Happy New Year! Is there any day of the year when introspection, gratitude, remembrance, and hopeful expectation collide quite as forcefully as January 1 when the blank page of a new year full of aspirations lies before us? Personally, I don’t think so.
SecondSoundLyrics. “PENTATONIX – NEW YEARS DAY (LYRICS).” YouTube, YouTube, 24 Oct. 2015, youtu.be/ZsJt7j96n0s.
For me, the end of one year and the beginning of another is a time to pause and look back at the year which has been before pushing forward with new plans and goals. I’ll limit this post to just looking back at my writing life, and still, this will likely be a longish post.
I tried some new things in 2017.
I wrote my first Touches of Austen novella, His Beautiful Bea. This was a personal success for me as I have always wanted to do Austenesque and original stories in addition to my Jane Austen Fan Fiction work. From a business standpoint, the book was not a great success. It sold very few copies (only 72 copies) so far. However, it has 8 Amazon reviews and a perfect 5-star rating, so that’s pretty good. And I know that new things take time to catch on. I’m not giving up on my Touches of Austen books. I have plans for another one to be published at some point this year.
I wrote my first JAFF non-Pride and Prejudice book this year. Henry: To Prove Himself Worthy is a Mansfield Park continuation and part of my Other Pens Collection. This story is the beginning of a short series of books that will use some Austen characters but will be rather original in their content with new characters and plots. I was quite pleased with this book. I never thought I could like Henry Crawford, but I changed my mind. I adore him in this book. He’s really turned himself around. However, he’s not all that popular with readers as he sold fewer copies than Bea’s story did (63 copies), and his story has only 7 Amazon reviews with a lower average rating score of 4.6. However, like the Touches of Austen stories, I am not giving up on this series either, and I do have plans to write the next book in the series this year.
I have also started a Patreon page and have a few supporters there. 🙂 I have just completed posting One Winter’s Eve there. One Winter’s Eve is currently with my first reader being checked for story element errors and is scheduled to be published in late January.
I have also begun a shop, Bonny Lass Creatives, at Society6 and have been slowly “filling the shelves.” I look forward to the creative outlet adding to my shop will provide.
Henry and Bea were not the only members in the Leenie B Books publishing class of 2017 🙂 It was a busy year!
I’ve already told you that my new venture books were not bestsellers — they kind of came in at the bottom of the sales list as in they were the two books that sold the least number of copies 🙂 But what about the books that sold the most this year? Which books did more readers decide to purchase? Well, I had a bit of fun with that and created this little video of the top ten bestsellers. You’ll notice that not all the bestsellers are members of the class of 2017, some are second-year books. 🙂
So that’s a little look back. Now, to look toward the year ahead. I hope to publish 8 books this year (not counting any Thursday Three Hundred stories). Two of those will be the ones mentioned above (One Other Pens book, One Touches of Austen book) and then the others? Well, my imagination will lead me as I go. 🙂
One Winter’s Eve will be the first book published in 2018, and Enticing Miss Darcy will be the first book written in 2018. I hope that these and several other of my books will find their way to your reading list for the year. To help you create your reading list, I have written a fun little list of reading recommendations that I have always followed and will continue to follow called…
The Sassy Girl’s Definitive Guide to What to Read in 2018 and Every Year ThereAfter[A little preface to the list: To be perfectly honest, this list was written in response to seeing one too many posts on Facebook one year such as “10 books you must read.” (Um, no I don’t have to read them.) OR “12 books that you won’t be able to put down because they’re that good.” (Um, are you gluing it to my hand? How do you know I will like it beyond the first page? Who are you to tell me what I will or won’t like — what I should or shouldn’t like?). Click-baity titles like this are a pet peeve of mine. 🙂 And occasionally, I put my thoughts (my admittedly sassy thoughts) about such things to paper. What follows is a result of one such time.]
- I recommend that you read a book if the content is of interest to you.
- I recommend that if you pick up a book, and you don’t like what you are reading, you put it down again. (Or you can do as I do and skip to the end just to make sure you know how it all resolves.)
- I recommend if you have a book on your real or virtual shelf that is particularly enjoyable to you that you reread it, at least once.
- I recommend that you challenge yourself to try something new — but — only if you want to and not because some “expert” tells you to. (Unless that expert is your teacher and your grade depends on it — then, I recommend you suck it up and do your best with it.)
