Thursday, November 29, 2012

NaNoWriMo Retrospective

Ha ha! I did it. Excuse me, but I must gloat.

I embarked on this experience because the holidays were coming, and there was a story brewing in my brain. If I did not get this down now, there is a very good chance it never would have happened. Why not sign on for NaNoWriMo, a thing I've always wanted to do, and see how far I can get before my life is completely usurped by baking and parties? I really had no expectation of writing a full 50,000 words, nor did I anticipate how the story would end up unfolding.

I need a new name for the book. The working title is Third Encounters (yes, of the strange kind): A Tale of Less Pride and Prejudice Concludes. Now I'm leaning towards Pemberley Holidays: A Tale of Less Pride and Prejudice Concludes. If anyone wants to suggest a name and I use it, I will thank you in the book and send you a copy when it is available. And on that note:

Ms. Dawn! Are you out there?

I want to send you your copy of Second Glances when it is released. Please get in touch with me.

Back to business. Pemberley Holidays begins close to the end of First Impressions, at a Christmas ball at Netherfield, encompasses Second Glances, and continues though the Christmas following that book's end. The story is primarily that of Charlotte Lucas, but it also fills in some holes that were weighing on my conscience. The story, in its current state, is rather a mishmash of not always sequential scenes, but most of the major moments and themes are recorded. The notion of editing a manuscript in such condition is a bit daunting, but as it will have to wait until the new year anyway, I hope the time away will give me a clearer head with which to tackle the task. I did not plan for the book to have a Christmas theme, but when I got stuck half way through the month, I couldn't resist the temptation to go holiday. I have every intention of having the editing complete in time for publication a year from now, so that it might be seasonally relevant.

So I'm feeling pretty excited about pounding out a novel. I would definitely participate in NaNoWriMo again, if the stars again aligned in such a way as to make it possible. I think I learned a lot about how I function as I writer over the past 29 days, because I was forced to examine my habits in a way I never had to before. The rush was somewhat exhilarating. I wrote nearly 10,000 words last Tuesday, a level of productivity I never before come close to achieving. Though I'm mentally beat, part of me is actually sorry it's over ... must be the exhaustion.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Second Glances: A Tale of Less Pride and Prejudice Continues (Chapter Three)

Mr. Simon Brooks had only been in town for a week when he ventured forth for an evening at Covent Gardens. He had expected the play to be his main source of entertainment, not being the sort of gentleman who enjoyed the theater only for the sport of socializing with and gossiping about the other members of the audience, but upon entrance of a blonde vision of loveliness, his interest in the drama was entirely overthrown.

“Who is that?” he inquired of his companion.

“Miss Georgiana Darcy. Quite a beauty, is she not? The man who claims her hand will be a lucky one, that I promise.”

“How come?”

“Why, my dear Simon, she has a fortune of no less than thirty thousand pounds, let alone a bevy of accomplishments.”

“I'm not sure I care much for the fortune, but she is scholarly, you say?”

His friend laughed. “Not so much of a blue stocking to interest you, I'm afraid, but by all means, go introduce yourself! Never any harm in testing the waters, you know!”

So it was that at intermission Mr. Brooks presented himself in Lady Catherine de Bourgh's box, the Darcy ladies' hostess for the evening. He presented his card and was gratified by a warm welcome.

“Mr. Brooks! Of course, you are Cordelia Fitzroy's son. There are few among the dead whom I miss so much!” declared the forthright Lady Catherine, who numbered her own late husband amongst those less mourned.

“It is good of you to remember me, Lady Catherine. Surely it has been at least fifteen years.”

“If not twenty, but you are the precise image of your father. I would know you anywhere. This is Mrs. Darcy, Fitzwilliam's wife, of course, and I do not believe you would have ever met Miss Darcy.”

“No, I have never before had that pleasure,” he said with a deep, particular bow. In some, such behavior might seem the practiced arts of the rogue, but Simon Brooks' every action spoke to his sincerity. Georgiana blushed deeply, while Elizabeth Darcy's eyes sparkled with amused delight, quite aware that she was witness to the possibility of romance.

“You are Sir James Stratton's neighbor, are you not?” Georgiana queried. 

“Yes! Sir James is my very dearest friend,” he enthusiastically replied.

Georgiana laughed, feeling far more at ease than she expected to, Elizabeth's approving nod giving her courage. “I remember hearing him speak of you fondly, Mr. Brooks, though it has been some time since we last saw him. Your boyhood must have always been most exciting together.”

