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Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Sweetest Grapes Are Grown in Rocky Soil by Barbara Tiller Cole

The Sweetest Grapes Are Grown in Rocky Soil

By Barbara Tiller Cole

(For those that are visiting this website for the first time for Authors in Bloom 2017, welcome!  Many wonderful authors are featured on this site if you want to read more.  GIVEAWAYS-- For the blog tour, remember to comment below for the grand prize of a $200 ereader.  You must comment on ALL the blog tour sites to be eligible to win the grand prize.   Most of the other blogs have individual give aways.  I have 2 give aways--an ecopy of each of my two books for a lucky winner.  Extra entries will be given for following this blog, liking my Facebook author page, and friending me on Facebook, sharing this post on Twitter or Facebook, or requesting to join Darcyholic Diversions: All Things Austen Posting Board on Facebook.  Good luck!)

Did you know that the sweetest grapes are grown in rocky soil?  I didn’t either until recently when I heard about it in a Hallmark movie I happened to be watching (Autumn in the Vineyard).  So, I looked it up and found that it was true.  It made a lot of sense to me, not just for grapes.   I have often found that to be true in life as well.  Those things we struggle for, those times that are the toughest, when we arrive at our destination or when the fruits of our labor come to fruition it is all the much sweeter.

In preparing for the Author in Blooms Blog Tour, I decided to study grapes and how they grow and look at it as an analogy for life.  

Did you know that grapevines are long term plants?  Yes, they can live between 50 to 100 years. 
  • Hopefully most of us will live beyond 50, but the time frame for grapevines is similar to humans. 
Grapevines thrive in sloped and hilly areas that offer up plenty of drainage and sunlight.  If you are inspired to plane grapevines from this article, be sure to plant your grapevines on a downward slope.  And pick a south-facing hill in an area clear of other trees and plants if at all possible.
  • Life has many hills and valleys as well.  I often find myself on a slope, walking up hill in my latest challenge in life.  But just like the grapevines, I thrive with sunlight. To me ‘sunlight' is in my spiritual program.  In the midst of the biggest struggles in my life, God is my source and strength and keeping plugged into the light makes all the difference.  I don’t always see how I am going to make it through, but if I have proper ‘drainage and sunlight’ I know I will find the answers.  
Grapevines are a bit picky about their soil conditions.  Soil that is slightly rocky and/or sandy with a pH just above 7 yields the best crop.  Plan for drainage and adjust the pH if necessary.  
  • Even when I am in the midst of challenges, my life is best when I plan in what conditions I will live my life spiritually.  Over the years I have found that I need to surround myself with positive God-centered people to be sure that I can thrive.  
Avoid over fertilizing the soil as grapevines don’t do too well when the soil is too nutrient-rich.
  • Well, what can I say!  Too much ‘fertilizer’ in my life (i.e. b.s.) and I just don’t thrive. I also believe that discovering what ‘nutrients’ I do need is imperative.   I think this can have a lot to do with complacency.  If my life conditions are ‘too comfortable’ I forget to do the spiritual self care I know I need to do to life a balanced life.  I am strongest at the broken places, when I KNOW I have to turn to God for support and strength we find the nourishment we need.
Grapevines need support.  Either you grow them next to an existing structure such as a fence, or you plan to buy or construct a trellis to provide them with a health support system. Sometimes the grapevines may need a bit of assistance to begin to use the support you have built for them.
  • Do you have an adequate support system in your life?  Mentors?  I have built a foundation of friends in all of the various aspects of my life whom I can turn to for support.  It is important to remember to USE the support system you have when you are struggling.  This is probably the biggest struggle in my life as I am much more likely to pull inwards and lick my wounds when I am in the midst of tough times. The few special friends who reach out to me when they have not heard from me are life lines.  When I am not reaching out they reach out to me, knowing I might need a little bit of help to use my support system.
Plant your grapevines.  You can’t just plan to do it, you have to do it.  If you want grapes, then you have to execute your plan.    How deep you plant seedlings will depend on the age and size of each plant.
  • Not only do I have to dream and plan but I have to take the chance and do the leg work.  Sometimes I am successful and often times I am not.  But if I never take a risk I won’t ever bear fruit in your life.  Set backs come.  I learn from my mistakes and try again.
Be sure to give your grapevines a good watering.  But do not over water them.  Set up a drip system directly at the roots so the grapevines get the water where it needs it on a regular basis.  
  • What you feed your roots is important. Prayer, meditation, spiritual readings, exercise, healthy food, etc.  Learn what you need and how much you need it.  I have found that when I am struggling the most I have to struggle to make myself get the nourishment I need.  But it is important to include it in my regular routine.
Cut back all fruit the first year as your grapevines are not healthy enough to bear the weight of the fruit.  If you are impatient and decide you have to have fruit too early, your vines are not going to last for the long haul.  Also cut back all the vines except for the strongest that branch off from the main cane.  In later years cut back 90% of the new growth on older vines each year.  
  • Pruning may be the hardest lesson to learn.  Particularly when you have to wait a long time for the fruit of your labors.  Be patient in your life with yourself and your friends and family.  Pruning time may hurt.  We may lose ‘stuff’ we thought we needed.  We may face financial hardships.  There is a reason for it. The lessons in the struggle will make us stay alive and hearty for the long haul.  I may not be where I want to be today, but I know I am in a pruning time.  The time will come when it is time for me to bear fruit again.
The time for pruning is when the grapevines are dormant.  Otherwise they will bleed their sap and lose their vigor.  Best time for pruning is in late winter when it is no longer cold enough outside for frost. 
  • Have you ever hit that place in life where you seem stuck?   A dormant place?  This is the best time for spiritual pruning.  Accept where you are.  Do an inventory of what you need and what you need to get rid of in your life.  This may include an inventory of your character traits and defect.  It may include getting rid of extra stuff in your life and selling it or giving it away.  It may be a time to get rid of destructive habits. It may be time for you to find healthier people to spend your time with.  In the midst of the dormant phase can grow the action that will get us to where our dreams can come true.
Harvest your grapes only when it is best for the vines.  Strong, edible fruit likely won’t appear for anywhere from that 1-3 year period.  Don’t be tricked by what it looks like.  Taste the fruit to know if it is time to pick them.  Grapes do not ripen at all after picking as is the case with some other fruits.  So don’t pick them prematurely.  
  • Only harvest the healthiest, sweetest fruit of your labors.  Yes, we have to pay our bills and sometimes we have to do things that aren’t that ‘sweet’.  But when it comes to our creative energies, keep striving till you find the healthiest fruit.  Your patience will pay off.  The struggle I may be in today will be worth it in the end.  
The things we appreciate the most in our lives will be those we have struggled over and overcome much to accomplish.  So, be like the grapevine and you too will live for up to 100 years with the sweetest of fruit.
The fruit of grapevines is grapes.  And for many, the reason for grapes may be the wine produced from them.  But several years ago I attended the Naples New York Grape Festival and tasted delightful grape inspired food.  The following recipe was inspired by attending that event.  
Grape Cobbler
4 ¼ cups Concord Grapes or Canadice Red Grapes
2 tsp lemon juice
1 cup sugar
¼ cup flour or 2 tbsp. quick cooking tapioca
1 package Duncan Hines butter recipe golden cake mix (or comparable cake mix)
1 stick of butter
(optional) chopped pecans                                                                              
Wash the grapes and remove skins by pinching at end opposite stem.  Popping the naked grape out of the skin can be very therapeutic and fun if you let it be.  Reserve skins. Place pulp in sauce pan and bring to a boil, cook a few minutes until pulp is soft. Put through strainer or food mill, while pulp is hot, to remove seeds. Mix strained pulp with skins. Stir in sugar, flour or tapioca, and lemon juice. Cook for 5 minutes to thicken.

