The Jane Austen Novel that Matters

July 18, 2017 is the bicentennial anniversary of Jane Austen’s death. I have read her books, seen the movies and read her letters. She has inspired me to write Regency and learn about the royal navy and even imagine strolling the streets of Bath. I have numerous copies of her novels.

But there is one book that twists my heart with a mere mention of its title and that is Persuasion. Jane’s last novel, which was published after her death in December 1817.

Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen for two reasons. The first reason I love this book is its theme–a second chance at love and the second reason is the dishy, perfect hero Captain Fredrick Wentworth.

No doubt, you must have read the novel (if you are reading this, it is likely that you are a Jane Austen fan) so I will not go into the plot. With Fredrick’s return and Anne’s family’s fortunes dwindling, both Anne and Fredrick now have a chance for second love. Their love has never died after a denial and eight long years. As I read Jane’s words, I cannot stop from imagining Fredrick out at sea, heartbroken and carrying that pain. And when he returns he is now a man of fortune and gets the chance to show Anne what she denied.

We all have wanted to do that and some have had the chance to do it. And Fredrick does what many have done and acted as if he is not pained by the sight of her. Though, he is unaware that she too had been tormented by what could have been.

Captain Wentworth leaving Anne the love letter.

When Fredrick learns Anne still loves him, he takes his chance. And oh, the way he declares it, tears fill my eyes and my throat closes up and my bottom lip shakes.

I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone I think and plan–Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes?–I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice, when they would be lost on others.–Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating in 

F.W.

I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look will be enough to decide whether I enter your father’s house this evening, or never. 

Reading this novel, I feel the love between Fredrick and Anne as well as the longing. These emotions seep from the ink and soak into my skin and fill me. I can’t stop myself and must always hug it to my heart.

Then I can’t help but wonder–As Jane neared death, did she yearn for a second chance at love? She must have. We all do.

 

 

 

A Book By Any Other Name Still Needs A Title

A book title is as important as a child’s name. It must encapsulate the story as well as be catchy so our readers will hopefully remember it when it comes time to slap some money down for it.

When I needed to name my Scottish romance—The Marriage Alliance—I was lucky. The title came to me at once. The Marriage Alliance is about a marriage of convenience. So, my title did all that was required for a title. It hints to the reader the story and the genre. I think it’s also easy to remember too.

What do you think? Does my title work?


The “Write” Tune

Some writers loved to write in silence. Me–I can’t do that. The silence makes me sleepy. I like to write to music.

What music do I choose?

I always love to do a playlist for each book I write. For my Summer 2017 re-release of The Marriage Alliance, my playlist is an upbeat one. The one song that really got my juices going is Still into You by Paramore.

Another song that inspired me was this one. I have loved this song since the 90s and have always stirred my heart. That’s exactly what an author wants when writing.

The last song that really helped me when I was writing The Marriage Alliance was this great one. This is exactly what every heroine wants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love Letters

Chocolates taste great. Roses smell wonderful. But a love letter—oh! A love letter is a true gift and beautiful expression of love. We all wish to receive one and when you get them they will stay with you forever. I still have mine though I no longer have the man in my life.

So to celebrate Valentine’s day, here are three love letters from history.

Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn

In debating with myself the contents of your letters I have been put to a great agony; not knowing how to understand them, whether to my disadvantage as shown in some places, or to my advantage as in others. I beseech you now with all my heart definitely to let me know your whole mind as to the love between us; for necessity compels me to plague you for a reply, having been for more than a year now struck by the dart of love, and being uncertain either of failure or of finding a place in your heart and affection, which point has certainly kept me for some time from naming you my mistress, since if you only love me with an ordinary love the name is not appropriate to you, seeing that it stands for an uncommon position very remote from the ordinary; but if it pleases you to do the duty of a true, loyal mistress and friend, and to give yourself body and heart to me, who have been, and will be, your loyal servant (if your rigour does not forbid me), I promise you that not only the name will be due to you, but also to take you as my sole mistress, casting off all others than yourself out of mind and affection, and to serve you only; begging you to make me a complete reply to this my rude letter as to how far and in what I can trust; and if it does not please you to reply in writing, to let me know if some place where I can have it by word of mouth, the which place I will seek out with al my heart. No more for fear of wearying you. Written by the hand of him who would willingly remain your

