Tag Archives: Robin Helm

Eclipse Sisters? That’s us.

Today we have a sunrise–a real one–after a week of soaking rain. And oh, the difference sunshine makes for the Pacific Northwest. Spring at last!

And spring brings hope for summer.

Tell you what, this summer I’m looking forward to the Great American Eclipse. August 21st has been on my calendar for a while, although it doesn’t need to be. If our skies are cloud-free that morning, we won’t be able to miss what happens.

Map courtesy of GreatAmericanEclipse.com

It’s also cool for us here at Jane Started It because of its path. The total eclipse lies just south of Susan Kaye and me here in Oregon. It also lies just south of Robin Helm and Gayle Mills in South Carolina.

We met on-line, we share a blog. And now we will share the path of the sun’s shadow.

All of North America will be able to see at least a partial solar eclipse, according to the Great American Eclipse website. Do have a look around. There’s fascinating stuff there.

How about you? Are you in the path of the eclipse?

Laura Hile (1)


With a little help from my friends

From friend to friend Image: Eliza C3 (Creative Commons Flickr)

This is how we discover the best stuff. Friend to friend.
Image: Eliza C3 (Creative Commons Flickr)

Isn’t this how we discover the best restaurants and movies and reads?

From our friends.

Around here we’re smiling at the success of Robin Helm’s new Pride and Prejudice romance. Understanding Elizabeth has really taken off.

My Kindle Select numbers are smiling too.

All because of Cross Promotion.

See, now that I’m an indie author, I can participate in that. Placing a link or two at the back of my e-book that says I think you would enjoy …

Mr Darcy recommends

“Mr. Darcy Recommends”

It’s a simple concept. Robin has placed an image link to Darcy By Any Other Name at the end of her book, and I have done the same. And readers must be having a look at Darcy, because my Kindle Select numbers are way up.

While Robin and I share a blog, it appears that we don’t always share the same readers.  Who knew?

Hey, Robin has a two-book giveaway going on this week at Of Pens and Pages. Stop by, read Nissa’s review of Understanding Elizabeth, and post a comment.

logo-4-1The USA winner has the option to choose a print book prize. Love that!

Really proud of Robin. Elizabeth has held on to her #4 spot against two best-sellers (with over a hundred Amazon reviews apiece), and has even won out against a 99 cent erotica.

Laura Hile (1)

Praise for the Yours By Design series

my-top-5-modern-ppKudos to our own Robin Helm. Her Yours By Design series made Of Pens and Pages’ Top 5 List. Hooray!

“I loved reading the entire series,” says Nissa, “and each book was quite the page-turner.”

We agree! Autumn’s crisp evenings and shorter days usher in perfect reading weather. Why not curl up with Robin’s books?

GIVEAWAY ALERT! Nissa is offering the entire series to one lucky winner! Here is your chance to enjoy Robin’s novels as e-books. Visit  Of Pens and Pages  for details.



Getting My Beauty Rest

Last week, I used my royalties to buy something absolutely wonderful. I joined the ranks of those who sleep comfortably through the night by doing my daughter and her husband a favor. She had purchased a king-sized Beauty Rest mattress made to his specifications here in South Carolina, and it was delivered to my house in its pristine plastic coverings after I finally convinced her that they do, indeed, sell mattresses in California. That took only three months. My daughter can be a little stubborn. I don’t know where she gets that from. (I know not to end a sentence with a preposition, but that’s an expression down here in the South.)

She would have had to rent a U Haul to drive it across the country, so by selling it to me, she saved a bundle, and I got a great mattress for the first time in my life.

To call my husband frugal is a vast understatement. The man will squeeze a penny until Lincoln hollers. Since I paid for this out of my own non-budgeted money, he remained silent and just enjoyed sleeping well.

bed king

I believe he was also torn between the pangs of seeing his daughter waste the money it would cost to ship the mattress to California and the alarming notion of his wife spending more money after the summer of THE WEDDING. The medicine went down a little easier when I pointed out that I was saving her the expense and him the trouble of driving her across the country in a U Haul and purchasing a plane ticket to fly back. All of that would have cost more than simply buying the mattress from her. She agreed with me, partly because she saw the vast wisdom of shipping a few things through the mail, packing as much as was allowed in her car when it was shipped, and checking two fifty-pound suitcases with her clothes when she flew out Sunday morning rather than driving across the entire country. (We bought her a second, super-large suitcase from Christian services for $5.00!) We returned her gifts to Bed, Bath, and Beyond for giftcards to replace it all in California. The Belk in our town agreed to ship all the gifts which came from their chain to her apartment at no charge to her. We also returned gifts from Target, Macy’s, and a local jewelers for giftcards. They’re so much lighter and easier to pack, and they’re free in your carry-on when you fly! And she gets to shop! And she can pick out everything she wants to decorate their apartment! And she didn’t have to listen to her dad’s taste in music for two solid days of driving! (That was the deciding factor.) Wins all the way around!

