Category Archives: Emma



A Very Austen Christmas…

There are several giveaways still active for A Very Austen Christmas and even more coming in December.

A Very Austen Christmas - 3D

Serena at Savvy Verse & Wit posted a lovely book review with an excerpt from Laura’s story. The giveaway will end December 5.

Nissa, Of Pens and Pages, presented the backstory of my original character, Thomas, along with a wonderful review. Her giveaway ends  December 9.

On Laura Hartness’s blog, The Calico Critic, you’ll find an excerpt from my story, as well as a giveaway ending December 9.

Giveaways at Claudine’s JustJane1813, author Chautona Havig’s lovely blog, Ceri’s Babblings of a Bookworm, and Janet’s More Agreeably Engaged have already ended; however, there are author biographies, story blurbs, author interviews, story excerpts, and great reviews at those sites.

Upcoming giveaways, reviews, and other fun events are scheduled throughout December at Meredith’s Austenesque Reviews, Elisabeth’s Poolside Musings, Candy’s So Little Time, Anna’s Diary of an Eccentric, and Rita’s From Pemberley to Milton.

In other exciting news, Laura Hile is releasing the second edition of her Mercy’s Embrace books. Her book one, So Rough a Course, cover reveal  will be at JustJane 1813 on December 2. That’s tomorrow! Be sure to stop by and cheer her on.

You’re going to LOVE the new covers. I’ve seen them, and they are truly beautiful. I would love to post her new cover myself, but you’ll just have to wait until tomorrow. (Insert evil laugh.)

More to come, too! Watch for upcoming reviews, blog posts, and giveaways of So Rough A Course at Savvy Verse & Wit, Of Pens and Pages, and The Calico Critic.

Another bit of good news – Laura Hile, Wendi Sotis, Barbara Cornthwaite, and I have all lowered the prices of our other books throughout December. Merry Christmas!


We Beat the Nekkid Guy!

Did that sound weird?

20171114_001731_resizedI was so excited to see this that I immediately took a picture. You see, I’m well aware that our Christmas anthology can be #1 in one hour and #2 in the next. In fact, that’s happened several times since we (Laura Hile, Barbara Cornthwaite, Wendi Sotis, and I) hit #1 Best Seller status (in our category) on Amazon.

I wanted to have that picture to live the moment over and over. I even reverted to my cheerleader days, chanting, “We’re number one! We’re number one!” I nearly tripped over my office and broke another ankle. Ha! It wasn’t pretty.

Now, about that nekkid guy – we didn’t literally beat a nekkid guy, so you can relax now. We don’t plan to take the journey into that particular genre. Ever.


Do you see that third book in the row? That’s a $.99 nekkid guy cover which promises a certain kind of book. Clean books that cost $3.99 rarely beat such an animal. A book just like that one kept my last solo publication, Understanding Elizabeth, from ever reaching #1. I can’t even say the name of that book in polite company. Not in impolite company, either.

The book in the middle is a $.99 anthology. It’s rare to outsell anything which is $.99. That’s another cause for rejoicing.

The middle book and A Very Austen Christmas switch places every time either one of us sells a book or two. I’m okay with that. It’s a mostly clean read with a non-nekkid-guy cover.

At least we’re remaining the #1 new release.

This is a book that friendship built. It was a labor of love and support between friends who’ve never met. I think the four of us should get together soon. What do you think? Should we meet in Oregon (Laura), New York (Wendi), South Carolina (me), or Ireland (Barbara)? Just a hint concerning my vote: my heritage is English/Scots/Irish.

A Very Austen Christmas

Book Launch Tomorrow!

A Very Austen Christmas - 3DIn early June, Laura and I broached the idea of an anthology to include all the authors of Jane Started It, along with our lovely friend, JAFF author Wendi Sotis. Susan Kaye, Pamela Aiden, and Gayle Mills originally intended to be a part of the project, but real life threw several hitches in their plans. Laura Hile, Barbara Cornthwaite, Wendi Sotis, and I kept the dream alive.

Tomorrow, that dream will be realized with the book launch of A Very Austen Christmas, hosted by Claudine Pepe at JustJane1813.  We are very much looking forward to reading Claudine’s review (our first one!), as well as chatting with our readers.

The kindle version is already available for pre-order (to be delivered tomorrow) on Amazon, and the print copy is live, though they are not yet linked together.

Does this sound tempting, lovely readers?

Four favorite authors, four heartwarming stories set in Jane Austen’s Regency world.

Robin Helm, Laura Hile, Wendi Sotis, and Barbara Cornthwaite revisit Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Mansfield Park to deliver the uplifting holiday storytelling you’re looking for.

