Just a Dash + Excerpt +Giveaway

Just a Dash + Excerpt +Giveaway

Life is busy.

We dash here and there.

We balance this responsibility with that one.

We prioritize and organize and commit and decline.

Our calendars fill up and our cups overflow.

And, sometimes, squeezing in a few minutes of pleasure — of sweet indulgence — becomes a challenging task.

I have always been the sort of person that prefers to consume a book in one sitting or one day.  A trip to the library when I was young was usually followed by hours of reading, stopping only for the things Mom made me do such as chores and eating.  She also made me go to bed, but that did not stop my reading. I would stay up until the wee hours of the morning to finish a book.  (Of course, having been told not to do that very thing, I would have to pretend not to be tired the next day or risk getting in trouble. 🙂 )

In high school, I had both little sisters to babysit when mom was working and a part time job to squeeze in around having fun with friends and going to school. However, I would still find time to steal a few moments in the library.  There was this little room off the adult collections area and up a couple of steps that was a favourite place of mine to read.  In that small room on the top shelf on one wall, there was a book I visited frequently.  This book was a collection of short stories by Guy de Maupassant.  These stories were just long enough to enjoy in one short sitting. There was no need to wonder about what might be happening in a story while I was away tending to other activities because I could begin and finish one story before I had to move on.  I have always enjoyed short stories. I still do.  And I also still prefer to read books that I can be read in one sitting.

Here’s an interesting fact that I read somewhere on the internet:  Edgar Allan Poe, the famous American author regarded to be one of the earliest writers of short stories, defined a short story as a short piece of fiction that can be read in one sitting.

I also tend to write what I like to read.  Therefore, my books, even my novels, tend to be short.  They are books that can be read relatively quickly.  They are the sorts of stories that fit very well into a busy schedule.  That does not mean, however, that the stories are either easy or necessarily fast to write.  Writing 25,000 words for a novella or writing 25,000 words for a novel take the same amount of time for me, and you still have to pay attention to story details — perhaps more so.

In a short story, novelette, or novella, you still need to have a beginning, middle, and end, as well as some sort of transformation and character growth, just as you would in a novel. Where the shorter form story takes a deviation from the longer form story and where the great attention to detail comes in is in the absence of anything extraneous. The plot needs to be kept tight. There isn’t room to ramble down side paths. The action must rise and fall at a quick but not rushed pace.  Resolutions should never be cut short and development of character, tone, theme, etc must still take place but with fewer words. This takes skill, which I hope I am honing and developing over the course of my writing career.

“That’s the real trick to short stories is a novel-length idea without any fat on it. It’s a marathon runner as opposed to a weight lifter, you know. It’s just like, lean, and fast.”  — Alan Baxter, award-winning author of dark fantasy, horror and sci-fi with 6 novels and over 70 internationally published short stories, when speaking on the Creative Penn Podcast, August 22, 2016

Fun Facts: The novella is not a "new" form of reading material. I did a quick search and came up 
with these two lists of famous novella length works. I have read a few of them. How about you? 

Twenty Brilliant Novellas You Should Read

Wikipedia's List of Novellas

About a year ago, I had an idea to write something I called Dash of Darcy stories. These stories would ideally fall within the 20,000 to 25,000 word count range, a very comfortable amount of words to read in just a few hours. They, unlike many of my other books, would focus on Darcy and Elizabeth’s love story.  The first two books in this line were Finally Mrs. Darcy and Waking to Mr. Darcy.

As I wrote Waking to Mr. Darcy, something happened.  A character stood up and demanded exploration.  But as I said above, a good short story is tight. It doesn’t ramble down side paths.  So, instead of letting the book sprawl all over hither and yon, I wrote a sequel to Waking to Mr. Darcy called A Very Mary Christmas.

I thought that a sequel such as this would be a one-time thing. However, as I wrote my third Dash of Darcy story, Discovering Mr. Darcy (see excerpt, publication, and giveaway information below), it became obvious, thanks to comments from readers in my Leenie’s Sweeties Facebook Group after reading an early draft of Discovering Mr. Darcy, that sequels to these stories would become regular writing fare.

And so, I am starting a second line of books called A Dash of Darcy Companion Stories. These will be short stories, novelettes, and novellas that focus on secondary characters.  The first draft of my second Companion Story, Not an Heiress: A Sequel to Discovering Mr. Darcy, is nearing completion, and, if all goes well, should be available for purchase in June. (If you follow my blog at all, you have already gotten a few snippets of what this story will be about in my Music Monday’s posts.)