I had no idea mattresses had changed so much. This is the Taj Mahal of mattresses. It’s twenty-nine inches high. Someday I’ll have to post a video of myself climbing into bed. That’s true. I now literally climb into bed. I’m sure it would be funny (especially from behind). I simply have to remember how high it is when that alarm goes off. I’d hate to break a leg getting out of bed.

By the way, that’s not my room in the picture. I have the bed, but the redecorating will have to wait. I need to finish Understanding Elizabeth and write my new story, Pride and Pageantry, before that can happen.

Interviews with Darcy, Bingley, and Charlotte

A few weeks ago, I invited readers to submit questions for the characters in Jane Austen’s books. Today, Charles Bingley, Charlotte Lucas, and Fitzwilliam Darcy graciously respond to Joy Dawn King and Laura Hile.


Mr. Bingley, Mrs. King would like to know why you have allowed Caroline to continue to live with you after she has caused you and your beloved Jane so much grief.

Ah! My good friend Darcy told me of Mrs. King and her questions. I have long grappled with the conflict I feel concerning my sister, Caroline. My father talked to me before his death, solemnly emphasizing my duty towards both my sisters. I would be no better than John Dashwood if I turned her out, and we all know how he has fared with Austen fans. I would rather be seen as a lovable man who is too forgiving than one who ignores the needs of his family. Let us all hope that Caroline’s twenty thousand pounds will attract a husband soon. However, if it does not, both my angel, Jane, and I are willing to contribute another five thousand pounds to her dowry if it will expedite the matter.

Thank you, Mr. Bingley. Mrs. Collins, Mrs. King has a question for you as well.

Is fifty miles of good road enough of a distance to see the need to feather your own nest?

CharlottesOh, Mrs. King, you know that felicity in marriage is entirely a matter of chance. I would add that it is usually a matter of choice. I chose to marry Mr. Collins, and while there are times at which it would please me greatly to be fifty miles from him, I have resigned myself to the fact that I will be fifty miles from Meryton instead. As Elizabeth and Jane left soon after I did, I do not regret my decision at all. In fact, I have the comfort of seeing Elizabeth at least twice a year – once in Meryton and once at Rosings. We write each other often and make certain that we will be in those locations at the same time.


Mr. Darcy, Laura Hile asks you explain to us why you feel the need to consume a diet drink. She realizes that Jane Austen wrote you as being a proud man, but  advises you to have a care. “Dear Jane also wrote Sir Walter Elliot, and we all know how anxious he was to maintain his figure. Has modern fame gone to your head? Or, er, waist?”

Well, Mrs. Hile, perhaps you should direct the question to Coca-Cola or Mrs. Helm. After all, Mrs. Helm bought said “diet soda,” and the soft drink manufacturer placed my name on the drink without my permission; they chose to put me on a “diet soda.” I think it was most presumptuous, as I have never, in any of my incarnations pictured above, needed to lose weight.

As to the second question, every woman appears to have a favourite Darcy whom they hold to be the paragon of all which is manly and attractive, and they become positively violent when faced with the idea that another actor might do the part as well. How could fame “go to my head” when I have no idea who I actually am? Each generation brings forth yet another Darcy with a different interpretation of my character and my appearance. I have heard of a mental problem which afflicts some people called “multiple personality disorder.” Perhaps that would explain why there are so many Darcys.

Indeed, Mrs. Helm herself told me that she chose to use a collage of the Darcy actors in order to avoid offending any of your gentle readers, though I must candidly admit that your comparison of my person to that of Sir Walter Elliot is highly offensive to me. (As a consequence, I have raised an eyebrow. You may picture that in your mind.) I am not at all like that gentlemen, though my valet takes great care with my appearance. I allow him to dress me as he likes in order to keep him content, for he is such an asset to me, and training a new valet to my exacting (but entirely reasonable) standards would be quite strenuous.

Redecorating, redesigning, and requiring answers

I am rejuvenated after my busy summer, and I checked an item off my bucket list yesterday. I finally redesigned the kindle covers of Guardian, SoulFire, and Legacy – the three books in the Guardian Trilogy.
GUARDIAN 5 I may even tackle the print covers soon!

As soon as I can, I plan to submit newly formatted interior files for both kindle and print versions. I loved writing this series, and it deserves better than what I did five years ago when I was just learning to use the technology.

Now, new (free!) cover technology is available online which is simple to use, given my background in yearbook design. Those who have used the Createspace cover templates know that they are quite limited, and I was overjoyed to find a better alternative yesterday. Out with the old; in with the new.

SoulFire 2Legacy 1

Last week, I invited readers to submit questions for my front porch tea party. These questions were submitted by J. Dawn King. Thank you, Mrs. King, for participating in my little question and answer session.

Mr. Darcy, have you given consideration to how Pemberley will feel once Georgiana has flown the nest? Does your heart long to keep her forever? Can you empathize with Mrs. Helm?

While I have great sympathy for the circumstances of Mrs. Helm, it will be many years before I am in similar straits, for Elizabeth and I have wed. Georgiana will likely still be at Pemberley to see her nephew or niece born before she “flies the nest.” Yes, it is with pleasure that I announce my wife’s delicate condition. There will soon be an heir to Pemberley. I would use an emoji here, but the idea is just too undignified.

