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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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It’s my pleasure to share with you today the new book from Kelly Davio, It’s Just Nerves, published by Squares and Rebels in October 2017, and the chance to win a copy!

About It’s Just Nerves

With equal parts wit and empathy, lived experience and cultural criticism, Kelly Davio’s It’s Just Nerves: Notes on a Disability explores what it means to live with an illness in our contemporary culture, whether at home or abroad.

Advance Praise:

“When the body attacks itself, the crisis is not just of bones and blood, but of beauty and boundaries. ‘Strange men have had their hands on me for days,’ Kelly Davio observes during a plasma treatment. Her skillful portrait of myasthenia gravis does not exist in a vacuum. It’s Just Nerves is in keen dialogue with the world around us—critiquing modern health care, pub seating etiquette, alarming election outcomes, smarmy meditation culture, and caricatures of illness in ads and on screen. ‘Oxygen is delicious,’ Davio reminds us, before the fire breaks out. A brisk, funny, and at times startlingly poetic memoir.” —Sandra Beasley, author of Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life

“Kelly Davio’s It’s Just Nerves feels like the book I’ve been waiting for all my life. If you want to know what it feels like to be a person with a disability in the 21st century, read this book. From mindfulness to yoga pants, Davio skewers ableist fabrications and brings us to a vital, ebullient, and sometimes terrifying reckoning with our real and shared human experience. She is a very funny writer and also a fearless one. Once I started reading these essays, I couldn’t put them down; they resounded through me like poetry or truth.” —Sheila Black, author of House of Bone and Love/Iraq

“Kelly Davio’s got so much incredible stuff brewing together on every page of these nimble, shapeshifting essays: meditations on the politics of illness, the body in crisis, the spirit in bloom, David Bowie—all of it filtered, carefully, through the lithe sensibility of a poet. The results are equal parts witty and wise, heartrending and rapturous. Man, I loved this book.” —Mike Scalise, author of The Brand New Catastrophe

Goodreads | Amazon

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About the Author

Kelly Davio

Kelly Davio is the author of Burn This House (Red Hen Press, 2013) and the forthcoming The Book of the Unreal Woman. She is the founding editor of Tahoma Literary Review and the former Managing Editor of The Los Angeles Review. While in England, she served as the Senior Editor of Eyewear Publishing. Her work has appeared in Best New Poets, Verse Daily, The Rumpus, and others. She earned her MFA in poetry from Northwest Institute of Literary Arts. Today, she works as a medical editor in New Jersey.

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Giveaway

Enter here for a chance to win one of three copies of It’s Just Nerves. This giveaway is open to readers 18+ with U.S. addresses and closes on October 31, 2017. You must enter through the Rafflecopter link. Good luck!

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Follow the Blog Tour

Oct. 4: Readaholic Zone (Review)
Oct. 9: Diary of an Eccentric (Book Spotlight)
Oct. 10: I Brought a Book (Review)
Oct. 12: I Brought a Book (Interview)
Oct. 20: Avalinah’s Books (Review)
Oct. 27: Create With Joy (Review)

It’s my pleasure to welcome Jessie Lewis to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate the release of her new novel, Mistaken, a variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Jessie is here to discuss theatres in Regency England and the role they play in the novel, and there’s an excerpt and giveaway as well. Please give her a warm welcome!

Thank you, Anna, for hosting this part of the Mistaken blog tour. I’d like to share with your readers a scene from the early part of the book, in which a somewhat repentant Elizabeth has an unexpected encounter at the theatre, shortly after she returns to London from Kent.

Mistaken has its fair share of twists and turns, and it never hurts to drop a good plot bombshell in a public place—you know, to maximise the impact on your poor unsuspecting characters. The theatre might seem a clichéd choice of public venue, but in the absence of Netflix or Nando’s, it was popular evening entertainment for those reality-TV-starved Regency folk.

In order to make my theatre scenes credible, it was necessary for me to do a fair amount of research, and though most of what I learned has been relegated to a file buried somewhere on my hard drive or a long-forgotten bookmark on my browser, some of what I discovered was more memorable. So before I reveal Elizabeth’s encounter, I thought I’d share some of my own unexpected discoveries about the theatres of the Regency period.

The predominant trait I stumbled upon in my research was their propensity to burn down. With alarming regularity, the playhouses of London were reduced to cinders—a sight altogether greyer and less interesting to watch than the eponymous pantomime that occasionally graced the stages on those rare occasions when they were not engulfed in flames.

The Theatre Royal in Covent Garden burned down twice, as did Her Majesty’s Theatre in Haymarket. The theatre presently situated on Drury Lane is the fourth to have stood on the site, two having burned down and one having been completely demolished just for the fun of it.

All these pyrotechnic shenanigans make writing a historically accurate evening at the theatre during the Regency far trickier than it ought to be. Though I dug up all manner of information about which plays were billed at which times, starring which actors, I invariably found that on the night I needed my characters to attend, the theatre in question was either in the midst of a blazing inferno or the throes of a years-long reconstruction. Thus, other than Darcy’s one mention of “the new theatre on Drury Lane,” (which opened on 10th October, 1812 after—guess what?—a fire!), every other mention of theatres in Mistaken is hopelessly but deliberately vague.

