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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

An Austenesque Holiday Season! First in a Series of Holiday Gift Special Features: Featuring Janet Taylor’s 2017 Calendar

An Austenesque Holiday Season!First in a Series of Holiday Gift Special Features:Featuring Janet Taylor’s 2017 Calendar 

by Barbara Tiller Cole 

If a magical transport could transport us to the Northpole this time of year we might catch Santa checking his list twice for your name!  Have you been naughty or nice?  Maybe it isn’t too late for you to convince him not to leave you a stocking full of coal.  But, if you aren’t so sure what Santa’s decision will be, then it might be time to buy some things for yourself or drop some hints to your family.  Perhaps it might be time for you to purchase some Austenesque gifts for your friends? 

From now until Christmas, Darcyholic Diversions will be featuring posts to enhance your Austenesque Christmas.

The first stop is with Janet Taylor.  You may remember Janet’s post here, confirming her Darcyholism, but if you don’t here is the link to her post:


A blessing for the type of work I had for awhile was the gift of travel.  It has allowed me to meet many Austen enthusiasts, authors and artists.  One of the specials friends I have made along my journey is Janet Taylor.   The first time was in Austen as we shared a meal at a restaurant where Janis Joplin got her start, Threadgills.  While eating great Texas country fare, we talked about her art and her dreams of what how she would like to use that art. 

Barbara, Jan Hahn and Janet Taylor
          By the next time I met her, that dream was coming through.  Janet brought along Jan Hahn.  So all three of us got to visit in Saledo Texas that day.  Saledo is a charming artists community just North of the hill district.  It was during this meeting that she talked about her first calendar. 

Film has brought alive the characters from our favorite Austen novels, and Janet’s calendar for 2017 feature those heroes.   The 2017 calendar features the men of Austen for just $12.00.  The link below will allow you to see some of the illustrations from the calendar:   

If you don’t want to take a chance that Santa may not bring you your copy, you can order a copy of your very own, or perhaps 10 for friends at the following link:

For a chance to post your story here at Darcyholic Diversions, please share in the comments section your secret wish.  What do you want Santa to bring you this holiday season.  What Austen gift would you like to receive?  Let your imagination run wild!  Can’t promise you will get it, but we can all dream can’t we?

Thursday, November 24, 2016



(A Very Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!  As you enjoy your Thanksgiving weekend please comment on Jack's post

Louisiana being what it is—own language, parishes instead of counties, different legal system, best food on the planet—it should not come as a great surprise that there are unique ways of observing the Christmas season that are found only there.
You should understand that New Orleans and South Louisiana is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic.  It’s the Christmas Season down there, not the “Holiday Season.” That doesn’t mean we leave out our Jewish friends, as you will see.
You should also understand that there is a difference between New Orleans and Cajun Country.  New Orleans is the cosmopolitan, almost European, major city in the state.  To the south and west stretch the swamps, farms, and prairies where the country folk—Cajuns—reside.  They are different from New Orleanians, and they will be the first to tell you that.
Because they are overwhelmingly Roman Catholic, Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve is big there.  Really big.  Standing-room only big.  Go to Mass twice a year big.  Everyone goes home to prepare for the visit by Santa, otherwise known as Père Noël or Papa Noel. 
Christmas concerts are held at St. Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter and at the beautiful
plantations homes lining the Mississippi River, like Oak Alley.
Since this is New Orleans, food is all-important.  Réveillon dinners, special four and five course prix fixe menus served only during the Advent season, are available at most of the restaurants in town.  Lately, Bûche de Noel, a French Christmas cake shaped like a log, have become popular.
Our Jewish friends are not forgotten.  Traditional Israeli music is played at the annual ceremony of Lighting of the Menorah at the Riverwalk in Spanish Plaza when a 12-foot Menorah is lit.
The best thing about Christmas in Louisiana is that it is NOT done for tourists.  We put on these celebrations and displays for ourselves.  While we are very happy to share with visitors, we would do these things even if no one outside of our community came.  It is part and parcel of who Louisianians are.  It is real—just like the great people of the great state of Louisiana.

