Wacky Wednesday–Scott’s Grotto

wacky wednesday

I was watching the 2009 production of Emma the other day when I realized Pride and Prejudice is the only Jane Austen story in which the primary male and female characters do not go on an excursion together. Of course, in each scenario there are annoying people amongst them. It made me wonder what it would be like for the Bennets and the Bingley group to go on an outing together. Could you imagine Caroline having to sit in a carriage with Lydia for hours?


Thus I began researching to find a suitable place in Hertfordshire to send our beloved Pride and Prejudice characters. However, I also wanted to post about it for today’s theme. I knew it had to be “wacky.” After a few hours, I found Scott’s Grotto in Ware. It’s about 4 miles from Hertford, which I tend to use as my base for Meryton. I’ve read somewhere, now lost to my memory, that it’s a possible inspiration for Meryton.


Scott’s Grotto is not just any grotto. And for those that don’t know, a grotto is a cave. Think Ariel’s grotto from the Little Mermaid. I am a bit biased on the topic of grottoes as I grew up in a town called Grottoes and, if I may say, we have the best caverns in the US. If you ever find yourself in Virginia, be sure to stop by Grand Caverns.

Back to Scott’s Grotto. It’s the largest in England. Built into the chalk hillside, it has six chambers and is 65 feet long and 30 feet below the surface. There are connecting passages and the area is complete with air and light shafts. Its walls are covered with sea shells, colored glass, and stones. It was made by John Scott, an 18th century Quaker who also wrote poetry and owned the property of Amwell House in which the grotto is located. Scott also had other romantic items in his garden, including a gazebo. From 1779 to 1787, Scott recorded 3,000 visitors to his grotto. Famed writer Samuel Johnson visited in 1773 and called it a “fairy hall.”

Upon Scott’s death in 1783, the estate was inherited by his only daughter, Maria. She married a wealthy Quaker named John Hooper. Unfortunately, when she died in 1863 the property was divided up. The grotto was repaired in 1990s. Both the house and the estate are under management of the Hertford Regional College.

So…how will I work this grotto into a story? You’ll just have to come back and see! ūüėÄ






Tea Time Tattle– Series vs. Incomplete

on a white wooden table red roses, cup of tea, heart made of lac

I’m still working on Treasured, Book Three in the Loving Elizabeth Series. I hope to have it out in October. From time to time I’ll hear–or rather read–a comment about the story not being complete. This isn’t unique to me, of course; lots of writers of series get this comment.

Let’s do a bit of research about series. Here’s what Wikipedia says:

Fictional series typically share a common¬†setting,¬†story arc, set of¬†characters¬†or¬†timeline. They are common in¬†genre fiction, particularly¬†crime fiction,¬†adventure fiction, and¬†science fiction, as well as in¬†children’s literature.

Some works in a series can stand alone‚ÄĒthey can be read in any order, as each book makes few, if any reference to past events, and the characters seldom, if ever, change. Many of these series books may be published in a numbered series. Examples of such series are works like¬†The Hardy Boys,¬†Nancy Drew, and¬†Nick Carter.

Some series do have their characters go through changes, and make references to past events. Typically such series are published in the order of their internal chronology, so that the next book published follows the previous book. How much these changes matter will vary from series to series (and reader to reader). For some, it may be minor‚ÄĒcharacters might get engaged, change jobs, etc., but it does not affect the main storyline. Examples of this type include¬†Tony Hillerman’s¬†Jim Chee¬†and¬†Joe Leaphorn¬†books. In other series, the changes are major and the books must be read in order to be fully enjoyed. Examples of this type include the¬†Harry Potter¬†series.

There are some book series that are not really proper series, but more of a single work so large that it must be published over two or more books. Examples of this type include The Lord of the Rings volumes or the Dark Tower series by Stephen King.

Some authors make it difficult to list their books in a numerical order when they do not release each work in its ‘proper’ order by the story’s internal chronology. They might ‘jump’ back in time to early adventures of the characters, writing works that must be placed before or between previously published works. Thus, the books in a series are sometimes enumerated according to the internal chronology rather than in publication order, depending on the intended purpose for the list. Examples of this series include works from the¬†Chronicles of Narnia, where the fifth book published,¬†The Horse and His Boy, is actually set during the time of the first book, and the sixth book published,¬†The Magician’s Nephew¬†is actually set long before the first book. This was done intentionally by¬†C. S. Lewis, a medieval literature scholar. Medieval literature did not always tell a story chronologically.

The post on this site sagas, serialized epics, and continuing adventures. The author writes SciFi/Fantasy, so things are filtered through that genre. In Romance, we usually find sagas as multi-generational family pieces. He describes serialized epics as:

These are the series where the next book in the series picks up right where the previous one left off. In essence, the author is writing one enormous book, releasing it in installments.

Mr. Sanderson lists The Lord of the Rings as an example. Finally, he says of continuing adventures:

This is the series where you get one central protagonist who has a complete story in each book. Then, when another book comes out, that character can go on another adventure. It differs from the saga in the fact that it goes chronologically and focuses on a single, central viewpoint character.

Sanderson adds that he finds this type of series very successful and the most popular outside of Scifi/Fantasy.

I’ve heard different names for this breakdown of series specifically for Romance. The Continuing Character Series is a series with one or two central protaganists and each story is a stand alone. Connected Character Series would be similar to the description of Saga above. The best friend or brother in Book 1 might be the protagonist of Book 2. Multivolume Series has one large conflict that extends throughout the series while each book will deal with a subplot and will finish the conflict central to that story.

I’ve heard different names for this breakdown of series specifically for Romance. The Continuing Character series is a series with one or two central protagonists, and each story is a stand alone. Connected Character series would be similar to the description of Saga above. The best friend or brother in Book 1 might be the protagonist of Book 2. Multivolume series has one massive conflict that extends throughout the series while each book will deal with a subplot and will finish the conflict central to that story.

Let’s consider my various series.

ja series facebook.jpg
This series is getting new covers!

The Jane Austen Re-Imaginings series is entirely stand alones. Read them in any order. They do not build upon one another. This would be close to the Continuing Character series. Obviously, it is not the same Darcy and Elizabeth in each story, but it is as though the game board has been reset and the pieces are set up all over again.

The When Love Blooms series was supposed to be a Connected Character series. Darcy and Elizabeth are happily married, and their storyline is complete. Book 2 then fills in the gaps of what the minor characters were going through before they each get their own book. It’s not sold well, and I think the issue is mixing up all the points of views in book 2, Renewed Hope. My new intention is to give the connected characters their own series while continuing to follow Darcy and Elizabeth in When Love Blooms. This will involve taking down the current book 2 (Renewed Hope) and possibly adding scenes from it into Extraordinary Devotion. Instead of following what happens to the Bennet family through the eyes of each sister, I will be keeping with Darcy and Elizabeth.


Pride and Prejudice and Bluestockings is multivolume. The first book was so long that if I had continued to follow all the storylines, it would be probably 1,000 pages long and years of writing. The primary conflict is completed at the end of Mr. Darcy’s Bluestocking Bride, but other issues remain. Additionally, Darcy and Elizabeth will be going on a new “adventure” in each book.


Loving Elizabeth is intended to be a Continuing Character series but within a self-contained universe. The conflict of Pledged is “can they fall in love despite their family’s disapproval?” Wickham and Lord Harcourt were up to no good. Sam and Mr. Darcy disapproved of Will and Elizabeth’s attachment. Reunited begins after they were separated for years. Wickham isn’t even mentioned for most of the book, Harcourt never is, Sam and Mr. Darcy are dead. Yes, Will and Elizabeth loved each other and wished to marry at the end of Pledged, and that never changed. Reunited poses a new question. Why were they separated? The answer is as much about their personal flaws as it is about stolen letters. Treasured‘s conflict will center on conquering all opposition. There are now even more people against Will and Elizabeth’s marriage and for different reasons. Wickham is a potential threat again. Will they give up on each other or will they fight and overcome together?

Additionally, each book in the Loving Elizabeth series uses a different romantic trope. Pledged combined the brother’s best friend and young lovers tropes. The conflict is centered around those problems. Reunited is a second chance story at its core. Treasured will be… well, that’s a secret for now! ūüėÄ

loving elizabeth facebook banner

All this to say, each Loving Elizabeth story is a complete story. Should you read in order? It would be helpful. However, enough is said in Reunited and Treasured that you could read out of order.

But if they’re short and I’m releasing several of them, aren’t I just cutting up the story and publishing it in installments?

They are novellas. Length does not determine completion of a story. I have read a few very, very long stories that did not complete the conflict they introduced. I can think of one that despite this fact is a favorite of mine. The Lord of the Rings series is described as being released in installments in both sources above. They are some of the longest books out there. By the same token, even micro of flash fiction can give a complete story: conflict, climax, resolution. Most children’s books contain these elements but are only a few pages long.

Combining the three stories into one book would make for a poor reader experience as the would not be a sustained conflict that continues to build until the final quarter of the book. It might one day be available as an anthology, the way I offer others from time to time. That should not be confused with putting the story into one volume or releasing it as a “complete book.”

To address a less openly discussed criticism of the series: if I had written it as one novel, then it would be nearly 100,000 words or about 600 pages and would be $9.99. It’s actually cheaper to buy it as three novellas.

In conclusion, here’s my confession about incomplete stories being series. Pledged and Reunited at not part of a chopped up longer story. However,¬†Mr. Darcy’s Bluestocking Bride is. No one complains about it because it’s long. Chew on that for a bit.

Additionally, even that isn’t wrong, incorrect, unfair, or unusual. It may not be the standard in JAFF but there’s a wide, wide world of books out there. JAFF is a teeny, tiny niche compared within other genres. Most would place JAFF in Regency Romance (a subcategory of Historical Romance (a subcategory of Romance)) or in Regency Historical Fiction.

Adopting practices from other categories that might not be the norm in JAFF can keep the genre relevant and revitalized. It’s not enough to merely write JAFF as it’s always been done for the sake of always doing it that way. I don’t care if no one else has done a series this way or that way and therefore some readers think I’m doing it wrong. I’ve done my research. I know I’m doing something acceptable and crafting a story intentionally around it. If Regency Romance folks like that style, maybe they will give our JAFF a try. This is something to keep in mind regarding length and series before judging an author’s work.

Monday Motivation– Good in every day

Good morning! It’s another Monday. Find some good in it!


This actually reminds me of my author chat with Leenie Brown and Zoe Burton last Saturday. Our topic was “distractions” and we ended the discussion with the idea that living mindfully and intentionally looking for the good in each day and remembering your focus every day will help redirect your attention. I could get distracted by a Facebook post but no…that’s not my goal today. My goal is to write 1500 words. I could relive the horrors of a bad morning but no…the good that happened this day was that I was able to sit and write for the first time in a week.

It’s so simple and yet so powerful. Tell me about some of the good in your day!

Here’s the video I mentioned! You might have to join our Facebook group called Longbourn Literary Society.


Friday Feeling– Storms inside & out


Parts of the US are expecting a hurricane today. I was one of them until yesterday. I don’t live on the coast, but less than fifty miles from it. Massive flooding from the rivers which surround us was a foregone conclusion. More than that, the winds would still be very strong by the time they hit my house. Faced with the idea of losing power for many days and having to seek shelter in a local school with my special needs kids, I decided to leave the area for higher ground.

It was my first hurricane and I think I over anticipated that it’s trajectory wouldn’t change. I wanted to beat the last minute evacuee traffic and so I left Wednesday afternoon and drove to the mountains of Virginia where I grew up. By the time I got there, reports came in that it’s expected path had shifted and Florence would stay mostly in the Carolinas. In fact, this area might receive more rainfall and wind than my home closer to the coast.

This trip has felt a bit like a fool’s errand. My son came down with an ear infection. My daughter is acting poorly. My fall allergies have kicked in. I’m massively behind on all work. I sleep awful in hotels. I have joked that next time, even if they’re calling for the hurricane to land right on top of my house, I’m staying put. I don’t know about you, but if I don’t have adequate rest I just feel like I’m going to die. It even affects how I can handle emotional stress.

I’m currently feeling like there’s not much to anticipate about my Friday. By the time this posts, I will probably be on the road home. My husband manages a 24 hour truck stop and so many of his employees have already left the area that he might be working 20 hours or more tomorrow. So it’s not like I will have a nice break when I get home–although the kids will hopefully cooperate a bit better in our home than where everything is new and not enough to entertain.

However, I’m fortunate. So many will be without power and probably even without homes. This hurricane has changed course and so it means people who will be affected have had less time to prepare. For me, this Friday will be nothing worth feeling special about. For them, this Friday could be the end of a chapter that marks the loss of stability in their life.

I’m sure you join me in prayers and good thoughts for all who will be affected by this hurricane and the other storms to come this season. No matter where you are or what day it is, I hope you find rest. It’s essential for living and for coping with this life.

Throwback Thursday–Somerset v. Stewart

throwback thursday

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a Throwback Thursday post. I’m going to try to do them once a month. My post on Monday has somewhat set the tone for my posts this week. I looked at the opening of¬†Mansfield Park this Monday, so it was only right that the Wordless Wednesday post is of Lord Mansfield and the Throwback Thursday post be about his landmark case, Somerset v. Stewart.

The short story is that James Somerset was an enslaved person in the American Colonies and purchased in Boston by a Charles Stewart, a British customs officer. Somerset was brought to England in 1769. In 1771, Somerset escaped and was eventually captured. He was then imprisoned by Stewart and destined for the slave auction in Jamaica. During his time in England, he was baptized in the Anglican faith, and his three godparents petitioned on his behalf that his imprisonment was illegal.

While Somerset’s side gathered evidence, the case drew the notice of famed abolitionists. They argued that no common law nor positive law (meaning a legislated statute) enacted slavery on English soil. The opponents argued that property ownership was the basis for English law and freeing all slaves in England would be dangerous.

After a month of consideration, John Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, rendered this verdict:

The only question then is, Is the cause returned sufficient for the remanding him? If not, he must be discharged.

The cause returned is, the slave absented himself, and departed from his master’s service, and refused to return and serve him during his stay in England; whereupon, by his master’s orders, he was put on board the ship by force, and there detained in secure custody, to be carried out of the kingdom and sold. So high an act of dominion must derive its authority, if any such it has, from the law of the kingdom where executed. A foreigner cannot be imprisoned here on the authority of any law existing in his own country: the power of a master over his servant is different in all countries, more or less limited or extensive; the exercise of it, therefore, must always be regulated by the laws of the place where exercised.

The state of slavery is of such a nature, that it is incapable of now being introduced by Courts of Justice upon mere reasoning or inferences from any principles, natural or political; it must take its rise from positive law; the origin of it can in no country or age be traced back to any other source: immemorial usage preserves the memory of positive law long after all traces of the occasion; reason, authority, and time of its introduction are lost; and in a case so odious as the condition of slaves must be taken strictly, the power claimed by this return was never in use here; no master ever was allowed here to take a slave by force to be sold abroad because he had deserted from his service, or for any other reason whatever; we cannot say the cause set forth by this return is allowed or approved of by the laws of this kingdom, therefore the black must be discharged.

The Somerset v. Stewart case was ruled on June 22, 1772. In 1785, Lord Mansfield ruled that a slave who had been brought to England was not entitled to poor relief upon the death of her master because she had never been hired. Despite the groundbreaking work of the Somerset case, Mansfield later made it clear that he did not intend to rule that slavery was illegal on English soil, only that no one but the government could forcefully compel a person to leave and that in that case, slave status was nullified. In the case of poor relief, such laws were legislated and had clear legal parameters to operate in.

Unfortunately, the Somerset case meant little in the grand scheme of the international slave trade. It was but a stepping stone. However, if a legislated law was required to establish slavery, it could also be revoked. This meant that Parliament could, theoretically, have the right to abolish the slave trade and even the practice of slavery entirely. Such legislation would not infringe upon a British citizen’s right to property.

Eventually, the slave trade was outlawed in the Empire in 1807. Slavery would not be abolished in the United Kingdom and its Empire until 1833 and take the tireless work of many, many more.