finger and touched her cheek. “Sleep well.”  He smiled and left her.

Sir Walter Elliot was never so happy as when he was repelling the surfs or demolishing the hopes of the undeserving. “The gentry is safe for now.” Her father was right all along. His warnings about the baronet rang louder as the days passed. They would eventually deafening her.

The book she was reading would hold no interest tonight. It was too early to call Trotter to change for bed. She rose from the chaise to call for Anne. The pull was in her hand when she stopped herself. It was not fair to her daughter to use her as a distraction. Anne might not know of her father’s response to the proposal. It was only a few hours ago and the Commander himself might still be digesting the results of the meeting. Let this be the case and let Anne be hopeful for a while longer. The bell pull dropped from her hand. She watched it as it swayed to a stop.

Another letter to her father this quarter was necessary, but she hadn’t the heart to write it. The view from the window was pleasant enough. The setting sun advancing to cover the garden with night.

A light knock startled and relieved her. No matter who was at the door, they offered an escape from this black mood. “Come.” Elizabeth saw the brilliant green feather eyes first. “Oh, it is you, Jane.” She was wrong about an escape.

“I know you won’t mind but I slipped in the side. No sense giving the servants anything further to gossip about. You have heard about that outrageous boy’s proposal?” Without taking leave, she took off her coat and laid it on the bed.

“He is hardly a boy, Jane. In the eyes of the Crown, he is an officer. And a gentleman.” There was nothing to do but sit and listen as her friend too crowed over the Commander’s defeat.

The feathers on Jane’s hat bobbed as it hung in the air for a moment. “Hardly a gentleman. Does this mean you approve of his suit?”

To admit her own uncertainty would turn all of Jane’s interest and persuasive powers on her. “No, I am considering what is best for Anne. Her prospects here are limited at best. This may be a chance for her—”

“But she has just turned nineteen, Lizzie. There are years for her to find someone suitable. Once Elizabeth is married to her Viscount, the world shall open wide for Anne. I am sure the ___s are extremely well-connected in their part of the world.”

In the wilds of Ireland, she meant to say. It was interesting that Jane did not counsel that Elizabeth should wait a little longer. “No doubt. I have met the mother, and she assured me that they are the absolute centre of the social life of Dublin. Or at least I think that is what she was saying. Her accent was so think I only understood half of what she said. However, I have my doubts that Elizabeth will be exerting herself overly to help her sister.”

Jane was tugging off her gloves. She examined the thumb of one of them. Her father was a glovemaker in Gloucester and she was never satisfied with any made anywhere else. She held the offending creature in her lap. “That is of no matter. When you visit her, you may scout the prospects. Anne is quiet, but she will charm them, even in an Irish wasteland.”

As if the countryside of Somerset was a metropolis. “I suppose. Perhaps it is the romance of it all. Anne is in love with him. We cannot discount that. Genuine love is quite intoxicating—”

“And rarely is it long-lived. Elizabeth, see reason. The man is handsome and a force to be sure, but even you must see that his being Anne’s inferior would ever be a wedge between them.”

“In marriage we grow used to personal defects easily enough. The deeper, and more public ones can be born with a good deal of grace.”

Jane’s mouth set in a firm line. “Commander Wentworth’s defects are not like crooked teeth or dirty fingernails. It is his personality which is at fault. He has such an overwhelming confidence that he has no fear. Or, at the very least, the good sense to be circumspect in the presence of his betters.”

“The man is required by his occupation to keep his fear in check, Jane. You would fault Nelson for his courage? He was courageous to the point of the ultimate selflessness. By your reckoning, all heroes must be so shamed.” As soon as the words were in the air, she wished she could pull them back. What was a discussion of Anne’s best interests was becoming a battle over the defects of another.

“The man is no hero. He is impudent and cruel in his wit.” She ripped open her reticule. How the light silk bag withstood the pressure was amazing. Her hands shook as she moved things about looking for something.” When she seized upon a piece of paper, she brought it to Elizabeth. “What do you think of the hero now?”

