Enid Wilson’s retelling of Pride and Prejudice has a steamy angelic twist

Today I’m delighted to welcome Enid Wilson, one of my colleagues from last year’s Blog Book Tours course. Enid’s book Really Angelic: Pride and Prejudice with a paranormal twist arrived in today’s mail, and I’ve had a hard time putting it down long enough to write this post.

Really Angelic is a melding of three genres I’m unaccustomed to reading: it’s a retelling of a Jane Austen novel, it has a strong supernatural aspect, and it’s over-the-top romantic and sexy. Enid explores what would have happened if Elizabeth Bennet were actually Darcy’s guardian angel. I’ve read about a third of the book, and Elizabeth is still somewhat perplexed by her newfound powers, including the ability to sprout wings and fly when the occasion demands. She and Darcy have already had some steamy and highly explicit encounters, but they haven’t fully consummated their relationship. They’ve just been abducted by highwaymen . . .

Enid has me hooked, and I can’t wait to see what happens next. I also plan to reread Pride and Prejudice. I became newly intrigued by Jane Austen when I saw the wonderful exhibit about her at the Morgan Library in New York City last December, and I wrote about her early self-published status in my December 4th, titled “Was Jane Austen a professional writer? Not according to the Mystery Writers of America.” I hope you’ll check it out, and by all means, leave some comments for Enid on today’s post.

 Enid sent me this article about the mother-daughter relationship in Pride and Prejudice. Read to the end to learn how to win a copy of Really Angelic!

 MOTHER AND DAUGHTER

“Come here, child,” cried her father as she appeared.  “I have sent for you on an affair of importance.  I understand that Mr. Collins has made you an offer of marriage.  Is it true?”  Elizabeth replied that it was.  “Very well–and this offer of marriage you have refused?”

 “I have, sir.”

“Very well.  We now come to the point.  Your mother insists upon your accepting it.  Is it not so, Mrs. Bennet?”

“Yes, or I will never see her again.”

“An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth.  From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents.  Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do.” – Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 20.

If you still remember Pride and Prejudice, one of the most interesting issues of the book was Elizabeth Bennet’s relationship with her parents, especially her mother. Mrs Bennet “disliked” her for refusing to marry the heir of Longbourn Mr. Collins, thus failing to save the family from destitute should Mr. Bennet met his destiny.

Many Pride and Prejudice retelling stories explore this aspect to the fullest. On the one hand, there are stories which found Mrs. Bennet to be a woman of sense and took care of her daughters financial needs while her neglectful husband hid in the library with his books.

On the other hand, there are many scenarios which talked about Mrs. Bennet’s dislike of Elizabeth:

  •  Mrs. Bennet tried to drug Lizzy and compromised her with a rich suitor
  • She tried to kill Elizabeth because her second daughter happened to be alive, while the male twin heir was a still born
  • She tried to sell Lizzy to Mr. Darcy to repay a debt

Ecstasy of St. Theresa by Bernini

In my latest novel, Really Angelic, Pride and Prejudice with a paranormal twist, I’ve given a reason for Mrs. Bennet’s fluttering about Lizzy’s escapades and marrying well.

Elizabeth is in fact an angel fallen from Heaven found by Mrs. Bennet, as a “compensation” for a goddess snatching away her baby Lizzy.

Too far fetched? It may be. But that’s a retelling. In the beginning of the novel, mother and daughter had a similar relationship as in Jane Austen’s original tale but towards the end of the novel when Lizzy’s life was threatened, her mother’s genuine love for her was shown.

Below is an adapted excerpt from Really Angelic about this.

         “Lizzy! Oh, my Lizzy, you are safe!” Mrs. Bennet, rushing to her side, hugged her tightly and sobbed aloud. “I cannot bear it if you are taken away from me again.”

          Elizabeth was stunned. Her mother did not consider her the favourite and had seldom shown her much affection. She knew that her mother loved her, in her own peculiar way, but she was very touched by her expression of worry over her safety. Elizabeth hugged her back.