That’s the buildings themselves covered; now onto what went on inside them. Far from the refined, elegant outing I had previously imagined, a typical Regency evening at the theatre seems to have been more akin to a pub lock-in. People arrived early, remained late into the night and consumed food and alcohol in copious quantities as they watched a whole succession of performances ranging in nature from high drama to the aforementioned pantomime.

It seems that by the beginning of the C19th, the theatre had ceased to be the bastion of the very rich (not that they were so very well behaved either, but that’s another story). Though the wealthy kept to their private boxes, the lower classes had begun attending in numbers too, squeezing into the gallery up in the rafters and filling up the pits in front of the stage. This led to a mix of people in the audience whose social conventions were rather at odds.

According to the British Library, prostitutes in the pits were a given, riots in the stalls were commonplace and heckling was routine. One doesn’t like to imagine the stately Mr. Darcy partaking in such bawdy behaviour, but it seems to have been de rigueur to hurl at least one “boo” and possibly a rotten tomato at the stage. People talked amongst themselves, sang along to popular songs, and came and went as they pleased throughout the performances—though another snippet of information I happened across led me to think people did not get up and go quite as often as they should have.

According to QI.com, people without the privilege of a box were so unwilling to give up their unreserved seats that they occasionally relieved themselves where they sat. Though such a practice would at least have offered some much needed protection against the constant threat of fire, the problem was so severe that in the mid C19th, a theatre in Newcastle was forced to line the floor of its gallery with lead to save the wealthy patrons in the boxes below from the “inconvenience” of being dripped on.

All in all, my research painted a very different picture of the theatre than I had previously imagined Darcy and Elizabeth might experience—a fact I think readers will see reflected in the theatre scenes in the book. Fortunately, the characters in Mistaken don’t behave quite as poorly as this. That’s not to say they all behave well, mind, as you’ll see in the excerpt I’m sharing with you today. I hope you enjoy this sneak peek, and thanks for visiting with me at Anna’s blog.

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An excerpt from Mistaken, courtesy of Jessie Lewis

Wednesday, 22 April 1812: London

The intermission came, more an interlude to Elizabeth’s tragic narrative than to Shakespeare’s, and Mr. Gardiner was sent for refreshments. The ladies had not long been alone when an altercation erupted between two men a short way off.

“Oh, dear! Let us move away,” Mrs. Gardiner whispered.

Elizabeth would have done so directly had not one of the men then mentioned he who had been uppermost in her thoughts all evening.

“…never known anybody so high in the instep. Well, fie on him and his righteousness! I say Mr. Darcy is a sanctimonious prig!”

She fixed her eyes on the clearly inebriated speaker, her lips pursed against all the things she should like to say but could not. True, she had accused Mr. Darcy of worse, but she was acquainted with him well enough to have received an offer of marriage. She sincerely doubted this horrid little man had any such claim to intimacy.

“I never said he was not, but he did not cheat you, Wrenshaw,” the other man replied, and it seemed very much as though it was not the first time he had said it.

“How is it then that we parted with the same piece of land within two months of each other, and he made a fortune while I made naught but a fool of myself?”

“Because you are reckless with your money!”

“Piffle!” the man named Wrenshaw shouted to the tittered delight of the growing crowd. “He took advantage of me, I tell you! He is cheat—a bounder! Do not be fooled by the stick up his bailey. No man can be that damned proper. I wager he has a whore in every bedroom at Pemberley!”

A squall of gasps flew up.

“Come away, Lizzy,” her aunt repeated, but she could not leave.

“Mr. Darcy does not deserve this! He is not a bad man!”

“I confess I am surprised to hear you defend him.”

“I know, but I was very wrong about him.”

“Here we are!” Mr. Gardiner announced behind them. Before either lady could do more than receive the drinks he had brought, he added, “Good gracious, is that you, Harding?” and walked directly to the pair of squabbling men.

Mrs. Gardiner groaned. Elizabeth felt nothing but relief that Mr. Wrenshaw would be silenced. Within moments, her uncle was gesturing for them to join him. He introduced the quieter of the two men as a business acquaintance, Mr. Harding, and the other as that gentleman’s friend, Mr. Wrenshaw.

“And this is my lovely wife, Mrs. Gardiner. She has spent a good deal of time in your part of the country actually, Mr. Wrenshaw, in Lambton. And this is my niece, Miss—”

“Lambton? In Derbyshire?” Mr. Wrenshaw interrupted.

“Yes, between Pemberley and Yewbridge,” answered Mrs. Gardiner, looking as displeased with his incivility as Elizabeth felt.

