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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Introducing A Headstrong Girl: June Williams

Introducing A Headstrong Girl
 June Williams
Today I’m happy to welcome June Williams to Darcyholic Diversions Last summer, June made her publishing debut with Honor and Integrity, a short story collection co-authored with Aimée Avery and Enid Wilson. This month, June is part of a new collection – Headstrong Girls – co-authored with Enid Wilson and Debra Anne Watson. All four ladies have been part of the Jane Austen community for years, and I’ve met June and Aimée in person. This is another in the posts celebrating "All For The Love Of Darcy Month".  Be sure you have your entry in to Win a Kindle by clicking on the top Left Link on this blog!!

Barb: Hi, June! Looks like you’ve been busy, getting hooked on publishing.

June: Well, you know how addiction works – you can’t have just one. Not that you and I know about addiction, of course.
Aimee Avery, Headstrong Girl-June, and Barbara in Ventura, CA

Barb: Ahem. You told me the new book’s title is Headstrong Girls.

June: Yes, there are seven short stories and one short film script, most of them about Lizzy and Darcy. I wanted to write about some of Jane Austen’s other headstrong girls – such as Caroline Bingley, Lady Catherine, and Lucy Steele – but the Muse didn’t cooperate this time; perhaps they’ll be in a future collection. This new book has writings from the Regency, present-day, and future (the year 2313). The collection has elements of mystery and romance, plus the tag-along story has some… hmm… not to give any spoilers, but there are ... ahh … special characters? Special creatures?

Barb: Aliens from the future?

June: Not this time; it’s a Regency story set at Netherfield. In a tag-along story, one person starts it, and the next chapter’s writer cannot change anything written previously. Debra Anne was adventurous – she wanted to wrap up the story, not knowing what Enid and I would write. Enid began by killing someone – not Lizzy or Darcy, naturally. Then I inserted a naked Amazon and cast doubt on the killer’s identity, which was easy because I didn’t know who the killer would be. Debra Anne came up with an incredible ending!

Barb: How did you get your inspiration to write for this book?

June: The book’s theme is “headstrong girls,” so – for ideas – I looked up the definition of “headstrong” in several online dictionaries, and I also read parenting forums about how to raise headstrong children. What did not work is when I did an image search on a photo website, looking for “headstrong;” the search results were all … donkeys!

Barb: (laughs) I wonder what Lady Catherine would say.

June: She thought “headstrong” was an insult, but headstrong people have many good traits such as determination, persistence, and sensitivity to others. Sounds like Lizzy Bennet to me, and I think Darcy loved her for being headstrong. Really, Darcy was a headstrong boy.

Barb: What are the differences between publishing your first and second books?

June: With Honor and Integrity, I only had to write new stories, since Enid did all the book’s formatting, and Aimée created the gorgeous cover and handled the administrative work with the publishers. Aimée is currently busy with her job and her own graphics consultancy so she’s sitting out this collection, so this time I get to handle the admin details, and Debra Anne is the debutante.

Barb: Usually, the second time for something is easier than the first.

June: There are advantages both to being first and second. You know that Pride and Prejudice was about first impressions – our first impression of Darcy was negative, but he improved on acquaintance; Darcy’s first proposal had more romantic words, but his second proposal was the one Lizzy accepted. My first foray in publishing was a “wow!” experience – very exciting; this time, it feels like it’s more work but it’s also deeply satisfying. My modern story turned into my first crime fic so it was more challenging to write than I expected, but I learned more about the U.S. legal system and I got to work with two great JAFF lawyers as advisors. That part hasn’t changed – with both books, I’ve worked with good friends. I’ve met Debra Anne twice, been to Aimée’s home, and worked closely with Enid. One day, we’ll get Enid to California for more than a layover. She has just visited Florida for three weeks with a seven-hour layover in California; the only thing she could do in Los Angeles in that time was to visit Colin Firth’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She’s another one with addiction, LOL. She has the tough job of being ringleader in this circus.

Barb: I’ve heard many mothers say that they forget the pain of labor and delivery after they see the baby. Is that true of your books?

