Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Giveaway & Guest Post: Kara Louise of Chance and Circumstance

Today I'm pleased to be hosting Kara Louise, whose novel Darcy's Voyage holds the position of "Best Austenesque Fiction Novel" in my heart, going back to 2010 when I discovered it. She has a new novel out now called Chance and Circumstance, which she will discuss with us here.  Thanks for this very enlightening blog post Kara!  To our readers: Be sure to enter the giveaway at the conclusion of the post!

Inspiration by the Seat of My Pants

I want to thank Laura for allowing me to share with you about my newest book, Chance and Circumstance, and a little bit about how I write.

When people ask me what method I use in writing my stories, I have to confess that I am a pantser. If you don’t know what that means, it means I write by the seat of my pants. I’m not a plotter - I don’t plot everything out ahead of time; I don’t make up outlines; I often don’t know the direction a story is going to go until I get into it. I start with a premise and go from there.

One reason I prefer this way is that as I write, I find myself more drawn into the story and have a better sense of where the characters are taking me. Yes, they do tend to often have minds of their own.

While I have a general idea of what I’m going to write and what the general plot (or variation) is going to be, I do make every effort to bring it all together in the end and be an enjoyable read.

Chance and Circumstance is my eleventh published book, and all I knew when I began was that I was going to examine what would have happened if Mr. Bingley met Elizabeth first, without Jane or Mr. Darcy around.

Here is the book description:

Chance brings about an early encounter between Charles Bingley and Elizabeth Bennet soon after his move into Netherfield. He soon begins to favour this pretty and lively young lady. Circumstances have kept Jane Bennet and Mr. Darcy from the neighbourhood, thereby changing the events that Jane Austen penned in "Pride and Prejudice."

When Mr. Darcy finally arrives, will he be able to keep from interfering when he meets this young lady his friend so greatly admires? When Jane returns from touring the Lake District with her aunt and uncle, will the young gentleman who returns with her prove to be better suited for her than Mr. Bingley ever was?

In this "Pride and Prejudice" variation, chance and circumstance greatly affect the way several of Jane Austen's characters arrive at their happily ever after, but not necessarily in the way you think.

I am of the conviction Mr. Bingley’s and Elizabeth’s initial meeting would go well, as they have lively and engaging personalities, are very polite and agreeable, and are both attractive. I wanted to see how long it would be before Elizabeth began to see those areas in which this fine gentleman would not be suitable for her.

My very first inspiration for this story came from a scene I envisioned many years ago. In that scene, Bingley is walking at Elizabeth’s side, and Darcy and Jane are following. Darcy is frustrated that his friend is singling out Elizabeth because he thinks she is better suited for him. Bingley, who has begun to question his feelings for Elizabeth, keeps turning around to look at Jane, who in turn, returns his looks of admiration. Elizabeth is simply enjoying her walk.

That was the scene I had envisioned, but guess what! It did not make it into the book because a very different idea came to me as I began writing. I had to get Jane away from Longbourn and determined that if Jane Austen wrote that the Gardiners were going to take Elizabeth to the Lake District the following year (and we know what happened to those plans!), perhaps they took Jane the previous year. So I wrote that Jane is visiting the lakes with the Gardiners when Bingley moves into Netherfield.

But wait! Where did this new thought just come from? Jane has met a young man while up there and seems quite taken with him! I had not originally planned that at all!

In the very first chapter of the story, the Bennets receive a letter from Jane in which she informs them she met some long-time friends of the Gardiners, and they are going to stay longer in the Lake District. She writes another letter to Elizabeth however, giving a little more information. She tells her about this gentleman, who is the son of these friends, and how he has stolen her heart. This was another twist that happened as I was writing, and it surprised even me.

One thing I love is when a minor element from Jane Austen’s novel finds its way into my story. This happened a few times in Chance and Circumstance. The first is what I just mentioned, that the Gardiners may have taken Jane to the Lake District because we know they were going to take Elizabeth. (And perhaps all the girls would get their chance when they are twenty years old, as the younger sisters discuss in my novel.)

The second element plays a major part in one of the twists of my story. Jane Austen tells us of Bingley’s tendency to write letters that are brief and not well blotted, causing much of his correspondence to be unreadable. You’ll have to read the book to discover more about the importance of this unreadable letter he writes!

Thank you, Jane Austen, for allowing me to take advantage of these minor elements from your story and put them in my story to cause a little angst!

There are other twists and turns in the story (particularly at the end) that I hope will keep you engaged as you read. It was a fun adventure for me to write, as well!

I posted about half of the book online, and you can begin reading it at the link below.

Thanks again, Laura!

Connect Online with Kara Louise

Chance and Circumstance Chapter 1:




Austen Variations Blog:



Thanks to Kara for offering a giveaway copy of Chance and Circumstance!  If you'd like to enter, please utilize the Rafflecopter widget below. If the winner is from the U.S., they may choose either a paperback or Kindle copy.  If the winner is international, their edition will be the Kindle version.  The contest period will conclude at 12am EST on Saturday, December 16, 2017. 

