Constant as the Sun Excerpt

Constant as the Sun Excerpt

We are a week away from the Kindle release of my second book, Constant as the Sun. I had initially planned all kinds of fun with a cover reveal today, but the cover is still in the graphic artist’s court, so unfortunately, that’s not an option. I’m still going to talk about it, though, and share a lovely image from the photo shoot that isn’t used on the cover so you at least have something to look at.

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Because I knew that Elizabeth would be roughly the same age in the two books, the image for this book cover was photographed on the same day as the image for One Thread Pulled. The photograph used on the soon-to-be-revealed front cover of Constant as the Sun (CatS) has been in my mind all this time. I knew before I even started writing CatS that I wanted the book to contain a corresponding scene.

The scene, part of which I’m sharing with you today, has been brewing in my mind for four years now. As a writer, I love the art of weaving hidden strands of meaning and symbolism into what I write, but rarely do I point them out. I think of these things like little Easter eggs that readers can hunt out on their own if they are of a mind to do so. Jane Austen was a master at the art of the literary Easter egg, while I can only aspire to such. Today, I’m going to make an exception to the rule of never pointing them out and will partially deconstruct a few paragraphs from the scene so that as a reader, you might have a sense of my thinking as a writer.

The image that will be on the cover manifests in the book as a dream. Another writer once told me that if your characters are asleep, your readers will be too, so I have learned to use dreams sparingly. You can be 100% certain that if there is a dream in my writing, it has a deeper meaning. Mr. Darcy is dreaming here, and he is both feverish and medicated. Although I don’t specifically reveal the scene to be a dream at the outset, the style of my writing deliberately shifts. Although there remains a narrative, it’s slightly disjointed and I drop little hints throughout that there is something “dreamlike” to the scene. Readers may not recognize it as a dream when they first begin to read it, but when they get to the part where they realize it’s a dream; it (hopefully) doesn’t feel like a cheap device that tricked them, but makes sense because it did feel different. Here is the first paragraph:

“Lizzy, Lizzy! Where are you?” Darcy ran along a deer path in the forest, following the laughter that echoed around him. He stopped to catch his breath, and as soon as he was able, he called to summon his hunting dogs. “Apollo! Artemis!” When no answer came from the canine siblings, he pierced the air with his loudest finger whistle and they barked in response. Seconds later, he could hear one crashing through the underbrush toward him. The larger of the two emerged, barked and danced playfully with his front paws in a frenzied invitation to follow. “Apollo! Stay!” Darcy commanded, but the sound of tinkling laughter instantly diverted the animal’s attention and he watched helplessly as his disobedient dog bounded away.

For context, the reader knows that Elizabeth is being prevented from being with him and that Darcy is not in a safe situation. The first theme of the dream is, obviously, searching for Elizabeth. Even in his condition, he senses her absence. Then there are the dogs. When canines appear in dreams, the interpretation goes to themes of friendship, loyalty, and protection. Note that Darcy can hear the sounds of Elizabeth’s laughter around him, as opposed to coming from a specific direction. The unusual nature of the sound is the first hint that this is a dream.

Darcy took up the chase, following Apollo out of the woods and into the walking paths of Pemberley’s gardens. Damp from exertion and dew, he stopped to wipe his brow and take in the splendour of his estate. The landscape was alive with the soft greens of new growth and the vibrant blossoms of spring. “Lizzy, please!” he called, running toward the arbours where Apollo had disappeared. “Wait for me!” Hearing her teasing voice call out to him, he followed her into the arbour, where ancient vines hung in tapering clusters that harboured the humming bees from the Pemberley hives. The blossoms swung gently in the breeze, the dappled light of morning filtering through and around them; a glorious array of pale purple sprays surrounded by sunlit motes floating in the air.

In the woods, he was on a deer path and lost, but here, Darcy transitions to familiar grounds. The dampness he feels is an extension of his fever that he has incorporated into the dream. He has talked to Elizabeth of visiting Pemberley at Easter, so this scene is an extension of daydreams he has had in his mind of hosting Elizabeth at his estate in the spring and includes references to elements specific to his home. Arbors in dreams can have many different meanings, but in this dream, I went with it representing a safe haven. Wisteria in dreams is a symbol of love and the prospect of a long and happy marriage. It is also symbolic of immortality and many generations both forward and backward.

Then he saw Elizabeth, her curls gleaming in the sun. Her dark eyes flirted with him over the edge of her open fan; her hands clasped together to hold it to her face. The dress she wore was not one of her fashionable new gowns, but the same lilac frock she had worn when they had walked together in the garden at Netherfield. A sudden zephyr pressed the skirts against her legs exposing the shape and form they were intended to conceal. Darcy froze where he stood, stunned by the very essence of her being. Love for her washed over him, filling him with tenderness and admiration for the glorious woman standing as a goddess before him. He was overcome then, by a yearning desire so profound that he closed the distance between them in a heartbeat. She collapsed the fan in a sudden snap and pressed it to her lips, her eyes echoing the meaning behind the act.

This paragraph is where the photo comes into play. It incorporates memories of the past, and the fan Darcy gave Elizabeth as a New Year’s gift. Fans in dreams are an indicator of agitation or disturbance. In previous chapters, Darcy and Elizabeth have joked about how flirtatious women use a fan to send messages, and Elizabeth employs the fan to do so here. The dream continues beyond this point, but I hope I’ve piqued your curiosity for the upcoming cover reveal.

