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Thursday, May 26, 2016

It All Came out for the Best | guest post from Maria Grace, author of The Trouble to Check Her!

You guys already know I love me some Maria Grace. She's been a fixture of Austen in August / Jane in June since pretty much the beginning (including those interviews), and she always comes up with the best stuff to talk about or share with you! I love when people are passionate about anything, tbh, but if the thing they're passionate is Jane Austen? Well, friend for life, right? Obvs. And when that person is willing to share that passionate, spread it around, then we have a winner, folks. ^_^
Today, celebrate the follow-up to the first Queen of Rosings Parks books, Mistaking Her Character, , which I thought nailed the art of adaptation, Maria's dropping in to talk about tackling the Lydia Problem in The Trouble to Check Her, This is something a little near and dear to my heart -- afterall, I do have a habit of defending Austen's "bitches". . .
I'll be sharing some of my thoughts in a video soon, and my full thoughts in this year's Austen in August, but until then -- take it away, Maria!

Don’t ever doubt that writers become attached to their characters. We do! They spent months, even years in our heads, talking to us, teasing us, sometimes lying to us, usually bossing us around and taking joy in making us utterly crazy.
I know Lydia certainly did in the process of writing her story. Now that it’s wrapped up and out there for the world to see, she invited me to tea to talk over our adventures of the past year.
The maid showed me into the parlor where tea things were already laid out. Lydia looked up at me with that smile that everyone says looks just like Elizabeth’s.
“I am glad you are come. I thought perhaps you would not wish to, that I might have worn out your patience by now.” She gestured toward a dainty chair, certainly set out specifically for my use.
The cream and blue upholstery was pulled so tight the chair was more bouncy than it was soft, but I could hardly refuse so gracious an invitation. “I was a little surprised to hear from you. I had rather thought you would be glad to be done with me.”
“Tea? You prefer hibiscus if I recall correctly.”
“I do. I’m surprise you would have noticed such a thing.”
She cocked her eyebrow at me, knowing just how well I knew the expression. “I did just spend the better part of eighteen months, I think, in your head. Did I not? One notices things after a while.”
I took the proffered tea cup, filled with the vibrant pink tea I favor.
“I am surprised you would need to ask.”
She handed me the sugar, “I do not, but it is the polite form, is it not?”
“I suppose so.”
“Ah, no, now you prevaricate. I know well that you are most attentive to such things. Do your sons not regularly roll their eyes at you for your admonitions at the dinner table? What was the last thing you told them? Something about not taking bites big enough to feed a small tenant village on my father’s estate?”
Luckily, raising teenaged boys left me prepared for such statements and I did not spit hot pink tea out all over her pretty drawing room. “Was I wrong?”
“I said no such thing.” She sipped her tea daintily. “I merely found it an amusing way of addressing the issue.”
“Not too many people call me amusing.”
“No? I suppose they do not know you as well as I.” Lydia winked.
“Indeed? What might you find so amusing about me?”
I probably should not have asked, as Lydia would have no hesitation to tell me what I probably didn’t really want to know.
“Quite a bit, if truth be told! Where might I begin? Perhaps with your tendency to start three new projects for every one that you finish—or do not finish as the case may be. How many book projects did you write notes on just yesterday? No less than fourteen I believe it was.”
“Something like that.”
“And at least four other projects?”
“I would think you be more appreciative of that trait, considering that is how you came to be where you are now.”
“You never did ask me whether or not I wanted to be reformed.” Her eyes twinkled.
“I never asked my sons if they wanted to have good manners, either.”
“Another oversight on your part.”
“My daughter-in-law disagrees. She is quite satisfied with the results of my efforts.” I placed my tea cup on the table and folded my arms across my chest. This was getting serious.
“You imply I should be, too.”
“I did provide you a happy ending, as I recall. You gave me fits through the process, though. Most ungrateful it seems.”
“Of course I did. What else did you expect? Is that not why you were so reluctant to take up my tale in the first place? As I recall I had to perform a great deal of wheedling to convince you not to leave me a dangling epilogue, forgotten by readers as soon as they closed the book.”
“So that was wheedling? Funny, I would have called it tormenting.”
She shrugged. “It accomplished the purpose, and now we both have something to show for it, do we not? You a new book, I a new reputation. It seems it all came out for the best.”
“I am glad you are satisfied. It would have been much easier getting to this point had you bothered to be forthright with me in the first place.”
“You must be joking? Share all my secrets with you so easily? I have been written as unredeemable and ridiculous often enough. You needed to earn my trust first.” She glared at me over her teacup.
“I suppose you have a point.”
“You must admit, you painted me quite the ungrateful nit in the first chapters.”
“Was I inaccurate?” I set my teacup down.
“It was not a complimentary portrayal.”
“You did not answer my question. Was I wrong or unfair to you?”
Her lips wrinkle up into a pout—an expression she had not used since the early chapters of my book. “I suppose not.”
“Well then, you should not complain. Especially when you consider how many people are rooting for you now.”
“Truly? I had no idea.” The coy expression in her eyes begged otherwise.
“You love the attention and accolades.”
“That is not true. I enjoy the attention. I love Mr. Amberson.” Her eyes sparkled just a bit.
“I stand corrected.”
“I have heard that some are asking for more: wat happens to us, and Annabelle, Juliana and Sir Anthony in Derby…”
I winced, knowing that tone of voice all too well. “I believe I have stayed too long, it is time for me to go.” Before she started wheedling and whining and pleading.
“Must you, our visit has only just begun.” She rose and shut the parlor door, leaning against it, looking anything but casual.
Oh dear, this could become troublesome. But I do have fourteen other projects line up, right?

About the Book:
Get It | Add It
288 pages
Published March 30th 2016 by White Soup Press
Lydia Bennet faces the music…

Running off with Mr. Wickham was a great joke—until everything turned arsey-varsey. That spoilsport Mr. Darcy caught them and packed Lydia off to a hideous boarding school for girls who had lost their virtue.
It would improve her character, he said.

Ridiculous, she said.

Mrs. Drummond, the school’s headmistress, has shocking expectations for the girls. They must share rooms, do chores, attend lessons, and engage in charitable work, no matter how well born they might be. She even forces them to wear mobcaps! Refusal could lead to finding themselves at the receiving end of Mrs. Drummond's cane—if they were lucky. The unlucky ones could be dismissed and found a position … as a menial servant.

Everything and everyone at the school is uniformly horrid. Lydia hates them all, except possibly the music master, Mr. Amberson, who seems to have the oddest ideas about her. He might just understand her better than she understands herself.
Can she find a way to live up to his strange expectations, or will she spend the rest of her life as a scullery maid?

About the Author:
Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful. After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate in Educational Psychology. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing.

She has one husband, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, six new novels in the works, attended seven period balls, sewn eight Regency era costumes, shared her life with nine cats through the years and published her tenth book last year.

She can be contacted at:
On Amazon.com:
Random Bits of Fascination (http://RandomBitsofFascination.com)
Austen Variations (http://AustenVariations.com)
English Historical Fiction Authors
On Twitter @WriteMariaGrace
On Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/mariagrace423/


  1. Oho! Lydia is a handful even when she is on her best behavior. Love this interesting new take on her as the heroine.

  2. I read this when it was Mrs Drummond's School and it was a rollicking good read!

  3. Lydia hasn't truly changed in essence, but has learned how to 'channel' her energies properly. I love how Lydia changed in the story!


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