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Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Shannon Winslow Interviewed by Sir William Collins

 Shannon Winslow Interviewed by Sir William Collins 

(Fourth In the Series)

 By Shannon Winslow

Celebrating Shannon Winslow's New Devotional!

It is a big treat to have Shannon Winslow with us today!  This Cyber Holiday week, it is wonderful to know about a very special Christmas gift you might want to get for your JAFF friends and family!  Prayer and Praise: A Jane Austen Devotional is an inspired treasure by Shannon Winslow.  I am very grateful to have my own signed copy to treasure and use in my own daily devotionals!
PS--Be sure to check out previous Mr. Collins and Shannon Winslow Interviews here:
 It has become something of a tradition that, with the publication of a new book, I sit down for an interview with Mr. Collins (now Sir William Collins). Did you know that, after his run as a legendary literary figure, he turned his talents to a new career as a talk-show host? It’s true. But he and I have not always been on the best of terms, I’m sorry to say. The awkwardness stems from the fact that I made his early demise my first priority as a writer. In fact, Mr. Collins expired in the very first chapter of my first novel (The Darcys of Pemberley). I’m afraid he has never quite forgiven me for that, as you may be able to tell from the tone of our recent interview:
Sir William Collins returns to the set to commence his weekly Meet the Author segment. At the stage manager’s cue, Collins politely addresses today’s guest: the modestly successful author of Austenesque fiction, Shannon Winslow [seated]. Collins smiles a bit stiffly and extends a limp hand to her for the obligatory shake. Then, nodding several times to the camera and studio audience, he basks in their ‘spontaneous’ applause before taking the chair opposite his guest.
Collins:  We meet again, Ms. Winslow. And I see there is a new book. [He holds up a pristine copy of “Prayer & Praise: a Jane Austen Devotional” for the audience to view] A devotional inspired by Jane Austen’s prayers? That is a bit of a departure for you, is it not?
Winslow:  Yes! My first non-fiction piece. I’m very pleased about the way it turned out and excited to share it with readers. I hope they will find it uplifting and helpful in some way. Have you read it yet? Considering your former profession, Sir, I should think a devotional would be right in your line.
Collins:  Sorry, I have left all that behind me. And as a celebrity, my time is in great demand – something I daresay you would know little about. But I will ask the questions, Mrs. Winslow, if you don’t mind. The first is, what made you think you had any business attempting such a thing? What are your qualifications? As far as I know, you have not received a doctorate degree in theology since last we met.
Winslow:  You are quite correct about that, Sir William. But the scriptures are open to us all, are they not? And you are well aware of my credentials as relates to the study of Austen’s works. This project simply gave me an opportunity to combine two of my prime interests. [Receiving no immediate response to this, Ms. Winslow continues] I don’t mean to imply that my efforts rise to the level of works of true scholarship, not like Fordyce’s Sermons that you used to be so fond of… [Collins interrupts]
Collins:  Oh! Fordyce’s Sermons! Yes, now there is a fine volume of instruction on all things moral. Do you presume to likewise tell your readers the difference between right and wrong, Ms. Winslow?
Winslow:  Surely that is God’s job; not mine, Sir William! As I said before, the scriptures are open for us all to read and learn from. I only undertook to give people something to think about – some helps, some encouragement, perhaps a little larger view of God and His love for us – through the use of situations and characters from Jane Austen’s novels. That is the most unique aspect of this devotional, I think. It was a rewarding challenge for me to discover unexpected illustrations for spiritual principles in the stories I love so much, especially Pride and Prejudice, my favorite.
Collins:  That is no very remarkable distinction. Pride and Prejudice is everybody’s favorite, as it should be.
Winslow:  I only mention it because of the title. [Winslow takes up the discarded devotional from the table between them, showing it to Collins and the camera in turn.] I can’t tell you how tickled I was when I realized the names of the two books could be abbreviated just the same! It’s Prayer and Praise: P&P. Do you see?
Collins:  That is all very clever, I’m sure, Ms. Winslow. But what I want to know is which characters from Pride and Prejudice are included in your little devotional?
Winslow:  Well, let’s see now. Um, Mr. Darcy, certainly, and Elizabeth. Both Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. I remember mentioning your cousins Mary, Jane and Lydia as well. And there is one entire segment devoted to Lady Catherine. I know you would agree that she deserves nothing less. Now, who am I forgetting? [Shakes her head and shrugs] Anyway, as you know, Austen drew her characters so well – so very lifelike – that they would all make excellent illustrations for situations and issues people face, even today.
Collins:  I’m afraid that does not quite answer my question.
Winslow:  [With a flash in sudden recognition] Oh! Of course. Now I see what you’re driving at, Sir William. But surely there’s no need for dissembling, not between old acquaintances like us. You wish to know if you are in the book yourself. Isn’t that it? And perhaps what I say about your character?
Collins:  Well… I must admit to having a certain curiosity. Who would not under similar circumstances?
Winslow:  Quite right, Sir William. It’s only natural. So allow me to set your mind at rest at once by assuring you that I would never dream of omitting Mr. Collins! [chuckling] Who could resist the chance to point out your pompous… Oh, pardon me! What I meant to say is that the character of Mr. Collins is far too… too valuable an example to ignore. We can all learn something from him, I think it is safe to say.
Collins: [With a satisfied smile] Of course. I was sure of it. Indeed, how could it be otherwise? You doubtless feature some of my finer moments.
Winslow:  Precisely! You remember that night at the Netherfield Ball, when you were so good as to take the trouble of introducing yourself to Mr. Darcy?
Collins:  You found that particularly inspiring, did you?
Winslow:  Oh, yes! And then, in another segment… Well, I don’t want to give away all my secrets. Let’s save the rest for when you actually read the book yourself, shall we?
Collins:  Like a surprise, do you mean?
Winslow:  Why not?
Collins:  Hmm. I do not always enjoy your surprises, Ms. Winslow. I seem to recall a rather alarming one upon the occasion of our first interview together.
Winslow:  Come now, Sir William, I thought we agreed we wouldn’t mention that old unpleasantness again. It is well behind us and best left there. As Elizabeth Bennet advised, let us think only of the past as its remembrance gives us pleasure.
Collins:  Yes. [Pauses, looking dubious, then sighs] Well, perhaps that is the wisest course after all. [Turns to audience.] Please join me in thanking Ms. Winslow for once again gracing us with her… her somewhat controversial but always ‘interesting’ presence.
[The “Applause” sign flashes and the audience responds with enthusiasm, effectively bringing the awkward interview to a close.]