“He never could abide a dull moment,” he nodded in agreement. “Did you ever hear tell of the time he thought he had discovered how to fly?”

“No!” she giggled. “But I am not surprised.”

“We were quite young – he was maybe seven, so I would have been five – and had just learned the story of Icarus flying too close to the sun. James said he had better have used plaster rather than wax, and we went right to work on his own version of the wings. It took us two months before they were ready. I was to be the first to try them – James said he had to make observations – and we were on the roof of Teggington, ready to take off, when our tutor discovered us. Never was I so incensed with someone for saving my neck!”

“Oh my! Your poor tutor. When Sir James would visit Pemberley, I recall him being quite the bane of our governess.”

Lady Catherine and Elizabeth exchanged knowing glances as they observed Mr. Brooks and Georgiana fall into such easy conversation, stationing themselves at the far end of the box where they could discuss the matter unheard. “He is very handsome and seems perfectly agreeable,” declared Elizabeth. “Who is he?”

“Owner of Turnley – not the greatest estate in the county, as it is right next to Teggington, but his family is one of the oldest in Cornwall. The house was remodeled not thirty years ago and is quite comfortable. I believe Cordelia's entire dowry went into it. He must have five thousand a year, perhaps a bit more if he has been an attentive landlord.”

“So he is perfectly unexceptional!” Elizabeth said with a smile, knowing that such a statement would provoke a contradiction from her companion, who obligingly frowned in response.

“It is not a great match for Georgiana. There would be those who would say she could do far better.”

“But you would not be amongst them, would you, Aunt Catherine?”

“Certainly not,” the grand lady bristled. “It would be a perfectly acceptable connection.”

“Excellent, for they do seem to like one another, do they not?”

“It is too early to say, but never mind about them, Elizabeth. I have something rather important to discuss with you, and I will not lose this opportunity while Georgiana is distracted,” she dictated, leveling an appraising eye at Elizabeth. “How are you feeling, my dear?”

Elizabeth, who was the picture of health, was a bit taken aback at the inquiry. “Perfectly well, I assure you. Do I seem ill?”                                

“No, Elizabeth. You are more plump and rosy than ever. Have you experienced a change in appetite?”

“I may have put on a few pounds,” she admitted, “but it is certainly due to Cook's chocolate soufflĂ©, which he has quite perfected.”

“My dear, must I be more explicit?” Lady Catherine whispered, bemused that the quick Bennet wit, which she so enjoyed, was proving so obtuse. “Is it possible that you are increasing?”

Elizabeth listened to the question in shock. For a moment or two she said nothing, considering her response. “I suppose it is possible, but I had not imagined it until now,” she blushed.

“So I see! You had best speak with Mr. Messling, if you are unsure.”

“I think that might be premature. I will wait a few weeks, and if the doubt remains I will seek his advice.”

“My dear, if I can tell, than it certainly cannot be premature,” Lady Catherine declared. “I am particularly observant of such matters. It was I who spotted your sister's condition, you know, and correctly predicted the delivery month, but even I cannot see what is not there.”

“Oh! May it only be true!” she said excitedly, the notion of having a child beginning to take hold. “Fitzwilliam would be so delighted!”

Lady Catherine smiled benignly, quite delighted in her own right. “Yet you mustn’t say a word to him until you are quite certain. There are some things gentlemen need not know. When does he return from Bath?”

“We expect him Saturday. It just gives us enough time to refresh Kitty's wardrobe before the Hamilton's ball.”

“I still do not know why he must go away, just when I am in town,” Lady Catherine grumbled. “A servant could have conducted Miss Bennet, and I will be gone before he returns! I think it vey inconsiderate of Darcy to not have considered that this was just the time I was likely to come to town.”

Elizabeth concealed her amusement. “Kitty and Fitzwilliam have developed quite the close friendship. He cares for her just as he would Georgiana,” she explained.

“So were it Miss Lydia, a servant would have sufficed!” Lady Catherine complained. “I see where I stand in my nephews affections!”

“My dear Aunt Catherine,” Elizabeth laughed, “were it my youngest sister who was coming to us, sending Mr. Darcy to retrieve her would be like sending him to the slaughter. We must be thankful that Kitty can be relied upon not to talk his head off.”                             