This delay also impacts setting up a pre-sale option on Amazon, since you need the cover to do so, meaning I may not be able to offer pre-sales as I had intended. Not to worry, though, when it goes live, I’ll post and tweet like a crazy woman.

 

35 Responses to Constant as the Sun Excerpt

  1. I love the idea of the dream and Elizabeth for the cover. Thank you for the chance to read this on line. It is very well written and I got very disturbed by all the problems Mr Bennet caused by the delay for a season. I feel for Darcy with family members he cannot really trust and the pretensions of high society. I am ready to see our couple at Pemberly with no desire for society. I will still want an ebook copy of this even after reading the on line version. Thank you.

  2. One Thread Pulled has been on my TBR list for sooo long, Diana, and I feel really guilty about not having got around to reading it. Time to bump it up, methinks.

    The excerpts you’ve kindly shared are so tantalising!

  3. Diana, technology.. ye got to love it… dang, sorry about that cover reveal. Oh well, the excitement just continues to build. Looking forward to the release. Best wished on your launch and cover reveal. I can’t wait to read this. The teaser was awesome and I loved how you explained the little elements of the story to us.

    • I love that writing is a craft, that a writer can plant meanings beyond the story, and add layers upon layers of subtext. An example that I didn’t mention in the post is that by simply using the word “ancient” as a descriptor of the vine, a multi-generation presence is inferred. When I first wrote the scene, there was a bit about Darcy’s father first kissing Lady Anne there, and his father before him, and also about Darcy having played in the shade there as a child, but I took those out and just left that word “ancient” as a token of all that went before, letting the reader imagine what that might be.

    • Thanks Rose. The image isn’t the actual cover – the cover will actually be illustrative of the excerpt. You’ll see … one of these days … when I reveal the actual cover. 🙂

  4. Congratulations on the new release and too bad that the problems with the cover are interfering with your plans of having a pre-sale.

    Both pictures you have are beautiful, as is the cover of OTP.

    • Thank you, Renata. I have to remind myself that minor setbacks are not the end of the world. I assure you, the delay will be worth the wait, as the graphic artist is a phenomenal talent. It would have been fun to do a pre-sale, but also, not the end of the world. 🙂

  5. Thanks goodness! It feels like so long ago, that I read OTP. I may have to pull it back out…no worries, it remains one of my favorites. I look forward to the release of the sequel.

    • Thank you – you’re not alone in feeling like it’s been ages, because the truth is that it has! The story in CatS is “stand alone” to a degree, with a little bit of explanatory text in the parts that apply in order to help out those who may not have read OTP, but since it follows the events in OTP, a refresher read would probably increase your enjoyment of the sequel.

  6. I have been following Constant as the Sun as a Work in Progress and loving it. Congratulations of nearing the publication day. Looking forward to reading this as a whole.

    • Thank you. I think the fact that the WIP wound up being strung out across 4 years has certainly made it challenging for readers to keep track of the story elements. Reading it again as a whole (along with revisions in the final edit) will probably make it seem completely new!

      • Yes, that and the fact that a good story always bears rereading. One of the issues I consider in awarding stars in my reviews is whether or not I would reread the story. Again- good luck with your release.

  7. Diana,I adored your first book,so much so in fact that when I had finished it,I happily turned it over and started anew!!! I speak the truth!!!!

    Am so looking forward to reading this book.
    Your excerpt was certainly entertaining and very intriguing!

    Best of luck with CatS!

    • For a writer there are few compliments as profound as when a reader says they re-read your book. It humbles me every time. I can only hope the sequel will be as satisfying a read as OTP. Thank you.

  8. Diana, Congratulations. I am sure it will be a wonderful story. I love to hide what I call “little nuggets” in my all my stories both my Mister Darcy series and my Wendy Darlin series. It’s such fun for the fans to discover them and burst out laughing. I love to sneak up on my readers with a verbal “boo!” I did not know that about fans —as in fanning fans—…very interesting. I do believe dreams are our way sorting out the things that are heavy on our minds. Lovely concept.

    • I have noticed those wonderful “nuggets” in your writing, Barb! You have such a clever way with words and a true gift for comedic language and plot. The bit about fans is so much fun! There are a couple of websites devoted to the nuances of using the fan to communicate messages – I dug up the notes that I took several years ago with an eye toward this scene and had a difficult time . It was hard not to put in more fan stuff – it would have been easy to overdo it. If you Google “language of the fan” you will find that before we had text messages, we had “fan mail.” 🙂

  9. Hi Diana,

    That is a beautiful picture. I can’t wait to see the one that beat it out for being on the cover. What an great setting, and the dress and hair are perfect. The dream is nicely done. I, too, like to put deeper meaning and hints into my work. It’s always my hope (I have to admit I mean this especially with my fantasy series) that readers will like it well enough to read it again and will see much more on a second pass.

    Congratulations on your new book!

    Summer

    • Thank you, Summer. I think you’re right that the layers are generally picked up in subsequent readings, and we can only hope that our readers will go back for a second pass. I have always enjoyed planting hints to the plot because I enjoy discovering them in other people’s writing, and it is often on the re-read when I realize that I missed them. Thanks for commenting!

Your thoughts are precious!