Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Are YOU a Darcy-holic? Monica Fairview Confesses her Addiction

Good morning, dear readers! 

Coffee with ColetteI confess, I have been a very bad blogger of late. I really am trying to finish writing my new novel. Really! 

That's why I was thrilled when fellow Austen Author Monica Fairview accepted my invitation to return for Coffee to share this fun and hilarious interview from Darcyholic Times - LOL! You might recall Monica stopped by in October to discuss Pride and Prejudice's (or PULSE and Prejudice's!) "Mr Darcy as a Type," as well as to introduce her new release Steampunk Darcy- which if you haven't read by now, stop everything and grab it! 

Now she has returned to confess her struggles with Darcyholicism. Of course, aren't we all Darcyholics? So as with any 12-step meeting, grab your cup of coffee and join me in saying, "Hi, Monica!"

Darcyholics Anonymous


This interview is reprinted from the Darcyholic Times: A Magazine issued by the DARCY Program. The owner of this blog is not responsible for any of the opinions expressed.

As our guest today we would like to welcome Monica Fairview, author of two traditional Pride and Prejudice Sequels: The Other Mr.Darcy and The Darcy Cousins as well as her latest novel Steampunk Darcy. As an expert on the epidemic of Darcyholism that is spreading rapidly across the world, we are fortunate to be able to bring you this exclusive interview on how best to control expansion of this dangerous drug before it rages out of control.

Tell us a bit about Darcyholism.

Darcyholism is a very dangerous addiction. It starts when a woman – males are less likely to be affected by it – is exposed to a “Mr. Darcy” and comes to believe that he is the only romantic hero worthy of the name. It is a very insidious addiction and at the end quite mind-altering. It begins when that woman becomes dissatisfied with the males she meets and prefers to gaze at YouTube images of Mathew MacFadyen or Colin Firth. Every minute, somewhere in the world, someone is affected and eventually spreads it to someone else through exchange of books, films and other such unhygienic practices. It is important that we learn to avoid this danger because it is costing the individuals hundreds of dollars to satisfy their cravings for Darcy-related products and there seems no end to it.

Is it true that you, too, experienced Darcyholism first-hand?

Yes, I was a Darcyholic for a long time. Fortunately, I have now been Darcy-free for almost week.
It’s an ongoing battle, but I believe I can conquer it. I am currently enrolled in a program called DARCY (Darcyholic Addiction Recovery Center for Youth) and have high hopes that I will soon be able to put this strange obsession behind me. 

How did you become a Darcyholic?

It all started with the BBC 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. I’d read the novel many times before and considered Jane Austen’s writing very amusing and sharp, but the moment Colin Firth gazed at me from the screen with those expressive eyes I was lost in Austen. The addiction had only just begun. 

What are the qualities in Darcy that made you a Darcyholic?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Forget the Tortoise and the Hare - Turtles are FAST!

Not to state the obvious, but turtles are wild! Either that, or my life has become really boring.

Last fall we moved to a new home on a lake. Several times a day, we take the dogs for a walk around the lake and have watched the passage of seasons (Yes, we actually had seasons this year - although generally they changed from day to day). Autumn gave way to winter - and we actually had snow! - and now with spring we enjoy the verdant landscape.

In addition to the changes we have seen on the grass and trees, we have watched the arrival and departure of wildlife. We consistently have egrets, which are a source of constant fascination to my dog, who always wants to introduce himself. (One time he got away from me, chasing after an egret, and I thought he was going to end up in the lake trying to fly after it!) In the fall, a flock of geese stayed for several days, and occasionally ducks stop by for a visit. 

The arrival of spring has brought with it a team of turtles, as our lake is now teeming with turtles! Based on the various sizes, from gigantic to tiny babies, I have a feeling we will be seeing a lot more of them. My husband and I are enthralled by these turtles and regularly report on their activity. We will see a dozen of them lined up sunbathing at the edge of the lake, but before we can get close enough to get a decent picture, they jump into the water - fast!

I don't know how they sense us coming. They are usually staring at the lake, but somehow they perceive our presence and get in the water quick. Sometimes they all jump in at once; other times they are like synchronized swimmers in an Esther Williams' film sliding in one by one in sequence. Eeeeevery once in a while, one will remain on the shore (?? Is it called a shore on a lake?) and watch the others leave, as if to say, "Where'd everybody go?" Then he'll notice our approach and think, "Oh, crap!" and jump in after them. I always wonder why they don't just escape into their shells. Isn't that what turtles are supposed to do?

Once in the lake, though, they don't disappear from sight completely - at least not at first. Their little heads will be stretched up watching us like German submarines. Then as we walk by, "plop - plop - plop," they're gone. Sometimes there might be an old turtle sitting (or lying?) alone, who ignores us, or a little baby by itself who doesn't know any better. I try to steer the dogs clear so we don't startle them into swimming for their lives.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Darcy Brothers with Susan Mason-Milks

Good morning, dear readers! 

