It is January and that means New Year’s Resolutions are being tested and plans for the year are being created and/or put in play. Much of my 2018 was spent writing, travelling, researching, and planning, so what does that mean for 2019? Well, there are 5 stories that I have been kicking around for a few years and it is time to finish them up and make them available to the public. Now, 5 is a bit much for me to complete in one year, but I thought I would give you a hint of what was to come.
The most recent work is the nearest to completion. It is called Mrs. Collins’ Lover and should be out this coming summer. Watch for a cover reveal this spring (after the wildflowers bloom). This is a story of a fall and redemption. Though several alpha readers expressed concern with the concept when I initially approached them, they were all won over once they read it so I beg patience from everyone. Just remember, to be redeemed, you must have sinned. It has been an emotional rollercoaster writing it and I can’t wait for everyone to join me on the ride.
Blurb: Faced with his own mortality, Mr. Bennet comforts himself that his favourite daughter will be the greatest Mistress Longbourn has ever known. Though Elizabeth Collins, nee Bennet, placed her faith in God’s plans, she begins finding it more and more difficult to see His hand in her life when she is confronted with the love of a man she thought despised her. In a final grasp for happiness, will she sacrifice all that was ever dear to her? Though she feels completely lost, will she finally reunite with the one who has loved her from the very beginning?
The second project was started over ten years ago and is not JAFF. I wrote a suspense romance, the first in a friend trilogy, but it needed serious editing assistance. In 2018, I reached out for help and now I just need to make the corrections (wow, that sounds so much easier than it is). The working title was vetoed (that is one of the needed corrections). Since it is not JAFF and I will probably publish under B. K. Chisholm, you will be able to learn more about this one on my website (which I promise to be more committed to updating this year).
The third story led me to Wales last May because I had a few characters that sounded a bit Scottish instead of Welsh. (If you’re going to travel, use it!) I was blessed to meet a young lady who agreed to read some dialogue for me so I could tweak my manuscript. The current title is Missing Jane and I am uncertain of a release season at this time. I am hoping for next fall, but it might be closer to Christmas. I’ll share a quick exchange between Darcy and Bingley to wet your whistle. (Warning: this is a rough draft, not even my beta has seen this yet.)
The Darcy carriage stopped in front of Netherfield’s portico and the man himself stepped out to look about. It seemed like an eternity since he had been there. Shaking off the knowledge that Elizabeth was just three miles away, he reminded himself there would be no reason for them to meet. He was here for Bingley. He strode purposefully to the front door where the housekeeper waited.
“Oh, Mr. Darcy, I knew you would come. I did not know what else to do. I suppose I could have written to Mr. Bingley’s sisters, but I felt they would only make matters worse.” She handed Darcy’s outerwear to a waiting footman as he removed it, and led him to her office.
“What exactly has occurred since Mr. Bingley’s return, Mrs. Hunter?” he asked as he crossed to the window.
She explained that Mr. Bingley had ridden out the day after he arrived. When he left, he appeared hopeful, but restrained. He had not said where he was going. When he returned, he looked as though he had seen a ghost and locked himself in his study. The next day, when he still would not respond to anyone’s inquiry, she forced her way into the study, afraid some harm had come to him. He was sitting staring forlornly at the cold coals in the fireplace. She had the fire built up and food brought to him. A day later, the food was still untouched. When Bingley refused to read the post from Darcy, she decided to contact him herself.
Darcy strode across the room and opened the office door. “Take me to him.”
He steeled himself as they approached the study. Mrs. Hunter knocked and waited for a response. When none came, Darcy nodded and she opened the door, but he stopped her from entering. “If we need anything, I will ring for you. Please bring coffee and a light repast in half an hour.” She nodded and turned toward the kitchens.
Darcy took a deep breath and entered the room. It was dark and the air was stale. The fire was out and there was a slight chill. Darcy crossed to the windows and opened the curtains to allow the sun entrance. He turned and surveyed the room. A tray sat on the desk, obviously untouched, while empty liquor bottles were strewn about. He searched and saw Bingley’s unconscious body lying on the floor by the sofa. Darcy crossed to him quickly, calling his name. Bingley stirred, but did not wake. The smell of alcohol emanated from him.
Darcy sat back on his heels and looked at his friend as he thought back to the night Richard had found him in a similar condition. Sighing, he stood and rang for Mrs. Hunter. “Be so good as to have Mr. Bingley’s valet attend us here. Oh, and have a bath drawn immediately in Mr. Bingley’s rooms.”
“But, sir, it will be cold.”
