Project Darcy by Jane Odiwe, Excerpt + GIVEAWAY

Please help me in welcoming author Jane Odiwe to the blog as she discusses and shares an excerpt of her newest book, Project Darcy.  As a special thank you to her readers, she’s offering up a paperback copy of the book in an international giveaway! Details will be at the end of the post. Welcome, Jane!

Thank you so much, Kim, for hosting me on your blog today to talk about my new timeslip book, Project Darcy.

JaneCassandraI’ve loved doing the research for the book – settings include scenes in Hampshire, in and around Steventon Rectory where Jane Austen lived as a young girl, and at some of the big houses in the area that Jane Austen knew, like Deane House, and Manydown Park, as well as in Bath and Devon. Then there is the timeslip element – in the present, five friends volunteer for an archaeological dig taking place on the site of the old rectory – like the Bennet sisters from Pride and Prejudice, the five girls share similar initials and characteristics – their names are Ellie, Jess, Martha, Cara and Liberty. In the past, Ellie sees life through Jane’s eyes at Steventon with the Austen family and their neighbours during the Christmas period of 1795/96, and, in particular, she lives out Jane’s reactions and experiences with a young Irishman, Tom Lefroy, falling in love like she’s never done before.

Weaving two stories is always great fun, and I had a lovely time travelling from the present to the past with Ellie who experiences increasingly strange phenomena – she’s always had a talent for ‘seeing’ into the past, and finds herself being transported to another time – living life as Jane Austen lived it in 1795/96.

Ashe ball-1It’s the start of summer when the girls arrive in Steventon and they’re all enjoying the warm weather at Ashe Rectory where they are staying. In this excerpt, Ellie and the girls have just been to a welcome party for the archaeological dig, and they’ve all had a lovely time, meeting lots of new friends …

It was dark by the time the taxi turned in at Ashe Rectory. The chatter all the way home had been about the day’s events and the day to come. Liberty was delighted with the way that Greg had responded, and Jess was already privately thinking that Charlie seemed like a young man she’d like to know better. Cara had been in awe of the whole proceedings and had watched Liberty in action with admiration. Martha was disappointed that she hadn’t got to speak to Will MacGourtey but knew that the chances to do so would be increased on the following day. Ellie, quite simply, felt exhausted. She was pleased that Jess had found someone who seemed as sweet as she, but she’d been a bit disturbed by the fact that the person who seemed to be his closest friend was clearly idiotic, and that was putting it politely.

She looked out of the window watching the car headlamps lighting up the narrow lanes. Cow parsley, frothing white in the hedgerows, loomed and tapped on the car windows, and the branches of summer trees arched over them like fan vaulting in a cathedral. Summer in all her lush greenery flashed past in a blink of the eye. Ellie felt her eyes closing, the rhythm of the car lulling her to sleep, and it was only when she felt the car stop that Ellie looked out once more. She shivered in her thin top. And it wasn’t only her tiredness and the lack of sunshine that made her feel quite so cold. The scene she saw outside could not be explained. There was a picture from a Christmas card in front of her – snow covered the ground, lit up from the moon above and from the candlelight in the windows, which threw bars of gold against the blue snow shadowed by tall trees. Powdering every surface, snow crystals were piled in pillows up to the steps and weighed down lacy boughs on trees, bending them to the smooth white blankets on the ground. The house was alight, the gardens and surrounding fields, dark, icy and mysterious. Feathery showers whirled to the earth, and as Ellie peered through the swirling snow she glimpsed moving figures at the windows. Like enchanted shadows at first, the spectres became alive, vital with life, real. It looked like a party, the rooms were full, and the strains of music, a piano and a harp, could be heard.

I’ve had a wonderful time writing this book, and imagining all the scenes – I’d love to know – which is your favourite season – are you a summer or a winter person?

Book Blurb:

ProjectDarcyCover-09-10-13It is high summer when Ellie Bentley joins an archaeological dig at Jane Austen’s childhood home. She’s always had a talent for ‘seeing’ into the past and is not easily disturbed by her encounters with Mr Darcy’s ghost at the house where she’s staying.

When Ellie travels into the past she discovers exactly what happened whilst Jane danced her way through the snowy winter of 1796 with her dashing Irish friend. As Steventon Rectory and all its characters come to life, Ellie discovers the true love story lost in Pride and Prejudice – a tale which has its own consequences for her future destiny, changing her life beyond imagination.

Author Bio

janeodiweJane Odiwe is the author of five Austen-inspired novels, Project Darcy, Searching for Captain Wentworth, Mr Darcy’s Secret, Willoughby’s Return, and Lydia Bennet’s Story, and is a contributor to Laurel Ann Nattress’s anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It, with a short story, Waiting.  You can connect with her through any of the links below!

Austen Effusions – Jane Austen Sequels – Twitter – Facebook – Pinterest

Giveaway – Special thanks to Jane Odiwe for our giveaway copy!

One lucky winner will have the opportunity to win a paperback copy of Project Darcy by Jane Odiwe!  For your chance to win simply leave a comment below.  Comments will be accepted through midnight on Saturday, December 7, 2013.  Winner will be picked at random and announced on Sunday, December 8, 2013.  Open to all.  Good luck!

What is Steampunk? with Monica Fairview, author of Steampunk Darcy

Joining us on the blog today is Monica Fairview, author of the recently published Steampunk Darcy.  Monica’s agreed to come on the blog to discuss what the steampunk genre is, and how Pride and Prejudice influenced her latest release!  Please join me in welcoming Monica!

Steampunk Darcy Cover SMALL AVATARThank you, Kimberly, for inviting me to join you here on your blog as part of my Steampunk Darcy release blog tour. Steampunk Darcy is special to me because it’s different from anything else I wrote. It was born out of an urge to do something creative to Pride and Prejudice.

“Something creative?” you might ask. “But we already have plenty of creative rewritings: JA mashups, spinoffs, parodies and paranormals. Do we really need something else?”

