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It is always a pleasure to have Maria Grace as a guest on Diary of an Eccentric. It’s no surprise that I’m a HUGE fan of her Austen-inspired books and stories, and I’m thrilled that she is here today to introduce two upcoming releases, the latest in a trio of Christmas stories. It’s been my tradition for the past couple of years to spend the month of December reading Christmas stories, especially those inspired by Pride and Prejudice. Last year, I read and loved The Darcys’ First Christmas, and now I am anxiously awaiting December 1 so I can start reading Darcy and Elizabeth: Christmas 1811 and From Admiration to Love. Maria is here today to share some information about a Regency Christmas tradition, an excerpt from one of her upcoming releases, and a reader’s choice ebook giveaway. Please give her a warm welcome:

Thanks so much for having me Anna! I’m so excited about this Christmas season! It’s been a doozy of a year in these parts, so much that it calls for not one, but two Christmas books.  They are both available for pre-order on Amazon right now and will be released on December 1. The two books go along with The Darcys’ First Christmas, kind of forming bookends to the story. Darcy and Elizabeth: Christmas 1811 tells the behind the scenes story of what might have happened during the Christmastide Darcy spent in London, while the militia (and Wickham!) wintered in Meryton. From Admiration to Love tells the story of the Darcys’ second Christmas as they try to hold Georgiana’s coming out at the Twelfth Night ball as Lady Catherine and Anne de Bourgh descend as very unwelcome guests. (The story was such fun to write, I hope you love it as much as I do!)

Darcy and Elizabeth: Christmas 1811 starts with the Bennets making a Christmas plum pudding on the traditional day for doing so, Stir It Up Sunday.  American’s don’t really do plum pudding, so I thought it would be interesting to take a moment and have a peek at some of the traditions that have arisen around a food with at least eight hundred years of history associated with it.

Origins of Plum Pudding

Plum began in Roman times as a pottage, a meat and vegetable concoction prepared in a large cauldron, to which dried fruits, sugar and spices might be added. Sounds yummy, right?

Porridge or frumenty appeared in the fourteenth century. A soup-like fasting dish containing meats, raisins, currants, prunes, wine and spices, it was eaten before Christmas celebrations began. By the fifteenth century, plum pottage a soupy mix of meat, vegetables and fruit often appeared at the start of a meal.

As the seventeenth century opened, frumenty evolved into a plum pudding. Thickened with eggs and breadcrumbs, the addition of beer and spirits gave it more flavor (and increased its shelf life—remember no refrigeration. Don’t think about that too much though…). Variations were made with white meat, though the meat was gradually omitted and replaced by suet (yum… ah, no not so much.) The root vegetables also disappeared.

By 1650, the plum pudding transformed from a main dish to the customary Christmas dessert. Not long afterward though, Oliver Cromwell banned plum pudding because he believed the ritual of flaming the pudding was too similar to pagan celebrations of the winter solstice.

George I, sometimes called the Pudding King, revived the dish in 1714 when he requested plum pudding as part of the royal feast celebrating his first Christmas in England. As a result, it once again became part of traditional holiday celebrations.

In the 1830’s it took its final cannon-ball form, made with flour, fruits, suet, sugar and spices, all topped with holly and flaming brandy. It was dubbed ‘Christmas Pudding’ in 1858 in Anthony Trollope’s Doctore Thorne.

Plum pudding traditions

With a food so many centuries in the making, it is not surprising to find many traditions have evolved around the preparation and eating of plum pudding.

The last Sunday before Advent, falling sometime between November 20th and 26th, is considered the last day on which one can make Christmas puddings since they require aging before they are served. It is sometimes known as ‘Stir-up Sunday’ because the opening words of the main prayer in the Book of Common Prayer of 1549 for that day are:

“Stir-up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Not surprisingly, choir boys parodied the prayer. “Stir up, we beseech thee, the pudding in the pot. And when we do get home tonight, we’ll eat it up hot.”

Tradition decrees Christmas pudding be made with thirteen ingredients to represent Christ and the twelve apostles. All family members took a hand in ‘stirring up’ the pudding, using a special wooden spoon (in honor of Christ’s crib.) The stirring had to be done clockwise, from east to west to honor the journey of the Magi, with eyes shut, while making a secret wish.

Tiny charms might be added to the pudding to reveal their finders’ fortune. The trinkets often included a thimble for spinsterhood or thrift, a ring for marriage, a coin for wealth, a miniature horseshoe or a tiny wishbone for good luck, a shoe for travel, and an anchor for safe harbor.

When the pudding was served, a sprig of holly was placed on the top of the pudding as a reminder of the Crown of Thorns that Jesus wore when he was killed. Flaming the pudding, as described by Dickens, was believed to represent the passion of Christ and Jesus’ love and power. It was also a key part of the theatrical aspect of the holiday celebration.

Why is it called plum pudding?

And the answer to the most burning question:  Why is plum pudding called that when it contains no plums?

Dried plums, or prunes, were popular in pies in medieval times, but in the sixteenth and seventeenth century they began to be replaced by raisins. In the 17th century, plums referred to raisins or other dried fruits. The dishes made with them retain the term plum to this day.

Armed with all this new knowledge about plum puddings, take a peed at the whole affair from Darcy and Elizabeth: Christmas 1811:

November 24, 1811 Stir it up Sunday. Meryton

After a light nuncheon in the dining room, Mama called them all to the kitchen. She had done the same thing every Stir it Up Sunday since Elizabeth could remember. The large worktable in the center of the kitchen bore the fragrant makings of the pudding. The air swirled with the fragrances of brandy and spices hanging in the steam of the great roiling cauldron waiting to accept the finished pudding.

“You too, Mr. Collins, for you are part of the family, to be sure.” Mama waved him toward the table.

He edged in between Jane and Elizabeth.

Of course, where else might he stand?

Elizabeth sidled over to make room for him, nearly treading on Mary’s toes in the process. Poor Mary looked so dejected. If only they might switch places, but Mama would no doubt cause such a scene if they did.

“Now, Mr. Collins has it been the habit of your family to make a Christmas pudding?” Mama asked.

“This is the first time I have experienced this most charming and agreeable custom, madam. To be sure, the Christmas Puddings at Rosings Park—”

“Well then, I shall tell you how we do it. There is a great bowl there, and you each have the ingredients beside you. You, sir, have the flour. Add it to the bowl and then pass it east to west.”

“Clockwise—” Papa whispered loudly.

Apparently, he thought little of Mr. Collins’s sense of direction. Probably for good reason.

“Yes, yes like that. Give the bowl to Jane now.”

She added a pile of minced suet and passed it to Kitty. Kitty and Lydia added dried fruits and nuts and passed it into Papa’s hands for the bread crumbs and milk.

Mama poured in the brandy soaked citron and spices. “And that makes eleven ingredients. We have two more now, thirteen for Christ and the apostles.”

Mary added the eggs and slid the heavy vessel to Elizabeth.

“How fitting for you to add the final sweetness, Cousin Elizabeth.”

Elizabeth cringed and nearly spilled the sugar.