“I know very well where it is, madam,” he replied curtly. To Mr. Harding he said, “It was Lambton that Crambourne wished to bypass with his blasted railway. And since Darcy would part with nary an inch of his estate, the arrogant swine bought half of mine and sold that to Crambourne instead! Now tell me he is not a swindling bleater!” His voice grew louder as he warmed to the topic, recalling the attention of all the eavesdroppers who had begun to lose interest.

Elizabeth’s vexation flared. “Upon my word, you have been very free with your opinion of that gentleman this evening, sir.”

Mr. Wrenshaw looked at her sharply. “What of it? You cannot have any peculiar interest in him.”

“I daresay the energy with which you have maligned him has provoked us all to be a little curious,” Elizabeth replied, indicating with a glance the scores of inquisitive faces watching their exchange. “You are obviously keen that we should all agree with your estimation of his character, but none of us will be able to until you decide what it is you wish us to think of him.”

His countenance reddened. “What is that supposed to mean?”

“You have accused Mr. Darcy of being righteous and depraved. I have been used to consider those opposing qualities. I am afraid he cannot be both.”

“I merely suggested, madam, that the appearance of one often conceals the presence of the other.”

“Indeed?” Elizabeth resisted a smile. “Then, it is to all our advantages that there are respectable men such as yourself to evince the difference for the rest of us.”

“Lizzy!” Mrs. Gardiner hissed.

“Indeed!” Mr. Wrenshaw assured her airily, to all appearances satisfied with the turn of the conversation—until several people sniggered nearby and his brow creased in puzzlement.

His friend wasted no time engaging Mr. Gardiner on another matter. Elizabeth retreated, happy to observe the crowds and their interest dissipating and happier still when the second curtain call came and she was able to escape Mr. Wrenshaw’s odious company.

Doesn’t that sound fantastic? I can’t wait to read Mistaken. Thank you, Jessie, for sharing your fascinating research and this excerpt with me and my readers! I learned a lot about the theatre today that I’m not likely to forget. 😉

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About Mistaken

Fitzwilliam Darcy is a single man in possession of a good fortune, a broken heart, and tattered pride. Elizabeth Bennet is a young lady in possession of a superior wit, flawed judgement, and a growing list of unwanted suitors. With a tempestuous acquaintance, the merciless censure of each other’s character, and the unenviable distinction of a failed proposal behind them, they have parted ways on seemingly irreparable terms. Despairing of a felicitous resolution for themselves, they both attend with great energy to rekindling the courtship between Darcy’s friend Mr. Bingley and Elizabeth’s sister Jane.

Regrettably, people are predisposed to mistake one another, and rarely can two be so conveniently manoeuvred into love without some manner of misunderstanding arising. Jane, crossed in love once already, is wary of Bingley’s renewed attentions. Mistaking her guardedness for indifference, Bingley is drawn to Elizabeth’s livelier company; rapidly, the defects in their own characters become the least of the impediments to Darcy and Elizabeth’s happiness.

Debut author Jessie Lewis’s Mistaken invites us to laugh along with Elizabeth Bennet at the follies, nonsense, whims, and inconsistencies of characters both familiar and new in this witty and romantic take on Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice.

Goodreads | Amazon (U.S.) | Amazon (U.K.)

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About the Author

Jessie Lewis

I’ve always loved words—reading them, writing them, and as my friends and family will wearily attest, speaking them. I dabbled in poetry during my angst-ridden teenage years, but it wasn’t until college that I truly came to comprehend the potency of the English language.

That appreciation materialised into something more tangible one dark wintry evening whilst I was making a papier-mâché Octonauts Gup-A (Google it—you’ll be impressed) for my son, and watching a rerun of Pride and Prejudice on TV. Fired up by the remembrance of Austen’s genius with words, I dug out my copy of the novel and in short order had been inspired to set my mind to writing in earnest. I began work on a Regency romance based on Austen’s timeless classic, and my debut novel Mistaken is the result.

The Regency period continues to fascinate me, and I spend a good deal of my time cavorting about there in my daydreams, imagining all manner of misadventures. The rest of the time I can be found at home in Hertfordshire, where I live with my husband, two children, and an out-of-tune piano. You can check out my musings on the absurdities of language and life on my blog, Life in Words, or you can drop me a line on Twitter, @JessieWriter, or on my Facebook page, Jessie Lewis Author,  or on Goodreads, Jessie Lewis.

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Giveaway

Enter here for a chance to win one of eight ebook copies of Mistaken that are up for grabs as part of the blog tour. You must enter through the Rafflecopter link.

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 Mistaken by Jessie Lewis. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international. Good luck!

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10/03   My Jane Austen Book Club Vignette, Giveaway

10/04   Darcyholic Diversions Author Interview, Giveaway

10/05   Just Jane 1813 Review, Giveaway

10/06   Diary of an Eccentric Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway

10/07   My Love for Jane Austen Character Interview, Giveaway

10/08   Of Pens and Pages Review, Giveaway

10/09   From Pemberley to Milton Guest Post, Giveaway

10/10   Half Agony, Half Hope Review, Excerpt

10/11   Savvy Verse and Wit Review, Giveaway

10/12   So little time… Guest Post, Giveaway

10/13   Babblings of a Bookworm Vignette, Giveaway

10/14   Interests of a Jane Austen Girl Review, Giveaway

10/15   Laughing With Lizzie Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway

10/16   Austenesque Reviews Vignette, Giveaway

Today I am delighted to share an excerpt from Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe’s memoir, The First Signs of April. The following excerpt is a scene taken from a day early in the caregiving experience of the author with her dying aunt.

