Be a Mikey + Excerpt + Giveaway

Be a Mikey + Excerpt + Giveaway

How many of your remember this commercial?  How many of you would quote it and apply it to all sort of odd situations? 🙂 How many of you are wondering what this has to do with Austen?  And why are we talking about breakfast cereal ads on Valentine’s Day? Trust me. I have a tie in. But first, take a minute to watch the commercial.

Source: FM1156. “Life Cereal Mikey Likes It Commercial HD.” YouTube. YouTube, 28 Aug. 2015. Web. 03 Feb. 2017.


Did you know that the three boys in this commercial were all brothers? I hadn’t really thought about whether they were related or not. I suppose, in my young mind as I watched this commercial on Saturday mornings, I just assumed they were. I am certain as an adult viewing the commercial, you, like I, can see the similarities in features and such; therefore, the revelation that the boys are brothers is just confirmation of what we already suspected.

Let’s begin tying this in with Austen, shall we?

In Pride and Prejudice there are five sisters.  I would imagine that if you lined up all the sisters from Jane to Lydia to take a picture, you would see similar features and know that the ladies were all related.  You might even find when browsing through a family photo album that Baby Jane and Baby Kitty are hard to tell apart especially since the dress and bonnet they are wearing are exactly the same ones.  Perhaps there are even character traits that the two share.  Maybe both preferred sucking their right thumb or would not sleep without a favourite blanket or story.

I know these things are true in my family.  If you line up my four sisters and me for a picture, there will be no mistaking we are related.  And if you browse through a family photo album, you might confuse Sarah for Rebekah when they were the same age.  Without exception, you will find that all five of us are fairly independent, hard working, caring people with opinions and beliefs that we hold to rather firmly at times.

“You met her?” Marcus asked.

Mary Ellen turned to her brother.  “I did, briefly.  From what I could gather, she is very different from her sisters.  Very different.”

(Chapter 5, So Very Unexpected)

However, having similar characteristics does not mean being the same.  The boys in the commercial probably had a pecking order and various roles they fulfilled in their family — just as my sisters and I have/had.  There is the brother that knows what is going on and tries to offload the “healthy” cereal on his brother, who is close enough of a companion to be able to refuse.  And then, there is Mikey, the low man on the totem pole, the one they know they can get to try the cereal.  And Mikey plays his part by scooping up that spoonful and giving it a go.  Now, did Mikey eat the cereal simply because his brothers gave it to him or did he so because he wanted to be braver than his older brothers?

We all tend to have roles in our families.  Sometimes these roles are ones we have carved out for ourselves, but often they are roles that are, to some extent, placed on us.  The eldest might be expected to be “in charge” while the youngest might be brushed off as too young to know better and the middle child might struggle to find any sort of footing that doesn’t make her invisible. Because of this, we may struggle as we grow to find our own unique identity.  It is this idea of interrelations within a family that worked its way into my latest book, So Very Unexpected.

“She has found something of interest,” said Elizabeth, “and forgotten all else.  It would not be the first time.”

(Chapter 17, So Very Unexpected)

Prejudice can abound in families.  You can hear it in comments such as “Oh, that’s the way she’s always been.”  In the commercial, the older brothers say, “He won’t eat it. He hates everything.” These prejudices may be well founded in our minds, but they are prejudices just the same and can have a limiting effect on a person.

In So Very Unexpected, Lydia sees herself based on the things she has heard from her mother, father, and sisters as well as others outside of her family such as the gentlemen who flirt with her.  Elizabeth, Jane, and Mr. Bennet see her as foolish and selfish.  Her mother sees her as beautiful and worthy of making a good match. There are bits of truth in these viewpoints. Lydia is self-centered.  She does act foolishly at times. She is beautiful.  She is a flirt.  But she is more — so very much more than just those things.  And there are reasons for her actions that her father and sisters don’t realize. There is hurt. There is jealousy. There is untapped intelligence.

She felt it to be true, of course, but it is so hard to know if one is accurate in assumptions about one’s self unless it is confirmed by the words of another.

