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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?

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

A Tea Time Chat with Brigid Huey

A Tea Time Chat with Brigid Huey

by Barbara Tiller Cole and Brigid Huey

It is always a delight for me to get to know a new Austen inspired Author.  I was very grateful to have the opportunity to chat over virtual tea with Brigid Huey, author of the recently released A Chance Encounter in Pemberley Woods, during her blog tour. Discovering a fresh new author with an intriguing variation has been a treat!  And even more is that we now live just about an hour from each other and hope to make our virtual tea a real one soon!  Take time to read the post below.  Comment below and don’t forget to enter the rafflecopter drawings!  

Grab a Fresh Cup of Tea and a Scone and Join Us For Our Chat

Cole:  Hi Brigid. I’m glad to have the opportunity to get to know you today. It’s always a pleasure to meet any Jane Austen enthusiast. But even more so a new author.

Huey:  Hello Barbara and thank you for having me!

Cole:  You are from Cincinnati I understand. Have you lived there all of your life.

Huey:  I have lived here since I was 7 years old, so it feels like it's been all my life. I was born in New York and lived in New Jersey until we moved here. My husband and I did live in St. Louis, MO for three years, but decided to move back after we graduated from college.

Cole:  So you are a true Cincinnati native!  I am an born and bred Atlanta girl but met my husband while in grad school in Louisville. And we just moved to Crestwood, KY (outside of Louisville) in April.

So somewhere along the line we should get together for a real cup of tea.

Huey:  Oh wow! So you're new to the area. I've been in Cincinnati now for over twenty years.
Well over 20 actually!

Cole:  My husband is a Louisville native. He’s very excited to be back home. And has family here. So I’ve spent a good bit of time here. In fact I drove through Cincinnati a month ago to help a friend get home whose car died.

I have eaten at Skyline Chili!  And I have been to a Reds game. Lol! 

Huey:  Haha. Good, you've hit up some classic Cincinnati things then.

Cole:  Absolutely. So tell me a bit about your family.

Huey:  My husband and I met when I was in high school. He was a freshman in college. We got married ridiculously young (I was 22!) while still in college. Now we have two kids, Evy is 9 and Tris is 5. We also have two chickens!

Cole:  Are they pets? The chickens I mean. Lol. Do you get fresh eggs regularly

Huey:  Yes, they are very much pets. Two bantam hens, Cookies and Chicky. They have just started laying! It's pretty exciting. My kids will come running in the house with the egg to show me! Actually, I just ordered three more birds to add to our little flock. So we'll have chicks soon! I love them.

Cole:  Very nice. Our neighbors two doors down have chickens. I just have a dog. But our property has deer, a ground hog, bunnies and a feral cat.

So how did you first discover Jane Austen’s books?

Huey:  Back in 1995 my dad heard about the BBC adaptation and made a point to have us all watch it. Both my parents were already fans of Jane Austen, but I had never seen or heard anything about her. We all sat down to watch an episode each night. I was hooked. I was 13, so I don't think I read the book right away. I've read Pride and Prejudice so many times now, I can't remember the first time!

I also fell in love with Emma when that movie came out. My parents took me to see it in the theater. Swoon!

Cole:  I love Jeremy Northam!  Not as much as much as Colin Firth!  But there are days when Darcy betas Mr Knightley just by a nose. Lol.

So when did you discover Austen fan fiction ?

Huey:  A couple of years ago I was searching for Jane Austen on my library's e-reader app. A few variations came up and I was intrigued. I borrowed one because I was currious, and I was hooked. The library really only had about ten or so though. So I went online in search of more, and discovered a whole new world!

That favorite story is "Yours Forevermore, Darcy" by Kara Lynn Mackrory, by the way.  I am a fan of all four of her books.

Cole:  Yes! It is a whole new world indeed. Did you post your story online first ?

Huey:  No, I didn't. One of my favorite Austen variations was published by Meryton Press. After I had written my story, I thought, "Why not try?"

Cole:  Oo. Interesting. Originally all of Merytons books were originally posted on their site.  Exciting that they are expanding.

Well, I am very glad that you did try reaching out to Meryton.  I saw your lovely cover recently!  It’s gorgeous!

Huey:  Thank you! Janet Taylor did such an amazing job! It was so wonderful working with her.

