Tag Archives: Beauty Pageants

3 Day Free Spree!

The Queen wishes you to accept her gift of Understanding Elizabeth.

A few weeks ago, I was asked if I would like to be Queen for a Day on the Facebook group, Queens of Medieval Romance. Obviously, I don’t write medieval romance, but they were fine with featuring a Regency romance writer. Queen


I got this lovely badge and settled in for my day as Queen. (I always wanted to be a princess, but a queen is even better!)

Then I started thinking, as queens must do, of how to best celebrate my day on the throne, and I thought, “Give them a boon!” That’s a gift in queenspeak.

Free badge

Since I was being recognized as a Regency writer, I focused on Understanding Elizabeth, a Regency romance I published last January. I decided to make it free for THREE days.

My lovely friend and writing compatriot, Wendi Sotis, made a badge for me (because she’s wonderful like that), my encourager and head cheerleader, Laura Hile, told me to go for it, and I set Understanding Elizabeth up in Kindle to be FREE for three days. Ah, the joys of being an indie author! You can get it even if you don’t own a kindle. Just download the kindle app to your phone! Take your books with you everywhere you go!


In case you’re wondering, or even if you weren’t, I actually was a queen in my younger years. I was Miss Pageland and the Chesterfield County Farm Bureau Queen. I was also first runner-up to Princess Soya (Soybean Queen) as well as Miss Tiger, and I served as Hostess Queen for the Pageland Watermelon Festival. Ha! (Down South, we have queens for nearly every fruit, vegetable, or flower. We love those crowns, banners, and parades.)

Here I am being crowned Miss Pageland 1973 (I think) by my predecessor, the former Nancy Lyman. I’m doing the ugly cry and everything. And I’m seated on a throne! Excuse me while I delicately dab the tears glistening in my blue/green eyes. Reminds me of the scene in “Designing Women” in which Dixie Carter (Julia Sugarbaker) talks of the night Delta Burke (Suzanne Sugarbaker), her sister, won the Miss Georgia World pageant. A truly hilarious classic. You MUST watch it.



Southern Fried Austen


Lizzy came out of the dressing room in her competition swimsuit and took her stance in front of Darcy and Georgia. When the Darcys began to applaud, it caught Jane’s and Charlie’s attention. They hot-footed it over to watch.

Jane: Lawd, Lizzy! You look so fine you’re makin’ my liver quiver and my bladder splatter.

Georgia: My goodness! I’m sorry you’re sick. There’s a bathroom in the back.

Lizzy: She’s fine, Georgie. She’s just surprised that the swimsuit is so flatterin’. I think it might be the color. How’d you come up with this color for me? I’ve never even thought of wearin’ orange. Daddy wouldn’t like it.Easy as pie

Jane: Charlie told me that Georgie picked out all your clothes to complement your skin tone and hair color.  Was it hard to do, Georgie?

Georgia: Not at all. Lizzy has an exotic look with that olive skin and dark, curly hair. I put her in island colors.

Lizzy: I guess since fashion is your thing, it’s a bird’s nest on the ground.

Georgia: Huh?

Darcy: It was easy for you since it wasn’t your first rodeo.

Georgia: I’ve never been to a rodeo.

Charlie: But you have picked out clothes. This wasn’t the first time you’d ever done it.

Lizzy: I thought you were born in Georgia and grew up here in South Carolina.

Easy as falling off a log

Georgia: That’s right, but I boarded at a private high school in northern Virginia and then majored in fashion design at a college in New York.

Lizzy: How did you end up back here in South Carolina?

Georgia: I missed my family, and I wanted to come home.  Daddy built me a studio, so I’m developing my own line. “Georgie Girl.”  Several New York houses are very interested in my designs.

Darcy: Georgie is considerin’ workin’ here at CW’s as a fashion consultant.

Georgia: The more time I spend with Lizzy and Jane, the more I want to work with them. Can I choose my clientele?

Darcy: Certainly, if that’s what you want to do. We can leave your business cards at the register, and girls who want your services can contact you directly. You’re welcome to meet them here to help them choose clothes. We’ll pay you a commission on what you sell from CW’s, and you can set your own fee with your clients. I’ll help you set up a consulting business.

Lizzy: That was as easy as fallin’ off a log.

Charlie: A piece of cake.

Jane: Georgie could do that with her eyes shut.

Georgia: It’s a snap for me. A breeze. A cinch.

Darcy: Like takin’ candy from a baby.

Easy as 1 2 3

Lizzy: Have you ever taken candy from a baby?

Darcy: Can’t say as I have.