Did you know that Jane Austen wrote prayers in addition to her six classic novels? She was not only a woman of celebrated humor, intellect, and insight; she was a woman of faith.

Prayer & Praise is a treasure trove of thought-provoking messages inspired by the lines of Austen’s three preserved prayers. Atop a solid foundation of scripture, these 50 devotional segments (each finishing with prayer and praise) enlist familiar characters and situations from Austen novels to illustrate spiritual principles – in creative, often surprising, ways!

Which one of Austen’s characters developed a god complex? Who was really pulling Henry Crawford’s strings? Where do we see examples of true repentance, a redeemer at work, light overcoming darkness? With a Biblical perspec-tive, Austen’s beloved stories reveal new les-sons about life, truth, hope, and faith.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

A Chat With Colin About Covenant

A Chat With Colin About Covenant 

By Colin Odom

BTC:  It has been such a pleasure to be able to visit with Colin this week as he prepared for this stop on his blog tour.  I first ran across Colin, back in the glory days of JAFF online, at Hyacinth Gardens.  Male authors were rare, and he was recommended to me by several including my good friend Linnea. 

He is now a Meryton author and has recently published ‘A Covenant of Marriage’, an intriguing spin on the original Pride and Prejudice.  I know you would enjoy his book and I hope you will enjoy his personal story here at Darcyholic Diversions!

