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.
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
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.
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.