Category Archives: Beyond Austen

Writing Revolution

Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks.

I’m in the very final stage of publishing my newest book, Understanding Elizabeth. Because it’s my seventh indie publishing effort, some steps are easier for me, but others have become more complicated.

understanding-elizabeth-09

My earliest writing (the Guardian Trilogy) consisted of outlining the basic plot, writing the chapters, sending my work to my betas, taking their corrections, posting on Beyond Austen (as well as Derbyshire Writer’s Guild, Darcy & Lizzy, Fanfiction, and Austen Underground), formatting, one final edit, and publishing.

I now understand that it is much easier to format as I write, so that isn’t the huge headache it used to be, but I have become much pickier (real word?) about my writing.

I rushed to publish my first six books, but with this latest one, I have taken six months between completing the writing of the story and publishing it. In addition to all the steps listed above (minus posting on all those forums except Beyond Austen), I have gone through six edits and rewrites. I finished the final rewrite yesterday, and I’m nearly ready to release my child to make her way in the world.

Today, I hope to put the book in the print template so I’ll have a page count for the cover designer. I also want to finish the formatting of the ebook version and send it to my very talented friend, author Wendi Sotis. She’s a wizard at all things tech, and she has the final look at my formatting.

With a little luck, I may publish the ebook Saturday. 

Exciting times!

 

Goals

Never Give Up

philippians-3-13-14

During these last days of 2016, I have been evaluating my progress towards my goals for the year.

I did lose forty pounds, and I’ve kept the weight off during the holidays. That’s a large check. Yay, me!

However, I wanted to publish two books, and I have yet to publish even one. Yes, I finished writing Understanding Elizabeth, but I’m in the editing process.

Just as the verses say, it’s time for me to forget what I have not achieved and focus on my goal: to publish the book. Dwelling on my failure will only bog me down and defeat me.

Instead, I need to look ahead. Eyes forward. A new year is coming.

I will pass that finish line soon. In fact, I already have an idea for the book that will follow Understanding Elizabeth.

As soon as I hit the publish button on KDP, I will start writing and posting Mr. Darcy’s Dog Tale on BeyondAusten.com.

Happy 2017 to all of you! What are your goals for the new year? If you have no target, you won’t hit it.

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

DSC_3951_Iván_Melenchón_Serrano_MorgueFile - CopyPersuasion 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.

Right now I’m working on a novel, tentatively calledBeFunky_Stenciler_1A 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.

 

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!

Review of Accidentally Yours

Accidentally Yours by Robin Helm.

Thank you to Wendi Sotis (author of Promises, Dreams & Expectations, The Gypsy Blessing, and All Hallows Eve) for this wonderful review!

A Tale of Two Darcys

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a modern woman in possession of Free Time, must be wishing to read more about Mr. Darcy.”

IrwingWilesRussianTeaToday we sit down to tea with Robin Helm, author of Accidentally Yours. This engaging writer has launched the first book of a trilogy of novels (Yours By Design), featuring Mr Darcy as the Lead.

Or should I rather say, Mr Darcys. For there are two versions of that gentleman in this series, and both are involved in a most amusing time-switch. A modern American is transported to Regency-era Derbyshire.  And my own Mr Darcy (albeit darker and more willful) appears in modern America to take his place. 

Both of them are in love with Elizabeth Bennet. 

An intriguing premise, is it not?

I must ask, how did you come up with the idea?

“I beg your pardon, Miss Austen, but I have always thought the change in Darcy was nearly too drastic and certainly very sudden,” Robin Helm tells me. “Most people don’t change their total outlook on life and behavior in a matter of months. As I thought about it, the question came to me: What if he wasn’t Fitzwilliam Darcy, but another man entirely? All three books are told from each Darcy’s points of view.”

A 200-year step back is no small undertaking for an author. What have you learned from writing this book?

“I wouldn’t want to go back in time to live, but I would enjoy visiting there. I’d miss modern conveniences too much. The research for these books has shown me just how different life was in 1795. I like air conditioning, central heat, hot and cold running water, cars, telephones, and all the other ‘toys’ of our time.”

