Friday, 20 February 2015

Brighty's Special Gift by Dee Wallain

Hello fellow readers, Meryton Press has published it's first children's book! Today I am happy to be shining the spotlight on the first children's book to appear on My Kids led me Back to Pride & Prejudice, Brighty's Special Gift by Dee Wallain. Addressing the sensitive issue of difference, Brighty's special Gift is a sweet book with a message of hope.

Book Blurb:
In the early days of the universe where it is cold and dark with zillions of stars, Brighty feels completely alone. He has no one to play with or talk to. The other stars taunt, torment and bully him because he is strange and different from them.
Brighty is hurt by their teasing. He thinks he cannot take it anymore; he loses all hope. After crying out in the big, black darkness for eons, something wonderful happens just in time...
Brighty’s Special Gift is a parable for children of all ages with a special Christmas connection written by Dee Wallain and illustrated by Wendy J La.

About the author:

Dee Wallain lives in Richmond, Virginia, the happiest city in America, with her husband, Jim, and Wally the rabbit. They laugh together every day, mostly because they like to have fun. Ordinary life is full of comical things; they laugh at themselves and especially enjoy the antics of Wally. He showed up on Easter Sunday, a runaway domestic rabbit who chooses to live in the “wild.” He knows his name, comes when called for meals, and entertains the neighborhood with his “sightings.”

Buy Links:

Barnes & Noble

Blog Tour Schedule                                            
2/16: Spotlight & giveaway at Babblings of a Bookworm
2/19: Review at Babblings of a Bookworm
2/21: Guest post at More Agreeably Engaged
2/22: Review at More Agreeably Engaged

As always feel free to comment! 

Monday, 16 February 2015

The Secret of Pembrooke Park By Julie Klassen Spotlight and Giveaway!

Welcome fellow readers! I am delighted to be shining the spotlight/candelabra! On Julie Klassen's new novel The Secret of Pembrooke Park. Having enjoyed Klassen's previous works 'The Tutor's Daughter' and 'The Dancing Master', Klassen's latest novel with its mystery and enchantment is sure to appeal to Regency Romance fans alike.

Book Description

In the spring of 1818, twenty-four-year-old Abigail Foster fears she is destined to become a spinster. Her family’s finances are in ruins and the one young man she truly esteems has fallen for another woman — her younger, prettier sister Louisa.

Forced to retrench after the bank failure of Austen, Gray & Vincent, the Foster family optimistically pool their resources for another London Season for her sister in hopes of an advantageous alliance. While searching for more affordable lodgings, a surprising offer is presented: the use of a country manor house in Berkshire abandoned for eighteen years. The Fosters journey to the imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left, the tight-lipped locals offering only rumors of a secret room, hidden treasure and a murder in its mysterious past.

Eager to restore her family fortune, Abigail, with the help of the handsome local curate William Chapman and his sister Leah, begins her search into the heavily veiled past aided by unsigned journal pages from a previous resident and her own spirited determination. As old friends and new foes come calling at Pembrooke Park, secrets come to light. Will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks...or very real danger?

Win One of Four Fabulous Prizes

In celebration of the release of The Secret of Pembrooke Park, four chances to win copies of Julie’s books and other Jane Austen-inspired items are being offered.

Three lucky winners will receive one trade paperback or eBook copy of The Secret of Pembrooke Park, and one grand prize winner will receive one copy of all eight of Julie’s novels: Lady of Milkweed Manor, The Apothecary's Daughter, The Silent Governess, The Girl in the Gatehouse, The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, The Tutor’s Daughter, The Dancing Master, and The Secret of Pembrooke Park, one DVD of Northanger Abbey (2007) and a Jane Austen Action Figure. Please leave a comment below or on any of the blog tour stops for a chance to win!


