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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!)


Oops, Jane did it again!

I was busy with RL last week and didn’t see the story that Jane Austen took pen to the pages of her local marriage register and signed up, first with  Henry Frederic Howard Fitzwilliam of London and then again with Edmund Arthur William Mortimer of Liverpool.

There are lots of sources, The Daily Mail and Times of India were my primaries. And they seem to be nearly the same story. They all mention this will be Hampshire’s time to shine with Jane Austen 200th, a celebration of all things Jane. (Jane Austen lived much of her writing life in Hampshire so they get the honor.)

It’s an interesting story, one of the world’s most celebrated spinsters faking, not once but twice, marriage announcements. Very naughty and very modern. However, I am always skeptical when information, readily available for, in this case, well over a century suddenly comes to light. Especially when you consider how many genealogy fans there are all over the world combing the dusty pages of family histories.

Maybe it’s just the mystery fan in me rebelling. Maybe someone stumbled on this tidbit a long time ago and has been saving it. I don’t know.

I’m wearing my wary face on this one.

Someone I Know is Dying

I know, we’re all dying. That’s a given. This person is not close to me, but someone who comes up in conversation and their death will affect my daughter and her children. A lot. This person has been chronically ill for years, but it only now that they and the immediate family have been talking about the end of things.

All I can do is to pray about the situation. Comfort and peace is all I can think about. Not being close there isn’t a place for me in the process. Standing outside looking in I can see why people become advocates of causes when someone dies particularly of a self-induced illness. Anger and busyness can put aside the sadness and pain. For a while I suppose.

The saddest juxtaposition is that spring is coming. That means my house is coming alive with ladybugs and bulbs are blooming. The seasons and time move onward. That’s the only solution for sadness.



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.


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!


A Little Something after all these years…


Dy Brougham Searches for Lt.Richard Fitzwilliam
Pamela Aidan

(1815, 2 years or so after Darcy & Elizabeth are wed)

The wagon jolted and shivered over the shell pocked roads until Dy’s teeth ached and his fingers cramped in their grip on its splintery sides. Rain continued to fall in unrepentant bursts that were soaking through his oiled cape. His hat was most likely a loss, even for its protective coverings, and the cold crept into the reaches of muscle and bone, both thoroughly wracked by the paths he had been required to travel to get to the farm house in which Darcy’s cousin was said to have been deposited before Uxbridge moved out.

“Il ya la ferme de Emille. Nous sommes presque hors de la pluie damnés,” his driver tossed over his shoulder. (There is Emille’s farm. We’re almost out of the damned rain.”) Continue reading

Southern Fried Austen

I’ll Give You Something to Cry About

After church, everyone went back to the Bennet family farm for Sunday dinner. Elizabeth and Darcy were in the front hallway with her Daddy and Mama when Lydia came through the front door, draggin’ George Wickham behind her. Her daddy took one look at him and squinted.

Mr. Bennet: Boy, I thought I told you not to come ‘round here no more.

Lydia: (crying loudly) But, Daddy, Will Darcy’s here, and Charlie’s comin’. Why can Lizzy and Jane bring their boyfriends, but I can’t? It’s not fair!

Cry about

Mr. Bennet: Lydie, stop that cryin’, or I’ll give you somethin’ to cry about.

Mrs. Bennet: Tom, it’s not Christian to turn the boy away, and you’ve just got back from church. I say he’s welcome at my dinner table on Sunday, even if he can strut sittin’ down. We sat in the same church together this morning, and we can sit down together around a meal. Girls, come help me set everything out. You men can sit in the livin’ room.

The women went to the dining room, goin’ back and forth from the kitchen, settin’ out the food on the dinin’ room table, except the desserts. They went on the buffet table.

Lydia: Mama, George wants me to be in the Miss Sugarfield pageant. I need some new clothes, for I don’t have anythin’ fit to wear.

Mrs. Bennet: Lydia, you know what your Daddy said. If Lizzy isn’t in it, you can’t be either.

Lydia: But, Mama. Lizzy doesn’t like beauty pageants. You know she won’t do it, and I want to be in it.

Lizzy: Nobody’s asked me to be in the Miss Sugarfield pageant. Does it offer scholarship money?

Lydia: Yeah, but you already have a degree. What would you need with scholarship money?

Lizzy: I want to get my master’s degree in journalism.

Lydia: What for? There aren’t any jobs around here for that degree. You’d do better to get a master’s in education. There’re always openings for teachers.