When I say “creative,” I mean something different from what I was writing before. My other JA writings are what you would call traditional sequels, set clearly in the Regency era, and carefully following the path set by Jane Austen. Steampunk Darcy, on the other hand, takes a giant leap into the future and projects Darcy into a post-apocalyptic, retro-Victorian world. It’s by no means traditional. It’s not exactly a parody, but it has elements of parody to it. It’s not a mashup, but it’s a mixture of different genres. And yes, it’s based on Pride and Prejudice, completely. But it doesn’t exactly follow Pride and Prejudice. It’s more of the wink, wink type of novel, where fond Janeites will recognize elements of the novel, but perhaps not in quite the same order as they would expect. It’s a novel that’s made up of different elements woven together, so in that sense you could call it a mashup, but it doesn’t quote Jane Austen, so it isn’t quite a mashup either.

So what is Steampunk Darcy?

Perhaps the best way to introduce it to you is to separate it into the difference genres it’s made up of, and explain how each of them works.

  1. Jane Austen-inspired: Steampunk Darcy would be a completely different novel if it wasn’t solidly based on Pride and Prejudice. William Darcy is a descendant of the original Darcy, and he’s very proud of his predecessors. He looks up to his ancestors and models his behavior after them. In the novel, Jane Austen was the Darcys’ biographer, and both Darcy and Seraphene want to conduct research to find out more about the couple. At the same time, many of the characters echo characters in the original novel. Wickham is there, as is Georgiana. Lady Catherine is now Darcy’s step-mother. There are other parallel characters, but it’s up to you to find those out. The events of the novel, while based on Pride and Prejudice, often have a twist to them so they don’t necessarily follow the same plot-line, but there are points where the two plots intersect.
  2. Post-apocalyptic: Steampunk Darcy takes place several years after a disastrous environmental flood caused by slime rain. Darcy is involved in reclaiming the land and protecting Bostontown from slime rain. Seraphene is involved in research into the past. Her concern is the social aspects of the new society. The two of them have a similar objective, which is to help build a society that looks toward the past for inspiration, but their perspectives are so different they inevitably clash. Because of the environmental disaster caused by fossil fuels, the new society has reverted back to the Age of Steam, but again with a difference – the source of energy is solar rather than coal-based. In effect, people have been thrown back into a second “Victorian” era. The positive aspect of it is that it’s a period of high creativity as society is forced to adapt to a new environment. Oddly enough, it’s an era of optimism. There is a sense of a pioneering spirit in a way, which is why I set Steampunk Darcy in the US.
  3. Steampunk: Steam is the key here, as well as the energy and inventiveness of the Victorians. It’s not an easy genre to define, because it’s highly individualistic. Steampunk is a form of alternative reality fiction which features the Victorian period, but it also includes actual Victorian fantasy. Some of the earliest novels that have been called Steampunk are HG Well’s Time Machine and Jules Verne’s writings, but Steampunk isn’t limited to novels. It’s in fact more widespread in fashion, art and décor than in writing. You’ll recognize it when you see it. It’s more common than you think.
  4. Romance: Darcy and Lizzy? The sparks must fly. William Darcy is no less arrogant that Fitzwilliam, and no less powerful. He is worth as much as the original Darcy if not more. On top of it, he’s a rather splendid specimen. William Darcy is a delicious hero. But that doesn’t mean Seraphene’s going to swoon at his feet. When he proposes to take her on as an employee, she says no. Seraphene, like Lizzy, is sassy, sharp and doesn’t hesitate to speak her mind. She’s a heroine that gives Darcy a run for his money.

Four genres in one. Quite a blend, but that’s why writing Steampunk Darcy was such a wonderful challenge. The nice thing about it is that it could be read on any of these levels alone and it would still make sense. However, when reading it on all levels you are able to get the full creative experience.

Steampunk DarcyA Pride and Prejudice-Inspired Comedy Adventure

William Darcy is obsessed with his ancestors. So much so that he intends to rebuild Pemberley (destroyed during the Uprising) stone by stone, and he wants to employ reconstruction expert Seraphene Grant to help him.

Or does he? Seraphene wasn’t born yesterday. She can smell a rat, particularly when it stinks all the way up to her airship. She knows Darcy is hiding something. But with the Authorities after her and her other options dwindling by the moment, the temptation of genuine English tea and a gorgeous Steampunk gentleman are very difficult to resist.

But what if Darcy’s mystery job courts nothing but trouble? What if Darcy is harboring a secret to kill for? When kiss comes to shove, will Darcy’s secret destroy Seraphene, or will it be her salvation?

Join us on a romantic adventure like no other in this whimsical Pride and Prejudice-inspired tribute, featuring Darcy (of course) Wickham, dirigibles, swash-buckling pirates and a heroine with a pair of fine eyes and an attitude.

Monica FairviewAuthor Bio:

Monica can be described as a gypsy-wanderer, opening her eyes to life in London and travelling ever since. She spent many years in the USA before coming back full circle to London, thus proving that the world is undeniably round.

Monica’s first novel was An Improper Suitor, a humorous Regency. Since then, she has written two traditional Jane Austen sequels: The Other Mr. Darcy and The Darcy Cousins (both published by Sourcebooks) and contributed a sequel to Emma in Laurel Ann Nattress’s anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It (Ballantine). Steampunk Darcy is her latest novel.

Monica Fairview is an ex-literature professor who abandoned teaching criticism about long gone authors who can’t defend themselves in order to write novels of her own. Originally a lover of everything Regency, Monica has since discovered that the Victorian period can be jolly good fun, too, if seen with retro-vision and rose-colored goggles. She adores Jane Austen, Steampunk, cats, her husband and her impossible child.

If you’d like to find out more about Monica, you can find her at,, on Facebook and on Twitter @Monica_Fairview

Banned Book Week: Ban the Alphabet with author Mary Ann Rivers

Please join me in welcoming back Mary Ann Rivers, author of The Story Guy, to the blog today! Mary Ann was kind enough to write the essay Ban the Alphabet in honor of Banned Book Week.  Thank you Mary Ann!! 

When I was in the fifth grade, I was underdeveloped and awkward. I had long hair that terminated in ropes of tangles around my ribs. I had to wear glasses, and because of my family situation, they weren’t glasses for children, but worn, overlarge, and owlish glasses meant for an adult. This was the year that many of the other girls had started to dress a bit older, experiment with some version of the clothes worn by their sisters and siblings’ friends in high school. I had my usual jeans and t-shirts to wear, a pinching bra I didn’t need, but didn’t dare go without lest the boys comment on my nipples.  My teacher was a disco baby, glamorous, permed, and looking back, often hungover, and I was kind of the bane of her classroom.