The paper was cheap and crinkled with fold lines running through pencil marks on it. It was clearly a crude rendering of Jane, focused on her nose, eyebrows, and one of her many feathered hats. She folded it and handed it back and thanking God she was much practiced in stifling laughter. “You are right, this is very unkind. How can you be sure it was his hand which drew it?”

She explained watching him and Anne at a distance. “When Anne tossed it in the fire, it fell to the side. I pulled it from the flames as I was afraid that they were planning an elopement, or a clandestine meeting of some sort.”

Thoughts of Jane Russell scrabbling about a fireplace was another opportunity for self-control. “He is a young man. They all say and do foolish things.” Lady Elliot waggled the paper for Jane to take.

“Do you want your family associated with such a man?”

“If he knew us better, I wonder that he would want an association with us.”

“That is a ridiculous thing to say. He could only benefit from allying with the Elliot name.”

The small page was still in her hand and Lady Elliot opened it again. “This is silly,” she looked at Jane. “A silly and hurtful sketch. However, the man did no physical damage to you. The Elliots, of late, have done far worse.”

There was no pretence. Jane knew precisely of what Lady Elliot spoke. “You make too much of Young Walter’s carryings-on. He is not yet sixteen. He will mature in time. The Elliot blood will tell. You will see.”

Yes, it will. Instead of giving the sketch back to Jane, Liz slipped it into her pocket. “I pray you are right. Though, his antics of late give me pause.”

“Everything can be laid at the feet of that Musgrove. The family believes their children are without fault and that there is no need to train them at all. Richard Musgrove took advantage of Young Walter and one can only hope that sending him away will rectify the mistakes of the years.”

“Richard Musgrove is a simpleton. A large, brawny simpleton. If there was advantage taken it was by my son. With a slip of the hand, the Larkin boy could have been killed. Had it been the case, Musgrove would have been hanged. There is no dignified way around it.” Her only knowledge of the affair was after-the-fact. She now wondered how much of the business Jane was consulted about.

“I do not understand you, Elizabeth. Why are you so quick to take the part of that sailor first, and now that dreadful young Musgrove? His mother is a Hayter for God’s sake.” The air was charged with the admissions and accusations. Each lady was revolving how best to continue or retreat from their stance. “You are determined to remain Elizabeth Stevenson of Gloucester.”

If she were to retreat, peace was still possible, but she had retreated enough over the past weeks and months. “No, I am merely reclaiming that girl who had better sense than I do now.”

“And why would you do that? She was a nothing of a girl and you are Lady Elliot, wife of a baronet. In Gloucester you were merely the daughter of a prosperous farmer. No different than—”

“The Musgroves. You may say it. I am not offended. I have put aside my pride and spent too many years now humouring and concealing the failings of the baronet to be insulted by such a comparison.”

“You have never esteemed him properly. Always thinking yourself ill—”

“Yes, well, it is likely that the thought of leaving the children at the mercy of such a conceited, silly man has kept me alive all these years.” Lady Elliot had turned away to look at the dark garden but turned back to face Lady Russell. “As for esteem, please remind me how you came to marry Henry Russell. It was his red coat and the title of ‘sir’ which touched your heart, was it not?” Lady Russell now paused. Her right brow raised, and her lips tightened. “Admit it, you did not think me refined enough for the Baronet of Kellynch Hall.”

There is a reason Lady Russell and Sir Walter did not marry after the death of his wife. I think she was a smart woman who had no desire to take over the gargantuan job of cossetting Sir Walter’s ego.

Take care-Susan





Tuesday’s tip-o-the-hand


This is supposed to be terrible. Original clip art: Flickr

It’s been a lousy spring around here. A bit of good news was that my mom doesn’t have to have chemo after colon surgery. Yay for that. Other than this, all is rattling on as before. That being said, the best I can do for a post, (hoping to get back into the swing of things. Again.), I have a bit of writing from a new project.

I referenced this new story back on March 6th. Time flies don’t it? I showed how a piece of writing changes as you discover things about the story itself and the characters. Even the title is up for grabs.