Lizzy: I tried it out when Lydia was a toddler. Not easy. But she was a five pound Robin.

Darcy: Huh?

Georgie: Huh?

Jane: She was pleasingly plump.

Fat as

Lizzy: (snorting) She was more than plump. Until she turned fifteen and lost fifty pounds, bein’ cremated was her last hope for a smokin’ hot body. She and Little Debbie were on a first-name basis. You know why Little Debbie’s face is on the box but not her body?

Little Debbie

Darcy: No, but I’m sure it’ll be fascinatin’. Go for it.

Lizzy: It was the only part of her that would fit in that little space.

Georgie: You two are precious. I’m taking notes.

Darcy: There’ll be a test later, but you won’t have to study. After all, this isn’t rocket science. Lovin’ Lizzy is easy.

Lizzy: Lovin’ you is the easiest thing I’ve ever done. You can take that to the bank.

Georgie: Huh?

Darcy: If it isn’t true, the good Lord’s a possum.

Lizzy: Honey, I’m so lucky, if I sat on a fence, the birds would feed me.

Georgie: Well, this is scary. I’m starting to understand Southern.

Lizzy: That’s no hill for a stepper.

Georgie: I take it back.

Southern Fried Austen

I’d rather …

The next week, Lizzy and Jane had an appointment with one of the beauty pageant consultants at Wickham’s business, Crowns R Us. Darcy and Charlie insisted on accompanying them, sayin’ they didn’t trust Wickham any further than they could throw him. When the girls said they could handle him, Darcy reminded them that Wickham’s whole staff was made up mostly of men – men they hadn’t ever met yet. Finally, Lizzy and Jane gave in, sayin’ they were tired of fightin’ with their boyfriends about it. Both girls were secretly relieved, though they’d rather set their teeth on fire by garglin’ lighter fluid and swallowin’ a lit match than admit it.

The four of them had lunch together in Roseland before they went to their appointment. When they finished eatin’ good Southern cookin’ (‘cept Darcy, who had a grilled chicken salad), they all piled into Darcy’s big ole Range Rover and drove to the store. They didn’t have a problem findin’ it.

Darcy: Think that’s the place, Lizzy?

Lizzy: What gave it away? The flashing, neon sign that says Crowns R Us? That’s one butt ugly sign.

Pageant perfect

Charlie: Yep. I’d rather grow a foot long rattail than let Jane go in there. It just screams tacky.

Darcy: A rat tail? Wouldn’t that be really inconvenient? You’d have to have a hole cut in your pants. Tryin’ to sit down would be interestin’.

Lizzy: It’s a hairdo. I think you missed those years down here.

Darcy: I don’t think I missed much.

Jane: Y’all know pageants are all about glitz and sparkle. Let’s go on in. It’s time for us to see what we’ve gotten ourselves into.

Lizzy: Yep. I’d rather pass an entire pack of Slim Jims through my sinus cavity than do this, but we said we would.

Darcy: And you can’t break your word?

Lizzy: I’d rather be the “Before” model in a TV infomercial sellin’ diet products than go back on what I said.

Jane: Well, let’s get it over with.

They all climbed out of Darcy’s SUV and walked across the parkin’ lot, headed for the door to Crowns R Us. The ladies went first, carryin’ gym bags. Jane and Lizzy went to the desk and checked in with the receptionist, Mrs. Young, while the men sat down to wait. Lizzy told Mrs. Young she and Jane were to see the health and fitness coach. Before long, the girls were called back, and Darcy and Charlie got up and followed them.

Darcy: I’ve never seen so many mirrors in my life. I can’t get away from myself.

Charlie: Is Mr. Muscle over there the fitness coach? I bet he has pet names for his biceps. Good grief! Look at him flexin’ his pecs. He can make them jump separately. He looks like Dwayne Johnson or Vin Diesel.

Darcy: Who?

Charlie: The Rock. The Fast and the Furious.

Darcy: TV shows?

Charlie: Have you lived under a rock for the last twenty years? Never mind.

Lizzy: I’m fixin’ to buy him a shirt. I don’t think he owns one.

Janie: Y’all hush. He’ll hear you. Here he comes. Be nice!

Fitness Coach: Hello, ladies. I’m Fred Tilney, your fitness coach. Did you bring anything fitted to wear?

Lizzy: Yep. We have on leggin’s and fitted Ts under our dresses.

Fred: (grinning) Then take off the dresses. Who are you guys?

Darcy: We’re their boyfriends. We’ll just sit down on the coach, uh, couch and watch you work.