Coffee with ColetteI  know, it has been a looooong time since I have had a new post here on "Writing and Ramblings." For those of you who follow my Facebook Page, you know that I have had to take a step back from social media because of mental and physical exhaustion, a soul-sucking day job, trying to sell my house, and in general just being overwhelmed by this thing called life. So I guess that's my "ramblings."
On the "writings" side, in addition to working on three novels, I am also preparing to go to The Novel Experience Event this weekend in Atlanta with a huge FREE booksigning on Saturday, March 29th, with 300 authors! So if you are in the area, I hope you'll come say hi! In any case, recently I have been a very bad blogger.

Fortunately, I have many lovely  friends who are willing to stop by for Coffee! Today, I am excited to have fellow Austen Author  Susan Mason-Milks joining me for Coffee again. Susan dropped by last October to tell you about her latest release, Please, Mr. Darcy! 
This morning she is here to tell us about the special "Readers' Choice" project  The Darcy Brothers. Susan is joined by other authors from the Austen Variations group, Abigail Reynolds, Monica Fairview, Maria Grace, Cassandra Grafton, and Regina Jeffers. So for all of us who just cannot get enough of Jane Austen, here's our chance to play along and decide what happens next!

Creating The Darcy Brothers

Many authors who write in the Jane Austen genre ask the creative question: What if events had gone a little differently than in the original book? Six authors at the Austen Variations blog decided to explore one of these "what if" scenarios but with an unusual twist. We call it Readers Choice. Its a bit like those choose your own adventurebooks you might have read as a kid.

To kick off the story, the group decided on some basic parameters for the story. One of our authors wrote the first chapter, and at the end, we asked readers to vote on one of three options for the direction of the next chapter. Each week voting is open for about 24 hours, and then based on the fans' selection, the next writer in the rotation must create a new chapter, incorporating the winning option. New chapters are posted every Wednesday. Sound like fun? It's been a real learning experience for the writers involved!
The current story [The Darcy Brothers] began last fall and features a number of old friends from Pride and Prejudice. It also added a few new characters to the landscape, primarily Fitzwilliam Darcys younger brother, Theophilus Darcy or Theo. It was our vision to have him be a typical younger brother but with all the charm that Darcy is missing. Although a tad irresponsible, Theo's not a bad person - just the kind of handsome, redeemable rake we all love!

The story opens with Darcy and his brother Theo headed to Rosings for the annual Easter visit with their aunt, Lady Catherine. If you have children, this little exchange will sound familiar in spite of the fact that these two are in their twenties.

So tell me again, why am I going to Rosings?Theophilus Darcy stretched his long legs across the floorboards of the traveling coach until his feet were not quite touching his brothers boots.

Fitzwilliam Darcy grunted and shifted in his seat until his feet were free once more.

Theophilus grinned.

Darcy clamped his jaws together and swallowed back his sharp words. Theo would not provoke him to intemperate speech, not today. Not again.

He drew a deep breath, savoring the fragrance of the newly refreshed leather upholstery. He would never admit it to his brother, but he delighted in the scent. Simple, elegant, and made to last, exactly as it should be.

I asked you a question, brother dear.He tapped his boot against Darcys.

Darcy jumped. Stop that. There is plenty of room in this coach without you crowding me.

Theo chuckled and pulled back just enough that Darcy would have to concede he complied, but not an inch further. So touchy. Always have been as I remember. You never liked sharing a seat with me, even when we were children.He tapped Darcys boot again. (From Chapter One by Maria Grace)

Theo has become so popular that both fans and writers sometimes have difficulty remembering Theo isn't one of the original characters. What do you mean, Darcy didn't have a brother? While preparing for the story, we found a portrait from the Regency period that we all agreed could be Theo, and we've used that as a visual cue throughout the story. Almost every week, we give away items with Theo's picture on them - everything from magnets to key chains. Just to add to the fun, I discovered a company called Theo's Chocolate in Seattle, and one week we did a giveaway of chocolate bars from Theo's.

After seeing a presentation on the Lizzy Bennet Diaries at last year's annual meeting of the Jane Austen Society, we decided to experiment with adding other social media. Theo has his own blog which is used to post the letters he writes to his sister, cousin, and friends. He also tweets under the name @Theo_Darcy. Some of Theo's friends and family have twitter accounts, too: Georgiana @PemberleyG; Colonel Fitzwilliam @Col_Fitzwilliam; Elizabeth Bennet @LizzyB1813; and his friend Monty @DBMontgomery.

Because fans and authors have had so much fun interacting, we recently took that idea to a whole new level by adding a follow up blog post called "Reader's Perspective" in which one of our readers does a bit of story analysis, asks questions about the story, and makes suggestions for the story. Writers and other fans add their own thoughts to this interaction creating a unique dialogue. It's been amazing just how many comments are generated between the story itself and the follow up. The Reader's Perspective has been so successful that two fans are now working together to create it.