- I recommend that when giving recommendations for books, you tell others why you liked a book — kind of like you were taught to do in book reports. If you are going to be critical in your recommendation remember that “because it is stupid” is not really an evaluation. It is just an opinion.
- I recommend that you realize that what someone else likes or dislikes and what you like or dislike will likely be different, and that’s ok. They are not idiots if they don’t agree with you, nor are you an idiot for disagreeing with them. 🙂 (And name calling is mean and wrong.)
- This may be the most important recommendation of them all. I recommend that you treat reading as the fun activity it is meant to be. Go on…enjoy it!
This list is by no means exhaustive. However, I am almost 100% certain that if you follow these recommendations, you should have a wonderful year of reading!
Now, shall we begin our new year of blog posts and reading with the first scene of a new book? (It’s a longish scene.) If you answered yes, continue reading. If you answered no, well, don’t click that read more tag. 🙂
AN EXCERPT FROM Enticing Miss Darcy:
Jack Ralston straightened the sleeves of his jacket and affected a relaxed pose, leaning against one of the two pillars which flanked one entrance to the Winsleys’ ballroom. Debutants and their chaperones picked their way along the edges, not wishing to ruin the chalk drawing on the floor before the dancing began. The room was about half-filled if Jack were guessing correctly.
The Winsleys always drew a large crowd. Lady Winsley, a particular friend of Jack’s mother, was perhaps the foremost hostess in the ton this year. No one else’s soirees had graced the pages of the Times with more flowery descriptions than the ones that had been hosted here in this house. First, there had been an elegant dinner party with many notable members of the ton in attendance. Then, there had been an evening of Shakespeare — complete with costumes and masks. And just two weeks ago, there had been a musicale. Each and every event had been lauded. Tonight would likely be no different. Jack only hoped that tonight he would be more successful than he had been at each of the previous soirees held at this home.
Not once had he been able to capture the interest of the enticing Miss Darcy for longer than a few moments. He could not understand it. He had spent nearly a year — yes, it would be a year next month — attempting to win her approval, and he thought he had had it. She always welcomed him with a lovely smile when they met and never shied away from conversing with him as he had seen her do with others she met while visiting this or that venue with her great aunt, Lady Margaret, and Mrs. Darcy.
However, as soon as she had been presented at her first official soiree, he had become just one of her entourage of companions, relegated to the uncomfortable position of trusted friend. He rolled his eyes and shook his head. Friends!
He pulled out his watch. She would be here soon. She always arrived about a quarter of an hour early. He blew out a breath. Friends was, at least, a start. But it was nowhere near what he wished to be.
With a smile, Ralston swung away from his scrutiny of the ballroom and toward the voice he had come to know well. “Miss Pratt,” he said, giving her a bow.
Anne waved his words away. “It is Anne,” she chided, releasing her grip on her husband Alistair’s arm and leaning forward to give Jack a hug. It was not so easily accomplished with her ever-growing belly in the way.
“I should think a ball would not be good for you in your condition,” Jack said with a wink. “Your husband is not shirking his duties and allowing you to run amuck and harm his heir, now is he?”
“No, he is not,” Alistair replied. “She is not to dance.”
Anne scrunched up her nose, clearly not pleased with the pronouncement and yet unwilling to defy it. But that was how it was with Anne and Alistair. She would push, and he would push back. And more often than not, Anne would capitulate. Alistair was nearly the only one to whom the daughter of Lady Catherine would defer.
“My condolences,” Jack said with a smile which was readily returned. “Will we be playing cards this evening?”
Anne’s smile spread and the familiar twinkle of mischief sparkled in her eyes as she shook her head. “I have read no announcement in the paper.”
Alistair sighed. “My wife has decided you need help — again.”
Jack laughed. “I do not wish to find myself the main topic of conversation tomorrow morning as I did last time.”
Anne shook her head and gave him a scolding look as if he should not be concerned about such a thing. “Who was to know that that lonely looking tabby would jump from your arms and attack Mrs. Hollingsworth? It truly looked as if it was in need of assistance, and it would have been a very impressive act of kindness had the cat cooperated.”
“The good news is that Lady Winsley’s cats are much better behaved than most strays,” Alistair said dryly.
It had happened on a walk in Hunsford during the summer. The Darcys had been visiting Lady Catherine, and Jack had, at Anne’s invitation, been visiting the Pratts. It would allow Jack ample time to be in company with Georgiana, Anne had assured him. After all, had not both she and her cousin, Fitzwilliam Darcy, found the groves at Rosings to be the ideal place to court their loves?