       “Come, Fanny, we should go inside.” Mr. Bennet said. Elizabeth was surprised at the tender tone of his voice.

       “I do not see the reason for all this fuss and the rush,” a new voice said, and Elizabeth turned to see her youngest sister Lydia jumping down from the coach. “Lizzy, did the highwaymen ravish you? Did you enjoy it? Were they handsome?”

        At that, Mrs. Bennet gasped and swooned.

Well, what do you think of the relationship of Elizabeth with her parents, in the original Pride and Prejudice or some of the retelling stories?

Enid is delighted to offer a paperback copy of Really Angelic to one of you. Warning: The book contains mature content and is not for the Jane Austen purist. Just tell us what you think by commenting below before 5 February and you have a chance to win the book. Entry opens to worldwide readers. To read more about Enid’s books, you can visit http://steamydarcy.com

A Dialogue with my Inner Critic

Pablo Picasso

There’s nothing like a deadline to jolt my muse awake, and today I have two of them. Tonight is the fifth anniversary of Poets Speak Loud, an open mic at Tess’ Lark Tavern. After the reading, they’ll walk to nearby Washington Park to toss a beret onto the head of the Robert Burns statue in honor of the late social activist and poet Tom Nattell. I wanted to write something new for the occasion rather than recycle one of my old poems. I also need something new to submit to Oriel, the annual literary magazine for my Unitarian Universalist congregation.

I haven’t written a new poem in months, not since I became obsessed with blogging. What to do? I decided to write a dialogue with the nasty Inner Critic who continues to plague me daily. Here it is:

Golden Years (a dialogue with my inner critic)

Monday morning, and my calendar’s nearly blank.  

I’m truly blessed, free to follow my bliss wherever it leads.

            Your bliss won’t take you far, not till Social Security

            replenishes your account tomorrow.

Hey, I’m not talking big-time travel here, I’m talking feeling states.

I’ve paid my dues and earned these Golden Years.

            Golden? That’s rich – you have to scrimp and save.

            No raise this year – the benefits are frozen.

Speaking of frozen, today looks good for skiing. Maybe I’ll play hooky,

drive to Jiminy Peak. The view of the Berkshires from the top is gorgeous.

            Yeah, right, it’s skiing down that stinks. You want to break a leg?

            Besides, the wind chill’s minus ten below.

I guess you’re right – I’ll hit the Y instead, go to my Nia class,

then do the weight machines.

            Why bother? You’ve been doing that draggy routine for years –

             you’re still as fat as ever. You’ll never be as skinny as those other women.

But there’s still hope – I’m in the weight loss program, Lose to Win.

I’m journaling my diet, e-mailing the instructor everything I eat and drink.

            That’s a crock – you know you cheat and leave the bad stuff out.

            You haven’t lost a pound.

 

I’m feeling great now that I’ve done my workout, eaten my sardines

on Wasa crackers with V8 – it’s finally time to write.

            And miss your favorite soap? Give me a break!

            John is in jail, they’ve kidnapped Jessica. You’ve got to see what happens.

No, I’ll be strong and write my blog post now, then start that chapter

for my latest opus. One Life To Live can wait – I’ll catch it on SoapNet later.

            Why not give up those writing dreams for good? Nobody’s reading anymore,

            they’re all too busy with their blogs and Tweets and Facebook status updates.

Yes, it’s a grand new global world. People are visiting my blog in droves,

saying how they love my writing. Three hundred visitors some days.

            How does that translate into book sales? Hah – it doesn’t, does it?

            I’ve seen your royalty statements – they’re pathetic. Play Solitaire instead.

No, it’s addictive and it brings me down! How can I get you out of my head for good?

I know – I’ll write a poem about my golden years and all my blissful options.

            You haven’t written poetry in ages. It’ll be garbage,

            but no one will know the difference, not if you read it at an open mic.

Hey, that’s an idea! There’s one tonight – Poets Speak Loud, at Tess’s Lark Tavern.

They always clap and cheer, and say how cool I am.