[Below is an excerpt from ELYSIAN DREAMS: Volume Two of CRESCENT CITY, my Jane Austen based trilogy about New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina. It contains elements of Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility, and Emma. Even with the slight change of names, you can see the S&S influence here:]
December, 2004
One of the most beautiful and least known festival seasons in Louisiana is the local celebration of Christmas. Towns across the state hold charming, understated events to mark the end of the year. The north Louisiana city of Natchitoches is renowned for lighting its downtown along the Cane River the whole month long. Along the lower Mississippi River, families and groups build huge, fanciful bonfires on the river levees to light the way for Papa Noel on Christmas Eve. Plantation homes all across the state put on their holiday best and hold Christmas caroling concerts.
In New Orleans, the celebration is unique. The great mansions along St. Charles Avenue are
dressed in a charming Victorian style. Creole restaurants offer traditional Réveillon dinners—special three- and four-course dinners served only at Christmas. A subtle loveliness descends on the city as it prepares not only for the birth of the Savior, but the madness of New Year’s and the Sugar Bowl crowds.
City Park in New Orleans is one of the largest urban parks in the nation. At over thirteen hundred acres, it is home to the Museum of Art, three golf courses, two stadiums, the Storyland children’s area, nine athletic fields, eleven miles of lagoons, lakes, and bayous, and the world's largest collection of mature live oak trees.
A grand tradition every year is Celebration in the Oaks, when New Orleans’ City Park is turned
into a wonderland of lights hanging from the famous live oaks. Dr. Chris Breaux knew the charming display was best enjoyed by horse-drawn carriage, which was why he was bundled up with Marianne Dashwood on a chilly winter’s night.
His fiancée huddled close, her nose securely in his neck. “This is wonderful, sugar. Thank you for thinking of it.”
He held her tighter. “We locals sometimes forget we have things like Celebration in the Oaks. You warm enough?”
Her hand began exploring. “If I get cold, I’ll just heat up my ol’ hot water bottle.”
“Watch it, honey. We’re not alone.”
“Don’t mind me, folks,” chuckled the driver. “Y’all enjoy yourselves.”
Chris still thought it would be a good idea to change the subject. “Your mom is okay with you staying in the city for the holidays?”
Marianne nodded. “She knows my singing career is important. We have a lot of gigs between Christmas and New Year’s with the bowl game and all.”
“We’ll run up to Jackson in January,” Chris promised.
“What about your folks?”

He kissed her nose. “They know you’re important, chère. Besides, I’ve got a surprise.”
She jerked her head up. “What is it? Tell me!”
“My mom and dad are coming to the city Monday and staying in my spare bedroom through Christmas. They want to see one of your shows.”
“They are! Wonderful!” They kissed until they were both breathless.
“Chris, let’s go home after the ride, okay?”
“Sure. Are you cold?”
She whispered in his ear. “With your folks coming over, there won’t be any overnighters for a while. I need me some Cajun lovin’ to see me through the holidays.”
“Right,” he whispered back. Louder, he requested, “Driver, you can speed it up.”
The man laughed. “Happens every time.”

Unfortunately, carriage rides are no longer offered during Celebration in the Oaks. But I couldn’t resist sharing this except. It was fun while it lasted.

The CRESCENT CITY trilogy is available in print and ebook from your favorite on-line bookseller.
Jack Caldwell, born and raised in the Bayou County of Louisiana, is an author, amateur historian, professional economic development consultant, playwright, and like many Cajuns, a darn good cook.
His nickname—The Cajun Cheesehead—came from his devotion to his two favorite NFL teams: the New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay Packers. (Every now and then, Jack has to play the DVD again to make sure the Saints really won in 2010.)
When not writing or traveling with Barbara, Jack attempts to play golf. A devout convert to Roman Catholicism, Jack is married with three grown sons.
Jack's blog postings—The Cajun Cheesehead Chronicles— appear regularly at Austen Variations.
Web site – Ramblings of a Cajun in Exile – https://cajuncheesehead.com/
Blog – Austen Variations – http://austenvariations.com/
It takes a real man to write historical romance, so let me tell you a story.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Gregor McGregor, Regency Era Con-Man and the Release of Mr. Darcy's Bargain

Gregor McGregor, Recency Era Con-Man and the Release of Mr. Darcys Bargain + a Giveaway

 By Regina Jeffers

(I am happy to welcome Regina back to Darcyholic Diversions.  Please read till the end for details about her give away... BTCole) 

In writing my latest Austen-inspired vagary, Mr. Darcys Bargain, I researched LOTS of scams of the Regency era. One of the most prolific of those who practiced a scheme to defraud others was a Scot named Gregor McGregor.