The first title of the piece was “Though I Had A Son.” Then it was changed to, “Anne Elliot’s Most Degrading Alliance.” Now, it’s “In Favor of His Constancy.” You, the reader, aren’t supposed to see any of this, but what the heck, this is sausage making, people, watch and be amazed!

The following is not a rewrite, but was fun to write. I hope you enjoy it.

In this story, “In Favor of His Constancy,” Lady Elliot (Anne Elliot’s mother) is alive. This scene takes place after she finds out that her dear friend, Lady Russell, was instrumental in breaking off Anne’s engagement to Captain Frederick Wentworth.

“Elizabeth, see reason. The man is handsome and a force to be sure, but even you must see that he is not Anne’s equal in rank or refinement. It would ever be a wedge between them.”

Elizabeth paused, then faced her. “Rank and refinement. Those are words you are happy to use when speaking of marriage. Admit it, you did not think me refined enough for the Baronet of Kellynch Hall.”

Lady Russell now paused. Her right brow raised, and her lips tightened.

“In every way, the Stevenson money was superior to his rank. Even if it was earned in trade and farming. I was besotted enough with a pretty face to accept a proposal. But when reason, in the form of dark doubts loomed, you stood me and them with a bright light of reason to convince me that I must keep my word.” Her hands were trembling, and she could feel a flush overtaking her. She took a seat at her dressing table.

“And I was right to do so. You had an obligation to fulfil. Your reputation was at stake and you were prepared to ruin it. As your dear friend, I could not allow that to happen.”

“I could have broken it off with little damage to my reputation.” Lady Elliot turned to her friend. “When, after a few years, you comprehended the deep unhappiness that my choice had brought me, did it give you pause?”

“It did.” Lady Russell pinched seam of the thumb of her right glove. Poorly made. “But when I realised you would have children from the match, no matter your feelings about him.”

It was deep grief she felt for her friend. There were no children with Sir Henry Russell. Whose fault it was, was immaterial. Elizabeth’s children were lavished with gifts and praise from Jane. Her particular favourite was Anne. This might account for her friend’s razor-sharp dislike for Captain Wentworth. She did not wish her daughter to suffer her fate. And yet.


“He is still beautiful, even at his age, but his looks are so negated by his deficiencies.” Lady Russell says nothing, and Lady Elliot looks at her and realizes something. “So that is it. You are still smitten.”

Jane fidgets uncharacteristically.

“You are still in awe of that pretty face.” Lady Elliot rises and approaches Lady Russell. “Though, I see you are not so besotted as to do something stupid if I am called out of this life.” The revelation was not surprising but was more a relief. It cleared the air and would allow them to have an honest friendship now, and not one couched in suspicion. Her hands still trembled, and she would have to call for Trotter to help her change into a fresh dress for dinner. Jane still said nothing. “And that is because you can admire him from the comfort of Henry’s good management.” She took her seat once more. “You are far smarter than me. Better to view some beauties from a distance. And in this case, not have to live with the consequences of his vices.”

Yep, POV problems, notes to myself about the scene rather than the scene itself, and a sentence that makes no sense whatsoever! Again, this is sausage. I’ll work on this and post the rewrite next week.

Oh, and I’m still not in love with the title. Stay tuned.


Mercy’s Embrace print proofs are here!

Get ’em while they’re hot. Or when they’re released anyway! Congratulations, Laura Hile.

Laura Hile

Which one is your favorite?

So very beautiful, aren’t they?

The eBook editions have been out since December-January, but being able to hold the print editions makes them more real, somehow.

My very own books to hug!

Seriously, I carried these with me, even to school — even to my bedside table at night — for the first few days they were here.

Anyway, I’m hoping to pull the trigger for their release over the weekend. I’ll give a shoutout when they’re available.

People wonder why the three Mercy’s books can’t be published as one volume. Darcy is huge enough — and it’s smaller!

I love my job and my students, but yeah. Teaching teens is emotionally wearing … and when I’m worn out, I don’t do well with detail work.

Proofing books is all about detail work!

Oh! I’m giving away one Darcy By Any Other Name, Kindle…

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Walter Wednesday

Spring sprang yesterday, hence the change to a light floral motif on the blog.

