Fantasy Friday- Pride and Prejudice and Prophecies

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In 2015, I launched a fantasy/paranormal short story series, The Witches of Austen, which mashed up Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey that also had alternate history themes and a mystery plot. The plan was to make one per Austen heroine and then a final capstone to the series. Well, you can imagine there’s very little interest in something so unfocused. It didn’t help that my covers were bad, I tried using a different pen name, I did little to no promotion, and I even had a typo on the first cover for a few days. Additionally, the second story grew to novella length. The third one was becoming novel length when I decided I needed to just retire the series and start again to do it justice.

I’ve never entirely abandoned the idea and tinker with it from time to time. It’s far more focused now but I think will still be something with little interest and will probably build slowly if it’s ever a success. In short, it’s a passion project and not much of a paying project. All year, I said I wanted to write or edit 500 words a week on it, just to keep myself moving forward. Well, it’s nearing the middle of the year and I’ve kept that promise to myself only twice.

Yeah.

I had actually edited quite a bit in late 2016 but got distracted with other projects. So, I’ve decided to roll out Fantasy Friday on the blog. The goal is 500 words every Friday. I might skip some if my schedule is crazy.

What’s the new series like?

All the original elements are in this series. I am fleshing out the magical world building. Since each book will be a novel, there’s less rushing to do. Maybe one day I can do fantasy short stories but I probably shouldn’t have made my FIRST one in the genre so tough. Yes, readers, it’s actually HARDER to write a short story than a novel.

I’m also finished genre-hopping. I feel more comfortable in the fantasy world of witches and wizards than the paranormal. I’m not really sure where the distinction is drawn but think more Harry Potter or Merlin and less Charmed or Supernatural. I will be keeping the mash-up of P&P and NA. However, character pov will be more focused. In the original series, there are pov from all three girls and their prospective men. Subsequent books were supposed to focus on one couple per book but while writing them that didn’t work out. In the P&P&P series, the main focus will be Darcy and Elizabeth. There will be subplot scenes and pov of the others but the ultimate romantic goal will be their HEA.

One last thing. I need beta readers. Ones that don’t mind inconsistency. That being said, I think the first four chapters did see beta reads a few years ago. I should dig up the emails so I can thank them by name but for now, if you’re reading this and know you helped, thank you! Let me know if you’re still interested. 🙂

Now, finally, onto the story!

Mr. Darcy and the Bewitched Sisters

Prologue

1797

 

A lad about twelve years old with piercing blue eyes and dark, curly hair sat on the nursery floor with his new sister. He did not, in general, think much of babies, but his parents had told him she was very special and much awaited. Additionally, they informed him it was always his duty to protect her. He enjoyed that. After all, soon he would go away to school and be a man. Men protected their family. It is what his father did every day. Actually, so did his mother. In that case, one day little Georgiana would return the favor, and they would equally protect their family.

“I think the little miss needs a rest,” the nursery maid said then scooped up the baby to take to the night nursery.

Master Fitzwilliam Darcy meandered the halls of his family’s house. In the afternoons, he would sit with his mother in her study. Lady Anne did not know, but her son frequently snuck into her study before their lessons together and watched as she exited the secret chamber. He was not yet tall enough to reach the hidden button which opened the door — not that he would ever intrude. He never broke the rules. His mother forbade him to enter there, and he would obey. She promised, one day, to teach him all about his magical roots. He, too, had a special task.

Approaching his mother’s study, young Darcy peeked his head around the corner in time to see his mother leave her alcove. A booming sound at the front of the great hall drew his notice, and he curiously stepped forward. The butler raced toward the door to block the intruder’s entry.

“Where is your mistress?” a deep voice commanded.

Around a bend in the hall, Darcy could see nothing. However, he did not hear the old, but loyal butler give away his mother’s location. Instead, he heard the old man gasp out.

“Please! Please!”

The intruder spoke in an unknown language to the boy, and the next he heard was a loud thud followed by footsteps going down a different hall. Instinct made Darcy return to his mother’s room.

“Fitzwilliam,” his mother whispered as he entered the study. “Go up the back stairs. Find your sister. Find the nurse.”

“Mama, who is that man?”

“Never mind, obey me now! There is not an instant to lose. Hide anywhere.”

“Come out, come out, Witch.” The intruder called from down the hall.