June: Absolutely. I had forgotten all the work of proofreading and editing. This time, Enid taught me more about formatting, too – you know, the old “teach a person to fish” thing. I’m really thankful for the help received from already-published authors, who are gracious to help new folks. It’s almost circle-of-life – readers become fanfic writers, fanfic writers become published, published stories are read by new readers, published authors help new writers become published.

Barb: I’m asking everyone this month to post about why you love Darcy.

June: I grew up with a dysfunctional family. My parents’ marriage was unhealthy in every way, but as a child, that’s what I saw, so it seemed normal to me. When I joined Jane Austen boards, the ladies – and gentlemen – didn’t just discuss JA’s novels; they also shared about their lives and families. In fanfic stories, I read about how Lizzy and Darcy would have behaved as a married couple. When my own marriage became unhealthy, I realized that I didn’t have to stay in it. He didn’t want to become like Darcy – I’m not talking about Darcy’s “fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien” or his 10,000 pounds; I’m talking about how Darcy was willing to mature and grow as a person. Darcy steadfastly loved Lizzy even after her family became disgraced, he saved her family without telling Lizzy about it, he sought her presence, and he was a selfless, generous man of hard work and principle. Darcy is a giver, not a taker.

Barb: Darcy’s shoes are hard to fill.

June: But he’s not an impossible ideal. Many writers base story scenes on their real lives and also on their principles. I think Jane Austen created her heroes with an eye to her male relatives. Her maternal uncle, James Leigh-Perrot, was willing to stay in jail for months with his wife when she was arrested for stealing a bit of lace. That sounds like a Darcy-thing. We can all find good role models in our circle of friends and family, people who are a little like Darcy – or Wentworth, Brandon, or other JA hero.

Barb: My father-in-law died last month; he left big shoes to fill, too. He supported his parents during the Depression, and he was a World War II hero. I could use him as my inspiration for a Darcy story, with the right plot bunny.

June: Exactly, and your husband is just like his dad. Darcy is not an unattainable ideal; remember that Jane Austen said, “Pictures of perfection, as you know, make me sick and wicked." Reading about JA’s heroes teaches us who she was, the qualities she valued, and the husband she hoped to have. Happy Valentine’s Day, Barb!

Barb: Happy Valentine’s to you and all our readers!


Debra Anne, June, and Enid are giving away an eBook copy of Headstrong Girls; and Aimée, June, and Enid are giving an eBook copy of Honor and Integrity. Entries will be based on comments to this blog post. To enter, tell us below about your first and second time doing something, and whether you would like Headstrong Girls or Honor and Integrity.

About the Authors –  
Aimée Avery, a California native, became a world traveler at the tender age of six. Moving from place to place, she spent a good deal of time dreaming up situations for her favorite characters from books and television. Aimée is currently employed in the newspaper industry and is happily married and living along California’s beautiful Central Coast.

Debra Anne Watson is a lover of books and the English language, who has always enjoyed reading and editing, but discovered the joys of writing but a few years ago.  She works as a computer professional and lives with her active family in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

June Williams has always loved to write, although her first book – written at age eleven – had only one copy. In her checkered career path, she taught English as a Second Language, wrote for a U.S. Congressman and a business magazine, created technical manuals, ran a startup, and wrote advertising copy. She lives in Northern California.

Enid Wilson loves sexy romance. Her writing career began with a daily newspaper, writing educational advice for students. She then branched out into writing marketing materials and advertising copy. Enid lives in beautiful Sydney, Australia.


  1. I was a basket case the first time I had to do a Powerpoint presentation and training to my peers because I had never used that form of visual aid or stood in front of a hundred people, but the second time it was much easier. I have not read either book so I guess I would like the first one, Honor and Integrity if I were to win. I enjoyed learning more about June through the interview. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Powerpoint in front of a hundred people -- wow! I'd be a basket case, too. I'm glad it was easier the second time! Thank you for posting.

  2. Oooh! Oooh! I want both books. I have to pick just one? Just for the titles, I'd pick 'Headstrong Girls!'

    Like Sophia, I really enjoyed reading June's interview here. Great point about Jane Austen's uncle. I hadn't thought of it that way. Darcy would have stayed with Lizzy! (He would have ran the jail after a day or so, I'd bet).

    The first time I danced ballet I tripped over my left foot.
    The second time I danced ballet I tripped over both left feet.
    Here's to the third time--next week!