As we began to work on his interview he sent me the story below.  I cannot improve on it by making it into an interview!  So read Colin’s story in his own words!  Don’t forget to comment and also visit Rafflecopter for a chance at the drawings!

Colin:  I'll start by talking about how I found Jane Austen. First of all, my bio mentions that my first wife passed away from cancer. The year was 1995, and she was only 48. We had two sons, 11 and 15, at the time, and I suddenly had to assume all the responsibility for their care as well as holding down my job as an engineer. I also had things like bookcases filled with a mixture of her books and mine. Most of hers were oriented toward the home and family, but the exception was her beloved Jane Austen books. She had tried to interest me in reading them, but I have to confess that I found reasons not to do so. My interests lay more in science fiction, history, popular authors like Tom Clancy, and what are now called DIY books about woodworking, plumbing, electrical wiring, landscaping, etc.

As I slowly worked my way through the house, deciding what to keep and what to send to Goodwill, most of Margaret's books wound up being donated to the local library. I kept a selection, of course, like a few cookbooks, medical references, vacation books for the trips we hadn't taken, etc. And I kept her Jane Austen books.

So the years crept by. It was more than five years before I finished cleaning out her side of the closet or could even contemplate that terrifying challenge of dating when you're fifty years old. But finally friends at church pushed me to break out of my shell, and I wound up meeting Jeanine, who's four years my junior. She was the only lady I met who had not been previously married and so badly wounded by her divorce that she was never going to trust a man again. I liked most of them, and I came to understand why they felt the way they did. They had been betrayed, and the wounds went to deep.

But Jeanine was different. She and I both shared the same Christian faith, and she had truly forgiven her first husband, deciding that she was not going to let that betrayal define the rest of her life. She had a son and a daughter from her marriage, but, though she was now a single mom, she didn't feel as if she was finished being a mother. On our first date, she informed me that she was in the processing of adopting an orphan girl from China. I nodded, not worried in the slightest. I had been surprised to find, after my own children were born, that I really liked kids. Besides, I knew Jeannie and I were just going to be friends . . .

Hah! Anyway, I re-married in early 2002, and settled down to raise a daughter who didn't speak a word of English with my beloved and warm-hearted wife. And it was the combination of Jeanine's warm heart and Margaret's beloved Jane Austen books that led me to go back to the bedroom one Sunday afternoon when Jeanine was visiting with her daughter in the living room. I had noticed that one of the cable channels had a BBC mini-series made from a Jane Austen book called -- wait for it! -- Pride and Prejudice!

I had messed up the time and caught it part way through, so I was trying to figure out what was going on in that version of P&P -- the one made in 1995 with Colin Firth as Darcy. By the way, did I mention that I've always had a sneaking liking for a few movies that are referred to as Chick Flicks? Not all, by any means, but I really liked You've Got Mail, An Affair to Remember, and a few others (couldn't stand Sleepless in Seattle, though. Too far fetched and too dependent of Deus Ex Machina coincidences).

So, at the end of the mini-series a couple of hours later, there I was wondering what had taken place before I tuned in. I suppose I could have gone out to the video store and rented it (we still had video stores back in 2003-2004), but instead I dug out Margaret's copy of Pride and Prejudice and read it cover to cover.

THEN I went out to the video store.

They didn't have the 1995 mini-series, but they did have one from 1980 with David Rintoul as Darcy and Elizabeth Garvie as Elizabeth Bennet. Later on, a couple of weeks later, I ordered the 1995 version from Amazon and watched that one also. But I'm one of the few Pride and Prejudice fans who prefers the 1980 version to the much more popular 1985 version.

