Austen Authors posted July 1
Diary of an Eccentric posted July 8
Babblings of a Bookworm posting July 10
Austenesque Reviews posting July 13
Laughing with Lizzie posting July 15
Austen Authors posted July 1
Diary of an Eccentric posted July 8
Babblings of a Bookworm posting July 10
Austenesque Reviews posting July 13
Laughing with Lizzie posting July 15
Wow! Although I got the idea for this book over 5 years ago (Really? YES!), finishing it and getting it ready to publish has actually felt like a whirlwind. Thanks to my amazing friend and photographer, Heather of Sieck Photography, and to my daughter’s theatre buddy, Alexa Norbeck (remember that name – she’ll be on the big stages in upcoming years), I am so pleased to share the cover of my new Pride and Prejudice Variation Novella, Missing Jane.
Mr. Bennet is dead; his daughters “scattered to the winds,” according to Mrs. Bennet.
And the eldest Miss Bennet? No one really knows.
Poor Mr. Bingley is led to believe she is no more, but her sister swears she is alive.
Can Mr. Darcy and his friend find her and, in turn, their own happily ever afters?
And, thanks to enthusiastic bloggers, here are the upcoming blog tour dates:
I will be giving away an e-book version of Missing Jane at each of the blog tour stops. If you are a blogger and would like me to appear on your blog any dates between July 1 and July 15 that are still available, just reach out to me.
The book will be available for pre-order in the next day or so and the paperback is coming soon.
I can honestly say this is probably my favorite book. There are several scenes that, when I think of them, I just smile and sometimes giggle. If you love Jane and Bingley, I think you will really enjoy this one.
I will see you on the Blog Tour!! Stay safe and well, and keep on reading!
Since I am finally submitting to your many requests for a newsletter, I decided to start it out on my birthday. It’s a brand new year for me and my writing journey, and you are invited to come along.
Before I begin, I must tell you how truly humbled I am that you are interested in hearing from me on a regular basis and in following my work. When I first started writing, I doubted I would ever publish. Once I published, I doubted I would find an audience. Now, I am tickled by the positive feedback I have received.
So, I am sure you want to know what is happening and what you can expect to see coming down the pike. First, I hope you have picked up your free gift of 12 Months of Darcy and you enjoyed the brief scenes. It was fun reading through Pride and Prejudice again and imagining what things might have happened that we didn’t get to see. If you have not subscribed to my newsletter and received the link to collect this free offer, just click HERE.
In January 2019, I listed projects that I hoped to see completed in the coming years on my Austen Authors blog. Of the five projects I listed, one has been completed, one has been tossed, one is in the works, two have been returned to the shelf, and two new ideas have been added. (Now you understand why I rarely plan so far ahead. 😉 ) So, let’s review:
Mrs. Collins’ Lover was released in August 2019. For those of you who have read this, you know it was an emotional roller-coaster. Though it told Elizabeth and Darcy’s story in detail, it left a lot of questions open to you, the reader, regarding their children. Because of this, I have decided to write a sequel and answer those questions (new project #1). That said, I must finish my current project before I can begin this new one.
The non-Austen suspense romance story has been tossed for the time being. It is a bit too dated and needs more work than I am willing to give it at this time. The characters still resonate with me, so I hope to receive enlightenment on what to do with that in the future.
My current project is Missing Jane. You can read an excerpt in the blog link above. I was moving along fairly quickly, but got a bit sidetracked by the COVID-19 pandemic and this newsletter. I promise to get back on track next week. By the next newsletter the beginning of July, I should have definite information on the publishing schedule, if not before.
The last two stories that I mentioned in January 2019 are still with us, but not ready to be worked at this time. Instead, I will be working on the sequel I mentioned above and a non-fiction project that has weighed on me for some time.
My father passed in March 2014 just after his 90th birthday. For over twenty years, people had told him he should write his life story. Several, including me, had offered to help. Alas, this was not his dream and it remained unwritten when he passed, though he did put it in my hands to “gather everyone together to tell the stories and write them down.”
I battled with myself on how to do this until I finally realized it was an impossible feat. Instead, I am putting together a story of how his life touched, directed, and/or affected me and others around him. The title will be In My Father’s Footsteps and, as any labor of love, it may take a bit longer to write.