In a separate bowl put the cake mix.  Microwave the butter (microwave in a microwave safe dish) for 20-sec on high.  Note that not all the butter may melt.  Mix the cake mix and the butter together. (as an option add a half of a cup of chopped pecans)

With the paper from the butter, grease a 9” by 13”.  Put in the grape mixture on the bottom, spread evenly.  Sprinkle the buttered cake mix over the top, covering evenly.

Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly.   Let the cobbler cool 5 minutes before serving.

Ideally, serve the cobbler warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

For more about growing grapes:   http://www.wikihow.com/Grow-Grape-Vines

 The Authors in Bloom Grand prize is a $200 ereader.  You need to comment at all blog tour locations to be qualified to win.  Most of the blog tour stops have prizes and the particulars will be on their blog.  MY GIVE AWAY. I am giving two commenters a choice of my two book ecopies.  Enter by commenting. Extra entries will be given for following this blog, liking my Facebook author page, and friending me on Facebook, sharing this post on Twitter or Facebook, or requesting to join Darcyholic Diversions: All Things Austen Posting Board on Facebook.  Good luck!

For the other stops on the blog tour follow this link:   Authors In Bloom Blog Tour Participants Links

Barbara Tiller Cole, Author
Barbara Tiller Cole, a professional therapist and clinical manager in the field of addiction, is a Decatur, Georgia native. Under her professional name, she is included on various Who's Who listings, including Who's Who in American Women, and has been named to The Honorable Order of  Kentucky Colonels.  While she was encouraged by her mother to expand her mind through extensive reading, her father gave her the unconditional love she needed to test her wings in various pursuits. Barbara's writing has been influenced by the works of Jane Austen and today she proudly refers to herself as a Darcyholic.  She has published two successful Austen inspired novels, White Lies and Other Half Truths andFitzwilliam Ebenezer Darcy.  Her next novel, Adventures of a Darcyholic, a modern romantic comedy, will be released late Fall, 2012. 