HR

 

John Keats to Fanny Brawne

My sweet Girl,

I am living to day in yesterday: I was in complete fascination all day. I feel myself at your mercy. Write me ever so few lines and tell you (for me) you will never for ever be less kind to me than yesterday—. You dazzled me.There is nothing in the world so bright and delicate. When Brown came out with that seemingly true story against me last night, I felt it would be death to me if you had ever believed it – thought against any one else I could muster up my obstinacy. Before I knew Brown could disprove it was for the moment miserable. When shall we pass a day alone? I have had a thousand kisses, for which with my whole soul I thank love–but if you should deny me the thousand and first- ‘twould put me to the proof how a great misery I could live through. If you should every carry your threat yesterday into execution–believe me ’tis not my pride, my vanity or any petty passion would torment me–really ‘twould hurt my heart–I could not bear it. I have seen Mrs. Dilke this morning; she says she will come with me any fine day.

Ever yours

John Keats

Ah hertè mine!

 

Elizabeth Barrett Browning To Robert Browning

My Own Beloved, if ever you should have reason to complain of me in things voluntary and possible, all other women would have a right to tread me underfoot, I should be so vile and utterly unworthy. There is my answer to what you write yesterday of wishing to be better to me…you! What could be better than lifting me from the ground and carrying me into life and the sunshine? I was yours rather by right than by gift (yet by gift also, my beloved!); for what you have saved and renewed is surely yours. All that I am, I owe you– if I enjoy anything now and henceforth, it is through you. You know this well. Even as I, from the beginning, knew that I had no power against you…or that, I had it was for your sake.

Dearest, in the emotion and confusion of yesterday morning, there was yet room in me for one thought which was not a feeling – for I thought that, of the many, many women who have stood where I stood, and to the same end, not one of them all perhaps, not one perhaps, since that building was a church, has had reasons strong as mine, for an absolute trust and devotion towards the man she married, –not one! And then I both thought and felt, that it was only just, for them…those women who were less happy…to have the affectionate sympathy and support and presence of their nearest relations, parent or sister…which failed to me,…needing it less through being happier!

 

 

 

My Tele is British but this Author is American…

As a writer, I love books, movies, TV shows—anything else that tells a story. Also being a writer, I cannot always watch the TV shows at the moment they premiere so I binge, stuffing myself with entertainment and fun.And they are so many great shows that have me bingeing like a 21-years-old’s first time at the bar.

These are the ones that I am loving… 

The Crown:

This award-winning Netflix’s series is set during Elizabeth’s first years after having the British crown placed on her head. The man who wrote The Queen, which starred Helen Mirren,  also wrote this series. The Crown is the most expensive series produced, costing $130 million (that’s 100 million pounds). Understandably since this show is rich in every way.

Birds of Feather:

This British comedy series centers around two sisters, Sharon and Tracey, and their friend Dorien or Foxy Cohen (her pen name for her novel Sixty Shades of Green). This series first aired in 1989 and returned in 2016 (and feature the original cast.) This series is a great way for me to unwind. They are three friends that take jabs at each other, laugh when they fall but when it truly counts, these three women stand by each other.

Good Girls Revolt  

This Amazon series is the fictional account of the female researchers of Newsweek (the lowest-level positions) who sue for gender discrimination and changed America’s workplace. Sadly, this show has been canceled. But if you can see the first and only check it out. The details and setting are rich and transport you to 60s NYC and it sparked the go-get’em feel in me.

Agatha Raisin

Another British series (I watched a lot of Brit TV) set in the Cotswolds. It’s a cozy mystery series about a London PR agent who sells everything, purchases her dream cottage in the Cotswolds and finds herself accused of a poisoning someone. Agatha finds she has a talent for solving murders. I just lose myself in the story, characters and oh the scenery–Agatha’s home is my dream cottage.

Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath

We all must have heard the stories about Scientology. This series speaks to the previous members of this group who share their horror stories of abuse at the hands of this organization. Whatever your personal beliefs toward Scientology, this series is gripping, heart-wrenched and at times, leaves me wondering how people find themselves part of groups like this. Though, non-fiction it is a great way for you to learn more about character and motivation because you see it in weekly episodes. 

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

An Aussie show set in 1920s Sydney. Miss Fisher is a private detective who has a great eye for fashion, a smart, quick mind, a heart for adventure and a steady hand to shot her gun but most importantly, the soul of a crusader. When I go back in time I want to be Miss Fisher.

Happy Valley

This Netflix series is about a female Police Sergeant named in Catherine who is raising her grandson after her daughter’s suicide with the help of her recovering addicted sister. Catherine is a strong woman who is dealing with life and doing her job. I can’t tell you much without them you all. But I love a strong woman living her life.

Outlander

If you are reading this blog, you most likely read romance novels and probably have heard of the Outlander books and series so I do not have to blurt out the same description you already know.  I enjoy the tale of Claire and Jaimie. Yes, Sam Heughan is damn hot. In the first season, I felt Claire’s struggle between staying with Jaimie and returning to Frank. I love both those men. And I hate Black Jack— oh the emotions, I stir me with the both the show and books.

Besides, being entertained by a wonderful story with talented actors and the beauty of Scotland, I see how the novel’s story is translated to TV.

Versailles

French Royal soap opera with the Sun King–Louis XIV. It’s about lust, power, and the fate of a royal family. Watching this series, you see the grandness of the French court as Louis moves the royal court from Paris to Versailles. The royal hunting lodge located in swamp land that becomes the grand house that still awes the world. Louis and Philippe (the king’s brother) deal with the intrigue of the French nobles and led to the French nation through history. As a viewer, you know how the House of Bourbon ends.

 

 

 

 

 

A Royal Love Affair

Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria is remembered as the stern-faced queen dressed in her widow weeds. But beneath her frown and black satins was a woman of passion. In 1836, Victoria was a seventeen-year-old girl who would one day sit upon the British throne. She had a sad, lonely childhood and her world consisted of the walls of Kensington Palace. Many crowns of Europe desired her little hand (she was five feet) but one man, her cousin Albert, captured her heart.

Albert Saxe-Coburg

Albert was the second son of Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and Princess Louise Saxe-Gotha-Attenburg. His parents divorced when he was young and from all accounts he never saw his mother again after her banishment from court. Much like his cousin, his childhood was a sad one as well.

The two great loves first met when Albert traveled to England with his father and his brother (both named Ernest) in 1836. Of her two cousins, Albert captured her attention. “Albert, who is just as tall as Ernest but stouter, is extremely handsome; his hair is about the same colour as mine; his eyes are large and blue, and he has a beautiful nose and a very sweet mouth with fine teeth; but the charm of his countenance is his expression; which is most delightful c’est a la fois full of goodness and sweetness and very clever and intelligent.”

During his visit, details about Albert received more attention from her pen than his brother. She calls him dearest Albert and writes paragraphs about their time together. Victoria’s heart soared. As they were to depart, Victoria wrote,  “…I love Ernest and Albert more than them, oh yes, much more.” 

So much more that when she wrote her uncle she said, “I must thank you, my beloved Uncle, for the prospect of great happiness, you have contributed to give me, in the person of dear Albert. Allow me, then, my dearest Uncle, to tell you how delighted I am with him, and how much I like him in every way. He possesses every quality, that could be desired to render me perfectly happy. He is so sensible, so kind, and so good, and so amiable too. He has besides, the most pleasing and delightful exterior and appearance, you can possibly see.”

Victoria’s life returned to one of isolation under her mother’s rule. On June 20, 1837, the King, William IV died. The crown now sat upon her head. But their uncle, the King of the Belgians desired this political match. But for Albert and Victoria, it was a love match first and foremost. But Albert had to wait for Victoria to make the move.

