Thursday’s Three Hundred: Confounding Caroline, Part 1

Welcome to a new Thursday Three Hundred story! This story begins in London after Jane has called on Bingley’s sisters and Darcy has heard about it.  Now, how does one deal with a sister who has interfered with her brother’s happiness? And how does a gentleman convince the woman he has discovered he can’t live without to give him a second chance? You’ll have to read Confounding Caroline to find out.

[Remember, as with all Thursday Three Hundred stories, these posts are pieces of a work in progress. There will be errors. Each post will be about one thousand words in length and not just three hundred.]

Part 1

Fitzwilliam Darcy handed his coat and beaver to Bingley’s butler.  “I had hoped you would be home, but I did not expect it,” he said in greeting to his friend, who leaned nonchalantly against the door to the sitting room he had no doubt just exited since the lamps were still lit.  “Reading?” Darcy asked with some surprise as he took note of the book in Bingley’s hand.

Bingley shrugged.  “I do read on occasion.”

“I would not wish to keep you from your amusements.”  Darcy smirked slightly. If he knew his friend, Bingley would likely not mind the disruption.  Bingley preferred people to books.

Bingley shook his head and chuckled. “Come, my study would be more comfortable than the sitting room, and less likely to be invaded by females should Caroline return early.”

“I am surprised you did not accompany her to the Graham’s soiree,”  Darcy said, following Bingley into the study.

“I have had my fill of ferrying her around only to have her turn up her pert little nose at every gentleman she meets, so I sent her with Louisa and Hurst.”  He tucked his book away on a shelf behind his desk, and then opening the door on the right side of his desk, he pulled out a bottle of amber coloured liquid and two glasses.  “I find I tire of society.  It is always the same.  The same ladies in different dresses with different coloured hair and hats, but the same gossip, the same weather, the same pleasantries. It’s just the so much of the same, over and over and over and over.”  He handed a glass to Darcy and smiled. “Besides, if I am not mistaken, I will not be the only one who will enjoy this Caroline-free evening.”

Darcy chuckled “The quiet is agreeable to me, but you have never enjoyed silence as much as I.”  There was something different about Bingley the last few weeks.  He did not smile as much as was his usual wont, and he seemed to tuck himself away in his study more and more.  Darcy swirled the liquid in his glass and threw one leg over the other. The leather squeaked as he shifted in the chair across from Bingley.

Bingley sighed. “I find I am longing for the country, but Caroline will hear nothing of leaving town when there are so many functions to attend.”  He took a draught from his glass.  “If I thought she meant to find a husband, trotting her around to the various venues might not be so bothersome, but she is not intent on snaring anyone but you.”

Darcy nodded slowly.  Caroline had never been reserved in demonstrating her preference for him over every gentleman she met.  “A title and a larger fortune might dissuade her.”

The hint of bitterness in Bingley’s laugh surprised Darcy almost as much as Bingley’s wishing to leave town and avoid society.  These were not Bingley actions. They were behaviours that were more likely to be attributed to Darcy rather than his gregarious friend.

“She is as stubborn as a mule,” Bingley muttered, “and almost as bright.”

Darcy’s brows rose.  He had heard Bingley complain about Caroline before but never about anything more than her incessant need to purchase fripperies and dresses or the way she nattered on about this person or that person.  There was something decidedly wrong with his friend, and Darcy had a sinking feeling that he knew just what it was.

“You surprise me,” Darcy said. “Was it not you who claimed to be happy wherever you were, be it town or country?”

“That was before,” Bingley said over the rim of his glass.

“Before what?” Darcy prodded.

“Before I took an estate.” Bingley shifted in his chair uneasily, studying the painting above the fireplace for a few moments before allowing his attention to return to his friend.  He watched Darcy’s foot bounce up and down slightly, and sighed deeply.

Darcy surreptitiously glanced at his friend.  He recognized Bingley’s sigh for it was the same groan of uncertainty that had taken up residence in his chest.  It was a new and unwelcome feeling, and it was not something he could command away,  though he had tried.  He had not been able to erase it with busyness or wash it away with drink.  There remained only one option.  It must be acknowledged.  The root of it must be exposed.