“Go! Now!” Lady Anne hissed at her son, and he immediately obeyed.

When he reached the nursery, he could not find the nurse. Believing the matter too urgent to look for her, he scooped up his sister. Wisely, considering that if the man intended to harm them — as his mother seemed to think probable — the nursery would be the first place he would look for children. Instead, Darcy planned to hide in a large potting container in the conservatory. He had not tried to hide there since he was ten and had last played with the steward’s son but he thought he could drag it behind a large plant and conceal them. Eventually, his mother would find them.

She never did.

Instead, Darcy awoke to the tormented wails of his father which travelled through the house. He found his father cradling his dead wife in the secret alcove of his mother’s study. Lady Anne’s head leaned back with one arm strewn above her head as Darcy Senior held her to his chest. Except for the vacant stare in her still-open eyes, Darcy might have thought she slept.

Most alarming of all, within feet of her prone body, lay a crystal ball used to contain her prophecies. Apparently, her attacker had desired knowledge of one in particular. Unknown was if he had succeeded.

 

Thursday Three Hundred- 14th of October

Rose LetterFor a year or two now (or longer??) I’ve been enjoying Leenie Brown’s blog posts on Thursdays (well, all the posts). Each week, she shares at least 300 words of a story and it is connected to her Music Monday and Wordless Wednesday posts as well. I’ll be doing it a bit different than Leenie. My aim is to have a completed “micro fiction” each week. For the next few weeks they’ll be heavily influenced by copyrighted songs I like so they’ll never be published. However, it will keep me writing, just a bit, during an otherwise tumultuous time in my life (moving again and end of school year craziness!).

This week, I was inspired by Thomas Rhett’s “Unforgettable.” You can listen to it here. Did you know experts think the Meryton Assembly occurred around October 14th? The song references several modern things but, in my heart, I’m a Regency girl so I thought I’ll try Regency next week. Tell me which you like better!

14th of October

Chuck scanned the block party for a place to sit. He had just moved to the neighbourhood, and they were already holding a block party. Of course, each person he met handed him a beer. Southern hospitality. The night had just begun, and he already had more than a buzz. His friend Will had been pacing around the periphery on his cell phone the entire time they had been here. Chuck’s sister Carly twerked in Will’s general direction to the clear astonishment of anyone else around her.

Shaking his head, Chuck pushed through a cluster of middle-aged men attempting to rock their dad bods. He thought tables were on the other side of the suburban linebackers. Then he saw what they had been none too subtly staring at.

Air left Chuck’s lungs as his eyes scanned a woman’s toned body and shiny blonde hair. Dark blue jeans clung to her curves with red peep-toe high heels hinted at a flirty personality. She wore a black graphic tee sloping off one shoulder exposing sun-kissed skin. She seemed to radiate. She swayed in her chair to the music and now and then she chewed her bottom lip. Why wasn’t she dancing? A woman as beautiful as she must have countless men wanting to talk to her.

Emboldened by his liquid courage, Chuck approached. “Mind if I join you?”

The goddess gave him a skeptical look. “Are you drunk?”

“Absolutely sober, babe.” Chuck stuck his hand out to introduce himself and knocked over her solo cup.

“Yeah, right,” she laughed before covering her mouth.

Time stood still, and it had nothing to do with inebriation. The woman was stunning several feet away. Up close and with a smile on her face, she was the most beautiful woman Chuck had ever seen. If looking foolish made her smile at him, he would do it again for the rest of his life.

“Chuck Bingley,” he pushed his hand forward as if nothing was wrong.

“Jane Bennet.” The smile returned as they shook hands.

Plain Jane? He would never think of the name the same.

“I just moved here. Have you lived here long?”

“My whole life,” Jane shrugged. “Usually, the block parties are over when school starts, but I think Lucas, the HOA manager, wanted to impress you.”

“They did all this for me?” Chuck looked around. An unusual amount of eyes were focused on him.

“That McMansion up on the hill has sat empty for years. Construction slowed after the housing bubble burst about ten years ago. They’re all hoping that with you moving in the other lots will sell.”

“I can’t see why they haven’t. It’s a lovely area.”

“Hey, Janie,” a young man wearing a polo shirt with a popped collar and with bleached tips to his spiked hair sat down.

Jane grabbed Chuck’s hand, and his heart started pounding.