February 16              My Jane Austen Book Club (Guest Blog)
February 16              vvb32 Reads (Excerpt)                             
February 17              Psychotic State Book Reviews (Review)
February 17              My Kids Led Me Back to Pride and Prejudice (Spotlight)    
February 18              Addicted to Jane Austen (Review)                                
February 18              Peeking Between the Pages (Review)                                     
February 19              Jane Austen in Vermont (Interview)                                          
February 19              Living Read Girl (Review)                                                
February 20              My Love for Jane Austen (Excerpt)                                           
February 20              Truth, Beauty, Freedom & Books (Review)                            
February 20              Laura's Reviews (Guest Blog)                                        
February 21              A Bookish Way of Life (Review)                                    
February 21              Romantic Historical Reviews (Excerpt)
February 21              Confessions of a Book Addict (Review)                                   
February 22              Reflections of a Book Addict (Review)                                    
February 23              Austenesque Reviews (Guest Blog)                                         
February 23              Peace, Love, Books (Review)                                        
February 24              vvb32 Reads (Review)                                         
February 24              Poof Books (Excerpt)
February 25              Babblings of a Bookworm (Review)                                         
February 25              Austenesque Reviews (Review)                                    
February 25              Luxury Reading (Review)
February 26              So Little Time…So Much to Read (Review)
February 26              More Agreeably Engaged (Excerpt)
February 27              Psychotic State Book Reviews (Interview)                             
February 27              Booktalk & More (Review)
February 28              Laughing with Lizzie (Spotlight)
February 28              The Calico Critic (Review)
March 01                   Leatherbound Reviews (Excerpt)                                              
March 01                   Delighted Reader (Review)
March 02                   CozyNookBks (Review)                                       
March 02                   Laura's Reviews (Review)  

Links to buy this delightful Book!    

Amazon Link:
Barnes & Noble Link:
Book Depository Link:
Indie Bound Link:                              


To enter the giveaway contest, simply leave a comment on any or all of the blog stops on The Secret of Pembrooke Park Blog Tour starting February 16, 2015 through 11:59 pm PT, March 9, 2015. Winners will be drawn at random from all of the comments and announced on Julie Klassen’s website on March 16, 2015. Winners have until March 22, 2015 to claim their prize. The giveaway contest is open to residents of the US, UK, and Canada. Digital books will be sent through Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Good readers!

As always I delight in hearing your thoughts!

Thursday, 12 February 2015

The Darcy Brothers Blog Tour!

Click for List of Virtual Blog Tour Dates

Hello fellow readers! I am so excited to be interviewing five wonderful JAFF authors on my blog today, Maria Grace, Abigail Reynolds, Cassandra Grafton, Susan Mason-Milks & Monica Fairview. I am so honoured that they would condescend to stop by my humble blog to talk about The Darcy Brothers! First conceived as an interactive group writing project on Austen Variations it has since developed into a full-length novel featuring the charismatic Theo Darcy. Each chapter was written by a different author and at the end of each, readers would be given three options on where they would like the story to go next. 

Welcome ladies!

Are your views on Darcy's character similar? Do you debate over whether Darcy would or would not act a certain way? Do you refer back to P&P to argue your case or are you all quite agreeable?

Maria Grace
Maria: I guess makes some sense that we essentially saw Darcy in the same way.  We really didn’t have too many disagreements about what his behavior might be.

Abigail: I agree with Grace that we agreed pretty easily on Darcy’s behavior. It was interesting to discuss the backstory that led to the differences between the two brothers.

Cassandra: I don’t recall any of us questioning Darcy’s behaviour very much. I am sure, had we needed to, we would have used P&P itself to support why we thought what we did, but I think as authors we all pretty much understand Darcy sufficiently well to be able to write him in a way that he evolved quite naturally from chapter to chapter. 

Susan:  I’d agree with everyone. We essentially see Darcy in much the same way. There were some points in the story where we discussed what Darcy would do, how he’d act. It wasn’t a matter of deciding if he would do or not do, say or not say something. It was more a discussion about what would fit best with the story we’d envisioned.