    1. How was your third time at ballet? I admire you for learning to dance, and agree that Darcy would have run the jail -- probably paid for better food, too.

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  4. The first time I kissed a guy it was disgusting. Who knew so much saliva could be transferred in a single kiss? But I persisted and low and behold, it got to be rather nice! After my divorce and having virgin lips again for a few years, I tried it again and was hit with the same reaction. Yuck! Ok, it wasn't that bad. Ha Ha.
    I would like either book! Both sound amazing! But if I had to chose one, it would be Honor and Integrity.
    Jeanna Ellsworth

    1. What?? You have to swap saliva when you kiss?? No way! Dry-kissing is much more sanitary. (heh-heh!)

  5. The first time I did my practical training, it was a terrifying experience as I was not prepared to enter the job market. The second time I did it in a different company and it was slightly better.

    I would like Honor and Integrity if I do win. Thank you.

    1. I hope your work is less terrifying now. I'm sure you've gained a lot of experience. *hugs*

  6. I've been looking for a new job for several years and have been concentrating on getting something at the university here in my city. I was elated when I was contacted for an interview! However, upon speaking with the person who called me, I found out my interview would be a "panel" interview. I had NEVER even heard of such a thing and when I was told it consisted of not one, but several people interviewing me at once I nearly fainted! When I went in, I was so nervous. It's hard enough being interviewed by just one person, but by 10? What's really hard is trying to keep your composure. Especially when you are asked the same question several times in several different ways! The good thing is, I got through it. And by the second time I went in for yet another panel interview, I have to say, it didn't phase me in the least. I knew what to expect, and I made sure all of my answers were consistent, especially with the similar questions. I was even a little witty. Of course the wit may have led to my losing the position, lol, but I won't apologize for it. I was being myself, and in a room full of strangers judging you, that's important!

    1. Wow, a panel of TEN persons.... scary indeed. I'm glad you felt better about it. I still hope a university job is in your future. Thanks for posting! *HUGS*

  7. Oh, I know what I am asking my boys for my birthday present this year! Well done to all you lovely ladies.

    Love Sonia :)

    1. You are such a sweetheart, and you are raising your boys to become wonderful men. *HUGS*

  8. The fist time I took my violent yobbo of a cat to the vet's, I helped hold him. I paid the price in blood.

    The second time, I stood back to enjoy the spectacle. To be fair, I did tell the vet he should use his gauntlets - I'm not completely heartless.

    1. I am laughing at the vision of your yobbo cat attacking the vet. Heh-heh! Well, you did warn him. Thanks for the giggles!

  9. The first time I read one of my own stories in public, which was at the first Harry Potter convention I attended, I was a quivering bunch of nerves. I had no idea how it would go down, whether the people there would like it, if they would laugh in the right places - even if there would be anyone there at all. Afterwards, though it had gone well, I felt wrung out.

    The second time, which was at the following year's convention, was a different experience. I was still nervous about performing in public, but with another year's membership of the fandom and another few stories on the archives, I felt there was a level of trust between me and the audience that I hadn't been able to count on before. It was a delightful experience that buoyed me up for another year to come.

    1. I can't imagine you NOT getting a favorable response to your writing. When I grow up, I want to be a Dicky! Thank you for posting. *hugs*

  10. I was delighted to read more about June Williams. I certainly understand the appealing nature of Mr. Darcy, and I agree that being rich and handsome are not a requirement for a man to be an exceptional human being. It's all about knowing you are not perfect and being willing to listen to the input of those you care about and trust to improve yourself.

    Darcyholics everywhere thank you for continuing to write stories about these characters-we'll never be able to get enough.

    1. Murphy, you are spot-on. We love a man (SS!) for his character as demonstrated by his actions over time. Only when we are mature enough to look beyond outward appearances, age differences, etc. are we ready for real love. Thank you for posting! *hugs*

  11. Thank you Sophia, Nina, Jeanna, Luthien, Murphy, Dick and Jessica. It's interesting to hear your thoughts about our Jane Austen-inspired stories. Good luck and hope you like our stories.

  12. Loved your interview and your honesty! I am interested in your books and will be looking for them.

    Thanks for sharing.