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The lovely author Nancy Kelley had this fab idea to swap posts this week and so I am thrilled to welcome Nancy here today! We were chatting about how very often, when writing, the characters in your novel can behave unpredictably, and as much as we try to keep them in line they go their own sweet way and start demanding to change the plot! Other problems occur when an author thinks she has resolved a carefully constructed plot, which suddenly falls apart because another character complains that they’ve been left out or have not been given a big enough voice or part in the unfolding story. The eventual plot can be something of a surprise!

Here is Nancy to tell us about her experiences of the surprise plot when writing Loving Miss Darcy.

Nancy is giving away an e-book copy of Loving Miss Darcy, open internationally – to enter, answer Nancy’s question below by leaving a comment! The Giveaway is open for one week only – closes Tuesday, April 30th 2013. 

Thanks to Jane for agreeing to trade places with me today. I love meeting new blog friends. Jane has posted on my blog, along with a giveaway; make sure to check it out!

Every author, from the ones who plan out every detail to the ones who just write as the story comes to them, is eventually surprised by something in their book. The characters start doing something you hadn’t anticipated, or a plot development arises that you weren’t expecting.

When I started writing Loving Miss Darcy, I was absolutely adamant that the main plot of the book would have nothing to do with George Wickham. This is Georgiana three years later, after all—wouldn’t she be over that by now? From the perspective of the author, I knew that several other books had already investigated that plot line and I wanted to do something different.

There followed six months of struggling with the book, trying to find the plot. Finally my good friend and critique partner told me I needed to explore Wickham. I fought and railed against it (for reasons not wholly creative), but finally gave in.

As soon as I allowed Georgiana the space to still feel shame for what Wickham had done, her personality and story unfolded beautifully. I hadn’t let her be herself, so I couldn’t see her story.

Now the Wickham debacle plays a central role in the plot of Loving Miss Darcy. Though it was three years ago, she knows others would be scandalized if they knew. In this rather poignant scene with Richard, she asks how she’s supposed to marry a man without letting him know all of who she is.

Loving Miss Darcy – Nancy Kelley

Farther down the same corridor, Georgiana was less fortunate. No matter how much she tried to convince herself the argument with Richard had been over his mistaking her age, she could not lie to herself any longer. He and Fitzwilliam constantly insisted on recommending men who deserved her but…

I do not deserve anyone! she thought morosely. I have made more mistakes than a young lady is usually allowed, and yet they pretend…

She paced in front of her fireplace, her fingers clenching and unclenching in the folds of her dressing gown. Elizabeth had asked her over a month ago if her reluctance to go to Town had anything to do with Wickham, and she had denied it.

How could I have been so blind to my own fears? And why do I still allow him such a hold over me?

The thought grew in her mind that she must make Richard see how little she deserved his regard. Knowing his habit of slipping out of the house early in the morning, she did not tarry in her own room. As soon as light touched the eastern horizon, she dressed as best she could without any help from Annie and walked silently down the stairs to the breakfast room. A word to the maid laying the fire ensured a cold repast would be laid on the table soon, along with Richard’s preferred coffee.

Richard did not disappoint. He appeared not long after the food, clearly dressed for the road. “Good morning, Cousin,” she greeted him.

He stood still for an instant before turning to face her. “Good morning, Georgiana. I did not think to see you up so early. Why are you hiding in the shadows?”

She stepped into the light and shook her head. “It is hardly my fault it is still so dark—it is your habit of sneaking out that drew me from my bed,” she chided him. “I could not let you leave with yesterday’s angry words hanging between us.”

Richard sat down and poured two cups of coffee. “Break your fast with me, Georgiana.”

Though phrased politely, Georgiana heard the note of command in his voice and sat in the chair opposite him. She could feel his gaze on her as she filled a plate with cheese and bread, but she did not return it.

“Look at me, Georgiana.” Reluctantly, she raised her eyes to his and sagged in relief when she saw no anger there, only confusion. “Our argument kept me up most of the night, and there is one point I do not understand.”