So, that is all I have for now. If you want to know what I’m reading or see my reviews on books, just follow me on GoodReads. I love to hear from you, so feel free to drop me a note, or better yet, comment below.
Until we talk again, stay home, stay safe, and keep on reading!
With all the craziness going on in the world right now, I hope you are safe and healthy and doing your part by social distancing. I know many of you have been taking this time to catch up on reading and there have been some fabulous new releases. With all the time available now, many of us are also checking things off our to do lists. If you have visited my site before, I am sure you noticed some changes. Any of you who have been following my monthly blog on Austen Authors know that I have finally decided it is long past time for me to move forward and treat my writing like the career it is, so, new website updates and, finally, a newsletter starting April 16! If you haven’t signed up yet, make sure you stop by the CONTACT page to do so. Besides getting a short story collection that isn’t available anywhere else, you will receive quarterly newsletters from me as well as advance notification of new release dates and sales. I promise not to share your information with others and not to abuse your trust by filling up your inbox with daily or weekly e-mails.
Stay safe and healthy and we will see you soon!
The release date for Mrs. Collins’ Lover is quickly approaching and with that comes promotion dates. This is my first time doing a blog tour and I am excited. Come visit with me on the dates listed below. (I will add links as they become available.)
In addition, I will have a few speaking engagements/book signings this fall.
I am also looking forward to 2 major events this fall.
Can’t wait to meet fellow writers and readers over the next few months. Will I see you there?
What is the best and worst thing you can do right before you release a new book? Why go to a master class on editing, of course. As I sat there, one week before the final draft needed to be uploaded, every possible thing that did not align with the instructor’s suggestions ran through my mind. The problem was, she kept saying “I’m not saying you can’t do it, it just has to be really good if you do.” Which led to thought number two: is it good enough to get away with it?
What this all comes down to is simply this: my books are my babies and I hate to let them go.
It is sad to say that I probably have let my real babies go easier than my books. As a parent, we know the moment our children are born that one day they will leave us and go out to live their own lives. With that thought in mind, we prepare them to watch out for dangers and always be prepared. Somehow, I put my eighteen year old son on a plane trusting that he would make his connection and the college van would be at the airport when he arrived 4 states away. In a few days, I will leave my sixteen year old daughter at a college 2 states away believing that the college staff will watch over her for the next 3 weeks. My husband and I have given them the tools they need to make it, they just need to be given the opportunity to put those skills to use.
But my books? What do they have? My children have the benefit of 2 parents with different perspectives and background who guided them through their upbringing. They are a combination of my husband and myself. My books? That is all me. Heck, my husband, supportive though he is, has never read any of the books I have published. This black man from Norfolk cannot wrap his mind around Regency era England. I have laughingly read comments from my readers while he stared at me with no expression whatsoever, not understanding the jargon. When I let them go, these works have to stand on their own two feet, all by themselves.
This might lead you to believe that I am one of those overly sensitive authors who cries when she gets a bad review. I am not. I love bad reviews. Well, maybe love is a strong word. Good reviews are great, but they don’t always do much to improve your writing. Bad reviews, if written well, let the author know where they went wrong so they don’t do it again. I also love to laugh at reviews that are just absurd. (I got a 1 star review from a person who had not bought my book because they thought the price was too high.)
So what am I doing now? I am doing a final edit – after I thought I had already done a final edit. But it’s okay. All will be well. When this edit is done, I will let go because that is what you have to do. Just like our kids, you have to send them out in the world so they can impact others for good or bad (though we pray it is good). If we aren’t going to share them with others, why bother creating them?
I haven’t really talked about my life and upbringing too much, but I think I need to touch on it as I approach the release of my next book. Ooh, that sounds kinda ominous. Let me try again.
My father was the lay speaker in our church when I was growing up and he headed up the local chapter of the Yoke Fellowship Prison Ministry. I joke that I grew up one step away from being a PK. When I was in college, there was a large group of born-again Christians who, God bless them, always wanted to know when you came to God. I didn’t remember a time in my life when God wasn’t a part of it. Sure, I remembered when I accepted Christ as my savior in my neighbor’s basement following a Good News Club meeting and when I dedicated my life to God after watching a movie about the rapture at church, but that didn’t seem to be what they wanted. I felt lacking, like their faith was greater than mine because they had gone through a period of time without it. I allowed a seed of doubt, not in God but in myself, to be planted. I faced my first spiritual crisis at 19.
