A few years ago, my husband and I were able to attend a performance of Japanese Kabuki theater company. The performance was in Japanese, so the entire audience had headsets that allowed an interpreter in translate the performance for us. The interpreter was spectacular. He translated not only the language, but the culture as well. He explained so many things that made the performance so much more enjoyable. For example, there were a number of black garbed people running around the stage but they were not actors. He explained they were stage hands and they wore black so you could not see them. Amazingly, once I knew this, I found I really didn’t see them anymore. One of the stage actors wore a costume with pant legs about three feet longer than they needed to be. He explained that the king’s advisers wore these pants to protect the king for if they were to harm the king in any way, they could not make a quick escape.
These little tidbits added so much to the performance and helped us enjoy it far more than we otherwise would have. I have found myself offering the same service to my family when we watch period movies, particularly Regency era ones. When my boys studied Pride and Prejudice in high school, I watched with them and explained an entire subtext that they were entirely unaware of. While they made some noises about appreciating it, I’m not sure how welcome my interpreting was to them.
But you, gracious readers, are an entirely different class all together! You share my joy and fascination with all things Regency. I cannot wait to sit down and watch Pride and Prejudice with you who will allow me to have my share of the conversation and not give me rolled eyes and pats on the head for it. Continue reading →
I am giving away two autographed copies of the book to those who leave comments below. (E-books for international winners.) The giveaway will end on March 31, 2013, so leave loads of comments and do not forget the Rafflecopter option for additional opportunities to win. In addition, yesterday Regina Jeffers launched her latest release, THE MYSTERIOUS DEATH OF MR. DARCY. Regina and I have decided to double your pleasure and double the fun. Those who comment below are also in the running to win a copy of Regina’s book, and those who commented on her post yesterday will be eligible to win my title.
All the Appearance of Goodness is the continuation of the Given Good Principles series.
What is a young woman to do? One handsome young man has all the goodness, while the other the appearance of it. How is she to separate the gentleman from the cad?
When Darcy joins his friend, Bingley on a trip to Meryton, the last thing on his mind is finding a wife. Meeting Elizabeth Bennet changes all that, but a rival for his affections appears from a most unlikely quarter. He must overcome his naturally reticent disposition if he is to have a chance of winning her favor.
Elizabeth’s thoughts turn to love and marriage after her sister, Mary’s, engagement. In a few short weeks she goes from knowing no eligible young men, to being courted by two. Both are handsome gentleman, but one conceals secrets and the other conceals his regard. Will she determine which is which before she commits to the wrong one?
Please enjoy a little excerpt to whet your appetite.
From Chapter 9
An hour later, composed and momentarily calm, Louisa Bingley paced the length of her dressing room. By all rights, the carpet should be as threadbare as her own soul by now, but the makers had woven it of sturdier stuff that she.
Could she stand up to Caroline as Mr. Bradley suggested? The idea was fantastical, unheard of in her family, so close to fiction it tried her sensibilities. She whirled about for another trip past the dressing table.
What choice had she? Caroline had already announced her intentions to join Louisa on her wedding trip and live with her and Hurst afterwards. She loved Hurst too well to subject him to the life she and Charles endured. If she did not do something now, her marriage would be ruined before it began. Continue reading →
Flirtation is a diverting, and necessary sport for any young lady in want of a husband. So it seems quite odd that a mother who engages in much match-making and elder sisters in need of husbands would conspire together to interfere with so much with it. Even so, a great deal of flirtation can be undertaken in the presence of one’s chaperone with them being left none the wiser for it. A young lady need only be clever and in the company of like-minded companions to engage in a great deal of harmless fun with many young men all at one.
There is of course dancing as an obvious answer to this need, however, parlor games may be used to much the same effect. These are quite useful when there are no smart musicians about or they, as if oft the case with my sister, are unwilling to perform appropriate music for a dance.