Frankly, my dear, I struggle with noise and the frantic pace of your modern life. The excessive violence and sensuality on the television is…startling.AccidentallyYours-RobinHelm

“All of my books are PG or PG-13. I don’t write explicit sexual scenes, but some of the themes may be upsetting to children. That’s code for, ‘Bad things happen, and people die.’”

Ah. In other words, Accidentally Yours is entertaining.  And is it amusingly authentic as well? That is, how do you manage the male point of view?

“I joined some football discussion forums to get a feel for how men talk when women aren’t around. I don’t post; I only read. It’s been an eye-opener — and more than a little addicting.”

Before publication, Accidentally Yours was serialized on a popular on-line fiction forum, Beyond Austen. Was this a help?

“One of the great advantages of posting a work in progress with Beyond Austen is that reader feedback helps you to know what’s working and what isn’t. Because of things that readers said, I have adjusted the plot and actually changed several things which I had already written. The plot took a very important and different twist.”

And how did readers respond to your two Darcys?

“Diana Oaks said, ‘Reading this is a bit like eating something that mixes sweet and bitter — like French Vanilla Ice Cream with a bitter Dark Chocolate topping. I’m enjoying both, but the intermingling of the two does interesting things in the palette of my mind.’”

RobinHelm-2What pursuits occupy your free time?

“I’m interested in a wide variety of things -– reading, cake decorating, molding candies, playing music (piano, organ, keyboard, flute, choir, praise band), playing games on my phone, watching and learning about football, coaching speech performances, and going to movies. I seem to have a particular talent for gaining and losing weight, too. Right now, I’m losing again.”

And what are you currently reading? For an author is always reading.

The Mortal Instruments. Next up, Divergence.”

What was the book that most influenced your life — and why?

“The Bible. What I’ve studied in the Bible has affected my entire world view. It is a part of who I am, what I say, what I write — it changed me forever.”

Which are your favorite films?

“I love period films made from books. Obviously, all the Austen works qualify, and I have several versions of each. I also have North and South, The Inheritance, Wives and Daughters, Little Dorrit, Jane Eyre, Daniel Daronda, and many others. I have a huge collection of Disney movies, mainly because I love the music. The way that it changes through the years is interesting. For instance, the music in Snow White is quite different from that in Beauty and the Beast.

“I’m also a science fiction nerd. I love X Men, The Avengers, The Mortal Instruments, The Twilight Saga, I Am Four, Beastly, Transformers, The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, Star Wars, Star Trek, and anything else with computer graphics. My favorite television shows are “Big Bang Theory,” “Person of Interest,” and “The Mentalist.”

I take it you are fond of music.

“There is no musical genre which I hate or love in its entirety. I have very eclectic tastes -– from classical to hip-hop. “Rap” is not music. It’s (bad) poetry set to music, but nobody sings. I actually like rap mixed with singing, like the song “Hall of Fame.” Right now, “Imagine Dragons” tops my list.

Tell us about your Guardian novels.
Guardian-RobinHelm
In Guardian, the first volume of The Guardian Trilogy, a Christian fantasy fiction series, the powerful and imposing Xander/Darcy, Chief of Guardian Angels, has protected exceptional humans from demonic forces over the course of ten millennia without losing a single battle. In 1989, he receives an unusual assignment which forever changes his ordered existence and alters the course of human history. The story follows his loss of the battle for his own heart while guarding supernaturally gifted Elizabeth Bennet from the evil which surrounds her. He struggles to resist her as she grows from a precocious child into a beautiful, intelligent woman. The veil dividing the physical and spiritual planes is drawn aside to reveal warfare on an unprecedented scale as Elizabeth develops her gifts and her guardian discovers his emotions.

How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

“I have an author page on Amazon, and you can find me on Facebook, Twitter @rmhelm, Instagram @jrhelm, LinkedIn, Goodreads, Jane Started It, and BeyondAusten.com. I cannot seem to get away from myself.”