(Chapter 12, So Very Unexpected)

As is often the case, it is the new people Lydia meets, who, having very few prejudices about her, see her for what she truly is and what she can be.  That is the essence of So Very Unexpected.  In this story, both love and Lydia are unexpected.  It is the story of a spirited young lady who captures the heart of a man who sees her for her nonsensical, brilliant, lively self, and finds he does not wish to live without her.

It is a great, sweet romance — perfect for a Valentine’s Day read! (Ah, see another tie-in. 😉 )

But you know what? (Get ready for yet another tie-in ) There will be some like Mikey’s brothers who will push the story away because “I mean, it is Lydia!” and they will miss out on something very special.  And then, there will be those brave readers who will take that spoonful and find they like this Lydia. Who will you be? The brothers? or Mikey?  I really hope that you will be the ones saying “I like it! Hey! Leenie!”  🙂

If you would like a spoonful — a taste, I have included an excerpt below (a rather long one).

The sitting room was full at Willow Hall.  The searchers, who had left early that morning as soon as it was discovered that Lydia was missing, had returned some time ago.  Plans to continue searching were being formed.  Mr. Bennet wavered between relief that Lydia had not gone to Scotland and distress because she had gone somewhere — somewhere unknown to them at present.  Tea was being shared by one and all.  Those who were not involved immediately in discussions of strategy, which was everyone, save Colonel Fitzwilliam, Captain Harris,  and Mr. Gardiner, were conducting their own conversations on more mundane items.  It was into this lot of people that Marcus attempted to direct Lydia.  However, upon being announced and stepping nearly into the room, he found his arm empty of his companion.

He shook his head and sighed.  “One moment if you please.  Miss Lydia will be with you directly.”  He nodded to the occupants of the room and then, turning on his heel, ran after her.

Within the room, there was a great deal of exclamation over Marcus having found Lydia and speculation as to where she had been.  A few crowded to the window to watch the chase.  Elizabeth moved to follow Marcus, but the restraining hand of Darcy kept her from it.  He assured her that Marcus was not a man to be thwarted in his objective, and if Marcus said Lydia would be joining them, then Lydia would be joining them.

It was true.  Marcus Dobney was not the sort of man who backed away from a challenge nor was he the sort of man who gave his word and reneged.  Over the course of his life, these traits had been both an asset in helping him solve problems and a liability when a hasty promise was made, and the fulfilling of that promise came at great personal cost ? it was one of the many dangers of having an impulsive tongue.

Marcus was thankful that his legs were longer than Lydia’s and that he was not hampered by petticoats and skirts, for though her feet hurt, she ran quickly.  Having had a lead of a few moments, she was nearly at the gate before he grabbed her arm and stopped her.

“Let go of me!” She twisted to get her arm free of his grasp.  “You are hurting my arm,” she snapped as he tightened his grip.

“If you would stop struggling, I would not have to hold your arm so tightly.”  He attempted to keep his voice even despite his wishing to yell.  Yelling had never worked in a positive way with Mary Ellen or Philip. They had always just dug in their heels and held more firmly to their position whenever he had attempted to sway them with the volume of his voice.

“My father.”  Lydia shook her head and blinked against the gathering tears.  “I cannot go in there.”

She had stopped struggling, so Marcus relaxed his grip on her arm but did not release it.  Patiently, he waited for her to continue.

“He never listens to me.  He only listens to Jane and Lizzy and sometimes Mary. Mama must always plead my case, and then he only surrenders to be rid of the distraction.”  She brushed a tear from her cheek.  “He says I am the silliest girl in all of England.”  She lifted her chin and glared in the direction of Willow Hall.

“At the moment, I might be inclined to agree.”  He smiled as she turned her glare on him.  “But, that might be my tired legs speaking.”  Why did seeing her small smile at that delight him?  She really was a very vexing girl and, he suspected, would be a rather difficult one to convince that returning to Willow Hall was what she needed to do.  He was not wrong.  They argued over the issue for the next five minutes.  He repeating that a solution could be found, and she insisting that it was impossible.

“I am returning you to your family,” he said at last as he realized that there would be no swaying of her opinion.

She shook her head.  “I will not go.”

