I’m so pleased to have Jeanna Ellsworth back for another round! Here she shares with us some of her writing experience and how she got started not only in Jane Austen Fan Fiction but original historical fiction as well. I’ve been enjoying non-JAFF Regency fics lately so I was more than happy to host Jeanna again! There’s also an excerpt from a really beautiful moment and a giveaway!
Thank you Rose for hosting me on your blog! This is the secomd time I’ve been on your blog and am so excited to share with everyone about my latest release, Inspired by Grace, published in the middle of May. Many of you may not know my writing history so I will tell you a little about how I got started. First of all, I never wanted to be a writer. In fact, English feels like a second language sometimes (even though it is not)! When my editor gets ahold of my raw work, she returns it with red plastered in every sentence and I think, “Yes, that is how real people speak! I must have used Google translate to write the rough draft.” I also happen to be a nurse and when I didn’t get into BYU’s nursing program the first semester, they suggested I retake the class that I got the lowest grade in. Since I got a B in English, I retook the class and, well, got another B. But I got into the program anyway the second semester. Needless to say, I am very grateful to Katrina Beckstrand, my editor. She sees the potential of what I write and adds the “something else” to make it just what we want. (I’ll explain quoting “something else” in a minute.)
I started writing because of my Darcy and Elizabeth obsession was getting out of hand. My sister, KaraLynne Mackrory, introduced me to Jane Austen Fan Fiction, and yes, I blame her entirely, because she would send me chapters of her book as she wrote them and I was getting impatient for the next chapter. She would tell me to read other books and those of us who love JAFF know what a slippery slope that is. I read everything I could get my hands on and after about 4 months and at least (low estimate) 50 books later, I began to wonder how sane I was anymore. You see, Darcy and Elizabeth were having conversations in my head and I knew that either I was going to write a book to let them express themselves, or I was going to be diagnosed schizophrenic. I chose to write a book; the sanity diagnosis is still debatable. J So I began writing and really haven’t stopped. I just finished my seventh book in 3 ½ years and already have plans for book eight.
Although fan fiction is where I got started, I began to have impressions of new characters with new experiences and problems. This is how Inspired by Grace was born. I looked at my 17 year old daughter and realized that she was a strong female lead. She had all the right ingredients for a heroine that people could fall in love with. She had great quirks that I could expand on and so I wrote a book with a heroine that is very similar to her. The book was published the day she turned 18 and she is the model on the cover! How many parents can say they immortalized their child with worldwide stardom on their 18th birthday?
Well, enough about me, let me introduce you to Inspired by Grace. Here is the back cover intrigue.
“She was never the demure lady who was afraid of getting her petticoat dirty. He was never the calm and collected lad who coddled her. What had started as friendship had evolved into something quite tangible . . .”
A lady always hopes that the man she falls in love with will sweep her off her feet in a dramatic and graceful way. Well, for Grace Iverson, at least it was dramatic. Her childhood best friend, Gavin Kingston—now His Grace, the Duke of Huntsman—is still just as clumsy as ever.
Despite their painful separation as children, a chance encounter has offered them a second opportunity for happiness. But after ten years apart, they both carry hidden scars. Trust takes time. And soon, forces from the past threaten to destroy the love they both have hoped for all of their lives.
Can Grace’s best friend break down her emotional fortress and prove his love before she disappears from his life a second time?
This lovely Regency romance started well before either of them knew what they wished for in a partner; but it will surely be one that stands the test of time.
And now, here is an excerpt for you all to whet your appetite. This scene takes place as a flashback when Gavin was 16 and Grace was 14. It was a fun scene to write and it explains a bit about how sometimes we do not know how to describe what just happened, sometimes things move in directions that really are “something else”. Hope you enjoy it! Sorry it is a bit long.
She walked to the music box and did what she had seen him do, twisting the knob on the back to buy herself more time to think. He felt remorse for that last dance lesson. He had not meant to cross into that “something else”; it had been an accident, a mistake.
Her fingers continued to turn the knob as she debated in her heart how she felt about that. She had already decided that as long as she had her best friend back, friendship was enough. As the music began, she realized it was playing the very same song they had danced to at their last lesson. She was taken back to that moment.
Grace thought Gavin had improved a great deal over the four weeks of dance lessons. In fact, she had to admit he had never been so graceful. The music made him elegant. They had gotten to the point where the dance master, Mr. Moser, would play at the piano and call out corrections rather than call out the steps. At times, Grace forgot they were rehearsing and imagined herself at a real ball. Although, in a classic Gavinism, Gavin had lost one of his gloves in the mud that afternoon. Mr. Moser grudgingly permitted them to dance with bare hands, just this one time.
“Lord Gavin, lighter on the ball of your toes. Miss Iverson, chin up,” Mr. Moser instructed from across the room.
Grace did as she was told, and the dance brought them together again. Gavin quickly whispered, “Gigi, I need to speak with you. I leave in two days, and I cannot go without telling you what I meant when I said I would marry you.”