Lizzy: I don’t want to be a school teacher. I want to report on the news and write. Jane’s the school teacher. Come to think of it, she’d get a raise if she had her master’s degree. She should be in the pageant, too.

Lydia: (crying loudly) But I want to win the pageant. I don’t want you two to be in it. It’s not fair! Mama, tell Lizzy it’s not fair!

I'll give you something to cry about

Mrs. Bennet: Lydie, hush up that cryin’, or I’ll let your daddy give you somethin’ to cry about. Here’s Kitty and Mary. Girls, grab those last few dishes and set the table. Jane and Charlie better get here soon. It’s time to eat before the food gets cold.

Kitty and Mary: Yes, ma’am.

Lizzy: I think that’s everything, Mama. It looks wonderful! Good enough to eat. Well, look what the cat drug in. What took you so long, Jane?

Jane: We talked a spell with Charlie’s Mama and Daddy. They wanted us to go out to eat with them, but I told them Mama had been up since dawn cookin’ for us. I promised we’d go out with them next weekend. I didn’t tell Mrs. Bingley, but you can bet the farm I’ll never swap Mama’s home cookin’ for a bought meal.

Lizzy: Everything’s ready. I’ll get the men.

Mrs. Bennet: Lydie, make sure George sits on the other side of you down at that end of the table, away from your Daddy. And put away that duck tape that’s on the buffet table. It’d make him nervous as a prize turkey on Thanksgivin’ day, and he’s a guest here. We want him to feel right at home. Jane, you and Charlie sit between Lydie and your Daddy. The more people we put between George and Tom, the better. Lydie, you’ve got us stuck in a dry pond, but we’ll make the best of it.

Lydia and Jane: Yes ‘um.

Lizzy: Here they are, Mama. Tell us where to sit.

Mrs. Bennet: Lydie and Jane, sit where I told you and take Charlie and George with you. Tom, sit here at the head where you always do. Darcy, you sit at the other end of the table. Lizzy, you’re across from George. Kitty and Mary, sit between me and Lizzy. That’s good. Now, Tom, say grace.

Mr. Bennet: Lord, we thank You for this food. Please bless the hands that prepared it. Amen. Kitty, don’t keep the sweet potatoes all to yourself. Mary, I’m so dry I’m spittin’ cotton. I need some more sweet tea.

Mrs. Bennet: Thankee kindly, Mary. See if anybody else needs more tea yet. You can just leave the pitcher on the buffet table.

George: Lizzy, Lydia tells me she can’t be in the Miss Sugarfield pageant unless you’re in it. I don’t get it.

Lizzy: You don’t have to get it. Daddy said it. The end.

George: Okay. Are you goin’ to be in the pageant?

Lizzy: I’m not big on crowns and sparkly dresses. I don’t like the idea of havin’ my parts judged like a prize hog at the county fair.


That’s me, fourth from  your left, in the 1972 Miss Pageland Pageant. How about those hot pants?


George: How about money? Everybody’s big on money.

Lizzy: I suppose I like money as well as the next person. What’re you offerin’?

George: The winner gets a $5,000 scholarship. Lydia says you already have a bachelor’s degree. Do you want a graduate degree?

Lizzy: A master’s would help me get the job I want, I suppose, but I don’t know anything about pageants. I’m sure I don’t have the right clothes, and I don’t wear much makeup. I’m fine as I am. Why shear a pig?

Darcy: I’ve heard there are coaches for that sort of thing in Columbia.

Lizzy: They probably cost a lot of money, and I’m as poor as a sawmill rat.

George: I’m starting a pageant consulting business in Roseland with a satellite office once a week in Sugarfield. If you and your sisters agree to be in the pageant, I’ll cut y’all a deal on the coaches, but I expect y’all to recommend my business to other contestants.

Lizzy: Sounds good. What kind of coaches will you have?

George: Evening gown walkin, swimsuit walkin’, interview and questions, nutrition, physical fitness, clothing, hair, makeup, talent, and spiritual advisor. I already have them lined up and ready to go.

Mary: Spiritual advisor? I like that, but I don’t want to wear a skimpy swimsuit on stage.

Lydia: (snorting) No wonder. You’re flat as a fritter. If you put your bra on backwards, it’d fit.

Mrs. Bennet: Lydie, watch your mouth, or I’ll wash it out with soap.

Keep crying

Lydia: (cryin’ loudly) But it’s the gospel truth. I didn’t say anything wrong! You know Mary’s so skinny you could give her a Big Red and use her as a thermometer. It’s not fair!