“What is that?”

“When you spoke of going to London for the Season, you still sounded… unenthusiastic.”

Georgiana bit her lip and pondered her answer. “Do I truly need a Season, Richard?” she finally asked, deciding at the last minute not to bring up Wickham unless she absolutely had to.

Richard leaned back in his chair. “I am afraid you do, Cuz.”

“But why?” Her own desperation took her by surprise, but she would not back down from the request.

His brow furrowed. “I thought the suggestion to have Kitty join us in Town for the Season had allayed most of your concerns.”

She shrugged and ran a finger over the pattern of the tablecloth. “Most, but not all. Kitty is so much… friendlier than I am. She does not worry what people will think of her.”

Richard took a swallow of coffee. “I see. And you do?” Georgiana nodded. “Tell me what it is about London that bothers you so much.”

Georgiana clenched her hands together in front of her. The food on her plate remained untouched, but she had no appetite for it. “You know enough of my past to guess, surely,” she said finally, seeing there was no way around it.

A gravelly sound caught her ear, and she looked up at Richard. His hand clutched the handle of his mug so tightly that she honestly feared he would break it. “Richard?”

He set the mug down carefully and spread his hand out, palm down, on the table top. “You cannot allow him to control your life, Georgiana.”

She raised her eyebrows. “How can I look these young men in the face and pretend I have nothing to hide, that I am as innocent and unblemished as any of the other ladies they might dance with?”

Richard’s face turned an alarming shade of red. “You are innocent.”

From anyone else, this level of anger would have quieted Georgiana. However, she was upset enough and trusted Richard enough that instead, she matched his vehemence with all the bitterness she felt. “Oh yes, of course I am—I am innocent of all but foolishness, but you know as well as I that not everyone will see it that way. How can we know which of those young men would not turn away from me when they found out the truth?”

“They need never know.”

She laughed, though she felt no amusement. “Oh, that is not fair to them, not fair at all,” she protested. “You cannot expect me to keep a secret like this from my husband. And if I am as innocent as you and my brother constantly proclaim, then why should it be a secret at all?”

Richard stared at her, gape-mouthed for some minutes. “I do not like to admit it, but you have a point,” he finally said.

Georgiana spread jam on her thick slice of bread and took a bite before speaking again. “So I ask again, how can I know which gentlemen would understand and stand by my side, and which would run, or worse, try to ruin me?

The room was quiet for a very long time, and finally Georgiana wiped her hands on a serviette and rose from the table. “You see why I do not look on the idea of a Season with much pleasure,” she said.

In the end, it is the threat of scandal that drives the final confrontation and climax. If I hadn’t let Georgiana surprise me, the book likely would never have been finished. What do you think? How much long-term impact would Wickham have had on Georgiana?

Nancy Kelley—Janeite, blogger, and chocoholic—is the author of two Jane Austen sequels, His Good Opinion: A Mr. Darcy Novel and Loving Miss Darcy. Her third novel, Against His Will, will come out in fall of 2013.

If Nancy could possess any fictional device, it would be a Time-Turner. Then perhaps she could juggle a full-time library job, writing, and blogging; and still find time for sleep and a life. Until then, she lives on high doses of tea and substitutes multiple viewings of Doctor Who for a social life.

You can find Nancy on Twitter @Nancy_Kelley , at nancykelleywrites.com  and on Indiejane.org. She also blogs regularly about Doctor Who for Smitten by Britain.

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Review by Nancy Kelley for Indie Jane –

Please visit to enter GIVEAWAY!