He clamped his teeth firmly shut and shook his head at her stubbornness. “You will. Either on your own two feet, walking in as the lady you insist you are or flung over my shoulder like a child.  Which will it be? I will not allow you to go gallivanting about the countryside throwing yourself into harm’s way at every turn.  Most of which, I assume, would be in the wrong direction.”

Lydia could tell by his eyes that he was angry, and for a brief moment, she felt something very like remorse before the fear of facing her father chased it away.  She shook her head.  “I cannot go in there.”

Lydia gasped as he hoisted her so that her head was hanging over his back and his arms were wrapped around her legs.  She beat on his back and begged him to release her.

Marcus did his best to ignore both her pleas and the fact that she was rather pleasingly formed.  Perhaps carrying her in such a fashion was not one of his better ideas, but it was effective.  They covered the ground to the front of the house quickly.  Once inside the front door, he placed her on her feet.  After a moment of catching his breath, he turned her face so that she was forced to look at him.  Her cheeks were flushed, of course, he had expected that.  However, he had not counted on her tears.  In a moment, his frustration faded and compassion for the fear she must be feeling rose within him.  “I will speak for you.”  He brushed a tear away with his thumb.  “I will speak honestly, but perhaps your father might listen to me.  We cannot have you marrying Wickham,”  he gave her a small teasing smile, “no matter how foolish you have been.”


One more “behind the book” note:

I drew on personal experience and observation and teased that out to get the inner thoughts of Lydia in this book.  She is not gentle in her thinking about Elizabeth, a point my eldest sister made after reading the book.  However, as we discussed it, we agreed, it might be a little harsh, but it is not unrealistic. And just to put a bit of a cap on its authenticity, she asked me “were you thinking about this when you wrote this particular part?”  And you know what? I was.

And now for a giveaway.

Leave a comment on this post, and you will be entered for your chance to win one ebook copy of So Very Unexpected.  Contest is open internationally and closes at 11:59 PM EST, Friday, February 17, 2017.


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56 Responses to Be a Mikey + Excerpt + Giveaway

  1. Interesting and you are correct in thinking some/most of us have little or no use for Lydia. I always wanted her turned over her father’s knee for a spanking and then to be locked in her room for a month. Marcus does sound like he might be the man to understand how to manage her. Few authors have redeemed her. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and the excerpt.

    • I have enjoyed working with Lydia, and, in my opinion and that of some readers who have shared their thoughts with me, Lydia turns out to be pretty awesome. She just needs the training she has never gotten.

  2. Awww, I remember that Life commercial very well. I didn’t know the boys were brothers. Enjoyed the excerpt and would love to win a copy of the book. Thanks for the chance!

  3. I am second of ten kids. (7girls). We definitely have our Mikey moments and our, she has always been like that moments. And so much more. Love the post! And Love the excerpt. I am looking forward to reading! Thank you for the giveaway!

  4. I really enjoyed this book on your ‘Thursday’s 300’ post. Although most of my preferred reading of P&P’s has involved Darcy and Elizabeth, I have enjoyed the books about other characters, and I especially enjoyed this one. Please put me in the drawing. 🙂

  5. Excellent thoughts, Leenie. And for all the skeptics out there let me add this. I have avoided every Lydia book out there like the plague. However, I love reading your Thursday’s There Hundred and must say, you wrote a Lydia I could truly get behind. It was a delight to see her step out of her spot as the youngest of five and find out who she really is. She was smarter, kinder, and much more likable that I could possible have imagined! I cannot imagine someone not enjoying “So Very Unexpected.”

    • Thank you! I have appreciated your comments as you followed through the story as it posted. I loved developing this Lydia’s character so much. She is a delightfully different sort of lady…and well, I kind of enjoyed Marcus and his father as well. 🙂 Oh, and Aunt Tess — she was just what Lydia needed, wasn’t she?

  6. Delightful excerpt. I look forward to reading this. Don’t include me in the give-a-way, I already have the book. I just wanted to add a comment. I have read the others in the series and was anxiously waiting for this one. Blessing on the success of your publication launch.

