Saturday, January 30, 2016

Music and Inspiration

Short blog post today as I am hard at work on the edits to overhaul the story of Colonel Fitzwilliam and Lady Grace into an amazing story which I hope to publish this year or early 2017.

Music is a huge part of my writing process. It helps me get to the emotion of particularly hard scenes by setting the tone. My writing process is unique or maybe not so unique. I have to have music to write. It helps my process. I think it makes me a better writer.

As I work on my Austenesque novel about Colonel Fitzwilliam there have been two songs which I have deemed the theme songs of my novel. I tried to pick only one, but both of these songs just spoke to me and they really encompass the tone of the relationship between Colonel Fitzwilliam and Lady Grace.  It’s sexy and playful, but with a touch of darkness and mystery.

Please take a moment to listen to the theme songs for the romance of Colonel Fitzwilliam and Lady Grace.

Tip of my Tongue by The Civil Wars

Dance Me to the End of Love by The Civil Wars

You can check out additional musical inspiration for my novel by checking out my playlist. Click on the tab titled playlist at the top. J

Monday, January 18, 2016

Dusting off a manuscript and the Alpha Male……

I was going through some papers when I came across my manuscript for my novel about Colonel Fitzwilliam and my heroine, Lady Grace. As I read through the pages I was infused with a sense of contentment and realized that I had been missing very much my characters and the story I was attempting tell. The Colonel and Lady Grace deserve to have their story told. It is a shame that I have allowed their story to collect dust for the past 2 years. Yes, it has been 2 years that I have allowed the Colonel and Lady Grace to waste away. My only explanation was I was uninspired, not by the characters or the story I am telling, but by my environment.

In 2013 I married my amazing husband, who is equal parts Capt. Wentworth and Henry Tilney. I was living in California at the time. My husband is in the military and was stationed in North Carolina. In early 2014 I was finally able to make the cross country move from California to North Carolina. We were both extremely happy to be living on the same continent and in the same place after so must time doing the long distance, but I wouldn’t change out journey.

I have never warmed to North Carolina, even after almost 2 years. Now, part of it could be my due to my day job which I was able to keep when I moved. My office environment leaves must to be desired on my part, but I am blessed in what I do have, so I cannot be overtly dissatisfied with my current situation. In essence my current environment left me uninspired. It is something that probably plagues writers all the time. I like to think that I have rediscovered my inspiration and I feel inclined to finish the story of the Colonel Fitzwilliam and Lady Grace and in turn share it with the world.

I am hesitant though. I have indicated that I was ready to return before, but then found myself uninspired all over again. However, something feels different this time and I hope that this time I am truly ready to continue on the journey I started 5 years ago. I hope that there may still be those who are interested in the story I was trying to tell for the Colonel and Lady Grace.

Colonel Fitzwilliam is an alpha male and as such he has been quite vocal in is displeasure at being pushed aside for the last two years. I will admit that my take on the Colonel may have been a tad scandalous for the lovely Jane Austen, but I love an alpha male. He is strong, loyal, firm in his convictions and a bit possessive of what is his. A male who when he does fall in love, loves his female fiercely.

In addition, Lady Grace herself has voiced her discontent quite a bit about the lack of resolution between her and her Colonel.

In conclusion, Colonel Fitzwilliam and Lady Grace are demanding that I bring some resolution to their romance. It is only fair that I appease them.

What kind of hero and heroine do you like? Are there characteristics you typically look for?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

A REVIEW: Jane Austen's First Love by Syrie James



 Thank you to Laurel Ann Nattress (of Austenprose) for allowing me to be apart of the blog tour and giving me the opportunity to read this wonderful book and thank you to Syrie James for writing it.
Genre: Austenesque/Historical Fiction/Romance/Young Adult
Publisher: Berkley (Penguin Group USA)
Trade paperback ISBN: 978-0425271353
eBook ISBN: 978-0698139268
I became a fan of Syrie James after reading Nocturne, so when I was asked if I might consider reviewing her latest work, I could not resist the temptation. I find that I was not disappointed in the beautiful tale that James has so masterfully woven.

Jane Austen is a precocious fifteen year old who dreams of doing something useful, writing something of importance and falling in love. When her older brother Edward (who was adopted and raised by wealthier cousins) announces his engagement Jane get’s her chance. Jane, her sister Cassandra, their brother Charles and Mother travel to Kent to celebrate. While there Jane meets the worldly Edward Taylor and she falls in love with him. It makes for a fascinating tale.