Her Christmas Gift by Robin Helm
Elizabeth Bennet finds herself snowbound at Rosings with two rejected, but highly eligible, suitors. Does either man have a chance? Will her childhood friend, Meryton’s golden boy, win her affection, or will she accept the master of Pemberley? Perhaps she will refuse them both a second time. Her Christmas Gift deftly combines tension and emotion with humor and romance.

The Christmas Matchmaker by Laura Hile
It’s raining; it’s pouring – and what could be better than a little Christmas matchmaking? So says Emma Woodhouse who is unexpectedly stranded at Netherfield Park. Mr. Darcy disagrees, for she has someone else in mind for adorable Elizabeth Bennet. Amid meddling, misunderstanding, and an unwelcome proposal or two, will True Love find a way?

No Better Gift by Wendi Sotis
On his way to Derbyshire to spend Christmas with his family, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy plans to retrieve an item he left behind during his rushed escape from Netherfield—and the country miss who touched his heart. Finding Meryton practically deserted, he fears the worst. What fate could have fallen upon this once-thriving village in only three weeks? More importantly, was Miss Elizabeth Bennet in danger?

Mistletoe at Thornton Lacey by Barbara Cornthwaite
When Edmund Bertram realizes that Fanny is the perfect wife for him, he wants to propose without delay. What better time than at Christmas? Ah, but the course of true love never does run smooth …

A Very Austen Christmas - jpeg

The stories are arranged according to length. Mine is really a novella of 30K words, and Laura’s is 24K words. We have decided that we can’t write short stories (insert laugh). Wendi’s is 17K words and Barbara’s is 7K words. Curl up in your PJs with a mug of hot cocoa and enjoy the writing of four friends with quite different styles and story lines.

We hope that Sue, Pamela, and Gayle will be able to join us in our next anthology. (Yes, I just said next anthology!)

Southern Fried Austen

A hot mess

Charlie watched as Lizzy and Darcy went out onto the dance floor. They were so close, he couldn’t have slipped a piece of paper between them. He started to think he’d like to dance with his gal, too, so headed for the girls’ table to fetch his Janie. Turns out, he hadn’t been the only one who noticed that Lizzy and Darcy were dancing – and just how close they were.

Hot mess 3

Caroline: Would you look at that? Lizzy’s grabbed him so tight that you can’t see a speck of daylight between them. The hussy!

Lydia: Caroline, you know you’re just jealous. If you were dancin’ with that man we’d have to pry you off him with a spatula when the music ended. Why, the way you’re poutin’, I could drive to Ruby on that lip.

Kitty: I don’t blame Lizzy one bit. That man grabbed her like she was a life raft and he was on the Titanic. Lizzy hardly ever lets a man get that close to her. She’s no hussy, and don’t you say about my sister.

Jane Bea: Can you all pipe down? Charlie’s comin’, and he doesn’t want to hear this kind of talk.

Caroline: I can’t help it if your sister is all over Darcy like ugly on an ape, Janie. I bet Charlie agrees with me.

Hot mess

Jane Bea: And I bet he doesn’t. He’d be as happy as a pig in slop to have his friend datin’ my sister. He told me so. Darcy’s a hot mess, and Lizzy’s just the one to straighten him out. Now, hush up. He’s just about here.

Charlie: Hi, sugar. You ready to hit the floor? We can’t let those two have all the fun.

Jane Bea: Yep. It’s time to run with the big dogs or stay on the porch. Let’s get out there before the slow dance is over and we end up in a line dance instead.

Charlie: Don’t you like line dancin’, darlin’?

Jane Bea: You know I do, but I like slow dancin’ with you better.

Charlie: Nobody but me?

Jane Bea: Nobody but you, Charlie boy. You’re a hot mess, but you’re my hot mess. Any other gal who goes after you will draw back a nub.

Charlie: If I have to be a mess, at least I’m a hot one. Come on, sugar booger.

Caroline: I’m glad they’re gone. I thought I was gonna toss my cookies.

Emma: Are you all right, Caroline? Feelin’ sick? We could go back to the room.

Caroline: Emma, I love you, but sometimes you’re one fry short of a happy meal. Bless your heart.


Emma: You want me to get you some fries? There’s a waiter. I can call him over. He’s really cute. Maybe you can meet up with him after he gets off his shift.

Lydia: Lawd help you, Caroline. You’re so pitiful Emma’s tryin’ to fix you up with the waiter. Your Mama’d have to tie a pork chop around your neck to get the dog to play with you.

Bless Your Heart

Caroline: Lyddie, you don’t have the good sense God gave a goose. If you can’t think of anything better to say, just keep your mouth shut.

Lydia: Happy to oblige, honey, ‘cause I think that cowboy is headed this way, and he’s been makin’ eyes at me ever since we walked in. Let me show y’all how it’s done. My ears are already burnin’, ‘cause I know y’all will be talkin’ about me when I’m gone. I may as well meet him halfway. Bye, y’all!