That she certainly could. Mr. Darcy and Miss Bennet, who was pleasantly surprised when her brother himself came to collect her, made for quite amiable companions. Kitty had spent a great deal of time at Pemberley since her sister married Mr. Darcy, and each was used to the ways of the other. It was her tendency to idolize all he did, a flattery which proved no barrier to his growing affection for her, while he steadfastly encouraged her friendship with Georgiana. It was through his suggestion that Kitty had spent the previous summer and winter holidays in their company, and it was he who had engineered her current good prospects. She would enjoy all the privileges of his house, the best attire money could buy, and have access to the best society. Furthermore, and unbeknownst to all but Mr. Bennet, Mr. Darcy had secured a small dowry on both Kitty and Lydia. Five thousand pounds would provide independence, should either lady ever require it, and the peace of mind that knowledge bought him amply justified the expense. A year of marriage to Elizabeth had taught Mr. Darcy much about the precarious situation of the impoverished gentlewoman. It was not that he did not know what hardships such a lady faced before, but Elizabeth had helped him understand the fearfulness of her predicament. The idea that Elizabeth might have been reduced to such condition was a nightmare that haunted him whenever he considered how near such a fate could have been hers. Were he ever to have a daughter of his own, he would take extra care to protect her rights. Never should she have to fear for the future. 


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First Impressions: A Tale of Less Pride & Prejudice is available on Amazon now (buy it here). Second Glances: A Tale of Less Pride & Prejudice Continues will be available soon.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Second Glances: A Tale of Less Pride and Prejudice Continues (Chapter Two)

Chapter One

“Aunt Augusta!” Sir James kissed the widow's hand in greeting. “How nice to be here at last!”

“Was it a terrible journey? We expected you a few hours ago.”

“Not at all. I come only from Bristol, where I spent last evening.”

“Bristol? A strange stop over, seven hours out of your way.”  

“I was seeing to some shipping interests.”                                     

“Really, Sir James! I wish you would leave such matters to your man of business.”

“Mine is a maritime land, dear Aunt. I cannot neglect its needs.”

“Humph!” she replied. “Neither your father, nor mine before him, ever saw the need to go to Bristol on business.”

“We live in changing times, my dear Aunt, but let us speak of other matters. I believe you have found a bevy of eligible ladies for me to fall in love with, am I right?”

“Surely not so many! I have merely invited a few unexceptional members of the fairer sex, who may or may not entrance you, I could not say. I know I wrote you a sharp letter, James, but were I not distraught to learn of your accident, I would never have taken such a tone.”

“Certainly not,” he smiled.

“I will not engage in matchmaking, if that is what you are thinking. Such matters I leave between Cupid and you.”

“Of course you do,” he laughed, “and a good thing it is, too, for an arrow has pierced my heart this very day, as I passed through Bath. I am quite undone, I assure you.”

Mrs. Westingham's still youthful eyes sparkled with interest, “Do tell me your tale!”

“I was riding quite recklessly, as you well know, (Bristol is only five hours out of the way, dear Aunt, at the rate I drive), when a young lady stepped into my path, very nearly losing her life in the process.“

His aunt looked shocked. “What kind of behavior is this? Will you not even conduct yourself properly in Bath itself? Someone surely recognized you.”

“That I do not know, but a great many people certainly saw me, and the likelihood of your being acquainted with at least one of the many spectators is quite good. The lady gave me the scolding of my life.”

“I have no doubt you deserved it. She might have been killed! Quite frankly, it's about time you saw the consequences of your shenanigans.”

“My gratitude for her safety is a more effective lesson to me, Aunt Augusta, than any lecture you can possibly deliver.”

“So it was love at first sight! Who is the lady?”

“I haven't the slightest notion. A schoolgirl, I would imagine, though certainly not for much longer. One of her companions called her Miss Bennet, I believe.”

“Bennet? I believe that is the name of Darcy's new wife, is it not? Perhaps there is a relation. Regardless, you have little time to waste waiting on school girl misses to come out.” 

“I have no intention of doing anything of the sort, but she has set a new bar for any perspective wives.”

“Too bad, really, for the lady who could like you despite being nearly run over by you would be particularly suited to be your wife, as she will surely have to accustom herself to all sorts of wild stunts.”

“It is a sad loss. I feel it acutely,” he assented, adding bemusedly, “I wonder if she is a relation of Darcy's?”

“Perhaps I shall warn my young guests that you respond well to a sharp tongue.”

“To the great chagrin of their careful mamas! Besides, Aunt Augusta, you said you would not engage in matchmaking!”   


“Mr. Bennet! Mr. Bennet!”

“Yes, my dear?”

“How can this be? Lydia writes that Kitty is leaving school, to go frolicking through London as Miss Darcy's chosen companion, but Lizzy has not included her in the invitation! That seems most unfair, does it not?”