“So, is it the estate or the society in Hertfordshire that you miss, my friend?” Darcy’s voice was quiet, and he fixed his eyes on the wall beyond Bingley’s head.  A small smile played at his mouth as he contemplated the image that always came to his mind when he thought of Hertfordshire.  “Netherfield seems like a fine estate, and the neighbourhood was not without its enchantments.” He sipped his drink and then swirled it again, watching the liquid swirl up the sides of the glass.

“I thought you loathed the inhabitants of Hertfordshire.”  Bingley’s voice was filled with incredulity. “Is that not why you and my sisters were so hasty in joining me in town ─ the people are beneath us, there is no society worth keeping, that sort of thing?

Again Darcy’s brows rose at the rancor in Bingley’s voice.  He sighed heavily, and colour crept up his cheeks.  This would not be a pleasant discussion, but it was a necessary one. “I did not loathe all of the inhabitants. Actually, I found some of them to be quite delightful, so delightful, in fact, that leaving seemed safer than staying.”  He rose and walked to the window.  Admitting his folly and weakness would be easier if he were able to move about and not have to face the friend he had, he suspected, unknowingly harmed.

Bingley drummed his fingers on the arm of his chair and raised a brow in anticipation of an expected explanation.

“She is here in town.” Darcy placed his empty glass on a side table and allowed his eyes to remain on it rather than look at his friend.

“Who is here in town?”

Darcy drew a deep breath and spared Bingley only a glance before returning his gaze to his glass.  “Miss Bennet.”

~*~*~

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Music Monday: The Reason, Hoobastank

Today, I have an excerpt from this week’s upcoming release, Unravelling Mr. Darcy (Dash of Darcy #4), as well as a Pride and Prejudice fan video. The lyrics of the song in today’s video fit quite nicely with the premise of my light-hearted novella.  Consider these two things…

BrokenDoll7. “Pride & Prejudice – The Reason.” YouTube, YouTube, 4 Mar. 2008.

The song ends with these lyrics:

I’ve found a reason to show
A side of me you didn’t know
A reason for all that I do
And the reason is you

The description of my upcoming new release says:

What’s a gentleman to do when he has laid his heart before a lady only to have it crushed beneath her dainty slipper? If you’re Fitzwilliam Darcy, there is only one thing to do ─ unravel your tightly wound pride, mend your ways, and convince the lady of your worth.

And what’s a lady to do when she has spoken harshly and knows she has done so unfairly?  If you’re  Elizabeth Bennet, you take a deep breath, swallow your dignity, give him a second chance, and perhaps along the way, discover a gentleman you didn’t know existed.

Can you see the connection?  I’m sure you can, but let me tell you a little bit more about this story anyway.

Unravelling Mr. Darcy begins immediately following the moment in Pride and Prejudice when Darcy says

Forgive me for having taken up so much of your time, and accept my best wishes for your health and happiness.

In the next paragraph, we read that he hastily left the room and the parsonage.

Available for purchase September 21, 2017

Not so in this new version of events.

In this version, he is not leaving quickly but is rather willing himself out of the room and praying for some sort of divine intervention — which he gets.  Elizabeth calls him back and apologizes for her rudeness.

Here I must pause and warn those who are looking for the utmost propriety in a story that they will be sadly disappointed in this tale, for it begins with a rather indelicate discussion about why Elizabeth is feeling ill and why her words were so harsh. 

This apology and the discussion of several topics in the parsonage’s sitting room that follows Elizabeth’s apology lead to Darcy being granted a second chance to win Elizabeth’s heart. To do so, Darcy is amending his ways in grand style. Therefore, prepare yourself to meet a Darcy who, though still noble and honorable, has made a 180-degree turnabout because

He’s found a reason to show
A side of him she didn’t know

Unravelling Mr. Darcy will be hitting the digital shelves beginning this Thursday, September 21, 2017, and a print copy will follow shortly thereafter.