Anyway, while I was churning through Austen's other novels, I picked up and watched the other miniseries (except for Northanger Abbey). But I also got to wondering about all the gaps in Pride and Prejudice. For example, Darcy disappears after Hunsford and doesn't reappear until he and Elizabeth meet at Pemberley. I wondered what happened when Austen didn't focus on him, and I did some online searches to see if there was any information about that (at the time, I didn't realize that everything that Jane Austen wrote (and still exists) was contained in six novels). In doing those searches, found several novels by other authors on Amazon with something to do with the Pride and Prejudice characters. I also stumbled across Jane Austen fanfiction.

At the time, I didn't realize what fanfiction was! I found Darbyshire Writer's Guild, Firthness.com, and Hyacinth Gardens. I found a number of novel-length fanfiction that was quite good. Of course, I found a bunch that wasn't all that interesting. And I started to wonder whether I couldn't do something along that same line.

One thing I might mention is that I did quite well in English when in high school and tested into Honors English in college. Most engineers don't really care for the subject, but I was fortunate to have some really good (and demanding!) instructors who taught me the elements of writing. During my career as an engineer, I wound up writing a LOT of specifications, proposals, and reports, but that experience was, I thought, more in the area of technical writing. I wasn't at all sure that I could make a story interesting in the Pride and Prejudice world. But I came up with an idea of changing one of the critical points in P&P in order to see what happened. It was a very slow process to get going, but eventually I had everything finished, and started to post A Most Civil Proposal on Hyacinth Gardens.

The early chapters were well received, and several of the people who commented on my postings offered to "Beta Read" for me. Naturally, I had to have the concept explained to me! It sounded too good to be true, because I was still finding typos and contradictions and out-and-out blunders in what I had written. Those beta readers were invaluable to me in reaching the end of that story.

I published several other fanfiction efforts to generally positive reactions, and several people started to suggest I ought to look for a publisher. I wasn't at all inclined to listen to that well-meant advice. I was still working as an engineer, married to Jeanine, and we had adopted another daughter from China. I was busy, busy, busy, so I knew -- KNEW! -- that I didn't have the time to pursue that will-o-the-wisp, even if by some miracle I could write well enough to sell my novels. I was familiar with several writers who had moved from fanfiction to published authors, and I didn't think I was as good as they were.

By 2011, I was in my early sixties and still busy, but my business had taken a downturn. I knew it was a chancy time for a senior engineer who made a high salary. Sure enough, one day in June, me and 500 of my "closest friends" were informed our services were no longer needed.

But I was fortunate. I got a good separation agreement and was able to take early retirement. It was a shock to my ego (for about eighteen hours!), but I soon realized it was a blessing in disguise. Even better, I was contacted early the next year by Meryton Press, who asked if I would be interested in publishing "A Most Civil Proposal." By that time, I wasn't as busy as before, and AMCP had been finished for years. So I agreed, and set to work reading through it and getting it ready for publication. "This is going to be a piece of cake," I thought to myself.

Well, for the millionth time, I was wrong, wrong, wrong. Now I had to learn to work with professional editors! That's another story, but I now realize how necessary a good editor can be. Perhaps not to every writer, but certainly to me, and I'm grateful for the way they helped me develop.