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About Kara Louise

Kara Louise has been writing Jane Austen variations since 2001 and has published 11 novels. She grew up in the San Fernando Valley in Southern California, but now lives in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri with her husband, and their ever-changing number of dogs and cats. In addition to writing, she enjoys spending time with their son and his wife and their two granddaughters, who live nearby.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Book Excerpt: A Very Austen Christmas

Four favorite authors, four heartwarming stories set in Jane Austen’s Regency world.

Robin Helm, Laura Hile, Wendi Sotis, and Barbara Cornthwaite revisit Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Mansfield Park to deliver the uplifting holiday storytelling you’re looking for.

Her Christmas Gift by Robin Helm
Elizabeth Bennet finds herself snowbound at Rosings with two rejected, but highly eligible, suitors. Does either man have a chance? Will her childhood friend, Meryton’s golden boy, win her affection, or will she accept the master of Pemberley? Perhaps she will refuse them both a second time. Her Christmas Gift deftly combines tension and emotion with humor and romance.

The Christmas Matchmaker by Laura Hile
It’s raining; it’s pouring – and what could be better than a little Christmas matchmaking? So says Emma Woodhouse who is unexpectedly stranded at Netherfield Park. Mr. Darcy disagrees, for she has someone else in mind for adorable Elizabeth Bennet. Amid meddling, misunderstanding, and an unwelcome proposal or two, will True Love find a way?

No Better Gift by Wendi Sotis
On his way to Derbyshire to spend Christmas with his family, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy plans to retrieve an item he left behind during his rushed escape from Netherfield—and the country miss who touched his heart. Finding Meryton practically deserted, he fears the worst. What fate could have fallen upon this once-thriving village in only three weeks? More importantly, was Miss Elizabeth Bennet in danger?

Mistletoe at Thornton Lacey by Barbara Cornthwaite
When Edmund Bertram realizes that Fanny is the perfect wife for him, he wants to propose without delay. What better time than at Christmas? Ah, but the course of true love never does run smooth …

Mmmm....calorie-free pie, right??
It's November 24th, and for many people it's Black Friday and the start of the holiday season. I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday. I for one can hardly believe that 2017 is coming to a close, and that I found myself eating turkey and stuffing yesterday! To the right is the slice of pecan pie that I enjoyed. Cardio on deck for Friday!! After the sun went down we broke out the Christmas CDs, beginning with the soundtrack to The Polar Express. I'm thrilled to hear Bing Crosby singing "White Christmas" in my home again, but I'm just amazed at how fast this year went. It just seems like yesterday that we were promoting another Austenesque Christmas title, A Very Darcy Christmas here on The Calico Critic!

To kick off the holiday season, why don't we enjoy some more Austenesque Christmas? Debuting this month is the new anthology from Robin Helm, Laura Hile, Wendy Sotis and Barbara Cornthwaite, A Very Austen Christmas. As I've been immersed in graduate school reading and other activities, I haven't had a chance to read this one yet, but it's waiting for me on my Kindle, and I hope to gobble it up soon. In the meantime, I have an excerpt to share, as well as an ebook giveaway! Thanks to Laura Hile for the idea, and merry Christmas to all!

An excerpt from Her Christmas Gift by Robin Helm:

“Did you just roll your eyes?” Darcy asked, laughing aloud.

She stared at him and bit her thumb very deliberately.

He laughed even more loudly. “Did you bite your thumb at me?”

“I do bite my thumb, sir.”

“But did you bite you thumb at me?”

She grinned impishly. “No, sir. I do not bite my thumb at you, sir; but I bite my thumb, sir.”

“I have heard you and your sisters revelled by acting out plays when you were younger. Exactly how many parts did you play in The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet? Most importantly, did you take the part of Juliet, and, if you did, who was Romeo?”

“I think you know the answer to your questions, sir. I played many parts, and I was, indeed, Juliet to Thomas’s Romeo. However, I refused to kiss him, so he kissed my cheek instead. I was but ten years old, and he was fourteen.” She placed her hand on his arm. “I have always thought of him as a brother.”

Darcy took a deep breath. “There is one small consolation. At least he died at the end. Quite painfully, I believe.”

She giggled and put her hand over her mouth. “Wicked man!”

“We may have to read Shakespeare’s plays together, and I will be Romeo, as well as any other character you romanced. I will kiss you, and not on the cheek.”

“Oh, I hope so. I fervently hope so.”

He looked behind himself, and seeing there was no one attending them, he quickly pulled a sprig of mistletoe from his pocket, held it above her head, and gave her what she hoped for.

Giveaway - A Very Austen Christmas

Let the festivities begin! Utilize the Rafflecopter widget below to enter. Contest concludes at 12am EST on Saturday, December 9, 2017. Open internationally. Thanks for entering, and merry Christmas!

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