Looking into the near-ish future, I have another Dash story in the line up for this year (hopefully), and I can see a possible Companion Story for that one as well.

So when life seems to become a “succession of busy nothings,” and you just need a bit of refreshment, why not try a Dash of Darcy with your cup of tea? Here is the beginning from A Dash of Darcy you might wish to try:

Discovering Mr. Darcy

“Fitzwilliam,” Lady Catherine called to her nephew, Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam, as he passed the door to her sitting room.  “Your call can wait,” she said in answer to the reply she knew was coming.

Richard sighed and turned into the room.

“Just Fitzwilliam.”  Lady Catherine’s tone was stern as she looked down her nose and made a brushing motion with her hand, indicating that her other nephew, Fitzwilliam Darcy, should leave the room.  “Close the door,” she called after him.  She waited until it was latched, and she heard footsteps moving away from the room.  Then, she took Richard by the arm and pulled him further into the room.

“Sit.”  She motioned to a golden tufted chair on the edge of a grouping in front of a window that looked out onto the front garden of the house.

Richard rolled his eyes and did as instructed.  It was pointless to do otherwise.  Lady Catherine always had her way, or there was a price to pay.  It was far cheaper and easier to just listen.  “To what might I ascribe the honor of this private conference?” It was likely some matter regarding the groves that she wished him to see to during his stay, for a stay at Rosings was rarely one of pure leisure.

Lady Catherine’s eyes narrowed at his cheeky tone, but she did not reprimand him for it.  He was always attempting to stir her ire, but today, she would allow no such distractions.  She stood near the window and tilted her head to peer out and around toward the door where Darcy was just exiting.  “It is time he marries,” she said.

“Darcy?”  Richard’s eyes grew wide in surprise.  This was not the conversation he had expected. In fact, it was a conversation he had always wished to avoid — at least with his aunt, that is.

She nodded and leaving her vantage point at the window, took a seat across from her nephew.  “Yes, Darcy.  Georgiana is not getting any younger and will need someone besides just her brother to guide her through her first season.”

“But Anne –” Richard began. He knew neither Darcy nor his cousin Anne wished to marry the other,  and he was prepared to argue their points.

“Not Anne,” Lady Catherine interrupted.  “They would not suit.”

“Pardon?” Richard was at a loss for words. His aunt had always insisted that Darcy would marry Anne.  In fact, it was a supposed engagement that had kept Darcy from feeling a need to begin looking in earnest for a lady to help him secure his estate for future generations.

Lady Catherine picked at a small flower on the arm of her chair as she avoided meeting his eyes. The supposed engagement to her daughter had been merely an elaborate ruse to prevent a most disastrous outcome for Darcy.  “He was not ready to begin a family. I had to keep him from rushing forward into doing his duty somehow.”

Richard’s mouth dropped open and then snapped shut.  There were still no coherent thoughts forming in his mind. What his aunt was currently saying was clashing with what she had always said previously.  Had she not taunted Darcy about doing his duty by marrying Anne?

She shook her head as if reading his thoughts. “Darcy was never going to marry Anne, and Anne knew it.”

Richard’s brows furrowed, and his lips pursed into a perplexed scowl.  “You will need to explain.”

Lady Catherine rose and walked to the window. Darcy was still pacing in the front garden.  She watched him take six long strides away and then back.  One foot fell in front of the other in perfect time and in equal measure. It was very much who he was — proper, dignified, well-ordered.   “I promised his mother that I would see him marry well and for love.”  She raised a brow at Richard, causing his mouth to snap shut on whatever exclamation of surprise he was about to utter. “When Darcy’s father died, he was not ready to take on the responsibilities of an estate and make a proper decision about a wife.  He would have rushed pell-mell into an untenable marriage that would have perhaps resulted in a family, but not a happy one.  He would have sat down, drawn up some supposed list of qualifications of a proper wife, and gone about the business as if he were hiring a maid — without one thought about the misery he would face as a result of his calculated methods.” She tipped her head and gave Richard a firm look. “Do not tell me he would not have done so.  You know as well as I that he puts duty before everything.” She shook her head.  “I still think he has no idea what sort of wife he requires.”

Richard laughed.  This conversation was not at all what he had dreaded it would be. In fact, it was proving to be rather entertaining.  “And you do know what sort of wife he requires?”

Lady Catherine returned to her chair. “I do, and I have found her.”




Discovering Mr. Darcy is available now for preorder with a release date of April 18, 2017

If you would like to be entered to win an e-book copy of this novella leave a comment below.

Contest Closes at 11:59 PM EST, April 18, 2017.