I was watching a travel show about Napoleon’s contribution to the food culture of Poland, and here is a quote:


I have to remind myself of this after not writing for a few days. But, back to the grindstone. I’m nearly 20k into a new project so I have been persevering.

My memory is crap these days so I had forgotten the exact Bony quote and went looking for it. One resource is always Brainy Quote. While looking for the one I wanted, I found another quote on perseverance. This led me down the Walter Wabbit … Rabbit trail.

This quote is by the esteemed Walter Elliot.

“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.”

This is a reasonable idea, well said. I’m sure Jane Austen could have penned it. That being the case, I’m sure she would have found it impossible to put it in the mouth of our small minded Sir Walter Elliot.

This is a quote not by SIR Walter Elliot, but Walter Elliot Elliot, MC, CH, FRS, FRSE, FRCP. His most important office was that of Secretary of State for Scotland. He’s a snap:


He could have easily played Sir Walter, I think. The two of them would have been at odds as the latter Elliot was a prominent Scottish Unionist Party politician. Being Scottish would have been enough, but a UNIONIST! Heaven forfend!  If you want to learn more, here’s his Wiki link.

Now, onto ANOTHER Walter Elliot! This is a more contemporary Walter Elliot who in 2015 found a previously unknown short story of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in his attic. Walter’s attic, not Conan Doyle’s. In 1908, the town of Selkirk, Scotland was in need of a bridge and Conan Doyle contributed a short story to an anthology called, Book o’ the Brig.


I think that was kind of Conan Doyle. He had just brought Holmes back from the dead after huge public outcry. I’m not so sure I would have wanted to spend more time with Sherlock than I absolutely had to.

If you’re a Conan Doyle fan, the text of the 1,300 word short is available HERE.

I didn’t find any more Walter Elliots. I’m sure I could, but I have a story to write.




A Gothic Persuasion

That’s not true, the new AMC series, The Terror has nothing to do with Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Except Ciaran Hinds, who played Captain Frederick Wentworth in the 1995 adaptation of the novel is starring as John Franklin. IMDB says he’s in all 10 episodes, but the questions is, will he be alive for all those episodes?

I’m not usually a fan of horror but I do have a thing for AMC’s, The Walking Dead, and I watched both seasons of Netflix’s The Frankenstein Chronicles a few weeks ago. (It’s bloody beyond reason, and Season One is FAR superior to Season two so be warned.) I’ll give The Terror a couple of episodes to persuade me of its worth.

The publicity photo below still has me laughing. I’m pushing away all sorts of unkind Frederick-in-the-future sorts of memes.


“I call him Walter. Don’t tell my wife.”


Set in 1847. A crew of a Royal Naval expedition is sent to find the Arctic’s treacherous Northwest Passage but instead discovers a monstrous predator, a cunning and vicious Gothic horror that stalks the ships in a desperate game of survival, the consequences of which could endanger the region and its native people forever. Written by AMC

Sir Walter Would NOT Approve

How could I forget such an auspicious occasion? March 1 was Persuasion’s Sir Walter’s birthday. Had he survived old age and decrepitude, he’d be 278! I think that’s the oxygen birthday. Yes, gallows humor all around!

In honor of the old boy, he’s a little retrospective of several of the men who have played him in adaptations:


Basil Dignam’s portrayal was the closest to the Sir Walter Austen wrote. He wasn’t overly foolish, and not so sharp-tongued as other performances. Unfortunately, the 1971 adaptation, while faithful to the book, is hampered by polyester and zippers. LOTS of polyester and zippers.



Corin Regrave gave a great performance of Sir Walter. The guy is so foolish as to think that giving up an estate for a townhouse in Bath is a step-up in the world. This humorous portrayal gave the character a lot of undeserved sympathy, but it was fun to watch.





Anthony Head’s performance was, in my opinion, what men with an overweening sense of importance are really like. He was harsh and intractable when countered, and when his mind is made up, all boats will be floating or all are going down with his ship. And with Walter at the tiller, man the lifeboats.



So, here’s to Sir Walter, the man who retrenched and thought it a good thing.

Happy 278th.