So there's how I got started writing in the world of Jane Austen. A lot of it was pure chance. As far as the future, perhaps I need to spread further afield, because I may have mined out Pride and Prejudice of interesting variations. But I still have some other ideas that are semi-plotted and might be developed in an interesting manner, so I'll see. That's for the future.
A Covenant of Marriage Blog Tour Media Kit
A Covenant of Marriage—legally binding, even for an unwilling bride!
Defined as a formal, solemn, and binding agreement or compact, a covenant is commonly used with regard to relations among nations or as part of a contract. But it can also apply to a marriage as Elizabeth Bennet learns when her father binds her in marriage to a man she dislikes. Against her protests that she cannot be bound against her will, the lady is informed that she lives under her father’s roof and, consequently, is under his control; she is a mere pawn in the proceedings.
With such an inauspicious beginning, how can two people so joined ever make a life together?
Author Bio:
By training, I’m a retired engineer, born in Texas, raised in Oklahoma, and graduated from the University of Oklahoma. Sandwiched in there was a stint in the  Marines, and I’ve lived in Arizona since 1977, working first for Motorola and then General Dynamics.
I raised two sons with my first wife, Margaret, before her untimely death from cancer, and my second wife, Jeanine, and I adopted two girls from China. The older of my daughters recently graduated with an engineering degree and is working in Phoenix, and the younger girl is heading toward a nursing degree.
I’ve always been a voracious reader and collector of books, and my favorite genres are science fiction, historical fiction, histories, and, in recent years, reading (and later writing) Jane Austen romantic fiction. This late-developing interest was indirectly stimulated when I read my late wife's beloved Jane Austen books after her passing.  One thing led to another, and I now have four novels published:  A Most Civil Proposal (2013), Consequences (2014), Pride, Prejudice, and Secrets (2015), and Perilous Siege (2019). Two of my books are now audiobooks, Most Civil Proposal and Pride, Prejudice, and Secrets.
I retired from engineering in 2011, but I still live in Arizona with my family, a pair of dogs (one of which is stubbornly untrainable), and a pair of rather strange cats.  My hobbies are reading, woodworking, and watching college football and LPGA golf (the girls are much nicer than the guys, as well as being fiendishly good putters). Lately I’ve reverted back to my younger years and have taken up building plastic model aircraft and ships (when I can find the time).
Contact Info:
Buy Links:   
Amazon US eBook, Paperback, Kindle Unlimited
Amazon UK eBook, Paperback, Kindle Unlimited
Blog Tour Schedule: 

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Treats Not Tricks This Halloween: An Interview with Victoria Kincaid

Treats Not Tricks This Halloween:

An Interview with Victoria Kincaid

By Barbara Tiller Cole and Victoria Kincaid

I am excited to have a special Halloween treat for you--An interview with Victoria Kincaid!  Her latest story may ‘trick’ your idea of Charlotte Lucas.  In reading her latest book I had a new appreciation for an unsung heroine in Pride and Prejudice and new insights into her character. 
BTC:  Victoria, thanks for taking the time to visit us here at Darcyholic Diversions.  Tell us a little bit about yourself.
VK:    I’m originally from the Philadelphia suburbs and I now live in McLean VA (outside Washington DC). I’m married with two kids.  My daughter is sophomore in college; she loves it, but I really miss her.  My son is a junior in high school.  I read a lot—it’s my primary form of relaxation.  But given my day job, my writing career, and my parenting responsibilities, I don’t have a lot of time for other hobbies at this point.  Right now I’m also organizing a JAFF Reader/Writer Get Together, which will be near me November 8-10.  I’m looking forward to meeting people I only know digitally.
BTC:  I have been a part of several get togethers!  I which I could come to yours, but I have another commitment at that time.  (Do you have to include the details about the event in this interview?  If so answer the following..)  Can you give us the particulars about the event in case anyone has not yet heard about it and is able to attend?
VK:  It’ll be November 8-10 near Washington DC.  Unfortunately the registration is closed, but we may have another one.  If anyone is interested, they should join the Facebook group and watch out for future information.  I’m looking forward to it.  Writing can be a lonely profession; so it’s wonderful to meet readers and fellow writers.
BTC:  I hope you have a wonderful get together.  I planned several events while living in Atlanta area, including 2 weekend get togethers and participation by 27 authors at the Decatur Book Festival.  Also, I had a job for around 7 years which allowed me to travel the country and had smaller get togethers in Phoenix, Boston, and Southern California!    It great to meet your variety authors, and to meet the readers who love your stories.
I hope to have a gathering either before or after the Jane Austen Festival in Louisville next year!
So tell us how you started to write?
VK:  Like most writers, I’ve been writing my whole life; but for a long time I was primarily a playwright.  I still teach playwriting. 
BTC:  I have a dear friend who is head of the drama department at a university.  I worked with my husband for a number of years producing industrial theatre and events, and was a music major who performed in musicals and operas, so glad to know about your background.
VK:  I only write novels now. Switching to novel writing was a little tricky at first.  In plays, most of the story is revealed through dialogue—which can be hard to do well.  I was so happy that novel writing allowed me to reveal things through description, inner thoughts, etc.  The novel writer has a lot more tools at her disposal.  Austen’s writing is particularly good at revealing character through dialogue, which made her writing easier to emulate for me.
BTC:  I can see how her writing style would make the transition easier.  But I also know that showing not telling is always the best way to go.  So your skill with dialogue makes your stories much more interesting.
So you explained a little bit about why you chose Jane Austen, but tell us more.
VK:  All writers start as readers.  The writing impulse springs from that “what if?” that the reader asks herself.  What if the protagonist had done x instead of y?  What if the protagonist was a woman instead of a man?  What if we found out what happened after the story ended?  What if this character met that character from another story?  What if the character was a scientist instead of a soldier?  And so on. 
Austen’s world is a particularly fertile ground for these what if scenarios.  I started reading Pride and Prejudice variations out of idle curiosity.  Then I got hooked (I literally bought a Kindle so I could save money by buying ebook JAFF instead of print).  Then I started thinking of my own what ifs for Pride and Prejudice.  And now here I am!  When Charlotte Became Romantic is my 15th Pride and Prejudice variation—and I don’t seem to be in any danger of running out of ideas.
BTC:  It is always fascinating to me to learn how writers found the genre!  And you are no exception!  So what was the inspiration to write about Charlotte?
VK: When you think about it, Pride and Prejudice is full of women who are confined by their place in society.  Elizabeth’s refusal of these limitations is one of the things we love about her.  But I am always interested in those other women.  What would happen if their circumstances were a little different and they had the opportunity to assert themselves? 
That is how I ended up with a series I didn’t intend to write.  The first two books, When Mary Met the Colonel and When Jane Got Angry, describe two Bennet sisters deciding to defy conventions at critical points in their lives.  When I had the idea for When Charlotte Became Romantic, I realized I was writing an unintended series about these “other” women in Pride and Prejudice.
BTC:  I have enjoyed your books thus far and will look forward to more!  Would you like to give us a hint about your next project?
VK:  Good question!  I’ve written two modern variations (Darcy in Hollywood and President Darcy) and was just getting started with another one when a Regency era plot bunny bowled me over and demanded to be written.  So the next will be set in the Regency—with Darcy and Elizabeth as the main characters.  Maybe after that I’ll be able to write the modern version. 😊
BTC:  Well, I want to thank you for sitting down to tea with me!   Please stop back by when your next book is released! 
Victoria is giving away an ecopy of her book to a lucky commenter!  Extra entries are given for adding your name to this blog, liking my author page on facebook. Sharing this post on Facebook or twitter.

Book Blurb:

A Pride and Prejudice Variation:  When Charlotte Becomes Romantic

In the original Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet’s friend, Charlotte Lucas marries the silly and obsequious clergyman, Mr. Collins.  But what if fate—and love—intervened?
Desperate to escape her parents’ constant criticism, Charlotte has accepted a proposal from Mr. Collins despite recognizing his stupid and selfish nature.  But when a mysterious man from her past visits Meryton for the Christmas season, he arouses long-buried feelings and causes her to doubt her decision. 
James Sinclair’s mistakes cost him a chance with Charlotte three years ago, and he is devastated to find her engaged to another man.  Honor demands that he step aside, but his heart will not allow him to leave Meryton.  Their mutual attraction deepens; however, breaking an engagement is not a simple matter and scandal looms.  If they are to be happy, they must face her parents’ opposition, Lady Catherine’s disapproval, dangerous figures from James’s past...and Charlotte’s nagging feeling that maybe she should just marry Mr. Collins.   
Charlotte had forsworn romance years ago; is it possible for her to become romantic again?