Here’s the thing—I didn’t care.

This was also the year I had worked out a world of my own, away from my family, away from school.  Two worlds, really. One world was in an oversold and abandoned suburban development lot that had been overtaken with scrub and third-growth trees. The other was in the library, and that was the year I discovered romance novels.

I had found, in the basement, an old army shoulder bag of my father’s. I could cinch the strap so that it sat, no matter how full of books, in the small of my back while I rode my bike.  In my mind, no one would suspect that the stiff drab-colored bag held paperbacks every color of the rainbow, embossed with gilded titles I would copy into my diary with the date of check out and a coded rating system that included how many characteristics I thought I shared with the heroine.

Of course, my true stealth was that no one pays a lot of attention to underdeveloped girls with tangled hair tearing along the back streets on their bikes. I hadn’t entirely realized, yet, that girlhood was invisible, the best, strongest parts of it, anyway. I had already learned about the things that a girl like me wished were invisible, but were not.

I protected what I could.

bttkpBy then, I had read Katherine Paterson’s A Bridge to Terabithia and so when I would point the front wheel of my bike into the rough, foot-wide trails of the abandoned subdivision, it’s Jess and Leslie I would most often think of. I was a little uneasy with those paperbrick novels from the library, less confused than I should have been about parts of them, but walking my way through those parts in a different and less violent context than I had known. The green light that filtered into the lots where I escaped was some kingdom of actual childhood, quiet and private and ruled by the most innocent parts of my imagination.

By then, too, I knew I could learn almost everything I needed to from books. Often, books affirmed what I had figured out for myself. Jess said there “was the rule that you never mixed up troubles at home with life at school. When parents were poor or ignorant or mean, or even just didn’t believe in having a TV set, it was up to their kids to protect them.” Jess was right, and if kids couldn’t protect their parents, then you worked on some magic to protect yourself, because “life was delicate as a dandelion. One little puff from any direction, and it was blown to bits.”

By then, I had been in love. His name was D–, the smallest boy in the fifth grade, and the only other kid in my class who wore glasses. He seemed to me somehow impossibly smart and fearless. He would answer the teacher’s questions without raising his hand, had in fact, on more than one memorable occasion, called the teacher by her first name, and made it sound somehow natural. He could climb the rope in gym, all the way to the gym’s ceiling, and would terrify the gym teacher by swinging out an arm as if to grab onto the gym’s rafters and scramble across the ceiling like an ape in the canopy. “That’s enough!” She would boom, and he’d grin down at us from above, and test the rafter one more time before sliding down the rope with the soles of his cons turned in, trying to make smoke from friction and rubber. It wasn’t the kind of love I was learning about from romance novels, though it sometimes gave me the same low-down flip, it was something more like something that was “too real and too deep to talk about, even to think about very much.” In fact, my diary from that time is rare to mention him, but when it does, it is always at the end of an entry, and is never more than a mundane “D—talked to me today, in the lunch line.”

Too deep and too real. Nothing like the romance novels I read in my closet, a flashlight anchored to my head with a plastic headband. The novels were countries I had never been to, D—was the street where I lived and all of its minutia, how the clothes in my closet smelled, the scar on my forehead I liked to worry. Things known and not spoken of for their intimacy.

By then, most subversive of all, I had been afraid I would die, and I had wanted to. Diaries and romance novels and secret trails in the woods don’t tell a child very much about death, but books for children do. The first time I had been afraid, I rode my bike, hurting and bleeding, all the way to the furthest boundary of the development, where there was the basement and foundation of a house that had never been built. The concrete shell in the earth was scribbled over with graffiti and the edges were thick with weeds and poison ivy, but I bumped my bike down a spill of dirt that made a natural ramp into the basement.

I sat down there, leaning against a corner, looking at the sky. I cried, and I thought about how I was too old to cry, anymore. I wondered how far away I could get on my bike. I wondered if my fourth grade teacher, who had taken an interest in me, would remember me enough to talk to her about my problems, what I was afraid of, and if she could do anything. I wondered about a librarian, if she was too old to be a friend, or to trust.

I gravitated towards books that made me cry. I had loved A Summer to Die, and Where the Red Fern Grows, and Bridge to Terabithia. What I loved in those books, besides the permission they gave me to cry and cry, were the adults. The adults who were at first absent, at first abandoned by the protagonists for the tantalizing worlds they had discovered, and then, when those kids were visited by the worst they could imagine, the adults became present and important and understanding, which seemed like a magic more astonishing to me, and a fantasy more compelling, than any Terabithia ruled by child kings and queens.

“When my husband died, people kept telling me not to cry,” Jess’s fifth grade teacher told him. “People kept trying to help me forget . . . So I realize, that if it’s hard for me, how much harder it must be for you.”

I think there was planted some seed of hope that if even I could not find that understanding in the kingdom of childhood, I would live to bestow it as an adult. That I would remember what the privacy of childhood had given me and what books had trusted me with, and I would assume the agency of children to love and to appreciate death and the stakes of living.

Bridge to Terabithia was number eight on the American Library Journal’s list of most banned books from 1990-2000, and number twenty from 2001-2009. Adults have done their best since it was published in 1977 to protect children from Jess and his love of his music teacher Miss Edmunds, from his rough and mean life of crushing poverty. Adults did not want children to hear Jess’s loud if unspoken fear that his father believed him homosexual because he preferred to draw above all things. Adults especially did not want children to read about the death of Jess’s best friend, Leslie, who was the fastest kid in fifth grade, and the bravest, and who “made him leave his old self behind and come into her world, and then before he was really at home in it but too late to go back, she had left him stranded there—like an astronaut wandering about on the moon. Alone.”

As if children do not know love, or fear, or death, and are in fact, not protected from those things at all, ever, and experience them as often as adults do, because really, where is the bridge between childhood and adulthood? When is it that we walk across it? What is the rites of one kingdom that give you passage into the next? Is it a divide that we swing across and hope the rope doesn’t break? Where then, should the guardians stand, exactly? Is a book about love permissible, but not one with love and fear? Or are there fears exclusive to children that can be written about, read about, and fears common only to adults? Is it only adults who die and is it only adults who encounter their deaths?

When I read a romance novel, scabbed knees and too-big eyes, in the depths of a closet, what country was I occupying?

When I was hurt and invisible, small and mistrusted, when no adult would welcome me, where was I received?

A book is no more suppressible than the life of a child. It can be no more hidden than we can remove ourselves from death. My agency is now, as it has ever been—mine. Even the long and terrifying moments it was stolen, it still bore my name.

Banning a book is an action that assumes boundaries where there is only humanity and everything that it feels, from the very beginning. From the alphabet. Try to ban the alphabet. We have already learned all the letters. We have already heard all of their sounds.

Mary Ann RiversAbout Mary Ann Rivers

Mary Ann Rivers was an English and music major and went on to earn her MFA in creative writing, publishing poetry in journals and leading creative-writing workshops for at-risk youth. While training for her day job as a nurse practitioner, she rediscovered romance on the bedside tables of her favorite patients. Now she writes smart and emotional contemporary romance, imagining stories featuring the heroes and heroines just ahead of her in the coffee line. Mary Ann Rivers lives in the Midwest with her handsome professor husband and their imaginative school-aged son. The Story Guy is her debut novella.

Connect with Mary Ann:  Website  |  Twitter |  Facebook

The Story Guy by Mary Ann Rivers Blog Tour + GIVEAWAY

Joining me on the blog today is Mary Ann Rivers, author of The Story Guy, which I reviewed yesterday!  Mary Ann is here today to share Carrie and Brian’s (the heroine/hero of The Story Guy) favorite books.  But first, a little about the book!

The Story Guy Cover - FinalBook blurb:

In this eBook original novella, Mary Ann Rivers introduces a soulful and sexy tale of courage, sacrifice, and love.

 I will meet you on Wednesdays at noon in Celebration Park. Kissing only.

Carrie West is happy with her life . . . isn’t she? But when she sees this provocative online ad, the thirtysomething librarian can’t help but be tempted. After all, the photo of the anonymous poster is far too attractive to ignore. And when Wednesday finally arrives, it brings a first kiss that’s hotter than any she’s ever imagined. Brian Newburgh is an attorney, but there’s more to his life . . . that he won’t share with Carrie. Determined to have more than just Wednesdays, Carrie embarks on a quest to learn Brian’s story, certain that he will be worth the cost. But is she ready to gamble her heart on a man who just might be The One . . . even though she has no idea how their love story will end?

Mary Ann now gives us her insight on Carrie and Brian’s favorite books…

Books on Brian Newburgh’s Nightstand (which is really an overturned milk crate):


Brian can’t resist a woman in glasses, or a funny one. I feel like he would be unable to stay away from a fronted display of this book on shelf at the library. Fey’s manifesto about bitches getting stuff done with hilarious recollections of theater camp and trying to write 30 ROCK scripts in her living room while nursing her baby would cover a whole range of Brian’s late night needs as a reader.

SHADOWHOUND by Suki Malahar*

After that edgy kiss in the park, when they were both a little, or a lot, turned on, Brian’s attention would have been on high alert. Carrie mentioned this author as a favorite of her teen population and tells Brian that maybe he should check her out. Of course, of course, he does. He probably read it in one night, thinking of Carrie and that kiss the entire time.

*I should mention that Malahar is a totally fictional author, but is one I will evoke in my work and you, if you’re reading me, and will find along the way, like an Easter egg.

MAUS by Art Spiegelman

This graphic novel about a father and son with a complicated relationship would appeal to the young Brian who liked to secretly draw and write his own comics, and also to his own meditations about loss and the meaning of family.

TORTILLA FLATS by John Steinbeck

A classic novel of insouciance featuring characters rambling from one scene to the next, would be nothing less than a completely compelling fantasy for Brian–warm desert breezes, drinking, improbable scenarios, lack of routine–all heaven for our story guy.


He meant to get around to reading it when everyone was talking about it, but never did. This one actually fell off his milk crate and slid under his bed and he owes outrageous library fines on it.

Books on Carrie West’s e-reader

IT by Stephen King

If you’re an insomniac doomed to staying up all night, you might as well ride wave after wave of horrified thrills–or at least that what Carrie does. She knows she should be looking for thrills elsewhere, but this will have to do.

ALL OTHER THINGS by Charlotte Stein

Internet messaging, secrets, two hot enigmatic men. Carrie has this on her reader FOR REASONS.

GHOSTBOY by Suki Malahar*

Malahar’s first book has always been Carrie’s favorite. It has a kissing scene to die for.

*Bonus points, I mention this book, but not the title, in a free short on my website

1-800-HOT-RIBS by Catherine Bowman

This book of outrageous poetry would appeal to the language lover in Carrie, and her witty sense of humor.


Carrie’s favorite stories have crying at the end, and this spare memoir of John Bayley’s life caring for his wife, the brilliant novelist Iris Murdoch, as she loses her battle with Alzheimer’s fits the bill and may have given Carrie a kind of perspective on Brian’s life.

THE STORY GUY on Goodreads | Barnes & Noble  |  iBookstore  |  Google Play  |  Other Retailers

Mary Ann RiversAbout Mary Ann Rivers

Mary Ann Rivers was an English and music major and went on to earn her MFA in creative writing, publishing poetry in journals and leading creative-writing workshops for at-risk youth. While training for her day job as a nurse practitioner, she rediscovered romance on the bedside tables of her favorite patients. Now she writes smart and emotional contemporary romance, imagining stories featuring the heroes and heroines just ahead of her in the coffee line. Mary Ann Rivers lives in the Midwest with her handsome professor husband and their imaginative school-aged son.

Connect with Mary Ann:  Website  |  Twitter |  Facebook


Click on the link below to be taken to the Rafflecopter giveaway generously sponsored by Loveswept Publishers:

A Rafflecopter Giveaway

The Story Guy Blog Tour

An Interview with Adam Mitzner: Author of A Case of Redemption

amitznerJoining me on the blog today is author Adam Mitzner.  I’ve had the pleasure of reading two of his novels now, A Conflict of Interest and more recently A Case of Redemption.  Adam has generously agreed to participate in an interview to learn more about him and his works.  Enjoy!

What made you choose a new character instead of continuing Alex’s story from A Conflict of Interest?