  7. We all have the same brow, my sister, brother, and I, but my sister looks older than I do. She’s always been prettier, too, and more outgoing. My brother…well, he’s a brother. I can’t say he’s prettier than me. LOL

    We still all deal with prejudices. My sister has the reputation of being an airhead, and I’m known as the smart one (which, of course, I am 😉 .) Our relationships fluctuate, but I have finally succeeded in not being irritable with my sister when she calls, and I love my brother’s work ethic. 🙂 Not sure what they think of me, to be honest, and I’m not sure I want to know. 😀

    You already know how much I love this story. You have managed to do what no other author has done…get me to read a book about a secondary character! <3

    • I am so glad I have been able to get you to read about these secondary characters! Haha, I like how you are so willing to admit that you are smarter! I don’t know if I ever really considered what my sisters thought of me. I just expected them to like me, I guess. I mean, why wouldn’t they? LOL 🙂 Seriously, I have never consider that. Weird, huh?

    • Jane gave us just enough of the younger sisters (and Jane, too, I think) to help move the story along and set up events to work best for her plot. She was excellent at that. I love that she didn’t give us too much because that leaves room for me to fill in the gaps with my imaginings 🙂

  8. It is funny – my sister and I look NOTHING alike. People are usually surprised that we are related and don’t believe we have the same parents. Although, we have been told we sound alike on the phone and that we walk alike. Thank you for the chance to win a copy of your book.

  9. I remember Mikey well! I have two older sisters…the bossy one, the brainy one, and then me…the bratty one! My two older sisters were very close growing up but now it’s me and my older sister who are close. Not that we don’t love the middle one, but the eldest and I live closer and see more of each other. I now see that my grandson looks alot like I did as a child. My granddaughter acts like I did as a child! LOL!

    I love my secondary characters and will read as much as I can on them be they Kitty (my favourite), Mary, Caroline, or the obnoxious Lydia! I do love when authors redeem her. She is definitely a product of her upbringing! I have read the beginning chapters of this and loved it! I look forward to reading all of the Willow Hall series!

    • I’m supposedly the bratty sister, too 🙂 I don’t live close to any of my sisters really, but my eldest sister calls weekly and we all keep up on facebook as best we can.

      I love that you love the secondary characters! I do, too! I have only done one Kitty story so far, and two Mary, two Lydia, and have not attempted Caroline yet. Jane is pretty central to the next story, so I guess I have done one story for her so far (although, I think that book focuses more on Bingley than Jane…and I loved writing him! )

  10. This book sounds really fun and I plan to put it on my to be read shelf at Goodreads. I noticed it was only listed as being available as an eBook and was wondering if it would be released in print as well since I do not read eBooks. Since I don’t read eBooks I also don’t need to be entered in the giveaway.

    • I am releasing it in paperback as soon as I can. I was supposed to get the proof yesterday, but the blizzard made everything stop. Things are still in the clean up process, so I am thinking there could be a longer delay to get the back log of things delivered at the courier company. The cover looked good on the screen in the digital proof format, but I always want to see that physical copy before I approve it. I am glad to have it added to your TBR shelf 🙂 Thank you!

    • Thank you, Jen. You’re always so sweet and supportive of us writers! Like a little ray of sunshine or a happy little melody (had to put that there for you 😉 ) This Lydia was fun to develop. I got to tap into a lot of sibling relationship stuff from myself and what I have observed with students. I like doing that.

  11. Great excerpt, Leenie. I love all the tie ins, and I really enjoy stories about Lydia. I get the appeal of Elizabeth, don’t worry, but I enjoy seeing the other characters fleshed out in their own stories. Congratulations on the book! Happy Valentine’s Day! Summer

  12. I have two older half sisters (and 2 brothers) and we resemble in some ways and always have. My younger sister and I share the same parents and when we were younger didn’t like each other very much. My mother pitted us against each other constantly. We also looked nothing alike. People always thought we were just out as friends which always irritated me. She’s four years younger and the pretty one and got on my LAST nerve. As adults, I consider her my very best friend. A coworker saw a picture of she and her daughter and said wow, I didn’t realize you had a twin. =D Oh the difference a few years make.

