Tag Archives: Susan Kaye

Tuesday’s tip-o-the-hand

sausage_stuffer_colorized

This is supposed to be terrible. Original clip art: Flickr

It’s been a lousy spring around here. A bit of good news was that my mom doesn’t have to have chemo after colon surgery. Yay for that. Other than this, all is rattling on as before. That being said, the best I can do for a post, (hoping to get back into the swing of things. Again.), I have a bit of writing from a new project.

I referenced this new story back on March 6th. Time flies don’t it? I showed how a piece of writing changes as you discover things about the story itself and the characters. Even the title is up for grabs.

The first title of the piece was “Though I Had A Son.” Then it was changed to, “Anne Elliot’s Most Degrading Alliance.” Now, it’s “In Favor of His Constancy.” You, the reader, aren’t supposed to see any of this, but what the heck, this is sausage making, people, watch and be amazed!

The following is not a rewrite, but was fun to write. I hope you enjoy it.

In this story, “In Favor of His Constancy,” Lady Elliot (Anne Elliot’s mother) is alive. This scene takes place after she finds out that her dear friend, Lady Russell, was instrumental in breaking off Anne’s engagement to Captain Frederick Wentworth.

“Elizabeth, see reason. The man is handsome and a force to be sure, but even you must see that he is not Anne’s equal in rank or refinement. It would ever be a wedge between them.”

Elizabeth paused, then faced her. “Rank and refinement. Those are words you are happy to use when speaking of marriage. Admit it, you did not think me refined enough for the Baronet of Kellynch Hall.”

Lady Russell now paused. Her right brow raised, and her lips tightened.

“In every way, the Stevenson money was superior to his rank. Even if it was earned in trade and farming. I was besotted enough with a pretty face to accept a proposal. But when reason, in the form of dark doubts loomed, you stood me and them with a bright light of reason to convince me that I must keep my word.” Her hands were trembling, and she could feel a flush overtaking her. She took a seat at her dressing table.

“And I was right to do so. You had an obligation to fulfil. Your reputation was at stake and you were prepared to ruin it. As your dear friend, I could not allow that to happen.”

“I could have broken it off with little damage to my reputation.” Lady Elliot turned to her friend. “When, after a few years, you comprehended the deep unhappiness that my choice had brought me, did it give you pause?”

“It did.” Lady Russell pinched seam of the thumb of her right glove. Poorly made. “But when I realised you would have children from the match, no matter your feelings about him.”

It was deep grief she felt for her friend. There were no children with Sir Henry Russell. Whose fault it was, was immaterial. Elizabeth’s children were lavished with gifts and praise from Jane. Her particular favourite was Anne. This might account for her friend’s razor-sharp dislike for Captain Wentworth. She did not wish her daughter to suffer her fate. And yet.

STUFF

“He is still beautiful, even at his age, but his looks are so negated by his deficiencies.” Lady Russell says nothing, and Lady Elliot looks at her and realizes something. “So that is it. You are still smitten.”

Jane fidgets uncharacteristically.

“You are still in awe of that pretty face.” Lady Elliot rises and approaches Lady Russell. “Though, I see you are not so besotted as to do something stupid if I am called out of this life.” The revelation was not surprising but was more a relief. It cleared the air and would allow them to have an honest friendship now, and not one couched in suspicion. Her hands still trembled, and she would have to call for Trotter to help her change into a fresh dress for dinner. Jane still said nothing. “And that is because you can admire him from the comfort of Henry’s good management.” She took her seat once more. “You are far smarter than me. Better to view some beauties from a distance. And in this case, not have to live with the consequences of his vices.”

Yep, POV problems, notes to myself about the scene rather than the scene itself, and a sentence that makes no sense whatsoever! Again, this is sausage. I’ll work on this and post the rewrite next week.

Oh, and I’m still not in love with the title. Stay tuned.

Later.

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Walter Wednesday

Spring sprang yesterday, hence the change to a light floral motif on the blog.

I was watching a travel show about Napoleon’s contribution to the food culture of Poland, and here is a quote:

victory-belongs-to-the-most-persevering

I have to remind myself of this after not writing for a few days. But, back to the grindstone. I’m nearly 20k into a new project so I have been persevering.