What I found exciting as I read was the connection to the novels Austen herself wrote. A play is to be produced at home after poor weather cancels some of their previously planned events which is reminiscent of Mansfield Park. Matchmaking attempts gone awry such as in Emma, Sisterly bonds as in Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice,  rapier wit as evident in Pride and Prejudice, and an active imagination as in Northanger Abbey.

In the book, Jane herself has the traits of heroines in her own novels. Jane tried to be a matchmaker and just as Emma discovered, it does not always have the results you were hoping for and the human heart is better left to discovering its own wants and desires. Her wit and impertinent remarks reminded me of Elizabeth Bennent in Pride and Prejudice. Jane is a bit like Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility in that she meets a dashing stranger who she falls madly in love with. We also know that in real life Jane and her sister Cassandra had such a strong bond and it is portrayed beautifully on the pages. There bond reminded me of Jane and Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice and of Elinor and Marianne in Sense and Sensibility.

We all know Austen’s works and they always say to write about what you know, so I cannot help but think that each of Austen’s heroines had a little bit of herself in them. Or that her novels did not have some of her own experiences in them. I wouldn’t have expected less form James in this regard, for I feel that when she writes something about Austen she makes sure to do her justice.

Jane Austen’s First Love is a captivating read. Any Austen fan would like to think that Jane herself had been in love at least once even though she never married and this book fulfills our greatest wish as fans---to see Austen in love. James has done her research for the novel and really brings the characters to life. Edward Taylor was a real person and just the sort of man Jane would have been drawn to.

James has constructed a beautiful love story. A fitting interlude that while it brings pangs of regret for its ending can only be looked back upon with fond remembrance. As Elizabeth Bennett said in Pride and Prejudice, “Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure.” This novel has given me pleasure, indeed.
Get this wonderful book in time for Christmas. Order by December 15th.


 Syrie James, hailed as “the queen of nineteenth century re-imaginings” by Los Angeles Magazine, is the bestselling author of nine critically acclaimed novels that have been translated into 18 languages. Her books have been awarded the Audio Book Association Audie, designated as Editor’s Picks by Library Journal, named a Discover Great New Writer’s Selection by Barnes and Noble, a Great Group Read by the Women’s National Book Association, and Best Book of the Year by The Romance Reviews and Suspense Magazine. Syrie is a member of the WGA and lives in Los Angeles. Please visit her at, Facebook or say hello on Twitter @SyrieJames.

Grand Giveaway Contest
Win One of Five Fabulous Jane Austen-inspired Prize Packages

To celebrate the holidays and the release of Jane Austen's First Love, Syrie is giving away five prize packages filled with an amazing selection of Jane Austen-inspired gifts and books!

To enter the giveaway contest, simply leave a comment on any of the blog stops on the
Jane Austen's First Love Holiday Blog Tour.

Increase your chances of winning by visiting multiple stops along the tour! Syrie's unique guest posts will be featured on a variety of subjects, along with fun interviews, spotlights, excerpts, and reviews of the novel. Contest closes at 11:59pm PT, December 21, 2014. Five lucky winners will be drawn at random from all of the comments on the tour, and announced on Syrie’s website on December 22, 2014. The giveaway contest is open to everyone, including international residents. Good luck to all!

Monday, September 29, 2014


It’s sometimes hard to imagine a Jane Austen story today given the change in social dynamics. Sense and Sensibility could perhaps be on the harder Austen books to modernize, next to Mansfield Park and Northanger Abby perhaps.  Older men who marry significantly younger women may have been necessity in Austen’s time, but it is not such a socially accepted norm today. Marrying a person you don’t love is kind of an archaic thought now, but I guess if you had Donald Trump assets and wanted your child to marry into even more money that it could happen this day in age. While we can all relate to the theme of money and the reality of having to downsize to a lifestyle that is within our means, it is harder to imagine that one’s own family could be cruel enough to deprive them based on a mere technicality of not having drafted an updated will. But then is it really so hard to imagine? People are just as unwilling to confront the possibility of their own death now as they were back then.

In Kaitlin Saunders modern adaption of Sense and Sensibility, Mr. Dashwood did not leave a will which would have provided for his second wife Diane and their children, Elinor (Ellie for short), Marianne or Margaret.  That lack of foresight to provide for his family will cost them dearly. While he may have been the CEO of a successful company and able to provide for his second family and his son, John Dashwood, from his previous marriage, his lack of planning meant only John would inherit. While John was willing to provide for his step-mother and half-sisters, his money hungry wife Francil is not so desirous in sharing their newfound wealth. Using her female attributes she persuades John that his father’s dying words on his death bed only implied that he should give his step-mother and half-sisters a small lump sum payment of money and the rest was to be for them and their son Harry. I never much cared for John’s wife in Austen’s original novel, but Miss Saunders has really made me detest her.