One more little side note in relation to this story: Last week, I mentioned that I wanted to get the sequel to a point where I could include a small sample of it at the back of this book. That has not happened. I have begun what I think will be the sequel telling Anne’s story, but it is not to a place where I can say “Yes, this is definitely how the story will begin.” Therefore, revealing any of her story will wait until I can.  However, Anne’s story, Becoming Entangled, will be available in the late fall, around the time of American Thanksgiving or shortly thereafter as it will depend on my editors’ schedules as much as my ability to get the story written.  

AN EXCERPT FROM Unravelling Mr. Darcy: 
Continue reading Music Monday: The Reason, Hoobastank

Music Monday: Rescue, Hunter Hayes

Today, I am sharing a video but not just because of the music (which is excellent). Rather, I am sharing it because of what is happening in the background while the music is being played.  You’ll have to watch to see what I am talking about.  (I find it fascinating to watch artists do this sort of thing.)  However, don’t get so caught up in the moment that you forget to keep scrolling after the video is over and miss the writing news and story excerpt I am including.  🙂

hunterhayes. “Hunter Hayes – Rescue (Official Music Video).” YouTube, YouTube, 29 June 2017.

As expected, this week was a slightly lower productivity week for me as I took time out to take a day trip to Fort Anne and Port-Royal National Historic sites (pictured below) with my husband and boys.

But in spite of this full day break from my normal routine and an evening spent out and about with my husband, I did manage to get some work done.

Here’s what I accomplished:

  • I came very close to finishing the first pass edits of Unravelling Mr. Darcy, so that should get sent to my first reader this week.
  • I wrote my post for Austen Authors for this Tuesday, which includes an excerpt of Henry’s story and a giveaway.
  • I bundled And Then Love, The Tenant’s Guest, So Very Unexpected, and At All Costs into a one book Willow Hall Romance collection and have uploaded it to Kindle at a special sales price (USD 3.99).  I will be uploading it to my various other vendors over the course of this week, but the special price is only on the Kindle edition and only available until September 5, 2017.
  • AND I added about 3,000 words to my work in progress — Confounding Caroline, which will become the next Thursday’s Three Hundred story once October gets here and from which I am sharing an excerpt below.

EXCERPT FROM Confounding Caroline Continue reading Music Monday: Rescue, Hunter Hayes

Music Monday: Fields of Gold, 2Cellos

While I wrote this week — and it was a busy week of writing, my Music to Write By YouTube playlist, which includes the song below, got a good work out. Besides music to keep me company while writing, I also had a couple of author friends who joined me via the internet during writing time.

Mborray07. “2CELLOS- Fields Of Gold.” YouTube. YouTube, 06 Aug. 2011. Web. 29 Apr. 2017.

Every evening this week, I met up with my friends, Rose Fairbanks and Zoe Burton, for an hour of uninterrupted/undistracted writing time.  Well, it was supposed to be uninterrupted and undistracted, but there are kids that wander through my corner of the living room and there is also the occasional “Oh, I need to know that” quick search that easily pulls one off onto some interesting tangents.  However, despite these little diversions, I did accomplish what I wished to and a bit extra.  Part of the reason for that is the fact that I didn’t stop writing at that hour limit unless I had completed a scene or had met my thousand-word minimum for that day.

But as you know, writing is not all that is on my schedule. I also have a scheduled editing slot in the evenings with specific daily minimums of work that have to be accomplished there, too.  🙂

(A little side note:  I am finding that I am rather driven by goals — I don’t like to miss those minimums at all. My husband would likely make some comment about my stubbornness here. 🙂 Also knowing I am going to write a post about what I did or didn’t do in a week is motivational. So keep reading these Monday posts, and you should get books/stories on a regular basis since I don’t want to have nothing to share. 😉 )

So, here are the particulars of what I accomplished:

  • Editing:  I completed my edits for Not an Heiress and have sent that story on to my first editor. So, it is well on its way to being ready for publication in June.
  • Writing:  I completed a first draft of the next Thursday Three Hundred story, With the Colonel’s Help.  I used to write these stories each week, but when I got to At All Costs,  I decided to write the full draft before beginning posting to make sure I had all the series things wrapped up as they should be.  Well, I liked having it set to post each week.  🙂  So, I decided to try it again this time around because I am kind of into the whole scheduling thing at present in an attempt to maximize my productivity. 🙂
  • More Editing:  I began final edits of At All Costs.  The tentative publication date for that book is May 18.  So, after the epilogue posts this Thursday, the story will remain up until next week. Then it will have to come down as I make final preparations to publish the story.
  • More Writing:  Since I managed to finish With the Colonel’s Help, I have turned my writing attention to writing Caroline’s story.  If it is going to be a short story, which I cannot tell quite yet, I am about a third of the way through it.  I should be able to tell if the plot I have in mind will be more or less than ten thousand words soon….I hope. 🙂

So, since my new work schedule seems to be work quite well, I have a new problem for which to find a solution.  Completing Caroline’s story will cross off all the stories on my “Write Me” list.  One of the things that I am considering putting on that list is an Austenesque story. Back in January, I mentioned that I wanted to try one, so I think I am going to give one, based in part on Mansfield Park, a shot…maybe…. 🙂 There are also those fairytales I had wished to attempt as well as a set of three stories (find them here if you wish, beginning with A Change of Heart) that I would like to develop into a Dash of Darcy story, and I have an idea floating around for a companion story to that one. I just need to decide where to begin and write out that list, it seems.

Now, for a short clip of something I wrote this week.  This is from With the Colonel’s Help and comes from the section of the story that is starting to wrap up the issues (the denouement), so, although I have tried to excerpt it without too many spoilers, it is, in of itself, a spoiler — read at your own risk. 🙂

EXCERPT FROM With the Colonel’s Help Continue reading Music Monday: Fields of Gold, 2Cellos

Music Monday: Let Her Go, Passenger/Break of Reality

Today, along with some writing news and a short story excerpt, I have the same song two times for you.  The first video is an instrumental cover of Passenger’s “Let Her Go” by Break of Reality. This video is on my writing playlist (no lyrics means it can play while I write).

Break of Reality. “Let Her Go – Passenger Cello Cover by Break of Reality.” YouTube. YouTube, 13 May 2014. Web. 15 Apr. 2017.

The second video (below) is a lyrics video that someone created. I thought I would share that one for those who might be curious as to what the words to the song are. It’s not a happy song, but I have not been writing happy stuff this week (see excerpt), so it fits.

Marcohordijk. “Passenger – Let Her Go (Lyrics).” YouTube. YouTube, 15 Dec. 2012. Web. 15 Apr. 2017.

So what have I been doing this week in my writing life?

  • I was worked on getting the print version of Discovering Mr. Darcy ready.  That was not easily done as my computer did not wish to play nice with CreateSpace for a couple of days, and then, I forgot to change the font colour on the spine and didn’t notice until I got the digital proof back. That has been fixed, and I finally have a print proof on its way for approval. They say that I should have it by April 25th.  I am hoping I have it sooner. 😉

 

  • I finished Not An Heiress — the epilogue is done! And it was fun writing a little bit about the Darcy and Fitzwilliam children. 🙂  And I began first round edits on the story in preparation for June publication. Although this story will not be ready to release for a couple of months, I am hoping to have a preorder up for it by Tuesday, so that when readers finish DMD, they can order NAH and be ready to continue the story that the epilogue of DMD hints at.

 

  • I returned to writing With the Colonel’s Help just in time for the story to take a sad, angsty turn. As a result, writing times have been shorter and word counts have been less because I struggle with the emotions of writing things like this in large doses. I internalize the emotions — happy or sad — when writing and reading. I have needed a longer “decompression” time after those sections. The good news is I think the story should be through its darkest part very soon, and then I can get things set right. That should be easier (and faster) to write.

And now for…

A SHORT EXCERPT FROM With The Colonel’s HelpContinue reading Music Monday: Let Her Go, Passenger/Break of Reality

Music Meets Movies Monday: Elinor&Edward, It’s You

Today, we have a little twist to the Music Monday video selection.  This is the most recent addition to my Music Meets Movies playlist on YouTube.  I find this playlist to be a wonderful place to take a few minutes break before I begin writing or between writing activities such as switching from editing to writing.

