Monday, December 30, 2013

Welcome to Author Maria Grace!

It's a treat to have as my guest today Maria Grace -- a friend and fellow Austen Author (we had the chance to meet for the first time in person at the JASNA conference in September :), and she has out her latest novel, Twelfth Night at Longbourn!! I'm delighted she's visiting -- what a lovely way to end the year! -- and she's sharing with us a bit about her inspiration and writing process for this new story. Welcome to Brant Flakes, Maria Grace!!

I have to confess, Twelfth Night at Longbourn is a book I didn’t actually intend to write. I had finished a three part series, Given Good Principles and thought the story was finished. Very happy with that decision, I picked up my pen to address other heroines and other plots. Little did I realize there was a disgruntled heroine waiting in the pile of edited material from Volume 3, All the Appearance of Goodness, who was not at all happy about my decision to cut her subplot out of the story.

I tried to reason with her. She was not the main character and the book was long enough. Adding her subplot back in would make it heavy and ponderous. She should have been happy to have a part in it at all. That did not go over well, not even remotely.

She informed me that I had no right to dangle a ‘Happily Ever After’ in front of her and yank it away by not actually telling her story.  It was unfair and just plain thoughtless and if I didn’t do something about it quickly, she was going to hijack my muse and torment my rather type-A personality with the reality that I had left a story unfinished.

Those were fighting words. What else was I to do? I picked up my pen and started, or rather finished, her story. But, oh, she did not make it easy on me.  I started by outlining the story and that was a bad choice. Neither she, nor my very stubborn muse appreciated that.  Four false starts came out of three different outlines. It was not until I finally threw out the outline and just wrote that Kitty Bennet decided to come out and play.  Then when she did, she kept insisting on teasing me with a plot leading on direction, then veering off somewhere completely unexpected.  She did that until the very end, surprising me with a final conclusion that I did not see coming until I started writing it.

Twelfth Night at Longbourn ended up being a very unusual ride for me, but I am glad I took it.  Now I can finally call Given Good Principles finished—I didn’t say that out loud did I?  Oops, I’d better run, I have a feeling there may be a few characters I will need to be hiding from! 

LOL!! Thanks so much for sharing this ;). For those of you interested in reading a delightful excerpt of Maria Grace's novel, there's a long snippet here on Austen Authors. (Don't miss the book giveaway there, too, if you leave a comment before tomorrow night, and there's also a link to a free PDF of extras!) Below is the intriguing blurb for the book:

Twelfth Night at Longbourn

Twelfth Night—a night for wondrous things to happen.

At least for other people.

In the months after her sisters' weddings, nothing has gone well for Kitty Bennet. Since Lydia’s infamous elopement, her friends have abandoned her, and Longbourn is more prison than home. Not even Elizabeth's new status as Mrs. Darcy of Pemberley can repair the damage to Kitty’s reputation. More than anything else, she wishes to leave the plain ordinary Kitty behind and become Catherine Bennet, a proper young lady.

Her only ray of hope is an invitation to Pemberley for the holidays. Perhaps there she might escape the effects of her sister’s shame.

Getting to Pemberley is not as simple as it sounds. First she must navigate the perils of London society, the moods of Georgiana Darcy, and the chance encounter with the man who once broke her heart. Perhaps though, as Catherine, she might prove herself worthy of that gentleman’s regard.

But, in an instant all her hopes are dashed, and her dreams of becoming Catherine evaporate. Will Kitty Bennet's inner strength be enough to bring her heart's desire?  

On an ordinary night perhaps not, but on Twelfth Night, it just might be enough.


Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful.

She has one husband, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, six cats, seven Regency-era fiction projects and notes for eight more writing projects in progress. To round out the list, she cooks for nine in order to accommodate the growing boys and usually makes ten meals at a time so she only cooks twice a month.

She can be contacted at:
Facebook: facebook.com/AuthorMariaGrace
On Amazon.com: amazon.com/author/mariagrace
Visit her website Random Bits of Fascination (RandomBitsofFascination.com)
On Twitter @WriteMariaGrace

Twelfth Night at Longbourn can be found at:
Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/books/Twelfth-Night-at-Longbourn/yoolLDy_TU2RcfbmWP2OQQ

Thanks again, Maria Grace! And to all who are reading this, I wish each of you a joyful, peaceful and healthy 2014. Looking forward to a wonderful year ahead!!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Happy 238th, Jane Austen!

Just a quick note to wish the incomparable Jane Austen a very Happy 238th Birthday!! May we all look as good at her age...or at least be as lovingly remembered ;).

And, of course, we must have a toast in her honor, right?!

Here's an easy recipe for Regency Rum Punch:
1 1/2 oz. dark rum
1/4 oz. lime juice
2 oz. orange juice
2 oz. pineapple juice
Dash of bitters
Add grenadine for color
Sprinkle with nutmeg

Thanks for the awesome stories, Jane!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Celebrating 'Undressing Mr. Darcy' and a Great Giveaway!

UPDATE: Congrats to Edie Ramer who won the copy of Karen's book, Undressing Mr. Darcy!!

Today, it's my pleasure to have my friend and Austen Author pal Karen Doornebos as my special blog guest and to get to celebrate the launch of her latest release: UNDRESSING MR. DARCY, a new Austen-inspired story!! Just check out the very fun premise below:

Taking it off in the name of history…
Thirty-five-year-old American social media master Vanessa Roberts lives her thoroughly modern life with aplomb. So when her elderly Jane Austen–centric aunt needs her to take on the public relations for Julian Chancellor, a very private man from England who’s written a book called My Year as Mr. Darcy, Vanessa agrees. But she’s not “excessively diverted,” as Jane Austen would say.