            They’ve got no class, and probably they’re drunk. Oh no, I’m feeling faint.

            I think I’m going out of your head . . .

Good riddance, Doppelganger!

©2010 Julie Lomoe

I took poetic license with the ski conditions – it’s pouring rain throughout the Capital Region and the Berkshires, and Jiminy’s closed today. Last night, when I began this poem, I didn’t realize how devastating this January rain storm would be. The radio is blasting flood warnings for Stratton and Bromley in southern Vermont. I wonder if all that machine-made snow will contribute to the flooding as it flows off the mountains. What if that were a motive for murder on the slopes . . .

Oh well, back to the subject of dialogues and inner critics. This is a great technique I learned many years ago, and a wonderful way of jump starting your creativity. I’ll blog more about it on Wednesday. For now, I’m off to the Lark Tavern and Mary Panza’s wonderful open mic, Poets Speak Loud. I’m looking forward to a fabulous blue cheese bacon burger too. And no, I won’t report it in my diet log.

Support The Egg – Don’t let the music die!

The New York State Budget proposed by Governor David Paterson this week eliminates funding for The Egg, by far my favorite venue for live music in the Capital Region. I’ve volunteered as an usher at The Egg for several years now, and I can’t begin to count the number of fabulous shows I’ve enjoyed there. These come to mind off the top of my head: David Byrne, Brian Wilson, Ray Davies, Ani DeFranco, Lyle Lovett, Ben Folds, The Tragically Hip, Gregg Allman – and that’s just within the past year!

Brian Wilson

This afternoon the staff at The Egg sent out an e-mail SOS asking volunteers to write or e-mail Governor Paterson and other legislators asking that this funding be restored, and I decided to pass the information along on my blog. The proposed budget contains many disastrous cuts; health care and education are especially affected. Support for the performing arts may appear lower on the list of priorities, but our lives would be bleak indeed without them. The presence of an adventurous venue like The Egg adds immeasurably to the quality of life in the Capital region.

The Tragically Hip

As a volunteer, I enjoy most of these concerts for free. Nonetheless, last spring I was so knocked out by the quality of the programming that I became a paying member of The Egg as well. (This enables me to get first dibs on tickets to newly announced shows, too, in case I want to guarantee myself a seat, kick back and enjoy the concert as a paying patron for a change.)

Other arts organizations that receive my modest donations include the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, the Arts Center of the Capital Region, and WEXT-FM, aka EXIT 97.7, the alternative rock station that operates under the auspices of the classical station WMHT.

Don’t just pay lip service to the arts – support them in every way you can.

To read the appeal from The Egg, including contact information, please click below.

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Rebecca Cantrell’s mysteries explore Berlin in the 1930’s

Rebecca Cantrell

I’m delighted to welcome Rebecca Cantrell as today’s guest blogger. She writes the critically acclaimed Hannah Vogel mystery series set in 1930s Berlin, including A Trace of Smoke and A Night of Long Knives. Her screenplays “A Taste For Blood” and “The Humanitarian” have been finalists at Shriekfest: The Los Angeles Horror/Sci-fi Film Festival. Her short stories are included the “Missing” and the upcoming “First Thrills” anthologies. Currently, she lives in Hawaii with her husband, her son, and too many geckoes to count. You can learn more at her website, http://www.rebeccacantrell.com.

The following essay first appeared as part of the Poisoned Pen Web Con last fall. I moderated two panels for the event as well, and I blogged about it on October 21st.  You can still check out the proceedings online at www.ppwebcon.com – there’s lots of great reading there.

Where Do I Get My Ideas?

By Rebecca Cantrell

The idea for my first novel, A TRACE OF SMOKE, captured my imagination almost thirty years ago. I was living in Berlin, a city crammed with ghosts and stories, but the idea came to me when I left it.

I went on a Spring Break trip to Munich. Unlike my more well-adjusted peers, I skipped out on the drinking and went to Dachau. Because everyone else was swilling beer and gulping pretzels, I had the place to myself.