Her heart started racing. When he had first said that someone big and brave would take her away from him, she had grown cold in her heart. No love could ever be worth having to give up her best friend. She was not sure she wanted to discuss it, but this was Gavin; she held nothing back from him. “There is nothing to explain,” Grace whispered. “I have decided I shall never marry if it means having to give you up.”
“No, that is not what I meant. Someday you will fall in love. Real love. Not the kind of silly love that your sister reads in her ladies’ novels. You are simply too special for men not to see your worth.”
She whispered back so that Mr. Moser did not hear, “Truly, it is all right. I have a plan. I shall be the governess to your children. We will still be able to see each other every day.”
Gavin’s response was far too quick. “I do not want that.”
At first his words hurt, but then he explained, “I do want to see you every day, but I cannot employ you. I care too much for you. Gigi, I love you. When I said I would marry you, I meant it. Not to save you from being a spinster, but because you are the only one my heart wants. I thought I was content to be just best friends. I thought that was enough. But I am more convinced than ever that it is not.”
Grace nearly tripped in her steps, and she heard Mr. Moser call out, “Focus, Miss Iverson. Now take his hand and promenade down. Quick-step, kick, slow-step. That is right.”
Grace turned to look at Gavin. “You want to marry me?”
“I think it is the only option I have. I cannot give you up; you are far too dear to me. I cannot imagine greeting you as Mrs. Monroe or Mrs. White. You will always be my Gigi. Mine. I am too selfish to let someone else claim you.”
Just then his mother came into the room, and Mr. Moser stopped playing to speak with her. Gavin halted and turned toward Grace. The moment was more than she could have asked for. “Gavin, we are too young to know whether the kind of love we have for each other will really cement a lasting marriage. Marriage should be based on friendship, but it needs more than just that.”
Mr. Moser interrupted their discussion and called out, “The duchess needs to speak with me for a moment. You may relax until I return.” Both Gavin and Grace watched them leave. The discussion was all too private as it was, but now there was something tangible in the air.
Gavin took her hand and asked, “Tell me, Grace. What else does a marriage need?”
Grace may have been only fourteen, but she was pretty confident in her ideas. “To make a marriage work, there has to be that ‘something else’. A man needs to love a woman enough to make her insides melt. He needs to be able to make her knees go weak with a single kiss, and—”
But before she could finish describing what she had read about, he took her face in both his hands and placed his lips on hers to silence her. It was no small act. Without conscious thought, her lips responded in kind, and she felt her mind lose all coherent thought. It was as if time had slowed down, and she could feel each and every heartbeat as a distinct thump in her chest. LUB-DUB. LUB-DUB. The sound got louder and louder as her lips caressed his, making her very insides melt and her knees go weak.
He pulled away, and she opened her eyes to see his chestnut brown orbs shining down at her. The corners of his mouth pulled up, and he said, “Is that what is missing between us?”
He still had his hands on each side of her face. He held her so close that his breath cooled her heated, swollen, wet lips. She reached up and kissed him again. This time, he let go of her face and pulled her into his arms, but before the kiss could get heated, they heard Mr. Moser’s voice and they both jumped away.
“Miss Iverson! I think you should be getting home. Now.”
She looked over at Gavin. He was not even pink. She was blushing from the tip of her toes to her ears, and he had the confidence to act as if being found kissing a girl happened every day! Gavin grinned and said, “I will walk you home.”
“No,” Mr. Moser quickly said, “I think I will accompany Miss Iverson home. Lord Gavin, I think you should redirect yourself. Perhaps something physically diverting.”
Gavin then reached for Grace’s hand and kissed it. “What a beautiful way to end our dance lessons. Have a wonderful day, Miss Iverson.”
It was the first time he had ever called her “Miss Iverson”, instead of “Gigi” or the occasional “Grace”. He seemed to have matured in the last few minutes. Where she once knew a boy, now she saw a young man who would someday soon be a grown gentleman. A gentleman who had just made her insides melt.
She let him kiss her hand, and she curtsied. Gavin had kissed her hand before, of course—acting out Romeo and Juliet or some other play—but this time the kiss lingered; his lips pressed in a way that meant something more.
She knew it, and she knew that he knew it. They had just crossed from best friends into “something else.”
Hope you enjoyed it! If you did, comment on it and enter yourself in a chance to win either a paperback (U.S. only) or an eBook (internationally) of Inspired by Grace. If you simply cannot wait to read the rest of the book, it is available on Amazon as both paperback and kindle eBook. If you would like to connect with me in other ways, here is how.
Twitter name @ellsworthjeanna
Blog and website for latest information: www.heyladypublications.com
Thanks again Rose for hosting me! Hope you all tell your friends about it.
Thanks for stopping by, Jeanna! Giveaway ends Friday July 24 11:59 pm EST.