“Not in the slightest. Kitty is older and has applied herself far more than Lydia. She has become a most unexceptional companion for Miss Darcy, while all my youngest daughter has proven with her education, I am afraid, is that she is an incurable romp.” 

“I do not see what age has to do with the matter, and Lydia is just as much Lizzy's sister as Kitty. There is no reason to betray such favoritism. Lydia must feel dreadfully, and rightly so, to be so left out. Lizzy must not be so disagreeable. I will write to her at once to tell her how much my sister Phillips thinks London would be just the thing for Lydia. She was saying, only yesterday, how time in town adds an unmistakable refinement to a young lady's demeanor. Mary King returned so very much improved from her time there. One scarcely notices her freckles at all.”

“You may write all you like, but it will make not the slightest difference, not even with the benefit of Mrs. Phillips’ sanction or the evidence of Miss King's complexion. Neither Lizzy nor Mr. Darcy will consent to bringing Lydia out at this time, and even if they were so foolish as to agree to such a proposal, I would not allow it, having lost count of the number of missives I've received from Mrs. Rivers regarding Lydia's bad behavior. Poor woman! If it wasn't for the peace her suffering buys me, I would sincerely pity her.”

“Nonsense, Mr. Bennet! How can you say such things of your own daughter?”

“I can say them, Mrs. Bennet, because they are undeniably true.”

“Oh! You have no pity on my poor nerves!”

“I had thought that seeing so many of your daughters properly disposed of would have cured your famous nerves, but instead they find new sources of worry with which to plague me.”

She grew red with indignation. “Mr. Bennet!”                                

“And for that matter,” he continued, “do I not have claim to nerves of my own? Yours have played such a decided role in our lives, I believe it is time that mine might be considered, lest they feel neglected.”

“Oh, do not talk such nonsense when important matters are at hand. I insist you write to Mr. Darcy. He will persuade Lizzy to include Lydia in the invitation.”

“I am sorry to inform you that I have already discussed the matter with Mr. Darcy, and we both agree Lydia is not ready to leave Mrs. Rivers.”

Mrs. Bennet narrowed her eyes suspiciously at her husband. “How long have you known of this, Mr. Bennet?”

“Oh, at least a fortnight, if not more.”

“I would think that, as a mother, I might be consulted in such arrangements.”

“You are perfectly right, my dear. What do you think of the notion of Kitty spending the season in London with the Darcys?”

“I think it a splendid notion, especially if Lydia might join them.”

“Then we are in agreement that it is a very nice thing for Kitty. Lydia will have her turn next year.” Mrs. Bennet looked disgruntled, and her husband offered the following balm to her ruffled sensibilities: “Oh do think of the great men Kitty is sure to meet. She may very well have an Earl falling desperately in love with her. How can that irritate your nerves?”

Mrs. Bennet took a moment to consider. “She should do very well, as all her sisters before her made excellent matches, and without the benefit of a London season. Of course, they had my guidance, which Kitty will be without. If she should attract a very great man – someone with a title – I hope she isn't fool enough to let him slip away. I always thought it would be Lizzy who would cause us trouble, but never did I see two people fall more furiously in love than she and Mr. Darcy when they first met. There certainly was no question of her ever rejecting him. And, of course, Jane could never have considered such a thing, nor Mary, not when Mr. Collins was so good as to ask for her!”

“Must a lady accept every offer that comes her way?”

“It depends a great deal on the lady, Mr. Bennet! Or the offer, I suppose. I hope a daughter of mine knows better than to say no when an unexceptional man proposes, unless she is secure of a better one. What a notion!” and she shuffled off to regale Hill, a far more receptive party, with her thoughts on Lydia's exclusion and Kitty's prospects. Mr. Bennet was left alone to reflect on his wife's current state of temper.

Mrs. Bennet, ever since learning it was key to Mr. Darcy’s happiness, had become very good at containing her over exuberant behavior in public, but in private she had grown steadily more frenzied. Mr. Bennet had first attributed the change to the lack of other ladies in the house, especially as the situation seemed to have worsened since the Bingley’s left Netherfield. It was perfectly understandable that she should be lonely, having been used to always have her daughters at hand, and he, by way of a cure, encouraged her to visit any hospitable relations as often as possible. But every happy event seemed to upset her, giving her more cares and worries to dwell upon than joy. The birth of their first grandchild had exposed Lady Catherine de Bourgh, of all people, to a fit of nerves that Mr. Bennet blushed, as far as he was able, to remember, particularly as Lady Catherine chose to remind him of it so often.                               