Emma: Caroline, there’s a guy by himself at the bar. I can probably get him to come ask you to dance.

Caroline: Emma, I appreciate the thought, but I can do it myself. It’s easy as fallin’ off a log. I better go get him now. If he stays at the bar, he’ll be drivin’ the porcelain bus before long.

Kitty: I reckon I’ll come with you, Caroline. I don’t plan to spend my night in Atlanta sittin’ at a table watchin’ y’all having’ a high old time. I’m ready to paint the town.

Caroline: Come on then. That boy’s probably so broke he can’t pay attention, but he’s a hot mess. I won’t be around long enough to worry about the mess part.

Kitty: I hear y’all. Comin’, Emma?

Hot mess 4

Emma: I don’t know. Dancin’ makes me as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rockin’ chairs.

Caroline: Sweetheart, I know you’re so clumsy, you could trip over a cordless phone, bless your heart, but anybody can slow dance. Just hold onto him and sway.

Emma: Okay. I’ll try, but if I trip the guy or fall myself and break a leg, it’s your fault.

Caroline: It always is. Time to go, gals. We can’t let Lizzy have all the fun. Maybe I’ll dance with Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome after she’s finished.

Kitty: You just keep on tellin’ yourself that, Caroline. Keep the dream alive.

Caroline: Uh huh. We’ll see about that. Eat my dust.

Kitty: Tastes like chicken.

Southern Fried Austen

Finer than frog’s hair

Lizzy, Jane Bea, Lydie, and Kitty met Caroline and her cousin, Emma, at their hotel in Atlanta on Saturday before the NASCAR race there on Sunday.  Mary Bess wouldn’t go, on account of it being on a church day, and she didn’t think racing on Sunday was spiritual, even though her sisters promised they’d attend services in the morning. Just like the old song, Mary Bess would “not be moved,” insisting that she was like “a tree planted by the water,” and that wellspring was in Sugarfield. According to her, Atlanta was a “pit of vipers and heathens.” On the way to Atlanta, Lizzy told her other sisters they could skip church on Sunday since Mary Bess had already preached them a sermon. By the time they sat down to eat with Caroline and  Emma in the hotel restaurant, Kitty and Lydie were laughing so hard, they’d nearly wet their panties. Finer than frog's hair

Lydie: This is a blast! We’re in high cotton now! I’m glad Mary Bess stayed at home. Anyway, I’m fixin’ to catch me a good lookin’ man or two this weekend, and Mary’d be about as useful with that as a screen door on a submarine. I’m gonna break bad, so stand back, ladies, and eat my dust.

Jane Bea: I sure don’t need another man. My Charlie and his buddy are going to meet up with us at the Speedway. I’m happier than a tornado in a trailer park.

Caroline: Will’s coming with Charlie? Ladies, if he don’t get your fire started, your wood’s wet.

Kitty: I heard tell he’s fine as frog’s hair.

Caroline: You’d call an alligator a lizard. He’s finer than frog’s hair split four ways.

Lydie: Lizzy said he didn’t impress her much.

Caroline: Well, Lizzy’s porch light’s on, but nobody’s home.  That man is hot enough to boil ice water by stickin’ his finger in it. Think of how useful he’d be if you wanted to make sweet tea.


Lizzy: Your elevator never did go all the way to the top floor, Caroline. I never said he didn’t look good. The man is movie star handsome. Shoot, he could be the chiseled hero of a romance novel or be a male model, but he’s so snooty he stands around as lonely as a pine tree in a parking lot.

Caroline: My mama told me that a bit dog always hollers. You talk about that Will Darcy feller an awful lot for somebody who doesn’t like him. That’s all I’ve got to say.

Emma: (clapping hands in delight) Oooo! I bet they’d be a perfect match. He’s fine as frog’s hair, and Lizzy is lookin’ for a frog to kiss.

Lizzy: Emma, you don’t know your head from a hole in the ground. Bless your sweet heart. What in Sam hill makes you think I want to kiss a frog?

Emma: Why, to turn him into your Prince Charming, silly goose.

Caroline: Emma, you’re about as useful as a football bat.

Lizzy: Well, Caroline, pigs are flying somewhere, because I agree with you.  Emma’s barking up the wrong tree. I need a man like I need a third hand when I don’t have but two pockets.

Finer than frog hair

Lydie: I’m ready to stuff my piehole before I starve slap to death. My belly button is plum stuck to my backbone. Emma, you can scout me out a frog to kiss while we eat. I’m not too proud.

Kitty: Land o’ Goshen. Who’s that man sittin’ at the bar having a Coke? I think my eyeballs just melted.