I felt the need to share this because in my upcoming book, Mrs. Collins’ Lover, I am placing my heroine in a similar position. Writing this book has been an emotional roller-coaster for me and has dredged up a lot of memories. That first attempt upon my faith was not the last, but each struggle has lifted me to a higher level of faith. As I began this project, there were several songs that I heard each Sunday which encouraged me along the way. I wanted to share a video from service this morning as another song was added to my list, but my website didn’t like my video quality, or size, or something. Instead, here is the link to the original version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3B1oWrN4Tg
In the upcoming weeks, I will be sharing bits and pieces about the story and our heroine’s journey along with more songs which have inspired me through this process. If you have any questions or comments, I welcome them and will try to respond within a day or two. Any delays are because I am trying very hard to finish this so I can move on to other projects. As some of you may know, I blog monthly at AustenAuthors.net and my January post was about my ambitious goals of publishing four books in the next two years as well as searching for an agent for another project. In order to reach these goals, I must stay focused and just keep writing!
Talk to you again soon!!
As this is the first month of a new year and I have been debating making changes in my life for a few months, I finally put some new routines into place this week. (I know most people do this January 1st, but as I noted last month, I’m a bit behind.) The first routine is getting up earlier and beginning my day in God’s Word. Granted, I don’t get up at the same time each day, and I sometimes have to rush to get ready; but I’ve prayed, read, and done my devotional every day. So far, so good.
This morning, I did so well, that I decided I had about five extra minutes and I could rearrange my house plants in the living room for maximum sunlight. The tree is finally down, so they can take over the window space again and hopefully recover from December’s exile. By the time I was done, I was about five to ten minutes behind my normal routine, but it’s Friday so I could be a little more casual. No biggie.
After a search for matching socks (something I am completely baffled by because I swear I buy socks every other month but still don’t have a single matching pair and have to borrow from my daughter), I heard the dog start barking. Normally, he is asleep at this time, but we locked him in the porch last night because he was barking so I figured he might have to go potty. I made my way downstairs, grabbed a couple treats, and opened the door.
Thor is a 110 pound Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog, possibly with a touch of Mastiff, so I threw a treat in the far corner in order to get into the room before he could jump on me. But he didn’t go for the treat. Instead he began running back and forth, barking at the ceiling. That’s when I saw it. A small brown bird, probably some kind of wren was in Thor’s room. I ran out, moved the table that blocked the dog in all night, threw open the door, and propped it open. I turned and Thor was still barking at the bird. Only this time he was looking into the house.
I forgot to close the door behind me.
Panicked because my husband who works nights was still sleeping and the door leading upstairs was open, I ran into the house; flying around closing doors to keep this thing from going any further into my home. Now, how was I going to get it out of my house as quickly as possible without waking my husband, breaking anything, or injuring the bird?
I turned on all the lights so I could see where it was and found an old towel that we now use as a rag. The bird flew to the corner. I followed. The bird flew to the other corner. I followed. Two more corners. Back to the original. I was suddenly very much aware that I had not yet applied my deodorant.
The bird headed for the door, but Thor was there barking so it doubled back. That’s when I heard the footsteps. “Don’t open the door!” I yelled. Luckily, the bird flew to the corner farthest from the stairs because my husband appeared. Half asleep and trying to figure out what was going on, he stood on the stairs in his pajamas and watched me running around like a mad woman. Finally, he came the rest of the way down, and now we began the futile attempts in a somewhat delayed unison. The bird headed for the stairs and he yelled, “Close the door!”
It took a second to register. “You left it open?” I stared at him in amazement as he tore up the steps and closed the door before the bird decided to fly up.
After a period of time that seemed like ten minutes but was probably two, he told me to just go to work. He started turning off lights and closed the door leading outside. I stared at him dumbfounded. “Are you going to leave him inside?”
About that time, the bird flew to the only remaining light source. We looked at each other as it hit us.