Gregor McGregor was a late Georgian era swindler, who was profited at the hands of his many investors. He was more than a bit narcissistic, even going so far as presenting himself the title of Sir and of Grand Cazique (Prince) of Poyais. So how was McGregor the ultimate pitch man? He persuaded people to invest in a country that did not exist.

According to The Big Picture, McGregor joined the British Royal Navy in 1803. He fought under Simon Bolivar in Florida in 1817. During the Napoleonic Wars, Spanish control over its South American colonies weakened and the colonists in those countries fought for their independence. Between 1809 (Ecuador) and 1825 (Uruguay), all of the South American countries gained their independence from Portugal and Spain. However, countries need money, and the local tax base was limited. Most of the South American countries had mines that produced gold and silver, so in the early 1820s, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru and other countries issued bonds that were backed by their new governments. Local mines issued stocks making promises of large profits to investors. This led to one of three bubbles on the London Stock Exchange in the early half of the 1800s: the Canal Bubble of the 1810s, the South American Bubble of the 1820s, and the Railroad Bubble of the 1840s. In the midst of this investment mania came Gregor McGregor who sold bonds and anything else he could muster in his mythical country of Poyais.

When McGregor returned to London in 1820, he spread the tale of his being made a Prince of made up 12,500 square miles country was located on the Bay of Hondoras and was given to him by a native chief, King Fredric Augustus I of the Mosquito Shore and Nation. In truth, during a night of heavy drink, King Frederic Augustus signed over a piece of land surrounded by uninhabitable jungles and no fertile land, gold or silver mines, etc.
Poyais. He told all who would listen how the

So, how did McGregor convince his investors that this land was everything that it was not? McGregor wrote and published a book under the name of Captain Thomas Strangeways. In the book, Sketch of the Mosquito Shore, the fictitious Strangeways describes a land of milk and honey: gold mines, fertile land, a country with a democratic government, natives willing to work for a fair days pay, a capital called St. Joseph (supposed founded by English settlers in the 1730s), small towns with banks and mercantiles, and a small military force for defense. [The book can be found on Google for a free download.]

For the rich he offered 2000 bonds at £100 each on October 23, 1822, which resulted in £200,000 in sales. The bonds were offered at 80 and paid 3% interest. For the poor, he offered land for sale at the rate of 3 shillings, 3 pence per acre (later 4 shillings), which was about a days wages in 1822, therefore it appeared to be a very attractive investment. He sold places in his military, the right to be shoemaker to the Princess, a jeweler, teacher, clerk or other craftsmen in his non-existent government and country. In fact, he even issued his own currency which the settlers could use once they arrived in Gregor McGregors El Dorado.

The Poyaisian Legation to Britain opened offices in London, and land offices were opened in Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh to sell land to his fellow Scots. Gregor McGregor had a group of people who promoted and sold all the land and other Poyaisian goods, sharing the profits with McGregor. By 1823, Gregor McGregor was a multi-millionaire in todays terms. (The Big Picture)

Mr. Darcys Bargain: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary

Darcy and Elizabeth are about to learn how necessity never makes a fair bargain.

When ELIZABETH BENNET appears on his doorstep some ten months after her refusal of his hand in marriage, FITZWILLIAM DARCY uses the opportunity to "bargain" for her acceptance of a renewal of his proposal in exchange for his assistance in bringing Mr. George Wickham to justice. In Darcy's absence from Hertfordshire, Wickham has executed a scam to defraud the citizens of Meryton, including her father, of their hard-earned funds. All have invested in Wickham's Ten Percent Annuity scheme. Her family and friends are in dire circumstances, and more importantly, Mr. Bennet's heart has taken an ill turn. Elizabeth will risk everything to bring her father to health again and to save her friends from destitution; yet, is she willing to risk her heart? She places her trust in Darcy's ability to thwart Wickham's manipulations, but she is not aware that Darcy wishes more than her acquiescence. He desires her love. Neither considers what will happen if he does not succeed in bringing Mr. Wickham before a magistrate. Will his failure bring an end to their bargain? Or will true love prevail?


