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I’m thrilled to welcome Victoria Kincaid back to Diary of an Eccentric to celebrate the release of the audiobook of Mr. Darcy to the Rescue. It’s wonderful to see a book I’ve edited released in audio, and Victoria has a fantastic story to share about it. Please give her a warm welcome!

Hi Anna, thank you for having me as a guest. As I was preparing this guest post, I thought about the fact that we both had daughters graduating from high school this year and that led me to musings about the role of audiobooks in my family. Of course, they are handy to have in the car. My husband listens to books in his commute, and I often listen during my multiple daily drives. As a family, we have listened to a number of audiobooks together on long car trips.

But I never realized the real importance of audiobooks until I had a daughter who had difficulty learning to read.

She was in first grade and was supposed to do 20 minutes of reading a day. I had to split up these 20 minutes into 3-4 chunks because reading was such a chore to her. As someone who has found books to be an important part of my life and endless source of joy, I was alarmed. Eventually we traced her difficulties to a vision problem known as Convergence Insufficiency (CI) in which the eyes do not function well together. The doctor who examined her found that she couldn’t focus her eyes more than nine seconds without great effort. Can you imagine trying to learn to read under those conditions?

We started her on vision therapy—with tremendous results. But the process took three years. In the meantime, I worried that she would lose interest in reading. How could she not when it was such a struggle? I read books aloud to her, which was very rewarding. (I read the entire Harry Potter series to her and then did it all over again when my son wanted to read it.) But she often wanted to read when I wasn’t available.

Thank God for audiobooks. They allowed her to be an independent reader—choosing what to read and when to read it without depending on another person. We were fortunate that our public library had many books on CD (eventually they started getting e-audiobooks and she now has a well-used Audible account).

I cannot tell you how grateful I am to have audiobook technology available. If I had experience CI as a child, I would have been out of luck. But with the help of audiobooks, she still read eagerly—and learned to enjoy reading—even when it was difficult and painful to put her eyes to paper. When she graduated from vision therapy, she was able to read print books on her own—and she wanted to. With the help of audiobooks she had become an avid reader. Her problems aren’t gone and probably never will be. Her eyes tire easily, which is a great challenge in school. She still “reads” audiobooks for pleasure because she needs to save her “eye time” for school-related tasks. Fortunately a lot of textbooks and works of literature (for English class) are available on audio; audiobooks are one of the major factors behind her success in school.

Now that I have one of my novels on audio, it will make it easier for my daughter to read my writing. I’m not holding my breath, though. Although she liked Pride and Prejudice, she has a long list of books in her preferred genres that she would rather read. I don’t mind at all; I’m just glad she’s reading.

(One in 20 people suffers from Convergence Insufficiency, but most don’t know it. For more information on CI symptoms and other information, visit CIHelp.org.)

Thank you, Victoria, for sharing your daughter’s story with us. I’m so happy that she was able to become an avid reader despite the challenges. Congratulations on your latest release, and best wishes to your daughter as she goes off to college!

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About Mr. Darcy to the Rescue

When the irritating Mr. Collins proposes marriage, Elizabeth Bennet is prepared to refuse him, but then she learns that her father is ill. If Mr. Bennet dies, Collins will inherit Longbourn and her family will have nowhere to go. Elizabeth accepts the proposal, telling herself she can be content as long as her family is secure. If only she weren’t dreading the approaching wedding day.

Ever since leaving Hertfordshire, Mr. Darcy has been trying to forget his inconvenient attraction to Elizabeth. News of her betrothal forces him to realize how devastating it would be to lose her. He arrives at Longbourn intending to prevent the marriage, but discovers Elizabeth’s real opinion about his character. Then Darcy recognizes his true dilemma: How can he rescue her when she doesn’t want him to?

Check out Mr. Darcy to the Rescue on Amazon and listen to the sample!

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Giveaway

Victoria is generously offering an audio download code for Mr. Darcy to the Rescue to one lucky reader. Please note: the promo code will only work for the U.S. Amazon site. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, July 1, 2018. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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I’m delighted to share with you an excerpt from The Foyles Bookshop Girls by Elaine Roberts, courtesy of Aria. I am very much looking forward to reading this book, as it is set in a London bookshop during World War II. If you enjoy the excerpt, I encourage you to enter the giveaway below!

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Chapter 2

Alice sighed with relief. Foyles Bookstore frontage was unmissable. The message was clear. They were the largest booksellers in London, with six floors. If a novel was purchased and returned after it was read, there would be a refund of two thirds of the price for each book. They had created quite a name since William and Gilbert Foyle started selling their own unwanted books in 1903. Everyone who started working there was told about their vision of having a bookshop for the people.

She paused for a moment to take a couple of deep breaths, hoping to lessen the heat on her face, catching sight of her reflection in a shop window. Her slender figure was slightly distorted by the glass as she patted down the wide, black-edged lapels of her white blouse. Her hand automatically ran down the small black buttons, twisting each one in turn. She took a deep breath, patted her pinned up hair and stepped towards the open doorway of the shop.

The shutters were being lifted and bookstands were being placed by the entrance and to the side of the store. Customers of all ages were already gathering.

‘Morning, Miss Taylor.’ A slim man towered above her. ‘You only just made it on time.’ He frowned.

Her heart pummelled in her chest. She looked up at his stern expression. His grey hair was greased back. ‘Sorry, sir, I foolishly went to St Thomas’ before I came to work.’ Colour flushed her cheeks; Mr Leadbetter was a stickler for timekeeping.

‘Oh.’ His face softened. ‘Nothing wrong I trust?’

‘No, sir, I’ve so many books indoors, I wanted to give some to the hospital…’ Alice’s voice faded to a mumble. ‘For the patients.’

Mr Leadbetter raised his eyebrows. His hands linked behind his back, making his dark grey jacket gape revealing more of his blue tie and lily-white shirt. ‘Very commendable.’ He paused for a moment. ‘You do know we sell second-hand books as well as new ones, don’t you?’

The corners of Alice’s lips lifted slightly. ‘Of course, sir, I’ve worked here for a few years now. I just thought it would be a good thing to do, but I should have waited until my day off.’

Mr Leadbetter nodded and stepped aside for Alice to walk through the store to the staff room. Having removed her hat and left it with her shopping bag, she stood in front of a large white clock face with its wooden surround and pulled her clocking-in card from the individual slots next to it. She dropped it into a hole in front of the clock and pulled it out again. Alice looked down at the time stamp, realising she had only just made it on time. Quickly placing it back, she hurried into the shop.

Foyles had an air of a library about it as men, women and children lifted books from the shelves to look at the covers and read the first few pages. People whispered to each other, some louder than others, as their excitement grew. The bookshop had become a popular meeting place. There were shelves upon shelves of old and new books, priced from tuppence upwards. She took a deep breath, never tiring of the smell that came from them. She smiled, remembering how Mr Leadbetter had caught her with her nose in a book, her eyes shut, savouring the smell. He hadn’t questioned her; he understood and they spent ten minutes trying to work out how to describe it. Was it woody? But then there was a trace of something else; maybe it was the ink or dust. If the previous reader had been a smoker, then that also clung to the pages. No one in the store thought it was odd; they were book lovers, after all.

Alice stepped behind the counter and placed her pad of bill payments in front of her.

‘Morning, Alice, everything all right? I saw old Leadbetter talking to you.’

Alice looked up and smiled at Molly. ‘Shh, don’t call him that, he’s quite nice really.’

‘Huh, I am not so sure about that.’ Molly pulled back her shoulders and lifted her chin, showing she was a head taller than her friend. She pushed back her blonde fringe and patted the bun that was neatly formed at the nape of her neck. ‘I don’t think he likes me.’

Alice laughed. ‘He’s probably heard what you call him.’ She reached for a pen and placed it on top of her pad. ‘Right, I’m ready.’ Alice glanced over at the payment booth, expecting to see Victoria sitting there but it was empty. ‘Is Victoria in yet?’

Molly shrugged her shoulders. ‘Vic’s nearly always late. I don’t know how she gets away with it.’

Alice frowned. ‘Don’t call her that, she hates it.’ She took a deep breath; the waft of carbolic soap hit her. In an attempt to clear her throat, she gave a slight cough.

Molly’s bottom lip jutted out as she stared intently across at the payment booth. ‘Well, you can’t deny Miss Victoria Appleton seems to get away with things that no one else would.’

Alice sighed. ‘Stop being mean, she has a lot on her plate, and anyway she probably gets docked fifteen minutes pay every time she’s late.’

Molly’s eyes looked heavenward. ‘As always.’ She frowned. ‘If she’s so poor, you wouldn’t think she could afford to lose money like that.’

‘Stop it. You or I wouldn’t be able to cope with the things she does at twenty years old.’ Alice glared at her friend for a moment before allowing her features to soften. ‘Something’s clearly bothering you but we can’t talk about it now; maybe at lunch time.’

‘What makes you think something’s wrong?’

Alice laughed. ‘You’re obviously not in a good mood.’ Glancing over at the payment booth again she saw Victoria stepping inside and locking herself in. She looked pale and weighed down. Alice smiled and waved at her friend but she wasn’t looking her way.

‘I’m in a perfectly good mood for a Monday morning, thank you very much.’ Molly smiled through gritted teeth.

‘What’s happened?’ Alice turned to give Molly her full attention. ‘Didn’t you have a very good weekend?’