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55 Responses to Just a Dash + Excerpt +Giveaway

  1. I mix up short and long and very long stories. I recently read one that was 899 pages but then I read another that was only 5 chapters in probably an hour. Lady Catherine finding a wife for Darcy – that sounds amusing, to say the least. Of course, we know it is Elizabeth to whom she refers…now is she going to write his proposal for him, as the one he came up with was disastrous. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I love short stories when you are crunch for time but still need your P&P fix. I love the idea of a companion story because sometimes you just want a short story to continue… 🙂 Looking forward to reading this one too!

    • Exactly! Sometimes, I don’t want the story to stop either when I am writing, but to keep things focused on the goal or purpose of the story, I have to limit myself and ignore those interesting little side trails. So, a companion story is perfect for allowing me to explore a few of those happy trails. 🙂

  3. I too agree with you, Leenie. I am of the opinion that short stories are the way to go because I too prefer to read a book in one sitting in order to remember the plot of the story. If I cannot remember, then I have to read the few pages before I stopped and this will take a longer time to finish reading the whole book.

    The excerpt you shared is very tempting. Wow, this is a whole new twist on Lady Catherine’s character. I wonder if the lady she has in mind as Darcy’s wife is Elizabeth Bennet.

    • This is a different take on Lady Catherine, and she was so much fun to write. She still thinks her ways are the best ways, and she is still trying to arrange everyone’s life as she sees fit. However, this time, her goal is to Darcy’s benefit. 🙂

  4. So glad to hear that I wasn’t the only book dork, Leenie. We lived three blocks from the town library and I usually visited every day, read whatever I borrowed, and was back the next day for more! And absolutely adore de Maupassant; I have that well-worn collection of short stories in my personal library, having originally been introduced to de Maupassant in French class. I still think The Necklace is the best short story ever written; it breaks my heart every time I read it..

    • Nope, not the only book dork. 🙂 I still sneak out of bed sometimes to finish a book after the husband is sleeping. 🙂 I would read in bed, but I don’t want the light from my tablet to wake him up.

  5. You know, i think this is one of the first pieces i’ve read that has Lady Catherine NOT wanting Darcy to marry Anne. Fitzwilliam and Lady Catherine as co-conspirators, sounds yummy!

    • It is a fun twist! And just wait until the next book when Lady C decides Fitzwilliam should marry. 🙂 Together these stories are a couple of fun little escapes.

  6. Oh, I love it when Lady Catherine is smart like this and wants the best for Darcy. I love your ideas for the companion stories. I have read just about everything you’ve written. I still have one or two in my TBR pile, but I am making my way toward them. I look forward to the launch of this book. If I don’t win… you can be assured that I will purchase the book. So, blessings on a successful launch and happy writing, because I get the benefit from your hard work.

    • I have a unique problem at the moment. I have two completed manuscripts in various stages of editing, this one publishing, and another about half way written. It is odd. I don’t usually have this many stories to work on at once – I’m not complaining; it’s a good odd but odd none the less. 🙂 So, I know that between now and June, I will have at least two more books to publish. One is book four of the Willow Hall series and the other is the sequel to this book. I have set up a new “work” schedule that has seemed to be just right for me. Finally found it after all these years. LOL And I am loving it, too, which means the schedule will likely stick 🙂

  7. Oh, I love a new and very unexpected twist on the way to Darcy and Lizzy’s HEA. Thanks, Leenie and congrats on publishing your latest.

    • Thank you, Luisa! This was a fun idea that started with a what if my sister tossed at me while talking on the phone one night. It was fun to write and that will hopefully translate to fun to read.

  8. Well, I did not expect that turn of events that Lady Catherine wants him to marry someone besides Anne and that she has found the perfect person (Elizabeth?). This will prove to be very interesting reading. Thank you for the giveaway.

  9. I like the stories where Lady C is actually on Darcy’s side and not completely bat-sh*t crazy about getting him to marry Anne. I assume Elizabeth is her choice for him – but will wait and see. Thank you for the chance to win a copy!

  10. A very very interesting post. You also brought back a lot of memories for me. I’ve been an avid reader since I could first string words together. My abiding memory is reading under the blankets with the flash light from my brother’s bicycle when I had been told to go to bed. If my father had got wind of it there would have been trouble. He was always on at me about having my head in a book. But I’d have risked anything for reading.

    • I know that feeling. I got a few scolding about my books when I was young too — from my mom, not my dad. I credit Dad with my early love of reading because he always made it a point to read us bedtime stories — complete with voices for various characters. Now, I just have a husband that teases me about my love of books (No, he’s like Bingley when it comes to books and not a great reader.:) But he encourages my love of reading and writing despite the teasing.)