My heartfelt wish for Georgiana is that she will find a love as great as ours.


Mrs. Darcy, you give the impression that you longed to flee your nest. Was it because of your mother or were you merely curious as to what is beyond your particular tree?

I must say, Mrs. King, that you have a gift for seeing right to the heart of the matter. I will not speak ill of my mother, but I will say that Mr. Darcy’s offer of marriage was very propitious. To have me return with no prospects to Longbourn after the marriages of my eldest sister and my youngest sister would have been quite trying for my mother’s nerves. As go my mother’s nerves, so goes the entire household.

I love long walks with my husband; consequently, I am greatly enjoying all the trees at Pemberley.

Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy, for answering the rather intrusive questions left for you by Mrs. King. She is a lovely, curious soul. I will continue with the interview questions for Charles Bingley and Charlotte Collins next week. If any dear readers have further questions, please leave them in the comments. I will be happy to ask any of the Austen characters whatever you wish to know.

Does God really answer prayers?

San Fran airportMy daughter, bride-to-be on June 27th, had a very tough two days this week. She flew to San Francisco on a Buddy Pass (stand-by) so that she and her fiancè could look for an apartment. The trip there was rather uneventful, but the trip back on Sunday was a true nightmare. She got up at 3:30 AM and was at the airport by 5 waiting for her flight. Though she was assured there would be vacancies on the 6:30 AM flight, there weren’t. She missed that one, and the next one, and the next. The fourth one out of San Francisco had a vacancy, and she boarded after being assured that she wouldn’t have any trouble making her 6:00 connection in Minneapolis.

Guess what? That flight was full, and so was the next one. There was one more flight out at 8 PM, and after she missed that second flight at 7, we all started praying. She was exhausted and afraid to spend the night in the airport by herself, waiting for a 7 AM which might turn out to be full as well. She kept watching the board and updating us. At 7 PM, there were 20 vacancies on that flight, and she was the number 19 standby. As the time passed, the plane filled, and there she sat, praying that a spot was open. I was so burdened that I put out a plea for prayer on Facebook, and my friends started praying that she would make it onto that flight. The flight boarded, and she sat waiting. The board said there were no vacancies, but we kept praying. Just as I was about to give up at 8:30 PM, I got a text from her saying that she was on the flight. Someone had checked into the airport for that flight, but they never went to the gate. You may think I’m crazy, but I’m convinced that it was Divine intervention. I had consistently prayed that no one would suffer in any way for her to get a seat, so I don’t think the other passenger became ill or had an accident. I think God made a way. Did an angel buy the ticket so that no one else could, and she would be able to get the seat? There were two empty seats, and had both of those passengers not shown up, the seats would have gone to a couple traveling together. Since one of the passengers came to the gate but not the other, the seat went to my daughter.


She got in at 11 PM, and her dad picked her up. They were home by midnight and went straight to bed. We had planned a short trip to Myrtle Beach for some family time (with our other daughter and granddaughter) before the wedding. We were supposed to leave yesterday morning (Monday).

We got a call at 5:22 Monday morning. Some friends of ours were keeping our two house dogs. When she let them out to go to the bathroom at 5 AM, Chloe, my daughter’s little white Maltese, bolted. My husband got out of bed and went to their house, 15 minutes away. He saw Chloe at the edge of the woods, but instead of coming to him, she ran further into the woods. By 6:30, he had called me to bring my daughter. We (along with our friends) spent the next 3 hours looking for her. My daughter and I stopped at one point in the search. I could tell she had given up, and I asked her to pray with me. I know that nothing is ever really lost. God always knows where it is, so I prayed that He would show us where Chloe was.

I thought she might come out toward the evening when it cooled off, and we could put out food and water for her. We went back home, and I kept praying. I knew she would be unlikely to live through a night in the woods. There are coyotes there, and she would be easy prey.

Chloe 193

Again, I went to my Facebook and Instagram friends. I also put it on a lost pets FB page, as well as on the Lancaster Humane Society page, and people began to share the missing dog picture all over Facebook. People I didn’t even know were looking for her. A friend of ours saw my plea and called a friend of hers who lived in the area. That friend had seen a little white dog walking down a dirt road nearby. My daughter and I had actually driven that road earlier in the day, and we knew where it was.

Chloe and Melanie

Our friend called us and told us about the sighting around 6:30 PM. My husband, my daughter, and I were driving that road again within half an hour. While we were driving, the friend who had been keeping the dogs called me. She was down that same road and had Chloe in view up in someone’s yard in the tall grass at the edge of the woods. We didn’t want to spook Chloe again, so my daughter went by herself and stopped a few feet away from her. She squatted, held out her hand, and called her pup. It was wonderful to watch Chloe creep into view and go to her “mother’s” arms.

My husband and daughter had both said they would never see Chloe again, but I never thought that. I was fresh off a prayer-warrior experience, and I knew that God would come through again.

My daughter watched God work for two days, and she will never forget it. It will strengthen her faith. She now knows, more than ever, the power of prayer. If you wonder what’s behind my daughter in that picture, it’s a pair of angel wings I have on my front porch.