Barbara Tiller Cole's Books

Fitzwilliam Ebenezer Darcy
'Pride and Prejudice' meets 'A Christmas Carol' A Jane Austen/Charles Dickens crossover story, 'Fitzwilliam Ebenezer Darcy' takes the best of both classics and spins them into a delightful Holiday yarn! F.E. Darcy has fallen into pitiful self-loathing and sorrowful angst-ridden despair; all of this due to his belief that he has lost forever the chance to marry the only woman he has ever loved—Elizabeth Bennet. Seeing her son in such a state, the Ghost of Anne Darcy reaches out to him; informing him that three ghosts would visit him and give him hope. Will these Spirits provide him with the courage to try again to win the esteem of his one true soul mate? Barbara Tiller Cole, an Atlanta native and the writer of the popular book 'White Lies and Other Half Truths', presents this family friendly classic—a delightful combination of the best of her two favorite authors, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. Barbara credits her parents with fostering a love for both of these authors. Each Christmas, Barbara’s father would sit and read Dicken’s classic 'A Christmas Carol' to the family. Her mother consistently challenged her to improve her mind by extensive reading, Jane Austen style. This book is dedicated to the memory of Cliff and Jeanne and the season they loved the best.
Barbara Tiller Cole shines a comedic, sexy light on the characters of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, turning it into a delightful romp. Open the pages and take a look at maiden fears, the consequences of white lies, and the hope for redemption. If Fitzwilliam Darcy were alive today he would say, "If Jane Austen had written a Regency Sex Manual, this would be it!" Elizabeth Bennet would have said, "A fun,  light, sexy yarn! What I would give to be taught by Professor Darcy!" Take a delightful journey with your beloved characters as you read this delightful farce!
Adventures of A Darcyholic
It is a proven fact that when a man or woman become obsessed with an object of desire, particularly when that personification is a fictional character such as one Fitzwilliam Darcy, it may be necessary to surrender and admit defect to intervention, and seek help when simple infatuation becomes an addiction.  In Adventures of a Darcyholic our hero and heroine have a deep need to find some balance in their lives. Is support available to assist them to find a path back to normal?  But then again, if Darcy is the problem do they wish for a cure?

Barbara Tiller Cole, an Atlanta native and author of her third novel, brings to light this Jane Austen inspired laugh-out-loud comedic delight.

Friday, March 24, 2017

A Dance With Mr. Darcy--Regina Jeffers

A Dance With Mr. Darcy

by Regina Jeffers

Darcyholic Diversions is happy to be hosting Regina Jeffers today as her newest book becomes available on March 25th.  She is giving away two ecopies of the book so read until the end for more information about how to win a copy.  

There is the tradition of the formal betrothals known as “handfasting,” I used the idea of handfasting in my latest Austen-inspired piece, A Dance with Mr. Darcy. But what of the mythical handfasting ceremonies purported by popular literature?

In the late 18th Century, an idea arose in Scotland that “handfasting” did not refer to a betrothal, but rather a marriage of sorts where the couple agreed to live with each other for a year and a day ~ a trial of sorts ~ before deciding whether the marriage suited them or not. After the trial period, the couple could be married permanently or go about their separate ways.

In Thomas Pennant’s Tour in Scotland (1776), https://archive.org/details/atourinscotland03penngoog Pennant describes a fair he observed near Eskdale: “Among the various customs now obsolete, the most curious was that of handfasting, in use about a century past....there was an annual fair where multitudes of each sex repaired. The unmarried looked out for mates, made their engagements by joining hands, or by handfisting, went off in pairs, cohabited until the next annual return of the fair, appeared there again and then were at liberty to declare their approbation or dislike of each other. If each party continued constant, the handfisting was renewed for life.”

We must be cautious about Pennant’s tale for he was known to embellish, but is it not wonderful how the tale has manifested itself into modern times? Pennant, for example, claims that the handfisting practice came about for there were too few clergymen available. What he does not realize was that a clergyman was not necessary for a legal marriage in Scotland, i.e, the reason couples escape to Gretna Green for an elopement in many Regency romances. The Scottish border town held a reputation for being married over the “anvil.” Actually, most who escaped to Gretna Green were married in a civil ceremony by Mr. Robert Elliot, Anvil Priest (1814-1840), http://www.gretnagreen.com/robert-elliot-a758 but Pennant’s tale was the first of many rumors regarding the trial marriage known as “handfasting.”