He should have known with such logic and the information that Darcy had been soundly refused by Elizabeth while in Kent, that it was not the best-laid plan. However, he could not resist the opportunity to spend a full three weeks with Georgiana Darcy.
They had met on several walks, and they had had many wonderful discussions. In fact, it was on one of these not-so-chance meetings when Anne had spotted the tabby tangled in some bramble, and while Darcy spoke to Mrs. Hollingsworth, who was out for a drive, Anne had whispered to Jack that helping a poor defenseless creature would appear quite romantic to any lady. Therefore, without much thought, Jack sprung into action.
He had pulled the cat from the bushes and was petting it gently as they walked over to where Georgiana stood near Mrs. Hollingsworth’s curricle. All had been going as planned — the cat was safe, Georgiana was smiling, and then Mrs. Hollingsworth’s pug had started barking. The cat hissed and instead of leaping from Jack’s arms and running away as any cat with a modicum of sense would, this feline leapt toward the dog and onto Mrs. Hollingsworth’s lap. The resulting cry of surprise and the flicking of the ribbons had sent the horses trotting down the lane.
“That incident has been the source of many minutes of conversation, has it not?” Anne asked hopefully.
Jack shook his head. “Not in a pleasant sort of way,” he assured her. “I would rather not be the source of a good laugh.”
“But every lady likes to laugh,” Anne insisted.
“Not every gentleman wishes to be laughed at,” Jack replied. “He would like his wit to be the source of a few giggles but not his pride.”
“She shall not forget you,” said Anne.
“Ah, but will she think of him as he wishes her to think of him?” Alistair asked.
Anne’s lips pursed and her brows drew together. “Perhaps not,” she admitted. “But I will maintain that it is good to be memorable and pleasantly so. A small folly is a far better thing for which to be remembered than some nefarious scheme or hateful gossip. “
“I will allow that to be true,” Jack said, “but it also still stands that I would not like to be remembered twice for some small or large folly.” He raised his brows and gave her a pointed look.
“Take me around the ballroom. Alistair can hold up that pillar just as well as you can.”
“Would you not rather take a turn of the room with your husband?” Jack asked.
“No, he already knows my plan,” Anne replied. “And he agrees it might work.”
Jack looked at his staid and steady friend, Alistair Pratt. “You approve?”
Alistair nodded. “I do.” He shrugged. “It is not without its risks, but it is unlikely to end with your name in the paper should things go sour.”
“That is not reassuring. What do you see going wrong?”
Alistair was a contemplative sort of fellow, well-versed in logic and reasoning, able to see problems before they appeared. Therefore, if Alistair saw a reason for caution, Jack wished to know about it.
Alistair shook his head and smiled. “I have been promised a most pleasant reward if I allow Anne to explain her plan before I begin casting aspersions about.”
Jack shook his head. He could just imagine what sort of reward the blushing Mrs. Pratt had promised her husband to make him agree to hold his tongue. “Very well, Mrs. Pratt, shall we take a turn about the room?”
Anne placed her hand on his arm but turned to her husband before beginning their walk. “When Georgiana arrives, you must claim two dances for Mr. Ralston.”
Jack chuckled at the look of dismay on Alistair’s face.
“I shall not hear it, Mr. Pratt,” Anne said with a laugh. “He is doing you a favour by taking your wife for a walk around the ballroom, so you are being gracious and making his request for him — which he will be most grateful for when he returns. I walk more slowly these days so he feared he would not be back in time to ask Georgie for those dances, and you were noble enough to offer to do it for him.”
Alistair sighed and shook his head, but Jack could see the admiration in the man’s eyes at his wife’s cleverness.
“She’s very creative,” Jack said with a laugh.
“That she is,” Alistair answered. “She has taken up writing,” he added.
“Have you indeed?” Jack asked as he and Anne began a slow circuit of the ballroom.
“Oh, I have — but not horrid novels — I do not like gruesome stories. I did at one time, but no longer. I prefer happier tales. However, that is not why we are here. I shall allow you to read my stories when you visit. For now, we must discuss how you are going to persuade Miss Darcy to marry you.”
[Note to Patreon supporters: The full first chapter will be posted on Patreon tonight when I sit down to continue writing chapter 2.]