Persuasion is quite possibly my favorite of all Austen’s books, and Captain Wentworth is in a dead heat with Darcy for favorite literary hero of all time. With that background, it would be easy to think that any novel based on Persuasion would automatically win my good opinion, but the opposite is rather true. With something so beloved, I will only be swayed by a treatment that is truly superlative. I’m happy to say I was not disappointed in Searching for Captain Wentworth by Jane Odiwe.
There is so much to love about this book, it’s hard for me to express it clearly–so if I jump around a bit, please forgive me.
First, I love parallel story lines when they are woven together in such a way that they support each other. As Sophie jumps back and forth between the past and present, the things that have just happened to her in the other time inform her decisions where she is now. The two stories are really one story–Sophie’s story.
Second, one of the fun things about reading fiction is figuring out what the author’s other passions might be. When you read Searching for Captain Wentworth, it quickly becomes obvious that Jane Odiwe loves and knows art. She uses various paintings throughout the story as props to guide us into a deeper understanding of Jane, her times, and the story at hand.
Third, it is apparent right from the start of Searching for Captain Wentworth that she is intimately familiar with both Bath and Jane Austen. There is a vibrancy to her descriptions of the city that could not come from someone who did not love it dearly. Amazingly, her picture of Regency Bath is just as clear as the vision of modern Bath–and yes, there have been some changes over the last 200 years.
As for Austen… Ah, and here is where this book really grabbed my heart, reader. Since Jane Austen is actually a character in Searching for Captain Wentworth, one of the more delightful things in the novel was the way Jane Odiwe sprinkled names, situations, and quotes that one could easily see later went on to inspire our Jane in her works. If you are an author, you know that some of your best scenes are the ones you have either witnessed or experienced. Why wouldn’t the same be true for Austen?
Yes, yes. So the writing is fabulous, but what of the story? The story, at its heart, is a classic story of a young lady dissatisfied with her own life who manages to escape to a fantasy. The fact that her fantasy is actually history merely adds flavor. Will she allow herself to be sucked into the fantasy, leaving behind those who love her at home, or will she use the lessons she learns in the past to grow in the present?
loved the heroes in this book, both of them. The historical Wentworth was so very dashing and handsome, and the modern Frederick (Okay, Josh…) was gallant and chivalrous. I have to say, I’m really a little envious of Sophie, having the love of two such men!
In short, if you love Bath, art, romantic heroes, or Jane Austen, you will love this book.
Five Stars

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The Pump Room, Bath

Today I am the guest of Laura Hartness on the Calico Critic Blog. There’s an exclusive extract from Searching for Captain Wentworth and I’m talking about Time Travel and the books I loved as a child. I’d love to know which were your favourites – please leave a comment on her blog!

Yesterday, I was Maria Grazia’s guest and she interviewed me for My Jane Austen Book Club. If you’d like to be in with a chance of winning a signed paperback copy of Searching for Captain Wentworth do leave a comment!

The day before I was Laurel Ann Nattress’ guest on Austenprose where I shared an exclusive ‘audio’ excerpt from my new novel.

I’ve also been to visit Vic Sanborn on Jane Austen’s World – she celebrated 500,000 hits on her blog with a giveaway-competition now closed.

Tomorrow, I shall be visiting Nancy Kelley – I hope you can join me!

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Thank you to everyone who participated in the competition for a copy of Nancy Kelley’s new book, His Good Opinion.
Congratulations to Laura Hartness who is the winner!

I’d also like to thank Nancy Kelley for being my lovely guest and offering such a fabulous prize!!!

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My lovely guest today is Nancy Kelley whose book, His Good Opinion has just been released! Congratulations Nancy!!!
I had the pleasure of meeting Nancy recently when we met up at the British Museum to gaze at Jane Austen’s desk together. We’d ‘met’ on Twitter, and when I heard Nancy was coming to London I suggested a day out-we had a lovely time discussing all things Jane and our writing dreams. Nancy’s first dream has just been realised, now that her book is out. I wish you huge success, Nancy, and hope that many more of your dreams are fulfilled!
Nancy kindly agreed to be a guest on my blog, and she is offering a copy of His Good Opinion as a prize. Her question is this:

What behind-the-scenes Darcy moment would you most like to read?

Leave a comment below to have a chance to win!

I had a few questions I wanted to ask her, and she’s also treated us to chapter one of her book!