My memory is crap these days so I had forgotten the exact Bony quote and went looking for it. One resource is always Brainy Quote. While looking for the one I wanted, I found another quote on perseverance. This led me down the Walter Wabbit … Rabbit trail.

This quote is by the esteemed Walter Elliot.

“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.”

This is a reasonable idea, well said. I’m sure Jane Austen could have penned it. That being the case, I’m sure she would have found it impossible to put it in the mouth of our small minded Sir Walter Elliot.

This is a quote not by SIR Walter Elliot, but Walter Elliot Elliot, MC, CH, FRS, FRSE, FRCP. His most important office was that of Secretary of State for Scotland. He’s a snap:

Walter_Elliot_in_1933

He could have easily played Sir Walter, I think. The two of them would have been at odds as the latter Elliot was a prominent Scottish Unionist Party politician. Being Scottish would have been enough, but a UNIONIST! Heaven forfend!  If you want to learn more, here’s his Wiki link.

Now, onto ANOTHER Walter Elliot! This is a more contemporary Walter Elliot who in 2015 found a previously unknown short story of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in his attic. Walter’s attic, not Conan Doyle’s. In 1908, the town of Selkirk, Scotland was in need of a bridge and Conan Doyle contributed a short story to an anthology called, Book o’ the Brig.

walter-elliot

I think that was kind of Conan Doyle. He had just brought Holmes back from the dead after huge public outcry. I’m not so sure I would have wanted to spend more time with Sherlock than I absolutely had to.

If you’re a Conan Doyle fan, the text of the 1,300 word short is available HERE.

I didn’t find any more Walter Elliots. I’m sure I could, but I have a story to write.

 

 

 

Tip My Hand Tuesday

While doing a writing sprint this morning, I read an article by James Scott Bell entitled, Garlic Breath for Writers (aka Bad First Pages). The article helps writers improve their first pages so no one shies away.

He points out that writers don’t have much time to attract an editor’s attention so don’t blow it by making your opening lines uninteresting. I think it’s a little unfair that we write books for the mythic editor, (or reader), that only gives you 13 seconds to WOW them. If they’re not transfixed by your characters, plot and setting in that time, you’re tossed aside like so much cold oatmeal. But, I also have ended my past policy of if-I-start-your-novel-I-finish-your-novel. I give a writer 50 pages. I don’t have to be transfixed by your book. I don’t even have to be in love. I just have to be interested enough to turn the page. Maybe like me, the only shocking thing is how many books fail to do even that!

IN the spirit of putting myself at risk, I’m putting the first few paragraphs of a new novel I’m working on. (Yeah, yeah, I know, “finish the ones you’ve got going now, Madam Can’t-finish-a-thing!)

The first segment is the original from the first draft I’m working on. The second is the reworked version. The segments include a title change, a short synopsis, and several paragraphs of narrative and dialogue.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

The Original:

THOUGH I HAD A SON

The stillborn son of the Elliots survived.  With a son, SW is worse than ever about precedence, money, rank, all of it. Though Lady Elliot survives past 1800, she is often “unwell” and must withdraw from society for short periods. During these times, SW is free to spend on their son at an alarming rate. This brings the retrenchment closer more quickly.

CHAPTER ONE

Anne Elliot took her place down the table from her father, Sir Walter. With the eldest Elizabeth on his left, and his son and heir, Young Walter on his right, it was always Anne’s duty to go lower. Her father was reading a letter that had her sister and brother’s rapt attention. She carefully eased her napkin from under the silver so as not to disrupt him.

The warm touch of her mother’s hand comforted her. Lady Elliot sat straight and still, still facing her husband, but her eyes shifted to Anne. She winked. A wisp of a smile followed and then she looked back to the head of the table.

There were no footmen to serve the family’s breakfast, so Anne served herself an egg and a bit of sausage. This was the one area in which Lady Elliot was supreme. She had grown up in a house with a lawyer for a father who left the ordering of the house to her mother who was raised on a farm. The household had moved through the seasons dictated by what the land needed at the moment. At no time of year was it acceptable to dawdle over meals. There was no ceremony about seating, who sat where sorted itself by who got to the table first. If the matter was left to Sir Walter, every meal would be a rigorous, proper affair that took far too much time. Before the children had been born, and she still had a hold over him, she had insisted that breakfast be a quiet, casual affair. It was still a battle to keep it such. Everything, whether household or estate was now being used to teach their son that, in the words of Sir Walter, “a baronet should be seen to live as a baronet.” Even if that meant the hard-won domestic preferences of my lady were dashed.