After turning off all the lights, we opened the curtain on the door. Sure enough the bird flew straight to it. Problem was, the door was now closed. We somehow trapped it in the curtain, managed to get the curtain rod off the door without losing the bird, and my husband carried it outside. Success!
Problem was, Thor didn’t see the bird go outside so he was still convinced it was in the house. My husband climbed the stairs mumbling about sleep and closing the door. I went outside, moved the prop from the screen door and let it close, all the while telling Thor that the birdie was gone. A quick text to my boss telling him I was running late due to a bird in the house received an lol, and I went back to my morning routine; applying my eyeliner but not the shadow, and running out the door without any jewelry.
As I started my car, I thought about that bird. I’m sure it was panicked and frightened for its life, but it knew its salvation was in the light. Instinct told it to turn to the light and all would be well. How often do we feel panicked, frightened by our surroundings or circumstances? Do we turn to the Light? The true Light? Or are we running toward dim imitations that take us further from the Real Thing?
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30
I don’t know when it started really. Perhaps it was Mom, but I don’t remember it being setting in stone. No, it was probably me. At some point in time, I looked at my holiday calendar, pointed a finger at Black Friday and the Saturday following Thanksgiving, and said “There, that is when we will decorate for Christmas and bake Lead Cake.” (I realize now it wasn’t Mom, because my sister’s birthday is December 12 and, if I remember correctly, decorating for Christmas was part of her celebration process.)
Now that that is clear, you are probably saying to yourself, “What is Lead Cake?” or “Why do I care?”
Well, I will address the cake in a minute, but it suddenly hit me that I am behind schedule. Thanksgiving was a week ago, but there is no tree in my living room or lights outside my house; and I’m strangely okay with that. My daughter and I walked around the neighborhood the other night, and I discovered I am not alone. Even the crazy house around the corner that goes all out each year is only half decorated. They haven’t even put the countdown clock in the yard yet.
In what should add to my strangely non-existent stress, I keep thinking it is next week. Next week begins the crazed race for January. That is the only way I can describe it. In the last few weeks leading up to the New Year, I will attempt to attend multiple holiday parties, Jane Austen’s birthday celebration in DC, a dance recital, and at least two theatre productions, while picking my son up from the airport and trying to figure out how to get to Pennsylvania and maybe Maryland for a day or two. Oh, and returning my son to the airport on New Year’s Day at 8:30 in the morning.
So, why am I unstressed? For the last few months, I have felt like I was running on a hamster wheel. My husband has a non-profit organization which holds a teen summit the Saturday before Thanksgiving each year. This all started a few years ago when I pointed out that our son was going to college and he (my husband) needed a hobby to replace the time he normally spent with Nick. He prayed on it, and found himself presented with a mentoring plan for teens. No one in our family was surprised by this, and we are all busting with pride over what he has accomplished in such a short time; but if you remember, this was to be a hobby for him. Well, I am his administrative assistant.
The week after the summit was one of rest, for the most part. We celebrated Thanksgiving with family (at their house), and drove our son halfway back to college (he had a ride for the remainder of the trip). And then The Conversation began. The Conversation is one that is repeated in our house many times throughout the year. It begins like this, “You do too much.” The difference is, this time my husband declared that he was taking away some of my responsibilities. I will be honest, I felt hurt and insulted when he said this. I wanted to say, “But you can’t do them the way I do them.” I know he was trying to free up my time, take away my excuses, so I could focus on my writing and (the part I hate) marketing. And, I’ll be completely honest here, I didn’t want to do it anymore. I support him in his dream, but it is just that, his dream.
I was still a little sore the next morning when our pastor threw the knock down punch. During his sermon, he took everything my husband had been saying and put a different spin on it. It still meant the same thing, but it drove the message home in a way poor Rob never would have been able to do. I had become distracted from my dreams and the plans that God had laid before me. I had gotten so buried in the details, that I had forgotten the bigger picture.
So, tomorrow is December and my house is partially clean and undecorated. Okay. This weekend I am pleased to say that I have one show to see and that is all. Saturday my home will be filled with Christmas carols, or the sound of Hallmark Christmas movies, and the smell of Lead Cake. Yes, the Lead Cake.