Molly stared down at the counter, her fingers tracing the wood grain. ‘It was fine.’

Alice shook her head. ‘We’ve been friends since we were children; you do know you can tell me anything, don’t you?’

Molly looked up and frowned. ‘We have, but we come from very different backgrounds.’

‘Not that different, and it’s never been an issue before, so what’s happened to make it one now?’ Alice squinted at her, trying to read what was going on.

‘Miss Cooper.’

Molly turned around to see Mr Leadbetter staring at her; she feigned a smile. ‘Yes, Mr Leadbetter.’

‘Is this your post for today?’

‘No, sir, I’m just going there now.’ Molly stepped past him without waiting for a response.

Alice watched him smile after Molly. The smile vanished as quickly as it arrived. He turned towards Alice. ‘We could be in for another busy day today, so please keep your eye on things. I don’t want half the stock going missing.’ He gave a curt nod and stepped aside, allowing a customer to be served.

Alice smiled at the lady standing in front of her. ‘Good morning, isn’t it a glorious day?’ She took the book the customer was holding out towards her.

‘It certainly is. Too nice to be shut inside.’

‘You’re right, but I do love being surrounded by all these wonderful books.’ Alice smiled. She looked down and completed the bill payment form before giving it to the customer. ‘If you would like to take this slip, together with tuppence, over to the payment booth.’ Alice indicated to her left. ‘Make your payment and then come back to me with your receipt.’

The lady gave a toothless smile. ‘I will.’ A gnarled hand reached out and took the slip of paper. ‘Thank you.’

Alice watched her hobble over to the payment booth; she hadn’t noticed her leaning heavily on a walking stick. She should have done and offered to take her payment over there for her. A low sigh escaped; it was too late now though, and she’d probably have been dismissed for trying to be helpful. Frowning, she recalled another assistant getting the sack for the same thing. They had all been reminded that it’s clearly stated they were not to handle any money outside of the payment booth. With her smile permanently fixed, Alice moved onto the next customer.

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About The Foyles Bookshop Girls

London, 1914: one ordinary day, three girls arrive for work at London’s renowned Foyles bookshop. But when war with Germany is declared their lives will never be the same again…

Alice has always been the ‘sensible’ one in her family – especially in comparison with her suffragesupporting sister! But decidedly against her father’s wishes, she accepts a job at Foyles Bookshop; and for bookworm Alice it’s a dream come true. But with the country at war, Alice’s happy world is shattered in an instant.

Determined to do what she can, Alice works in the bookshop by day, and risks her own life driving an ambulance around bomb-ravaged London by night. But however busy she keeps herself, she can’t help but think of the constant danger those she loves are facing on the frontline…

Alice, Victoria and Molly couldn’t be more different and yet they share a friendship that stems back to their childhood – a friendship that provides everyday solace from the tribulations and heartbreak of war.

Perfect for fans of Elaine Everest, Daisy Styles and Rosie Hendry.

Buy links: Amazon | Kobo | iBooks | Google Play

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About the Author

Elaine Roberts

Elaine Roberts had a dream to write for a living. She completed her first novel in her twenties and received her first very nice rejection. Life then got in the way until she picked up her dream again in 2010. She joined a creative writing class, The Write Place, in 2012 and shortly afterwards had her first short story published. Elaine and her patient husband, Dave, have five children who have flown the nest. Home is in Dartford, Kent and is always busy with their children, grandchildren, grand dogs and cats visiting.

Follow Elaine: Facebook | Twitter

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Giveaway

Aria is offering 2 ebook copies of The Foyles Bookshop Girls to my readers. This giveaway is open internationally. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, June 24, 2018. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

I’m delighted to welcome Don Jacobson back to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate the release of Lessers and Betters. Don is here today to talk about the novellas bundled in the book and share an excerpt. Please give him a warm welcome!

I have often pondered the appeal of novels like Pride and Prejudice to a 21st Century audience. Back in the Regency when Miss Austen wrote her masterpiece, her contemporaries (those who could, first, read and, second, afford to purchase her book) saw P&P as being about (loosely, I will admit) people like us…the gentry and the aristocracy.

Now, in more egalitarian times…although there will be those who point to the 1%/99% divide…the popularity of the book has vaulted it into the forefront of readers’ favorites. Yet, how many of us can actually identify with Elizabeth Bennet…the daughter of a family earning the 2018 equivalent of about $187,000 every year? Recall, too, that the Bennets owned Longbourn free and clear in an era of no income tax and no property tax. Likewise, while they would have had to pay a window tax and an annual carriage tax, the bulk of their moneys could be reserved for gowns and ribbons and trips to Town.

Perhaps that is the appeal…much like the lottery. Easy street. No worries. It also explains the terror Mrs. B felt when she considered the entail.

The less we think of Mr. Darcy’s $1 Million a year, the better.

Of course, this would explain Caroline Bingley’s $2 Million dowry…given her personality.

However, while t’is blissful to romanticize about teas, assemblies, sideboards groaning with food, and fine brandy, there are a group of characters found in all of the Canonical books who are virtually invisible. However, without these persons, none of the softly cushioned lifestyles written about could have existed.

I am, of course, speaking of the servants. Rarely are they seen at the far end of Miss Austen’s quill except to open doors, serve meals, or dash off to fetch smelling salts.

This has, over the course of my career writing #InspiredByAusten fiction, piqued my historian’s imagination. We are now in a post-modern era where social scientists are examining events, discourses, and narratives from a subaltern’s (sergeant’s) point-of-view. Rather than history composed around those who had the power to write it, we now examine those who lived in it, but who never merited the attention of those who sought to portray that which shaped the times.

That led to, first, the novella Of Fortune’s Reversal which examined the events of November 5, 1815 from the gentry’s point of view. This novella was followed by another, The Maid and The Footman, that explored the same sequence, but as seen and experienced by two members in service to the Cecil household where Kitty Bennet was employed as governess.

While the two stories were published about four months apart in 2016 with Of Fortune’s Reversal being first, I had never intended to create paired novellas approaching the same events from two different perspectives; or, to pay tribute to a classic, akin to Upstairs, Downstairs. Of Fortune’s Reversal was simply designed as a “Kitty” story as part of my process of building her book in The Bennet Wardrobe series.

However, in the rosy hue of post-publication, the contours of The Maid and The Footman started to rise from the freshly planted terrain. T’was a short step to apprehend that there was a reason that I first had Sergeant Henry Wilson and then, later, Annie Reynolds identify themselves in the course of the action that made up Of Fortune’s Reversal. Those who are familiar with my process know that I do not apply names to characters unless they will play a larger role than a soul who lights the fireplace or opens the door for The Quality.

I have decided to offer both books together under one cover because it is my belief that the experience of absorbing the two discourses—that of the betters followed by that of the lessers—will offer the most rewarding experience as a reader considers the themes flowing through Great Britain as its social structure metamorphosed. Moving directly from one to the other without an intervening gap of weeks or months will (hopefully) create a deeper inner dialogue over which readers can mull.

As a parting note, I would urge readers to consider the following thought:

Wealth confers no greater nobility on the “haves” and no less on the “have nots.” Humans experience the deepest emotions and seek out connections of love whether they drink the tea…or serve it.

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Please enjoy this excerpt from Lessers and Betters:

This excerpt is © 2018 by Donald P. Jacobson. No republication in any form—either electronic or print—without the expressed written consent of the author is permitted.

From Chapter VIII in The Maid and The Footman

Wilson stationed himself near where Miss Bennet would stop and rest when she was not dancing. From her heightened color and happy looks, he could tell that the lady was thoroughly enjoying herself. She rarely wanted for partners as one of the Cecil gentlemen always made a point of seeking her hand. Even the young Duke of Wilton was shooed over by his wife, the former Lady Emily Cecil, to invite her old friend to take a turn on the floor. The only time Miss Bennet’s countenance drooped was when one of the men of the ton, attracted by her blonde hair and shining china-blue eyes, would discover she was the Cecil governess and abruptly turn on his heel without another word.

Henry was not sure of the reason why he placed himself near Miss Bennet. There was his soldier’s sense of loyalty to his charge. His job during the daytime was to make sure that Miss Bennet and Miss Margaret were safe—not that the governess was in any danger

at the ball—although he had an uneasy feeling which had been nagging at him for the past few hours. Perhaps he wanted to be nearby in case she required him to run an errand, one that would necessitate his seeking out Miss Reynolds for Miss Bennet’s shawl. Whatever the case, Henry Wilson positioned himself about five feet behind her and to her left.

His eyes scanned the crowd of post-midnight revelers. Only a few of the more elderly had departed for their townhomes. The noise level had increased as the younger aristocracy began to feel the exuberance of a carefree existence that only uncountable wealth could bring. More people crowded onto the dance floor, leaving those on the sidelines conspicuous in their immobility.

Miss Bennet glanced back over her left shoulder at Henry, and with a smile to him, indicated that she wished a glass of champagne from his tray. He stepped forward and bowed slightly so that she could take her drink. Looking past, he saw a tall, slender, red headed woman making a beeline for Miss Bennet from across the room.

To Wilson’s eye, this woman was at least five and more likely ten years older than Miss Bennet. As she neared her quarry, he could see that her complexion was well rouged and powdered, probably in an effort to restore the luster of a youth that had fled some time before. More likely, all she accomplished was to hide some of the more obvious ravages of time. She was dressed as good Queen Bess, but the ridiculously accurate high collar coupled with her already long frame left an impression of a carnival actor navigating the room on stilts. Henry could see a steely glint in her hazel green eyes. Whoever she was, she bore not friendship, but rather disdain, for Miss Bennet.