“The colder the better,” Darcy muttered as he removed his jacket and waistcoat before rolling up his sleeves. The servant nodded while trying to hide her surprise and left the room. Jenkins, Bingley’s valet, appeared within minutes and, between the two of them, they were able to get Bingley up the stairs to his rooms. They could hear water being poured into the bath as they entered. Darcy met Jenkins’ eye and they continued through the bedroom and into the dressing room where they unceremoniously dropped Bingley into the tub. He slowly began to stir, so Darcy took a bucket from the servant and poured it over his friend’s head. Bingley sat up, sputtering and began struggling to get out of the bath. Darcy returned the bucket before grabbing his friend and dunking him back in the water. Bingley came up swinging.
“Bingley, this is helping no one. Believe me, I have been where you are, and it does more harm than good. My cousin dealt with me as I am doing for you now. I am going to use his words, as they served me well to hear them.” He sat down across from the bath and related the events which occurred in Hunsford and Elizabeth’s refusal while staring at his hands. When he had related all, he continued. “Even though Miss Bennet refused you, it does not mean you cannot renew your suit. Woo her! Win her heart again! Elizabeth refused me, but I still hold hope that I may be able to change her mind in time.” He paused and turned to look at his friend. Bingley stared at him as though he were mad. “Bingley, what I am trying to say is, there is always hope.”
“Miss Bennet did not refuse me,” he said softly, still staring incredulously at his friend.
“I never had the opportunity to offer for her.”
“She refused to see you?”
Bingley shook his head, unable to speak.
Darcy stood and began pacing. “I do not understand. Why are you in such a state? Why have you not declared your feelings for her and offered your hand?”
Bingley stared at him coldly. “She is dead.”
Darcy felt his strength wash away from him as he fell onto the nearest seat. “No!” He struggled to find the appropriate response, but none came.
He watched silently as Bingley pulled himself out of the tub and began removing his dirty, wet clothing. Jenkins stepped forward to assist while Bingley continued to stare at Darcy as he spoke. “When I arrived in Hertfordshire, I went to Longbourn. Imagine my surprise to find the Bennets are no longer there.”
“No longer there? I do not understand. The Bennets have held Longbourn for generations.”
“Mr. Bennet is deceased. His heir, Mr. Collins, is the new master of Longbourn. Thankfully he was not home. I saw Mrs. Collins. She was very cool toward me. Most people are now here in Hertfordshire. I asked after the Bennets and she told me.” The weight of his loss settled heavily upon his shoulders and he sat down across from Darcy. “So you proposed to Miss Elizabeth and that is how you learned that Jane still loved me,” he said softly.
Darcy nodded slowly.
“Excuse me?” Darcy asked as if awakening from a dream.
“When? When did you propose to Miss Elizabeth?”
“At Rosings. At Easter,” Darcy said as he studied his hands.
“Easter?” He heard the hitch in Bingley’s voice. “Easter!”
Darcy nodded again.
“That was two months ago!”
“Why did you wait until now to tell me?”
“I had sunken into a pit much like the one in which I found you. My cousin drug me out of it. It took me time to determine the correct course to take.”
Bingley’s face turned red. “Determine the correct course? You did not come to me immediately to right the wrong you had done?”
Darcy felt himself becoming defensive, not understanding the reason for Bingley’s anger. “I do not see why …”
“Two months, Darcy! You waited two months!” Darcy began to apologize again, but Bingley held up his hands in disgust. “She’s been gone one.”
Darcy realized that had he confessed immediately, Charles would have gone directly to Miss Bennet and things may have been different. He had no idea what to say to his friend. “My deepest apologies … sympathy … Bingley, I do not know … Forgive me … I … I know not …”
Bingley laughed harshly, “Forgive you? How?” He drew himself up to his full height. “Leave my home, sir.”
Darcy nodded and exited the room. Bingley slammed the door behind him.
The fourth project is a story I recently rediscovered. When I first started reading JAFF, I was inspired by a scene in one of Kara Louise’s stories, Darcy’s Voyage, where Elizabeth had sprained her ankle in an attempt to avoid an unsolicited suitor. It gave me an idea that nearly wrote itself. That will be out sometime in 2020. Sorry, no title for this one yet.
Finally, I was inspired to dip my toe in a fantasy version of P&P. You will all be glad to hear that I have several male fantasy writers in my critique group and they were more than willing to point out everything I didn’t know about writing fantasy. Just kidding. They were very supportive and explained some things I hadn’t even taken into consideration. The basic storyline is done as well as most of the opening and confrontation scenes, but I am struggling with an ending right now so that will be the last one published.
sigh I can honestly say this is the most planning I have given my writing since I began and I wanted to share it with you so you could keep me honest. Looking forward to the upcoming months!
How is your 2019 starting out for you? What changes/plans have you put in place?