Hardbound books, teacups, and quill pens fly in the face of her e-reader, coffee, and smartphone…

…Until she sees Julian take his tight breeches off for his Undressing Mr. Darcy show, an educational “striptease” down to his drawers to promote his book and help save his crumbling estate. The public relations expert suddenly realizes things have gotten…personal. But can this old-fashioned man claim her heart without so much as a GPS? It will take three festivals filled with Austen fans, a trip to England, an old frenemy, and a flirtatious pirate re-enactor to find out…

Karen is here to take us on an excursion to Twinings in London and to share with us some of her inspiration behind the writing of her second novel... Welcome, Karen!!


Hello from Twinings Tea in London!

As an ice-breaker to each leg of my Blog Tour for UNDRESSING MR. DARCY, I’m taking you along for a ride to England, where I traveled during the summer of 2012 to do some research for the book.

Where am I on this stop? The fragrant tea shop on the Strand in London where Jane Austen herself shopped: Twinings. I set a scene in UNDRESSING MR. DARCY in this very shop! They have a tea bar in the back of the store where you can sample various teas and a “museum” set in among the shelves that brings to life not only the history of Twinings, but the history of tea itself. If you are ever in London it’s worth a visit!

Thank you, Marilyn, for hosting me…
I’d like to thank my fellow Austen Author, Marilyn, for having me visit today! You are one of my favorite authors and so inspiring! Not too long ago you revealed that your husband proposed to you on London Bridge—how romantic! How great that you and your family just went on a whim back to London and had a fabulous time. I’m sure that with your books ACCORDING TO JANE and PRIDE, PREJUDICE AND THE PERFECT MATCH, your readers need no introduction to Jane Austen and Mr. Darcy…

So, what’s up with this Undressing thing?
Imagine a history lesson where you watch a very handsome Regency gentleman lecture about his clothing as he proceeds to take it off—down to his drawers. This is the premise of UNDRESSING MR. DARCY!

As I was researching male clothing for my first novel, DEFINITELY NOT MR. DARCY, I stumbled across an English website called The History Wardrobe and they had a show called Undressing Mr. Darcy in which a man disrobed while a woman lectured about his clothing. The show is no longer staged, unfortunately, but I have learned that there is a Dressing Mr. Darcy show in Louisville at the Jane Austen Society of North America’s Jane Austen Festival in the summer.

It wasn’t long after learning about the show Undressing Mr. Darcy that I came up with:

He’s an old-fashioned, hardcover book reader who writes in quill pen and hails from England. She’s an American social media addict. Can he find his way to her heart without so much as a GPS?

The rest is…history! Well, fun history. I also tossed a pirate into the mix. Not a real pirate, but a modern guy who, in his spare time, does some pirate reenacting. Did I mention he looks a lot like Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean?

You can read the first chapter here!

Buy now at Berkley PenguinIndiebound - AmazonB&NKobo BAM - iTunes    

Brant Flakes readers, comment below for your chance to win a copy of UNDRESSING MR. DARCY… If you’re stumped for what to say, you can tell me what appeals to you about UNDRESSING MR. DARCY! To increase your chances of winning you can share this post on your Facebook page or Twitter—let us know you’ve done that! You can also increase your odds by following me on Twitter or Facebook, or, if you’re not already, following Marilyn on her social media—don’t forget to let us know about it in your comment, thanks! Contest limited to US entrants only.

Mr. Darcy’s Stripping Off…
One of his stockings. Look at those shapely calves! At each blog stop Mr. Darcy will strip off another piece of clothing. Keep track of each item in chronological order and at then end of the tour you can enter to win a GRAND PRIZE of the book, “DO NOT DISTURB I’m Undressing Mr. Darcy” door hangers for you and your friends, tea, and a bottle of wine (assuming I can legally ship it to your state). US entries only, please.

Karen Doornebos is the author of UNDRESSING MR. DARCY published by Berkley, Penguin and available here or at your favorite bookstore. Her first novel, DEFINITELY NOT MR. DARCY, has been published in three countries and was granted a starred review by Publisher’s Weekly. Karen lived and worked in London for a short time, but is now happy just being a lifelong member of the Jane Austen Society of North America and living in the Chicagoland area with her husband, two teenagers and various pets—including a bird. Speaking of birds, follow her on Twitter and Facebook! She hopes to see you there, on her website www.karendoornebos.com and her group blog with Marilyn: Austen Authors.

Launch! 12/3: Austenprose
12/5 Chick Lit Plus - Review
12/12 Risky Regencies Q&A
Jane Austen’s 238th Birthday! 12/16 Jane Austen in Vermont, My Jane Austen Book Club and Author Exposure Q&A
12/18 Savvy Verse & Wit - Review
12/20 Booking with Manic- Review
12/26 My 5 Monkeys - Review
12/27 All Grown Up - Review

Karen, thank you again for visiting us, for the great giveaway opportunity, and for letting us know about all of the cool stops on your tour. HUGE CONGRATS on this new book!! You know I can't wait to read it ;). xox

Friday, December 6, 2013

Cover Reveal: ALL I EVER WANTED!!!

*Tossing confetti in the air!!*

Yes, it's time for the cover reveal for the new antho, ALL I EVER WANTED, coming in ebook and print on January 13, 2014!!

I'm so delighted with this project -- not only was it fun to write, but I had the chance to work with three authors whose work I admire and who are simply terrific people. Many thanks to Rhonda Helms, Lexi Ryan and Caisey Quinn for making it all happen, and to E.M. Tippetts for designing such a lovely cover for us!

Hope you all had a fabulous first week of December. Can't believe we're already in the midst of the holiday season... Wow, this year has zoomed by :). Any special weekend plans??

ETA: The new Goodreads page for the book is HERE!