However nonsensical Mrs. Bennet might behave, her husband never ceased to be amazed by the depth of her perception, though revealed only thoughtlessly. Her last words on this occasion caused him pause, forcing him to take greater regard of his forth daughter. He feared he knew her character the least of his brood, as her former tendency to follow Lydia in everything led him to pay little attention to her. It was a mistake; he knew that now. Since falling into Miss Darcy’s sphere of influence and leaving Longbourn for Mrs. Rivers' establishment, Kitty had distinguished herself as a young lady of far more depth than he had formerly suspected, excelling in all her subjects and making the most of her opportunities. All this reflected very well, as did the affection she had earned from the Darcys. He sincerely hoped that Kitty never was forced to reject a gentleman deemed worthy by her mother, for it was a trial under which he knew not how the sensitive Kitty would fare, and he had no desire to find out. One thing was certain: the uproar incurred by such circumstances would be a horrid disruption to the peace and serenity he was so stridently trying to grow accustomed. 


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Friday, November 9, 2012

Second Glances: A Tale of Less Pride and Prejudice Continues (Intro & Chapter One)

My dear Miss Austen,

How easy it is to trespass upon the dead! You have no ability to defend yourself, and here I am posed to turn this convenient state of affairs to good measure. I will not repeat my previous justifications, offered with sincere humility and good intentions at the time, for now such words would stink of hypocrisy. Dare I apologize for that which I do with great intention and for little reason more than my own personal amusement? No. I cannot find the gall.

Were you with us still, Darcy, Elizabeth, and all who attend them could rest safely in your own, motherly hands, instead of being tossed about so unceremoniously by those of us who pen such works as this. The situation is most unfair, but we must have more Bennets and Bingleys, more Collinses and de Bourghs, and all that we who truly love you can do to mitigate our transgressions is to try and honor your memory, even as we infringe upon it. You see, we are selfish and simply cannot help ourselves, and as “there is no hope for a cure”, to utilize your own words, you must forgive us.

Today I offer for your inspection, perhaps even approval, one Sir James Stratton. To again borrow your words, and from where you have been most often generous, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” Should a gentleman of said description be so contrary as to defy this edict, his friends will feel perfectly at liberty to interest themselves on his behalf, and amply justified they will consider even the most intrusive interference, too. So thought Sir James. Position and wealth are largely considered blessings, but as both were attained through the sacrifice of a beloved father, Sir James rather regarded them as burdens. Since inheriting he avoided society, impatient with those who valued him for wealth and position alone. It was his vast preference to remain cloistered at Teggington, interesting himself in his estate and stables, seeking diversion in travel, and only mixing with English society as needed. Nevertheless, his friends would see him married, and such seclusion was not to be tolerated. Maybe, perhaps, if there were a charming daughter of the neighboring house, or another young lady in the area to whom he might attach himself, a season in London would not be of the utmost necessity, but no such ready damsels existed. Thus came the assaults, every person dear to him united in their cause. Some came at the question with care, pestering him with vague hints and suggestions, while others attacked directly, charging him at every opportunity with his duty and barraging him with their assistance. Though the latter approach was decidedly more provoking, he had to acknowledge it more effective, a thought bestirred by a letter from his aunt, Augusta Westingham, a leader of this second camp:

, Feb. 17

My Dear Sir James,

While I am not one to credit gossip, news of your recent escapade upon an unstable creature has caused me no small degree of alarm. My dear nephew, can you really have taken such an unwarranted risk? Am I to see the home I grew up in pass to virtual strangers, all because you will insist on hazarding your life before securing your patrimony? The entire fate of the Stratton family rests in your hands: do not be cavalier about your duty!

If you must continue at trying to break your neck, at least beget a child first – perhaps two, for good measure – and for that you must marry posthaste, as heaven knows you will soon be engaged in some new escapade. Despite my laments, it's what I always liked about you, James. You keep life interesting, and I was always one for a bit of adventure: the spice and flavor of variety. As Cowper further wrote of there being nothing “in the vale of life half so delightful as a wife”, we can be sure he too would urge you to savor this epicurean delight with all expediency.

It is to this end that I have invited several dear friends, all mothers of eminently eligible ladies, to a house party the second week in March. Your friend Mr. Brooks, who was so kind as to call this morning as he was passing through the area, assures me this will provide more than enough time for you to fully heal. If none of these ladies capture your heart, you will continue on to London for the season, where an endless number of young ladies will be sure to compete for your attention. I know not on what grounds you could possibly object! There can be no excuse for further delay.