    I told you already that I love this Lydia. She is “real” to me. Not contrived, but a product of her environment. Thoughtless on occasion but not stupid, still young enough to not consider long term consequences, but old enough to know that she has to make do with what she can because she has been pegged as foolish and inconsequential. Great book Leenie! I just really enjoy what you do with secondary characters.

    • That is a sweet story about your sister! Time (and maturity) really does help with sibling relationships sometimes. My older sister (my Jane) and I are really close as adults. I guess we were as kids, too, to a point, but I was the irritating one…if you saw the dedication in the book, my older sister is the one who developed those sister labels except for the one I gave her (the perfect one — which she dislikes). However, I have not included the moniker she gave me “the bratty sister.” 🙂 No idea why she calls me that. Haha! She still tells me I am impertinent and a brat regularly, but we love each other and are best friends. My next youngest sister and I use to “fight” when we were young. She would say something to provoke me, and I would take off after her to give her an appropriate lecture. 🙂 (See, there is real life in this book. LOL) As adults, we get along quite well. 🙂

      I am glad that Lydia feels real. I really wanted her to feel that way — to be imperfect but not without hope. I love working with secondary characters since there is more room to flesh out the character. 🙂

      • I mentally think of my younger sister as my Jane and Lydia. Even though she’s younger, she was the pretty one and expected to marry well because of her beauty and she could get away with murder because she was always passive and submissive even when she had actually done something that was forbidden because she was the good sister. I, on the other hand, always said exactly what was on my mind, which was not necessarily in my best interest. LOL

        • LOL Too funny! Yes, saying what you think is not always the best course of action. 🙂 My older sister is my Jane because she does exactly what is expected. So responsible and rarely with a bad attitude — and even that attitude wasn’t much more than a huff…unlike my slamming doors bad attitude.

  13. I”m a Mikey! I’ve been fortunate enough to read snippets of this while you were writing and can’t wait to read the whole thing. You have such great insight into characters and the human mind! Great post.

  14. Liking the excerpt a lot. Can’t wait to read it! I never thought I looked anything like my brother, but people always comment on us looking alike. I guess it is in the “eye of the beholder”. Thank you for the giveaway.

    • Yes, I think I agree — it is in the eye of the beholder, and they see us with “fresh” eyes. Glad you liked the excerpt. I have read and reread this book many times (looking for errors and fixing things my editors told me about), and I still like it and could read it again — often, by this point the book needs to be put away for a while because I am tired of seeing the same story over and over, but not this one. I really enjoyed this Lydia and Marcus and his father and Aunt Tess 🙂 This is a series of characters I will have trouble leaving behind.

  15. Wow sounds incredibly intriguing. Can’t wait to understand Lydia! On family similarities, my two sisters and I were very different as babies but as we started to grow up we look very much alike. I was brown haired slight curly hair when born, my next sis had jet black very curly hair and my youngest sis had light brown very straight hair. It is very easy to tell all our pic apart as babies and children. But as adults we look very much alike. Go figure. Lol

    • This Lydia is really lovely in a Lydia-esque sort of way. 🙂 I think as adults there are probably more similarities in features for my sisters. When my mom was ill, the five of us were all sitting in her hospital room and one nurse walked in and stopped dead in her tracks and said “Wow, these are all your daughters aren’t they?” 🙂 But when I was young, people would say oh I see how (sister’s name) looks like so and so and this one looks like this person and then they would come to me and say “I’m not sure who you look like.” Dad always assured them that I looked like his mom. (I never met her as she died when my father was only 11, so I can only go by his comments)

  16. I see what you mean about similarities in families. I have two older brothers and to look at us we are not alike at all. But I was once recognised by a friend of one of my brothers who had never met me because I looked so much like him! My brothers are not alike yet both look like my Dad yet one looks like my Mums’ brother. One brother’s children looked like their mum when small and my children looked like their Dad yet they also looked alike at times! Very confusing. Thanks for this post Leenie and for the chance of a giveaway ?

    • It is amazing the hereditary traits that seem to bounce around a family tree! My eldest sister’s youngest son looks similar to my youngest son, and my eldest son at one was a spitting image of me — In fact, a friend’s husband looked over my shoulder at a picture that his wife and I were looking at and asked why is Ben wearing a dress 🙂

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