“… and so, Miss Elizabeth’s gown, and the suits of Sir Walter, and Young Walter Elliot are ready for a final fitting. If you would be so kind as to fix a date that would be convenient to you and your children. Madam and I are most anxious to travel to Kellynch and to see our creations in the very house they will grace.  M. Perry and co.”

The havoc a fitting would stir depressed Anne. Before the visit, her sister was sure to fly into fits. Problems with the materials, snagged lace, uneven stitching, and surely the colours will be nothing at all like the ones she chose a month ago. Her father would be as bad, if not worse. Young Walter would merely snipe about the Mr Perry’s broad accent, the couples being from Exeter, and not being a fine London tailor.

“I do think that is high-handed of Perry, Father—”

“Yes, it is, Father. And his wife is not even a seamstress. The only proper gowns I have are made in London—”

“—presumptuous to make himself and that silly little wife out to be the actual creators of anything. If it were not for us, he would have been doing nothing in his little shop sewing buttons, and hems, and nothing else.” Young Walter took a bite of potato. A bit dropped on his waistcoat. He then stabbed a bit of toast in some yoke to follow. “What?” with a full mouth he demanded of Anne.

“Nothing, Walter. I just—”

“You have no interest in this, sister. You chose to embarrass the family by having something made over by Mother’s maid rather than—”

“Enough, Walter,” Lady Elliot said.

Yes, indeed,” their father said, folding the note. “Anne’s choices are her own. The dress was your mother’s and fit for London a season ago, so I think it will be sufficient. Though,” he set the note aside, “I hope you will make more than a superficial appearance at the ball my dear.” He spoke to Lady Elliot. She was in one of her periods of societal withdrawal, as Sir Walter called them. “We are twenty-two years married and this is a great occasion.” He realized he was leaning forward and that his voice was brusque. After a deep breath, he softened his tone. “It is my fondest wish that you would rally yourself and be at my side throughout the evening.” He smiled and raised a finger to the children. They turned and smiled as well.

The reworked version:

ANNE ELLIOT’S MOST DEGRADING ALLIANCE

From the Baronetage: “Walter Elliot, Born March 1, 1760 … Anne, born August 9, 1787; a still-born son, Nov. 5, 1789 … ” In the Regency period, a son made all the difference in the world to a family. Particularly one with a title and estate. In this Persuasion retelling, the stillborn son of the Elliots survived. In this story, as in reality, a small change can make a startling difference.

CHAPTER ONE

Anne Elliot carefully eased her napkin from under the silver so as not to disrupt her father as he read a letter at the breakfast table. The warm touch of her mother’s hand comforted her. Lady Elliot’s eyes shifted to Anne. Her mother winked. A wisp of a smile followed and then she looked back to the head of the table.

Her mother’s posture was ramrod straight. The Baronet’s flagrant disregard for his wife’s opinion that dining table was a place for polite and appropriate conversations amongst the family was, once again, ignored. Meals had never been delightful family affairs, but lately, tension was always on the menu.

Unfortunately, tension was not restricted to the dining room. More often than not, walking into a room unannounced brought a halt to intense conversations between her parents. As a matter of course, Anne cleared her throat or dropped things to make her presence known. Her elder sister, Elizabeth, was beginning to take notice, and her younger brother, Young Walter, outright called her an oaf. These snatches of conversations, and oblique references to things only understood by her parents weighed heavily on her.

“… and so, Miss Elizabeth’s gown, and the suits of Sir Walter, and Young Walter Elliot are ready for a final fitting. If you would be so kind as to fix a date that would be convenient to you and your children. Madam and I are most anxious to travel to Kellynch and to see our creations in the very house they will grace.  M. Perry and co.”