1. Have you always wanted to be a writer?  What inspired you to start writing?
Earlier this week, I found a folder filled with stories I started writing in about third grade. I loved books, and the next step after reading was to write. I kept writing stories, and in middle school (age 12 or 13), my English teacher encouraged me to actively pursue it. I’ve wanted to write professionally ever since.
2. This might sound like a daft question, but why write Darcy’s story?
Not daft at all! There are several excellent Darcy stories out there—why add another one into the mix?
The answer is simple, but it might make me seem daft: Darcy told me to. I was listening to Pride and Prejudice, and he started giving his commentary on various scenes. Once I understood his point of view, I knew I had to tell his story.
3. Which is your favorite scene from His Good Opinion? Can you tell us why?
I think my favorite scene is the first proposal. He walks into the parsonage absolutely certain of her answer, and when you read the previous chapters from his point of view, you can understand why. Her rejection is not just a blow to his pride, as it seems in the novel. He is actually heartbroken.
4. Apart from Pride and Prejudice which novels of Jane Austen’s do you enjoy most?
I started to ramble about how much I love all of her works, with the exception of Sense and Sensibility and Mansfield Park. However, the short answer is probably Persuasion. It is short and poignant, and has the perfect happy ending.
5. Which writers inspire your own writing apart from Jane Austen? Do you read contemporary writer’s work or are you only a fan of historical novels?
My other favorite genre is fantasy. The Lord of the Rings is perhaps my favorite book ever. As an author who struggles with setting description, I am in awe of some of the passages Tolkien wrote.
I also like romance, young adult fiction, and mysteries. Currently on my TBR stack: Supernaturally by Kiersten White, The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, and The Masque of the Black Tulip by Lauren Willig.
6. Which characters apart from Mr. Darcy did you enjoy writing?
Colonel Fitzwilliam. In fact, I enjoyed writing him so much, I decided to devote an entire novel to him. I just finished the rough draft of that story during NaNoWriMo, and hope to release it by the end of the summer.
7. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I tend to cycle through activities—I’ll spend three or four months doing/collecting/watching one thing, and then move on to another love. My current obsession is Doctor Who. A friend started me on series 5, and then I had to go back to series 1 and watch from there.
8. If your house was on fire and you could only take three possessions, what would they be?
My laptop, my cat, and the box with letters from my dad.
9. Can you describe your perfect day?
I have a vague idea that it would involve lots of good tea and chocolate and uninterrupted time to write—with no wrist pain resulting.
10.What is next for you? Will you write another sequel?  
I have a few sequels up my sleeves. There’s the aforementioned Colonel Fitzwilliam story, and then I’ve got an idea for Frank Churchill. I’d also like to write about Captain Wentworth’s missing years, but I don’t have any solid plot ideas for that one yet.
In addition to the Jane Austen stories, I have a series I started last year. It’s a new take on the Robin Hood legend, set in the Spanish Main ca 1720. Yes, Robin Hood: Pirate. My hope is to begin working on the first novel in that trilogy this year and release it sometime in spring of 2013, but that’s really a guess at the moment.
The first chapter of His Good Opinion follows:
Chapter One
“I will never understand, Darcy, why you insist on going out in Society only to be displeased with everyone you meet.”
Fitzwilliam Darcy poured two glasses of brandy and handed one to his friend before he took the chair opposite him. “I go out because it is expected of me, Bingley. You know that.”
Charles Bingley pointed at him. “Ah, but that does not answer the question, does it?”
Darcy conceded the point with the barest shrug of his shoulders. Here, in the comfort of his own study, there was no need to pretend. “I admit that I find little in Society of which to approve.”
“Only because you are determined to disapprove.” Bingley protested. “What of the young lady you sat out with tonight? Let me hear your opinion of her.”