Diane Dashwood’s pain at the unexpected death of Mr. Dashwood leapt of the pages. I found my heart strings pulled and my emotions well up at what can only be unimaginable pain and then to find out that your husband had never revised his will has to be truly devastating. The unfeeling nature of Francil increases the emotional turmoil of a reader. Diane and her daughters not only have to deal with the stages of grief at the unexpected death of Mr. Dashwood, but they have to contend with being forced out of the only home they have ever known. In all of Francil’s greediness and making them feel like guests in their own home, I almost expected Francil to demand to look through the boxes they had packed so she could  make sure that they were not taking anything that she deemed hers. She didn’t go that far, but she was navigating that way.

When Diane, Ellie, Marianne and Margaret are finally able to leave it almost comes as a relief to the reader. The relief is overshadowed by how much their life has changed. Arriving at their new home in Oregon is perhaps the most depressing realization that they are not in Kansas anymore. They have gone from a beautiful arced estate to a tiny apartment. Yet with surprising resilience they come to accept and love their new home.

One of the many challenges of this adaption would be the romance of Marianne and Brandon. These days it’s a lot harder to justify an older man marrying a significantly younger woman.  Miss Saunders handles this situation perfectly by not really focusing on the age difference.  It is almost as if by not acknowledging it that it develops into something unimportant when the age difference is brought up. This is no easy feat as today’s readers have an entirely different idea of social acceptability than what was acceptable back in Austen’s time.

The dislike Brandon has of Willoughby remains in a slightly updated version of the story. Yet, with Willoughby we retain a certain sympathy for his plight when he gets the chance to explain himself to Ellie when Marianne is ill. In Austen’s original I cannot say one ever feels remotely connected enough to Willoughby to give him the chance of sympathy. Although, in Saunders version of the Marianne/Willoughby romance one feels a sense of distrust for a stranger who shows up out of nowhere to conveniently rescue the injured Marianne, which I do not feel we were fully privy to in Austen’s original. It’s as if updating the story makes you more aware of a stranger who is so charming from the start, although being a modern retelling I feel as if we are able to get justification for Willoughby’s actions more readily. Saunders handling of this was perfect to the point that the satisfaction of Marianne and Brandon finally coming together was even greater than anticipated.

Ellie and Edward are always my favorite couple of the story. I have just always identified with Elinor more so than Marianne only because I see myself in Elinor. In this adaption, Edward is a freelance photographer and Ellie is an accountant. I think the way Saunders tells the tale of Ellie and Edward’s romance does significant justice to them. As readers of the original, we have always known Elinor to be the reserved one, but it’s so poignant in the way Saunders writes Elinor that her reserved nature practically jumps off the page to the point that you want to be able to reach through the pages and shake her. In addition, you can feel the absolute fatigue that Ellie feels at having to be the emotional pillar for not only Marianne, but her mother too. I don’t think I ever really felt that way when reading Austen’s original. I felt the love and need to support one another, but I never had the sense that Elinor was tired or frustrated in being that emotional pillar for her sister and mother.

This adaption is a great modern retelling of Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. The elements of Austen’s work remain the same, but Saunders is able to seamlessly modernize the story. It makes for an exciting read. I was most curious to how she would create the scene when Marianne spots Willoughby with the mysterious Miss Grey and I was not disappointed. Behind the backdrop of a modern company party Marianne’s world comes crashing down. I felt pain and sympathy at the final undoing of Marianne’s heartbreak and I can’t say I have always sympathized with Marianne.

Miss Saunders is able to achieve something that not all authors can. She achieves the desire of making readers want to read more. This is what keeps readers coming back time and time again. She is able to create stories where the reader feels as if she is right there with the characters. I felt this to be a delightful adaptation of Sense and Sensibility. I cannot wait to read more from Kaitlin Saunders. I am hoping her next modern adaptation may involve Northanger Abbey.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Traversing the English Countryside with Jane

I’ve often desired to hop across the pond to England just to go into the English countryside and visit the places which Austen speaks of in her novels and places where Jane herself lived. I have loved many authors, but none so much as our dear Jane.
Chawton House

Who is to say what it is about her that speaks to us. Her novels are like old friends that bring us comfort or happiness when we need it most. They are timeless treasures which each of us holds onto. This enchantment is what spurs our desire to see the places Jane lived and those she spoke about in her novels.

Pride and Prejudice is 200 years old! Who knew age could look so good, but it does.  Take a tour through Jane Austen’s English Countryside with Smithsonian Magazine. Read the article by Nina Fedrizzi here.