Wind moaned through the open wooden barracks and I shivered in my 1980s fashionable black leather ankle boots as I clomped through the buildings. It gets dark early in Germany in the spring, especially on an overcast day, and I wished for a flashlight to drive away the shadows and ghosts.

But I had none, so I headed inside and stopped in front of a plain wall. It held a row of colored triangles worn by actual prisoners: yellow, red, green, blue, purple, pink, brown, and black scraps of fabric. Above each now faded triangle, thick Gothic letters spelled out the categories: Jewish, political prisoner, habitual criminals, emigrant, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, gypsies, and asocials (a catchall term used for murderers, thieves, and those who violated the laws prohibiting Aryans from having intercourse with Jews).

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Travel bragging: Self-indulgence or artist’s date?

Wassily Kandinsky

People who regale others with tales of their travels are one of my pet peeves. In part, sheer jealousy’s to blame. My budget doesn’t allow for gallivanting around the globe, and folks who brag about their various excursions strike me as insensitive to those of us in their captive audiences who may have less discretionary income.

Besides, too much travel bores me. As an author and artist, I’m much happier creating new work of my own than engaging in passive appreciation of others’ creations at museums and galleries, and lounging around in bars or on beaches just doesn’t do it for me. And is taking a break from daily routine truly restorative? For me, it wreaks havoc with my natural rhythm, and I often need a day of recuperation before getting back into my normal groove. On the other hand, “artist’s dates,” as Julia Cameron calls them, can help replenish our creative wells.

Nonetheless, this past week I went AWOL from my blog and treated myself to a few days of self-indulgence right here in New York and New England. In part because of looming deadlines, I took four trips in four days – skiing on Monday and Wednesday, New York City on Tuesday and Thursday. I had coupons for free lift tickets I’d picked up at the Warren Miller extreme skiing movie before Christmas, and the one for Windham expired on January 15th, so I drove southwest into the Catskills on Monday, blasting my recently acquired reissues of the Beatles’ Rubber Soul and Revolver all the way down and back.

Tuesday I caught the 7am double-decker Megabus to New York City and spent five hours at the Guggenheim, taking in the Kandinsky retrospective the day before it closed. Trudging repeatedly up and down Frank Lloyd Wright’s ramp, I found I’d come through Monday’s exertions on the mountain in surprisingly good shape. Wednesday meant another 7am bus, this one to Stratton Mountain in southern Vermont with the Out of Control Ski Club to take advantage of another freebie. The view from the mountain top was magnificent, and I shared a memorable gondola ride with six men, whom I regaled with my ideas for a short story or perhaps a scene in my next novel featuring a gondola murder. They came up with some pretty good plot twists of their own. Then there was the aging ski instructor in the bar . . . but that’s fodder for another post.

Thursday’s jaunt was triggered by the need to visit my 80-year-old brother in the Bronx, plus my husband’s decision to attend a college reunion party in SoHo, our old Lower Manhattan neighborhood. Since we fled the city in 1979, the area has turned into an overpriced luxury mall with endless designer boutiques and trendy restaurants. But the Broome Street Bar where we had our second and more significant “cute meet” remains essentially unchanged since 1973. Oops, I sense another post coming on . . .

So there, I’ve indulged in exactly what I said I hated – travel bragging. I admit there’s a certain smug satisfaction in writing about my relatively privileged life. No, I can’t afford those cruises that cost thousands, but I’m fortunate to have the wherewithal to indulge myself on occasion. And these excursions – especially the solo trips where I’m accountable to no one – definitely restore my soul and spirit. They’re what Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way describes as “artist’s dates.” We artists and writers deserve them – they help replenish our wells of creativity, and they need not cost a fortune.

What about you? Have you treated yourself to an “artist’s date” lately? If so, what was it? And if not, why not? I’d love to read your comments here.

Burning resolutions: lose weight, conquer clutter. So what else is new?