The Elliots were celebrating their twenty-second wedding anniversary with a ball. Lady Elliot was notorious for limiting extravagant socialising, and this gave Anne’s father an excuse to open his purse and spend freely. This included new clothes for everyone. The occasion being what it was, her mother felt helpless to stop him

The tailor’s letter held Elizabeth and Young Walter in thrall. A fitting with the Perry’s would rain havoc on the household. Even before their arrival, Elizabeth would fly into fits about snagged lace, uneven stitching, and mismatched buttons. She suspected there would also be doubts that the colours or even the material itself will be the ones she chose a month ago. Her father would be as bad, adding irregular lapels, and breeches too loose or too tight, whichever made the least sense. Young Walter would not bother commenting on the possibilities about the clothing, but cruelly snipe about Mr Perry’s broad accent and how the couple residing in Exeter could not possibly be skilled as a fine London tailor.

“I do think that is high-handed of Perry, Father—” So began Young Walter’s bombast.

“Yes, so high-handed, Father. And his wife is not even a seamstress. The only proper gowns I have are made in London—”

“—presumptuous to make himself and that silly little wife out to be the actual creators of anything suitable. If it were not for us, he would have been doing nothing in his little shop sewing buttons, and hems, and nothing else.” Young Walter took a bite of potato. A bit dropped on his waistcoat. He then stabbed a bit of toast in some yoke to follow.

“In the past, they have proven very good—”

What?” with a full mouth he demanded of Anne.

“Nothing, Walter. I just—”

“You have no interest in this, sister. You chose to embarrass the family by having something made over by Mother’s maid rather than—”

“Enough, Walter,” Lady Elliot said.

“Yes, indeed, enough.” their father said, folding the note. “Anne’s choices are her own. The dress was your mother’s and fit for London a season ago, so I think it will be sufficient. Though,” he set the note aside, speaking to Lady Elliot. “I hope you will make more than a superficial appearance at the ball my dear.” She was in one of her periods of societal withdrawal, as Sir Walter called them. “We are twenty-two years married and this is a great occasion.” After a deep breath, he softened his tone. Was it possible that he realised he was leaning a bit too far forward and that his voice was little too brusque? “It is my fondest wish that you would rally yourself and be at my side throughout the evening.” He smiled and raised a finger to the children. They turned and smiled as well.

 

These are both portions of a work-in-progress and subject to change.

End-of-year Pricing

Wintry weather, a bright fireside, and good reading!

Titles by your friends at Jane Started It

What could be better?

For your quiet holiday moments, may we suggest these lovely books? Many are at holiday prices through the end of the year.

A Little Contagion for Christmas

If you’ve read the stories in A Very Austen Christmas anthology (and if you haven’t, why NOT?) an accidental theme in three of them was illness and its ability to bring people together. Not to be outdone, I present to you a story I wrote years ago with the same theme: The Little Particulars of the Circumstance

In the course of the original Persuasion, Frederick Wentworth goes to Uppercross Cottage looking for Louisa and Henrietta.  Instead, he finds himself alone with Anne Elliot. He then rescues her from the naughty antics of little Walter. In this version, the apothecary, Mr Robinson, has come to check on the injured little Charles and in a twist of the story, declares a quarantine! When Anne and Frederick are forced to stay alone together in one room, with a sick child to care for, will they overcome their pride and anger? This story combines a little bit of “Outbreak!” with a lot of “It Happened One Night.” Happy ending included at no charge.

 

One morning, very soon after the dinner at the Musgroves, at which Anne had not been present, Captain Wentworth walked into the drawing room at the Cottage, where were herself, Mr Robinson the apothecary, and the little invalid, Charles, who was lying on the sofa.

The surprise of finding himself almost alone with Anne Elliot deprived of his manners of the usual composure: he started, and could only say, “I beg your pardon. I thought the Miss Musgroves had been here—Mrs Musgrove told me I could find them here,” before he walked to the window to recollect himself and feel how he ought to behave.

“They are upstairs with my sister—they will be down in a few moments, I dare say.”

He continued at the window; and after calmly and politely saying, “I hope the little boy is better,” was silent.

Anne turned back to Mr Robinson, the apothecary, who had come to check on the young patient.

The man glanced towards Captain Wentworth. “As I was saying before the interruption, the boy’s spine is undamaged and he is doing well enough in his recovery. I am heartened that my instructions have been carried out with such scrupulous attention.” He removed his glasses and put them in his breast pocket. “It is not always the case when I make recommendations here.”