What can we expect from you in the future?

The second volume of The Yours by Design series, Sincerely Yours, is already completed, and I hope to publish it in the late spring. I am presently writing the third volume in the series, Forever Yours, and have targeted a fall publishing date.

“After that, I’m thinking of writing an allegory, mystery, or comedy. I always seem to write my books in series, because I just can’t tell the whole story in one book.”

Robin RedbreastWhat can readers who enjoy Accidentally Yours do to help make it successful?

“Write reviews and post them on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords. Also, tell other people you liked my books. Facebook is a great place to do that.”

And now, before you go, do share a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us.

~ Prologue ~

His anger ruled him as he spurred his horse to go ever faster, disregarding the danger in the grove. Too late, he saw the massive tree, and then he was flying. Weightless, he floated as time slowed to a crawl. Low branches tore at the skin of his neck and face, lacerating him with exquisite pricks of pain, and he felt each one.

He had no time to think. He could not stop himself. There was nothing he could grab, nothing he could hold, nothing which could save him.

The impact was almost a relief. He had finally stopped. A thousand infinitesimal lights sparkled behind his eyes, and the brilliance hurt, but suddenly, there was nothing at all. He was in velvet darkness. There was no sound, no sensation. He felt no more pain.

Is this how it feels to be dead? he wondered.

Blessed oblivion.

~ And from the end of the book: ~

So many things have changed since I arrived, thought Will as the servant opened the front door to receive them. What if Jane Bennet is now meant to marry Richard instead of Charles? Will Elizabeth forgive my interference then? How will Charles react to the knowledge that I kept him from Jane all those months? How will he ever accept that he lost Jane because of me, especially if she marries my cousin? Dear Lord, I know You have a plan for each of us. Please guide me in the right path to accomplish Your will. 

Freedom from myself

I confess that I have 5,221 pins on Pinterest. You can see for yourself, if you’re so inclined. I have thirty-six boards on everything from Austen, getting organized, decorating ideas, wedding ideas, books, quotes, sports, music, teaching, grandchildren (in case I ever have any), and gardening, to movies, characters, saving money, and repairing things. Food alone takes six boards (sweets, cookies, cakes, crock pot recipes, favorite recipes, and beverages). Though I think I’ve used fewer than ten pins, I love the way that the site expands my imagination and thinking. I look at things differently because of some of the things I’ve pinned.

For instance, I am now on an organizing and decorating streak. I want freedom, folks. I want to be free from clutter, free from junk, free from old clothes, free from frumpy style, free from totally outdated decorating, and free from looking for things I know I have but I can’t find. When I can stand on the steps to my attic and fill two thirty-three gallon trashbags with junk to throw away without ever leaving the steps, I have too much stuff which I don’t need and won’t ever use.

Apartment living room

Apartment living room

I recently spent several days with my twenty-two year old daughter, shopping on a budget to redecorate her apartment over our garage, helping her paint, and enjoying our time together as we worked. She has inspired me.
Cozy corner

Cozy corner

Wall art

Wall art

Bedroom word art

Bedroom word art

I have thrown away at least one big trashbag of junk each week this summer, and I’m going to keep doing that until the “stuff” is gone. I donated two huge bags of clothing and shoes to The Closet yesterday, and I’ll hit the attic again today. If something is salvageable, but I no longer need or want it, I’ll give it away. I filled a third bag from my closet today, and I’ll take it to Christian services this week. The job would be too big if I tried to do it all at once, so I’m doing it in the same way I would eat an elephant – one bite at a time.

As the confusion disappears, my mind clears. I’m writing more prolifically and with more inspiration than I have in months. I am better satisfied with my surroundings, though I still have far to go. Before school starts (and both my daughter and I have new classrooms to ready), I want to clean and paint both porches, repot plants, paint my home office, and plant a few bushes.

July is the month of freedom when we celebrate Independence Day in the United States. I’m going to take the idea a little further than having a cookout. I’m going to declare my freedom from my hoarder tendencies and kill my packrat persona.

Who’s with me?