When I finished A Conflict of Interest I thought that Alex Miller’s story arc had come to a resting place, at least for the time being. I wanted to start with a new character who was also in the midst of crisis, but one that was different than the kind of struggle that Alex went through. I actually wrote an article on my feelings about stand-alones and sequels, which has more on my thinking, and can be found here.

What made you choose this particular plot line?  I know that in your acknowledgements you mention that both this book and A Conflict of Interest are very loosely autobiographical.  How much of it was based on your own cases?

I’ve never worked on a murder case, so that’s not the autobiographical part. The part that’s from my own life is more about the struggles the characters face. In Dan’s case it’s that sense of loss that he feels. I’ve thankfully never suffered anything as dramatic as he encounters, but I think everyone has those moments in life when things look particularly bleak. I was trying to tap in to that feeling of despair and write about someone trying to seek redemption for past mistakes.

redemption-pressWhat was your favorite part about writing Dan’s character?

The most interesting part was trying to get inside Dan’s head and understand that feeling of hitting rock bottom. Having everything one moment and then losing it all. And then going the next step to capture what it must be like if you thought that, on some level, you deserved it. The question I wanted to address was — how do you come back from that?

What was your favorite scene to write?

One of my closest friends is named Matt Brooks, and so I enjoyed writing the scenes with the Matt Brooks character. My friend Matt is a card player, and so I consulted him about the black jack scene with Matt Brooks.

And now a few questions about you as an author:

I can see from your bio that you didn’t start writing until after you began practicing law.  Was writing   always your first passion or did it develop over time?

I’ve always been interested in writing, and of course I write a great deal as a lawyer. However, it wasn’t something I studied in college and never actually tried to write any fiction until a few years ago. It is truly a passion now, however. As my family will attest, I’m writing all the time that I’m not practicing law.

What’s your favorite part about being a writer?

Truth is that I love so many different things about it. First, there’s nothing like hearing people tell you that you’ve entertained them. Just thinking about the fact that people are enjoying something I created is a remarkable, almost surreal, experience. But I also find the process of writing exhilarating. The combination of crafting the story, delving into the inner psyches of the characters and using language to make it come alive is something that’s exciting every time.

I see that A Fall From Grace will revisit Cromwell Altman, the law firm in A Conflict of Interest.  Can you tell us anything else about this upcoming work?

My next novel does indeed return to Cromwell Altman, this time following the head of the firm, Aaron Littman. As the title implies, the story focuses on his potential downfall. There are twists and turns a plenty, but what I’m most excited about is that my wife thinks it’s the best writing I’ve ever done.

Thanks again for joining us, Adam!

You can connect with Adam on his facebook, Twitter, or Website

An Interview With Paul Cornell: Author of London Falling

Recently I was given the awesome opportunity to interview Paul Cornell.  You may know him best as one of the writers of Doctor Who, who has won several Hugo awards for episodes that he has written.  Now, he is taking on a new project, an urban fantasy novel, entitled London Falling.  As a massive Doctor Who fan myself, I am very excited about this interview in general, and thankful that Paul has taken time out of his busy schedule to give us a glimpse into this new work.  So, without further adieu, here it is!

Hi Paul, thank you so much for agreeing to the interview! First, a few questions about you as a writer and London Falling:

Author Paul Cornell outside New Scotland Yard in London

Photo credit: Rob Monk

What inspired you to write London Falling?

I wanted to talk about modern life, and have fantasy onside when I did it.  I like the idea of professionals, in this case undercover Metropolitan Police officers, trying to use their training against something beyond them, in this case, magic and monsters.

What’s the biggest challenge you faced in writing this book?

The research, but that was made easier by knowing several police officers and intelligence analysts I could ask about their work.

How did you get into writing professionally?

I flunked out of an Astrophysics course, and had to find some way to make a living. There followed years of poverty, but I recommend it as a learning curve.

Do you base your characters off people in your actual life?

Bits here and there.  Very rarely a whole person.

If you could write for any series, what would it be and why?

You mean a TV series?  I’d love to do a Game of Thrones. But that’s trying to get onto a very small team.

sb10063436a-002Who are your literature inspirations?

Christopher Priest, Neil Gaiman, George RR Martin, Brian Aldiss, M. John Harrison, a lot of the New Wave of SF in the UK.

Now, a few questions about you as a sci-fi fan:

Are you a geek at heart, or does science fiction just come natural to you?

Is there an ‘or’ there?  I am a geek, and I try, now I have the luxury of that choice, to only write SF and fantasy.

I have to ask as a huge Doctor Who fan, who is your favorite Doctor?

Complicated.  I love Matt Smith.  Back in the day, it was a choice between Peter Davison and Sylvester McCoy.  That’s as close as I can get to an answer.

Do you enjoying writing literature more than you do for the screen?

Hugely.  Books are where the writer has sole responsibility.  Prose is my favourite way to write anything.  I hope to end my career as a novelist.  Hopefully not soon.

What did you think of The Avengers film, and can you see yourself ever doing any work in the Marvel cinematic universe?

I loved it.  Cracking shape.  Characterful and even arty, which is what we should expect of Joss. If they ask me, yeah, of course I’d do that.

Finally, a few general questions:

What is your favorite novel of all-time?

Light by M. John Harrison.

Do you have any feature films in the works?


How do you spend your time when you aren’t writing?

Following cricket, matters Fortean, looking after my little boy.

Are you currently reading any books or following any television series?

Loads!  Listening to Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal and Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman.  I consume most books on audio these days, on long walks with the baby.  My two favourite TV shows right now (apart from Doctor Who and Game of Thrones, which are more lifestyle choices), are Arrow and Person of Interest.

What advice do you have for us aspiring writers?

I sum it up in a sentence: ‘Your job is to seek out harsh criticism of your work and change as a result’.

Thank you for having me along!