Aunt Pat was in her chair on the back porch when I arrived the next morning. The warm sun through the porch window fell on her, illuminating her fragility. She was smiling and her eyes sparkled when she looked at me. “Such a beautiful day. Listen to those birds, and just look at the roses, Mary. They’re really coming along, aren’t they?”

Despite the horror that was now her life, she was still able to sit in the summer sun and enjoy the birds and her flowers. “Yes, and there are so many of them, too.” My eyes filled with tears I wouldn’t dare shed, as I stood beside her in quiet awe while Aunt Pat relished the moment.

“Well,” she put her hands on the arms of the chair, “are you ready for the day? I’ve got some things I’d like to get done.”

She pushed herself up, her tiny arms shaking under the little weight her body held, and stood as straight as she could. Locking her arm in mine, accepting the tiniest bit of assistance, we slowly walked into the house together. Our time on the porch was like being in a different world to the one we encountered within the walls of the house. Inside were the disease, the pain, the fear, and the lifetime of memories she and Uncle Roger shared. This house held the story of their lives, good and bad. Now it served as the stage for the last act of her life.

I think perhaps we were both thinking the same thing as we entered the back hall, and she gently squeezed my hand as if to reassure us both. “Now,” she said once inside the kitchen, “I want you to take down the curtains in the living room and wash them today, all right?”

“Sure, I can do that. How about I get them in the wash now, before Uncle Roger gets up and needs his breakfast?”

Aunt Pat nodded then sighed, I assumed in relief that this direction had been given. It seemed like she’d mustered all of her strength to get to this moment with me today and now she could relax. “I’ll just rest here a minute, before I get Rog’s morning meds.” Once again, the sounds of pain escaped her cracked lips as she awkwardly lowered herself to the couch.

If only there was some way to raise the couch so she wouldn’t have quite so far togo, I thought, watching out of the corner of my eye. She landed in a heap, with a yelp of pain, and I was certain she was broken. I couldn’t help but imagine her frail bones compressing together, grinding to dust with the impact. She held her hand over her eyes and her breath steadied some.

Climbing up the stepladder, I began taking down the nearly threadbare lace patterned sheer curtains. They were, or rather had once been, white, before the yellowing from age and cigarette smoke had coated them. They were so thin and delicate that I wasn’t sure they would survive a spin through the washing machine, let alone a heated tumble through the dryer. It’s what she wants, I reminded myself. I stood at the washing machine and turned the dial to the gentle cycle, silently acknowledging the need of this not only for the curtains, but for the three of us as we made our way on this journey together.

Uncle Roger was sitting at the table waiting for me to get his breakfast for him when I returned from the laundry room. Aunt Pat was back at the counter sorting through his medication.

“Good morning.” I placed the cereal box in front of him. “I brought the Stewart’s Root Beer you like. You can have it with your lunch later.”

He smiled, “Thank you, Mary.”

These words would be practically the only words spoken between us except for my “You’re welcome,” in the weeks that followed.

“Here are your pills, Rog. I’m going to lie down on the couch. I have an awful headache.”

Aunt Pat once again painfully made her way to the living room couch, stopping only to lay her hand gently on his shoulder as she passed. Uncle Roger shook his head as he watched her. The sorrow and helplessness in his eyes softened his otherwise harsh features. She never rested in her bed, only on the couch, perhaps knowing that if she were in bed she’d be acknowledging how sick she was and she wasn’t ready to succumb to that. Not yet.

After breakfast, Uncle Roger went to his recliner in the dining room. He was asleep in his chair when I came through with the laundry basket full of what I hoped were intact clean curtains.

Aunt Pat turned her head toward me as I set the basket down. “How’d they come out?”

I wondered why this one thing in particular seemed so important to her. Maybe she wanted things to look nice, knowing that with her decline in health people would be coming to the house. She was proud, even as she was preparing for her death.

A sigh escaped me as I reached into the basket and lifted one of the curtain panels up for her to see. “Looks like they came out pretty good. Look how white they are,” I said, relieved that the curtains had survived their journey and could now be hung with pride again. I can’t imagine what would’ve happened if they’d been ruined in the cleaning process.

She smiled, laid her head back down, and closed her eyes.

I lifted each sheer and carefully slid them onto the old white metal curtain rods, climbed the ladder then delicately placed the rods onto their hooks. Stepping back, I noticed how much the stark white curtains stood in contrast to the dark stained trim, built-in cabinets and nooks and crannies of the gloomy room. They looked almost bright and beautiful enough to cheer the whole place up. This was as good as it was going to be for them now.