Keep in mind, however, the proper choice of evening pastimes is critical. Certain games lend themselves to flirtations and conversations which might never be so easily accomplished in any other way. A girl must be well versed in these pastimes and insure her friends are likewise that they may assist one another in directing the games in the most profitable way possible.
Games which are particularly amenable for this purpose I divide into two sorts, those which allow for covert communications and those which allow interactions of a more physical nature. I myself am more fond of the later for the former demands an eloquency with words that I can be little bothered with. However, I have known girls who put them to use with great efficacy and it would not do to leave any means of flirtation untried. Continue reading →
Every job has its hazards, we all know that. As far as dangerous occupations, writing seems like it should be way down on the list right? Granted carpal tunnel problems from pen or keyboard can be an issue, but beyond that, paper cuts seem like they’d be the next biggest danger.
Well, there are others perils writers face along the journey.
For example, I used to be able to run out of the house without a purse, just a phone and wallet and I was good to go. Now my purse is more like a backpack. I am never without a pen and paper handy, actually two pens, since one will invariably run out of ink at a critical moment, and a highlighter too. Yes, I know about the notepad app on the phone, but the battery can run out and it can hang at the most crucial moment, not to mention research says that we use more of our creative brain capacity when we use pen and paper.
So, my back is at risk if I have to lug that silly purse around too long. Continue reading →
I love Christmas traditions. When my husband and I married, back in the Dark Ages I think, we got to decide what holiday traditions we wanted to establish for our family. One of our favorites is that he always makes Christmas breakfast. He does something different each year and usually keeps it a secret from our boys until that morning. Now, he doesn’t cook much so some years the results have been interesting, but that’s part of the fun of it all.
Neither of our families did Christmas stocking, but we decided to. We open the stockings before breakfast. The boys never know what will appear in their stockings. It is my job to come up with fun and creative little gifts for them. This is one of those places where having boys makes things much more interesting. Girls are so much easier in this regard, nail polish, lipstick, hair accessories, fun jewelry, all things which easily fit in a Christmas stocking. Boy stuff however, especially teen-aged boy stuff is entirely a different matter! So I have to get pretty creative. They tell me they look forward to seeing what I come up with each year. No pressure on mom at all!
Our Christmas dinner is often very unique. Our favorite thing to do is make a variety of finger foods and have a game night with favorite family games or a movie night with new movie gifts. So while everyone else at the grocery is looking for turkeys, I’m heading for Little Smokies for pigs in blankets. Unusual, yes, but its one of those things the guys look forward to and will always remember. Continue reading →
When in doubt and you live with teenagers, blame it on the kids!
I remember being a ten year old hunting and pecking at an old Smith-Corona manual typewriter, banging out my first short story anthology. I still have those pages, in a box on the shelves beside me, a reminder of how far I’ve come. As creative as I was back then—I did write science fiction after all—I would have never envisioned my desk today with laptop computer, cell phone and multiple large cats who take turns on desk duty. Yet here I am.
I suppose this is really my kids’ fault. College and graduate school took their toll on my writing. Years of university teaching after that did not help. My writing was limited to curriculum and academic endeavors. But my kids kept the storyteller in me alive. They loved the stories I told them and the stories we would create together.
One of their favorites came about on a morning drive to school. We noticed how the rear lights on the car in front of us made a distinctly frog-life face. This of course inspired the woe-filled tale of the hapless frog who had been turned into a convertible by an evil wizard. We illustrated that story and bound it professionally. I suppose that was my first publication.
Several years later an incident of school bullying set us off on a new adventure, martial arts. I always considered myself a klutz and something like tae kwon do was totally outside my realm of possibility. But they dragged me into it with them, kicking and screaming at ties—and I have two black belts on my wall to show for it.
The experience made me realize if I could do that, then it was time to pick some other impossible dreams and pursue them as well. Just four years later I released my debut book, Darcy’s Decision.