I hope you enjoy your journey.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

If My Life Was A Jane Austen Novel

Persuasion. My life would most closely resemble Persuasion.  It’s true.
As many of you may have noticed my blog, my twitter feed and my facebook page have been silent. I have been having my own Anne Elliot moment of second chances with my Captain Wentworth. While I did not have a first round proposal, we did have a separation of two years which was mostly through faults of my own. We have received our second chance and I am happy to report that we will get our happy ending. However, we must endure a 7,000 mile separation until he is stationed stateside once again. My Wentworth is actually a U.S. Marine currently stationed in Japan. Although, if we are comparing my other half to a Jane Austen hero then he is more of a Henry Tilney whom we all know I love and adore.
In between my own Persuasion, I moved back to my parent’s house to save some money and pay off student loan debt faster. That alone has been an experience all its own. Twenty-seven and back living with your parents again, albeit temporarily, picture it. I have also been honing my craft with my employment and my patience paid off and a promotion opened up in our district. I am just waiting to see if I get that promotion. There have been other life events that have occurred and I have not had much time for writing. I am slowly making my return, however.
I am so happy to be coming back to the Austen community. I realize many of you were disappointed by my Colonel Fitzwilliam novel not making his debut in June, but I assure you that I have not forgotten him. He has been making his presence known to me constantly and hasn’t fared well with my neglect. The draft is written, but first round edits are being finished before I am able to send the pages to my beta readers.
I am also at work on other material for my other book the Northanger Abbey Vignettes. I am currently working on a piece about Isabella Thorpe titled Mirror, Mirror. I also have a story about John Thorpe which I had been working on before my hiatus.
Finally, I have some book reviews which I will be posting soon. I can’t wait to share those with you. I love to read and I enjoy sharing my affection for the activity.

Hello friends and please join me for a spot of tea.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Awake: A Fairytale by Jessica Grey

Awake: A Fairytale by Jessica Grey

Format: Kindle Edition (Paperback coming soon)

Publisher: Tall House Books (February 4, 2012)

ASIN: B0075WO1Q0

Alexandra Martin didn’t believe in fairytales…

Alex has always been more interested in rocks and science than stories about princesses and magic. Now she’s far too busy with her summer internship at the Gem and Mineral Museum to think about children’s stories. Between avoiding her former best friend and high school baseball star, Luke Reed, and trying to hide her unrequited crush on her mentor at the museum, the real world is occupying all of her time.

…Until she walked into one.

It turns out fairytales aren’t all fun and games. A curse has turned her neat and orderly world upside down, and to break it, she bands together with a fellow intern and a recently awakened princess who’s been asleep for 900 years. Can this trio of unlikely heroines put an end to an ominous enchantment, discover true love, and keep an ancient and evil magic from being unleashed on modern-day Los Angeles?

Fairytales have an enduring quality and thanks to Disney every girl can dream of a Happily-Ever-After, but its how you get there that is the true story. The work one has to do for the relationship to succeed is what makes the ending all the more satisfying. In fact, it is the requirement of any good relationship.

Debut author Jessica Grey has created a world suspended just above reality, but with its Los Angeles setting it’s not a stretch. I admit that I have only ever seen the Disney film about Sleeping Beauty and have never read the actual fairy tale, but Grey keeps the basic Disney elements (for people like me perhaps) so that the story is not completely unrecognizable and then Grey twists the elements to make it exciting. In Awake the tale of Sleeping Beauty is tilted on its axis and given a dynamic and captivating new approach.

Alex Martin is a classic heroine because she doesn’t try to be one. Alex doesn’t realize the real power she holds, literally and figuratively.  She is the girl that is beautiful and smart, but does not see it herself, but our hero Luke does. So to progress with Alex throughout the novel and to watch her really come into herself is one of the best parts. Alex still doesn’t really understand how others see her at the end, but she is embraced and held up by the love and affection of Luke which is all that she needs to be successful.

Luke is sexy. I have a quote on my blog which I try to live by when I create the heroes in my novels and I think it represents Luke exceptionally well. Author Umberto Eco said “The real hero is always a hero by mistake; he dreams of being an honest coward like everybody else”.  Luke acts in the manner of a hero, but he does not purposefully try to be the hero. Luke’s feelings for Alex are what compel him to act the way he does and it is because Luke is being true to himself that he is heroic.

When the romance of Luke and Alex finally comes to fruition it is a meeting of equals and because of that we can only imagine what an enduring relationship occurs beyond the pages of Awake. It is relationships like the ones in Awake that keep me reading because it portrays the hope that even the least conspicuous individuals can have a happy ending.

Awake has my endorsement.

Final recommendation: Add a little magic to your life and read Awake.