Monica: Surprisingly, we all had a very similar vision of what Darcy himself was like. From the beginning we wanted to allow enough leeway for each author to use her own imagination, but as we went through I do not recall a point at which we questioned the portrayal of Darcy himself. All of us have read Pride and Prejudice many times, so we were not choosing from different film portrayals (Colin Firth vs. Matthew MacFadyen). Perhaps that helped.

You had a blueprint of Darcy's character from Austen. How did you create one for Theo? What was your vision for him? Did you want him to be loved just as much as Darcy? Did you want him to have some of Darcy's traits?  

Maria: We all agreed that Theo would be a loveable character, but designed to be exactly the kind of younger brother that would drive a man like Darcy crazy. We wanted him to be appealing to readers, so he couldn’t really be a rake, but at the same time, he would be far more ‘fun’ that Darcy.

Abigail Reynolds
Abigail: We talked endlessly about the kind of person Theo was. On the surface, he and Darcy are very different, but in essentials, they’re similar. Both are honorable, loyal, and trustworthy. Theo went through a period of sowing wild oats as a young man, and Darcy can’t see past that, but we can.

Cassandra: It was really fun to pool our ideas and thoughts on who and what Theo would be (even down to choosing his name!), and it was lovely seeing him come to life through each individual author’s hand and evolve into the Theo Darcy we, as authors, have all come to love. His character feels so real to us now, we find it hard to believe he doesn’t exist! It was important to us to hit the right balance, as the others have said, so that he was enough of a contrast to Darcy but not so extreme that people wouldn’t find him likeable on some level or other. Yes, we wanted him to have some of Darcy’s traits, such as his innate ‘goodness’, but Darcy just cannot see this at first. I do know some readers found him a bit immature, and I think it may seem that way at the beginning of the story, but I believe his true nature emerges as the story progresses.

Susan:  I’d say Theo and Darcy are similar in many ways. They reacted differently to events that occurred when they were boys and that ultimately helped to shape them. Also, I think Darcy’s position as the eldest made him feel he had to be more serious, more responsible. He had to hold the family together at certain times and this weighs heavily on him.

Monica: As the other members of the team have said, we knew there were certain characteristics we were looking for right at the beginning. The first chapter set the blueprint in many ways. Theo has a distinctive personality, but he is also quite driven by his affection for his family members. He craves Darcy’s approval. While he can be quite spirited at times, there is not a harmful bone in his body.  

Who is your on screen Darcy? Why? Does this effect how you write or see Darcy? Who would you like to play your on-screen Theo?

Maria: Colin Firth is definitely my on screen image of Darcy.  I’m not sure how much this effects how I write Darcy as I’ve also seen Colin Firth in many other movie roles. This lets me imagine Darcy in many situations.  As for who to play Theo—I’m terrible with actors, so I don’t have a clue.

Abigail: I don’t actually have an actor that I picture for either one of them! My vision of Theo is very much the portrait we picked out to represent him.

Cassandra Grafton
Cassandra: I don’t have a preference for any one over another! I love both Colin Firth and Matthew Macfadyen’s interpretations for different reasons. I think David Rintoul actually did one of the best book-to-screen transitions, though I didn’t personally find him attractive (sorry, David!) I can’t remember Laurence Olivier’s, it’s so many years since I saw the 1940 film. I think my least favourite was Matthew Rhys in Death Comes to Pemberley, and though I love Lost in Austen, I’m torn over Elliot Cowan in the role. An on-screen Theo? Like, Abigail, it’s hard not to think of Theo’s portrait for his features, though I’m having a nice time right now thinking of lots of hot, young British actors who might make the cut!

Susan: There’s no question that Colin Firth is my favorite Darcy. I have to differ from Cassandra, though, about Matthey Rhys (Death Comes to Pemberley). I thought he was quite good as an older, more mature Darcy. As for Theo, one of us found the portrait that has become Theo to us. Once we saw it, I don’t think we even considered another one.

Monica: A couple of readers have commented that Theo resembles David Tennant, so perhaps there is a possibility there. I can see David Tenant with that mischievous twinkle in his eye, but I do love the portrait we have. It certainly embodies Theo. As for Darcy – Colin Firth is my favorite, though I also like the more vulnerable Darcy played by Matthew MacFadyen.

How did you create the three options at the end of each chapter? Were they visions the author due to write next had? Or a collaboration?

Maria: Usually the current writer would collaborate with the next author on what the options could be.  In a previous project we’d had a little experience why no doing so was a bad plan, so we were pretty committed to making that a collaboration.

Abigail: We tried to avoid picking options that the next writer felt she couldn’t work well with or that would paint us into a corner plot-wise.

Cassandra: Very much a collaboration in most cases, though I do distinctly recall one chapter where I had written the ending of it and someone came up with three options which we all approved, none of which were anything like what I had in mind for the story when I wrote that particular scene! That’s the joy (and the challenge) with writing a story in this way! You can only have a very vague outline plot!

Susan: I agree it was a collaboration. Usually the current writer and the next writer discussed it–often with input from everyone–so we could come up with some options that both fit the story and inspired the next writer. Occasionally, we’d have an idea that was fun but ultimately wouldn’t work or would lead the story off in a strange direction so we’d have to eliminate it as a possibility.

Monica: Yes, it did have to be something that everyone was comfortable with, while at the same time it fitted in with our overall idea of where the novel was going. Having said that, I think there was an occasion when the readers chose our least favorite possibility and we had to go with that. It was challenging, but I loved all the input and the multiple possibilities. It makes you think outside the box.

What is it like to work with others who share your love of Darcy, do you revel in being able to talk about P&P and Austen without someone rolling their eyes or saying "who's JA," "no, never read P&P". What is it like to be around like-minded people who won't get bored of you talking about P&P all day, everyday? 

Maria: Working with other writers was a wonderful experience.  Writing, by its very nature can be a very isolating task, and getting to share the journey with others, was energizing.

Abigail: It was fabulous to work together and to share ideas. Even more than talking about loving Darcy, we all talked about how much we loved Theo!

Cassandra: I started my writing hobby by co-writing Harry Potter stories with a friend, so it was a real pleasure to return to this way of writing after so many years writing solo, so much so that I enjoyed creating the shared chapters where we each contributed scenes much more than when I had a whole chapter to myself. There is never a lack of energy or creativity, either, because even if one author isn’t feeling it, someone else will be, and that keeps everyone on track.

Susan: I think The Darcy Brothers story is so much richer for our having shared ideas. Often one person’s idea would spark something in someone else’s and we’d be off in a new direction!

Monica Fairview
Monica: Of course it is wonderful to be part of a community that loves Pride and Prejudice generally. Being part of a group that is writing a variation goes a step further. I would say it was exhilarating. I learned so much from my fellow authors!

Each choose five words to describe Darcy's character, did you come up with any that were the same? If Yes what were they? 

Maria: Proper, dutiful, reliable, strong, capable

Abigail: Honorable, honest, socially inept (ok, so that’s two words!), loyal, guarded. Unlike Grace, I wouldn’t call him proper; he’s constantly pushing the limits of propriety in Pride & Prejudice.

Cassandra: Introverted, reliable, loyal, honest and proud!

Susan: Honest, loyal, intelligent, controlled, introverted

Monica: Honest, loyal, impulsive (the opposite of Susan), complex, honorable

If it had been you, (you'll have to imagine you've grown up in the Regency era, lol!!!) at the parsonage would you have said NO!  

Maria: That’s a really good question.  But I’m so stubborn, I just might have.

Abigail: I hate to admit it, but as someone who worries a lot about the future for family as well as myself, I just might have said yes for my family’s sake.

Cassandra: I have trouble saying ‘no’ to ordering a dessert, so when it comes to saying ‘no’ on weightier matters, such as these were in the Regency era, and bearing in mind I don’t have Elizabeth’s confidence, I fear I may have said yes. Of course, this is all rhetorical, because if I genuinely did have that much trouble saying ‘no’, I’d be Mrs Collins before Darcy could even ask! What a horrid thought. Where’s that slice of cheesecake…

Susan: I wouldn’t have any trouble saying “no” to Mr. Collins but for the sake of my family, I might have gone along with Darcy’s proposal, but not before telling him what I thought of his behavior. Unlike Elizabeth, I would tend to give him the benefit of the doubt and actually ask him about the concerns I had, for example, what really happened with Wickham. If he was honest with me, I’d have difficulty saying no.

Monica: I would have said no to Mr. Collins because I would not have believed at that point that he was the best possible option. Don’t forget, Elizabeth was quite charmed by Wickham at the time. However, I would have felt very guilty about it afterwards. I would not have said no to Mr. Darcy because, let’s face it, Mr. Darcy is a hero and you’ve got to love him. I would have married him, then convinced him that keeping Bingley from marrying my sister was absurd.

Do you think Darcy was going to propose at Lambton? And your reasons for or against?

Maria: After he was so soundly turned down, I don’t think Darcy would have rushed into another proposal.  I think he would have been far more careful. Rejection isn’t something that a man like Darcy would rush in to face again.

Abigail: I do think so, or perhaps something in that direction, like asking if he could call on her at Longbourn. Darcy doesn’t have terribly good control of his impulses where Elizabeth is concerned, and I don’t think he’d want to let her leave without saying something.

Cassandra: Funnily enough, it’s not something that crossed my mind before I started to read variations! Now, it seems quite possible that he may have done, but what we don’t know, had Elizabeth’s visit not been interrupted, was how the re-acquaintance may have progressed in Derbyshire. Would the Gardiners have been persuadable to staying longer in the area if Mr Darcy’s preference for their niece became detectable – would Darcy try to do the persuading, even?

Susan: I think he wanted to but would have waited. I can’t believe he would attempt another proposal without being more sure of her.

Monica: Like Abigail, I think Darcy is impulsive when it comes to Elizabeth. I definitely think he would have tried to approach the subject.

There are countless literary heroes that have been swooned over, but why do you think no one can knock Darcy off of his pedestal? Do you think Theo could in the sequel you have planned? Do you think that without Elizabeth, or if it had been a differently-written female character, Darcy would be what he is today?

Maria: Darcy is a very unique hero, with timeless qualities that set him apart from many others.  I think it is also interesting that there are so many interpretations of the character.  I tend to see him as a socially awkward, intense man, with strong principles and unwavering loyalty to those he cares for. I personally don’t see that he changed for Elizabeth, but rather that he recognized how he misunderstood the situation and set about correcting the mistake.  I think she was the one who changed.  But there are others who would strongly argue quite the opposite.  I think the fact that the character can be interpreted in so many ways contributes to his power with so many readers.   

Abigail: The thing that puts Darcy on his pedestal for me is that he falls in love with Elizabeth for her intelligence and wit despite not finding her beautiful. And there’s something about the chemistry between Darcy and Elizabeth that’s just perfect. It wouldn’t be the same with a different woman.

Cassandra: One could be cynical and firstly say, well, he has those three all-important attributes for any hero with longevity: he’s handsome, rich and intelligent. Clearly, this isn’t enough, as it’s somewhat stereotypical where a successful ‘hero’ is concerned. I think it’s a real combination of things, from his being unable to stop himself falling in love with Elizabeth, his positive long-term response to being humbled by her and the constancy of his love. It’s more than enough to make me swoon! I simply can’t imagine Darcy with anyone but Elizabeth, or that he would have fallen so hard or so fast for anyone else.