Aunt Pat moaned. I turned to see her struggling to get up. This time I offered my hand and she took it. Our eyes met. She looked dejected, as though she had just lost some part of this battle. By accepting my help she was letting go of her independence and acknowledging some defeat. We both understood the significance of that gesture and we let it fill the space between us, but just for a moment.

Once she was up, we stood, arm in arm, looking at the cleaned curtains before us. Suddenly, as if from nowhere, it started: a low, humph, humph, that warned of the laugh to come. Aunt Pat’s rumble built to a crescendo full-on laugh that I’m sure would’ve knocked her down had she not had her arm linked to mine. I couldn’t help but laugh with her, although I had no idea why we were laughing.

“Oh, Mary,” she said, still giggling.

“What?”

“They’re inside out! How can you have a master’s degree and not know how to hang curtains? They’re all inside out,” she exclaimed.

Slightly embarrassed, I apologized for the mistake but she just laughed. “I don’t remember the last time I had such a good laugh.” She let go of my arm, turned, and headed out to the kitchen while I set off to right the wrong.

“Inside out.” I heard her laughing from the kitchen.

I could still hear Aunt Pat giggling as I made my way out to her chair on the back porch. She could’ve been angry or upset over the curtains, but instead she chose to laugh, as though she hadn’t a care in the world. The stench of stale cigarettes wafted up from the ashtray beside me, and the hot sun was so bright that I had to squint to look out the window into the garden. I tried to feel what she felt in those moments on the porch, when she seemed to take everything in with such joy. Her body was always so relaxed and her smile came from deep in her heart. She was truly alive, in spite of the dying.

Watching the sunlight falling on the roses, I tried again to feel something, but an invisible veil was separating me from the world. It was something I’d never been conscious of before, but it dawned on me that this veil had fallen around me many years ago. Since then, I had been living in silence, unwilling to reach out for life, love, or connection. The danger was just too great. I looked again at the roses but all I could feel was sad. Could it really have been so very long ago since I felt happy and able to connect with the world?

Wow, what a beautiful scene! Thank you for sharing this with me and my readers, Mary-Elizabeth!

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About The First Signs of April

Wounds fester and spread in the darkness of silence. The swirling reds, oranges, and yellows of fall’s foliage dance alongside Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe like flames as she tears through the winding back roads of the Northeast Kingdom, Vermont. Desperate to outrun memories that flood her mind, no matter how hard she rolls her motorcycle’s throttle, she cannot escape them.

Shut down and disconnected, Briscoe has lived her life in silence in order to stay alive. Her grief is buried, and shame is the skin that wraps around her bones—but then, following the brutal murder of a local teacher, she is forced as a grief counselor to face her lifetime of unresolved sorrow. Will she finally be able to crack the hard edges of her heart and allow in the light of truth so real healing can occur?

Goodreads | Amazon

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About the Author

Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe

Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe is a licensed mental health counselor currently on sabbatical from her private psychotherapy practice in northeastern Vermont. She currently spends her time between Cape Cod, Vermont, and Ireland. She has a masters degree in clinical mental health counseling from Lesley University and is a licensed clinical mental health counselor and a Certified Trauma Professional. She has been a lecturer for Springfield College School of Professional and Continuing Studies St. Johnsbury, Vermont campus. She has contributed to Cape Woman Online and Sweatpants and Coffee magazine. This is her first book. 

Visit her website, her Facebook, and on Twitter.

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Giveaway

As part of the blog tour, the publicist is offering one print copy of The First Signs of April to my readers, U.S. addresses only. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address and your thoughts on the excerpt. This giveaway will close on Wednesday, October 11, 2017. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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Follow the Blog Tour

Sept. 7: Teddy Rose Book Reviews and Plus More (Book Spotlight/Giveaway)
Sept. 20: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom (Review)
Sept. 28: Debra Smouse (Review)
Oct. 3: Soapy Violinist (Review)
Oct. 4: Diary of an Eccentric (Guest Post)
Oct. 18: The Book Connection (Guest Post)
Oct. 24: Bibliotica (Review)
Nov. 2:: Modern Creative Life (Interview)
Nov. 3: Life’s a Stage (Guest Post)
Nov. 4: Readaholic Zone (Review)
Nov. 15: Donna’s Book Reviews (Review)

Follow the tour with the hashtag #MaryBriscoe

Source: Review copy from author
Rating: ★★★★★

No, he couldn’t blame the young men in the crowd for following her around the room. He even admired her restraint given all that male attention. One thing about Emma, admiration for her looks alone didn’t turn her head; the poor fellow also had to flatter her brains and her sparkling personality to stir her vanity.

(from I Could Write a Book)

Karen M Cox’s latest novel, I Could Write a Book, is a variation of Jane Austen’s Emma set in 1970s Kentucky. Cox’s Emma Woodhouse is a college student who has sacrificed her future to care for her father following a stroke, and her George Knightley is a lawyer whose family has been connected to the Woodhouse’s since he was a child. Emma’s father was George’s father’s partner at Knightley and Woodhouse, and George and Emma have been close friends throughout the years, while George was away at college, through his long list of female companions, and throughout the illnesses of both Emma’s parents.