“Hi, Aaron. Have you met Chuck?”

“I haven’t,” Aaron didn’t even look in Chuck’s direction. “You ready to cut out of here?”

“I wouldn’t be a very good girlfriend if I left Chuck hanging like that,” Jane narrowed her eyes at the intruder.

“Girlfriend?” Aaron choked on his swig of cheap beer.

Chuck almost did the same.

“You move fast, man,” Aaron said and stood so fast he knocked the table. “You dig him for his money?”

“Nah,” Chuck said. “Jane just likes grown men instead of frat bros.”

Jane smirked, and Aaron sneered at them before leaving. She dropped Chuck’s hand as soon as the jerk left.

“Sorry about that,” she blushed.

“I’ll be your boyfriend any time.”

Jane laughed. “I’m just impressed you didn’t slur your words.”

“I already told you, I’m not drunk.”

“Sure,” she drew out the word.

“If I were drunk I wouldn’t have the intellect it takes to guess your middle name.”

Jane shook her head and burst out laughing. “That’s a display of genius according to you?”

“Yeah, sure. I bet you can guess mine.”

“Ok, I’ll play your game. Let me think a minute… Albert.”

“Wow, first try.” Chuck’s middle name was Roger, but he’d say it was Banana Hammock to keep Jane talking to him. “Stunning and smart.”

Jane blushed. “It’s not even Albert, is it?”

“Not even close. My turn.”

“Noelle.”

“Nope.”

“Howard.”

“Diana?”

Jane shook her head. For the next half hour, they laughed as they continued to guess each other’s middle names. Jane went through three more mangoritas, and Chuck counted six beer cans in front of him. He’d have a devil of a hangover tomorrow.

“Let’s dance,” Chuck said and pulled Jane out of her chair.

“I love this song!” Jane was grooving around. “Show me your moves, Chuck!”

Full of false confidence and poor decisions, Chuck broke into the Running Man even though it didn’t match the rhythm of the Coldplay song at all. Jane almost fell over in laughter but joined him. The most hysterical moment was when others followed their suit. As the song came to an end, Jane pushed back her hair from her eyes. She fisted Chuck’s shirt and pulled him in for a kiss.

“I’m going to remember this forever,” Chuck said as he placed his hands on her face and caressed her lips with his.

“You won’t remember a thing tomorrow,” Jane laughed.

“Wait and see. I’m going to marry you. Maybe then I’ll finally know your full name.”

Chuck kissed her again, feeling her shake with laughter.

A year later, they were in the same location, and again Jane laughed during his kiss.

“I present to you Charles Roger and Jane Danielle Bingley!” the DJ announced over the mic before they stepped onto the dance floor.

“Today has been unforgettable!” Jane cried over the music.

“Every day with you has been unforgettable, since the very first moment I met you!”

Tea Time Tattle- Bingley

TTT.jpgThis is a new thing I’m rolling out on the blog. Along with Wordless Wednesday and Thursday 300, it will be related to the Music Monday post…somewhat. So break out the tea pot and get cozy. We’re going to sit down for a nice long chat.

The Music Monday post made me think of Bingley and Jane. This week, let’s talk about Bingley and next week we’ll do Jane.

It’s a truth universally acknowledged in Fanon that Bingley is a spineless idiot entirely dependent upon Darcy.

Blech.

I don’t know where people get this impression. The man had flaws, sure he did. So does everyone in the book. SO DOES EVERYONE. That’s what makes Austen so great. Her characters feel real because no one is perfect or flat.

Let’s look at some of the descriptions of Bingley before we really get to know him.

Bingley was endeared to Darcy by the easiness, openness, and ductility of his temper, though no disposition could offer a greater contrast to his own, and though with his own he never appeared dissatisfied. On the strength of Darcy’s regard, Bingley had the firmest reliance, and of his judgement the highest opinion.

Have you ever had someone you could depend on? Someone whose opinion you valued and respected? Most people would say yes. I think that’s all this passage means. Bingley respected Darcy’s opinion. There’s no reason to interpret this passage into the extremities that Bingley couldn’t do a thing without Darcy telling him.

Next, there’s this:

In understanding, Darcy was the superior. Bingley was by no means deficient, but Darcy was clever.