  11. Yes, I too love your stories. I have 2 currently sitting in my kindle that always let me know they need to be read! I also am lucky enough to have this one there now too! This one certainly has my attention after reading this post! Lady Catherine has only been using Anne as a ruse! Shocking!

    When I was younger…much younger…I read all of Poe’s works. I do enjoy a short story when I have little time but need my JAFF fix. But I must admit, I love a good long novel to immerse myself in. Thank you!

    • Yay! You got an ARC 🙂 I hope you enjoy it once you get a chance to read it. Lady Catherine is fun!

      I read a lot of Poe’s stories as well when I was younger. I have read some long novels, but I can’t say I go looking for them. My eldest son, loves a good long, epic fantasy, but I just prefer shorter books (and romances)…and if they are well done, I might close the book having read the last word, but I can guarantee you, I am still in that book continuing the story as I would like it to be — I have always been that way.

  12. I’m not surprised you’ve played around with Lady Catherine’s character. I finished reading “Listen to Your Heart” this morning and you had great fun with the deBurgh and Fitzwilliam family. This sounds like another fantabulous story.

    • I love playing with the secondary characters like Lady Catherine and Colonel Fitzwilliam and Mary and… (well those are the three I do a lot of playing with in this book and the sequel). These two books are written just as sweet fun romps. They were delightful to write. I hope readers find as much delight in reading them.

  13. Well what a surprise. Lady Catherine is still formidable but not insisting that Darcy marry Anne. I wonder who she has in mind for him? Can’t wait to read more. Many thanks for the excerpt and the giveaway 🙂

  14. Surprise, surprise! Lady Catherine has done a 180 on Darcy’s behalf. Like her new focus. One can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink. Darcy’s on board, but Elizabeth not so much. Good luck, Lady Catherine.

    • This Lady C is surprising and fun! Darcy is on board to begin with, but then, well, he thinks he has lost his chance and is about to jump ship. Elizabeth will need information equivalent to that letter shared with her before she can see things as they are (kind of like she needs that letter in canon to remove her blinders).

  15. I love love your stories (you know this). I love that I can get lost for my entire lunch hour and then go back and focus on what I need to do because I devoured the escape with my lunch. I am so looking forward to this companion story. This is a fun one.

    • Oh, being able to take a little lunchtime vacation is heavenly! I used to do it at school when I could, but my lunch then was so short that even a short story was likely not going to get finished. I like the idea that my stories can help you have that escape. 🙂

  16. I could relate to your reasons why you love short stories as I’m the same way and have had many long nights staying up trying to finish a story. Sometimes when I had to admit defeat, I’ve taken a peek at the end so I could finally get some sleep. Please don’t enter me in the giveaway as I am lucky to have a copy already.

    • I am a horrible end of the story peeker! Sometimes it is the first thing I read to decide if I want to invest my time in a story. (And I even read the story backwards, one chapter at a time, if I know I am short on time — I know. I’m a horrible reader. LOL) But really, otherwise, there is no sleeping or at least not sleeping well or concentrating on much of anything until that book is done! 🙂

  17. What a great idea. I always believed Lady Catherine to be smart, so I like this new take on her. Looking forward to reading it. 🙂

    And you are right, Leenie. Writing a short story takes special skills. Most of the skip over important isues and seem to have tt many lose ends at the end. But a well planned and executed short story is a delight. 🙂

    Thanks for the giveaway.

    • Thanks, Kate! I like playing around with Lady Catherine’s character. And this idea to make her a bit scheming came from my older sister, so I can’t take all the credit here. 🙂

      I read a couple of short novellas that were new to me this past weekend as I lay in bed with a touch of the flu and was reminded of how some short stories don’t quite hit the objective. They had some parts that were a bit draggy (too much info) and then the end was rushed feeling to me and there was a lack of detail in the emotional connection — it never really seemed created to a point of demanding to be resolved before it was resolved. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the stories. I did. They just left me feeling like I ate a delicious cupcake with no frosting. 🙂

  18. Well, who would have thought? I’m hoping her choice is Elizabeth of course but I can’t wait to find out how she gets them both to agree to it. If this is the Easter visit after the disastrous Meryton assembly etc. then Darcy should agree to it but Elizabeth????
    Thanks for this post and the generous giveaway ?

    • It is the Easter after the assembly. This is a new twist on their visit to Rosings. Lady Catherine’s methods are not exactly subtle. 😉 And she is not opposed to a scandal.

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