Cox does a fantastic job modernizing the story, keeping events and challenges true to the times while allowing the original novel to shine through. Mrs. Taylor has become Emma’s aunt, Nina, who cared for Emma and her sister Izzy while they were growing up without a mother; Harriet Smith has become Mary Jo, a secretary in George’s office who is just as flighty and easily swayed as Harriet; Mr. Elton has become Tim Elton, who is seeking a career in politics and a wife who will assist in those ambitions. Frank (Churchill) Weston, Jane Fairfax, Miss Bates (Helen), and the rest of Emma‘s cast of characters are featured here, and I loved going with the flow and seeing how the story would play out in a different setting.

I couldn’t help but love Emma even when it was obvious that her scheming was misguided. By giving readers a glimpse of Emma’s childhood and her bond with her mother, I felt like I really got to know her and understand why she was so willing to put her life on hold to take care of her father. I loved getting a peek into George’s head as well, and showing some of his romantic relationships made it so much better when his feelings for his best friend began to change. I’ve always loved Mr. Knightley, so I wasn’t surprised that I fell in love with him here.

As with Undeceived, where Cox transformed Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet into Cold War-era spies, I Could Write a Book showcases Cox’s cleverness and understanding of Austen’s characters in shaking things up while at the same time maintaining the structure of the original. Emma is one of my favorite Austen novels, and when I saw that Cox was writing a new spin on it, I expected it to be fantastic…and I wasn’t disappointed! Another contender for my Best of 2017 list, and another addition to my auto-buy author list!

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About I Could Write a Book

“Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever and rich…”

Thus began Jane Austen’s classic, a light and lively tale set in an English village two hundred years ago. Yet every era has its share of Emmas: young women trying to find themselves in their own corners of the world.

I Could Write a Book is the story of a self-proclaimed modern woman: Emma Katherine Woodhouse, a 1970s co-ed whose life is pleasant, ordered and predictable, if a bit confining.

Her friend George Knightley is a man of the world who has come home to fulfill his destiny: run his father’s thriving law practice and oversee the sprawling Donwell Farms, his family legacy in Central Kentucky horse country.

Since childhood, George’s and Emma’s lives have meshed and separated time and again. But now they’re adults with grown-up challenges and obligations. As Emma orchestrates life in quaint Highbury, George becomes less amused with her antics and struggles with a growing attraction to the young woman she’s become.

Rich with humor, poignancy and the camaraderie of life in a small, Southern town, I Could Write a Book is a coming of age romance with side helpings of self-discovery, friendship, and finding true love in the most unlikely places.

Goodreads | Amazon (universal link)

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About the Author

Karen M Cox

Karen M Cox is an award-winning author of novels accented with romance and history, including 1932 and its companion ebook novella The Journey Home, and the novels Find Wonder in All Things and Undeceived. She also contributed a short story, “Northanger Revisited 2015”, to the anthology, Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer, and a story titled, “I, Darcy” to The Darcy Monologues.

Karen was born in Everett, WA, which was the result of coming into the world as the daughter of a United States Air Force Officer. She had a nomadic childhood, with stints in North Dakota, Tennessee and New York State before finally settling in her family’s home state of Kentucky at the age of eleven. She lives in a quiet little town with her husband, where she works as a pediatric speech pathologist, encourages her children, and spoils her granddaughter.

If you would like bits of authorly goodness in your inbox once a month (updates, sales, book recommendations, etc.) sign up for News & Muse Letter

Karen loves to hear from readers, so don’t be shy. Contact her through social media, her website, or online sites like Amazon and Goodreads.

Connect with Karen via website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Amazon Author Page 

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Giveaway

Karen is generously offering two themed prize packages as tokens of appreciation for readers of I Could Write a Book and for supporters of the wonderful sites on the blog tour.

Tea Prize Basket includes: A signed copy of I Could Write a Book, Mr. Knightley’s Reserve and Emma’s Perfect Match teas from Bingley’s Teas, a set of Jane Austen Book Coasters, and a Jane Austen Quotes mug.

Pretty Things Basket includes: A signed copy of I Could Write a Book, an “Emma” quote pendant, an Emma bangle bracelet, Regency cameo earrings, and a jewelry roll.

Readers can enter for chances to win these prizes by clicking here. There are bonus entries for social media shares and visits, if you’re on social media. These giveaways are open internationally and end on October 7, 2017. You must enter through the Rafflecopter link. Good luck!