Learn more about Paul Cornell by following him via:

Twitter: @Paul_Cornell
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The Joys and Perils of Adapting Austen by Claire LaZebnik, author of The Trouble With Flirting

I’m super happy to have author Claire LaZebnik on the blog today.  Claire is the author of several YA, women’s literature, and parenting books.  I had the pleasure of reading her first YA book Epic Faila modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, back in late 2011 and remember being so impressed with her ability to keep Austen’s works fresh and alive for a new audience.  Claire’s latest book, The Trouble With Flirting, is a modern adaptation of Mansfield Park.  Please join me in welcoming her as she discusses the joys and perils of adapting Jane Austen!

efI’ve had the great honor and pleasure of loosely adapting and modernizing three Austen novels for a young adult readership. I found different challenges in each book—plot twists or character traits that felt out-of-place in today’s world, and which I had to reimagine—but the romances and the emotions ring as true today as they ever did. (Which makes me think of Elizabeth Bennet’s line about Darcy: “In essentials, I believe, he is very much what he ever was.” Applies to human nature, too.)

Epic Fail is my update of Pride and Prejudice: I set it at a Los Angeles high school, and most of it felt right at home there. Take for example Lizzie Bennet’s refusal to swoon over Darcy like the other girls, just because he’s rich and attractive, a stance which leads her instead to believe the worst about him.

Jumping to unfair conclusions about someone you barely know? Yeah, I think we can all admit to doing that at least once or a thousand times back in high school.

Equally relatable is Elizabeth’s horror when her family embarrasses her out in public. We’ve all been there. There’s a reason we used to jump quickly in the car when our mother or father came to pick us up—we were hoping to close the door before they could actually say anything our friends might hear.

But some parts of P&P didn’t update so well. The first was the horror of Wickham and Lydia’s running away together. Let’s face it: an unmarried young man and young woman spending time alone (presumably having sex) isn’t quite the earthshattering event it was back in Austen’s day. I had to find something sleazy and disturbing and high school appropriate for Wickham to do that wasn’t that. My other challenge was finding a way to make Darcy a target of excessive attention and fawning: we don’t have the same kind of class system in America now that England did in the early 19th century.

In the end, I solved both problems at once: I realized that in modern-day Los Angeles, no one gets fawned on (or hounded) as much as celebrities and their children. The Darcy character became the son of two movie stars, and the Wickham character became someone determined to exploit that family’s fame—in some very icky ways.

ttwfWhen I turned my attention to Mansfield Park, I found a very different challenge. The storyline totally worked in today’s world—what teenage girl  hasn’t at some point felt overlooked and underappreciated by the object of her affection?—especially when I set it at a summer acting program where the main character has to work while everyone else gets to act and play.

But while Elizabeth Bennet feels very much like a girl who would be at home in today’s world, Mansfield Park’s Fanny Price most decidedly does not. She’s long-suffering, quiet, patient, faithful, weak, devout . . .


I’m sorry—I do honestly love little Fanny. Whenever I reread the novel, I root for her to be noticed and appreciated with every fiber of my being, and I wanted my own readers to feel equally passionate about my Franny (I added an “r”).  But for that to happen, I felt like I had to make some changes.

The original Fanny lived in a world where a poor girl’s only power came in attracting the right suitors and rejecting the wrong ones. I think we can all agree that times have—thankfully—changed. In my novel, Franny is very much a modern woman: strong, funny, self-sufficient, and capable of forging her own destiny.

What I didn’t realize was that changing her personality would also force me to alter the ending of my novel, which originally followed Austen’s closely. I don’t want to ruin The Trouble with Flirting for anyone who hasn’t read it, so I’ll just say that I couldn’t let Franny end up with someone who took too long to appreciate her.

Most recently, I finished up my third Austen-based YA novel, a tribute to Persuasion, tentatively titled The Last Best Kiss (due out from HarperTeen in summer, 2014). Ironically, this wistful novel about regret and lost youth was in many ways the easiest Austen to translate into today’s high school world. After all, who feels more pressure from her peers to go out with the “right” kind of guy than a teenager? And, while Anne Elliot may, like Fanny Price, watch helplessly from the sidelines as the man she loves chases after someone else, she’s also a very smart woman with a good head in a crisis. She actively redeems herself, while Fanny just waits. And waits . . . So that, too, made this adaptation easier than the previous one.

It’s been fascinating to see which aspects of Austen’s novels transcend time and which ones don’t. Communication has changed drastically in the last two hundred years: we no longer have to wait days for precious information. We entertain ourselves differently: no more balls, with their elaborate rules and customs; instead we group ourselves around a computer and watch YouTube videos. We don’t defer to our “superiors” in wealth and class—in fact, we’ll fight anyone who would even dare to call himself our superior. And women’s control over their destinies is no longer limited to whom they choose to marry.

But when it comes to our emotional lives—to the ways in which we fall in love, experience regret, feel embarrassed and also cherished by our families, and nurture hope for our futures—in those, we are in essentials, very much what we ever were.

DSC_0395_2Author Bio:

Claire LaZebnik has written two novels for HarperTeen, Epic Fail and The Trouble with Flirting, with a third (tentatively titled The Last Best Kiss) due out summer 2014. She has also written five novels for adults, including Knitting under the Influence and The Smart One and the Pretty One. With Dr. Lynn Kern Koegel, she co-wrote the nonfiction books Overcoming Autism and Growing up on the Spectrum. She contributed to an anthology play called Motherhood Out Loud, and has been published in The New York Times, Self, Vogue and other magazines. She currently lives in the Pacific Palisades with her husband Rob, who’s a co-executive producer for The Simpsons, and their four kids. Her website is

Guest Post by M.J. Rose, Author of Seduction – Blog Tour

Stopping by the blog today is M.J. Rose, author of Seduction, the fifth book in her Reincarnationist series. (My review is here)  In Seduction a grieving woman discovers the lost letters of Victor Hugo.  As such, it’s no surprise that M.J. Rose has written her guest posts about Hugo and his art.


Gradually, they began to talk. Overflow succeeded to silence, which is fullness. The night was serene and glorious above their heads. These two beings, pure as spirits, told each other everything, their dreams, their frenzies, their ecstasies, their chimeras, their despondencies, how they had adored each other from afar, how they had longed for each other, their despair when they had ceased to see each other. They had confided to each other in an intimacy of the ideal, which already, nothing could have increased, all that was most hidden and most mysterious in themselves. They told each other, with a candid faith in their illusions, all that love, youth and the remnant of childhood that was theirs, brought to mind. These two hearts poured themselves out to each other, so that at the end of an hour, it was the young man who had the young girl’s soul and the young girl who had the soul of the young man. They interpenetrated, they enchanted, they dazzled each other.