Anne suspected her sister’s delicate health made it necessary for Mr Robinson to make rather a lot of calls to the Cottage, but she doubted Mary did more than enjoy the notice, with no intentions of following his orders. Mr Robinson once again looked over his little patient. He frowned and pulled up the boy’s shirt. “How long did you say this rash had been evident?”

She came closer. “As I said before, I saw it last evening. It is more acute this morning. I think it may be—”

Robinson grunted and sighed heavily. He put on his glasses and began to carelessly prod and turn the boy this way and that. Anne was appalled that he wholly disregarded Charles’s sharp cries. He touched a place or two, and then looked over the tops of the spectacles. “You say it is more intense?” Anne nodded. “Was this rash on him the other day?”

“No. I am not sure when it appeared, but I saw it yesterday evening, around seven.”

He opened a small notebook and flipped through a few pages. He sighed again. “There is a pocket of fever in Crewkherne. It became evident just a week or so ago. There is fear it is smallpox.”

“The place looked positively asleep when I came through.” Wentworth glanced towards the others.

Robinson turned and looked over his glasses at the Captain. “Come through Crewkherne did you? When did you arrive?”
Continue reading

Mercy’s Embrace … and our Christmas eBook sale

‘Tis the season for reading.
And also for sweet eBook prices.

Here’s what we’re talking about …

 

Pamela Aidan’s much-loved Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman trilogy, and her Young Master Darcy have special Christmas pricing.

Susan Kaye’s wonderful Captain Wentworth novels, None But You and For You Alone, are also marked down.

Robin Helm, Laura Hile, and Barbara Cornthwaite (along with fellow author Wendi Sotis) have a new Christmas anthology, A Very Austen Christmas, and it is holding its own as a #1 Amazon Best Seller.

All of Robin Helm’s books — her Yours By Design series and  Guardian trilogy and her popular romance, Understanding Elizabeth —  are marked down to $1.99 each.

Barbara Cornthwaite’s delightful George Knightley, Esquire duo — Charity Envieth Not and Lend Me Leave — are on sale too.

George Knightley, Esquire-LendMeLeave

And so is Laura Hile’s Pride and Prejudice body-swap romance, Darcy By Any Other Name.

 

Finally, as if this were not enough Book Love, today Laura relaunches Mercy’s Embrace: So Rough A Course, the first volume of her Elizabeth Elliot series.

It’s a sparkling Regency romp in three parts, featuring all your favorites from Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

We are loving the new cover for this one.

Better stil, right now there is an eBook giveaway going on at Just Jane 1813Come read Claudine’s enthusiastic review, and leave a comment to enter.

Bring on the wintry weather, a bright fireside, and good reading, we say.

 

It Could Get Cra-zy Up There

One of my favorite website is COLOSSAL. It’s about art, design, and just a lot of interesting stuff. I ran across something that should be of interest to many of us aging book types:

stairs-1

In Japan the houses are small, and the country being prone to earthquakes makes this slanted, climbable bookcase the center of the home. Even in a good shake, the books stay put.

I see problems.

I’m going to be 60 this year and I really don’t want to climb to the top of the bookcase to fetch my favorite copy of Little Women my husband gave me decades ago. My question would be, is Louisa May worth the risk of a broken hip? Put it on a lower shelf you say. That’s a great idea, but if you buy enough books, eventually, you’ll have to get off the ground.

Have someone else do it. Good, good. The problem is that someone else would wind up being a grandchild. Those of you who have had a climber know that this is a bad, bad example to set for them. We have a grandson who could go either way at this point so I know I don’t want to try and explain to him how shinnying up the bookcase to get Grandma’s pretty blue book is different from shinnying up there and swinging from shelf to shelf like a monkey. Or better yet, playing tag on the shelves with a like-minded friend.

Here’s another picture of the house with this bookcase:

stairs-6

The bookcase is not the only recreational feature of this house. I am guessing the lower room is the kitchen and the seating upstairs is for contemplation and work-from-home space. All I see is Olympic-level pancake flipping from the lower to the upper level. Or, shaking the soda bottle hard enough to see if you can hit a glass on the upper counter.

I’m sure there are a thousand and one more activities that could be devised with this configuration.

Maybe my family is out of whack, but I only see built-in challenges to kids and teens, and lots of visits to the emergency room with these features.

In reality, this is an interesting take on how architecture can evolve to meet challenges of the environment. Read about it HERE.