Why have I been procrastinating for over two days about this New Year’s blog post? Probably because one of my biggest resolutions, as always, is to quit procrastinating. This is the first year I’ve vowed to send my resolutions out into the world via my blog, and that makes committing to them in writing all the more difficult. It’s already January 3rd, and I’ve broken several already, but since they were only in my head, not on paper, that hardly counts, right?

Wrong. I’ve spent the first days of the New Year basically goofing off and feeling guilty about it. But the holiday weekend’s almost over and it’s time to get down to business. Last week I broke my self-imposed “no Facebook quizzes” rule and created a “How well do you know Julie Lomoe?”* questionnaire. Here was my first question:

1) What’s my most burning resolution for the coming year?

a) To conquer my cluttering habit once and for all

b) To lose 20 pounds

c) To start making significant money from my writing

d) To sell the paintings I showed at Woodstock 1969

e) All the above

The correct answer, as my granddaughter Kaya correctly guessed, was “All the above,” but some of the resolutions are more burning than others. I could easily fill a blog post with each one of them, but today I’ll tackle just two.

Weight loss: this is an annual pro forma goal, forever unattainable because I seem to be stuck at a comfortable set point and I enjoy wine, cheese and pizza too much to put myself on a deprivation diet. My husband and I are enrolled in a “Lose to Win” program at the local YMCA, and he lost 13 pounds in the last eight weeks, while I lost a big fat goose-egg zero, although our diets are very similar. Yes, I know men lose weight more easily than women, who are genetically programmed to build up more stores of fat, but it’s so unfair, it makes me feel even more like eating!

Of the four resolutions, weight loss is definitely the least burning. Now that I’m spending so much more time online with my butt firmly planted in my chair, it’s become even more difficult. I’ve cut back on career building via personal appearances and networking, so I have less motivation to get into my “dress for success” clothes. Bathrobes and sweat suits cover a multitude of sins!

Conquering clutter: here’s another resolution I make annually, but it takes on added urgency with time, because unlike my weight, which remains fairly constant, the volume and density of the clutter grow substantially every year. Most of it’s paper and books, but I have clothes dating back to the 1960s. For years I’ve mulled over the possibility of using the fabrics in quilts or collages, but I’ve come to the realization that’s probably never going to happen. Then there are all the supplies for various long abandoned craft projects. My husband threw out all the silk flowers, but I’ve still got half a room full of beading and jewelry supplies, and I know I’ll get back to them one of these days.

Has anyone here watched “Hoarders”? It’s a reality show that airs on A&E every Monday at 10pm. As the website describes it, “Each 60-minute episode of Hoarders is a fascinating look inside the lives of two different people whose inability to part with their belongings is so out of control that they are on the verge of a personal crisis.” Many of these folks are mentally ill and at serious risk of having their houses condemned or losing custody of their children because of their cluttering habits. In each episode, a clinical psychologist, an organizing expert and a team of junk removers make home visits to help them mend their ways.

I’m not nearly at the level of the woman who was surprised to find two dead, squashed cats buried in all the garbage, but the show is enough to strike terror into my heart and inspire me to modify my hoarding behavior. Speaking of which, this post is long enough – I think I’ll go conquer some clutter!

How about you – do you have any resolutions you’d like to share? Do you believe New Year’s resolutions are a good thing, or would you rather forget about them and avoid the guilt trip? I’d love to hear from you.

*Kaya’s the one who inspired me to create this quiz, after I took hers and my daughter’s. Several writer friends have been sending them out as well. They take only a few minutes to create, and they’re an interesting way of exploring your own priorities and learning more about your Facebook friends. If you’d like to take mine and find a link for creating your own, visit my profile on Facebook and you’ll find the quiz on the lower left.

**I’m not acquainted with the cat in the photo, but he/she reminds me a lot of my beloved Lunesta. I recently bought her a soft, fuzzy pet bed and placed it on my desk near my computer. She loves to sleep in it, and it partially solves the problem of her lounging all over the desk and knocking papers down. Lunesta’s more of a tabby, and her hair’s shorter, but she’s the most marvellous cat in the world, of course.