Tag Archives: Beyond Austen

The Days They Pass …

acquired on PEXEL.COM

My tinnitus is screaming, which means I’ve been to church. Every Sunday, I try to remember just when every service become like a full-on DEAF Leppard concert. We even have a guitar player who does a modified shred during praise and worship. I’m just not appreciative of that sort of “freedom.” When did I become so old?


I finally caught up on season six, seven, and eight of The Walking Dead. I’ve been away from Rick and Co for nearly two years. But when my mom moved to be closer to my brother, I decided I would go back and catch up. I still love the storytelling; taut and tense. The more things change the more they stay the same. Well except for Glenn being gone.

I got up and am working on a silly SciFi-esque story for Frederick and Anne. Here’s hoping to have some of it ready to post at BEYOND AUSTEN by Halloween. Or as most of us without children know it, next Tuesday. And today is beans and rice day. Any good recipes? The only serious bean recipe I know by heart is for Navy Bean soup. Love it but it’s not cold enough yet. Interesting aside, when looking for a graphic, all that came up at the graphics site I am using was coffee beans. So, coffee is what sustains us now, not food. Good to know.

Sue (Susan Kaye)



Guest Author: Wendi Sotis!

My guest today is author Wendi Sotis, who has just published Safekeeping, a contemporary mystery thriller with a nod to Jane Austen.


I “met” Wendi Sotis about seven years ago on a JAFF forum, and we began to beta for each other. Since that time, Wendi has published seven books, while I have published six. We have worked together on all sixteen of them. She is presently working on a new Austenesque story, A Lesson Hard Learned, as well as a non-Austen Regency romance, The Pact. (The Pact is shaping up to be my favorite of all of her books!) She’s a very dear friend of mine who not only betas for me, but also formats my e-books and critiques my covers.

Wendi is an indie author from New York. She has triplets who are rapidly turning into young adults, and her husband Matt does the art work for her covers. She’s one of the administrators of Beyond Austen.com, along with me, Gayle Mills, and Annette Wristen. All of her books are clean, flinch-free, and very entertaining. Wendi has a degree in psychology, and I love the way her mind works.

Her author page on Amazon gives more detailed information about Wendi, as well as links to her other books.

Wendi's books

What was your inspiration for writing Safekeeping?

I dreamt about it!  Since literally dreaming up story ideas is common for me, I often incorporate dreams into my books, though usually not as heavily as Safekeeping does. Sometimes I dream the beginning or middle of a story. Usually, it’s one scene or even a snippet of a scene. This time, I dreamt the solution to the mystery/suspense part of the story. Once I wrote that down, it was just a matter of working backward from there… asking myself, “How can I make this happen?” I love amnesia stories, and it was easy to incorporate that into this one. As a matter of fact, I had originally began a different story as an amnesia story, and had to rewrite it once I decided to go in that direction for Safekeeping.

Tell us about your characters in Safekeeping.

Elizabeth and Darcy in this book are not from Pride and Prejudice, as they are in my other books. Their names are a wink at Jane Austen’s classic, and Pride and Prejudice is part of the story, but Safekeeping cannot truly be considered JAFF. I’m not sure I should give away more than that!

How much research did you do?

I LOVE to research, so I always do a great deal of research for all my stories. For Safekeeping, knowing all I could find about amnesia was a biggie. A few friends, including you, Robin, helped me with some details about Florida (as well as “traveling” along the route Elizabeth would take in Florida using Google Earth.) I picked the brains of a physical therapist, who is the son of a friend, about certain injuries that Elizabeth had in the story. I talked to other friends who had similar injuries or had to wear casts/boots in the past, including your blog-mate, Gayle. I put a great deal of time into naming my fictitious towns. For example, much of the story takes place in Mt. Wonnig, in upstate New York. Wonnig is one possible word for “delightful/blissful” in German (or at least that’s what Google Translate tells me.) My husband helped me watch quite a few car chases on YouTube. And I’m still receiving spam from private investigating equipment companies 😉

 What was the hardest part of writing this story?

Making the two time-lines fit together so the climax of both happened at the same time. Safekeeping is actually two stories in one—Elizabeth’s prior life and her life after the amnesia— fused together in her discovery of who she is… was… is. I actually wrote the two story-lines separately, then had to find places in the “amnesia” parts for her to remember. How to transition between the two time-lines smoothly without a big jolts to the reader was also challenging. Formatting that aspect for print/eBook without it becoming annoying or confusing was a difficult decision to make. I don’t think this book can be made into an audiobook without hiring two narrators.

Deciding details about Elizabeth’s injuries and giving her time to heal enough to remove the cast without the story becoming boring was also tough. At almost last minute, I decided to have her break a non-weight-bearing bone in her leg and sprain her wrist instead of breaking it.

And for some reason, I had a difficult time deciding how and when in the story to take her cast off. I was completely stuck on that for months!  Once I got past that, everything flowed easily. I wrote the remainder of the story—about 100 pages in the printed book—in a little more than a week.

Are there messages or themes you hope your readers will get out of this book?

Unlike a lot of writers, I don’t start out with a message or theme I’m trying to convey—just what I hope will be a fun and interesting story—but I think I do it unconsciously. Usually, readers will tell me they saw a message in my books that I didn’t realize I put there! It’s a pleasant surprise when I have an “Ah ha!” moment like that.

What would be the perfectly specific genre title for Safekeeping?

Oh, gosh, that’s a really good and difficult question! How about: Romantic Suspense/Mystery/Clean Read/Nod to Jane Austen.

Wendi SotisThanks so much for having me on Jane Started It!, Robin. I love this blog!

Thank you for stopping by, Wendi! I’m going to beta your next chapter of A Lesson Hard Learned today, and I hope to get a new chapter of The Pact soon. (I’m a hard taskmaster and a greedy reader.)

Find Wendi on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest. She is presently posting A Lesson Hard Learned and The Pact on Beyond Austen.com.

Upon my honour!

Finger gauntlets

Finger gauntlets

Last week, our dearest Laura defiantly threw down a gauntlet before my True Balance sneakers, and today, I picked up said gauntlet.

For those of you unfamiliar with the metaphor, to “throw down the gauntlet” is to issue a challenge. A medieval knight would challenge a fellow knight (or enemy) to a duel by throwing one of his gauntlets on the ground. If the opponent picked up the gauntlet, he was accepting the challenge. The action is closely associated with the King’s Champion, an officer whose role was to act as champion for the King at his coronation if anyone challenged the new King’s title to the throne.

Gauntlets, c. 1614

Gauntlets, c. 1614

This morning, I posted chapter 18 of Yours by Design: Sincerely Yours, Book 2 on Beyond Austen. I expect an answer from Ms. Hile tomorrow.

In the epic Battle of the Darcys, let the games begin . . .