Have you ever had a friend that you thought was more intelligent than you? Someone who maybe understood things better or faster? I’m pretty good at history and reading. I can write a good story, but I need help with copy edits. I’m nearly hopeless with science or math. Does any of that make me think I’m stupid? No. I would hope no one else thinks I am simply because I have strengths in different areas. I can’t understand that chemical equation, but I can break down that Shakespeare poem for you.

Bingley was sure of being liked wherever he appeared, Darcy was continually giving offense.

So here we have the balance. Darcy is clever, with no real details given as to what he’s clever about, but then Bingley is the one who understands social cues and graces better.

You say, “That’s all well and fine, Rose but Bingley’s behavior in the story supports his spineless and stupid ways.”

As a writer,  I will admit readers need to be careful about what we show and not just what we tell. Just the other day I mentioned to a friend that in Sense and Sensibility, characters are described in generally flattering terms (or at least relatively benign), and then their personalities reveal them to either be endearing or annoying. I’m looking at you, Mrs. Jennings. I would say, however, to never disregard how an author has described a character. Jane Austen does this frequently. Mrs. Jennings might have been intrusive and annoying, but she meant well and was kind-hearted. Does any of her behavior nullify this description?

Mrs. Jennings, Lady Middleton’s mother, was a good-humoured, merry, fat, elderly woman, who talked a great deal, seemed very happy, and rather vulgar.

No, it doesn’t. Likewise, I maintain that Bingley’s actions throughout Pride and Prejudice do nothing to nullify the intelligence and strength of character Austen describes him as having.

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We all know about how Bingley left Meryton and stayed in London after Darcy told him Jane wasn’t that into him. People either blame Darcy or Bingley for that with very few splitting it between the two. However, let’s look at other things before we get there.

Bingley is obviously outgoing. He makes friends easily and mingles at the ball with strangers. Outings are referenced, and he continues to pay attention to Jane whenever the Bennets are present. Even when Jane is at Netherfield, he has plans to dine with the officers. However, there are no mentions of other people spending a lot of time in his inner circle. It is said that the Bennets returned a call on Netherfield. Nothing is said of them hosting dinners at Netherfield. It appears that regardless of how outgoing in a crowd Bingley is, he may not excell at fostering and deepening friendships.

That could be for a few reasons. Perhaps he cannot focus. Darcy does point out how easily Bingley’s attention can be redirected. However, he remained in Hertfordshrie for over six weeks. He had plenty of time to build relationships. Indeed, at the Assembly, he seems eager to please. He tells everyone he wants to host a ball. Then Lydia and Kitty remind him of that, and he emphatically agrees to it.

Hmm…he likes to make people happy.

Being a people-pleaser is not a bad thing. It does not by default make you weak or unintelligent. Notice that he’s friends with Darcy not a man like Wickham. Bingley is smart enough to choose his friends carefully. In fact, while generally pleasing the people of the area but not immediately becoming close friends with any of the other gentlemen is a prudent move. It shows he doesn’t make rash decisions.

Perhaps that is why he tip toes around Jane. He likes her. He singles her out, and Elizabeth even jokes that he ignores other ladies to the point of nearly being uncivil. However, he does not call on Longbourn frequently. He does not act as the besotted lover. For example, there’s an extreme difference in his behavior and Mr. Willoughby of Sense and Sensibility. Maybe Bingley is just more proper. However, he is not taking pains to get to know Mr. Bennet better. Even Mr. Collins made his plans plain to one of the Bennet parents as soon as possible. Finally, let us not forget that Darcy says Bingley had often been in love.

What I am getting at, is that I think there is a bit of insecurity or timidity in Mr. Bingley. Darcy says Bingley is modest but I think it’s a touch more than that. It’s not that he’s sitting in amazement that Jane is even talking to him. It’s that he’s clearly uncertain what she’s thinking and feeling. This, from the man who can easily read societal cues. Rather than just rushing in, he holds back. Even Charlotte says that Jane needs to show more, not only because Jane seems too serene but because Bingley is clearly following Jane’s lead.

After Elizabeth reads Darcy’s letter, she allows for the fact that Jane might have needed to show her feelings more openly to Bingley. This feels like it should be an exoneration for Darcy. Indeed, Elizabeth seems to allow any residual anger to evaporate over the issue. Instead, she’s left with regret that her family’s behavior contributed to the situation.