Jane, Lizzy, and Caroline: Will Darcy!

Lydie: Caroline, you’re right as rain. Finer than frog’s hair split four ways.

Excellent Emmas, Robin’s Recommendations

Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam

Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam

I own four different film versions of Jane Austen’s Emma: the 1972 six-part BBC miniseries with Doran Godwin and John Carson; the 1996 Hollywood film with Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeremy Northam, Toni Collette, and Ewan McGregor; the 1996 ITV TV film starring Kate Beckinsale, Mark Strong, Samantha Morton, and Raymond Coulthard; and the 2009 four-part BBC miniseries featuring Romola Garai, Jonny Lee Miller, Louise Dylan, and Rupert Evans.
Kate Beckinsale and Mark Strong

Kate Beckinsale and Mark Strong

Everyone in my family has read the book, so we have had lively debates concerning our favorite film adaptations. None of us like the 1972 miniseries; everyone seems too old for their parts and the film quality is poor. We like different characters in the 1996 Hollywood and ITV versions, though we all prefer Kate Beckinsale to Gwyneth Paltrow (too nasal and too old for the part). Because the handsomest guys win with me, I like Jeremy Northam best of all the Mr. Knightleys and Raymond Coulthard for Frank Churchill. My husband thinks that Mark Strong does a better job with the Mr. Knightley part, and I do see his point. I will also agree that Strong is quite handsome when he wears his hat. My husband, influenced mainly by her pretty face, gives Kate Beckinsale the nod for the part of Emma. My daughter prefers Beckinsale as well. For the part of Harriet, Toni Collette is a wonderful actress, but she doesn’t look the part. We all agree that Samantha Morton deserves the nod there.

Beckinsale and Strong See what I mean about the hat?

Beckinsale and Strong
See what I mean about the hat?

We also are unanimous that the 1996 Kate Beckinsale version deserves kudos for beginning and ending with the chicken thieves, and we like the inclusion of the harvest ball during which Emma lets go of her pride and extends her hand to Robert Martin. That’s all true to the book.

Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller

Romola Garia and
Jonny Lee Miller

The 2009 BBC miniseries stands alone. At first, I thought it was too much of a departure from the real character of Emma Woodhouse, but when I watched it a second time, I became a fan – so much so that my husband bought me the DVD set for our thirty-seventh wedding anniversary. I like all the characters, though Louise Dylan should never be filmed lying down. That angle does dreadful things to her neck and face. Jonny Lee Miller is not devastatingly handsome, but he nails the part, though no one else will ever match Mark Strong’s rant after everyone learns of the engagement between Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax. What we particularly liked was the fresh angle on the story.
Romola Garai

Romola Garai

It opens with Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill being sent away from Highbury as children, contrasting their lives with Emma’s sheltered childhood at Hartfield. All three of them lost their mothers, but Emma’s father was the only one who kept his children with him. That explains why he is so loath to let Emma go, and it gives a plausible excuse for the actions of Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill. They were, in Anne Shirley’s words, “kindred spirits,” having shared similar backgrounds.

In other words, I have no clear favorite. I watch my three favorites, choosing according to my mood. Whom do you prefer?

Good news for bacon lovers!

Perhaps Austen was onto something when she had Emma Woodhouse send Mrs. and Miss Bates a hindquarter of pork. One of my favorite lines belongs to Miss Bates as she exclaims to Emma, “What a happy porker it must have come from!” She then shrieks at her hearing-impaired mama, “PORK, Mother!”

This is Australian National Bacon Week, and it occurs to me that Ponce de Leon could have saved himself a great deal of time and expense spent searching for the Fountain of Youth. The secret to long life probably lolled happily in a mud hole on a nearby farm. (Hence the old saying, “Happy as a pig in slop.”)



According to the Huffington Post, a 105-year-old Texas woman says the secret to her longevity is bacon. She became a widow at age 38, reared 7 children alone, and worked as everything from a cotton picker to a hay baler. I’m not surprised that she didn’t credit her long life to getting plenty of sleep.

“I love bacon. I eat it everyday,” Pearl Cantrell told NBC affiliate KRBC when asked her secret to living so long. “I don’t feel as old as I am. That’s all I can say.”

I admire this woman, a great-great-grandmother who still enjoys country dancing, waltzing, and two-stepping, and who kept mowing her own lawn until the age of 100.

When Oscar Mayer heard about Pearl’s love of cured pork, they sent one of its Wienermobiles to her home with a special bacon delivery. She rode “shot-bun” in the Wienermobile through her hometown.

I’m stopping short of advocating that our readers follow Mrs. Cantrell’s example. Most doctors would advise people to avoid the high-fat meat. Even so, I’m also not a person who thinks people should give up foods that they absolutely love. Perhaps moderation is the key?