Friday, 26 June 2015

Sun-Kissed Blog Tour & Giveaway!

It has not been six months since Meryton Press announced it was conducting a short story contest, with four of the winning entries to be published in a summer anthology. I now have the pleasure of welcoming one of the winners and authors featured in Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer! 
Natalie Richards is a fellow Janeite & blogger and  I would like to congratulate her on her first published short story, "Midsummer Madness!  As part of the Sun-kissed blog tour kindly brought to you by Meryton Press & Jakki at Leatherbound Reviews Natalie is stopping by today to share how her story came to fruition!

"Midsummer Madness" by Natalie Richards is one of my favourites and just one of the many wonderful short stories that feature in this summer anthology. With so many talented authors, this is the perfect book for a Happily Ever After, when your short on time and need a little sunshine in your life. To be in with a chance of winning a paperback copy, please leave a comment below for Natalie and you will be entered into a giveaway for a paperback copy of  Sun-Kissed:Effusions of Summer!

 In Natalie Richards’ “Midsummer Madness,” an honest confession and a promise between strangers at a masque ball mend a misunderstanding.

Welcome Natalie!!

Hello!  I am thrilled to be visiting My Kids Led Me Back to Pride & Prejudice today. Thank you so much for hosting me, Tamara!

How Midsummer Madness came to be.

Natalie Richards
Midsummer Madness was born out of an obsession with all things Jane Austen, a whimsical fascination with masquerades, story advice from a 9-year-old girl, and a mad 48-hour writing frenzy. It’s kind of a funny story, how it came about, and one that I hope you will find entertaining.

I first found out about the Meryton Press Summer Lovin’ Anthology Contest when someone posted about it on Facebook, saying that there were only two weeks left until the deadline. I knew immediately that I 
wanted to enter, I mean, it was Meryton Press! I loved their books and their authors; it would be a dream come true to be published by them. But how on earth was I to write something in such a short time?

I mulled it over for a few days before settling on the idea of Darcy and Elizabeth at a masque, and then wrote a few pages before getting stuck. Very stuck. My masked Darcy and Elizabeth were talking, but their conversation wasn’t going anywhere. My strategy for getting through such problems is to talk to anyone and everyone I know, bouncing ideas off them. So this is what I did. Nothing came of it, though, until I outlined my problem to one of the children I babysit. Let’s call her E. E’s too young to read Sun-Kissed, but she has a surprisingly good grasp of story structure for her age. She made a couple of astute suggestions regarding POV and drawing out suspense, but her very best contribution was the question ‘Why don’t they kiss?’ It was one of those epiphany moments, because it got me thinking of all the reasons why Darcy and Elizabeth couldn’t kiss at the ball. The rest of the masque practically wrote itself.

I wrote pretty steadily after that. There wasn’t much time left before the deadline, but my story wasn’t very long (it’s the shortest in the anthology) and I was past the hardest part. Surely it would be smooth sailing from there?

Four days from the deadline, I was hit by a horrible stomach bug that pretty much knocked me out for two days. Suddenly, I was out of time. I spent those last two days writing like mad. I wrote while cooking, while walking…I can hardly read my handwriting from those days now, since it was partially written in a tiny notebook that I carried around everywhere. I got it typed up and edited to the best of my ability and sent it in mere hours before the deadline. Weeks later, when I found out my story was actually going to make it into the anthology…The phrase ‘walking on sunshine’ comes to mind. It only got better from there; working with Christina, seeing my story next to such amazing authors – it’s a sort of magic. So that is how Midsummer Madness came into being; with a lot of help, a lot of work, and a LOT of coffee during those last couple of days. I hope you enjoy it!

Thank you for sharing & persisting Natalie! I am so happy you decided to enter and persevere even despite the hurdles. I enjoyed your "behind the scenes", it was not what I expected, it was honest, funny and real. It makes me appreciate the story more and thank you little "E" for your wonderful contribution to the creative process! Thank you again Natalie for stopping by!

Thank you Leatherbound Reviews & Meryton Press, for another Austen related blog tour!

Giveaway Time!!