“Miss Bennet. I am quite surprised to come across you here at the Cecil Masque,” the woman fluted between teeth clenched in a rictus that bespoke astonishment, “How did you ever secure such a coveted invitation? I doubt if it was through your connections in Cheapside.”

Miss Bennet’s face soured at the verbal assault, but she politely replied using an epee rather than a saber, “Why Miss Bingley…it is still Miss Bingley, is it not? What a pleasure it is to meet you again. Why it has to be nearly four years since we last saw you before you left Netherfield. I do hope you are faring well. Your note of condolence upon our father’s death was so comforting.”

Wilson stepped back to his earlier position, making sure to keep his face impassive.

I think I am about to see how ladies do battle. These two have no love lost whatsoever. I doubt if this Miss Bingley—how did she ever secure an invitation, I wonder—is aware that Miss Bennet spent the last few years by the side of a Cecil, and a future Duchess at that, learning the art of social war!

The faux-Elizabeth arched her eyebrows as she absorbed the slight about her marital status. Then she tried a flanking attack.

“Yes, my brother and sister and I were all so devastated that your father’s death forced dear Jane and Eliza into taking employment. But, I imagine even Mr. Darcy, the height of condescension, felt that this was the best they could expect thanks to your father’s

indolent ways. I had heard that your sisters relocated to the hinterlands away from the city. Was it Glasgow? Dublin? I imagine you were so distressed when your Uncle acted like a common tradesman and required them to leave his house in the midst of their grief.”

Wilson ground his teeth as he listened to Miss Bingley pile insults atop insults. He had heard Miss Bennet relate to Annie that her uncle had not demanded that any of his nieces find employment. On the contrary, her two elder sisters could not bear to be a burden on a household with four small children. Another sister—the middle one—had married a sea captain in the Gardiner line. His share of the profits would make the couple quite comfortable.

Miss Bennet maintained her composure and replied evenly, “Oh, Miss Bingley, you are mistaken. Both Jane and Elizabeth decided that their futures would be away from London. Honestly, I think they needed to be absent from Town and the poor memories associated with some areas like Mayfair. My aunt and uncle could not convince them to stay. It is true that my Papá did not plan for our security, but my uncle has more than enough resources to keep his two favorite nieces close at hand. Why, he asked after them just last week when he stopped by Cecil House to meet with Lord Tom and his brother.”

Thrust and parry.

Miss Bingley fired another shot, “I can give no credit to your account. I am surprised that Lord Thomas Cecil would be willing to meet with anyone from trade here at Cecil House. Why even my brother, for whom I am still hostess, has the delicacy to conduct those sorts of meetings away from home. And, when I am Mistress of Pemberley, I will force Mr. Darcy to cut any ties with those in trade. His man of business is good enough for that!

“Those in the trade have such inferior manners. But so do many of those in the gentility, especially if they hail from countrified regions like Hertfordshire. I recall how much you and your uncontrollable sister—what was her name—Lily? Lara?—danced like wild hoydens with all the soldiers at that wretched assembly my brother forced us to attend. But I doubt if you have had the opportunity to dance like that tonight…because you are Lord Thomas and Lady Mary’s governess.”

This last vitriolic salvo was delivered with the triumphant sneer so well known by familiars of that particular daughter of trade. She then sought to push her advantage home. Dropping all pretense of being polite, Miss Bingley reached out and grabbed Miss Bennet’s dance card that was dangling from her left wrist; the same hand in which she held her glass of champagne.

The remaining liquid splashed out onto the floor as Miss Bennet’s hand was yanked forward.

“I imagine that this card is blank, as it should be for an employee overstepping her bounds by presuming to be on the same level as members of the ton.”

Henry stepped forward to Miss Bennet’s side. He had already lifted the napkin draped over his arm and had dropped it atop the golden puddle before it spread to the hem

of her gown. Then he gently removed the glass from her hand, still held captive by the silk ribbon stretching from her wrist to Miss Bingley’s hand. He glanced at the governess’ face.

Oh, this Bingley woman has overcharged her musket like a raw recruit. Wonder if she left the ramrod in as well. There is going to be an interesting explosion in a moment. Just look at the arch of Miss Bennet’s eyebrow and the set of her lips!

Caroline snapped open the card. Then her face began to grow pale for the card was filled with names that could only have been improved if one had been the Prince Regent’s! Her eyes widened as she saw monikers that were familiar to her only from the columns in the Times.

Henry dipped to wipe the floor and remove the cloth. As he stepped back, the tableau of Queen Elizabeth facing Marie Antoinette across the centuries stuck in his mind.

Miss Bennet gently tugged her arm backward away from Miss Bingley. Miss Bingley released the dance card from numb fingers. She never moved; her widened eyes locked on Miss Bennet’s face.

Miss Bennet began her final assault.

“So, Miss Bingley, perhaps what truly is is not what you have wished it to be. Perhaps some of the ton are not so insensitive as to ignore a guest forced to sit out a dance because the social sensibilities of others would leave an unaccompanied lady without a partner.

“I happen to recall a particular gentleman from Derbyshire being called out by a young lady from Hertfordshire for exactly that same boorish behavior.

“Yes, it is true that I am governess to Miss Margaret Cecil. And, yes, it is also true that I receive wages for my services. But, Miss Bingley, you must know that I, too, have chosen to relieve the burden of my welfare from my uncle’s shoulders.

“Jane, Lizzy, and Mary could have remained in Meryton and lived with our Mama, Lydia—yes her name is Lydia—and me off of Mamá’s 5,000-pound portion. But can you imagine six women maintaining themselves on 150 pounds a year?

“My older sisters knew that they had to make their own way in the world. They refused to condemn all of us to poverty; and it would be a poverty not of the genteel kind about which the novelists so happily declaim as some sort of virtue.

“Mrs. Bennet may have been a foolish woman when you knew her, but Papá’s death changed her. With my three older sisters away from the family, Mama took some of her money to send Lydia and me to seminary.

“I have not heard from my sister these past few months, but I know she is healthy and happy because I feel it here.” At that she laid her gloved hand above her heart. “Just as I know that Lizzy, Jane, Mary, and Mamá are all well.

“Can you say the same about Mr. Bingley and Mrs. Hurst? I imagine not.

“So, I may be a governess, but I was happy this morning. I am happy tonight. And tomorrow, I will awake happy because I know that there are people who want me near and that those whom I love are they themselves happy.

“And tomorrow morning…what will you be, Miss Bingley?I

“Oh, you must excuse me. I see my next partner coming. Will yours know where to find you?”

Match to Miss Bennet with first blood. Perhaps Miss Bingley would like a glass of champagne? I think not. Likely she has had enough of that drink for the time being!

I This was inspired by Sir Winston Churchill’s famous exchange with Lady Astor from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/my-dear-you-are-ugly-but-tomorrow-i-shall-be-sober-and-you-will-still-be-ugly-winston-churchill-tops-8878622.html accessed 10/3/16

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About Lessers and Betters

Experience Love As It Blooms Upstairs and Downstairs

Lessers and Betters asserts that class is an imaginary distinction conferring no better manners on the haves and no lesser nobility on the have-nots and that the deepest human emotions are universal and ignore wealth or status.

Now for the first time under the same cover, discover the paired novellas that explore the remarkable events of November 5, 1815 when the Cecil Governess, Kitty Bennet, was grievously injured as she defended her charge. What rests behind the attack? Readers of Lessers and Betters will experience a unique literary approach that offers both gentry and servant perspectives presented in their own self-contained novellas.

Of Fortunes Reversal: A brisk Hyde Park morning is shattered by a child’s scream. How two gently-born adults react in those next few desperate moments sets the plot in motion that is a unique reconsideration of the traditional Pride and Prejudice memes. Of Fortune’s Reversal is a novella-length tale based upon an inversion of Mrs. Bennet’s exclamation that with one good marriage, the other girls would be thrown in front of rich men. What if the well-wed sister was neither Jane nor Elizabeth?

The Maid and The Footman: Explore the growing affection between a young lady’s maid, Annie Reynolds, and a retired sergeant, Henry Wilson: ultimately a love story as great as any written by the immortals. In the Jane Austen universe, the celebrated novels are written from the point-of-view of the landed gentry. Servants are rarely seen except to open doors, serve dinner, or fetch smelling salts. Follow Annie and Henry as they combine with General Sir Richard Fitzwilliam and Miss Bennet to defeat an awesome threat aimed at the heart of the British Empire.

The combined volume is approximately 82,000 words in length.

Buy Lessers and Betters on Amazon.

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About the Author

Don Jacobson

Don Jacobson has written professionally for forty years.  His output has ranged from news and features to advertising, television and radio.  His work has been nominated for Emmys and other awards.  He has previously published five books, all non-fiction.  In 2016, he published the first volume of The Bennet Wardrobe SeriesThe Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey, novel that grew from two earlier novellas. The Exile is the second volume of The Bennet Wardrobe Series.  Other JAFF P&P Variations include the paired books “Of Fortune’s Reversal” and “The Maid and The Footman.”