When they had finished, when they had told each other everything, she laid her head on his shoulder, and asked him: “What is your name?”

My name is Marius,” he said. “And yours?”
My name is Cosette.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables  

Excerpt from SEDUCTION – Chapter 14   Jac and Theo at Blixer Rath

It was her first kiss and her whole body shivered, but not because she was frightened. Not now. It was as if a hundred perfume bottles all spilled out at the same time. As if the fragrance notes were meeting in the air and mixing and mingling and turning into music. She was suddenly attuned to scents and tones and sounds and tastes and touch in a brand-new way. With sensors that had been sleeping until this very moment.

M.J. RoseAuthor Bio

M.J. Rose is the international best selling author of eleven novels and two non-fiction books on marketing. Her fiction and non-fiction has appeared in many magazines and reviews including Oprah Magazine. She has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, Time, USA Today and on the Today Show, and NPR radio.  Rose graduated from Syracuse University, spent the ’80s in advertising, has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and since 2005 has run the first marketing company for authors –  The television series PAST LIFE, was based on Rose’s novels in the Renincarnationist series. She is one of the founding board members of International Thriller Writers and runs the blog- Buzz, Balls & Hype.  She is also the co-founder of and

Rose lives in CT with her husband the musician and composer, Doug Scofield, and their very spoiled and often photographed dog, Winka.

For more information on M.J. Rose and her novels, please visit her WEBSITE. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Continue following M.J. Rose on her virtual book tour around the web.  A full listing of all tour spots is here.  You can also follow on Twitter by searching the hashtag: #SeductionVirtualTour

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An Interview With Marie Brennan: Author of A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent

Marie BrennanJoining me on the blog today is Marie Brennan, author of A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent. We discuss DRAGONS!

Your book, A Natural History of Dragons, is a fictional memoir of a dragon naturalist. Why did you decide to tell this story in the style of a memoir?

It fit the setting, which is modeled after the real-world nineteenth century. But mostly, it was that I started writing in the first person, and it naturally fell into a retrospective mode — Isabella as an old woman, talking about what she did in her youth. Approaching it that way lets me play the two timelines off one another, taking advantage of her later perspective while also exploring the recklessness and energy that comes with being young.

Were any of the characters in your book inspired by historical figures?

Not directly, no, though I was definitely influenced by a variety of women in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries who distinguished themselves as scholars — Ada Lovelace, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Elizabeth Carter, and so on.

Ironically, there’s one person who should have been an inspiration, but I only became aware of her after I’d already started writing: Isabella Bird. She wasn’t a scientist, but she traveled all over the world and published a number of books about the places she visited, which included Hawai’i, Japan, Malaysia, and the American West. You might think my own Isabella is named after her, but the truth is that it’s just serendipity; my protagonist was originally going to be called Victoria. Very early on, though — possibly before I even started writing; I don’t quite remember — I decided that just didn’t feel right. On impulse, I changed it to Isabella . . . and then later learned about Isabella Bird, who bears so many similarities to my protagonist.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in writing this book?

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Illustrations by Todd Lockwood

Making the world work. I’m an anthropologist; I don’t mind researching cultures and so on, and I did a lot of period research for the Onyx Court books. But with my protagonist being a natural historian, I needed the natural environment to hang together. Which meant spending a lot of time with a climatology textbook, trying to figure out what kind of weather my geography would produce (and how to create geography for the weather I want), then looking up the animals that would be part of that ecology, and so on. It was enough to make me wonder from time to time whether I’d rather go back to writing in the real world after all . . . .

What is your favorite character or moment in A Natural History of Dragons?

Most of the answers to that would be spoilers! For those who have read the book, though, I’ll say my favorite moment is probably the bit in the cavern — that seems like a relatively discreet way to refer to it. For those who haven’t read the book, I’ll say that a close second is the menagerie scene early on, where she meets Jacob. That scene is the first point at which you really get a full-bore dragon showing up in the story, and back when I was first playing around with this idea, it really brought the whole world to life in my mind.

How do you spend your time when you are not writing?

I watch a fair amount of TV and movies — usually while doing other tasks that require less of my concentration — and recently I’ve started playing piano again. My main hobby, though, is role-playing games. Stories are my favorite form of entertainment, and that’s a way to enjoy them with friends. Which is important when you work from home, and can easily go all day without seeing anyone other than your husband!

Is there a historical era you are especially drawn to that you enjoy researching and reading about?

Several. Obviously I have a fair interest in English history, having covered the Elizabethan period up through the Victorian in the Onyx Court books, and then branching sideways into the pseudo-Victorian setting of Isabella’s memoirs. But I’m also very much interested in pre-Meiji Japan, and Republican/Imperial Rome, and Mesoamerica (the Mayans and the Aztecs), and Viking-era Scandinavia . . . I could keep going, but I won’t. I want to learn more about China and India, too, but haven’t gotten very far with those two yet.

What book(s) are you reading now?

Spirit’s Princess, by Esther Friesner, which is set in prehistoric Japan; Farah Mendlesohn’s excellent Rhetorics of Fantasy; the YA Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis; and Neal Stephenson’s Quicksilver. Plus back issues of the online magazine Beneath Ceaseless Skies (I fell behind while finishing the next book of Isabella’s memoirs), which makes for little bite-sized bits in between work sessions.

Would you care to share your favorite books from your childhood?


Illustrations by Todd Lockwood

Diana Wynne Jones — very nearly everything she ever wrote, but especially The Lives of Christopher Chant, The Homeward Bounders, Eight Days of Luke, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Fire and Hemlock, which is the book that inspired me to become a writer. Also The Secret Garden, which I sort of persistently read as fantasy even though it isn’t; I had that tendency a fair bit, with books like The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (another excellent children’s writer overall).

Do you have a current book obsession—one that you shove in the face of your friends and demand they read?

The same one I’ve had for a while now: Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles. They’re historical fiction (set in mid-sixteenth-century Europe), but they’ve influenced a lot of fantasy writers — and they’re really just brilliant. Not easy to get into, mind you; Dunnett’s writing style is very dense and kind of opaque, and it took me a while to learn how to process it. But once I got the hang of it, she blew the top of my skull off.