Lead Cake is a Chisholm family tradition. It probably doesn’t sound appetizing; it is right up there with Grandma Chisholm’s Rock Cookies. Lead Cake is also called Poor Man’s Fruit Cake. It has walnuts (I mix black and English) and raisins and it weighs a ton, but it is a perfect breakfast bread. Our kids can tell you, Santa gives better gifts if you leave Lead Cake instead of cookies. The recipe calls for over four cups of flour (yes, over four), which explains the weight. The reason we make it Thanksgiving weekend is because it has to sit for a couple weeks for the moisture from the raisins to permeate through the whole cake. One batch makes three large loaf pans or four smaller pans.
A few years ago, I started giving them out to friends; so I make several batches. It takes about the same amount of time as decorating and I normally try to do it at the same time. When I struggle to stir the batter, because it is thick and gets thicker as it cools, I just remember that Chisholm women have been doing this for generations. It is a time of communion with my ancestors, reconnecting with my roots, and remembering my dreams. This year, I am looking forward to that time more than I have in the past.
So, why am I unstressed? I am remembering that the reason I decorate and bake and run around like a crazy person is not to meet deadlines or check another item off my list. It is to celebrate all the gifts God has given us and get lost in the wonderment of this beautiful season. So, I hope to get my decorating done this weekend, but if not, so be it. I plan to bake enough Lead Cake for my family and, if I have enough time and feel like doing it, I will make some for gifts. If not, there are other days to do it, and this would not be the first Christmas without Lead Cake. (That’s how the kids know about Santa’s preference.) I have spent the last few months letting my distractions run my life, but their reign has ended. I am taking back my life and finishing this year the way I want it to end. How are you ending the year?
Recipe for Lead Cake in the comments, if anyone is curious.
(So, as you noticed, this was posted a day or two late. Blame technical difficulties. I am happy to report the tree is up with lights, but no decorations yet. The ingredients for the Lead Cake are on the counter, but I need to get some sugar. And my husband made an appointment to get the dog groomed at about the same time he has to leave for work. Nothing ever goes as planned, but that’s okay. If I don’t post before then, I hope everyone has a Happy Holiday-of-your-choice.)
I have been writing for over ten years, the last six years with a goal to publish; and self-publishing the last three years. Since I first began attending writing conventions, shows, and master classes, I have heard that I need to blog, but I fought against it. “What do I have to say that anyone wants to hear?” “I write fiction, not non-fiction. I’m not a fount of knowledge that people would be interested in reading.” “There are plenty of other Regency era or JAFF writers doing blogs about that era who are far more knowledgeable than me.”
Cut to the past week or two. I have been sick. Not life threatening, put your life in order, sick; just migraines and a sinus infection. Just enough to make me stop moving long enough to have long discussions with my husband about our plans for the next five, ten, fifteen years. You see, there is an age gap between my husband and me of eight years, putting him close enough to retirement age that he is ready to start getting detailed about it. When you are younger, you think about the amount of money you are going to need or where you will live. The closer you get, you start thinking about the trips you want to take or the things you want to do.
Right now, you are probably asking what does this have to do with blogging. Well, though I have been more successful with my books than I thought I would be, Rob (my husband) has always known it could go much further than my limited vision. And one way to get it there is blogging. I have come to a better understanding of blogging over the last month. It is not about what I can share that will provide something new that a reader might not have known. It is about making a connection. It is about showing my readers that I am a person they can relate to and, by the way, I write and you might enjoy my stories.
So, what’s the plan? Well, it has been pointed out to me (in a highly sarcastic and smack-yourself-in-the-head manner) that there are things I experience or have experienced that might connect with people. That said, I do not see myself as a great proficient (such as Lady Catherine de Burgh) in any subject to sustain a weekly blog. I have decided to start small and build. As the holidays are approaching, you should expect a blog a month, but after the new year, it might increase to every two weeks. Who knows, I might surprise myself and end up doing this weekly, but I’m not making any promises just yet.
As I said when I started, I have been writing for over ten years. I’ve finally decided to begin my journey of becoming an author. I hope you will come along for the ride.
(And, after writing this more than weeks ago, I finally got my blog page set. Because of that, I will actually be posting twice today.)