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    The blog feature of Beyond Austen is available for any registered members. The blog feature can be used for any purpose the member see fits. If a member already has an external blog, they are more than welcome to create a blog here to announce the updates to their external blog; add a summary of the new post along with the link for members to get there.

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  1. Peek into Elizabeth Bennet’s world of dragons through her commonplace book as she seeks to understand dragon types.  If you missed the start of grown up Elizabeth’s adventure with dragons, check out this post . If you missed the first installment in Elizabeth’s Commonplace Book, you can find it here.   September 1801   Mama’s urgent errand […]

    The post Understanding Dragon Types: Dragon types and Bird Types appeared first on Random Bits of Fascination.

    View the full article

  2. Photo: Bruno Cordioli (Creative Commons Flickr)

    Oral surgeons have two doors at their offices. One is for incoming patients--a nicely-appointed waiting room with magazines and such. And then there is the exit to the parking lot, for those who have had extractions under general anesthesia.

    A week ago, my husband had a cracked wisdom tooth removed. A laughable situation really, because our positions were reversed. I, the weak and recovering-strength one, was helping him stagger to the car and then up the driveway.

    Anyway, from past experience (sons with wisdom teeth) we knew about the two-door thing. When we drove up to the office, we noticed that the back surgery door was ajar. And there was this big gray cat.

    Of course you know what was happening. That cat, being, well...a cat, was trying to get inside. "Oh, you," I said. And then I noticed the string. Ha, someone inside was playing with the cat. Sure enough, one of the scrub-clad techs came out, and we got to talking.

    It seems this friendly fellow is the office mascot. The staff had taken to feeding him, and Dr. TenHulzen liked him so much that he took him home as a pet. Then the cat disappeared. Four months later he showed up at the office--and that's where he's lived ever since. "To get back here he had to cross the 205 Freeway," the tech marveled. And yet here he was, in one piece and happy. Cross a freeway? No problem.

    Cats are like that. If a door is open, in they go. If the opening isn't large enough, they help it along with a paw. After all, there's food inside, and hands to scratch behind their ears or smooth their fur. A cat has every reason to give the door a try. And if he's not welcome, he is put out. Away he goes, no big deal, to look for other open doors.

    But when I come to a door that's ajar, I stop. Should I go in? Is it okay? Usually I stay outside because unlike the cat, I am hyper-responsible and am afraid to do the wrong thing. Also, I don't like being put out. It stings the pride, being told to leave.

    What about the door of opportunity? I am afraid to go through that one too. Likewise I'm reluctant to widen the opening with a gentle push. I can learn a thing or two from Dr. TenHulzen's office cat.

    "Be a cat, Laura." I need to squeeze my author body through narrow openings. How else will I see what opportunities are inside? Usually, it's food, and food equals money. Who cares if I get put out? Frees me up to find other open doors. Cross a freeway? Sure, why not? It's easy to do in the middle of the night.

    So like a cat I need to try stuff. Who knows what snug opportunity I will find? Like the fellow pictured below, who discovered the perfect cat-shaped sink. Must have been made just for him. His owners must have thought so too, else why would they take a photo? Meow!

    Photo: Melinda Seckington (Creative Commons Flickr)
    Photo: Melinda Seckington (Creative Commons Flickr)

    Laura Hile (1)

    Originally posted at Jane Started It!
  3. I'm giving away a paperback copy of A Lesson Hard Learned (when it is available) to someone who has a shipping address in the US. Check it out:


    AND I'm having a private giveaway for Beyond Austen members only. I'm giving away 2 ebook copies - this one is international! Click here to enter:


    Good luck!


  4. giovanniboldiniafternoonstroll-mm21

    An advice column by Persuasion's Mary Musgrove

    If only I could sleep properly! But the demands of a household are myriad, and as you know I am the most responsible member of the family. Charles shrugs off our troubles, while I am kept awake thinking of solutions for future events.

    It's as if Thinking has become a profession. This is most unfair, for I am an Elliot and a gentlewoman. I should not have a profession! I should not have to think!

    One of the London papers had an article about sleeplessness recently, and the suggestions offered were idiotic. If my husband were to read them, my life would be worse, not better. I sent that newspaper straight into the fire.