Mama glowered at her, but quickly recovered her composure and handed Mr. Collins the wooden spoon. “To remind us of the Christ child’s crib. Now stir it east to—clockwise—with your eyes closed sir. And make a wish.”

Mr. Collins steadied the bowl and grasped the spoon. “I shall wish for—”

“No, sir,” Elizabeth forced herself not to roll her eyes. Unfortunately, Mama would never notice what she had not done. “Your wish must be made in silence.”

Mama glowered again. Little matter though. Elizabeth had no desire to hear Mr. Collins’s wish. His expression said too much as it was.

The bowl passed around the table. Some wishes were easy to guess.

Mary wished to be noticed by Mr. Collins. Kitty and Lydia wished to be noticed by anyone but Mr. Collins. Mama doubtless wished Mr. Collins to marry one of her girls, preferably Elizabeth. Jane, of course, wished for Mr. Bingley. But Papa’s wish remained a mystery. What would he want?

The cold, heavy bowl passed to her. The rough wooden spoon scraped at her fingers. What to wish for? She closed her eyes and forced the spoon through the heavy batter. To marry for love. I wish to marry for love.

“Do not dawdle so, Lizzy. We must add the charms now. Here one for each of you.” Mamma passed a charm to each sister and Mr. Collins. “Add your charm to the pudding and stir it again.”

Mama shoved the bowl toward Mary. “You start.”

Mary gulped. “I have the thimble—”

Lydia snickered. “How fitting. Spinsterhood!”

“It is for thrift.” Jane’s tone was as firm as it ever got, a veritable rebuke.

“For thrift, then.” Mary tossed it in and quickly stirred it into the batter.

“I wonder which of us shall travel.” Lydia tossed a tiny shoe charm into the pudding.

“And which shall find safe harbor?” Kitty followed with an anchor and held the bowl while Lydia stirred them in.

Jane added the coin and Elizabeth the horse shoe. Jane held whilst Elizabeth stirred.

“And you Mr. Collins?” Mama blinked, but her expression was far from innocent.

“It seems I have the ring.” He dropped it, eyes on Elizabeth.

“How very auspicious. Did you know, I added that same charm to a Christmas pudding the year of my betrothal to Mr. Bennet?”

“Traditions says—and I would hardly count it accurate—that the finder of the ring will wed, not the one who dropped it in the pudding,” Papa muttered. Did Mama rebuke him for rolling his eyes the way she had Elizabeth?

“Well that may be, Mr. Bennet, it might be. But, I can speak to what happened for me. I believe it may well have significance for others among us.” Mama fluttered her eyes at Mr. Collins.

Mr. Collins smiled his cloying smile and edged a little closer to Elizabeth.

Papa huffed softly. “Let us hope that something with greater sense than a pudding prevails over such decisions, shall we now? So then, give me the buttered cloth and the pudding that it may be tied up and done with.”

Elizabeth stood back to give him room to dump the pudding out and wrap it in the pudding cloth.

Thankfully she had an ally in Papa or at least she seemed to. The way Mama carried on and encouraged Mr. Collins, she would need one.

Thank you so much, Maria, for sharing this excerpt with me and my readers! Congratulations on your upcoming releases. I can’t wait to read them!

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About Darcy and Elizabeth: Christmas 1811

Jane Austen never wrote the details of Christmastide 1811. What might have happened during those intriguing months? 

Following the Netherfield ball, Darcy persuades Bingley to leave Netherfield Park in favor of London to avoid the match-making machinations of Mrs. Bennet. Surely, the distractions of town will help Bingley forget the attractions of Miss Jane Bennet. But Bingley is not the only one who needs to forget. All Darcy wants this Christmastide is to forget another Miss Bennet.  

Can the diversions of London help Darcy overcome memories of the fine eyes and pert opinions of a certain Hertfordshire miss?   

Without the Bingleys, the Bennets are left to the company of Mr. Collins and the militia officers—entirely suitable company, according Mrs. Bennet. Elizabeth disagrees, refusing an offer of marriage from the very eligible Mr. Collins. Mama’s nerves suffer horridly until Elizabeth follows her advice to make the most of the officers’ company. 

Even Mr. Bennet seems to agree. So, whilst Jane pines for Bingley, Elizabeth admits the attentions of one agreeable Lt. Wickham. What possible harm can it cause, especially when her parents are so pleased?

Preorder on Amazon

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About The Darcys’ First Christmas

 

Elizabeth anxiously anticipates her new duties as mistress of Pemberley. Darcy is confident of her success, but she cannot bring herself to share his optimism.  

Unexpected guests unsettle all her plans and offer her the perfect Christmastide gift, shattered confidence. 

Can she and Darcy overcome their misunderstandings and salvage their first Christmastide together?   

On sale on Amazon (99 cents at the time this post was published)

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About From Admiration to Love

After the debacle of the previous holiday season, Darcy and Elizabeth joyfully anticipate Christmastide 1813, Georgiana’s come out at Pemberley’s Twelfth Night Ball culminating the season. With months of planning behind the event, even Lady Matlock is satisfied and sends Colonel Fitzwilliam to represent the family, assuring there will be no repeat of the previous Christmastide.  

On St. Nicholas’, Anne de Bourgh and Lady Catherine arrive on Pemberley’s doorstep—never a good sign—demanding sanctuary against the de Bourghs who (according the Lady Catherine) are trying to retake Rosings Park for their family with plans to seduce and marry Anne. Needless to say, Darcy and Fitzwilliam are skeptical. 

Not long afterwards, three gentlemen suitors appear at Pemberley, hoping to court Anne and obliging Darcy to offer holiday hospitality. Anne adores the attention whilst Lady Catherine makes her displeasure know, throwing Pemberley into turmoil that threatens the Twelfth Night Ball. Can Darcy and Elizabeth, with a little help from Fitzwilliam, soothe Lady Catherine’s nerves, see Anne to a respectable match, and still salvage Georgiana’s come out? 

Preorder on Amazon

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About the Author

Maria Grace

Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful. After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate in Educational Psychology. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing.  

She has one husband and one grandson, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, is starting her sixth year blogging on Random Bits of Fascination, has built seven websites, attended eight English country dance balls, sewn nine Regency era costumes, and shared her life with ten cats.

She can be contacted at:

author.MariaGrace@gmail.com  | Facebook | G+ | Twitter | Random Bits of Fascination | Austen Variations</a | English Historical Fiction Authors | Pinterest

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Giveaway

Maria is generously offering one ebook to my readers, and the winner will have a choice between Darcy and Elizabeth: Christmas 1811 and From Admiration to Love. This giveaway is open internationally and will close on Sunday, December 3, 2017. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address, and let me know which book you’d like to win and what intrigues you most about these stories. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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It is always a pleasure to welcome Paulette Mahurin to the blog. I really enjoyed her first novel, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, and while I sadly have fallen behind in reading her other books, I always want to bring them to your attention, not just because her writing is great but also because all of the profits from the sale of her books benefit animal rescue efforts in Southern California. Paulette networks with multiple rescues in the area to get dogs out of kill shelters, and she has told me they have saved 823 dogs from kill shelters so far this year (as of the day I wrote this post, Nov. 16)! That is fantastic news! Click here for more information.

I’ve invited Paulette here today to talk about her inspiration for her latest novel, The Day I Saw the Hummingbird. Please give her a warm welcome:

When I wrote The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, the story took place in 1895 and dealt with the imprisonment of Oscar Wilde for indecent exposure. To highlight the year and give depth to the story I researched 1895 to see if there were other newsworthy events that took place to factor into the story. That hit pay dirt. That was the year the biggest anti-Semitic scandal, The Dreyfus Affair, occurred in France and also across the ocean it was the year Booker T. Washington gave his Atlanta Address sending racism flaring in the United States.

The Dreyfus Affair and Booker T. Washington’s contribution to significant historical events fascinated me. I decided to write separate books about each. The Dreyfus Affair and Emile Zola’s part in freeing an innocent man became my book, To Live Out Loud. When I finished that I wrote a book about the holocaust, The Seven Year Dress.

When that was in print my attention once again went to Booker T. Washington, and I puzzled with how to address a story surrounding the events of his life. My research led me to the struggles he went through to see that doors were opened to give African Americans a chance at education, which up till then had been illegal in many states. The quest to understand the lack of education led me to slaves during the Civil War and the Underground Railroad, which inspired me to write my fifth book, The Day I Saw The Hummingbird.

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About The Day I Saw The Hummingbird

On the eve of his tenth birthday, a young slave’s life is turned upside down. The unthinkable events that led up to the day Oscar Mercer saw a hummingbird test the limits of this young boy’s body, mind and soul. Gripped with fear and filled with anger, Oscar faces raw, crushing hatred aimed at him and everyone he loves. In a time when a nation was ripped apart geographically, economically, politically and morally, comes a story of a courageous boy who began life as a slave on a sugarcane plantation in Louisiana and escapes via the Underground Railroad. Through the efforts and good will of kind, brave people determined to free slaves, Oscar faces devastating obstacles and dangers. Struggling with his inner impulse to seek revenge for the injustices and violence levied on his family and friends, he discovers that in bondage you pray to God, but in freedom you meet Him. From the award-winning, best-selling author of The Seven Year Dress comes a story that brings another cadre of memorable characters alive on pages that pulse with hatred and kindness, cruelty and compassion, despair and hope. Oscar’s journey on the Underground Railroad is a heart-pounding ride that the reader will remember long after this story ends.

“A superb portrayal of courage and strength of the human spirit. A poignant and unforgettable page-turner. I loved every page.” Jana Petken, bestselling author of The Guardian of Secrets.

Check out The Day I Saw the Hummingbird on Goodreads | Amazon (U.S.) | Amazon (U.K.)

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About the Author

Paulette Mahurin is a best selling literary fiction and historical fiction novelist. She lives with her husband Terry and two dogs, Max and Bella, in Ventura County, California. She grew up in West Los Angeles and attended UCLA, where she received a Master’s Degree in Science.

Her first novel, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, made it to Amazon bestseller lists and won awards, including best historical fiction 2012 in Turning the Pages Magazine. Her second novel, His Name Was Ben, originally written as an award winning short story while she was in college and later expanded into a novel, rose to bestseller lists its second week out. Her third novel, To Live Out Loud, won international critical acclaim and made it to multiple sites as favorite read book of 2015. Her fourth book, The Seven Year Dress, made it to the top ten bestseller lists on Amazon U.S., Amazon U.K. and Amazon Australia. Her fifth book, The Day I Saw The Hummingbird, is schedules for release in 2017. Semi-retired, she continues to work part-time as a Nurse Practitioner in Ventura County. When she’s not writing, she does pro-bono consultation work with women with cancer, works in the Westminster Free Clinic as a volunteer provider, volunteers as a mediator in the Ventura County Courthouse for small claims cases, and involves herself, along with her husband, in dog rescue. Profits from her books go to help rescue dogs from kill shelters.

Check out Paulette’s Facebook and Amazon pages

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Thank you for sharing your inspiration, Paulette! And thank you for you contribution to animal rescue efforts! Congratulations on your new release, and thank you for being my guest.

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It’s my pleasure today to introduce Sue Hallgarth, author of Death Comes: A Willa Cather and Edith Lewis Mystery. Sue is here to kindly answer the question I had for her about the series: What inspired you to create a mystery series around real people, and are there any challenges that accompany that process? Please give her a warm welcome!

Confession: Thirty-five years ago I was a college professor in need of publications and I had no real topic. My doctoral dissertation had been on a minor Victorian novelist, Robert Smith Surtees, whose delightful foxhunting novels produced a prototype for the character Charles Dickens later developed as Pickwick. Not the best subject for more than one academic publication.

I was also a feminist interested in literary history. I began comparing first-hand accounts with fictional representations of women’s experience on the American frontier. That led me directly to Willa Cather, whose early novels focused on her pioneer experience growing up on the frontier around Red Cloud and Lincoln, Nebraska. Cather’s novels spoke the truth of first-hand accounts. They were also beautifully crafted and featured fascinating characters, including Alexandra Bergson in O! Pioneers, Ántonia Shimerda in My Ántonia, and Thea Kronborg in Song of the Lark. But after reading Cather’s fiction, the scholarly articles on her work, and biographies about her life, I noticed something was missing: the Willa Cather I knew.

Homophobia among Cather scholars and biographers had twisted accounts of her life, and they either omitted or misrepresented her nearly forty-year partnership with Edith Lewis, a fellow Nebraskan and professional writer. That and the fact that scholars had no easy access to Cather’s letters—until 2013 her will forbade their publication—led scholars to begin reading Cather’s characters as though they were Willa Cather. So with that mistake, Jim Burden in My Ántonia and the Professor in The Professor’s House simply became Cather herself, as though she had not created her characters but simply recorded details of her own life through them. That misguided practice led to bad literary scholarship and inaccurate biographies.

Unfortunately, Cather’s forbidding publication of her letters had actually encouraged the scholars’ distortions. But she was not the only cause. Her letters that were available could only be read (and not quoted) in research archives. Several letters were actually housed on microfilm in Red Cloud, but when I read them, I found only one letter from Cather to Edith Lewis and lines in that letter had been mysteriously rendered indecipherable. Scholars also regularly dismissed Lewis as Cather’s secretary or “companion” and refused to see her as the editor and advertising professional she actually was. The only evidence of their relationship available was Edith Lewis’ memoir, Willa Cather Living, and scholars regarded that book as less reliable than another memoir by Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant, a journalist and former friend whom Cather had not seen in years.

So here was my mystery: who was the real Willa Cather? What was her relationship with Edith Lewis? And how should we understand her fiction? I began to find the answers by doing research and crafting papers on Cather’s novels to present at professional meetings. But once I was convinced of her actual relationship with Lewis, I realized I needed to do a biography of Cather. Once I read everything Cather wrote, including her letters located in archives across the United States, I found she was exactly the person I “knew” back in 1983. By 1987 Sharon O’Brien officially “revealed” that Cather was a lesbian, but for O’Brien and other biographers, Lewis was still Cather’s secretary or “companion.” Cather, one biographer claimed in the same year, was “too dedicated to her art” to have time for any of “that.” And O’Brien was convinced that Cather had internalized homophobia and therefore must have become depressed and reclusive. In other words, still not the Cather I “knew.”

Academic journals and even feminist scholars had continued to shun my articles because I questioned (indeed challenged) O’Brien’s analysis. In a sense, their rejections led me to write my first piece of fiction, a mystery about Cather and Lewis on Grand Manan titled On the Rocks. So, I would write fiction based on fact. My choice of characters was a given, but why a mystery and not simply historical fiction? I needed a “hook.” For me the question was how to interest readers, all readers, in what I had to say about Willa Cather. And it happened that the moment I made the decision to try a mystery, I was standing front of the real Cather/Lewis Cottage at Whale Cove Cottages on the island of Grand Manan, New Brunswick, Canada. It occurred to me that someone might easily fall off a nearby two-hundred foot cliff into the Bay of Fundy. In my mind’s eye, I saw a body plunge over the edge and plummet to the rocks below. That image determined that Cather and Lewis would become my fictional sleuths.

When I finished the first Cather mystery, I found I had much more to say. I had introduced Edith Lewis to Cather’s readers in On the Rocks. Death Comes takes place in 1926 at the Mabel Dodge Luhan compound in Taos, New Mexico, which was always filled with artists, writers, and other creative people, I have begun a process of setting Cather and Lewis “in context.” Cather was never the lone genius she was often depicted to be, never so “dedicated to her art” she had no interest in anything or anyone else. In fact, she was so interested in people and the world about her, she found herself without time to do her art. As a result Lewis began to stand guard, to protect Cather so that she would not lose herself in others but could concentrate on her writing. Taos became the setting for the second in the Cather/Lewis series, but they travelled often and to many places. The opportunities for creating more context and therefore more mysteries are almost endless.

Writing about different locations and characters based on real people do present challenges that accompany the process of writing a mystery series about real places and real people. Cather and Lewis are only two of the characters I base on real people. For On the Rocks I did research on thirty or so of all the women who summered in two colonies on Grand Manan, and for Death Comes, I had my choice among the many artists and writers who lived around Taos or visited Mabel Dodge Luhan.

So the first problem I had to solve for both mysteries was how many characters and locations to include. Too many would prove confusing, so the fact is I had to cut more than create and to sharpen details so readers could keep track of who was who and when and where. I was also working with actual people, places, and events, not simply plucking people out of the air, so I had to be sure my details were accurate and my fiction seamlessly fused with fact. If only, I would sometimes think, if only I could just make the whole thing up. But I did exactly what Willa Cather did in so many stories, including Death Comes for the Archbishop and Shadows on the Rock—read everything she could about specific people, places, and events and transform them into her fictional world. Fiction, yes, but fiction based on fact.

Wow, thanks for sharing, Sue! I know very little about Willa Cather, but how your series came to be is a fascinating story. Congrats on your latest book!

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About Death Comes

Following On the Rocks, Sue Hallgarth’s first Willa Cather and Edith Lewis mystery, Death Comes gives us another glimpse into the life and work of the Pulitzer-Prize winning novelist Willa Cather and her talented life partner. The year is 1926. Willa and Edith return to Mabel Dodge Luhan’s pink adobe in Taos, New Mexico. Willa is writing Death Comes for the Archbishop. Edith is sketching Taos pueblo and hoping for a visit to the nearby D.H. Lawrence ranch. The previous summer they had stumbled on a woman’s body. Now the headless bodies of two women add to the mystery. Sue Hallgarth presents an intimate portrait of Cather, Lewis, the spectacular New Mexico landscape, and the famous artists and writers Mabel Dodge Luhan gathered in Taos.

Check out Death Comes on Goodreads | Amazon

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About the Author

Sue Hallgarth

Sue Hallgarth is former English professor. She has written scholarly articles on Willa Cather and Edith Lewis, and this is her second book of fiction featuring the two of them. Her first book in the series On The Rocks, set in 1929 on the island of Grand Manan in New Brunswick, Canada. She lives in Corrales, New Mexico.

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Giveaway

Courtesy of the publicist, I have one print copy of Death Comes to offer my readers. This giveaway is open to U.S. addresses only. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. I’d love to hear what intrigues you most about this book/series. This giveaway will close on Sunday, November 5, 2017. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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To follow the Death Comes blog tour, click the button below

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It’s my pleasure to welcome Riana Everly to Diary of Eccentric today to celebrate the release of Teaching Eliza, a mashup of Pride and Prejudice and Pygmalion. Riana is here to talk about men’s fashion during the Regency period, and she’s brought with her an excerpt from the novel and a giveaway. Please give her a warm welcome!

Most of my characters in Teaching Eliza are borrowed directly from Jane Austen, but a few are my own creations as well. Would it be horrible of me to say that of these, my favourite is Alfred, Viscount Einshill, affectionately known as Freddy? I needed Freddy to fill the role of Freddy Einsford Hill from Shaw’s Pygmalion, but in my novel he is a bit of a different creature. Shaw’s character is sweet and doting and very proper and elegant, and also flat broke! My Freddy is sweet and doting and very elegant, and filthy rich! And did I say elegant and ostentatiously dressed? Oh, yes, the man likes his clothing.

In short, Freddy is a fop!

In terms of men’s fashions, the time of the Regency in England saw the transition from the elaborate garb of the Baroque and Georgian eras to the more subdued and sedate styles we associate with men’s formal wear even today. Gone were the frills and brocade and richly embroidered coats of the earlier 18th century. In their place, largely thanks to Beau Brummel and his crusade for simple elegance, came immaculately clean linens, precise tailoring, and restrained colours. Pantaloons and then trousers took the place of knee-britches in formal wear, and indeed, the entire style was based on the less formal clothing of country squires and sportsmen rather than on courtiers bowing and scraping in their elaborate velvets and silks. Waistcoats were the one place were the Regency Dandy was allowed his bling, for they were often flashy and elaborate.

But as with any style, the elegant dandies were soon subject to their own fripperies. A class of gentleman arose, known as fops, who wished to outdo the Beau and each other in their quest for sartorial pre-eminence. In these circles, clothing became something of a competition, with an eye not to elegance but to show. 

In her book Georgette Heyer’s Regency World, Jennifer Kloester writes:

“Like the dandy, the fop took an absorbing interest in his clothes. Unlike the dandy, however, the fop dressed for show, adorning his person with clothes of bold or unusual design or hue and embellishing them with ostentatious jewels, frills and furbelows. The fop craved attention and did everything in his power to draw the eye of the passer-by. He was frequently a chatterer and usually deemed a vain fool by his peers…  Many fops aspired to set a trend or create a new fashion and some took their clothes to extraordinary extremes – such as wearing their shirt collars so high that they could not turn their heads or wearing voluminous trousers or coats with overlong tails.”

Fig. 1 Les Invisibles, satirical drawing, 1810. (British Museum)  Look at the high collars and crazy hats!

Fig. 2 Man’s coat and vest with metal thread embroidery, c.1800

Fig. 3 A more restrained example of a Georgian dandy. Note the high collar points again.

Fig. 4 The English Ladies’ Dandy Toy, Isaac Robert Cruikshank, 1818. This is a rather heavily caricature. The toy she’s holding is a jumping jack (where pulling the string moves the arms and legs), but is shaped to resemble a dandy of the period. Note the pinched-in corseted waist.

Fig. 5 A well-dressed Regency gentleman. Note the sedate colour of the clothing, the cutaway tailcoat, the immaculately clean waistcoat and trousers, and the elaborate cravat. The top hat and cane were also de riguer for anyone pretending to fashion.

Our Freddy is, perhaps not quite as bad as some of these, but he certainly wishes to be in the forefront of fashion.

Let’s see what Elizabeth Bennet thinks of him.

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An Excerpt from Teaching Eliza, courtesy of Riana Everly

The door flew open, and a man strode in. Elizabeth was half-hidden behind the countess and could not immediately take the measure of the newcomer, but she imagined it could only be a resident of the house, and so it turned out to be.

 “Alfred,” the countess exclaimed, “I had no notion you were to come down for our at-home! You are always ‘out’ when our guests arrive.”

“Mother, Richard, Darcy,” he greeted his family. “Richard told me there was to be a special guest today, and I hoped to meet her. Has she arrived? Is she as pretty as Richard intimated? I shall have to be on my best behaviour, I suppose.”

The countess stepped aside to reveal Lizzy, who now rose to her feet to greet the stranger and be presented. The gentleman she saw was fine and tall, with all the affectations of the aristocracy. He was very finely dressed, albeit in a selection of hues that the Beau would certainly disparage. Eggshell-white trousers fell in perfect lines to his polished slippers, and a striped blue and gold waistcoat emerged from beneath an exquisitely cut coat of soft mauve. From the lapels of his coat, an elaborate knot decorated an embroidered cravat, which in turn disappeared into collar points so high the man could scarcely turn his head. Lizzy could not help by compare his peacock-bright garb to the professor’s understated elegance in black and dark green, or to the colonel’s serious military garb of scarlet and brass.

The gentleman’s hair was tousled to the ideal degree, which must have taken his valet some considerable time to arrange, and not a single one of those hairs was out of place, but they shone golden and perfect in the bright sunlight that suffused the room. Lizzy could not help but let her eyes flicker over to the professor, whose own mane never quite obeyed his commands of perfection, to the wayward lock that gave the serious Professor Darcy a dash of roguish charm.

The countess made the introductions. “Alfred, Viscount Eynshill. Miss Elizabeth Bennet.”

The viscount stood perfectly still, his eyes riveted to Elizabeth. “What vision is this, to transfix me so?” he whispered, turning his entire upper body in his brother’s direction — for such were the restrictions of his fashionable collar points —  but not allowing his gaze to wander for a moment from Elizabeth’s face. Eyes wide, he finally bowed in Lizzy’s direction, executing a motion so graceful and effortless that he must have spent hours practicing before a looking glass. “Miss Bennet. A delight. An unfathomable delight.”

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(From a bit later in the book, at their second meeting)

Tentatively at first, Lizzy began to speak of her studies into the research of John Dalton, and Aunt Patricia responded enthusiastically. By the time Darcy returned with Mrs. Pearce some time later, the two ladies were deep in a spirited discussion about cloud formation and the trade winds. “If I understand correctly,” Lizzy was saying as they entered, “the sun constantly heats the earth and the air successively from east to west. The air being heated then expands in different directions to restore an equilibrium of pressure. Because this expansion has a lateral and perpendicular motion, it has a concurrent effect on the barometer, as well as influencing wind strength and direction.”

“How fascinating!” Aunt Patricia supplied.

“How charming!” came a voice from behind Darcy and Mrs. Pearce, and Alfred, Viscount Eynshill, strode into the room. “Miss Bennet, a delight to see you again. Once more, I am enthralled by your knowledge and abilities. I must chastise my cousin yet again for hiding you from us for so very long. Really, Darcy, she is a treasure!”

“Freddy,” his mother greeted him, “You did not tell me you planned to come by.” Her tone was not approving.

“You would only have forbidden me, Mother,” he replied with a smile. “And how could I be denied another opportunity to converse with the enchanting Miss Bennet?” He executed an elaborate bow and threw another wicked smile in Lizzy’s direction. “I brought these for Miss Bennet.” From behind his back he withdrew a bouquet of flowers that perfectly matched the dress she had worn the previous day and presented them to her with a flourish. Lizzy accepted them gracefully and requested a vase be brought. A glance at Darcy’s stony face informed her that he was unimpressed.

Watching, as if from a distance, Lizzy took further stock of the viscount. Tall, as were the entire family, with the same light hair as the colonel, he was slightly more handsome and entirely charming. He moved with the ease and grace of long practice, and caught the eye with his elegant demeanour, and Lizzy suppressed a chuckle as he paused before the mirror above the mantelpiece to assess his striking appearance.

The viscount had his brother’s amiability and easy nature, but where Richard’s pleasant demeanour was overlaid atop the sober and responsible core that comes with the demands of military leadership, Alfred’s was pleasantry atop frivolity. It was clear that he loved his clothing, for he wore his finely tailored garb like a model for the clothes-makers’ magazines. As with the flowers, he had chosen a waistcoat that matched the yellow of the previous day’s frock, and he picked carelessly at the ample lace that extended from his cuffs. If he was a man, like Narcissus, who admired himself too much, he was redeemed because he liked others nearly as much, and sought to befriend where another man might seek to disparage.

Lizzy knew he was a man who could afford to indulge his whims. She knew he need never account for his actions, for his life’s work was merely to be the earl and eventually provide an heir. With those two requirements easily managed, he had the luxury to do and act as he pleased. If he did not waste away the family’s income, he would be considered a fine example of an English nobleman; if he did fritter it away, he would be thought no worse than most of his breed. It was a career well suited to his temperament.

Despite his foppishness, Lizzy could not help but like him. He was nothing like the serious, deep-thinking men she often found the best company, but his genuine friendliness and lack of condescension endeared him to her almost immediately. That he clearly liked her very much also did not impede her affinity to him. He lowered himself to sit beside her, careful not to disarrange his apparel, and when seated on the long sofa with its old-fashioned and elaborate upholstery, turned his body to face her and offered a friendly comment, then another, and another, until she began to answer in like fashion.

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About Teaching Eliza

A tale of love, manners, and the quest for perfect vowels.

From a new voice in historical romance comes this sparkling tale, wherein the elegance of Pride and Prejudice and the wit of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion collide. The results are clever, funny, and often quite unexpected….

Professor Fitzwilliam Darcy, expert in phonetics and linguistics, wishes for nothing more than to spend some time in peace at his friend’s country estate, far from the parade of young ladies wishing for his hand, and further still from his aunt’s schemes to have him marry his cousin. How annoying it is when a young lady from the neighbourhood, with her atrocious Hertfordshire accent and country manners, comes seeking his help to learn how to behave and speak as do the finest ladies of high society.

Elizabeth Bennet has disliked the professor since overhearing his flippant comments about her provincial accent, but recognizes in him her one opportunity to survive a prospective season in London. Despite her ill feelings for the man, she asks him to take her on as a student, but is unprepared for the price he demands in exchange.

“With her clever mash-up of two classics, Riana Everly has fashioned a fresh, creative storyline with an inventive take on our favorite characters, delightful dialogue and laugh out loud humor. Teaching Eliza is certain to become a reader favorite. It’s a must read!” – Sophia Meredith (author of the acclaimed On Oakham Mount and Miss Darcy’s Companion)

Teaching Eliza is a full-length novel of about 110,000 words.

Check out Teaching Eliza on Goodreads | Buy from multiple retailers via Pronoun

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About the Author

Riana Everly was born in South Africa, but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a Master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specialising in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11, and has never looked back.

Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading!

Connect with Riana via Facebook | website

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Giveaway

Riana is generously offering 5 ebook copies of Teaching Eliza for the blog tour. Please click here to enter via Rafflecopter. You MUST use the Rafflecopter link to enter. Good luck!

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Oct. 19 From Pemberley to Milton

Oct. 23 Babblings of a Bookworm

Oct. 24 So Little Time… So Much to Read!

Oct. 25 Diary of an Eccentric

Oct. 27 Savvy Verse and Wit

Oct. 28 My Love for Jane Austen

Oct. 30 More Agreeably Engaged

Oct. 31 Savvy Verse and Wit (review)

Nov. 1 Austenesque Reviews

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Hello, dear readers! Today the Fanny Price vs. Mary Crawford duel (which began yesterday on Just Jane 1813) has come to Diary of an Eccentric. I hope you’ll weigh in on the debate. Please give a warm welcome to Lona Manning and Kyra Kramer!

Hello, I’m Lona Manning, author of A Contrary Wind: A Variation on Mansfield Park and author of true crime articles available here.

And I’m Kyra Kramer, author of Mansfield Parsonage and the nonfictional historical books, Blood Will Tell, The Jezebel Effect, Henry VIII’s Health in a Nutshell, and Edward VI in a Nutshell.

Lona: Please join us for the knock-down drag-out (maybe) Fanny versus Mary debate of the decade/epoch/millennium. We will take turns posing each other questions. Please feel free to join in, in the comments!

Kyra: Everyone who comments will be entered in a draw to win a gift pack of Austen goodies from Bath, England.

Was Fanny Price sweetly timid, or a backstabbing brat?

Kyra: I noticed that Fanny Price remains the heroine in your variation, A Contrary Wind, and the Crawford siblings remain the antagonists. What was it about Fanny that inspired your affection for the often-disliked heroine of Mansfield Park?

Lona: I have more respect for Fanny than affection. And more affection for the novel than for its heroine. So, why is it difficult to like Fanny? Certainly the lack of a sense of humour is an issue. Although she does quietly laugh up her sleeve at a few things.

Kyra: You didn’t find her passivity cloying? It made me gag.

Lona: I think it’s perfectly understandable that she turned out the way she turned out. Take one super-sensitive kid, who is very susceptible to being made to feel guilty and who yearns for love and approval, and raise her in Mansfield Park with an Aunt Norris and voila, you have Fanny Price.

Kyra: I find it remarkable I came to dislike a character for whom I had so MUCH sympathy for at first. What a horrible childhood! If only she had not turned out to be such a self-righteous prig.

Lona: C.S. Lewis makes the point that Anne Elliot is actually more “judgey” than Fanny of people around her, and we don’t beat down on Anne Elliot the way we do on Fanny. I say cut Fanny some slack – she is young, shy, sheltered and repressed – a real and believable person but unfortunately lacking the dynamism we look for in a heroine. In my opinion, her worse trait is when she wallows in ultra-humility – two examples: making Mary stand there and wait while she dithers over choosing a necklace, or making four people stand around while she wonders whether she should accept the Grant’s dinner invitation.

Kyra: I think she is passive aggressive; she uses her timidity and inaction to control others.

Lona: I think that’s overstating it!

Kyra: Having been on the receiving end of passive tyranny, myself and my therapists would argue differently. Non-communication, evading resolution, false agreement, and obstruction are all well-known forms of passive aggression. Fanny bullied everyone with her timidity.

Lona: I hear you, but Fanny is still in a subordinate position in her household. I think the problem with Fanny as a heroine is that she is never tempted to do other than what she does. A person who is never tempted to get drunk is not more virtuous than the alcoholic who must resist the urge to drink. A person who is never tempted to gluttony is not more virtuous than the plump person turning away from the buffet table. Fanny has no inner struggle to overcome. She must withstand the outside pressures upon her, especially the pressure to marry Henry Crawford, to stay true to her own beliefs. So, in A Contrary Wind, I have her do something she later regrets.

Kyra: It was nice to see Fanny make a mistake, I admit. Maybe she’d be more forgiving of other’s sins if she had a few of her own.

Lona: I must defend poor Fanny from your rather harsh interpretation of her. You accuse Fanny Price of being a hypocrite when she passively accepts Mary Crawford’s overtures of friendship, but I am thinking that your “hypocrisy” is my “diplomacy.” When Fanny compliments Mary’s acting, you write, “Neither Edmund nor Mary was mistrustful of Fanny’s kindness, since neither knew what a worm-eaten heart was buried in the affectionate sentimentality. Both were credulous regarding Fanny Price’s avowed regard for Mary Crawford.” I think you’re being unfair to Fanny.

Kyra: I have Asperger’s syndrome, so I am excessively fond of honesty. Diplomacy often leads me into trouble, because I assume when someone says, “That will be fine,” they actually mean it will be fine. Mary Crawford’s snarky honesty is, to me, infinitely preferable to Fanny’s mealy-mouth diplomacy. However, I agree my condemnation of Fanny would be unfair if all Fanny did was compliment Mary’s acting or otherwise be polite. However, Fanny visited Mary and made other overtures of friendship. That is beyond polite. That is misleading.

Lona: Fanny, just like Jane Bennet, can safely say that every advance in intimacy was on Mary’s side.

Kyra: I cannot agree. Fanny sought out Mary’s advice on her dress before the ball in December, because she needed help and her own family members couldn’t be bothered to give her. I would also argue that all of Fanny’s visits to the Parsonage were duplicitous signs of friendship. Fanny could have found the metaphorical guts to not visit Mary. She could have found a POLITE way to do it.

Lona: You forget that Fanny did try to keep her distance. She kept addressing Mary as “Miss Crawford,” a sign that Fanny does not return Mary’s professed warmth of feeling.