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Laughing with Lizzie / September 6 / Launch Post/Dating Game / Giveaway

So little time… / September 7 / Book Excerpt / Giveaway

Book Lover in Florida / September 8 / Guest post / Giveaway

Austenesque Reviews / September 15 / Book Review/ Giveaway

My Love for Jane Austen / September 16 / Guest Post / Giveaway

Granny Loves to Read  / September 17 / Book Review / Giveaway

My Jane Austen Book Club / September 18/ Guest Post/Mr. Knightley / Giveaway

Just Jane 1813 / September 19 / Author Interview / Giveaway

Sophia’s Sofa Chat / September 21 / An Interview with Karen M Cox on Goodreads

Babblings of a Bookworm/ / September 22 / Book Review/ Giveaway

Silver Petticoat Review / September 23/ Guest Post/ Giveaway

From Pemberley to Milton / September 25 / Book Excerpt / Giveaway

Margie’s Must Reads / September 27 / Book Review / Giveaway

My Vices and Weaknesses / September 30 / Book Review / Giveaway

Diary of an Eccentric / October 2 / Book Review / Giveaway

More Agreeably Engaged / October 4 / Book Excerpt / Giveaway 

Disclosure: I received I Could Write a Book from the author for review.

Source: Review copy from author
Rating: ★★★★★

She was adrift, without direction or inspiration. And for what? For the loss of something which had ever been hers? For envy of her beloved Jane, or disappointment over Lydia? A flash of anger rose in her eyes — the only life to spark back from her mirror. No! She swiped her hand over the flame, quenching it with a quick, stinging pinch of her fingers. There must be more.

(from These Dreams)

Nicole Clarkston’s These Dreams, a variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, is a novel I was forced to savor because of my busy schedule, but really I wanted to devour it in one sitting. This was one of the most creative — and angsty — variations I’ve ever read. I loved all the twists and turns, and even though it was hard to see my favorite characters brought so low, Clarkston does a fantastic job getting into their heads.

These Dreams opens as Mr. Darcy is orchestrating the marriage of Lydia Bennet and Mr. Wickham, except he doesn’t show up for the wedding, which pains Elizabeth at a time when she thought they would have a second chance. Darcy is brutally captured as part of a complex scheme dating back generations, and his family and friends believe him to be dead. Both Darcy and Elizabeth are in dark, hopeless situations, grieving what might have been.

Meanwhile, Colonel Fitzwilliam finds himself in charge of Darcy’s estate and sole guardian of Darcy’s sister, Georgiana, who is heartbroken at the loss of her brother and pulled every which way by family members who believe they have her best interests — and that of the Darcy name and estate — at heart. Fitzwilliam enlists the help of Elizabeth to bring some light back into Georgiana’s life and help her take the reins as mistress of Pemberley, which makes it possible for him to investigate his cousin’s death and unravel the many threads to the conspiracy that ultimately rips the bandage off his wounded heart.

Clarkston did a great job crafting a multilayered story with chaos and possible scandal at every turn. It was impossible to know who to trust, and she handles the healing of these damaged souls in a tender and realistic manner. I loved how Clarkston forged a special bond between Elizabeth and her newly married sister Lydia, allowing them to find some common ground amid their trauma and giving more depth to a character who is usually written off as foolish and unrepentant. There also were plenty of intriguing original characters, especially Amália, who reminded me so much of Elizabeth in her outspokenness and strength.

I absolutely loved These Dreams, even though the pain she caused Darcy and Elizabeth was like a punch to the gut at times. I had no idea how it was going to play out, so I just went along for the ride, and it was so worth it. Trust me, Clarkston doesn’t make you suffer too, too long, and all that pain makes the outcome so much sweeter. Definitely a contender for my Best of 2017 list!

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About These Dreams

An abandoned bride
A missing man
And a dream that refuses to die…

Pride and patriotism lend fervor to greed and cruelty, and Fitzwilliam Darcy is caught at the centre of a decades-old international feud. Taken far from England, presumed dead by his family, and lost to all he holds dear, only one name remains as his beacon in the darkness: Elizabeth.

Georgiana Darcy is now the reluctant, heartbroken heiress to Pemberley, and Colonel Fitwilliam her bewildered guardian. Vulnerable and unprepared, Georgiana desperately longs for a friend, while Fitzwilliam seeks to protect her from his own family. As the conspiracy around Darcy’s death widens and questions mount, Colonel Fitzwilliam must confront his own past. An impossible dream, long ago sacrificed for duty, may become his only hope.

Newly married Lydia Wickham returns to Longbourn — alone and under mysterious circumstances. Elizabeth Bennet watches one sister suffer and another find joy, while she lives her own days in empty regrets over what might have been. Believing Darcy lost forever, she closes her heart against both pain
and happiness, but finds no escape from her dreams of him.

Goodreads | Amazon U.S. | Amazon U.K.

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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

Please click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway, where 10 ebook copies are up for grabs. This giveaway is open internationally.

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 These Dreams by Nicole Clarkston. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.