Catchingraindrops24. “Elinor & Edward | It’s You.” YouTube. YouTube, 04 Oct. 2014. Web. 01 Apr. 2017.

I find listening to song lyrics is a great source of creative inspiration — especially when they are paired with lovely images from a favourite Jane Austen adaptation.  However, I can’t actually listen to music with words when I write because it is too distracting, so I leave them for those times when I’m not writing.

For the past three weeks, I have been trying out a new routine for my writing work time — breaking it into sections dedicated to various things that need doing. Two of those sections are editing and writing new things.  When I have to transition from editing to writing, I need to have something to calm the critical section of my brain and help me relax into the creative part of my brain.  Music works very well for this.

During my editing time slots this week, I was able to complete the first round of edits on At All Costs, and in one writing section, I wrote its epilogue.  That story has now been sent off to my first reader, and I am waiting to get her comments back before I will touch it again.  I will be putting Discovering Mr. Darcy in the editing time slot this next week as I got that manuscript back from my second reader.  Hopefully, I will have news about a preorder of that book by next Monday.

My writing time this week focused on Not An Heiress, the sequel to Discovering Mr. Darcy, and I managed to add about 8,000 words to it. I think I am on the downward side of the story hill and should have the story wrapped up in another week or a bit more.  And then it can slip into that editing slot. 🙂

Below is one day’s worth of words from my writing times this week, and, I think, the song above matches up pretty well with what has been happening in this section of the book. (I also happen to envision Mary as looking a lot like Elinor in this version of Sense and Sensibility.)

A Word of Warning:  I am at least halfway through this story, so, as always when we get to the second part of a story, this excerpt will contain spoilers. 🙂

EXCERPT FROM Not An Heiress: 
Continue reading Music Meets Movies Monday: Elinor&Edward, It’s You

Music Monday: The Northern Mist, Dan Gibson

Last Saturday, a friend and I visited a local thrift store. They were having a twenty percent off everything sale — how can you resist that!  As is my normal habit on entering a thrift store, I began my perusal of items with the books, DVDs, music CDs, and paintings. In other words, all the imagination inspiring treasures.

“Dan Gibson The Northern Mist.” YouTube. Ed. RELAX NATURE MUSIC -Emmaqui3♥. YouTube, 21 Aug. 2015. Web. 26 Mar. 2017.

I found two CDs of instrumental music. They have both found their way onto my mp3 player on my desk, and I have been listening to birds while writing every day this week.  The song in the video above is track two on Songbirds at Sunrise. In my opinion, which is the one that matters when the music is for my writing time 😉 , I think these songs are perfect for imagining a scene in a garden or meadow, and part of what I wrote did take place in a garden. However, only a small part. So, apparently, the music is equally as effective when plotting compromising scenes in libraries.  Sadly, I am only going to share the garden portion today.

The story I was focusing on writing this week is called Not an Heiress and is a sequel to the story Discovering Mr. Darcy — this story got its epilogue and has been sent off to my last editor.  It should be published sometime around the middle to latter part of April.

Other than writing just over 7,000 words on this new story, I also added close to 1,000 to With the Colonel’s Help and edited six chapters of At All Cost, which should be starting the editorial rounds by the beginning of April. Needless to say, it was a busy and tiring week, but it was also extremely enjoyable. I am quite excited about all four of the projects that demanded my attention this week.  So excited, that I have had trouble sleeping.  The good colonel has been assisting me with working out plot ideas when I should be sleeping.  I have asked him to wait until a more appropriate time of day, but it seems an impatient colonel outranks a mere authoress. 🙂

Now, shall we get on to the longish excerpt from Not an Heiress?  This sequel will focus on Colonel Fitzwilliam and Mary Bennet and will feature a compromise.  As you should all know by now if you have read my secondary character stories, don’t expect a completely typical Mary.  This Mary reads sermons and is rather serious, but she has a particular reason, at least when Richard is around, for reading this material. (Also, Lady Catherine in this story and in Discovering Mr. Darcy is also not typical — demanding and all, but not typical.  This is definitely Austen with a twist.)

EXCERPT FROM Not an Heiress: 
Continue reading Music Monday: The Northern Mist, Dan Gibson