Susan: I love Darcy’s quiet strength and the fact that he’s such an honorable man. Ultimately, it’s his weaknesses that make him the most appealing. He can’t help himself when it comes to Elizabeth, and he’s willing to move mountains to win her. Plus, he doesn’t want her to know about how he helped Lydia. Other men would have told her in hopes it would influence her, but he wanted to win her with no strings attached. I think that’s really hot!

Monica: The first aspect of Mr. Darcy’s appeal is that he is willing to set everything aside for love. In that sense, his first proposal, no matter how clumsy, is very romantic. The second is that he is more interested in ensuring Elizabeth’s happiness than his own. He rescues Lydia but does not make a point of it. Add to that the fact that he is loyal to a fault, honest and chivalrous and you have a perfect hero. Is he only appealing because of Elizabeth? Well, they are the perfect couple. They bring out the best in each other, which is what makes their romance so appealing. 

Well I don't know about you readers, but I certainly enjoyed reading and laughing at all the wonderful answers Maria, Abigail, Cassandra, Susan and Monica's delighted us with. Thank you ladies it was an absolute honour to have you stop by. If you would like to see where these lovely authors hang out please click on their names below their pictures. 

Readers as always I love hearing your thoughts, please feel free to join in the conversation. I am currently reading The Darcy Brothers and am pleased to report, that I am thoroughly enjoying it! Review to follow soon!

Theo Darcy is everything his disapproving elder brother, Fitzwilliam, is not – easy-going, charming, and full of fun. A tragic event as children severed their bond of friendship, but now they are together again. They are still at odds, though, this time over the love of Miss Elizabeth Bennet and the truth about George Wickham. Will Wickham manage to divide the brothers again? And more importantly, which Mr. Darcy will Elizabeth choose? 

Find out as the two brothers lock horns in this unique Pride & Prejudice variation collectively written by five respected authors.


The Darcy Brothers


B&N Nook


Monday, 2 February 2015

Meryton Press Short Story Contest "Summer Lovin’ "

Meryton Press Short Story Contest
Summer Lovin’
BEGINS9:00 a.m. Feb 1, 2015 (US Pacific time)
ENDS11:59 p.m. March 15, 2015 (US Pacific Time)
Hello everyone! Meryton Press is conducting a contest to find the best short stories.
The theme of the contest, “Summer Lovin’,” represents the summer season. The interpretation of the theme is left to the writer’s imagination; the story may have summer as a backdrop or may convey a sense of happiness and light. It might be a romantic comedy set in the South Pacific, a thriller in the everglades of Florida, a romance in Queen Victoria’s summer court, an ode to the ocean and Elizabeth Bennet, or a mail -order bride in the Old West—anything your summer muse suggests.
Any genre is acceptable as long as there is ROMANCE. Austenesque is a plus, but is not required. In other words, so long as there is a commonly accepted or acceptable interpretation of the theme embedded in the plot, it works for us. However, this contest is not for children’s stories. Our target audience is readers over 18 years old.
The contest will be judged by a panel of independent judges, and the results will be announced by mid-April 2015.
A long list of entries will be selected for final judging by a panel of expert editors and reviewers. The long list will consist of at least eight quality entries. All entries on the long list will receive a letter with constructive criticism on how the story could have been improved. Four winners will be selected from the long list and will be awarded prizes as detailed in the guidelines below (see “Contest Prizes”).
In addition, all four winning entries will be published in an anthology planned for early summer 2015. The anthology will include not only the four winners but stories from Meryton Press’ popular and award-winning authors.
Contest Prizes: Prizes will be awarded as below. Payment will be through PayPal.
    • First Prize:
      • US$150
      • Professional editing of entry
      • Blog tour inclusion
      • Priority submission of a longer work
      • Four copies of published anthology
    • Runners up:
      • US$100
      • Professional editing of entry
      • Publication in the anthology
      • Two copies of published anthology

What an exciting contest! Good luck to all the entrants!

Guidelines and rules can be accessed via this link:

*To receive email updates about this contest, sign up for the Anthology Contest Updates mailing list at