Kyra: That’s not really a good indicator of emotional distance. For Fanny to call Mary by her first name would imply an equality between them as well as friendship, and would have been a social faux paus. Mary calls her own sister “Mrs. Grant,” just as Fanny calls her cousin Mrs. Rushworth rather than “Maria” because it was an acknowledgement of the sociocultural hierarchy for married v/s single women. Fanny would rather Mary be fooled by her false regard than have to put herself to the trouble of being brave about maintaining a coolness.

Lona: I think you ask too much of Fanny. Given the difference in their ages, social situations and most importantly, the force of their personalities, how was Fanny going to look Mary Crawford in the eye and say, “no thanks, let’s not be friends”? What ought she have done?

Kyra: Ha! Fanny had plenty of fortitude when she needed it! (That’s part of what made your variation plausible.) She may have wept and dithered and blushed, but she refused Henry Crawford’s proposal and she continued to refuse him EVEN AFTER her Uncle Bertram ripped her apart for it. She could have refused Mary Crawford’s invitations on some pretexts or another. Even more crucially, she could have refused to write to Mary because of “their unique circumstances” regarding Henry’s rejected proposal or something.

Lona: But it would be typical of Fanny’s obliging, yielding nature just to agree to it. We’re talking about writing some letters here, not marrying somebody. Also Edmund kept encouraging their friendship, Mrs. Grant encouraged their friendship, so Mary wouldn’t be bored. She was being pressured by people she respected.

Kyra: She was pressured by people she respected to wed Henry Crawford, too, but she found the wherewithal to refuse that. Agreeing to write Mary was above and beyond polite return visits, too. Letter writing was a serious business, and the Regency equivalent of pledging friendship (not mere acquaintanceship) between two young, unmarried women. If they had been older, married ladies then letters would have been less of a big deal. Fanny knew she was implying a friendship that simply wasn’t there. She knew she was lying to Mary by implication. Moreover, Mary was hardly the only one initiating contact between the two of them.

Alright readers, what’s your opinion of all this? Was Fanny being two-faced or just polite in regards to her relationship with Mary Crawford?

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Lona Manning

Lona Manning is the author of A Contrary Wind, a variation on Mansfield Park. She has also written numerous true crime articles, which are available at www.crimemagazine.com. She has worked as a non-profit administrator, a vocational instructor, a market researcher, and a speechwriter for politicians. She currently teaches English as a Second Language. She and her husband now divide their time between mainland China and Canada. Her second novel, A Marriage of Attachment, a sequel to A Contrary Wind, is planned for release in early 2018. You can follow Lona at www.lonamanning.ca where she blogs about China and Jane Austen.

Lona was born in Seoul, South Korea shortly after the Korean War. Her father taught library science and her mother cared for war orphans. She and her husband Ross have two grown sons. They divide their time between their home in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada, and China.

Lona is the author of “The Hurricane Hoax,” “The Murder of Madalyn Murray O’Hair” and other true crime stories. “A Contrary Wind” is her first novel.

About A Contrary Wind

Fanny Price, niece to Sir Thomas Bertram of Mansfield Park, is an intelligent but timid girl from a poor family, who is grateful for the advantages of education and breeding conferred upon her as result of growing up with her wealthier cousins. But the cruelty of her Aunt Norris, coupled with the pain of knowing that the man she secretly loves is infatuated with the vivacious but cold-hearted Mary Crawford, compel Fanny to run away from Mansfield Park and find employment as a governess. Far away from everything she ever knew and the one man she loves, will Fanny grow in fortitude and independence? Will a new suitor heal her broken heart? Or will a reckless decision threaten to destroy her own life and the lives of those she holds most dear? This variation of Jane Austen’s novel includes all the familiar characters from Mansfield Park, as well as some new acquaintances. There are some mature scenes.

Amazon U.S. | Amazon U.K.

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Kyra C. Kramer

Kyra Kramer is a medical anthropologist, historian, and devoted bibliophile who lives just outside Cardiff, Wales with her handsome husband and three wonderful young daughters. She has a deep – nearly obsessive – love for Regency Period romances in general and Jane Austen’s work in particular. Ms. Kramer has authored several history books and academic essays, but Mansfield Parsonage is her first foray into fictional writing. You can visit her website at kyrackramer.com to learn more about her life and work.

About Mansfield Parsonage

Fans of Jane Austen will recognise the players and the setting – Mansfield Park has been telling the story of Fanny Price and her happily ever after for more than 200 years. But behind the scenes of Mansfield Park, there’s another story to be told.

Mary Crawford’s story.

When her widowed uncle made her home untenable, Mary made the best of things by going to live with her elder sister, Mrs Grant, in a parson’s house the country. Mansfield Parsonage was more than Mary had expected and better than she could have hoped. Gregarious and personable, Mary also embraced the inhabitants of the nearby Mansfield Park, watching the ladies set their caps for her dashing brother, Henry Crawford, and developing an attachment to Edmund Bertram and a profound affection for his cousin, Fanny Price.

Mansfield Parsonage retells the story of Mansfield Park from the perspective of Mary Crawford’s hopes and aspirations and shows how Fanny Price’s happily-ever-after came at Mary’s expense.

Or did it?

Amazon U.S. | Amazon U.K.

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Luanne Castle is my guest today to celebrate the release of her latest poetry collection, Kin Types. She’s here to share a poem from the book and its inspiration. Please give her a warm welcome!

Advice from My Forebears

Always use hot pack canning for your green beans
and test your seals at the end.

Don’t grab a burning oil stove without considering
the consequences.

Don’t get in debt. If you don’t got it, don’t get it.

Make up your mind what church you’ll attend
and go there as often as you can stand.

Be Dutch or you ain’t much.

Get the log out of your own eye so you can get
the speck out of the other’s eye.

We can’t talk about it, but here’s your great-grandma’s
Eastern Star ring so you will have a signal.

Never pick a fight but if someone hits you,
hit them back.

Always plant marigolds in your vegetable garden
and keep a compost pile out beyond the shed.

If they come to your door, feed them. Then send
them on their way.

Just let be.

Be careful with a needle; that’s how your Grandpa
got blinded, coming around his ma’s knee.

Sit on my finger, nobody ever fell off.

Watch your step on deck so you don’t fall off the boat
and get skewered by the anchor like your Uncle Lucas.

Don’t quit writing like I did. Make me a promise.

Quit scowling or your face will freeze that way.

If you see somebody’s thumb stuck in the dyke,
don’t pull it out.

“Advice from My Forebears” was first published in the museum of Americana (Fall 2015) and then in Kin Types.

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The origins of my desire to recreate family stories lies with my grandfather—and with his storytelling and advice. He was the one who told me how his Uncle Lucas was killed by falling on an anchor as a young man in Goes, Netherlands. Also, he described running into his mother’s sewing needle and being taken to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor for treatments in 1910. That’s how I learned that danger lurked even in the household.

When I began this poem, I had my grandfather in mind, but I was also thinking of a list a newfound relative gave me. I had met him through my family history blog, The Family Kalamazoo. His mother was Grandpa’s mother’s first cousin. He had compiled the list of advice his mother had given him in the 1930s. The list sounded familiar to me as it contained the phrasing and sentiments I learned from Grandpa. This one, for example: “If they come to your door, feed them. Then send / them on their way.”