A few weeks ago as part of the Reader's Perspective some fans said they thought the story was going too fast and that there were scenes that they'd like to see "missing" from the plot. As a result, we stepped back and took another look at the story - and agreed with them. Much to the fans' delight, we created five new scenes to add to prior chapters. We all think these scenes really enrich the story, and we're so glad we listened.

So besides listening to the readers, what has the writing team learned through this? Communication is the key. We continually check in with each other, share ideas, and brainstorm story elements behind the scenes.

The Darcy Brothers two-part finale begins tomorrow, March 26 and concludes on April 2nd. On April 9th, we'll have another interactive feature - an interview with Theo Darcy to answer fan's questions. Will there be a book? Yes, probably some time late summer/early fall. And a sequel? Absolutely! We just can't get enough of Theo!

The innovative writing team for The Darcy Brothers includes Monica Fairview, Maria Grace, Cassandra Grafton, Regina Jeffers, Susan Mason-Milks and Abigail Reynolds.

Susan Mason-Milks

You might be surprised to learn that when Ms. Mason-Milks read Pride and Prejudice for the first time in the eighth grade, she was not impressed! That changed when she saw the now famous 1995 mini-series version of the story. Deciding to give Austen another chance, she read all the novels and fell in love. She says, “Writing stories inspired by Austen’s books offers a way to spend more time with characters I’ve grown to love. Just because the book ends, it doesn’t have to be the end of the story.”
She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and three naughty cats.

Ms. Mason-Milks is a member of the Austen Variations group blog along with nearly twenty other authors who all write in the Austen genre. For the blog, she has helped coordinate several creative projects including a celebration of the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice called Pride and Prejudice: Scenes Jane Austen Never Wrote (published by White Soup Press), and the innovative Reader’s Choice, serialized stories in which readers vote on the plot direction of the next chapter. Starting in April 2014, she’ll be coordinating the real time retelling of Persuasion (P200) on Austen Variations.

Austen Variations: www.austenvariations.com
Facebook: Susan Mason-Milks
Twitter: @susanmasonmilks

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Celebrate Your Name Week with A.J. Best & a FREE Romance!

Coffee with ColetteGood morning, dear readers!  
Do you have a unique name? Have you ever given someone a unique name?
This is "Celebrate Your Name" week, and today I am joined for Coffee by fellow Secret Cravings Publishing author A.J. Best. She has dropped by to tell you about how she chose the not-so-unique names in her heart-wrenching romance, Forgiveness. (I understand that: I named the two main characters in All My Tomorrows "Alice" and "Peter" - Well, actually my husband did!) 
Plus A.J. has her novella available for you for FREE this week! Now that's a way to celebrate, and I know you won't want to miss it - you would never be able to forgive yourself!

This week is celebrate your name week. Today specifically is Unique Names Day. Which got me to thinking about the names in my book Forgiveness. There really isn't anything unique about these names, so why did I pick them?

Our beloved though a little neurotic heroine is Mary. Having never really looked up names and just let the first name that pops into my head be 'the one', I'd have to say that her name is a little spot on.

Mary: Hebrew baby name. Meaning wished for child; rebellion; bitter.

Unfortunately Mary is a little bitter. Her mother just died and she found out some information that she really wasn't ready to know. Then her husband starts acting a little squirrelly and Mary takes that bitterness, and deflects it to him.

Joe, the good natured well-meaning hero. After looking up his name, I think it might fit pretty well also.

Joe: English baby name. Meaning God will increase.

Trying to make their ten year anniversary a great one, Joe decides to take on something a little sneaky and underhanded. But Joe doesn't understand that it is a little underhanded because there's not a mean bone in his body. He's a lousy liar and just may have been caught in the mistake of a lifetime! Will he pay for his misdeeds or will he be given Forgiveness?

If you'd like to get to know Mary and Joe a little better my book Forgiveness is up for FREE right now on Secret Cravings Publishing store right now. http://store.secretcravingspublishing.com/index.php?main_page=book_info&cPath=4&products_id=355

 Excerpt from Forgiveness


“I’m a naughty, naughty girl,” she cooed. Her eyes were teasing him when she sauntered into the room wearing a skin-tight white corset and a silky white barely-there thong. She chewed her bottom lip playfully in anticipation of his reaction to the outfit she had purchased the night before. The corset caressed the curve of her slender sun-kissed waist. The white lacy fabric and silk ties enhanced the olive tone of her skin.

She became annoyed by his terse response, “Uh huh.” She watched him slide on his freshly laundered slacks. His inattention made her want to throw a lamp at him. “I’m sure you were fine.” She watched him absentmindedly scoop the loose change from the top of the mahogany dresser and drop it into a nearby bowl. She wondered if he had even heard a word she’d said. “Okay, I have some errands to run. Call me on my cell if you need me.”