From Sharon L. Krossa at Medieval Scotland, we find, “The next reference to "handfasting" as trial marriage is in The [Old] Statistical Account of Scotland (1791-99), v. 12, pp. 614-5, in a section dealing with Eskdale in Dumfries, which follows closely Pennant's description:

... In mentioning remarkable things in this parish, it would be wrong to pass over in silence, that piece of ground at the meeting of the Black and White Esks, which was remarkable in former times for an annual fair that had been held there time out of mind, but which is now entirely laid aside. At that fair, it was the custom for the unmarried persons of both sexes to choose a companion, according to their liking, with whom they were to live till that time next year. This was called hand-fasting, or hand in fist. If they were pleased with each other at that time, then they continued together for life; if not, they separated, and were free to make another choice as at the first. The fruit of their connexion (if there were any) was always attached to the disaffected person. In later times, when this part of the country belonged to the Abbacy of Melrose, a priest, to whom they gave the name Book i' bosom (either because he carried in his bosom a bible, or perhaps, a register of the marriages), came from time to time to confirm the marriages. This place is only a small distance from the Roman encampment of Castle-o'er. May not the fair have been first instituted when the Romans resided there? and may not the "hand-fasting" have taken its rise from their manner of celebrating marriage, ex usu, by which, if a woman, with the consent of her parents or guardians, lived with a man for a year, without being absent for 3 nights, she became his wife? Perhaps, when Christianity was introduced, this form of marriage may have been looked upon as imperfect, without confirmation by a priest, and, therefore, one may have been sent from time to time for this purpose.
This myth became even more widely spread after Sir Walter Scott used the imagery in his novel, The Monastery (1820).  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Monastery The belief may have formed around the custom of couples meeting at large annual gatherings and taking the opportunity at the next annual gathering to marry or part. In the novel, which is set in mid-16th century Scotland, Scott has his main character speak of a trial marriage known as “handfasting,” thus giving credence that the ceremony held a history in Scotland. Scott’s popularity only added “depth” to the myth. W. F. Skene in his The Highlanders of Scoland (1837) speaks of a child born of a handfasted couple. If the woman gave birth or was with child during the trial, the marriage became legal. Skene even remarks that the Highlanders made a distinction between the legitmate sons, born from a handfasted union, and their illegitimate ones, born out of wedlock.

What is important to know of this expansion of the myth is that Skene’s tale stretches the practice of handfasting from the border region to the highlands. How the myth of handfasting began is still debatable, but one can find it perpetrated in academia and in fiction.

Resources Links:

* * *

Handfasting is part of several plot points in my new Austen-inspired novel, A Dance with Mr. Darcy. Enjoy the excerpt below from this book.

A Dance with Mr. Darcy: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary will release on March 25, 2017. It will be available in both eBook and print formats on Amazon, Kobo, and Nook.

Book Blurb: The reason fairy tales end with a wedding is no one wishes to view what happens next.

Five years earlier, Darcy had raced to Hertfordshire to soothe Elizabeth Bennet’s qualms after Lady Catherine’s venomous attack, but a devastating carriage accident left him near death for months and cost him his chance at happiness with the lady. Now, they meet again upon the Scottish side of the border, but can they forgive all that has transpired in those years? They are widow and widower; however, that does not mean they can take up where they left off. They are damaged people, and healing is not an easy path. To know happiness they must fall in love with the same person all over again.