Fred: Whatever floats your boat, sunshine. Okay, ladies. You’re both pretty, but let’s see kind of shape you’re in. Turn. Turn. Flex. Hmmm…

Lizzy: I feel like a slab of meat. I think I’d rather swallow a pack of batteries than stand up here while you look at my parts.

Fred: (pointing to her hiney) And the hindquarters of that slab need to be about ten or fifteen pounds lighter.

Lizzy: Excuse me?

Did I stutter

Fred: Did I stutter? What size do you wear?

Lizzy: A six.

Fred: And you look like it. You need to be a four, or even better, a two, so you’re going to lose fifteen pounds. I’ll design a low carb, high protein meal plan for you. Low fat, no sugar. We need to work on toning your buttocks and legs. Your arms are good. Do you work out?

Lizzy: I help my daddy on his farm. Lots of heavy lifting. I ride my bike a lot.

Fred: Farm girl. Not surprised. And you probably eat all sorts of fried foods, bread, and potatoes. I’ll bet you just love butter.

Jane: We both do.

Fred: (touching her hips and stomach) Yep. I can see it right there, princess. You and your sister can go do the meal plan and exercise program together. The buddy system is good.

Darcy: (whispering) Sit back down, Charlie. They’ll throw us out.

Charlie: (whispering) I’d rather eat my weight in Mexican food and then ride a roller coaster that goes upside down than watch that muscle-bound pea-brain put his dadgum paws on Janie.

Darcy: (whispering) I feel the same way about Lizzy. I’d rather pluck out my beard with tweezers every morning than be here, but we need to stay with them. Settle down.

Jane: So, you think I’m fat? I’m a size six, too.

Fred: Every ounce shows on a stage with those lights and fitted clothing. In a bikini, you’ll look heavy next to the size two girls. Each bit of cellulite will be obvious. I’m going to show you some exercises that’ll give you a flat abdomen, too. Here we go. Down on the floor. Do what I’m doing.


Lizzy: (After an hour) I think I’d rather start every sentence for the rest of my life with, “I’m wearing a diaper, because …” than do this every day.

Vin Diesel

Fred: And with that observation, I’m going to send you home. You can put your dresses back on now. Just go right through that door, ladies and gents. I’ll see you next week to weigh in.

Darcy: (muttering) I’d rather be locked up in a Turkish prison.

Charlie: (mumbling) I’d rather eat a molded bread and old sardine sandwich. That cotton pickin’ Fred didn’t even break a sweat.

Lizzy: And I’d rather sleep naked in a septic tank than show my size six, dimpled rear to judges, but I promised to do this. You can stay home next time if you don’t want to come here with us.

Darcy: (stands) No, I’m with you like Bonnie and Clyde.

Lizzy: I may be a murderer before this is finished. Lizzy Borden Bennet.

Jane: (joining them and whispering) Fred just asked me out.

Charlie: (stands up) I’ll punch his lights out. He won’t know what hit him.

Jane: I handled it, Charlie. I’d rather lick a public toilet in a gas station than go out with him. He makes my skin crawl. Besides, I really like your face the way it is. Let’s go.

Charlie: I could take him. Help me out, Darcy.

Darcy: You want me to help you fight him?

Charlie: (whispering) No, I want you to hold me back while I make this look good for Janie. I’d rather play hide and seek in a pasture full of cow patties than fight him.

Jane: I heard that.

Charlie: (loudly) That’s one lucky guy. Let’s go, Darcy, before I change my mind and rearrange his face.

Lizzy: I want to see that. Go get him, Charlie.

Darcy: Instead of spending the night in the ER, let’s keep playing “I’d Rather” as we head to the car. I’d rather get a massage from Freddy Kruger than stay here another minute.

The guys held the doors for their gals, and they all walked across the parking lot to the Range Rover.

Charlie: You don’t know who The Rock and Vin Diesel are, but you know who Freddy Kruger is?

Darcy: I know. Go figure. Kiss me, Lizzy. Fred’s lookin’ out the window, and I want to stake my claim.

Lizzy: Even my lips are tired.

Darcy: So, no kiss?

Lizzy: I didn’t say that. You can kiss me, but you’ll have to do the work.

Darcy: I can live with that. Want me to carry you to the car? Fred could see MY muscles. (flexing)

Lizzy: You think you could lift my fat, size six self?

Darcy: You’re not fat, Lizzy. You’re perfect. Fred’s an idiot.

Lizzy: Just for that, I’ll kiss you back. Pick me up. Watch this, Fred.

Charlie: I’d rather get trapped in an elevator with Justin Bieber than watch you two make out.

Jane: Then don’t watch them. Kiss me.

Charlie: I like the way you think.

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.