Comment below for a chance to win a paperback copy of Sun-Kissed:Effusions of Summer! The Giveaway is open internationally!! The Winner will be announced on 2nd July 2015.
The winner can contact me via the 'contact me' tab, located at the top of the blog.

 Good luck Everyone!!!!


Natalie Richards is a blogger, singer and writer. She started her book review blog, Songs & Stories, in late 2010 after falling in love with Jane Austen fanfiction. Her writing can also be found on Figment, the Darcy & Lizzy Forum and in TeenInk magazine. Midsummer Madness is her first published short story. She resides with her family in the Oregon countryside and currently works as a professional babysitter.

You can find Natalie at the following Masquerades!

Blog Tour Schedule: 
6/15: Guest Post at Austenprose 
6/16: Guest Post & Giveaway at My Jane Austen Book Club 
6/17: Review at Diary of an Eccentric
6/18: Excerpt & Giveaway at So Little Time… 
6/19: Guest Post & Giveaway at The Little Munchkin Reader
6/20: Excerpt & Giveaway at The Calico Critic 
6/21: Review at Margie's Must Reads
6/21: Guest Post at My Love for Jane Austen 
6/22: Guest Post & Giveaway at Best Sellers & Best Stellars 
6/23: Excerpt & Giveaway at Songs and Stories 
6/24: Review at Wings of Paper
6/25: Excerpt at Writer Wonderland
6/26: Guest Post & Giveaway at My Kids Led Me Back to Pride & Prejudice 
6/27: Review at Babblings of a Bookworm
6/28: Author Feature & Giveaway at The Delighted Reader 

Fancy writing a short story yourself? Meryton Press will be releasing a holiday-romance-themed anthology late this fall. The short story contest for that volume is now open for submissions. Click here for further details: Official Rules.

As always I delight in hearing your thoughts!

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Holiday Romance Short Story Contest!

Hello everyone! 

Back in February I announced that Meryton Press were conducting a contest to find the best short stories. The theme of the contest, was “Summer Lovin’,” to represent the summer season. As a result of the competition, short stories from popular and award-winning authors, alongside three of the competition winners have now been published in an anthology called Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer. 

Therefore I am pleased to announce that Meryton Press are conducting another short story contest and this time there will be four competition winners published!

The Short Story Contest 

The theme of the contest, “Holiday Romance,” represents the season from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day. The interpretation of the theme is left to the writer’s imagination; the story may have the season as an incidental backdrop or may highlight the warmth and goodwill of the holidays. It may be a romance set entirely before a fire on a cold winter’s night, the plight of a young couple hosting their first family Thanksgiving, or the mystery of an anonymous holiday philanthropist with a reporter hot on his tale. So many holidays, so many stories: Thanksgiving, Christmas, the Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Boxing Day, New Year's Eve…
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 open for submissions from 9:00 a.m., June 15, 2015 (US Pacific Time) until 11:59 p.m., July 15, 2015 (US Pacific Time)
The contest will be judged by a panel of independent judges, and the results will be announced around Labor Day 2015.
A long list of entries will be selected for final judging by a panel of expert editors and reviewers. 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.
First Prize:
  • US$150
  • Professional editing of entry
  • Blog tour inclusion
  • Priority submission of a longer work
  • Four copies of published anthology
3 Runners up:
  • US$100
  • Professional editing of entry
  • Blog tour inclusion
  • Publication in the anthology
  • Two copies of published anthology

In addition, all four winning entries will be published in an anthology planned for late autumn 2015. The anthology will include not only the four winners but stories from Meryton Press’s popular and award-winning authors.
For detailed guidelines and rules, please refer to or

Friday, 5 June 2015

Winner of 'An Unwavering Trust' Virtual Book Tour

Hello everyone!

Today I announce the lucky winner of
  'An Unwavering Trust' by  L.L Diamond.

I would like to say thank you to Leslie for kindly sharing an excerpt with us from her new book and for giving readers a chance to win a e-book copy! You can follow L.L Diamond at

Lastly I would like to thank everyone who stopped by and left a comment to enter the giveaway! So without further ado!