* * *
She tapped upon the door to his room. “Mr. Darcy? I have brought you an extra towel.” Elizabeth did not hold a good reason why she thought it necessary to deliver the towel personally to the gentleman. Her mind knew doing so was the least sensible act she could perform and would only bring her more misery. Yet, her heart would not know satisfaction until she looked upon his countenance again.
When he did not respond, she wondered if he had fallen asleep. He had spoken of being weary, but Jasper had stopped in the kitchen to ask for the towels, and so Elizabeth had expected Mr. Darcy still to be awake. Jasper’s request could not have been but ten minutes prior. Perhaps Mr. Darcy simply wished to avoid her foul temper again. How could she explain how betrayed she had felt that he had not returned to Longbourn after his aunt’s venomous attack upon her person? How could she explain that a small part of her blamed him for the shame and ill use she had suffered at Forde McCaffney’s hand? How could she not provide Mr. Darcy another opportunity to say he understood her pain? That he accepted his part in what had occurred? That he still recognized her worth? So, although Mr. Darcy’s footman meant to carry the towel to his master, she had sent the man upon his way, telling Jasper that Clara, her chore girl, could use his assistance in carrying the rabbit stew and bread out to the various grooms and coachmen who sought shelter in her stables from the night’s storm. Jasper had readily agreed and left Elizabeth to deliver the toweling.
She had been pleased when Jasper had recognized her. It was satisfying to know she had not changed substantially in the nearly five years since she had last seen the man. “I always remarked upon your kindness, ma’am,” he had said with an engaging grin. “And imagine finding you so far from Hertfordshire.”
Yes, imagine, she thought as she tapped louder upon the door. “Mr. Darcy, it is Mrs. McCaffney. I have the towel you requested.” This time she heard the scrap of a chair leg upon the wooden floor.
“Come,” he called. And she opened the door slowly to discover him sitting at the table with a blanket draped over his lap, but it was not the blanket that robbed her of her breath. The gentleman sat ramrod straight, but appeared relaxed, nonetheless. He had removed his fashionable neck cloth, waistcoat, and jacket, and his sleeves were rolled up to expose the dark hair upon his arms. Elizabeth knew she gaped, but she could not help but stare. The man was magnificent in his proper attire, but in this disheveled state, he drove all comprehension from her mind.
“Thank you for delivering the linen,” he pronounced, drawing her attention from the physical strength displayed in the cords of his neck. “I thought Jasper would return with my request. I did not mean to interrupt your evening duties.”
Elizabeth thought it odd that he did not stand upon her entrance. It was so unlike Mr. Darcy to ignore his manners, and somehow, his slight stung more than she cared to admit. He, obviously, no longer viewed her as a lady of the gentry. She was part of the working class. Invisible to men of his set. Perhaps he would have acknowledged her if she had thought to present him a curtsey upon her entrance, but as her inn rarely entertained those of the aristocracy or even the gentry, she rarely bothered to show her deference to others. Her clients were hard working individuals who expected a fair value for a fair price. With a sigh of forbearance, she said, “I sent Jasper with my chore girl to deliver the evening meal to your coachman and the others in the stables. I also had to deliver soap to Mr. Higgam’s room, and so your errand was of no bother.” She noticed Mr. Darcy’s frown of disapproval. “Have I offended you, sir?”
The gentleman quickly recovered his expression. “I have no right to express my opinion.”
Her spine stiffened with his censorious tone. “But I would hear your thoughts, nevertheless.”
“Very well,” he said in clipped tones. “It grieves me to observe you have been brought so low.”
“And what specifically of my current position is your concern?” she countered.
“None,” he said solemnly. “But I have always thought of you fondly. That alone provides me pause.”
She accused, “You thought of me, Mr. Darcy?”
“Assuredly. I thought of you kindly. Did I not once propose marriage to you? I am not of the nature to offer for a woman for whom I hold no affection.”
“Then you held affections for Mrs. Darcy?” she quipped. It drove her to distraction how quickly the gentleman fired her ire. If she had not experienced his kindness at Pemberley, she would consider him a high-in-the-instep prig, but she had known those few precious days, and it grieved her that not a strand of that interlude remained between them. Moreover, in every pore of her body, she felt betrayed by his marriage to another. When the time came, she had had no other options but to marry Forde McCaffney. She could not wait for a what-may-never-have-been moment. However, her heart would not relent.
His eyes held hers when he announced, “My relationship with Mrs. Darcy is no more your concern than your and Mr. McCaffney’s joining is mine.”
“True.” Elizabeth sucked in a steadying breath. She wished to know if he had ever professed “ardent” love for his wife in the manner he had for her; yet, she it was not her right to know. They had chosen to make their beds separately. “I will leave your towel upon the stand.” With a renewed resolve, she crossed the room and placed the towel beside the wash bowl. “Is there anything else you require, sir?”
“That will be all.”
Elizabeth turned to look upon the back of the gentleman’s head. So often she had wished that he would one day return to her life, but there were too many closed doors standing between them. There were no means to return to what was once silently promised. She walked to where he sat. “Forgive me for my sharp tongue, Mr. Darcy,” she said softly. “You are a guest in my inn, and I know my place.” She dipped into a curtsey and prepared to leave, but his hand caught her wrist.
“It is I who should apologize,” he coaxed. “Finding you here and in this position has played foul with my tender memories of you.” He brought her knuckles to his lips to brush a kiss over them. The warmth of his breath upon her skin brought an awareness deep in the pit of her stomach.

Now for the Giveaway: I have two eBook copies of A Dance with Mr. Darcy available to those who comment below. The giveaway will end at midnight EDST on March 28.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Colette Saucier: The Monster Mash?

The Monster Mash?
Darcyholic Diversions is very happy to be welcoming Colette Saucier back to Darcyholic Diversions.  Be sure to leave a comment!  Colette is going to be giving a $10 gift card to a lucky commenter!
I find it unfathomable—and frankly disconcerting—to realize that it has been seven years since my daughter convinced me to write a vampire adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Why, one may wonder, did we think the world needed a new paranormal variation on Jane Austen’s beloved classic? Perhaps the world at large did not, but we did! I suppose I have what I so lovingly refer to as “that zombie atrocity” to claim as pseudo-inspiration because it forced me to consider the possibility of writing something good, something we, at least, would want to read.
At the time I wrote Pulse and Prejudice, volume one of “The Confession of Mr. Darcy, Vampire,” I had never even heard the term “Jane Austen Fan Fiction.” I threw myself full-throttle into historical research and combed the manuscript to eliminate any anachronisms. I even shifted the date of the narrative slightly to take advantage of all of the amazing events occurring around the time Miss Austen published her novel, not just in the course of human events but also the bizarre nature of the weather. That’s right: Pulse and Prejudice is historically accurate down to the weather!

My time shift to 1814 turned out to be fortuitous in another respect as well: When my daughter said she didn’t like the ending and demanded I write a sequel! You see, I wrote Pulse and Prejudice as an adaptation—a stand-alone novel of Mr. Darcy’s story as if Miss Austen had always conceived his character as a vampire (dark, brooding, always misunderstanding “human” emotions) and kept it her own little secret. Although this would not be a concern for readers of this particular blog, readers need have no prior knowledge of Pride and Prejudice in order to enjoy my adaptation. In fact, I had to go back and weave more of Miss Austen’s narrative in the first volume because so many of my beta readers had…forgotten the original, but now it is from Mr. Darcy’s perspective, and he happens to be a vampire, as Jane Austen always intended. Hence, both novels share the same ending, of which my daughter disapproved.
Which brings me to the release of Dearest Bloodiest Elizabeth. After devoting so many months researching not just the historical events but also vampire lore as existed during the Regency, I thought bringing our dear couple to New Orleans would require less effort on my part as I live in South Louisiana and would not need to go traipsing around London. Wrong! I spent the better part of two years meticulously investigating records and narratives from the period immediately following the War of 1812—yes, including the weather! This, of course, followed my writing out a detailed outline and obtaining my daughter’s approval, naturally. Thus, the people, the events, the culture, the places, the “year without summer” all play a role in Dearest Bloodiest Elizabeth.
I have always loved irony, so that it would slap me in the face should not have surprised me. You see, dear readers, upon the publication of Pulse and Prejudice, any reference to it being a “mash-up” infuriated me. A mash-up of what and what exactly? Certainly my novel could not be compared to “that zombie atrocity,” which took the complete narrative of Miss Austen’s novel and just inserted ninjas and zombies here and there with no consideration for Austenian language! No; I had written an adaptation that preserves the integrity of the source material and maintains eighteenth century literary conventions! How dare anyone call it a “mash-up”!
So what have I done with the sequel? I wrote a mash-up.
Well, it’s not so much a mashing together of tales as being heavily inspired by them. Untethered by Jane Austen’s original, I set out to write something completely original for the sequel, which I believe I have accomplished. Nevertheless, I cannot exorcize previous reading material from my brain, and that influences my writing. Therefore, I confess that Dearest Bloodiest Elizabeth “mashes up” elements from Anne Rice, Bram Stoker, Gone With the Wind, and Shakespearean tragedy. 
(I should warn more sensitive readers that, as this is not an adaptation, they will find volume two much darker, bloodier, and sexier than Pulse and Prejudice. For those who have not read volume one of “The Confession of Mr. Darcy, Vampire,” I did include a section outside of Miss Austen’s story—“Beyond Pride and Prejudice”—with more sensual scenes; but for readers who prefer Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth to remain chaste, simply skip this section and proceed directly to the epilogue.)
Dearest Bloodiest Elizabeth begins a few weeks after the end of Pride and Prejudice, with the newly wed vampire Darcy and his bride Elizabeth at Pemberley. I shall not spoil the plot of Pulse and Prejudice for those who have yet to read it, but events occur which require our dear couple to follow Wickham to Louisiana immediately after the Battle of New Orleans. All of the events, places, and even most people you will read about are real. Darcy finally catches up to him at a ball thrown at the home of the mayor Nicholas Girod. One can visit the place even today, now called the Napoleon House owing to a legend that Monsieur Girod intended to house Napoleon Bonaparte there once they had freed him from exile. While Darcy searches the crush for Wickham, now living in New Orleans under an assumed name, Elizabeth sits with Colonel Fitzwilliam, who had recently been injured at the Battle of Waterloo. This excerpt should give you a taste to whet your appetite!
Pray, leave a comment with your thoughts, as I will be giving a $10 Amazon gift card to one lucky reader. Drawing will be next Friday after 8pm EST so get your comments in before then!

And Now An Exerpt from Colette’s newest book...

Darcy felt a presence, which caused the bovine blood rippling through his veins to heat. He reluctantly pressed his wife’s hand onto his cousin. “Wickham is here. Fitzwilliam.” His chest tightened at the sentiment, but he knew it must be said. “Pray do not leave Elizabeth’s side. I do not trust Wickham in the same room with her.” With a nod, Fitzwilliam accepted Elizabeth’s hand into the crook of his arm, his cane in his other hand, and led her away as Darcy turned in search of his prey.
Darcy tensed both from watching the ease with which his wife walked away with Fitzwilliam as well as the compelling pressure at the base of his skull from the knowledge that another such as he moved amongst them.
Yet every time he approached the direction from which he felt the presence lay, he was misdirected. Again and again, awareness of Wickham pulled at him until he knew he had walked a full circle through the area of revelers without having lain eyes upon his nemesis. Then, without any augur to presage his appearance, Wickham stood behind him.
“Darcy.” Darcy turned and glowered at the beast he had sought all these weeks. “I understand you have been asking for me.”
Nausea rose within Darcy as the manifestation of Wickham stretched across every sinew of his being. “Yet, you have found me.”
Wickham moved into his field of vision and shrugged. “I could not permit Englishmen to traipse across all the plantations and the city decrying that I had deserted the British Army, now could I?”
Darcy flashed his eyes in Wickham’s direction but revulsion forced his gaze away. “Do you know why I am come to find you?”
“From what I collect, you are on a mission to bring about my demise—whatever that means for beings such as we.”
“I shall be satisfied if I could only return you to England so that someone else might deal with you.”
Wickham scoffed. “Now, Darcy, when it comes down to it, you would have someone else perform your less reputable designs?”
Darcy met Wickham’s stare directly. “Do you think I am here of my own design? Should I not be more satisfied to remain undisturbed in my own homes in England? I was sent here to, much to my dismay, to destroy you, by a certain—”
Wickham interrupted him with a sneering laugh. “A certain short somebody, perhaps? Aye, I know the very one. He has been on me since the day I removed myself from Pemberley after Rivens turned me.”
“I am certain you know I am loathe to return you to England, after all you have done to those whom I love the most. Yet he is now in a position to extort me on behalf of my cousin, to prevent her destruction or at the very least her exposure.”
“Your cousin, you say? Her destruction? Pray, do not tell me that Anne de Bourgh has been turned!”
“Upon her death bed, I offered her an option that she might have the life she never enjoyed as a mortal.”
“Darcy, by my word! You of all have committed the sin of turning a human!”
“Nay. She chose this with full recognition of all the…consequences, as I said, upon her death bed. Yet again, Rivens performed the service.”
Wickham rose his brows in disbelief. “Who would have thought it of Miss de Bourgh! And what of her mother?”
With an abrupt and dark change in his demeanour, Darcy faced Wickham straight on. “I am not come to discuss Lady Catherine with you. True, I have been sent on a mission to destroy you.”
With a grumbling laugh, Wickham said, “Did you plan to cut off my head or set me afire?”
“I had not thought of what would occur should I even find you, and as I said, now you have found me. I only responded to the dwarf’s extortion to protect Anne, as well as my own family.”
“And do you intend to perpetrate this destruction upon my physical form on your own?”
“Rivens, of course, has accompanied me.”
“Of course.”
“And my cousin Fitzwilliam is recently come with his betrothed in order to assist me.”
“Ah, yes, Fitzwilliam. I do own he had cause to cut off my head more times than even I am worthy.”
“Wickham—or McGeogh if you prefer—”
“Pray call me Warik. That is how my friends call me.”
Darcy’s brow rose with his questioning eyes. “And I am your friend? That I cannot credit. You and I have not been friends for some time—notwithstanding your choice to take control of my father in his final years.”
“As you recall, neither of us were given many options. That should belong in the past, Darcy. We were friends for far longer than enemies. Pray tell me, why are you and Fitzwilliam truly here?”
“As I said, that dwarf whom you yourself encountered has forced my hand and brought me across the ocean. He blames me for releasing the first of our kind on to the New World.”
Warik—Wickham—broke forth in laughter. “That is a joke, to be sure. Those of our kind have resided here for decades, or at least since the Terror. That was the draw to Louisiana, when so many of our kind were brought before the guillotine.”
Darcy attempted to suppress his surprise, but his frown and wrinkled eyebrows would reveal his disturbance at this intelligence. “Are you to say there are others such as we already here in New Orleans?”
“Aye, and in the area surrounding. Several of those who fled France at that time settled here in the area and have their own plantations in order to maintain their wealth. If that little dwarf said anything other, either he has sent you on a fool’s errand or he is a fool himself.”
Darcy, struck dumb by what sounded to be a reasonable explanation from Wickham, allowed his gaze to float over towards the ball in progress then rest upon where Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth sat together in gleeful conversation. Now he knew not what to think. Why had he ever trusted the dwarf, the self-espoused destructor of his kind? Yet, Wickham had been his nemesis for far too long to credit his words.
Perhaps sensing the conflict within Darcy, Wickham offered, “We should talk, Darcy. There is much to say. I know Rivens made us, but he did not tell us all. I have much to share with you, and perhaps I may do the honour of introducing you to an enclaver, a colony of our sort—those who have lived for decades, nay, centuries—longer than we and know our true power. Do not you see? The enclaver holds the key.”
“Where shall I meet you? Sometime tomorrow?”
“Not tomorrow. My presence is required up the river to tell the others that you and I have met and the outcome of this discussion. I am at TrĂ©moulet House—you know it?” Darcy nodded. “Come there in a few days’ time. If I am not within, leave message where I might find you so that I can bring you out of the ignorance of which we have been subjected since our transformation.”
Wickham glanced towards the table where Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam were together in comfortable conversation. “So I see, Fitzwilliam has chosen well for his future happiness.”
Not gathering the inference, Darcy thought only of Fitzwilliam and the Comtesse. “I do believe they will get on well together.”
“Aye. When Elizabeth returned from Rosings, she had naught but praise for the Colonel—her head was full of him. I am only surprised that he would deem to offer for her.”
Darcy’s head jerked back in the direction of his wife sitting with his cousin. “What? No! Wickham or Warik or whatever it is you call yourself, you speak now of my wife. Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam are friends and nothing more.”
Wickham arched a brow as his mouth formed a pout. “I beg your pardon, Darcy, I intended no malice. I must confess to being surprised that…Elizabeth and you—pray, is it true? You and she are husband and wife?”
“I am in earnest, and I would beg you not to presume otherwise. Fitzwilliam is betrothed to Lady Calmet.”
“Upon my honour, I do beg your pardon.”
“You will, however, have much to answer for to Elizabeth with your desertion of her sister.”
With his eyes still on the laughing countenance of Elizabeth, Wickham nodded. “That I do, to be sure. I pray that we shall meet and I may reveal all. I know I am painted a villain, not only for this but for my past sins. I beg that you would grant me an ear to hear my explanation—to hear the truth of why I did not return, had that even been an option following my so-called execution.”
At that time, the orchestra began the strands of a waltz, and Fitzwilliam rose and offered his hand to Elizabeth. With shimmering eyes and a broad smile, she accepted his hand as he led her to the dance floor. Darcy and Wickham watched as Fitzwilliam drew her closer to him, his hand on her waist with hers on his shoulder, to progress with the tempo.
“And Elizabeth is your wife?” Wickham said with a tsk and an abbreviated shake of his head “Who would have thought it possible?” And with that, he was gone.
At the conclusion of the dance, Darcy strode to his wife and grasped her hand before she returned to her seat. “And why, dear wife, were you dancing in my cousin’s arms?”
She smiled, but her eyes crinkled as her brows drew together. “With his injury? Fitzwilliam cannot perform a contredanse. He needed to lean upon me.”
“And why does not his betrothed perform this service?”
She wrenched her hand from his grip and gaped at him. “The Comtesse danced with General Humbert! If Fitzwilliam can tolerate her waltzing with another man, on my word, you cannot possibly take issue with his dancing with me.”
His jaw tightened as he glared towards where Fitzwilliam had resumed his seat.
With a raised eyebrow she added, “What is it, Mr. Darcy? Are there no young ladies tolerable enough to tempt you to stand up with them?”
He turned back to her with a grimace, thought to speak but then thought better of it.
“Good heavens! You know it is unseemly for an husband and a wife to dance together, but if it would mollify you and you will cease in this pouting, I shall save the next waltz for you; and you may hold me as improperly and possessively as you choose.”
With this, he would have to be satisfied.
All About Colette Saucier
Colette Saucier is a bestselling and award-winning author under multiple pseudonyms. She began writing poems, short stories, and novellas in grade school. Her interest in literature led her to marry her college English professor, but eventually a love of history encouraged her to trade up to a British historian. Technical writing dominated her career for twenty years, but finding little room for creativity in that genre, she is now a full-time author of fiction.
Colette’s first novel, Pulse and Prejudice, was named “A Most Inventive Adaptation” by Elle Magazine (April, 2016). It was the 1st Place Winner in its category in the 2013 Chatelaine Awards Romantic Fiction Contest and is listed in Chanticleer’s 2013 Best Book Listing. Colette dedicated 15 months traveling to Europe and Britain, researching Regency England and vampire lore and literature.
Due to her obsession with historical accuracy, she devoted more than two years researching Creole Society and New Orleans in the years following the War of 1812 for the sequel to Pulse and Prejudice, entitled Dearest Bloodiest Elizabeth.

Website, which desperately needs to be updated: http://www.colettesaucier.com 

Terribly neglected blog: http://colettesaucier.blogspot.com

Twitter:  Trust me – don’t follow me on Twitter