Your affectionate aunt,

Augusta Westingham

Sir James sighed. Simon would betray him to his aunt. He was certain his friend had acted with the best of intentions, but being perfectly guileless sometimes led him to share that which need not be said. Nevertheless, he knew Aunt Augusta to be correct, however little he welcomed her involvement in his affairs, and saw no reason to resist her summons. If her house party produced just the right lady, all the better for him, but he would choose his own bride, not have one selected for him. And if, in the meantime, his fancy drove him to ride another unbroken horse, he would just have to do his very best to preserve his neck. It would not do to prove her right, after all, for if there were anyone who could gloat beyond the barrier of death, it would be Augusta Westingham.

Chapter One

“A rather thick letter for you, Miss Bennet. It must be at least four sheets. You will soon run out of pin money if you continue to maintain such verbose correspondents,” Mrs. Rivers chided her favorite at the breakfast table.

“Oh!” Kitty Bennet exclaimed. “It is from Miss Darcy. May I take it to Sydney Gardens to read? It is such a lovely day, and this weather cannot possibly last.”

“As you have no lessons scheduled until later this morning, I see no reason why a walk would not be most beneficial. As Abby has the morning off, you must take Miss Lydia with you, of course.”

The subject of this condition looked up from the far end of the table, where she and three other young ladies had been having a secretive conversation all their own. “I cannot attend Kitty without Miss Burke. She and I have important business to discuss.”

Mrs. Rivers narrowed suspicious eyes in their direction. “No more mischief, I presume?”

“None at all, Mrs. Rivers!” proclaimed an injured Miss Burke, a pretty, vivacious girl, and Lydia Bennet's closest associate. “I think a walk would be just the thing. Miss Lydia and I only wish to discuss the latest fashions. Miss Lenton has the newest plates, you know, and we finally had our turn to study them last night.”

“Important business, indeed.” Mrs. Rivers tone was dismissive, but her eyes revealed her amusement. “Very well. Mind you all stay together, and be back no later than one, or Signore Falcione will be most put out.”

“Yes ma'am,” all three ladies chanted, leaving the table to dress for their outing. It was not long before they were out the door, enjoying the unseasonable warmth and unexpected freedom.

While they journeyed the easy mile from Mrs. Rivers' establishment to Sidney Gardens, the ladies maintained their headmistress' dictate to remain together, but it was not long after they reached the gardens that Miss Burke and Lydia broke off from Kitty in order to pursue their private conversation, leaving their companion on a nearby bench. Kitty had very little faith in the notion that Letitia Burke and her younger sister were actually discussing fashion, for such conversation would not require the degree of secrecy they seemed determined to maintain. It was far more likely they were planning some practical joke or another, like hiding Miss Carson's workbag from her again. Kitty cared little for their antics and was happy to be left alone with her letter.

It was a very long missive. Georgiana Darcy had filled each page so closely with relations of her activities in London, where she was spending her first season, that even her elegant handwriting was difficult to decipher. Kitty enjoyed every detail about the balls and routs she had been attending, closing her eyes and dreaming of being in the elegant rooms with Georgiana, just as fashionably dressed. In this imaginative state of mind, Kitty had to reread the final paragraph several times before she felt convinced of its reality:

My cousin, Lady Annabelle Fitzwilliam, as you know, has been a huge comfort to me throughout this ordeal. Had it not been for her presence, I do not know how I should have fared these past few weeks. My presentation, without her companionship, would have been horribly daunting. So when it was revealed that poor Annabelle had contracted the measles, you can surely understand my distress. I do feel terrible for my cousin, certainly, but self-interest overrides sympathy, and my greatest concern has been how lonely I shall be for the rest of this season, having to attend all these overwhelming events without the sympathy of companion my own age and situation. Thus it is decided, assuming you consent, that due to the excellent reports from Mrs. Rivers regarding your progress, now is time to end your formal education that you might join us in London to share the remainder of the season with me. What do you think, my dear Kitty? I profess your companionship is even more desirable to me than Annabelle's, with whom I have never been very close. Please say you will join us! Lizzy says she will see to your wardrobe once you get here, and my brother has already written to Mrs. Rivers regarding travel arrangements. We hope you will be with us before Lady Day, as we are invited to a great ball that evening that I want you to attend. Do not leave me in suspense, but write your answer as soon as you are able. I await your response most anxiously!

Your impatient friend,

Georgiana Darcy

“London!” Kitty gasped aloud, as the full impact of the invitation made itself felt. “I must write immediately!” and looking around herself, she realized that neither Lydia nor Miss Burke were anywhere insight.

She rose quickly, setting off in the direction she had seen them take.  Soon she spotted both ladies, engaged in animated conversation with a young man she did not know. Quickening her pace, she was just within a close enough distance to the trio to overhear Lydia say, “Here comes my sister. Now we shall have no more fun.”

Kitty nearly froze in the shock of those words. She and Lydia, once inseparable, had grown apart in the year they had spent in Bath, the latter having easily made friends amongst the girl's her own age, while Kitty suffered the uncomfortable distinction of being the eldest pupil in Mrs. Rivers' care, but yet she had never suspected that she was regarded by the other as a nuisance. The knowledge hurt, but the past year had brought Kitty ample instruction on the concealment of such emotion, and she continued onward, established herself as part of their group, and awaited the introductions.

“Miss Bennet, may I present Mr. Beaumont? His family and mine have long been friends, and we grew up quite like brother and sister. This, of course, is Miss Lydia's sister.”                                   

The gentleman smiled and greeted her congenially, the pleasure he so happily betrayed in making her acquaintance easing some of Kitty agitation. Handsome, charming, an old friend of Miss Burke's, and apparently quite taken with her younger sister if his taking advantage of the older sister's presence to heavily pepper his speech with Miss Lydia's, the L rolling from his tongue caressingly, might be taken as an indication of infatuation. She could see nothing objectionable in the chance meeting, but she wanted to know more of Mr. Beaumont.

“How long have you known Mr. Beaumont, Lydia?” she questioned as they headed back towards the school.

“Oh, any number of weeks now. We met one day at Letty's house, when I joined her there for tea.”

Letitia Burke was a resident of Bath, but her father, a widower, found it more convenient for his only child to reside with Mrs. Rivers while completing her education, as he was incapable of doing anything other than spoiling her. She had spent some years in her aunt's household before that good lady refused to undertake the task any longer, claiming she could no longer guarantee the girl's safety. School suited Miss Burke just fine, as she was free to go back and forth to her own home as often as she liked, while providing her with a great deal more interesting companionship. She had become fast friends with Lydia within days of their meeting, and together they were quite the bane of their instructors' existences.

Now she giggled mischievously, “But they have seen a great deal of each other since.”

Lydia glared at her friend. “I have seen him twice more: once again at Letty's, and another time, like today, we met him in the street.”

“He's very handsome,” Kitty acknowledged, and Lydia adopted a more amiable attitude.

“Is he not? I wish you had seen him in his blue coat!”    

“I do not know what you think attractive in Hugh Beaumont!” exclaimed Letty, making a face of disgust. “You would not be able to bear him if you knew him at I did, a fat and sticky child. I used to hate to dine with him.”

Lydia defended her admirer, claiming his past had no bearing on the present, and the two began to slacken their pace as they argued over Mr. Beaumont's merits. This conversation bore every appearance of being well-rehearsed. Kitty, anxious to at least begin a response to Georgiana before her music lesson, was several paces ahead of her companions when she reached the next intersection. Perceiving an opening in traffic, and not wanting to dawdle, Kitty boldly stepped into the street. She had almost reached the pavement opposite when a curricle came upon her, proceeding at a most reckless speed, and only stopped short just in time to avoid running her down. Kitty had jumped backwards upon perceiving her peril, and now her body trembled with fright as she contemplated her near escape. In such a moment of duress, an angry voice penetrated her through the seemingly violent noise of her pounding heartbeat, “What do you think you are about? Do you not know you might have been killed? Get out of the street!”

This advice, though roughly delivered, was so sound that she heeded it immediately, scrambling from the thoroughfare before allowing her anger to register. Observing the gentleman wrestling with his reins, trying to calm his frightened horses, Kitty found her voice and responded with equal heat, “In such a crush, sir, I am astonished you would proceed at such a pace!”                                                                      

Sir James Stratton, having gained control over his team, noticed that it was a genteelly dressed young lady upon whom he had nearly inflicted grave injury – one whose agitation added a very becoming glow to an already rosy complexion – and jumped down to render assistance. Kitty, in turn, took notice of his fine frame, elegant dress, and handsome face. However, though her appearance might work to quell his chagrin, his made her only more indignant. A man of such refined appearance should be more solicitous, like her sister's husband, Mr. Darcy. His next statement, “You really should take care to watch where you are going,” though spoken gently, was taken as further reprimand, doing nothing to quell her ire.

“I was perfectly aware of my proceedings, sir, and this near accident would never have occurred if you heeded your own unsolicited advice!” she proclaimed shakily, her heightened emotions starting to overtake any semblance of calm she had thus far managed to maintain.