"Maria" you have won a e-book copy of 'An Unwavering Trust' by L.L Diamond!!
Please contact me with your details, (see 'contact me' page at the top of the blog)

Thank you again Leslie I look forward to reading your new book and thank you to all that participated.

(Winner picked using

Monday, 1 June 2015

'An Unwavering Trust' Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway!

I am truly delighted to be taking part in the 'An Unwavering Trust' Virtual Book Tour!  L.L Diamond is kindly sharing an excerpt of her new book 'An Unwavering Trust' and has generously offered an e-book giveaway!!! Rain and Retribution was among some of the first JAFF books I ever read and it must have made an impression because I remember contacting Leslie who was kind enough to make my acquaintance. Last July we spoke again, funnily enough while I was in Brighton, after she spotted my review of her second book 'A matter of  Chance' a modern JAFF which I have read several times.
So it is with pleasure that I welcome Leslie today and thank her for stopping by and sharing with us.

Thanks so much, Tamara for having me. I hope everyone enjoys another glimpse at my new release, An Unwavering Trust!


Darcy departed the withdrawing room and headed straight for his chambers. He slammed the door
behind him and paced back and forth in front of the fire.
“I am not arrogant or conceited!” He made a particularly sharp pivot. “I cannot believe Grandmamma…” he began again, before his rant was interrupted by his valet.
James stood in a timid fashion just inside the dressing room door. “Pardon me, sir, but I presumed you might require assistance changing for the evening.”
He cast a quick look at his evening attire. “Yes, of course.”

As he disrobed, no care was taken, no attention paid to how the articles landed once they were shed. His topcoat and waistcoat were thrown on the bed, and Darcy yanked and pulled at his cravat, but the confounded thing would not yield in the slightest.
“If you will allow me.” His valet’s voice came from behind him.
He took a deep breath and exhaled while his man worked at the knots he had tightened in his frustration, and soon enough, was freed from the constricting cloth. He rubbed his sore neck for a minute before he pulled roughly on the closure of his shirt. James stood to the side, nervous and out of sorts.
When he handed off the last of his clothing, James gave a quick bow. “If you require any further assistance this evening…”
“You may retire; I can fend for myself.”
“Very good, sir.” The valet then strode out of the door.

Darcy stared in the direction of the dressing room. His valet’s brevity was strange, and had to indicate there was talk below stairs.
He could call James back to report on what was being said. No, that would not do. His grandmother had a very loyal house staff, and without a doubt, they would side with her. The last thing he could stand to hear was that he was incorrect.

He continued to pace, but with a freshly poured glass of brandy. He had been wronged. Not so much by Miss Bennet, although, if she had had a problem, she could have let him know. He had no idea what was in her mind, after all!
His grandmother’s words kept echoing through his head.
“You have dismissed her at every turn by your refusal to engage in the simplest of conversations!”
“You sound more like George Darcy than Fitzwilliam! I am ashamed of you.”
“Your subsequent behaviour has left her to wonder to whom she is truly betrothed: the gentleman who rescued her from Meryton, or this silent haughty man who has replaced him.”
He took a long drink from his glass and squeezed his eyes shut as if it could stop the voice in his head.
“I am nothing like my father.”  He dropped into a chair facing the fire and stared straight ahead past the flames as if entranced. He remained thus, engrossed in thought, for several hours. His mind whirred, the brandy left forgotten

Thank you again for sharing LeslieI look forward to reading 'An Unwavering Trust ' and have already purchased my copy!

L.L.Diamond is kindly giving readers a chance to win an e-book copy of 'An Unwavering Trust'. Leave a comment below for a chance to win. 

Winner to be announced on the 5th June (open internationally). Good Luck! Thank you again Leslie, for sharing an excerpt with us & for your generous giveaway! 

An Unwavering Trust Virtual book Tour!

May 21 - Book Tour Kick off at Austen Variaitons
May 22 - The writings and ramblings of Colette Saucier
May 26 - Laughing with Lizzie
May 28 - More Agreeably Engaged
June  1 - My Kids Led Me back to Pride & Prejudice
June  3 - Austenesque Reviews
June  5 - Sarah Johnson: My Peculiar World
June  8 - Ask the Author at

As always I delight in hearing your thoughts!