While Albert waited in his home country, Victoria enjoyed her independence and would not rush into marriage.  It took two years before Victoria sent for Albert. But upon being in his presence, the queen knew that Albert was the man for her. Five days after his arrival, Victoria proposed to Albert. Being Queen, she had to pop the question. She wrote “that it would make me too happy if he would consent to what I wanted (that he should marry me). We embraced each other over and over again, and he was so kind and so affectionate.”

Albert returned to his home country to deal with his affairs. “I need not tell you that since we left, all my thoughts have been with you at Windsor, and that your image fills my whole soul. Even in my dreams I never imagined that I should find so much love on earth. How that moment shines for me when I was close to you, but with your hand in mine! Those days flew by so quickly, but our separation will fly equally so. Ernest wishes me to say a thousand nice things to you. With promises of unchanging love and devotion, your ever true Albert.”

On February 10, 1840, Albert and Victoria married at St.James’ Palace. “Albert repeated everything very distinctly. I felt so happy when he placed the ring on my finger. As soon as the Service was over, the Procession returned as it came, with the exception that dearest Albert led me out!…”  It was a grand affair with people crowding the streets and cheering the couple with the greatest of joy.  “Oh! this was the happiest day of my life!”

They were a passionate couple whose fights rang out and whose sexual passion resulted in nine children. Victoria hated being pregnant but she wouldn’t banish Albert from her bed. She loved her husband and the passion they shared. Albert became a great consort to the queen and added to the greatness of the Victorian Era.

On December 14, 1861, the two lovers were parted when Albert died. Victoria turned into the widow-weed wearing monarch we remember. The second longest reigning monarch of Great Britain passed on January 22, 1901, and was buried in her white dress and her wedding veil.

 

How Does She Do it All…Writing Style? A MFRWAuthor Tells You How She Deals.

Since I started pursuing my writing as a career, I’ve heard many authors talk about the challenges of writing and family. See, I don’t have that problem. I have no husband or children. I have a lovebird. My time to write is all my own. 

My family has always supported my desire to be an author. My mother brought me books, notebooks and never bothered me when I was writing. In fact, she encouraged me, telling me to go and write when I complained that I was bored.

But wait a minute–Don’t think that I am sitting at my computer all day long, pounding out stories and doing whatever I want whenever I want. That isn’t my life. You see I deal with chronic illness–Lupus and Fibromyalgia, to be exact. My body rebels against what I want it  to do. Either I’m too tired or stiff or I just feel beat up, tossed about and thrown to the wolves to be gnawed on. A thought pops into my head then explodes into nothing before I can capture it. My hands and fingers feel like they are wrapped in tape and can’t bend.

So, what does this have to do with family surviving your writing? I’m sure you heard that term life-work balance. I learned that that concept is utter crap. Life is about priorities. Maybe your child is ill with a raging a fever. You focus on that. Perhaps, your husband has vacation time. You focus on that. Maybe your elderly parent is ill. You focus on that. Having your family survive your writing is about priorities. You do what you can when you can.

Having your family survive your writing is about priorities. You do what you can when you can. If you make your writing one of your priorities, respect your writing time (even if it’s for 15 minutes) then your family will too.

But that isn’t the only thing you can do to have your family survive your writing–the next thing is to ask for help. Share what you wish to accomplish with your loved ones, let them know you need help. Remember that isn’t a weakness.

My advice–make a list of all your responsibilities and another list of what you wish to accomplish. For a week, jot down how long each task takes you. At the end of the week, determine where your time went, what was a waste and what could others do to help. Then use that time for writing.

Because you are not a writer if you don’t write. And I want you to write.

 

A First Timer, no more

I registered for my first RWA National conference back in March or April and this past week, I attended it and am no longer a first timer.  The orange ribbon won’t hang from my nametag again though I’m hoping that Golden Heart Finalist or Rita Finalist will soon.

Victoria Alexander and Me

Anyway on Tuesday, the Literacy signing, a crush of romance readers and fans filled a large ballroom where tables lined the room, authors sitting behind their pile of books.  The blend of heat, human flesh, and paper and the almost non-existent air conditioned air filled the room.  Luckily, Victoria Alexander gave out fans to cool the excitement of being surrounded by books and an authors.  So, I walked around seeing my favorite authors, Christina Dodd who remembered me from Twitter.  I was so very thrilled that I nearly floated away like a helium balloon escaping its grounding weight to float into the upper sphere.  Susan Elizabeth Philips who signed my Call Me Irresistible. I asked for a picture and she gladly stood from her seat.  Of course, my phone froze, (I hate that stupid thing) and her daughter saved the day and took the picture. I went home ready for Wednesday.

Susan Elizabeth Philips and me

Wednesday, off to the conference.  I attended workshops and took notes until my hand cramped.  I also ordered the recording because there so many great workshops but only one of me who lacks that ability to be in one place at one time.  Then the free books, sat down to lunch a couple of book by Madeline Hunter (love her), someplace else a free book. At the end of the day, my mind had so much to absorb.   A half a day that wet my toes because on Thursday, I would be drenched.

Thursday, workshops from 8:30 to 5:30.  I moved from workshop to workshop. Taking notes and asking questions and getting answers to that helped me in my revisions of my category romance for the Harlequin Desire line.
 
Then came the publishers signing which is a room filled with their authors signing free books. I was in heaven.  An romance addict surrounded by her drug.  I snatched up every book and tried authors I’ve seen yet never risked.  But I was always asked the two same questions:  How do you say you name and Are you have fun? 

The first question is one I’ve dealt with all my life so it’s expected after I introduce myself.  And the second one received the same answer, “Oh Yeah!”  I imagine my eyes were bulging, not wanting to miss seeing everything and the brackets wrinkles cracking through my face deepened from my smile.   I didn’t care.

I had some many books that I had to have my mother come with the shopping cart to pick them up to bring home.  My scrawny arms and Fibromyalgia and Lupus affected body couldn’t do and made me struggle through this days.  I swore that I would be found under a towering pile of books, suffocated by the written word.

Lisa Kleypas and me.
Sherrilyn Kenyon white dot in foreground.      .

Friday, the last day.  So my feet were swollen and achy from the walking and sitting, and the walking and the sitting and the walking.  My left arm couldn’t straightened from carrying books. My energy level nearing E and needed fuel which wasn’t food but rest.  I promised that I would do nothing until Tuesday and I keep that promise.  I attended my workshops, learning about police officers, emotions and others topics.  I spotted friends I had seen in a while.  I liked that part too.  I met new people and then came the luncheon.

I sat down at a table with Karen Hawkins!!! Then Sherrilyn Kenyon spoke.  She spoke of her life, her older brother who taught her to read with a wrinkled Spiderman comic, the same brother who believed that her books would be published and the brother who died before he could see her success.  I wept, having similar hurting experiences in my life, I felt the pain for her too.  Though some people might take away to never give up no matter the hardships, me, I learned one lesson– Everyone needs a champion!  The one person who believes in us, that cheers us on when we feel we’re in the dirt, the one that we sometimes get up for when we want to stay down.  I’m gladly to say I have a few champions.

So, I’m no longer a first timer. I learned craft skills, which is helpful but I learned a very important lesson I didn’t even know would be taught.  I’m a writer and would not give up writing for any reason or hardship.  This is what I want and one day, others will be entertained by the books I write.  

Why Women Have More Than One Pair of Shoes?

Two days ago in the bookstore, I spotted that same question on a book and I already knew that answer. The answer is something that in embedded in the nature of women.

Men are hunters. In centuries ago, men headed out and bagged whatever animal. An animal to feed and cloth their tribe until the next time. Whereas women, we went out and gathered. One piece of fruit wouldn’t do nay, our ancestors filled their baskets.

Nowadays, men head out to hunt. They hunt for resources some money, ladies, cars and anything else. They play sports and all that other manly stuff that shows off their masculine wonderfulness.

As for us ladies, we gather, bags, lipstick, shoes. Gathering shoes or anything else answers to our primal need and desires. Us female species look for resources, the necessaries in life. In these times, resources are different.

And though, I love strawberries and spaghetti and I love shoes that make my legs look good, the perfect red lipstick and every other item in between. So Jimmy Choo and Blahnik and Louboutain, keep flowering for the seasons.