    I share those so-called solutions here because I daresay you could use a laugh.

    Exercise and stay active. I walk quite enough, thank you. My husband will never purchase a proper carriage if he thinks strolling about will improve my health. It won't.

    Can I help it if I am always thinking?
    Can I help it if I am always thinking?

    Avoid Naps. Bless me, if I do not nap, how will I stay awake at parties and assemblies? I am not about to become like one of the dowagers, snoozing open-mouthed on the sofa instead of dancing.

    Abstain from caffeine and wine. What am I to offer callers instead of tea, pray? Warm milk? I must serve wine with dinner and strong coffee with dessert. The sort of people who read London newspapers obviously have no social life.

    Moderate large meals, particularly those with meat. Look, when I am invited to dinner, of course I will eat meat and plenty of it. Meat is not only healthful but also expensive. I enjoy meat the most when my father-in-law is paying for it, thank you. Besides, hosts expect their guests to partake with enthusiasm. To abstain would be rude.

    Get out of the bed when not sleeping. And go where? Sharing a bedchamber is not easy. My husband will thrash about in his sleep and pull off the blankets. He says I hog them, but I act only in self-defense.

    Fill the bedchamber with pleasing floral aromas. As I said, I share with my husband. Not only do we not have flowers available year-round (for he refuses to put up a hothouse), but the scent in our room is far from floral!

    Hide the bedroom clocks. I would like a clock to hide! Charles will not purchase one for our bedchamber or any other room; he says they are unnecessary for country life. We have a mournful longcase clock in the entrance hall and an elegant ormolu clock--a wedding gift from Father--in the drawing room. And that's it.

    Buy a good mattress. This is the only decent suggestion of the lot. Ours was supposedly restuffed or refluffed or reticked (or whatever one does to mattresses) when we were married five years ago. I say my in-laws lied. This mattress has been around since before William the Conqueror. Yes, it would be just the thing for a battle-hardened Saxon brute.

    Alas, I must selflessly make do with what beauty sleep I can snatch. I trust you are able to do the same.

    Most cordially,

    Mary Elliot Musgrove
    Daughter of Sir Walter Elliot, Bart.
    Future Mistress of Uppercross

    Laura Hile (1)

    Mary's "portrait" is Afternoon Stroll by Giovanni Boldini

  5. MarcyO
    Latest Entry

    blog-0636584001449774459.jpgHaven't posted in awhile because I've been working on this new book. Not the happiest of stories, but one that contributes my insights into why my seemingly loyal and loving husband became a sometimes cheating spouse. The whole story in a short ebook is available on Amazon Kindle. Click on book cover to go to Amazon page.

    Actor Tom O'Rourke, my husband of thirty five years, who I loved and adored, confessed from the afterlife that he had cheated throughout our marriage. Devastated, I had to look back at our life to understand who he really was, whether he'd ever loved me and why he had to come clean about his infidelity, even after his death. Tom was an actor you've seen many times TV in "X-Files", "Law and Order", and who played Justin on the "Guiding Light". I was a model with Eileen Ford. We were baby boomers. This is our story.

    As I gazed out my kitchen window, a large black pickup truck rolled slowly and ominously up beside my home and stopped. Its presence was chilling and solemn, and I knew it was death. Recounting the strange dream to my husband of thirty three years the next morning, little did I suspect that I had seen the legendary death coach of Irish folklore, the Coiste Bower, which signifies the inevitability of death. "Once it comes to earth, it can never return empty, because some greater power has decreed a person's death and mortals may do nothing to prevent it." (Wikipedia) A little over a year later, my husband had passed away, and all our dreams for this world were ended, or so I thought. Blame my Irish grandmother for this dubious gift of second sight, something I'd always considered merely an ignorant superstition. But that was before I learned how permeable the veil between life and death is and how closely bound and intimately cherished our earthly loves and endeavors are by our creator.

