Pride & Precedence: Mind-Numbing Numbers

A continuing series by Persuasion’s Mary Musgrove

I ought to “work on accounts” Charles says.

Meaning, I must look after the household money for the butcher, the shops, the wages of our servants, and whatnot.

So now, in addition to everything else I do around here, I must attend to finances.

Charles says that he is weary of my complaints. He wishes me to see for myself how much it costs to run a home.

I will have you know that making suggestions is not complaining!

But I digress. Charles has given me a newspaper clipping with hints about managing household accounts. A budget? What a laugh. I feel like that tight-rope walker we saw perform in Bath. Disaster is inevitable!

Here are the highlights:

  • Do not guess at monthly costs. Of course I must guess! The barefaced truth is absolutely depressing, because who can afford to live? By live, I mean live graciously.
  • Track all spending. Of course I do not “track” – whatever that means. Must I account for each penny? Look, if I waited until we “have the money,” I  would never have any new clothes.
  • Maintain an emergency fund. Like we know in advance that I will be ill and need the services of Mr. Jones? No one wishes to be ill, and I do understand the need to be prudent. Still, this is no reason to let unused money pile up. Besides, sometimes a new pair of gloves is a desperate and necessary emergency.
  • Include fun money. I very much agree, but how does one define fun? A new hunting gun is not fun. An elegant landaulet of my very own (such as my sister Anne has), or a winter holiday in Bath, or April spent in London’s exclusive Mayfair district – these are fun.
  • Beware of classifying wants as needs. Again, it depends on who is doing the wanting. A cit in London — the sort of person who reads newspaper articles like this — hasn’t the same needs as a baronet’s well-born daughter.
  • Avoid Lifestyle Inflation – living a life you cannot afford. Like anyone can afford to live! My father never has, but does this stop him from commanding the elegancies of life? Moreover, the Young Squire has a reputation to uphold. We cannot serve watered-down soup to dinner guests or expect them to gnaw dry bread crusts, simply to stay on-budget.

I can sum up the problem quite easily: Not Enough Income!

Well. This budget is doomed to failure. Charles knows I am hopelessly bad at maths. It has been this way since I was in school.

It has to do with subtraction. I would be a dab hand at accounts if all I had to do was add.

Most cordially,

Mary Elliot Musgrove
Daughter of Sir Walter Elliot, Bart.
Future Mistress of Uppercross
Laura Hile (1)


Get your Beach Read on!

If you haven’t discovered Robin Helm’s Understanding Elizabeth, you’re missing out.

Don’t miss out!

Here is a wonderful opportunity to pick up the Kindle Edition for a great price.

Springtime weather is taking hold. I am ready to start packing that beach bag, for sure.

And Robin’s lovely Pride and Prejudice romance is the perfect book escape …

Understanding Elizabeth at Amazon

And it’s also at Ereader News Today, where it is the featured book. Yay!

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.


Pride & Precedence: Book Clubbing

A continuing series by Persuasion’s Mary Musgrove

Buried in the country as we are, the only thing to do is READ. So dreary!

Here in Uppercross Village, the only “clubbing” to be had is “book clubbing.”  Or as Mrs. Brock calls it, The Uppercross Ladies’ Literary Guild.

She has the Guild part right. Guilds were medieval workhouses, were they not? And let me tell you, our Literary Guild is work.

For one thing, we never get enough copies of the book. So we either have to share, or we must listen as someone reads aloud that week’s selection. Let me tell you, this puts the duh in dull.

So there we sit, knitting lace or doing needlework or whatever, while the most boring reader drones on. I am then taken to task — usually by Mrs. Poole — for not bringing my work bag. As if I even own a work bag!

Of course I have not finished the book — who could?

One can never speak reasonably to a person like Mrs. Poole. “I prefer lace made in Paris,” I told her once, as nicely as I could. And then, for her benefit, I added,  “That’s a city in France.” Mrs. Poole refused to speak to me for the remainder of the meeting. 

When I do own the book, I must pretend to have read it. I mean, seriously. Who has time for reading? 

Bless me, the titles these ladies choose! Who would want to slog through all of The Castle of Entranto? I was told it was wonderfully exciting and tragically romantic. Well. To borrow one of your modern expressions, NOT. That first chapter was what the soldiers call heavy going. On his wedding day, a sickly young prince is crushed to death by a falling helmet. As if this would ever happen!

It is the same old story, and I am weary of it.  Those of us who are ill–as I very often am — are ignored or pushed aside. We are left to to die, like poor Prince Conrad, forsaken by uncaring friends and family.

But when I shared my disgust — for are not book clubs about honest opinions? — one of the members burst into tears and ran from the room. Apparently The Castle of Entranto is her favorite book. Can I help it if I did not like the first chapter?

And I ask you, weeping over something as paltry as a book? Tears ought to be reserved for financial crises — such as being unable to purchase a darling pink parasol or a much-needed pair of dancing slippers.

I trust that your book club meetings are more tolerable than mine.

Most cordially,

Mary Elliot Musgrove
Daughter of Sir Walter Elliot, Bart.
Future Mistress of Uppercross
Laura Hile (1)

And the eBook winner is … Jen Red!

Cat looking on as names are ready to go into the hat …

Congratulations, Jen Red!

Jennifer, Redlarczyk, you are the winner of our Friday the 13th Darcy By Any Other Name giveaway!

Happy Dance!

Contact me on FB messenger with your email — or your friend’s — and I will send the eBook right out.

Happy Reading ahead, that’s for sure!

Thanks to everyone who entered.



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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“Friday the 13th” eBook Giveaway

Friday the 13th.

Tradition tells us it’s a “freaky” day, when bad things can easily happen.

According to Disney, even a body swap!

Let’s bring on some good luck for a change. Like an eBook giveaway.

That’s right. I’m offering Darcy By Any Other Name — my lighthearted Darcy-Collins body swap — to one lucky winner.

This giveaway is limited to USA residents only. To enter, leave a comment here before midnight, Friday, April 13, 2018. I’ll draw names out of a hat and will announce the winner on April 14th.

Me, unlucky?  But I’m so cute and fluffy!

Do you already own a copy? Enter anyway! If you win, I’ll be happy to send the prize to a friend of your choosing.

Here’s my question for you. Which “Friday the 13th” superstition creeps you out the most? 

  • black cats crossing your path
  • don’t walk under that ladder
  • bad luck comes in threes
  • don’t break the mirror
  • beware of those sidewalk cracks
  • don’t spill the salt
  • no umbrellas inside

Or perhaps you have another bad luck tale? Do tell!

Lia London and her daughter made this fun Freaky Friday Darcy review.