As they entered the sinfully luxurious theatre lobby, Darcy could not disguise the smile of satisfaction upon his lips. Elizabeth Bennet was on his arm, clinging to him as if she feared exposure as a fraud. Soon, he thought. As my wife, Elizabeth will know the respect of all.
When he called upon the Gardiner household for the evenings entertainment, her relations greeted him cordially, but it was Elizabeth who fascinated him. She wore the same gown as she wore at the Netherfield Ball, but somehow she no longer appeared as a fetching girl, but rather a woman in full bloom. His body recognized her in a purely male manner. Mine, it announced. It was all he could do not to flip Elizabeth over his shoulder and carry her off to some place private. As they crossed the lobby, he noted more than one head turned in their direction. He rarely was seen about Town with any lady in his protection, and Darcy knew tongues would be wagging on the morrow. For a change, he was glad of it. Having Elizabeth connected to him was what he desired.
He turned to observe the approach of his aunt and uncle. If he had known the Matlocks were in London, he would have chosen a different venue for the evenings entertainment.
Your lordship.He led his party in proper acknowledgements. Countess. I did not realize you were in London. If so, I would have left my card.
Matlock held business with his solicitor,Darcys aunt explained, and I took advantage of the colonel being at the family Town house to usher me about Bond Street.
I am certain my cousin enjoys the additional company,Darcy said judiciously.
When the conversation began, he nudged Elizabeth closer so she could not bolt. He noted the hitch in her breathing and the quickness of her pulse at the base of her neck, but her chin rose to meet the Matlocksclose scrutiny. She possessed a sort of vulnerable temerity that fascinated him.
The earls eyebrow rose in curiosity. Perhaps you might make the introductions.
Darcy noted the stiffness in Elizabeths shoulders. Certainly,he said while cupping her hand on his arm with his free one. Your lordship. Countess. Permit me to give you the acquaintance of Miss Elizabeth Bennet and her aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner.
Miss Bennet?The countess rolled the name about as if to taste its familiarity. The colonel spoke of a Miss Bennet who was a visitor at Hunsford Cottage some months removed. Are you one and the same?
Elizabeths voice held her apprehension, but she managed a sensible response. Yes, your ladyship. I had the pleasure of taking Colonel Fitzwilliams acquaintance when he and Mr. Darcy shared the quarter days with Lady Catherine and Miss De Bourgh.
I did not know you continued the acquaintance, Darcy,Lord Matlock remarked in chariness.
I took Miss Bennets acquaintance several months prior to her sojourn with her cousin, Mr. Collins. The ladys father is a gentleman from Hertfordshire and holds the nearest estate to the one Mr. Bingley means to purchase. At present, I am conducting business with Mr. Gardiner and Mr. Bennet.
I see,Matlock pronounced suspiciously before changing his tone. We should not keep you from your seats.
Darcy executed a bow of respect. Georgiana will join me at Darcy House tomorrow. Please feel free to make Miss Darcy part of your next outing to Bond Street. It would do my sister good to spend more time with our mothers family. Miss Darcy has excelled at school this term. You will find my sisters progress exemplary.More than speaking the truth of his sisters accomplishments, Darcy meant to draw attention from Elizabeth.
I will send a note around tomorrow,the countess announced.
With another bow of respect, Darcy directed his party toward the staircase.
No mention of our bargain, Mr. Darcy?Elizabeth inquired softly.
We agreed to a measure of secrecy for the time being,he replied in hushed tones. If I announced our betrothal to Lord and Lady Matlock, every household in London would be abuzz with the news tomorrow. But know that I mean to have you to wife, Elizabeth. If you have not done so previously, it might behoove you to use this time together to acclimate your thoughts to the idea.



The Fraud of the Prince of Poyais on the London Stock Exchange ~