Not surprisingly, my favorite Austen adaptations to write (and read) are ‘what if’ stories that consider what would happen to our favorite characters has some significant life detail been different. I’d like to share with you an excerpt from my latest what-if, a work in progress called ‘It Only Stands to Reason’.
“I do not see how you can disagree, Fitzwilliam.” Lady Catherine bounced down on the overstuffed chair and folded her hands in her lap. Her features settled into well-worn creases, lips pressed tight, eyes narrowed and staring down her nose. She settled her shoulders into the soft cushion. Continue reading →
Thomas Bennet was not by his nature a reflective man. Reflection tended to bring on discomfort and discontent, neither of which he favored. But his house—and his life—were in disarray on the cusp of his daughters’ weddings and a little reflection could hardly make his discomfiture worse.
He picked his way around the trunks and boxes piled in the hall way. It was only a matter of time before Mrs. Bennet began demanding they be removed somewhere else lest the guests for the wedding breakfast see them. Thankfully Mr. Bingley had offered space at Netherfield for his daughters’ things.
He slipped into the study and fell into his favorite chair. All the lumps and bumps in the seat matched his own. At least some things in his life would not change. He had had this old chair for decades and resisted all Mrs. Bennet’s insistence that it be replaced.
But it seemed like everything else around him was changing and he was certain he did not like it. Change brought disorder and discomfort. Change took away…
A lump rose in his throat. He pushed up from his chair and locked the door. A visit to the brandy decanter, then he returned to his chair. Continue reading →
His wife’s brothers brought reports on new arrivals at Netherfield Park while her younger sister was brimming over with talk of lace and dresses. Collins could not bring himself to care about the brides’ gowns and even less what the other ladies of their party would wear. How could Charlotte listen so patiently to all that blather? He was embarrassed that her parents failed to curb the exuberance of the young people at their table.
Thank heavens his wife did not bring such manners with her into his home. Though she patiently listened and politely smiled thought the entire disgraceful display, he was certain his wife would agree with his sentiment. She shared all his opinions, as a proper wife did. Without a doubt, young people should keep their trivial interests and conversations to themselves during meals. His children, when they came, would be taught properly.
Collins excused himself as quickly as could be, claiming a need for fresh air. Charlotte smiled and encouraged him to go, noting that he must miss the time spent he usually spent in his garden and that a walk seemed necessary to his constitution.
A blast of chill wind buffeted his face as he stepped out. Though it burned the tips of his ears, he welcomed the discomfort to distract him from his own rising agitations. He pulled his hat down more snugly and tightened his scarf.
While Hertfordshire was pleasant enough and Lucas lodge offered many comforts, it was nothing to his parsonage in Kent, the place he was currently unwelcome because of the thoughtless, headstrong actions of his dear cousin Elizabeth. His shoulders twitched at the thought. Continue reading →
The evening turned cold quickly and they all retreated upstairs somewhat earlier than usual. Elizabeth and Jane withdrew to Jane’s room. They sat together on the bed heaped high with pillows. Elizabeth brushed Jane’s hair in the crackling firelight. Her hair was so beautiful, shining like molten gold under the brush, and always so well-behaved, submitting the plait and pins as serenely as Jane herself walked through life, not like her own unruly locks.
She ran her fingers through Jane’s hair. They did this so often, she would comb Jane’s hair and Jane hers. How many more such moments would they share? Precious few. Life as Mrs. Darcy promised so much, but this she would miss.
“Have you become contemplative again, Lizzy?” Jane turned over her shoulder and caught her eyes. “You have. I can see it in the melancholy turn of your lips.” Jane clasped Lizzy’s hands. “How can you be sad when so much joy awaits us? We have already made Mama so very happy.”
“So she has said, countless times and to countless souls.” Elizabeth laughed and slowly plaited Jane’s hair, savoring the moment.
The door behind them squeaked and they both turned. Mary and Kitty, in their dressing gowns, peeked through the doorway. They and Lydia had done than when they were small, sneaking out of their beds to join their big sisters in clandestine sisterly gatherings. Continue reading →