Darcy ran his fingers down the side of his glass. “Her aunt approached me and said her niece had sprained her ankle, and would I be willing to keep her company? Good manners forbade I refuse, though you know how little I enjoy making conversation with someone I am not intimately acquainted with. I have not your ease of speaking on subjects in which I have little or no interest.” His lips curled in disdain, and he took a sip of brandy to wash the sour taste from his mouth.
“That is a commentary on your own character, not the lady’s.”
He ignored the familiar needling. “After two minutes of idle chatter, I inquired after her injury.”
Satisfaction gleamed in Bingley’s eyes. “Ah, you are capable courtesy after all.”
Darcy leaned forward, his forehead creased in a frown. “Perhaps you will not be so victorious, Bingley, when you hear the rest of the story. She did not understand what I spoke of. When she returned to her aunt shortly thereafter, she did not have a limp. The entire incident was manufactured so she could gain my attention. No doubt they have heard that I do not dance often —”
“Or ever.”
The leather chair creaked in protest when Darcy stood. He took Bingley’s glass and strode to the table, glad to have something to do, even if it was only refilling their drinks. This topic never failed to rile him, but he found a measure of calm in pouring the liquor into their glasses.
“They sought a way to get time with me, and they found it. You wish to know why I so seldom give my good opinion to those I meet; it is this dishonesty, this deception of which I cannot approve. I cannot—I will not—marry a woman I do not trust.”
Bingley took his refilled glass, and Darcy noted his frown with some vexation. “You are being a bit presumptuous, Darcy. How can you be so certain she wished to marry you? It was simply a dance.”
Darcy set the decanter down on the tray with a hard clang. “Surely even you will acknowledge that a single woman in possession of no brothers must be in want of a husband.”
Bingley shook his head and laughed. “You can hardly claim that to be a universal truth.”
Darcy ran his hands through his close-cropped dark curls. Has it truly escaped his notice that he too has received such attentions? Though it was this very ability to see nothing but the good in people that recommended Bingley to him, at times his amiable nature bordered on naiveté.
“Perhaps not universal, but a truth nonetheless.” He paced the confines of the study. The paneled walls, usually calming, pressed in on him tonight. London always wore on his nerves, but this Season had been worse than most. “I need to get out of town, Bingley.”
Bingley eyed Darcy over the edge of his glass. “You sound as if you had a plan in mind.”
Darcy stood in front of the empty fireplace and tapped his fingers on the mantle. “I believe it is time I visited Georgiana in Ramsgate.”
“Is that what has made you so tense of late? I know you take great care of her.”
Bingley’s insight startled Darcy. “Yes, I imagine so. I trust Mrs. Younge of course or I would not have consented to the plan. Still, I will feel better once I see for myself how she is getting on.” He turned back to his friend, at ease for the first time in weeks.
“When will you leave?”
“Tomorrow morning.”
Bingley raised his eyebrows. “That is rather spontaneous, Darcy—indeed, it is the kind of precipitous decision you often tease me for.”
Darcy tossed back the rest of his brandy before he answered. “In truth, I have been thinking about it some weeks,” he replied. “I just did not realize it until tonight.”
“Well, if you are decided, then I wish you safe travels.”
Bingley rose and shook his hand in farewell, and Darcy retired for the night soon after. He slept well, content with the knowledge he would soon be free of the artifice of town.
Nancy Kelley is a Janeite, an Austenesque author, and a blogger. During the writing of His Good Opinion, a version of Mr. Darcy took up residence in her brain; she fondly refers to him as the Darcy in my Head, or DIMH.
If Nancy could possess any fictional device, it would be a Time-Turner. Then perhaps she could juggle a full-time library job, writing, and blogging; and still find time for sleep and a life. Until then, she lives on large quantities of tea, of which DIMH approves.
You can find Nancy on Twitter @Nancy_Kelley, on her blog, and on IndieJane.org.
His Good Opinion is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Amazon.uk, Amazon.de, and Amazon.fr.

Thank you so much, Nancy, for being my guest today. Don’t forget to leave a comment below if you’d like to be in with a chance to read Nancy’s book. The competition will be open until Sunday 18th December 2011, the winner’s name to be drawn at random and announced on Monday, 19th!

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