 Jacobson holds an advanced degree in History with a specialty in American Foreign Relations.  As a college instructor, Don teaches United States History, World History, the History of Western Civilization and Research Writing.

He is a member of JASNA-Puget Sound.  Likewise, Don is a member of the Austen Authors collective (see the internet, Facebook and Twitter).

He lives in the Seattle, WA area with his wife and co-author, Pam, a woman Ms. Austen would have been hard-pressed to categorize, and their rather assertive four-and-twenty pound cat, Bear.  Besides thoroughly immersing himself in the JAFF world, Don also enjoys cooking; dining out, fine wine and well-aged scotch whiskey.

His other passion is cycling.  Most days from April through October will find him “putting in the miles” around the Seattle area (yes there are hills).  He has ridden several “centuries” (100 mile days).  Don is especially proud that he successfully completed the AIDS Ride—Midwest (500 miles from Minneapolis to Chicago) and the Make-A-Wish Miracle Ride (300 miles from Traverse City, MI to Brooklyn, MI).

Connect with Don: WebsiteAmazon Author Page | Goodreads Author Page | Twitter

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Giveaway

Don is generously offering an ebook copy of Lessers and Betters to one lucky reader! To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. We’d love to hear what you think of the excerpt! This giveaway will be open through Sunday, June 24, 2018. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thank you, Don, for being my guest today. It’s always a pleasure to share your books with my readers. Congratulations on your latest release!

I have a treat for you today, my dear readers! I have been excited about the Austenistan anthology — a collection of stories inspired by Jane Austen that are set in modern-day Pakistan — since I first heard it was being published. Life has been too busy for me to delve into it just yet, but I’m thrilled to have Laaleen Sukhera, editor of Austenistan and author of the story “On the Verge,” and Mishayl Naek, author of the story “Eaaman Ever After,” here today for a discussion about Jane Austen and the anthology. Please give them a warm welcome!

ANNA: How did you discover Jane Austen? Have you read all of Austen’s novels? Do you have a favorite, or a favorite character? What drew you most to her books and the time period?

LAALEEN: I’ve grown up reading her novels and started on my twelfth birthday with Pride and Prejudice, which will always be my favourite. I’ve been in love with Regency England ever since and Georgette Heyer further developed my passion for the era. I’ve found that at different stages in life, one can appreciate Austen’s characters, settings, and dialogues in new and surprising ways. One can reread the novels and rewatch the screen adaptations countless times but be struck by a new detail or observation each time. They’re like dear old friends that you can revisit whenever you please. Whether it’s romance or fashion or travel or aesthetics, they influence you considerably.

MISHAYL: I discovered Jane Austen around my teenage years when the social conventions reflected in her book seemed to ring so true and helped me bumble through personal social navigation. It was an easy escape to fall into her witty, female centered portrayal of society and I loved the female relationships. The time period seemed very romantic to me, and still does! The way the scenery and homes were painted feels beautiful and peaceful, especially when I was living an big, bustling city. It was probably one of my reasons to attend the University of Bath and I definitely imagined myself as one of her heroines as I walked in the countryside. My favorite character is quite cliché but it is—and always will be—Elizabeth Bennet.

ANNA: What was the goal behind Austenistan? What do you hope readers will take from the anthology? Did you find it difficult at all to adapt Austen’s novels and characters to your culture?

Laaleen Sukhera

LAALEEN: We honestly wrote it for ourselves, never dreaming that it would resonate with so many people around the world, nor that Bloomsbury would be publishing it. I hope our readers will laugh and cry and cringe at all the right moments with us—it’s such a joy to hear their views!

I didn’t find it at all difficult to visualize or adapt Austen for Pakistani society. It was almost disturbingly easy; beyond the etiquette and the ‘marriage mart’ and the social season, our inherent misogyny parallels the Regency era. We don’t just read Austen, it’s like we’re living in her world. Her characters are incredibly relevant and relatable.

MISHAYL: Our goal was to create a lighthearted book which told a different story about Pakistan. Each writer worked hard to create ambiance and capture the era and essence of their city in a Jane Austen inspired setting. Since there are different writers, each story has its own feel and take on Austen’s Pakistan. We hope readers will enjoy this contemporary take on Pakistan, which is typically portrayed in a more negative, political light. At the end of the day, our country is filled with women who wish to find a great love, whether its romantic, friendly or family oriented, just like most other women around the world.

It was very easy for me to adapt Emma to the Karachi setting, with its glitzy party scene and constant matchmaking. I thoroughly enjoyed my ‘research’ which consisted of silently watching my peers at social gatherings. Sadly there was a lack of Mr. Knightleys and a plethora of Mr. Eltons.  

ANNA: Are there any plans for another anthology?

LAALEEN: It’s just wishful thinking at this point, not just to appease the fans, but to give me another excuse to work with such wonderful women. Let us know what you think!

Mishayl Naek

MISHAYL: Not that I know of! But we are always open to more anthologies that include a brighter angle of Pakistan.

ANNA: How did you discover Jane Austen Fan Fiction? Do you have any favorite variations?

LAALEEN: I’ve picked up various prequels and sequels, mostly titles with catchy names and beautiful covers, been amused by some and disappointed by others. It simply isn’t possible to ape her style so to overtly attempt that makes the writer look a bit foolish. I’d have to say the Bridget Jones series by Helen Fielding—with the exception of the exceedingly depressing Mad About The Boy—has to be my absolute favourite.

MISHAYL: With the exception of Clueless, I was introduced to Jane Austen fan fiction by our editor Laaleen.

ANNA: What projects are you working on now?

LAALEEN: I’m meant to be writing a novel. At the moment I’m fleshing out characters and trying to get into their heads. It’s not meant to be Austen inspired, but knowing me, Jane-isms will find their way in!

MISHAYL: I am personally trying to write a series of children’s books that are culturally significant.

ANNA: Thank you both so much for being my guests today! You’ve made me even more excited about reading Austenistan. Laaleen told me that the book has done well across South Asia, and that Pakistani booksellers say it is a top 10 bestseller! Congratulations on the anthology’s success thus far!

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About Austenistan

Heiress and society doyenne Kamila Mughal is humiliated when her brother’s best friend snubs her to marry a social climbing nobody from Islamabad. Jameela Baig’s cold, unenterprising husband hasn’t planned for the future and all she can think about is how to find suitable husbands for her daughters. Roya Khalil discovers that her fiancé has been cheating on her and ends up on a blind date in Surrey on her wedding day. Beautiful young widow Begum Saira Qadir has mourned her late husband but feels she may finally be ready to start following her own desires. Emaan navigates post-divorce singlehood in cosmopolitan Karachi, Samina confronts her inner demons in metropolitan Lahore, and Maya fears her marriage to her English diplomat husband has gone cold.

Inspired by Jane Austen and set in contemporary Pakistan, Austenistan is a collection of romantic, uplifting, witty and sometimes heart-breaking love stories which pay homage to the queen of wit and romance.Comprising seven stories inspired by Austen’s novels and largely set in contemporary Pakistan, Austenistan is an amusing, sometimes savage and sometimes moving look at love, loss and second chances in the upper echelons of a society which very closely echoes Regency England. The writers are professionals from the media, academics, law, and medicine, and are members of the Jane Austen Society of Pakistan (JASP), whose founder, Laaleen Sukhera, is editor of this collection.

ABOUT THE STORIES:

The Fabulous Banker Boys

By Mahlia S Lone

“The business of her life was to get her daughters married”—Pride and Prejudice

Jameela Baig, struggling to pay the bills and coveting respectable alliances for her four unmarried daughters, is overjoyed when two eligible young men arrive from Dubai and seem interested in Jahan and Elisha. Young Leena’s antics, however, seem likely to disgrace them all…

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Begum Saira Returns

By Nida Elley

“No character, however upright, can escape the malevolence of slander”—Lady Susan

It is 1989 and hope is in the air as Pakistan elects its first female Prime Minister. Alluring Saira Qadir reappears in Lahore society for the first time since the death of her husband, confronting old flames and new social barriers.

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Emaan Ever After

By Mishayl Naek

“If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more”—Emma

A spirited divorcée has an awful run of luck with Karachi’s most sought after bachelors, who also happen to act pretty entitled. Thankfully, Emaan has her best friend Haroon’s shoulder to pinch and cry on…or does she?

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The Mughal Empire

By Saniyya Gauhar

“Miss Bingley was very deeply mortified by Darcy’s marriage”—Pride and Prejudice

Kamila Mughal, publisher of Pink magazine, never imagined that a Queen Bee like herself could possibly be outdone by the gold-digging Bilal sisters who cut a swathe through town, even scooping up the man she’s always had her eye on. But might she find love while trying to merely save face?

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The Autumn Ball

By Gayathri Warnasuriya

“To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love”—Pride and Prejudice

Trailing diplomatic spouse Maya longs to attend the society gala of the year with Hugo, her reluctant English husband, in Islamabad’s bubble-like enclave for embassies. As the night progresses, Maya suspects that her marriage is as shaky as the DJ’s playlist.

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Only The Deepest Love

By Sonya Rehman

“The more I see of the world, the more I am dissatisfied by it”—Pride and Prejudice

University lecturer Samina has learnt not to trust men from her battered and abandoned mother. Her young cousin, in the meantime, has had an arranged marriage with a wealthy young man who doesn’t appear to desire her, or indeed women in general. About the only upside to their wedding was that Samina met a man there whom she can’t quite get out of her head…

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On The Verge

By Laaleen Sukhera

“One cannot be always laughing at a man without now and then without stumbling on something witty”—Pride and Prejudice

Blogger Roya Khalil, on the hunt for a perfect-on-paper soul mate, discovers her blue-blooded fiancé is cheating on her. A second chance at making a spectacular marriage presents itself when a matchmaking aunt snags her a date with an obnoxious British Asian halal meat tycoon.

Buy Austenistan: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bloomsbury (U.K.) | Waterstones (U.K.)

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About the Authors

Laaleen Sukhera

EDITOR & CONTRIBUTOR

Laaleen is a communications consultant and writer. She graduated with an MSc in Professional Communications and a BA (High Honours) in Screen Studies and Communication & Culture at Clark University in Massachusetts. She is the founder of the Jane Austen Society of Pakistan and has appeared in programs, podcasts, and features in 1843 (UK), the BBC (World Service &100 Women), the British Council (UK and Pakistan), Harper’s Bazaar (India), HELLO! (India and Pakistan), NewsTalk (Ireland), NPR/National Public Radio (USA), Sky Arts (UK), The Times (UK), and Vanity Fair (Italy), and has been quoted in The Atlantic, The Economist, and The New York Times.

Earlier in her career, she worked as a series coordinator and interviewer for an award nominated documentary that aired on ITV, as a field producer and advertising executive in New York, as a TV producer in Lahore, as a public relations consultant in Islamabad, and as the associate editor of Libas International.  Laaleen represented Austenistan at the Galle Literary Festival in Sri Lanka, the Times of India Lit Fest Bangalore, and at panels hosted in Washington DC by the Jane Austen Society of North America and Muse District at George Washington University, as well as in Lahore at the British Council Library, the LGS Lit Fest, The Last Word, and in Islamabad at the British High Commission’s British Club and at London Books Café.

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Mishayl Naek

CONTRIBUTOR

Mishayl is a freelance writer and monetary economist who received her BA in Economics from Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania [where she received the Jeanne Quistgaard Memorial Prize] and M.Sc. in International Development [concentration: Political Economy] from the University of Bath. She has worked at the State Bank of Pakistan in the Development Finance Group and Monetary Department, where she co-authored various policies, reports and studies including a study on monetary policy for SAARC [presented in July, 2012].

Mishayl lives in Karachi, Pakistan, and has been published in BeautifulYou.com, the Express Tribune, Good Food, Grazia Pakistan, Libas International, Women’s Own, and Yello. She runs the Yummy Mummy Network group on Facebook to address childcare issues, activities and resources for metropolitan Pakistani mothers. Mishayl remotely appeared as a panelist for Austenistan at the Times LitFest Bangalore 2018.

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Nida Elley

CONTRIBUTOR

Nida is a college teacher, a writing coach, and a writer. She grew up between Scarsdale, New York and Lahore, Pakistan. She has worked in the fields of academia, non-profit film and event management. Nida previously taught Composition, Creative Writing, and Literature to college students in Lahore; she currently teaches at St Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, and is shortly relocating to London, UK. She received her Bachelors degree in Journalism & Mass Media from Rutgers University, New Jersey, and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Fiction Writing from Sarah Lawrence College, New York.

Her work has been published in Psychology Today, The Friday Times, High Profile magazine, Paper magazine and she maintains a blog, A Storyed Sensibility. Nida appeared as a panelist for Austenistan at the British Council Library and at The Last Word, both in Lahore, as well as at the University of Southern California’s Conversation@PAM as well as at the University of Texas at Austin’s South Asia Institute.

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Saniyya Gauhar

CONTRIBUTOR

Saniyya is a barrister by profession and was editor of the Pakistan based business magazine, Blue Chip, for four years. A graduate of Sussex University, she received a First Class Honours in Contemporary History and later went on to do the Common Professional Examination [CPE] and was called to the Bar in 2000.

Saniyya has worked in corporate law and litigation in both London and Pakistan. She is currently a freelance writer and editor. She has had articles published in magazines and prominent Pakistani daily newspapers and edited and co-authored papers for prestigious international academic journals. Saniyya appeared as a panelist for Austenistan at the British Council Library in Lahore and in Islamabad at the British High Commission’s British Club and the London Books Café.

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Mahlia S Lone

CONTRIBUTOR

Mahlia is a seasoned textile journalist. She contributes to WWD [Women’s Wear Daily] among other publications, and is currently the editor of GoodTimes magazine in Lahore, Pakistan. Mahlia was valedictorian of her graduating class at the Lahore American School and attended university at Kinnaird College in Lahore, William Smith College in New York and Clark University in Massachusetts.

She started her journalistic career as the assistant editor of the op/ed pages at The Nation and became the features editor for The Friday Times before she began writing for trade publications. Mahlia has maintained a blog for Matrix Sourcing, a textile buying-house located in Lahore. Additionally, she has strategically planned creative lines for several home décor and fashion startups, and planned society fundraisers for philanthropic causes. Mahlia appeared as a panelist for Austenistan at the British Council Library and at The Last Word, both in Lahore.

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Sonya Rehman

CONTRIBUTOR

Sonya is a journalist based in Lahore, Pakistan, with an expansive body of published work comprising over 400 articles. Her work has been featured in TIME, The Wall Street Journal’s Scene Asia, Rolling Stone [Middle East], BBC [The Strand], Asia Society, Esquire [Middle East], The Hindu, The Huffington Post, Al Jazeera, The Diplomat Magazine, Forbes, The Friday Times, DAWN and The News International, amongst others. In 2010, Sonya was awarded the Fulbright Scholarship to pursue her Master’s degree in Print Journalism at Columbia University, New York, and was one of four students [in the same year] to receive the Joseph Pulitzer II and Edith Pulitzer Moore Fellowship.

In addition to her prolific publishing career, Sonya teaches English and journalism, runs her own postcard start-up, From Lahore With Love, and was selected as a speaker at an independently organized TED event, TEDxKinnaird in Lahore in 2011. Sonya has also anchored and scripted for television at HUM TV, hosted a radio show for City FM89 and conducted journalism and creative writing workshops in Lahore over the years. Sonya appeared as a panelist for Austenistan at the British Council Library and at The Last Word, both in Lahore.

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Gayathri Warnasuriya

CONTRIBUTOR

Gayathri is a Sri Lankan Molecular Biologist with a background in Cancer Research and work experience in HIV/Public Health. She holds a PhD in Molecular Biology and Toxicology from the University of Dundee and is an alumnus of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine [MSc Molecular Biology of Infectious Diseases] and Imperial College London [BSc Biochemistry].

Born and brought up in Columbo, Sri Lanka, Gayathri has been a nomad since the age of fifteen and has lived in Saudi Arabia, the UK, Nigeria, Guyana, Barbados and Pakistan. She currently lives in Amman, Jordan, and is completing an MSc in Public Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine while working on science and innovation partnerships. Gayathri appeared as a panelist for Austenistan at the British Council Library in Lahore, as well as for ‘Austenistan: Jane Austen 200 Years On’ at the Galle Literary Festival 2018.

Have any of you read Austenistan? If so, let us know what you thought in the comments!

I’ve welcomed Jennifer Joy back to Diary of an Eccentric to celebrate her latest release, Diamonds & Donuts: A Jessica James Cozy Mystery, the fourth installment of the Murder on the Equator series. Many of you know Jennifer for her Pride and Prejudice variations, but if you’re like me, your reading is varied and you’ll want to give her cozy mysteries a try. Jennifer is here with an excerpt from Diamonds & Donuts with an Austen connection — and keep reading for information on a promo deal for the first and second books in the series. Please give her a warm welcome!

As many of you are aware, I am a Regency romance writer with a special fondness for the characters in Pride & Prejudice. I love the history, the research, the innocent side of romance, and the intriguing contrast of people who lived at that turbulent period in time. It’s fascinating, and I enjoy every minute of it! In fact, I’ve already begun another standalone novel featuring a proud Mr. Darcy and a fiery Miss Elizabeth that I’m hoping to finish this summer.

So why did I start writing contemporary cozy mysteries set in my backyard? Because my backyard is GORGEOUS! And I wanted to share a piece of my life with you (except for the murder bits…that’s pure fiction). I wanted to write about the people who have had the most influence on me and my family without restrictions of time and place. That’s how Jessica James and her quirky friends came to be. Together, they solve mysteries and help conflict-averse, Jane-like Jessica bring out her inner, adventurous Lizzy. It’s a wild ride full of exotic destinations, third world quirks, a crazy cast of characters to root for, mystery, and humor.

The scene below is taken from a place near and dear to my heart, a waterfall about an hour away from my apartment: Pailon del Diablo. To say it’s beautiful is an understatement, but I hope you can appreciate a taste of its beauty in this excerpt. In this scene, Tia Rosa and Abuelita (elderly sisters who get Jessica into scrape after scrape) have conspired with Jessica’s grandma (whom she lovingly calls “Mammy”) to keep her out of her recently broken into apartment. Jake, adventure tour guide and Jessica’s love interest, drives them to the waterfall while Abuelita and Tia Rosa rig Jess’ apartment. It’s the calm before the storm, and I hope you enjoy it!

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An excerpt from Diamonds & Donuts, courtesy of Jennifer Joy

Liquid sunshine sprinkled on us halfway down the gravel trail, and I was grateful for the polyester blend shirt and yoga pants I wore. Everything got damp in the jungle.

Mammy stopped at a lookout to snap some pictures.

Jake turned to me, speaking low, “So what are Abuelita and Tia Rosa up to that they arranged for you to be out of the house most of the day? I’m guessing Mammy’s in on it, too.”

I smacked my forehead as comprehension lit the light bulb in my brain. The thing Tia Rosa had insisted on didn’t have anything to do with Jake and me.

It was a setup.

Jake looked at me in confusion, and I realized how stupid I must look. “Mosquito,” I mumbled, rubbing my hands against my yoga pants.

He was gracious enough to smile and ask no further questions.

Mammy turned around. The sweet expression of innocence in her smile and wide eyes convinced me that she’d overheard Jake. Also, whatever Abuelita and Tia Rosa were up to, she played a role in it.

With a sigh, I said, “Just promise me I’ll have a home to go back to?”

Mammy nodded gravely. “Oh, yes. They’re just making it safer for you until Jake’s friend can install the alarm.”

Jake chuckled. “This should be interesting.”

“I don’t feel safer,” I muttered, still feeling stupid for not seeing what Tia Rosa had so blatantly tried to communicate this morning. Abuelita wasn’t the only one who couldn’t take a hint.

We continued down the path, stepping over the springs of water streaming over the gravel.

Jake held his arms out at a patch of steeper incline. Mammy accepted with gusto, wrapping her arm around his and tapping her fingers against his bicep.

“Nice!” she said with a wink.

Jake laughed and shook his head while I tried to figure out how I could accept his help without actually touching him.

He made it easier when he grabbed my hand. The callouses on his fingers scratching my nerves into a frenzy. On a positive note, I didn’t melt or light on fire. I just had a harder time breathing.

“This should be interesting,” he said, talking to both of us as we proceeded down the path. “When I was in high school, Abuelita encouraged me to take a class on electricity.”

“Encouraged?” I asked in disbelief.

“Encouraged … demanded … I choose to remember my memories with Abuelita in a positive light,” he said.

I couldn’t help myself. “Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure,” I quoted.

He looked down at me, his eyebrow raised. “Very well, Lizzy Bennet.”

We’d discussed literature before, but my heart melted just a little bit more at his knowledge of my all-time favorite classic, Pride & Prejudice. Most guys had no clue who Mr. Darcy was, let alone recognize a quote from my favorite book heroine.

He continued, “She wanted me to rig her windows with copper wires connected to batteries without shocking either of us.”

“Did you do it?” I asked, momentarily forgetting I was supposed to be nervous around him.

“Of course, I did. I earned extra credit for it, too. The only downside was that she forgot to tell my dad what she’d done, and he got a good shock when he cleaned her windows.”

I found comfort in not being the only one to get roped into Abuelita’s schemes.

Mammy said, “I doubt it was an accident. Bertha never did like your father.”

“Yeah, well, the feeling was mutual. But he stayed around another year after the incident. Washo is made of tougher stuff. I almost think Abuelita’s a little scared of him. She behaves herself more now that he’s around.”

I raised my eyebrows, trying to think of anything Abuelita was scared of. Respected, maybe. But scared? Nah.

“What do you think of Washo?” I asked.

Jake shrugged. “He’s a good guy. He helps Mom in the kitchen after he’s had a long day. He brings her lunch on his days off just so he can talk to her. She appreciates the break from the kitchen and loves eating food she hasn’t cooked.”

Mammy said, “That’s the way to any woman’s heart.”

Jake craned his neck to look at her. “Really? It’s that easy?”

Mammy grinned. “Not quite, but it’s a promising start.”

I did my best to shrink and be quiet, feeling like an intruder eavesdropping on their conversation.

Jake dropped my hand and pointed to a rock stairwell going back up the side of the mountain. “We’re here,” he said.

I looked at the stairwell, thinking how unfair it was to have to climb up it when we’d spent the last twenty minutes hiking downhill. Someone’s calculations had faltered.

The view from the top, however, silenced my inner grumblings. Ferns sprouted out of the rock face. The waterfall pounded into the river below with such a force, it vibrated in my chest and surrounded us with mist.

We continued forward and down another rock stairwell so close to the waterfall, it enveloped us in spray and roared in my ears. Whoever had carved the steps out of the mountainside were intrepid souls bent on sharing this natural beauty with others. And I was eternally grateful to them for going to the trouble.

The sun reflected off the spray, shooting dozens of little rainbows everywhere I looked.

Lady bit at the spray. To her, it must’ve looked like a giant hose nozzle. It sure felt like one.

We were sopping wet within seconds, but I was too full of awe to care.

I gripped the edge of the stone wall — the only barrier separating us from the roaring cauldron. I understood the waterfall’s name now. Pailón del Diablo. Devil’s Cauldron.

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The promo deal for Book 1 (FREE) and Book 2 (99 cents) ends Sunday, June 10, so act now! (The Amazon links are below with the description of each book.)

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Cabs, Cakes & Corpses (Murder on the Equator Book 1)

Defying the boundaries of her comfort zone … one murder at a time.

Jessica James isn’t the kind of girl who has adventures. She isn’t the kind of girl who hops on an airplane to a foreign destination. And she most definitely isn’t the kind of girl to traipse around in the jungle for a murder weapon. But one taxi ride changes everything.

Caught between the crime scene’s evidence and a hard-nosed homicide detective, Jessica is forced into one catastrophe after another as she searches for the truth. With the help of two elderly sisters (who are more troublesome than helpful), she’ll either catch a murderer … or end up in jail.

Will Jessica’s newfound bravery help her survive her vacation? Or will it make her the next victim?

Cabs, Cakes, and Corpses is the first novel in Jennifer Joy’s Murder on the Equator cozy mystery series set in the charming, touristy town of Baños, Ecuador — where majestic waterfalls carve through the Andes Mountains and the balmy jungle breezes carry your worries away to the tune of salsa music.

Read Cabs, Cakes, and Corpses to satisfy your craving for a quirky cast of characters to root for in this fast-paced story of mystery, humor, and discovery today!

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Rum Raisin Revenge (Murder on the Equator Book 2)

Just when she thought her vacation couldn’t get any worse, it does.

Jessica James has big plans to finally enjoy her vacation. But when she discovers a dead body in the freezer of a local ice cream shop, she’s soon mixed up in another mystery.

Caught between an investigation, an argument between two mischievous elderly sisters, and a televised fundraiser, Jessica finds herself neck deep in doughnuts, conflict, and unanswered questions.

Can Jessica stay out of trouble and off the camera while catching a criminal and raising money for a good cause? Or will she become the next headliner in the national news?

Rum Raisin Revenge is the second novel in Jennifer Joy’s Murder on the Equator cozy mystery series set in the charming, touristy town of Baños, Ecuador — where majestic waterfalls carve through the Andes Mountains and the balmy jungle breezes carry your worries away to the tune of salsa music.

Read Rum Raisin Revenge to satisfy your craving for a quirky cast of characters to root for in this fast-paced story of mystery, humor, and discovery today!

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Cold Case Crumble (Murder on the Equator Book 3)

Some secrets are best left buried.

Jessica James is helping her friends design the doughnut shop of her dreams. But when a skeleton is discovered under the foundation of the shop, the simple remodel turns into a full-fledged investigation.

With her friend’s livelihood on the line, Jessica cooks up a plan to discover the truth. But digging up the past unearths more secrets and Jessica’s troubles go from bad to worse when her dog disappears, her elderly “helpers” volunteer her to cater a school event, and the murderer claims another victim.

Will Jessica taste sweet victory and solve the cold case in time? Or will her investigation turn sour?

Cold Case Crumble is the second novel in Jennifer Joy’s Murder on the Equator cozy mystery series set in the charming, touristy town of Baños, Ecuador — where majestic waterfalls carve through the Andes Mountains and the balmy jungle breezes carry your worries away to the tune of salsa music.

Read Cold Case Crumble to satisfy your craving for a quirky cast of characters to root for in this fast-paced story of mystery, humor, and discovery today!

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Diamonds & Donuts (Murder on the Equator Book 4)

Family, Friendship, Community, and … Doughnuts.

A vandal is wreaking havoc in paradisiac Baños — and he’s got his sights set on Jessica James.

The grand opening of Jessica’s dream doughnut shop is days away. She’d rather sort sugary sprinkles than chase after another criminal. But when the crazed crook crosses the line, leaving nothing but a trail of flour behind him, desperate times call for desperate measures.

With the help of her trusted friends, Jessica determines to restore peace to her town, protect the people she’s grown to love, and save her shop from an unknown enemy out to sabotage The Sugar Shack.

Diamonds & Donuts is the fourth novel in Jennifer Joy’s Murder on the Equator cozy mystery series set in the charming, touristy small town of Baños, Ecuador — where majestic waterfalls carve through the Andes Mountains and the balmy jungle breezes carry your worries away to the tune of salsa music.

Read Diamonds & Donuts to satisfy your craving for a quirky cast of characters to root for in this fast-paced mystery of humor, travel, and discovery today!

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About the Author

Jennifer Joy

When Jennifer isn’t busy dreaming up new adventures for her favorite Jane Austen characters, she is learning Sign language, reading, baking (Cake really is her one weakness!), or chasing her twins around the park (because … calories).

Her wish is to continue to write sweet romances and mysteries with happy endings for years to come.

While she claims Oregon as her home, she currently lives high in the Andes mountains of Ecuador with her husband and two kids. All of them are fluent in Spanglish.

Right now, Jennifer is imagining how a courtship with such a turbulent beginning can possibly lead to a smooth Happily-Ever-After for Darcy and Elizabeth. She senses there’s more trouble to come and promises to keep a detailed account of events (because, let’s face it, it makes for fun reading!).

Connect with Jennifer Joy via Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter

Thank you, Jennifer, for being my guest today, and congratulations on your newest release!

I’m delighted to welcome Nicole Clarkston back to Diary of an Eccentric to celebrate the release of London Holiday. Nicole has quickly become one of my favorite authors of Austen-inspired fiction, so I downloaded London Holiday as soon as I saw it was released. It looks and sounds fantastic, so I hope I will be able to find time to read it soon. Nicole is here today to talk about how she combined Pride and Prejudice with a classic movie to create London Holiday. Please give her a warm welcome!

London Holiday was a book that I hesitated to write, for almost two years. The idea was nipping away at me, but I could not quite convince myself that the time was right for me to tackle a comedy. I was afraid it would become farcical, which was not the intent. Moreover, I had convinced myself that a Darcy and Elizabeth story that wasn’t thick with angst or largely took place in one day just wouldn’t fly. Still, I kept thinking about it, and I was itching to see what our dear couple would do in a situation like this.

The idea of creating a mashup of Pride and Prejudice with another timeless story is not new, but at least to my knowledge, no one had attempted this particular combination. I know I am not alone in my admiration for Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck’s chemistry, and I couldn’t help snickering when I imagined Darcy in Princess Ann’s shoes for a day. Roman Holiday is such a touching, funny, heart-warming romance that breaks all the conventions, and it has long been a favorite.

I think one of the things that sets it apart is the fact that it’s a reverse Cinderella story. Roman Holiday was filmed in 1953, in an age when women were growing restless with the typical formula. I truly believe that most people, at their core, want to believe in a Pygmalion or a Prince Charming who values his chosen lady for her own worth rather than her social station. However, the same old story was growing tired and flat. Why shouldn’t it be the girl and not the guy who is at the highest rung of the social ladder? Why can’t an intelligent young woman be the one to identify something special in a man most would consider to be beneath her? It was a gentle question the movie asked, but the answer was resounding: There is no reason at all why she can’t be and do those things.

What I love about Princess Ann is that she doesn’t set out to topple kingdoms. She has no agenda at all, and nothing to prove to anyone. She is simply a girl who wishes to be herself, and to experience just a taste of the life she might have lived if she were anyone but a daughter of royalty. Kind and gracious to everyone she meets, the minor gaffes that betray her privileged upbringing only make her the more irresistible. She is sweet when princesses are supposed to be haughty, and humble when she might have been prideful. She is vulnerable yet unafraid, thrilling to new experiences but poised and graceful even on a motor scooter. She places herself willingly in the care of a complete stranger, because even though she did not precisely need him, she enjoyed being with him. How could we not love someone like that?

In London Holiday, both Darcy and Elizabeth take turns with some of Princess Ann’s qualities. It is our wealthy and influential gentleman who flees his house by night, and eventually decides that a day away from his usual obligations might not kill him. However, it is Elizabeth who possesses the wide-eyed wonder, the charming innocence, and the pure determination to act according to her own happiness. Darcy’s peculiar behavior doesn’t fool our clever girl for long, and like Princess Ann, she discovers almost at once that there is more to her escort than meets the eye.

Opposite the endearing Princess Ann was our stalwart hero, the down-on-his-luck Joe Bradley. We get a glimpse of his character early in the movie when he (though unwillingly) shelters a helpless young lady without taking advantage of her. In fact, he seems highly uncomfortable with anything that might be considered unseemly. He doesn’t precisely roll out the red carpet for her—in fact, even if he had known who she was at their first meeting, I’m not sure he would have bent over backward. He doesn’t seem impressed by royal trappings, but he instantly connects with “Anya,” the girl in his apartment. His is a unique position—he needs something, desperately, and by the next morning he learns that she is the means to it. However, the longer he spends in her company, the more he views her as a person and not a crown.

Again, we see elements of Joe Bradley in both Darcy and Elizabeth. It is Darcy who needs something from Elizabeth, but it is she who discovers that she could use his position to solve her own problems. And while it is ultimately Darcy who plays the very Joe Bradley-esque role of tour guide and protector, it is Elizabeth who encourages her companion to try new adventures and teaches him how average people live. By the end of the day, both determine that their regard for the other has surpassed their own personal needs, and they seek the best interests of the other person.

London Holiday took on a life of its own, but a few other homages remain. Unfortunately, I couldn’t put Elizabeth on a Vespa, but I did find a Regency equivalent, and both Darcy and Elizabeth got in on the fun (it was her idea, by the way). Sadly, Vauxhall Gardens didn’t have a “Mouth of Truth,” but they did have a “hermit” who told fortunes.

And, like in the original, our hero has a slightly pesky “side kick” who manages to help things along. Colonel Fitzwilliam filled in nicely for Irving, and I had quite a bit of fun with the way he would inaccurately quote Darcy’s words back to him, provoking him to finally confess what he really wanted to do all along. Incidentally, see if you can find Bradley and Irving’s names in the book!

The usual lament about the classic film is that the ending is not your typical Happily Ever After. They certainly fall in love and their misunderstandings are cleared away at the end, but they do not walk off set hand in hand. However, perhaps that ending was enough, after all. Both parties come away from their adventures richer and a little more human. We still have the fairy tale, but with a twist: getting married and raising a pack of little princesses will not, in the end, make this couple happy.

It was enough for them that they touched each other’s lives, that they saw another aspect of themselves, and that they found a friend where they would have least expected it. Princess Ann and Joe Bradley would have probably had a miserable marriage due to their disparate circumstances, but they need not have an unhappy friendship. It was a fresh idea, that marriage is not the ultimate goal of life and certainly not for every relationship. The movie seems to make the point that relating to people and caring for them in the moment, even if we never see them again, is just as valuable.

This is where Darcy and Elizabeth deviate. Unlike Princess Ann and Joe Bradley, they are highly compatible, and only need a little humility and wisdom to build a dynamic, thriving marriage that will bring blessings and happiness to them both. I believe the earth would tip off its axis and bounce into Saturn if Darcy and Elizabeth did not end their story happily married, in a loving partnership that could instruct all around them in the ways of connubial harmony. So, this is your official spoiler: Darcy and Elizabeth have their happy ending, but the journey is what gave them their solid foundation.

~NC

All photos courtesy of Paramount Pictures

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Excerpt from Chapter 18 of London Holiday

Elizabeth could not remain sedately in her seat. She leaned forward, touching eager fingers to the window as each famous sight rolled by; The Strand once again, with that hotel which had refused them service; Charing Cross with its awe-inspiring statue of the troubled King Charles I; the humble Scotland Yard, followed by the pristine buildings of White Hall. This was a part of Town she rarely saw… and might seldom, if ever, see again. She blinked away an unwelcome bit of emotion from her eyes, determined to wring every bit of enjoyment from this day that it had to offer.

There was a thumping from the back wall of her coach, and she leaned back to press her ear to the panel. “Look to your right,” came a muffled voice.

Chuckling, Elizabeth did.

“Behind the Horse Guards buildings,” he urged when she did not respond at once. “Do you see it?”

Elizabeth craned her neck, trying to see better from the moving carriage. She knew well that St James’ Park, in all its dashing splendour, lay just there to delight the eyes and stir her deepest yearnings. There, beautifully dressed ladies walked on the arms of their sensible-looking husbands, military fanfare dazzled the young and swelled the hearts of the aged, and classical architecture and verdant bowers melded into one gracious Walk. She sighed, her chest squeezing just a little. What she would give to admire it at leisure, knowing that at any time she could return to indulge her senses just a little more. But it was no good to long for that which could only make the choices before her seem more miserable than they already were.

“Would you like to stop?” she heard through the carriage wall.

The smile returned to Elizabeth’s face. Her escort was attentive, whatever else might be said of him. And this time, he had not permitted so much as a facial twitch or a cough of ill humour when one of the oldest carriages in all London had answered his hail. It was clean and safe, that much he had assured them both, but his voice from without could hardly be heard over the squeaking of worn leather and wood.

“No, thank you,” she called back to him, pressing her cheek to the panel so that he would be certain to hear her. “I would prefer to go on.”

He did not answer directly, so she rapped her knuckles against the wall, just as he had done to attract her attention. He replied in a quick, staccato beat just behind her ear.

The carriage slowed briefly, and Elizabeth tried speech once again. “Are you quite safe back there?”

“I have made a bargain with Fate,” his muted words filtered through the panel.

“And that is?”

“If this foot peg breaks under my weight and I am trampled by that fine pair of chestnuts behind us, I shall never again have to wear such uncomfortable shoes.”
Elizabeth giggled, and could nearly see that faint twitching round his mouth, the mock gravity crinkling his eyes as he spoke. “Let us only hope the carriage behind us belongs to no one you know.”

“It does. I do not think they would drive to the curb simply to avoid my body.”

“Then I dearly hope your hands are strong!” she laughed, then playfully knocked again near the place she had heard his last thumps. To her childish delight, he replied in kind.

The carriage rocked forward again, and for several minutes the traffic moved ahead at a moderate pace. She could not have heard him then if he had tried to speak, but there sounded another knock on the left side of her head as they approached Westminster Abbey. Elizabeth looked on, breathless in admiration for yet another building she would dearly love to explore.

Their driver chose a meandering route through the back streets—or perhaps he had received the direction from her escort—and Elizabeth was treated to several more quaint views. Then, as if by magic, London fell away, and they began to pass fields of wheat and fruit orchards. The cobblestones still rang loudly beneath the horse’s feet, but there were fewer of them, and the carriage seemed to roll more freely. A lad of perhaps eight or nine, standing amid a golden wheat field with a sickle in his hand, waved energetically as they passed. Elizabeth waved back but realised belatedly that the boy had not been offering his civility to her, but to the tall man clinging to the back of the carriage. Elizabeth leaned a little farther to the right, searching the ground, and could see the shadow of his hand lifted in greeting to the young farmer.

She drew back again to the seat, her cheeks almost weary from the constant smile they bore. Such a peculiar man, this William! When he had uttered those first, disdainful slurs in her presence that very morning, she would have sworn that he was conceited, arrogant, and cared nothing for the feelings of others. How wrong had been that first impression! She could not help but wonder what his usual manner was when among his equals in society. She would have wagered the last of her pin money that he did not mingle and cavort freely, as did those gentlemen who were usually deemed “amiable.” Yet, there was a gentleness in him, and a deep feeling akin to sincerity and kindness, if one took the time for a second look. Was that not, to her tastes, more amiable than the sort of man her mother had taught her to admire?
She felt herself sighing again and shook her head. “You must stop,” she muttered aloud. There, she had spoken it, and must now heed. She could not afford to think of him, even if he would ever look at her. She had been given one day to peer beyond the veil of her own destiny, one day in the presence of the very sort of man who could teach her that they were not all fools. She must content herself with that. She must continue to treat him as a kind stranger, one whom she would never see again after this day had ended.

Within minutes of this resolution forming, it was tried. The carriage drew up to a queue, and she felt the ageing springs give way as William bounced down from the back. His steps crunched on the gravelled earth, and she heard him paying the driver. He opened her door and greeted her with an expression that threatened to rob her of breath. There was a boyish delight there, a flickering of the youth he must have suppressed long ago, but kindling beneath it was something fuller, richer, and simmering with flavours of the forbidden.

Elizabeth paused, her lips parted as she surveyed him with eyes opened to a new depth of awareness, and the back of her neck prickled. His chest swelled proudly, and with one hand he gestured toward the Thames River, while the other crossed over his abdomen in a stately bow. “Miss Elizabeth, Vauxhall Gardens await.”

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About London Holiday

When the truth is harder to believe than disguise.

Drugged and betrayed in his own household, Fitzwilliam Darcy makes his escape from a forged compromise that would see him unhappily wed. Dressed as a footman, he is welcomed into one of London’s unknown neighbourhoods by a young lady who is running out of time and running for her life.

Deciding to hide in plain sight, Miss Elizabeth Bennet dodges the expectation to marry the man of her mother’s dreams. When the insolent footman she “found” refuses to leave her side until they can uncover a solution to their respective dilemmas, the two new acquaintances treat themselves to a holiday, experiencing the best of what Regency England has to offer.

Based on Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, can two hard-headed characters with kind hearts discover the truth behind the disguise? Enjoy the banter, humour, and growing affection as Mr Darcy and Miss Elizabeth have the best day of their lives, and discover that they just might find love and romance while on a London Holiday. This book is appropriate for all ages.

Buy: Amazon U.S. (paperback) | Amazon U.S. (ebook) | Amazon U.K. (paperback) | Amazon U.K. (ebook)

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About the Author

Nicole Clarkston

Nicole Clarkston is a book lover and a happily married mom of three. Originally from Idaho, she now lives in Oregon with her own romantic hero, several horses, and one very fat dog. She has loved crafting alternate stories and sequels since she was a child watching Disney’s Robin Hood, and she is never found sitting quietly without a book of some sort.

Nicole discovered Jane Austen rather by guilt in her early thirties―how does any book worm really live that long without a little P&P? She has never looked back. A year or so later, during a major house renovation project, she discovered Elizabeth Gaskell and fell completely in love. Her need for more time with these characters led her to simultaneously write Rumours & Recklessness, a P&P inspired novel, and No Such Thing as Luck, a N&S inspired novel. Both immediately became best selling books. The success she had with her first attempt at writing led her to write three other novels that are her pitiful homage to two authors who have so deeply inspired her.

Nicole was recently invited to join Austenvariations.com, a group of talented authors in the Jane Austen Fiction genre. In addition to her work with the Austen Variations blog, Nicole can be reached through Facebook at http://fb.me/NicoleClarkstonAuthor, Twitter @N_Clarkston, her blog at Goodreads.com, or her personal blog and website, NicoleClarkson.com.

Connect with Nicole: Website | Goodreads Author Page | Goodreads Blog | Facebook | Amazon Author Page | Twitter

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Giveaway

As part of the blog tour, Nicole is generously offering 8 ebook copies of London Holiday. You must use this Rafflecopter link to enter. Good luck!

Terms and Conditions: Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. Remember: Tweet and comment once daily to earn extra entries.

A winner may win ONLY 1 (ONE) eBook of London Holiday by Nicole Clarkston. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter, and the giveaway is international.

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June 7 So little time…; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway

June 8 Diary of an Eccentric; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway

June 9 Just Jane 1813; Review, Giveaway

June 10 My life journey; Review, Giveaway

June 11 From Pemberley to Milton; Vignette, Giveaway

June 12 My Jane Austen Book Club; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway

June 13 Half Agony, Half Hope; Review, Excerpt, Giveaway

June 15 Austenesque Reviews; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway

June 16 My Love for Jane Austen; Vignette, Giveaway

June 18 Obsessed with Mr. Darcy; Review, Giveaway

June 19 My Vices and Weaknesses; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway

June 20 A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life; Guest Post

Thanks for being my guest today, Nicole, and congratulations on your new release!

I’m delighted to welcome Jeannine Hall Gailey, author of PR for Poets, to Diary of an Eccentric today. I asked her to share a story about how she was forced out of her comfort zone in promoting one of her own books, and I think you’ll enjoy it. Please give her a warm welcome!

I was thinking of how to approach this blog post that I was asked to write, talking about a time I was out of my comfort zone promoting one of my own poetry books. It’s funny because when my first book came out, nearly everything was out of my comfort zone. Now that I’ve published my fifth book of poetry, and am promoting this current book of non-fiction, PR for Poets, I feel comfortable saying yes to things that feel authentic and saying no to things that don’t. My health has taken a bit of a hit in the years between my first book and my fifth – diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, among other things – so I try to be more careful what I say yes to, and make sure opportunities are going to be worth the effort.

But I was thinking about saying yes and no to things back for my first book. One of the funnier events when I was young and unsure and had written a visibly feminist book, Becoming the Villainess – all about comic book superheroines and villainesses, fairy tales, and more controversial (for the time) themes like sex abuse and empowerment. I was invited to read, in Seattle, at a gathering of cowboy poets. I didn’t know anyone there, and every person in the audience was male, all of them were over forty, and a great number of them were wearing cowboy hats. So I got up there and read my poems about superheroes and dragons and just kind of read in a daze and when it was over, I finally looked up at the audience. I ended up selling a ton of books and these men just shook my hand and were very enthusiastic about liking my work. No one made a rude comment. I don’t know what I was so afraid of. It was a moment that made me realize that we don’t ever really know who is going to respond to our work, it’s just our job to create and present it in the best way possible.

Since then I’ve had lots of opportunities to get outside of my comfort zone – I’ve read poetry for my local NPR station, I’ve discussed poetry with my city’s mayor (when I was applying to be Redmond’s second Poet Laureate), I’ve sold poetry at comic book conventions (great audiences and even greater costumes), and travelled to bookstores, bars, and college auditoriums all over the U.S. I have found that the most rewarding experiences for me involved not just selling a book, but making a long-term connections with people. I would say that it’s not about forcing yourself to do things you hate, but occasionally saying yes to opportunities that don’t seem immediately familiar to you. It may not be reading to a room full of cowboys,  but I hope you take a chance soon on a rewarding (if scary) opportunity.

Thank you, Jeannine, for sharing your story. I think the message of just going out there and trying your best is something we can all learn from.

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About PR for Poets

PR for Poets provides the information you need in order to get your book into the right hands and into the worlds of social media and old media, librarians and booksellers, and readers. PR for Poets will empower you to do what you can to connect your poetry book with its audience!

Buy PR for Poets on Amazon

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About the Author

Jeannine Hall Gailey

Jeannine Hall Gailey served as the second Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington. She is the author of five books of poetry: Becoming the Villainess, She Returns to the Floating World, Unexplained Fevers, The Robot Scientist’s Daughter and, Field Guide to the End of the World, the winner of the Moon City Press Book Award and the SFPA’s Elgin Award. She also wrote a non-fiction book called PR for Poets to help poets trying to promote their books. Her poems have been featured on NPR’s The Writer’s Almanac and on Verse Daily; two were included in 2007’s The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. She was awarded a 2007 and 2011 Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize for Poetry and a 2007 Washington State Artist Trust GAP grant. Her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, The Iowa Review, and Prairie Schooner.

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