The poem became a list much like the list given to me, but with advice passed on over several generations, as well as advice added on with new events. Grandpa was no doubt warned about his uncle’s death by his own parents and grandparents, as his uncle had died fourteen years before he was born, but his own accident with the sewing needle was a newer addition to the family lore. In the most recent event, my grandmother who had wanted to be a writer made me promise not to give up writing.

Family history is a compilation of layered stories, added to by each generation. Much is lost as well, but by repeating what is worth passing on we learn by hearing both the inspirational and the cautionary tales.

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About Kin Types

Kin Types is based largely upon genealogy and a fascination with what comes to all of us from the past. A mix of poetry in the traditional sense and highly poetic prose pieces, the collection takes the reader on a journey into the lives of women and somewhat into the lives of men who must carry on alone once the women are gone. The journey of this collection is not a ramble into the past, but a slingshot into the here and now by way of these portrait tales.

Check out Kin Types on Goodreads | Amazon

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About the Author

Luanne Castle

Winner of the 2015 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award, Doll God, Luanne Castle‘s first collection of poetry, was published by Aldrich Press. Luanne’s poetry and prose have appeared in Grist, Copper Nickel, River Teeth, Glass Poetry Press, Barnstorm Journal, Six Hens, Lunch Ticket, The Review Review, and many other journals. Published by Finishing Line Press, Kin Types was a semi-finalist in the Concrete Wolf chapbook contest.

Luanne has been a Fellow at the Center for Ideas and Society at the University of California, Riverside. She studied English and creative writing at the University of California, Riverside (Ph.D.); Western Michigan University (MFA); and the Stanford University writing certificate program. Her scholarly work has been published in academic journals, and she contributed to Twice-Told Children’s Tales: The Influence of Childhood Reading on Writers for Adults, edited by Betty Greenway. For fifteen years, she taught college English. She divides her time between California and Arizona, where she shares land with a herd of javelina. Visit her website.

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To celebrate the release of Anngela Schroeder’s latest novel, The Goodness of Men, I am overjoyed to have Miss Elizabeth Bennet as my guest today. Before we begin our discussion, let me introduce you to the book:

“This will not do,” said Elizabeth. “You never will be able to make both of them good…Take your choice, but you must be satisfied with only one. There is but such a quantity of merit between them; just enough to make one good sort of man…” –Pride and Prejudice 

From her youngest days, Elizabeth Bennet’s ability to accurately judge the character of others has been recognized and noted by those around her in such a consistent manner as to lead her to believe it herself. The misfortune of meeting Mr. Darcy, a wealthy landowner from the north, only solidifies this belief.
The memory of his disapproval of her family, proves his character is lacking and sadly unlike his childhood friend’s, the charming and affable Mr. Wickham, who is esteemed by all he meets. Although her opinion once lost is not lost forever, the effort to regain her favor is great.

With Elizabeth’s youngest sister fortunate to be in company with Mr. Wickham in Brighton since the spring, and her own travels to Kent cancelled, she must await the pleasures of a summer holiday to the North with her aunt and uncle Gardiner. However, it is there that she is once again thrust into Mr. Darcy’s presence and must determine if he is truly the architect of the many wrongs she has laid at his door.

 

Fitzwilliam Darcy cannot exorcise Elizabeth Bennet from his thoughts. A chance meeting at the estate of his friend reignites all the flames he has attempted to suppress since their last meeting. Believing in her partiality, he is stunned to overhear her true estimation of him and is determined to change her opinion.
Battling with memories and secrets from his past, Darcy must fight against his natural reserve to win the heart of the woman he loves.

Will the unexpected appearance of a stranger encourage Elizabeth’s change of heart? Might an episode from Mr. Darcy’s past force Elizabeth to see the man within? Can one man have all the goodness and the other only the appearance of it?

Join us for another sweet Pride and Prejudice reimagining, suitable for ages teen and up.

Please give a warm welcome to Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Miss Elizabeth, thank you for joining us today.

Thank you for welcoming me to your blog.

Do you believe in your ability to judge people’s character?

I feel that everyone has the ability to be observant, some more so than others.

And would you say you are one of those people?

I believe that I am a normal woman. True, I love to read, and have conversations beyond ball gowns and lace, much to my mother’s dismay, but I am certain there are many women who do so as well.

Do you feel your likes are an impediment to your hope to find a husband?

No. I feel they are an impediment to my mother’s hope of my finding a husband. (She laughs softly). I believe there is a man who will love me for all my likes and dislikes, and I for his. I am just uncertain where he exists at present.

Do you believe you have met him yet?

The man I am to marry?

Yes.

Well, I presume it is possible, but highly unlikely.

Why do you feel that way?

Because, I will know when I meet him.

Very well, in a different vein, what caused you to be such a supporter of Mr. Wickham and not Darcy?

Mr. Wickham’s countenance was one of ease and acceptance. He was charming and sociable. Mr. Darcy, who was raised as a gentleman, met none of those qualifications.

Tell us about the compromising position your aunt found you in.

I wonder how you heard about that! It was not truly a compromising position. Mr. Darcy caught me by surprise and I him. I was not expecting him to be there. Nothing untoward happened. It may have appeared that way, but the highest level of propriety was maintained at all times.

If that be the case, why are you blushing? Is the memory of Mr. Darcy in that state disconcerting?

I thank you, but I am not blushing. The room is merely warm.

What were you feeling at that moment?

I was flustered, to be sure, but maintained the proper level of behavior. I am a gentleman’s daughter, after all.

Do you believe you could ever forgive Mr. Darcy for the interference with your sister Jane and Mr. Bingley?

I would like to hear his opinion on the matter first before I make any decisions. I believe in being less prejudiced against others than they might be of me.

Describe Chenowith. Do you believe it is an estate you could be mistress of?

I could be the mistress of a great many places if I loved my husband and he me. Chenowith is a beautiful estate. There are a number of lovely walks, and some ruins as well. It is quite peaceful and has a simple quality about it which appeals to my sense of home.

Do you imagine Pemberley is much like Chenowith?

I am uncertain, but doubt it. As you know, I am familiar with the owner of both estates and believe one’s home is a reflection upon oneself. Mr. Darcy and Mr. Turner are very different men.

Our time is growing short. Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?

Yes. I’d like the readers to know that a person’s depth cannot be judged by their wealth and holdings. A man’s goodness is not relevant to his status in society. I believe if others realized this, we would all be in changed places entirely.

Those are definitely words to live by. Thank you for being my guest today, Miss Elizabeth. I hope my readers will join you on your journey in The Goodness of Men.

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Giveaway

Anngela is generously offering a giveaway of The Goodness of Men: two Kindle copies (international) and a signed hard copy (U.S. addresses only). Enter here. You must enter through the Rafflecopter link. Good luck!

Check out The Goodness of Men on Goodreads and Amazon.

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