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09/19   So little time…; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway

09/20   My Jane Austen Book Club; Vignette, Giveaway

09/21   From Pemberley to Milton; Review, Giveaway

09/22   Interests of a Jane Austen Girl; Review, Excerpt, Giveaway

09/23   Just Jane 1813; Review, Giveaway

09/24   My Vices and Weaknesses; Excerpt, Giveaway

09/25   Babblings of a Bookworm;  Guest Post or Vignette, Giveaway

09/26   Diary of an Eccentric; Review, Giveaway

09/27   Half Agony, Half Hope; Review, Excerpt

09/28   Darcyholic Diversions; Author Interview, Giveaway

09/29   My Love for Jane Austen; Charcter Interview, Giveaway

09/30   Margie’s Must Reads; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway

10/01   Savvy Verse and Wit; Review, Giveaway

10/02   Austenesque Reviews; Character Interview, Giveaway

10/03   Obsessed with Mr. Darcy; Review, Giveaway

10/04   From Pemberley to Milton; Guest Post, Giveaway

Disclosure: I received a copy of These Dreams from the author for review.

Today I get to share with you Diana Raab’s latest book, Writing for Bliss, and there’s a copy up for grabs for my U.S. readers (stay tuned for the details).

About Writing for Bliss

A personal narrative can truly have healing and transformative powers. In her inspirational new book, Writing for Bliss, Diana Raab, Ph.D., examines how life-changing experiences can inspire you to write a compelling narrative of your life. A how-to guide for anyone interested in growth and personal transformation, Writing for Bliss will take you on a unique journey of self-discovery, and guide you to your own personal bliss.

Geared for the emerging writer, the seasoned writer, and those in academia, this book leads spiritual seekers down the path of self-discovery through writing prompts, tools for journaling, and embodied and reflective writing techniques; and offers ways to find the best vehicle for profound self-expression.

Those who can benefit from writing a life narrative may have been exposed to early-life trauma, loss, or addiction. Writing your story is a way to reclaim your voice, reveal a family secret, or simply share your story with others. Journaling is a cathartic and safe way to work through your feelings and “direct your rage to the page.”

With the help of this indispensible guide to therapeutic writing, you’ll understand yourself better and be able to deal with various challenges in your life, such as depression, anxiety, addiction, loss of loved ones, diseases, and life transitions.

Offering step-by- step practical exercises for journaling your thoughts, emotions, and memories, along with techniques to jump-start your writing, Writing for Bliss will help you achieve the therapeutic results of writing for healing, and provides essential information for using this technique to transform your life in a meaningful way.

Goodreads | Amazon

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Advance Praise:

“Poet and memoirist Raab (Lust) credits her lifelong love of writing and its therapeutic effects with inspiring her to write this thoughtful and detailed primer that targets pretty much anyone interested in writing a memoir. Most compelling here is Raab’s willingness to share her intimate stories (e.g., the loss of a relative, ongoing struggles with cancer, a difficult relationship with her mother). Her revelations are encouraging to writers who feel they need ‘permission to take… a voyage of self-discovery.’ The book’s seven-step plan includes plenty of guidance, including on learning to ‘read like a writer,’ on practicing mindfulness meditation, and on addressing readers as if ‘seated across the table from [your] best friend.’ Raab covers big topics such as the ‘art and power of storytelling’ and small details such as choosing pens and notebooks that you enjoy using. She also helps readers with the important step of ‘finding your form’” —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

“Writing for Bliss brims with the truths of Raab’s life, as well as that of other established and beloved authors and philosophers. Writing for Bliss is far more than a “how-to-manual”; it enlightens the creative process with wisdom and a delightful sense of adventure.  Bravo to Bliss!’   —LINDA GRAY SEXTON, author of Searching for Mercy Street: My Journey Back To My Mother, Anne Sexton and Bespotted: My Family’s Love Affair With Thirty-Eight Dalmatians

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About the Author

Diana Raab

 

Diana Raab, MFA, PhD, is a memoirist, poet, blogger, speaker, thought leader, and award-winning author of nine books and more than 1,000 articles and poems. She holds a PhD in psychology—with a concentration in transpersonal psychology—and her research focus is on the healing and transformative powers of personal writing. Her educational background also encompasses health administration, nursing, and creative writing.

During her 40-year career, Dr. Raab has published thousands of articles and poems and is the editor of two anthologies: Writers and Their Notebooks and Writers on the Edge. Her two memoirs are Regina’s Closet: Finding My Grandmother’s Secret Journal and Healing with Words: A Writer’s Cancer Journey. She has also written four collections of poetry, her latest collection is called, Lust. As an advocate of personal writing, Dr. Raab facilitates workshops in writing for transformation and empowerment, focusing on journaling, poetry, and memoir writing. She believes in the importance of writing to achieve wholeness and interconnectedness, which encourages the ability to unleash the true voice of your inner self. Dr. Raab serves on the board of Poets & Writers (Magazine Committee), and Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Santa Monica, California. She is also a Trustee at the University of California, Santa Barbara. 

Visit her on Twitter and on Facebook.

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Giveaway

Diana is generously offering a copy of Writing for Bliss to one of my readers. This giveaway is open to readers with U.S. addresses only. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. We’d love to hear what intrigues you most about the book. This giveaway will close on Tuesday, September 26, 2017. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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Click the button below to follow the Writing for Bliss blog tour