If Darcy is justified in believing Jane indifferent then why is Bingley often called spineless for believing him? The answer is that readers presume Bingley must have understood Jane better than Darcy did. True, he definitely spent more time with her than Darcy did. But did he understand her when even her closest friends can say that she concealed her feelings too much? For a man that seems to have innate feelings of modesty and insecurities, how could Bingley have acted differently? He deferred to a friend he trusted, who had never steered him wrong and bravely acknowledged his own weakness. How is that spineless?

When Bingley returns to Hertfordshire, he is immediately drawn to Jane again. Indeed, even when he saw Elizabeth the previous summer, he was attempting to ask about her. The poor man clearly has a loyal heart. Unfortunately, Jane is even more likely to act indifferent than before (more on her next week). What can make their story complete but the help of the same man who had previously intruded? Darcy saw what Bingley was too scared to see. Jane still loved Bingley. Once Bingley had that boost in confidence, he didn’t hesitate to propose.

Now, I believe every character is the hero of their own story. However, Bingley is not the hero of Pride and Prejudice. Therefore, one can argue he didn’t go through any big character development. Variations are different things, of course. We writers put in the character development that Jane didn’t show. In canon, however, Bingley doesn’t really evolve. He returns to Hertfordshire feeling insecure and modest. Granted, it takes quite a bit of courage just to come back. So, if Bingley was able to propose at the end and hasn’t gone through any evolution, then he was made of the same stuff at the beginning. If he’s not spineless at the end when he marries Jane regardless of Darcy or Caroline’s opinions, then he’s not spineless at the beginning. Instead, he has better information. And that’s not stupid of him.

What do you make of canon Bingley?

 

Music Monday- Unforgettable

Beautiful black and white rose with note on the petals

I grew up in a conservative Christian household and only listened to various forms of music in the Christian genre. My favorite was bluegrass gospel. I love a banjo! I also listened to classical instrumental music.

As a writer, I have recently begun tuning into country love songs. Maybe I should consider pop or rock songs too but something about contemporary country gets me even though you seldom hear a banjo or mandolin. At any rate, I skip the songs that aren’t about happy love stories. I’m such a romantic sap! So, that’s just an explanation of the type of tunes you’ll find on this thread because I have very limited experiences in anything else unless I hear it in a movie.

Inspired by Leenie Brown, I am going to try matching my posts for the week to my Music Mondays and start a micro fiction thread on Thursdays. Stay tuned!

I’ve loved “Unforgettable” by Thomas Rhett since I first heard it. I was on a road trip the other day and this time when it came on, I started thinking about a Jane Bennet and Charles Bingley scene. Can you pinpoint why?

It was the 14th of October
And that t-shirt off your shoulder
I was drunk, said I was sober
And you said “yeah, right”
We were talkin’ for a minute
Then some guy tried to cut in
You took my hand and we pretended
Like I was your guy
Oh, and I tried to guess your middle name
For thirty minutes bet we played that game
That mango-rita you were drinkin’
And that Coldplay song that you were singin’
And I bet right now you’re probably thinkin’
That it’s crazy I remember every detail, but I do
From your blue jeans to your shoes
Girl, that night was just like you
Unforgettable
We were dancin’, we were buzzin’
Takin’ shots like it was nothin’
Did the runnin’ man, you loved it
Yeah, you laughed out loud
You brushed away your blonde hair
And you kissed me out of nowhere
I can still show you the spot
Where everything went down
Oh, I told you I was gonna marry you
You probably didn’t think that it was true
That mango-rita you were drinkin’
And that Coldplay song that you were singin’
And I bet right now you’re probably thinkin’
That it’s crazy I remember every detail, but I do
I can still smell your perfume
Girl, that night was just like you
Unforgettable
Oh, that night was just like you, baby
I can taste the mango-rita you were drinkin’
And it feels just like it was last weekend
That we jumped in
Right off the deep end
That mango-rita you were drinkin’
And that Coldplay song that you were singin’
And I bet right now you’re probably thinkin’
That it’s crazy I remember every detail, but I do
I can still smell your perfume
Girl, that night was just like you
Unforgettable
From your blue jeans to your shoes
Girl, that night was just like you
Unforgettable
Songwriters: Ashley Gorley / Jesse Frasure / Shane L McAnally / Thomas Rhett
Unforgettable lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd