THE SECRET LIFE OF MISS MARY BENNET: Release day blog post featuring Katherine Cowley

Katherine Cowley on The Thrills and Dangers of Writing a Jane Austen-Inspired Novel

I am so excited to share a little about my book, The Secret Life of Miss Mary Bennet. My novel features Mary Bennet, the middle, often-forgotten sister from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, solving a murder mystery. My book starts about a year after the end of Pride and Prejudice, and I want to talk about some of the wonderful and challenging things about writing an Austenesque novel, or, in other words:

The Thrills and Dangers of Writing a Jane Austen-Inspired Novel

Thrill #1: I Get to Play with My Favorite Characters.

When I have a favorite character, I don’t want their story to end, and in Pride and Prejudice, this is the case for many of the characters. Are Elizabeth and Darcy as in love with ever? What is Mrs. Bennet wailing about? Is Mr. Collins still insufferable?

Writing a Jane Austen-inspired novel gave me the opportunity to spend more time with these characters and continue their stories.

Danger #1: Everyone has a different level of familiarity with Jane Austen.

Some readers have never read Jane Austen. Others have seen a film. Others have read Pride and Prejudice, but ten years ago, while other readers have read it dozens of times.

I decided to write in a way that no matter how much or how little you know of the original text, my book should be able to stand on its own. One of my critique partners has never read or seen any Austen, so having her read the book helped me see when I needed to add extra explanations and details. I also had several critique partners who are avid readers of Jane Austen, and they helped me notice errors and gave me advice on making my book feel true to the original text.

Thrill #2: I Can Mix Genres.

I love Regency stories and Jane Austen, and I also love mystery novels, so writing The Secret Life of Miss Mary Bennet gave me the chance to weave both genres together.

Jane Austen’s novels are all about characters trying to understand each other, which is also what investigators do in a mystery novel. For me, it felt very natural to mix mystery and Austen.

Danger #2: It is difficult to match Jane Austen’s language.

Languages change over time, and the way we use English has definitely changed in the last two hundred years, since Pride and Prejudice was published.

One of the things I liked to do was reread Austen to get me into the mindset of the sentence structure and approach to words. Then, as I was writing, I would speak aloud in a (very terrible) British accent, which helped me focus on how the characters might speak. 

I also spent a lot of time looking things up. There’s a Jane Austen Thesaurus where you can check if Jane Austen ever used a word. I also frequented the Oxford English Dictionary and Google Ngram, to check if other authors used words or phrases in certain ways in 1814.

Thrill #3: I Can Provide an Alternate Perspective

Mary Bennet actually only has seven lines of dialogue in the entire novel of Pride and Prejudice (though she has a few other noteworthy passages, such as when she can’t come up with something to say, when she plays the pianoforte poorly at the Netherfield Ball, and when she wishes that Mr. Collins had proposed to her).

In some adaptations, Mary is present mostly for the sake of comic relief—she provides someone for the audience to laugh at. And yet I felt like there’s so much more to Mary than just that.

I wanted to provide an alternate perspective on her, to let readers explore her thought process and why she acts the way she does. And I wanted Mary—overlooked, ignored, mocked Mary—to have her own story, her own adventures. Everyone deserves their own story, their own chance to shine and make a difference in the world.

 

Katherine Cowley read Pride and Prejudice for the first time when she was ten years old, which started a lifelong obsession with Jane Austen. She loves history, chocolate, traveling, and playing the piano, and she teaches writing classes at Western Michigan University. She lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan with her husband and three daughters. The Secret Life of Miss Mary Bennet is her debut novel.


THE COWBOY’S VOW: Release day blog post featuring Leah Vale

I am thrilled to be able to celebrate the release day of The Cowboy’s Vow, book three in my Rodeo Romeos series, here on the Tule Blog. 

I am so excited to share Ian Neisson’s story with readers. I have been looking forward to the opportunity ever since I first came up with the concept for the Rodeo Romeos series. As the eldest Neisson sibling, Ian carries a lot of responsibility on his shoulders, and I couldn’t wait for the chance to give him the Happily Ever After he deserves. 

And it’s always fun to return to a world worth escaping to. The Rodeo Romeo series not only includes the thrills and chills found at a rodeo, but also my personal fantasy of life on a legacy ranch like the one owned by Ian’s family. 

I also wanted to include an overarching mystery that would conclude in Ian’s book, and when I learned that the FBI investigates livestock theft when state lines are crossed, I knew I had Ian’s perfect match. 

One of the themes I drew on while writing The Cowboy’s Vow was the old adage of Never Say Never. FBI Special Agent Jessie Martin has sworn “never again” when it comes to cowboys. Ian, a cowboy to the core, has sworn to never again open himself up the pain of loss. Needless to say, it was fun putting them together and watching the fireworks fly.

I hope you enjoy reading The Cowboy’s Vow as much as I enjoyed writing it. And don’t forget to check out the first two books in the series, The Bull Rider’s Second Chance and Wrangling The Cowboy’s Heart.

 

Having never met an unhappy ending she couldn’t mentally “fix,” Leah Vale believes writing romance novels is the perfect job for her. A Pacific Northwest native with a B.A. in Communications from the University of Washington, she lives in Central Oregon, with a huge golden retriever who thinks he’s a lap dog. While having the chance to share her “happy endings from scratch” is a dream come true, dinner generally has to come premade from the store.


THE WITCH’S COMPROMISE: Release day blog post featuring Leigh Ann Edwards

I’m so excited to be back on the Tule blog today to celebrate the release of The Witch’s Compromise, Book Two in my Witches of Time series. It was a great book to write. I loved creating my hero and heroine, Cal and Ainsley, their world and their love story. They start out as opposites, but we learn they’re both far more complex than we first might believe. Besides falling in love in the middle of a war, they have past trauma and a lot of other issues to deal with. I really enjoyed how they grew throughout the book. 

I’ve always loved Ireland, the supernatural, magic, fantasy and time-travel. Witches have interested me since I was a child. When I was first inspired to write this series I knew it would connect to my original series, The Irish Witch Series and that time travel would be involved. Trying to decide what eras, centuries or actual historical people or events to include was interesting. 

I knew I wanted one book to be set in 1692 Massachusetts around the time of the Salem witch trials. So, that was the first book decided. The second was a little more challenging. There’s a lot of history to choose from. Even though I’ve lived my entire life on the Canadian prairies, I’ve been intrigued to learn about the American Civil War. When I was really young I watched a James Stewart film, Shenandoah, about how one family was affected by the Civil War. Then as a teenager there was a song I really liked, Carry Me by the Stampeders who are a Canadian band, which was also focused on the Civil War and a young man wanting to be back home to his wife and his home. I suppose that sparked my interest. Researching was great. I learned about nurses and doctors during that time, what medical procedures, devices and types of medication were available. I also found out many facts about what led to the war, the different battles and the aftereffects of all that occurred. 

(Three nurses from the Civil War.)

I always write more than the allotted word count in my stories. Many author friends who’ve occasionally suffered from writer’s block, assure me this is a good problem to have. I’m not sure my husband would agree when a deadline is approaching and I’m spending twelve to fourteen hours a day frantically trying to reduce the word count. 

I take far more time paring down, cutting and shrediting as one author refers to it, than actually writing the stories. When I’m creating it just flows and I can’t wait to get the words down. Then afterward, going back to see what parts aren’t as vital to the story, is more difficult for me. I’ve tried making an outline so I don’t go off in unexpected directions, but that hasn’t worked so far. Plus lots of times, the parts of the story I hadn’t originally planned, turn out to be what I like the most. I suppose that’s true of life, too. 

Covid has changed many things for everyone. For me, besides not being able to travel or entertain, I have fewer commitments. I can’t do author visits to libraries, schools or attend book launches. When restrictions are especially rigid, I haven’t been able to see my daughters or grandchildren. My husband hasn’t worked since before Christmas. He’s in construction which always slows down in winter, but has really been affected by the virus and the uncertain economy. That has definitely been different for both of us when he’s typically gone twelve hours a day, five or six days a week. He’s been keeping busy with some ongoing home renovation projects. We now have a second bathroom and a much more welcoming guest bedroom (when we can actually have overnight guests.) I’ve certainly welcomed his help with our four animals (two very large dogs and two cats) and keeping up with housework, but having someone around does create distractions when writing or editing. 

I’m scheduled to receive my first Covid vaccine next week. I’ll be relieved to hopefully go back to some type of normalcy. It’s been difficult having to distance from family and especially my grandchildren. As much as I sometimes struggle with technology, I’ve definitely been grateful for being able to video chat with grandkids, family and friends. 

Thanks to the great Tule team for all you’ve done in seeing, The Witch’s Compromise completed and to my fantastic editors and wonderful supportive readers, too. Wishing you all the best till I return in August with book three, The Witch’s Journey.

 

Leigh Ann Edwards has always been fascinated by history, magic, romance, witches and Ireland which all inspired her first series, The Irish Witch Series. Growing up in a very small Manitoba town on the Canadian prairies allowed lots of time to create stories and let her imagination soar. Now writing her third series with Tule Publishing, Leigh Ann also loves reading, traveling, spending time with her four grandchildren, doing intuitive readings and reiki.

Leigh Ann lives with her husband, their two very large dogs and two cats near Edmonton Alberta, Canada.



ONE PURRFECT SUMMER: Release day blog post featuring Robyn Neeley

Hi Everyone!

I’m so excited for the release of One Purrfect Summer, the second book in the Purrfect Pairs series that takes place in the small town of Honey Springs. In the small Californian town it’s all about honey. From the bookstore “The Book Buzz” to the school’s basketball team, the “Honey Hornets”, everyone is proud of the special hallmark of their town and show it.

Only one hasn’t fully embraced what it means to be a Honey Springs resident: Patrick Manning, the owner of the coffee shop, The Bean & Brew, persistently refuses to give his shop a honey-inspired name. And that annoys Madison Porter, the mayor’s office manager, every day. Especially because she wanted to open an ice cream parlor in the shop herself, and Patrick snatched the property from her nose. The guy is just insufferable. This does not change the fact that their heart makes a little bouncing every time they argue…

Pick up your copy today! You might also enjoy Her Purrfect Match, the first book in the Purrfect Pairs series. 

Peanut Butter Honey Cookies

Ingredients On Table

This favorite cookie of Her Purrfect Match Hero Nick Porter is so easy to make that even Mayor Cassie Wilkerson, who doesn’t know away around a kitchen, can make for her childhood crush! (Recipe courtesy of Chef Todd Kegresse) 

Ingredients:

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup honey

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

2 large eggs

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. 

Mix dry ingredients (flour, sea salt, baking powder together in a bowl.) 

In a separate bowl, beat brown sugar and softened butter until creamy.

Add eggs, and vanilla extract until well combined.

Stir in the peanut butter and honey until ingredients are well blended.

Mix the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, forming a dough. Chill dough for 1 hour.

Scoop a heaping tablespoon of the dough mixture and roll it into a ball. Repeat, leaving 1-inch of space between each cookie.

Use a fork to flatten each ball.

Bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes.

 

Robyn Neeley is an east coast gal who loves to explore super cute small towns; watches way more reality TV than she cares to admit; can’t live without Dunkin Donuts coffee; and has never met a Christmas cookie she didn’t like. She writes contemporary romance with heart and humor. Sign up for her e-newsletter at www.robynneeley.com.


THE COWBOY STEALS A LADY: Release day blog post featuring Anne McAllister

Hi Everyone!  Hope that you’re all doing well and are finding a bit of life outside the house these days.  It’s been an interesting year, hasn’t it?  

One of the things I’ve reflected on this year is the jobs people do and how they have had to change the way they do them.  Mine has not been a big change. I still write exactly where I always have, and while I do my work as a genealogist and family historian online almost exclusively now, I haven’t had to adjust too much (though I do miss regular visits to courthouses, archives and libraries). 

Others are not so lucky.  Shane Nichols, the hero of The Cowboy Steals a Lady, as a rodeo roughstock rider would have had his world changed quite a lot. He’s lucky I wrote the book before Covid-19 entered the picture. If he thought he was going stir crazy as a result of the freak injury that was keeping him from competing (he was helping out a friend with a truck and a trailer and ended up getting his thumb sewn back on!), he would definitely have been swinging from the rafters (even with his healing thumb) during this past year!  

Shane’s impulsiveness combined with his innate goodheartedness was the starting point for his story.  Only this time he isn’t helping a friend with a truck and trailer.  His rodeo buddy, Cash Callahan, even more of a rolling stone than Shane, is bemoaning his former girlfriend Milly’s impending wedding to a sane, safe, stable accountant (in other words, the opposite of Cash).  Cash insists he would do something about it, except he has drawn a great bronc to ride at a rodeo in Texas on Saturday.  

Shane, who sympathizes with his buddy’s predicament more than you or I probably would (or frankly than most of the rest of the world would!), decides to help Cash out.  He’ll talk to Milly, make her realize that Cash is really the man she loves, convince her to call off the wedding and wait for Cash.

Or he could just spirit her away for a day.  She can’t get married if she isn’t at the wedding, can she? 

See? Impulsive.  Good-hearted, but, um, seriously misguided.  He was such a fun hero to work with!  

And Poppy? The heroine he made off with?  Practical, determined, no-nonsense, Poppy is a woman with a long history of dealing with her father, the judge, who has bulldozed in his own way. She was a perfect match for Shane – even though she was the florist, not the bride!

I had such a good time with those two and their story.  After the angst of Shane’s older brother, Mace, and his wife, Jenny, in The Cowboy Finds A Family, I really wanted to write a book that made me smile while I was writing, one that even made me shake my head and laugh at times. Shane and Poppy gave me that.  I got up in the morning eager to spend the day with them.  

There were other perks, too.  I got to revisit the cabin where Mace had lived in his book. This time, though, It was up to the porch in snow.  I also got to go back to high school days and recall rivalries between local football teams.

It was at the football game that I met a new character who so charmed me that he’s going to get his own story soon.  I got to meet Poppy’s father who made me realize where Poppy got her grit and her resolve.  And I got to watch Shane’s impulsiveness and honor do battle more than once over the course of the book.  All in all, I had a good time.

Not to mention the chicken.  

I hope you’ll get a chance to meet the chicken.  Poppy does, too. And Shane?  Er, well, not so much.

 

Photos of florist, cabin, football game and chicken used with permission/Depositphotos.com

 

Years ago someone told Anne McAllister that the recipe for happiness was a good man, a big old house, a bunch of kids and dogs, and a job you loved that allows you to read.  And write.  She totally agrees.
Now, one good man, one big old house (since traded for a slightly smaller house. Look, no attic!) a bunch of kids (and even more grandkids) and dogs (and one bionic cat) and seventy books, she’s still reading.  And writing.  And happier than ever.
Over thirty plus years Anne has written long and short contemporary romances, single titles and series, novellas and a time-travel for Harlequin Mills & Boon and for Tule Publishing. She’s had two RITA winning books and nine more RITA finalists as well as awards from Romantic Times and Midwest Fiction Writers. One of the joys of writing is that sometimes, when she can’t go back in person, she can go back in her mind and her heart and her books.


SHE GETS WHAT SHE WANTS: Release day blog post featuring Denise N. Wheatley

Hello everyone! I hope you are all doing well and staying safe in these trying times. After talking to fellow readers and writers, I’ve come to realize that books have been a wonderful escape. I’ve strived to continue writing during this pandemic, while pursuing my goals to the best of my ability.

I have always been a big dreamer. When I was younger, I dreamed of moving to LA and working in the entertainment industry. I still visit often (or at least I did before the pandemic), and work to connect with people in the business while planning to one day move there permanently.

Hollywood Sign

My love for California developed as a preteen, back when I was engrossed in Francine Pascal’s SWEET VALLEY HIGH series. The seed that series planted grew over the years, and eventually, the plot for SHE GETS WHAT SHE WANTS came to fruition.

This book tells the story of Devon Jacobs, a timid, small town woman who dreams of moving to LA and writing for television. After getting rejected by the man she loves, outgrowing friendships and tiring of an unfulfilling job, she boldly jets off to Hollywood and changes her life.

It was truly a pleasure writing Devon’s brave journey of self-discovery and self-love. She goes from being the benevolent supporting character in her own life to blossoming into the shining lead. But her pursuit of happiness isn’t easy. And although Devon is a fictional protagonist, I can’t help but admire her courage.

I hope that you enjoy reading SHE GETS WHAT SHE WANTS as much as I enjoyed writing it. The book is the first in my FEARLESS FAIRYTALE series, and I just completed the sequel, SHE GETS WHAT SHE DESERVES. That novel will be released in September. I look forward to sharing Devon’s ongoing adventures with you!

Take care of yourselves, and happy reading!

 

Denise N. Wheatley is a lover of happily-ever-afters and the art of storytelling. She has written (and ghostwritten) numerous novels and novellas that run the romance gamut, from contemporary to paranormal, sweet to steamy. Denise strives to pen entertaining stories that embody matters of the heart, while creating characters who are strong, colorful and relatable.

She is an RWA member and received a B.A. in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago, the city where she was born and raised. When Denise is not sitting behind a computer, you can find her in a movie theater, on a tennis court, watching true crime television or chatting on social media.



EYEFUL: Release day blog post featuring C.R. Grissom!

What would you do for your family?

A little about me. I’m one of five children. I have two older sisters and two younger twin brothers. I’m the middle child of our brood. We’ve traveled together, teased each other, and have been there for each other through triumphs and tragedy. A few months ago, we lost my brother-in-law. He walked out the door one day, and we never saw him alive again. Loss reveals the strengths of familial bonds.

(My niece is pictured on the left at age 14.)

My family ethnicity is Portuguese—both sides harken back to Madeira Island—part of a tiny archipelago in the Atlantic. I grew up in a large Portuguese community in Santa Clara, California. While I understand Portuguese, I’m not fluent in the language. I’ve always wanted to create a character like me: a first-generation American. 

(A queen with her side maids at a parade.)

In Eyeful, Tiago’s family immigrated from Madeira Island. Tiago’s Avó (grandmother) slides into Alzheimer’s. Her memory blips scare him because he’s close to her, and he knows one day his Avó won’t recognize him. The simple fact hurts him on a visceral level. 

When it’s discovered Avó was tricked into signing over the deed to her home—Tiago has to save his family from eviction. Tiago recognizes Phoebe Mackenna—whose mother awaits trial for the same title scams in Las Vegas. The coincidence of Phoebe’s move to San Jose can’t be ignored. He devises a plan to get close to Phoebe to determine whether she’s in on the con. There isn’t a line he won’t cross to reveal the truth and save his family. Deception weighs heavily on Tiago, especially after he befriends Phoebe, and questions whether she’s capable of fraud.

Phoebe’s world fell apart when her mother was arrested. Her mother’s inability to express or show love for Phoebe exacerbates their problems. The ugly spotlight of her mother’s alleged crimes follows her everywhere and becomes too overwhelming. A fresh start at Fortis University will provide Phoebe with distance from her mom and much-needed clarity about her mother’s professed innocence. When Phoebe meets Tiago, her gut tells her he has an agenda, but she can’t understand what or why? Regardless, she’s determined not to expose her heart to more emotional damage.

Tiago and Phoebe have to overcome the lies and deception that drive a wedge between them and threaten to keep them apart. Their ultimate struggle over their respective families—and the lengths you’ll go to protect them—drives this story.

 

C.R. Grissom lives in San Jose, California—smack dab in the middle of Silicon Valley. She works for a high-tech company by day, and at night writes contemporary sports romance featuring young adults as they transition to college. Winner of the 2018 RWA Golden Heart Award in young adult romance for her first manuscript: Mouthful.