Cole:  Janet does do an amazing job!  And she just keeps getting better and better!!

So what was your inspiration for your book.

Huey:  It’s kind of strange. It just popped into my head. So I was at a friend's house watching my son climb a pine tree. It was a grey, blustery day. Kind of drizzly. And I just started daydreaming about Mr. Darcy (you know, the way we do). I could picture him flying off his horse in concern for Elizabeth.

The rest came from there!

Cole:  Well it was a surprising and intriguing beginning to Elizabeth At Pemberley. I don’t officially review other authors works being another author. But I enjoyed your book a great deal.  I won’t give away any spoilers, but I enjoyed the first chapter set up!

What specifically would you like readers to know about your story before they read it. Or to tease them to do so.

Huey:  I'm going to answer this as a reader of romance. I would like my readers to know that after a little trouble, happiness abounds!

Cole:  Always good to let people know that!

I understand you also home school your children. Do the book keeping for your husbands chiropractic practice. Make jewelry and still have time to write. A most accomplished woman.

Are you Wonder Woman ? Lol

Huey:  Haha! No, not at all! I think I am able to do all this because my husband and I work very much as a team. The jewelry business started as an artistic outlet after my daughter was born. Also, my husband understands that as an introvert, I need quiet alone time to recharge.

So every Thursday he takes over the homeschool lessons and I head to the coffee house to write.

I do it because I enjoy it so much! And I can be in my own little world.

Cole:  A friend of mine home schooled her daughter and she wrote a P&P variation about Lydia when she was 15.

Nice that your husband supports you like that. I was unable to have children of my own but have had many who call me their ideal mom.

I loved your jewelry. I saw a Cinderella piece. Have you thought about doing Jane Austen themed pieces.

Huey:  Yes! I do have several in the shop right now. There is a necklace for Miss Darcy, hair pins for Jane Bennet, and I believe a pair of earrings for Mrs. Darcy. I create jewelry based on characters from literature. It's so much fun to imagine what a character might like.

I actually do craft fairs and shows locally, so I have a lot more inventory than what's online. The challenging part for me is taking all the pictures and uploading everything. Too much computer work!

Cole:  Yes I can imagine that can be a challenge.  I am going to include a link to your Etsy shop so people can visit and find your Jane Austen inspired pieces like ‘Miss Bennett’ and Miss Croft’ !  (Link:  Brigid Huey’s Etsy Jewelry Shop)

Do you have any upcoming writing projects you would like to hint at?

Huey:  I am currently working on a couple of projects actually! I just finished the first round of edits for a romance novel set in the near future. Not Jane Austen based, but still a lot of fun to write. I do have a story in my head that marries Pride and Prejudice and the classic Cinderella story. I actually wrote my senior thesis on fairy tales in Jane Austen works! So I'd like to write a more obvious Cinderella version of P&P.

Oh! And I want to expand the vignette I wrote this summer for the Meryton Press Summer Blog series into a novel. I have some good ideas for mystery and intrigue

Cole:  That’s exciting! I love the Cinderella story. And have enjoyed movie versions. From the Rogers and Hammerstein musical. To Ever After and some of the Disney ones.

Huey:  I love Ever After!!

Cole:  By the way can I refill your virtual tea cup?

Huey:  Yes, please! And an extra scone, if I may.

Cole:  Of course.  
Tell me more about the vignette you wrote and how you might expand that.

Huey:  The vignette is about Darcy and Elizabeth traveling to an idyllic place in England, Rydal Mount. It's a beautiful home surrounded by gardens. They go and enjoy the scenery and each other's company. But I would like to expand it into a story involving espionage and family secrets!

Cole:  Sounds very intriguing indeed. I have enjoyed some of the mystery Austen variations!  Anything else you would like our readers to know ?

Huey:  I would just like to extend my gratitude for the warm welcome I have received from my fellow readers and writers. It has been such a pleasure getting to know so many new friends!

Cole:  It’s been a pleasure to get to know you. I look forward to a face to face visit in the hopefully not too distant future.

Huey:  Thank you! Me too!

Cole:  Thanks again for visiting. And I thank Meryton and Janet for asking me to be a part of this.

To all of you who have enjoyed this interview, please check out Brigid’s links.  Be sure and comment below!  And please link my author page and join this blog!  And lastly,
 don’t forget to follow the rafflecopter link to enter the drawings for this blog tour event! 

A surprise meeting
A baby alone in the woods
And a second chance at love
Fitzwilliam Darcy returns to his beloved Pemberley with one thing on his mind ̶ to forget Elizabeth Bennet. Riding ahead of his party and racing a storm, he happens upon the very woman he wants to avoid. To his astonishment, she is holding a baby whose name and parentage are unknown.
Elizabeth Bennet never dreamed she had wandered into Pemberley’s Woods on her afternoon walk. But when she finds an infant alone in the storm, she turns to the last man in the world she wants to see ̶ and the only one who can help them both.
As the mystery of the baby’s identity intensifies, Elizabeth finds Mr. Darcy to be quite the reverse of what she expected. But when the child’s family is discovered, will the truth bring them together, or tear them apart?

Author Bio:
Brigid has been in love with Jane Austen since first seeing the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice as a young girl. She lives in Ohio with her husband and two kids, and spends her free time reading and writing. This is her first Pride and Prejudice variation, though many others live in her imagination.

Contact Info:
Facebook Author Page:  https://www.facebook.com/AuthorBrigidHuey/ 
Instagram:  @brigidhueywrites

Blog Tour Schedule
September 9   So little time…
September 10 – Darcyholic Diversions
September 12 – Savvy Verse & Wit
September 13 – Babblings of a Bookworm
September 14 – My Love for Jane Austen
September 15 – My Life Journey
September 16 – Austenesque Reviews
September 17 – Half Agony, Half Hope
September 18 – Diary of an Eccentric
September 19 – From Pemberley to Milton   
September 20 – My Jane Austen Book Club
September 21 – My Vices and Weaknesses

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Heart To Heart With Heather

Heart to Heart With Heather

By Heather Moll and Barbara Tiller Cole

It is my pleasure to host heather on her current blog tour.  I remember first reading Heather’s newest book when she was posting it on the Austen boards. It is always a treat to have one of the authors I have come to know publish!  I am very happy for her and hope you will enjoy our conversation. Be sure to read the entire interview and go to the bottom for more information about winning one of Heathers book!  Extra points for joining my blog, and/or commenting on this interview.

BTC:  Hi Heather.  I am so glad to be visiting with you!  And that is what I like to do with my interviews.   It is much more fun to read if sound like we just sat down to chat over tea and biscuits.

Heather: I love the idea of having more of a conversation than filling out a bunch of answers in a questionnaire. I'm happy to start here.  

BTC:  I remember reading your story ‘way back in the day’ in my first couple years on the JAFF boards and enjoyed it then!  And I enjoyed reading the not published version.  Seeing a finished product after living with a story a week at a time is very exciting for the author and for the reader.  Did I read it at Hyancith Gardens or AHA?

Heather: I'm flattered you remember reading my story. I posted it 8 years ago on AHA, a few years after I discovered both Jane Austen and fan fiction. So, I haven't quite been in the Austen fanfic world long enough to have been at HG, but close. This publishing project has been fun for me in a lot of ways, but particularly because I hadn't thought about this story in a long time even though it means a lot to me. It's the first piece of fiction I ever wrote.

BTC:  I know that feeling of birthing your book and that freedom to think about doing something else!  Tell me a little bit about yourself.

Heather: Telling you a little bit about me will begin to answer about how I found Austen and started writing. I live in a suburb in upstate New York, the same town I grew up in.

BTC:  Upstate New York has a very special place in my heart as my husband found THE center of excellence for his cancer in Rochester.  Now, did you always plan to go to school and return to your home town?

Heather:  I didn't plan it that way, but as I was finishing graduate school in archives and records management and planning on what city I wanted to move to, I met and married my husband.

BTC:  Well returning home for the love of your life makes a LOT of sense.  Were you high school sweethearts?

Heather:  No, we met when I was away at school.   But he had a house two miles from my parents' home and he's in a narrow career field: there isn't exactly a need for nuclear engineers or nuclear physicists in every town in America. We liked the area, he had a great job, I could find work nearby; it just made sense to stay. That was in 2006. I worked in newspaper preservation at the NYS library and then worked in a small-town library until I decided to stay home with my son in 2010. Since he's started elementary school I volunteer at the school library a few days a week.

BTC:  I am always curious how people find Jane Austen’s books in the first place.  I found my first variation back when I was in high school. I don’t remember what it was but my mom found it and brought it to me, so excited that she had found a Pride and Prejudice Part 2!  I wish I could have talked to her about it and when I was first writing.    My Mom passed in 2005 and was gone before I started writing myself.  It was part of my therapy to start with.  I can’t remember when I found my first JAFF story online but I know it was between 2001 when I had surgery and my friend loaned me her P&P VHS tapes and when I spent many hours helping my husband recovery from his cancer surgeries. I was hooked by then and that was 2005.   I actually saw the 2005 P&P while my husband was still in the hospital in Rochester.  So Heather, tell me your story of how you found Austen and variations. 

Heather:  Even though I was a European history major, a librarian, an avid reader, and Anglophile, I didn't read Austen until 2005. I know, it's a crime. I had no idea what I was missing. And whenever I'm happily deep down in the Austen rabbit hole (writing, Elizabeth Bennet England tour with a friend, ordering a regency gown, researching, JASNA, being on AHA, etc) and my husband either teases or tries to get me to do other things, I can say it's his fault.   

BTC:  Thanks, by the way, for sharing some of the pictures from your Austen tour of England which are weaved in and out of this entire post!   And we will talk more about that in just a bit.   But go back. I want to know how you can blame your husband for your Jane Austen obsession.

Heather:  Here's why--He thought he'd earn some points in 2005 by taking me to see Pride and Prejudice because it seemed like a romantic date movie, but I wasn't about to see a movie that was based on a book without reading it first. I think they teach you that day 1 of librarian school ;).  I got a copy from the library and that was the beginning. I fell in love with the clever dialogue, the humorous secondary characters, as well as the two good but flawed characters who become better people and deserve one another. It was a slippery slope from there!  (No, I didn’t like the movie.  Beautiful imagery, but too many things were different from the book.  Give me the 95 version any day of the week!)

BTC:  Now you are not going to get an argument from me!  As I am a Colin Firth Darcy fan!  But then again, I did once begin a war!  Maybe we could begin it again! 

Heather: I think I'd even take David Rintoul and Elizabeth Garvie over 2005. But if that's too inflammatory for your readers we don't have to print that ;). No need to start a brawl.)

BTC:  As you can see Heather, I did include your comments!  Now if you had been on the other side of the Darcy war I may not have!  :)

Heather:  It's interesting to me that writing was a way for you to grieve for and connect with your memories of your mom, and I started writing to find an identity outside of my role as mom. I do think that our personal lives, our families, can't help but have an impact on how and what we write. I suspect most people in this fandom can remember either the story or the situation that drew them in. 

BTC:  I suspect that you are correct about that.  That there is something that drew the majority of us in and healed something within us.

Heather:  I know it's only been a few paragraphs, but I feel like I've been chattering about myself FOREVER. I'm an introvert and I'm not used to yet confessing that I write Austen fanfic, so if we were at a party, you would have gotten my name, my husband's job, my kid's age, and that I'm a stay at home mom. And I would have asked all about you and you would have left without knowing anything about my loving Jane Austen or writing a book or that I'm perpetually stuck halfway through a couch to 5k training app. 

BTC:  Well, I personally think that making an interview into a conversation makes an author feel more comfortable.  So I personally am glad that you are chattering!  Additionally, I admire anyone who is committed to training for a 5k!  You mentioned Austen’s secondary characters.  Any particular favorites amongst them?

Heather:  Each novel has their own character or two that I just have to laugh at because they add so much humor through their absurdities. Not the villains or the plot devices, but the sort of characters where readers can really get their personalities through just a few lines.  I guess Miss Bates might be my favorite, the 'great talker on little matters'. I love how Austen just lets her loose on the narrative from beginning to end. She's a bore, and we're all made uncomfortable by how she goes on, but her monologues show us what's going on behind the scenes in Emma. I think that's brilliant writing and I can't help hate Emma a little bit for the way that she treats Miss Bates while she's on her road to self-discovery. 

BTCole:  Do you want to tell us anything more about where you live in upstate New York? 

Heather:  I live near Albany, about 3 or 4 hours east of Rochester. Northwest New York is a lovely area, but I can't imagine is has many happy memories for you. Two months is a very long time to uproot your life and be a care giver. I'm so pleased to hear that the team in Rochester were able to save your husband. I'm always cheered to hear stories of survivors. 

I was a history major in college, so I spent a lot of time with the research librarians, and I decided that I wanted to be the one to find and catalog and preserve those original materials to make them available to researchers. But I don't have any regrets as to staying where we did. I'm close to my parents, and my son gets to know his grandparents. At the time, I didn't want to go through the stress of finishing my degree, getting married, and selling my husband's house and both of us moving across the country to find new jobs all within a few months of each other. After we were married, my husband always said we could move if I found a job. I had a list of cities where he would be able to find work and there certainly were libraries or archives nearby. But I realized I was happy where I was, and moving away just to prove a point that I could move away and be an archivist seemed ridiculous. 

BTC:  Well, there is a wonderful part of coming back home.  I am now living in Louisville KY which is my husband’s home.  He is thrilled to be back here and it is beautiful so I am grateful to be here!

BTC:  Do you forsee reentering the work field at some point?  Or do you have the writers bug and want to just do that?

Heather:  I get a variant of this question a lot: "Now that your son is in school all day, are you going to get a real job"? I sigh and smile politely. Sometimes the tone behind the question (and I don't mean to imply it all in your case, Barb!) is that I have done no work for the past 9 years, but now I'm free to finally DO something. That raising my son doesn't have the same value as if I worked and got a paycheck. I want to be the one to put my son on the school bus, and I want to be the one here when he gets home. I like volunteering in the school to see all the kids and so the teachers know me (his school has 600 students, the district as a whole 10,000). And, I like having a few days a week free between 8 and 2 in order to write. So, I'm content to let the masters degree hang on the wall while I re-teach myself how to add fractions to get through math homework and write happy endings for Darcy and Elizabeth. 

BTC:  Well, I am glad I didn’t offend you.  I am not like Carolyn Bingley!  I certainly don’t want something in the manner of my speaking to offend anyone!  Anything particular you would like to let us know about the book itself?

Heather:  I can honestly say that Mrs. Bennet in the book has not inspired by my attitudes toward an identity beyond parenting! I think she's irrational and willfully disregards the feelings of others. Not that she deserves to be mocked by her husband or has no a reason to fear for her daughters' futures. Both she and her concerns are cruelly dismissed by Mr. Bennet. But that doesn't change the fact that she misbehaves, she won't save money for her children, she openly prefers some of her children over the others, and she's self-absorbed.

What did inspire me to write was being at home with a new baby after quitting my library job and wanting something outside the feed-clean-play-nap routine. I thought that I could write a little drabble to post on AHA, and I always liked those quicker resolution after Hunsford short stories. The one problem with those for me was you never got to see the hard work Darcy and Elizabeth had to do after that to get to the happy ever after. It was implied that it would happen, but I wanted to see those discussions and know their thought processes. I thought I would spend a few nap times setting up how they could get to Longbourn after Kent, something cute and fun and short. But after several thousand words they were still in London! I really wanted to get right how Darcy and Elizabeth would have to both reform and see the other in a better light to get a realistic and faster HEA. From there I quickly saw possible implications for trouble with Lydia's trip to Brighton if Darcy and Elizabeth had begun to reconcile, and what started as project for a day or two turned into something much more.

BTC:  Ok back to the Regency gown you mentioned!  I have been looking at patterns myself!  Now that I live in Louisville I need to have one for the annual Jane Austen Festival here!

Heather:  I don't have my regency gown yet. The picture on the cover of His Choice of a Wife is by a woman with a store called RegencyCouture and she is going to make me one. I should be all set for an AGM promenade. Or, maybe just around the house. I do have pictures of me in a gown from my trip to England in June, but that one wasn't made for me (it's way too short!). Lyme Park (P&P 95 exterior) had a costume department and you could dress up complete with gloves, bonnet, reticule, and shawl.

BTC: Well it is a lovely picture of you!  I envy you your trip!  I was in England in the late 80’s but it was before my Austen obsession started!  I was based in York while my husband was working there for several weeks and had a BritRail pass I will I had utilized more!  But I did see some lovely things! Tell us more about your tour.

Heather:  What my dear friend has called the Elizabeth Bennet Tour was our attempt to see "all the celebrated beauties of Matlock, Chatsworth, Dovedale (and) the Peak." We spent five days in Derbyshire and visited Dovedale, Lyme Park, Matlock Bath, Chatsworth, and Haddon Hall. We stayed in Bakewell, a possible inspiration for Lambton, and everything was absolutely stunning. Not to mention all the inspiration for future stories! I would go back tomorrow if I could. I attached a few pictures (I have hundreds!). You can include any that you think readers will be interested in.

BTC:  I think some of my favorite scenes in your book were when Darcy interacted with the Gardiner children.

Heather:  It caught my interest that you mentioned Darcy's interactions with the Gardiner children because I hadn't thought about it before. In fact, there's an extra scene that I wrote during editing that included the Gardiner children, so taken altogether Darcy does have quite a few discussions with them. Children are guileless, and Darcy can be so honest and resentful of deception that it does seem like a good fit.

BTC:  Any other hobbies you would like to share?

Heather:  Beyond researching regency era carriages or what certain words mean now versus what they meant in 1812? Beyond writing and editing? Like, hobbies that people outside this fandom could understand? I'm perpetually behind in scrapbooking, my bowling average is 160, and I 'jog' on the treadmill, which means I briskly walk while I wonder if I'll ever be able to run 5k. 

BTC:  Anything else you would like to tell us about your book?

Heather: Aside from writing a unique variation that came from the desire to see a quicker resolution after Hunsford, I think another theme is how women then, and even now, bear the consequences of anything deemed to be misconduct whereas the man involved moves on without having to take any responsibility. Lydia is thought to have 'come upon the town' and her entire family is on the brink of scandal when she runs off with Wickham, but his reputation for gambling and womanizing doesn't bar him from anything. Maria Rushworth runs off with Henry Crawford and ends up being hidden away for the rest of her life, but Henry can still flit around town. Willoughby seduces Eliza Williams, gets her pregnant, and abandons her, and even though his aunt and Colonel Brandon hold him accountable, he's still allowed to move in polite society. Women bear any and all repercussions, be isolated and bring scandal to their entire families, whereas the men can do as they please and are welcome almost anywhere. His Choice of a Wife touches on this double standard and I think in some ways it shows how much things have improved and yet how that double standard is still very much relevant in our culture today 200 years later.

BTC:  Heather I think that is a fascinating subject!  I would like for you to come back and visit with me again and we can have more of a general discussion about Jane Austen then and now and the role of women in her stories.  She, herself, was a successful unmarried writer.  And while her true success was not until after her death, I think she did a great deal to former the rights of women. 

Thank you so much for visiting with us today!

His Choice of a Wife Blog Tour Media Kit

Front cover photograph of Heather Moll’s book courtesy and copyright RegencyCouture, Regency fashion for today's Jane Austenista!

When a man’s honor is at stake, what is he willing to risk for the woman he loves?

After a disastrous marriage proposal and the delivery of an illuminating letter, Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet hope never to lay eyes on one another again. When a chance meeting in Hunsford immediately throws them in each other’s way, Darcy realizes his behavior needs correcting, and Elizabeth starts to appreciate his redeeming qualities. But is it enough to forgive the past and overcome their prejudices?

Jane and Bingley’s possible reconciliation and Lydia’s ill-conceived trip to Brighton pose their own challenges for two people struggling to find their way to love. When scandalous news threatens their chance at happiness, will Darcy and Elizabeth’s new bond be shattered, or will their growing affection hold steadfast?

Author Bio:
Heather Moll is an avid reader with a B.A. in European history and a M.A. in library science, so it is astonishing that she did not discover Jane Austen until her late-twenties. Making up for lost time, she devoured all of Austen’s novels, her letters, and unpublished works, joined JASNA, and spent far too much time researching the Regency era. She is thrilled to have found fellow Janeites and the JAFF community, if only to prove that her interests aren’t so strange after all. Heather is a former librarian turned stay-at-home mother who struggles to find time for all of the important things, like reading and writing.

Contact Info:


Blog Tour Schedule

Meryton Press is giving away 8 eBooks of Heather Moll’s His Choice of a Wife.


Use the link below to go to rafflecopter on website.