Perceiving her very understandable distress, as well as recognizing the justice of her claim, Sir James offered her his escort, beginning to in introduce himself when an anxious call of “Miss Bennet! Are you alright?” came from the corner opposite, claiming the attention of his damsel in distress.

“I do not require your assistance, sir!” she declared as firmly as she could. “I am perfectly well to proceed on my own,” and turning on her heel she began to make her way back across the street, hoping she did not betray her weakened knees. However, as she almost immediately fell into the path of yet another vehicle, her attempt at composure was in vain.

She heard the young man snicker beside her as he grasped her arm and steadied her balance, and unwittingly leaning for a moment upon his support, he quickly guided her out of traffic. Overcoming her bewilderment, she threw off his grasp and turned on him, her face now fully flushed with the heat of her outrage, “Unhand me, sir! As much as I am obliged to you for nearly killing me, I feel far safer without your attendance!”

A determined twinkle shot from his eye as he smiled broadly (his apparent humor acted as an additional insult to the vexed Kitty, who found herself infuriatingly inclined to smile back), before he replied, “Oh yes. I can see you are perfectly capable of navigating a street all upon your own.”

“I do not know what you can possibly find amusing!” she declared in perplexity, straightening her disordered pelisse.

“Do you not?  Please accept my humblest apologies, not only for my own reckless driving, but also that of all the other carriages hereabouts, as they all seem determined to get in your way.”

“Oh!” cried an indignant Kitty as she turned her back upon the gentleman, gathered her companions, and proceeded on her way, now taking the utmost care to avoid any further potential mishaps.  As she once again reclaimed the pavement, she turned round to see the man directly behind them, gathering his reins and smiling at her, laughter in his eyes as he waved goodbye. Kitty thrust her chin into the air and continued up the street, Lydia and Miss Burke's questions echoing behind her.


Want a little more? Check back for a peak at chapter two!

First Impressions: A Tale of Less Pride & Prejudice is available on Amazon now (buy it here). Second Glances: A Tale of Less Pride & Prejudice Continues will be available soon.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Emma & Elton eBook available on Goodreads

Take that Amazon! It's not the ideal solution, but it does make me feel a bit better to be able to offer Emma & Elton: Something Truly Horrid for download someplace "official". You can now download it for free on Goodreads (here) and on this blog (here). If you do so and enjoy the story, I would greatly appreciate it if you went over to Amazon and posted a review. If you despised the story, on the other hand, perhaps you might confine your review to a less public forum, like this blog? I'm always anxious to get feedback, good and bad, but I admit that nothing hurts quite so much as being torn to shreds on Amazon. Thanks!


I've always wanted to do this. The fact that a decided to take it on now, when I'm busier than I have ever been in my life, is pretty insane, but I'm going to take a shot at it anyway. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) begins today. The goal is 50,000 words written in November, and I would normally balk at rather than to aspire to such a thing. So why reach now? The truth is I'm aching to write. Second Glances is now in production (I still have hopes it will be released in late December, though it may be early January instead), and it has left a whole in my heart. While pleased with the book, in order to make the plot work I ended up chopping an entire side story from it, one focused on Charlotte Lucas. She has been loudly protesting such treatment ever since, and I think there is no way to assuage her anger but to give her a book all her own. Third Encounters: A Tale of Less Pride & Prejudice Concludes will be the last story I write based on my re-imagined P & P storyline, so while focused on Charlotte, it will have to wrap up the fates of all the other characters, particularly Darcy and Elizabeth. I've also left Jane and Bingley in a bit of a bind at the end of Second Glances, as well as having some unresolved Wickham issues, all of which I intend to address. There is no saying if I will come anywhere near the 50,000 word goal, but at least I should get a strong start on a story which I feel urgently compelled to write.

The probable consequence of devoting so much of my time to Third Encounters (by the way, if anyone wants to suggest a better title, I'm all ears), is that my blogging will suffer, particularly the Mixed Up Mashup endeavor. I have definite plans for that little tale, and I hope those who are interested will check back in a few weeks weeks to see where it goes. In the meantime, I do intend to post the first few chapters of Second Glances, which I hope all my well-wishers will read. I think it a terribly sweet story, like First Impressions, though with a tinge more conflict than its predecessor. I hope it meets with the same degree of approval as First Impressions. While I did receive a good deal of criticism for that effort, I also heard from many whom it deeply touched. It was their reviews and emails that kept me writing when I was attempted to abandon it, for which I am forever thankful.