Lastly, which dragon would you most like to hang out with: Elliot of Pete’s Dragon, Puff the Magic Dragon, or The Reluctant Dragon?

I’m going to have to go with the Reluctant Dragon. Apart from my fondness for English folklore (and the fact that I’ve been to the hill where George is said to have killed his dragon), who doesn’t love a dragon that likes to read books?

If you’re interested in learning more about Marie or her novel, see the links below! If you would like to download a copy of the book cover as wallpaper for your computer, you can click here.

Marie Brennan Bio: Marie Brennan is a former academic with a background in archaeology, anthropology, and folklore, which she now puts to rather cockeyed use in writing fantasy. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to many short stories and novellas, she is also the author of A Star Shall Fall and With Fate Conspire (both from Tor Books), as well as WarriorWitchMidnight Never ComeIn Ashes Lie, and Lies and Prophecy. You can find her online at

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An Interview with Paige Dearth: Author of Believe Like a Child

believelikeachildHi everyone!  As you may remember, a little while ago I reviewed a book entitled Believe Like a Child by Paige Dearth (review link is here).  Paige has graciously agreed to an interview about the book and being an author in general.  At the end of the interview she’s provided information about her upcoming work, When Smiles Fade, which comes out in February.  Be sure to look out for it!

Again, many thanks to Paige for participating in the interview.  Here it is:

What made you decide to write this work in the first place?  Did you originally set out to write a character like Alessa?

The reason behind writing Believe Like A Child was my desire for people to understand the darkness children are forced to live when they are being sexually abused.  It’s difficult for anyone to imagine that an adult can do such horrible things to children.  But they do and it happens more than we care to believe.  I wrote this book as fiction so that I could weave a story of real-life and make-believe in an effort to convey an important message while entertaining readers.

Before I put a single word on paper I knew how I wanted to portray Alessa.  She was after all, the most important character to me.  Alessa, like so many abused children possessed an inner strength that just needed some encouragement to help her reach her potential.  I worked hard on Alessa to strike the right balance in making her a victim and a survivor.  Years before I actually wrote this novel, I envisioned Alessa exactly how I depicted her.  The response from readers about Alessa has been heartwarming for me.

Throughout the book there are many moments of despair that Alessa faces, yet there are also occasional moments of hope.  Were Alessa’s experiences (good and bad) modeled after your own?

The first part of the novel, at the point where Alessa runs away from her home, were based on my own experiences.  For the remainder of the story, I took the feelings that I had experienced throughout my life and created situations for the protagonist that would evoke those same emotions in my readers.  So, you could say that I backed into the scenes of despair and hope based on the emotional response that I wanted to get across.  I should also mention that Ebby, Lucy and Remo are exaggerated versions of real people who saved me from what could have been a horrible fate.  Today, the three of them remain as pillars of strength in my life.

Besides Alessa, who did you think was the most interesting character to write?

The cameo appearance by Denise, the Rope Bully, was especially interesting for me.  As children and adults, there are people who come into our lives that prejudge us.  Denise believed that Alessa’s life was perfect because she didn’t show her miserable existence outwardly.  There is a character like Denise in just about everyone’s life.  Some of us knew him/her as a kid and some of us knew him/her from the workplace when we became adults.  Denise was so busy trying to establish her status and importance, making herself feel powerful, that she alienated everyone and had no one who really cared about her.  People associated with her out of fear rather than respect, which says little for the character of that person.  Denise represented the intolerance and lack of self-awareness that is needed to embrace humanity and is a character that most of us knew at one time or another.

How did you decide to end the book in the way you did?  Was it because you wanted to convey a sense of realism as to how the stories of many people like Alessa end?

The ending of the book was purely cathartic for me.  Alessa’s actions were based on her emotions that she no longer had control over.  She finally reached her limit and did the only thing she could do to fight the demons that had been such a significant part of her life.

What’s your favorite part about writing?

When I’m writing my stories and they begin to play like a movie in my head, but one where I can make happen what I desire.  When I write, all time stands still and I get to live moments of heartache and joy as the scenes unfold.  There were times when I was writing Believe Like A Child and I was laughing out loud or typing the words through gut wrenching sobs.  There is no greater joy than being submerged in a sea of words and stringing them together to create a story that gives rise to a deep emotional connection in readers.

What made you decide to become a writer?  Are you inspired by any other authors?

Even at a young age I kept a journal.  Honestly, I love to write…it doesn’t matter if it’s a grocery list, addressing cards or developing a novel.  Writing feels natural to me.  I really believe that I have stories in me that people will want to read.  I love to keep readers on the edge of their seat and wanting to know what will happen next.  When a reader tells me how much they loved my book I feel as though I’ve shared a piece of myself with them.

I’m inspired by several authors…the first book I ever read, A Woman Of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford, is my favorite book of all time.  Maybe it’s because it was the first novel I had read but, I think it’s more likely because the protagonist of the story was able to rise above her dismal circumstances and humble beginnings.

Another author that deserves a huge shout out is James Patterson.  Having read many of his novels I think he is clever and engaging.  In an interview with the New York Times, on January 20, 2010, Patterson said something that resonated with me: “If you want to write for yourself, get a diary. If you want to write for a few friends, get a blog. But if you want to write for a lot of people, think about them a little bit. What do they like? What are their needs? A lot of people in this country go through their days numb. They need to be entertained. They need to feel something.”

I agree with James Patterson and am inspired to make people “feel” something when they read my novels.

Do you have any new works planned for the future?

Definitely!  My second novel, When Smiles Fade, will be released in early February 2013.  This novel is about a young girl named Emma who was unloved from the moment she was born.  Her earliest memory is being severely beaten by her father, Pepper Murphy, when she was eight-years-old.

Emma’s father’s cold-blooded beatings and the ultimate abuse to which he subjects her, lays the foundation of the person she becomes. As she matures into a resourceful teenager, she is unwilling and unable to stifle her desire for revenge.

In addition to my second book, I have just finished the outline of my third novel.  I have a book title in mind, but it’s still too early to know for sure.  My third book is about a young child who is kidnapped from a mall and forced into human trafficking…that’s all I can share…for now…

Please check out my website at to read the beginnings of Believe Like A Child and When Smiles Fade.