Mr. Bennet: Stop that cryin’ right now, Lydie, or I’ll give you somethin’ to cry about. Be nice to your sister, too, or you can go to your room. You know better’n to talk like that at Sunday dinner.

George: Mary, you can wear a one-piece suit, and it doesn’t have to be skimpy. Our personal shopper can help you get one that looks real nice.

Mr. Bennet: Are your coaches ladies who’ve already won pageants?

George: They’re mostly men.

Mr. Bennet: Well, I be. Have the men won pageants?

George: The fitness instructor has won several male modelin’ and body buildin’ competitions, and the interview coach is well-known for producin’ winners, as long as the girl has a brain. He can’t make a girl smart who’s dumb as dirt. The walkin’ coaches have all worked with multiple winners. No other pageant consulting business has as fine a staff as I’ve put together.

Mr. Bennet: Hmm… I don’t want my girls alone with men I don’t know. You’ll have to coach ‘em two at a time.

Darcy: That’s a great idea, Mr. Bennet, or I could come along if they need a chaperone. If you agree, of course.

Mr. Bennet: That’s mighty kind of you. I know you’re a busy man.

Charlie: If Darcy’s goin’ with Lizzy, I’m goin’ with Janie.

Mr. Bennet: I’m beginnin’ to get downright comfortable now.

Talking in church

Mrs. Bennet: Not to change the subject, but I saw you two talkin’ in church, Lizzy, noisy as two skeletons dancin’ on a tin roof. You know better, and I don’t cotton to it. Mrs. Long was cranin’ her neck so much watchin’ you two I thought she’d freeze that way, and the men would have to carry her out after the service. She’ll have it all over town by midafternoon that I didn’t raise you right. Don’t shame me like that again. I need that like a tomcat needs a trousseau.

Lizzy: Sorry, Mama. The sermon was about as excitin’ as waitin’ for paint to dry, but that doesn’t excuse it. We’ll be good next Sunday.

Mrs. Bennet: I’m right glad to hear it. How about you, Will?

Darcy: My mama taught me better. I’m sorry, Mrs. Bennet.

Mrs. Bennet: You mean that?

Darcy: I’m serious as the business end of a .45. I tried to get Lizzy to hush up.

Mrs. Bennet: I’m not surprised she didn’t listen. That girl is independent as a hog on ice, and she could talk the legs off a chair. Why’d you even try to tell her to be quiet?

hush up1

Darcy: Simple. She told me what you cook for Sunday dinner, and I didn’t want to miss it by bein’ sent home. I want my two desserts.

Mrs. Bennet: That’s layin’ it on thick as fleas on a farm dog, but I like it.

Charlie: I want my two desserts, too, and I didn’t talk in church. Everybody knows you’re the best cook in two counties.

Mrs. Bennet: Charlie, everybody at my table gets two desserts. You can hang your hat on it. No need to butter me up.

George: Do I get two desserts?

Mr. Bennet: I guess so, since you went to church, and you’re at our table. That makes you brave as the first man who ate an oyster.

George: So, you won’t use duct tape on me again?

Mr. Bennet: I can’t make any promises about that. I still got one eye on you.

George: At least you’re honest.

Mr. Bennet: I am. If I say a hen dips snuff, you can look under her wing for the can.

Darcy: (whispering to Lizzy) What does that mean?

Lizzy: (whispering to Darcy) Hush up, or you won’t get your two desserts.

Darcy: (whispering to Lizzy) But, I got all gussied up and everything.

Lizzy: (whispering to Darcy) Mama’s lookin’ again.

Mrs. Bennet: It’s fine, Lizzy. He was raised on concrete. I’ll have to make allowances. Let the man have his two desserts.

Darcy: I’m happy as a clam at high tide.

Mrs. Bennet: Eh?

Lizzy: Never mind, Mama. He went to college up North and in California. He’s a live dictionary, but at least he tries to fit in down here.

Mrs. Bennet: Lizzy, didn’t I teach you anything? Get him his sweets. When a man’s eatin’, he can’t talk.

Darcy: (whispering to Lizzy) Your Mama’s just like you. She speaks ten words a minute with gusts up to fifty.

Mrs. Bennet: I heard that. Don’t try to make a livin’ at whisperin’. You’re loud enough to wake the dead.

Darcy: Do I still get my desserts?

Mr. Bennet: I like that boy. Lizzy, give him his desserts.