    It has been six years since I lost Tom, and I now live in the Pacific Northwest, a place that I believe God must have created last, saving all that was most beautiful and benevolent for his final triumph. But to love it as I do, you must be a person who thrives on rainy days, dark winter afternoons, trailing mists, and skies of smudged gray clouds. It is hauntingly lovely, bounded by the pale silky waters of Puget Sound, wondrous islands on the horizon that tantalize the imagination, and always the mist drifting thoughtfully over the rocky shores and catching ghosts in the evergreen spires, rendering everything insubstantial and timeless, as if you are in a dream and can't wake up. It's a naturally mystic landscape, conducive to reverie and a very forgiving place for the broken hearted.

    Tom was the love of my life. We were an unlikely couple: I, a graduate in Environmental Science from Barnard, a model with Eileen Ford, and a Bob Dylan fan; he a former paratrooper and graduate of Goodman Theater School in Chicago, now a New York City actor and an Elvis fan. We'd met due to our shared pursuit of theater, acting and the arts as a profession. Both of us had been born into the inhospitable world of dysfunctional families, where your parents often were your worst enemy. We each had one parent who could emit love as from a distant planet, an intermittent signal, often garbled and fuzzy, but nevertheless sometimes it offered solace that we were not entirely alone in the universe. Tom's mother, much abused and beaten, still could feel something for her first son. My father, devoted to his narcissistic, sly and manipulative wife, was still proud of his daughter's good sense.

    When I said goodbye to Tom, I buried the only true friend I'd ever had. We had both been each other's Hail Mary Pass, our last hope to find a kindred spirit in this world, someone who understood what a desperate struggle life could be, even for a child; someone who understood how deep the need for love could be, and how very lonely life could be. But when he was gone, at least I had his memory and the consolation that I had been loved. Whatever else had gone wrong, I had been loved.

    Then the deeper vision that is second sight visited me again in a dream. This time, after so many previous experiences with psychic seeing, I knew what I saw was manifestly true. It was a very real dream, too real. I woke up constantly in the early morning hours, revisiting the dream, falling back to sleep and weeping throughout the dreams, woke up and wept and wept more. In the dream, I was watching Tom as his younger self, and he was chasing after other women, in a way I recognize instinctively as sexual heat. He glances back at me with a cold face, walking away from me after them. Ignoring me. It was impossible to believe. Even in the dream, I couldn't quite believe he was doing that, ignoring me, going off deliberately with other women, almost as if to show contempt for me. I called out to him to come tell me if it is true that he has been unfaithful to me. There was a white haired man sitting nearby, head down, with shoulders slumped, facing the other way. I waited until he left to ask Tom. Tom just stared at me coldly. I woke up again and again, crying, sobbing, exhausted.

    It felt almost as if I had been prepared by the creator all my life to believe in psychic experiences, so that by the time this devastating dream arrived, I would know it was the truth. And now I was left all alone to face this hurtful confession. Could it really mean what it seemed to showing me? There was no one I could tell. People abruptly change the subject when you mention any kind of psychic insights. They either think you're just getting too full of yourself by claiming you have special powers, or you have lost your mind, or the devil is after you. And no one who knew us as a couple would believe this without more evidence than a dream. Even I would like to have more evidence, but that seems unlikely since the dream refers to a younger Tom of many years ago. These psychic experiences have been weird and unsettling right from the start, to the point where I now find them scary. But rejecting them doesn't seem to be a choice that I've been given. They have come to seem like part of my destiny which I must accept. So here I am with the tormenting knowledge that the one person I loved and trusted in the world has shown me he betrayed me.

    Exploring the possibility that this dream is sent by dark forces, I suddenly recall the old man in the dream and reexamine him. Yes, I see the slumped shoulders, the bowed head, and the white hair scraggly on the back of his neck, which I know so well. The old man is old Tom, bowed down with sadness at what he did. So, it's clear that Tom feels remorse and is involved in sending me this knowledge for some reason.

    It's all so puzzling and so terribly upsetting. I hadn't had even the slightest suspicion of any kind of infidelity when he was alive. Was my whole thirty years of married life a sham? An empty drama where I wrote one script, and Tom wrote another? I felt as if I didn't even know who I was any longer.

    Could it be that the man who told me daily that he loved me was lying every day? I had to first understand how and when he could have cheated and with who and why. Searching my memory of our married life, I began to ferret out gaps and inconsistencies which had always puzzled me. There were several women who had been involved in these incidents that I put on a list of suspicious parties, and a vague pattern began to emerge. Unable to bear not knowing the whole truth, I consulted famed psychic Pam Coronado from "Sensing Murder" for a reading. She immediately described a woman and got one of the names on my guilty list. Suddenly, things started to make sense. Then we looked deeper at Tom's motivation, and what she told me she saw changed my whole perception of my married life and who my husband really was. Lastly, Pam and I tried to figure out why he had come back to own up to his misdeeds, she couldn't get an answer. But, given the woman and motives for deception, I have my speculations about what he needed to accomplish.

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    This probably sounds like another one of those sappy stories that are told over and over again, and to be totally honest it is. The following fanfic tells about what might have happened if Elizabeth accompanied her father on is call to Netherfield due to his ill health. What treasures may lie ahead in this story? I don't even know yet! It only started out as bunch of fantasy I wrote years ago, but I want to see what I can do to make it better. Enjoy!


    Chapter 1

    “Oh, Mr. Bennet!” Mrs. Bennet’s shrill voice filled the room, “You simply must go and visit Netherfield!”

    Mr. Bennet, over the years, had become accustomed to his wife bickering and gossip. So it was no trouble for him at all to block out the shrewd remarks she was constantly making about this Bingley fellow. After giving it some thought, Mr. Bennet gave into the idea of paying a call to Netherfield, despite his growing ill health. He had told his wife that very night that he would go, on the condition that Lizzy assist him during his visit.

    “Lizzy!” Mrs. Bennet stated in disbelief, “You mustn't think of bringing that ill-mannered child to Bingley’s home, what kind of impression would that leave of our family!”

    “Now now my dear Fanny, you of all people know that Lizzy is the best person to take care of me in this declining state,” he said, his tone completely serious, “if she does not come with me, I fear that I may not make even a trip as short as this.”

    Mrs. Bennet was completely silent now, being too stunned to speak. This sufficed for Mr. Bennet, as he was finally able to get a good, proper sleep.

    In the morning Mr. Bennet went over his plans for the coming day, with Elizabeth. She readily agreed, claiming that it would be best due to her father’s current state. After helping see to it that the tenants were all visited, Elizabeth ran to her favorite hidden grove of trees for a pleasant morning full of a bit of tree climbing.

    Chapter 2

    The next day came, causing a huge ruckus for those in the Bennet household. Elizabeth, or Lizzy, seemed to notice her mother was unexpectedly paying more attention than she normally did to how she looked, giving her a weird feeling of confinement.

    “ Is this how Jane feels on a daily basis?” she noted to herself as she thought of all the mornings mama had flustered about getting Jane to look right and proper. Oh how Elizabeth wished she could be outside enjoying this wonderful morning, but mama insisted that she stay still and quit this nonsense about child-play.

    “Mama” Lydia said, “ can Kitty and I go out to town to pick up some new lace?”

    “Oh yes, can we mama? I’ve heard that the Lucas’ are to be holding a town greeting soon. New lace would be excellent!” added Kitty.

    “Pish posh, of course you can go….”

    “On the condition that you take Mary and Jane with you.” Mr. Bennet cut into his wife’s remark.

    In came time for Mr. Bennet to call on Netherfield, so he and Lizzy were lead to the carriage to make their way over to the current residents there. Netherfield, Elizabeth noted as she was pulled into the estate, seemed to have a little more life to it than it used to. The carriage came to a complete stop, and the footmen quickly came to assist the occupants inside step out.

    Together, Mr. Bennet and Lizzy made their way to the sitting room in which the residents of the household were all gathered. Mr. Bennet had sent a message earlier that week requesting that his daughter join him, so Mr. Bingley had made sure to it that his sisters were there in order to make his guests more comfortable.

    As those of the Bennet household made there way in, Bingley immediately noted his friend Darcy’s change in stature.

    “ Good evening…” Bingley started, to ease the discomfort threatening to overcome the room. This all lead to a very interesting turn of events.

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    On the first day of NaNoWriMo I...

    got to sleep in for the first time in over a month. When I finally decided to roll out of bed, I was able to leave the house without having to taxi any children around. (Yeah! :th_flower_jump: ) After a quick trip to the bank (with a swing through the Dunkin' Donuts drive thru -- don't tell my husband since we're supposed to be trying to lose weight), I decided to stop by the local library and log about an hour on the computer sans familial interruptions.

    After pulling up the last two chapters of The Ball At Meryton to review and print out for my beta and the first two chapters of Sunset Ritual to rework and print out for my husband to read, the phone rang to tell me it was time to take my daughter to meet her friend. Quickly hitting the print button on my projects, I checked out and rushed home to don the imaginary chauffeur cap (I really do think I have earned one -- and it would remind me of my Duran Duran days) to deliver my daughter to IHOP. After that it was a stop at Pet Smart for cat food, UPS to drop off a package, Tractor Supply for dog food, and the farmer's market for something wholesome to put in the fridge before finally arriving home to ... write, you say?

    No, paint the silhouette on my daughter's wall that I traced over a month ago. (Did you notice it has been a hectic month?) After completing her legs, my hand cramped so I ... wrote? No, put the dishes away and emptied the sink into the dishwasher. Then I baked an apple cinnamon crumb cake for my husband to take to work as a thank you to his co-workers for sympathy cards they had sent me a month ago when my mother passed, then back to the silhouette.

    After completing everything but her head and arm, my son informed me it was time to take him to his girlfriend's house about the same time as my husband was leaving for work and my daughter arrived home. After finishing the head on the silhouette, it was back into the car and right back home where I found the cake on the kitchen counter (Oh, well, guess they'll get it tomorrow night) then back to finish the arm on the silhouette. Once completed, the obligatory picture had to be taken and posted on Facebook for everyone to ooh over.

    At this point there was about an hour and a half until I had to go get my son and I had a couple options: I could write, I could clean the guest room/dressing room that I keep saying I'm going to clean, or I could actually cook dinner. I played solitaire on my phone while trying to make up my mind. At 7:20, I realized I had ten minutes to get to the girlfriend's house to pick up my son and that we would probably be eating fast food for dinner (sorry, Hubby, I promise I'll try to do better). By 8:00 we were on our way home, Chic-Fil-A in hand. After we finished eating, it was back to another game of solitaire while my inner monologue began this blog. And now, once I hit post, it will be off to bed in anticipation of another chance tomorrow.

    But I did promise I would clean the guest bedroom/dressing room... :E6:

  6. If I was allowed to drive, I would still be sitting at home, but I wouldn't be bored. I wonder if school was open all year round, but kids still had the summer off, they wouldn't be bored because they would feel like they were skipping school.

    So it's raining outside, which makes it worse. I can't sit on the deck and I can't got for a walk.

    To make matters worse, since the heart attack, I can't hold thoughts in my head. I forget names, not all of them, just some. I mixed my two favourite neighbours up, calling Sandy by her mother's name. Awana kids that I have seen year after year, I can't remember their names.

    I sat down at the piano to play a tune that I am supposed to have memorized and it was gone. I now have to sit with the chords in front of me, following each one by sight. My teacher told me to get out old work and see how I am on reading notes. I hope I haven't lost that too. Singing was a problem until last Sunday. It seems I put too much emotion into my hymns and belt them out like I mean it. I would have cried if my inner music didn't come back.

    And I want another cup of coffee in the morning.

    My son vacuumed the livingroom for me and although I am certain that the small space wouldn't have overtaxed me, he was a little more thorough than I would have been. He went through and vacuumed spider webs from the corners of the ceiling.

    Just before this happened, we had just had major work on the outside of our house. Everything inside the house was moved to make space for the workers to get at the windows. Stuff is piled in every room, stuff that needs to be sorted, garbaged, or given away. I had planned on working at it over the next few months. I am ready to start that now, on a much smaller scale than I had originally hoped. There is still another 6 days before I can consider driving to thrift stores, recycle depots, and the waste transfer station. I keep eyeing up those items that I know are still going to be too heavy for me to handle.

    One thing that really bothers me is the lawn. In the summer, the lawn needs to be mowed once a week. for me it had become a four day job. In the days before my heart attack, I had completed three of those four days. Since then, my son mowed half of the portion I didn't get done. That means that about 13 % of my yard hasn't been mowed since mid June. He also mowed the portion of my lawn that I had done last, leaving an additional 50% unmowed since the last week in June. Every time it rains, it grows. Why is he not out there? In one or two words "SPIDER" of "SPIDER WEB." He is the classic example of a country born city boy.

    I have told the neighbourhood gossip that I had a heart attack, so that should ease things up with the neighbours, but I am thinking I am going to have to hire someone to come out and mow the yard.

    Well, it is time to get on with the one thing that seems to occupy my mind lately and that is coming up with healthy food combinations that I like, but everyone else seems to hate. Too much garlic, too many vegetables, not a big enough serving of meat, no salt added in cooking. If they only knew,

    I had changed the meat portions a few years ago because of my husband's gout. Trying to cut the uric acid build up in his body is hard to do because he is a meat and potato man.

    Salt hasn't changed much. In raiding my cupboards, I only got rid of a few things. I always kept some sort of soup base in my spice cupboard, which rarely got use. I bought the packages over a year ago and only one or two squares were gone from each package of vegetable, beef, and chicken. Most of my canned soups are the low sodium variety. Again, those are only for emergency. I make homemade broth with only seasoning, no salt. My grocery habits have always leaned to the low salt, low sugar side of things.

    I have increased the vegetable intake at my house, which my husband wouldn't mind if it was strictly corn, carrots, and peas. I used to sneak in zucchini, cabbage, rutabaga, and the occasional spinach leaf. Now I am boldly cooking several different varieties and using herbs and spices for flavour. I guess I am using too much garlic and oinion. My husband has a problem with garlic and often won't eat a food because of garlic. It's not like I am going the route of Emerill and "kicking it up a notch," I am sticking to one or two cloves.

    I am experimenting with my foods. Like right now, I am cooking up a concoction of Red River cereal (like Sunny Boy), old fashioned oats (not quick cooking), and blueberries. Instead of salt (which I never used before) I am using cinnamon. Then I don't sweeten the cereal, which I would have before. And use 1 % milk. I refuse to go to skim milk.

    For lunch, I have two choices. Either I cook up the leftover broccoli, that I thought was overcooked, into a cream of broccoli soup. I have homemade chicken broth in the freezer, and some leftover coconut milk from the curry I made the other night. I always buy unsalted top crackers, so that isn't a problem. My other choice is the leftoever curry and rice. There is one piece of chicken leftover as well.

    The only meal that really changed for me is dinner. Now instead of meat, baked potato with sour cream, macaroni with sauce, or rice with butter, I make certain there are plenty of vegetables. I have sauces made with legumes, to serve over rice (which I always cooked without salt). I flavour low fat sour cream with herbs or spices, I haven't had pasta yet because that will take separate cooking because I intend to avoid your basic macaroni. I have some German noodles, made with spinach. That should go good with the green lentil sauce the tastes better than it looks.

    The only real changes to salt levels in my foods comes in take out food and the snacks that my husband buys. He has Ritz crackers sitting by his chair and often he buys potato chips. There were times when I would need something crunchy and dip into his stash. Now I turn to celery or fruit. I needed it in the first week, but not the celery has been sitting all week without me dipping in. Time to use celery to flavour a few sauces.

    Breakfast is ready. :th_2uoopih:

  7. My favorite book is 200 years old today! A book that has been called the most influential novel ever. I think that makes it time for a literary celebration.

    Now, how to celebrate?

    The BBC is recreating the Netherfield Ball. But sadly, Mr. Bingley never sent me an invitation.

    Author Wendy Soltis has challenged herself to re-type Pride and Prejudice in it's entirety. But I'm not quite that ambitious myself, although I have in the past retyped entire books when the hard copy I had was in danger of falling apart (back in the dark ages before I bought just about everything for my e-reader).

    If I didn't have work, I might attend the twelve hour live reading of Pride and Prejudice in Chicago. And there are all kinds of events all over the world.

    Aside from celebrations, the anniversary has sparked a slew of people to examine what it is that makes Pride and Prejudice so special even 200 years later. From articles about Elizabeth Bennet, to a visit to Bath to learn to become a modern day Darcy. Or how a 228 year-old man can still enrapture so many women. You can find tips on how to be a Pride and Prejudice tourist. Learn about objects that tell us about Jane Austen. Or read more about common misconceptions of themes in Jane Austen's works. Want to know more about the cult of Janites?

    There are discussions of which actor made the best Mr. Darcy. **cough cough Colin Firth cough** But clearly not everybody agrees on this.

    How about some trivia with 12 facts you may or may not already know. Or do you know what P.D. James considers two plot problems in the original that she tried to resolve in her own novel?

    There are ebook giveaways, and trivia contests abounding. And I've only scratched the surface of all the fun.

    For now, I'll leave you with some typically witty and insightful quotes by Jane Austen.

  8. In case you have not seen this, I am sharing it here. It is the theme song of my story, A Man in Want of a Wife.

    And I want you to see this one as well. I have just finished the Kent Chapters and now we are back in London. This is the theme of that section.



  9. I started writing in earnest only about a year and a half ago. Before March, 2011, I dabbled a bit, but I was too busy teaching high school, working in music at my church, and traveling with my daughters’ sports teams and ensemble groups to have the necessary time to reflect and think enough to write a book. Empty nest syndrome combined with leaving my full-time teaching position provided me with the needed free hours, and encouragement from friends and family boosted my courage.

    Writing my first book was fairly easy, though it morphed into a trilogy before I could tell the complete story. Guardian, my first book, had so many of my own life experiences woven into the narrative that it was mainly a matter of putting the words on paper and polishing the writing. My second book, SoulFire, was more difficult, because nearly all of it came from my imagination. Now that I have finished and published the third and final book in the series, Legacy, I am learning how to keep myself motivated.

    It is fortunate that I did not depend on making money to keep me writing in the early stages, because, though I published Guardian in August, I did not see any royalties until October, and those were very small amounts. When I published SoulFire in December, sales of Guardian shot up, and the royalties are now fairly significant for both books. Legacy further boosted sales, helping me to stay focused on writing, and I already have started writing my next book, Accidentally Yours.

    However, money has never been a main motivator for anything I have done in my life. The approbation of friends, relatives, and other readers means more to me – particularly e-mails and messages from people whom I have never met. Especially inspiring are the people who write me and say that my books have encouraged them and helped them in their everyday lives.

    The actual act of writing itself requires a different type of motivation and inspiration. Oddly enough, typing the chapter heading on a blank document gives me a sense of accomplishment. I feel that I have begun when I see the name of the chapter and save it into my book file. After that, I usually look at my outline, decide what must be in the chapter to move my story toward the desired end, and begin to visualize the scene in my mind. I write the scene as it unfolds in my head, not worrying too much about details or dialogue as I rapidly put the words on the screen. After an hour or two, I go take a shower or do a simple household task that does not require much of my attention, and I think about what is happening in that chapter. Within an hour, I am back at my computer, and I write for another three or four hours. Though I know where the chapter will go ultimately, the way that I get to that destination unfolds in my head as I write.

    Mornings are the most productive times for me, so I usually begin to write as soon as I get out of bed three or four days a week. I am a disciplined person, and I write a chapter per week. Making myself stay on target keeps me from feeling anxious or pressured about accomplishing my goal: to write and publish at least one more book this year.

    I also reward myself. After I finish a chapter and send it to my editors, I allow myself a day or two before I begin to write again, and I do other things that I enjoy, such as reading or watching a movie. Thinking of that down time as within reach keeps me racing toward it. I know that if I allow writing to become a drudgery, I will eventually stop, and I have too many stories to tell to allow that to happen.

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    "I'm at the Regatta. Will you come? Please. I'm on my boat. I'll be waiting. I think I'm falling in love with you."

    I had missed the call but got the message.

    The good thing about old age is that you have a complete library of memories. And they are triggered at random times of the day by the oddest of things. Some of those memories are sweet and gentle; others, definitely less so. But at my age, they are all welcomed. Like Grace says, "Random bits of fascination."

    Today, my regatta memory was ushered into my consciousness by a blog post by Bec Thumann (love that girl and the way she writes). Check it out.

    Thanks, Bec, this memory was exquisite, and I'll live in that moment all afternoon.


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