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Monday, August 13, 2018

The Best Laid Flight Plans Excerpt and GIVEAWAY

This afternoon, Leigh Dreyer is once again joining us (here’s her riotously funny post from earlier in AIA, if you missed it). This time, she’s sharing an excerpt her modern P&P retelling, The Best Laid Flight Plans, as well as a chance to win a copy! Click through to read the full excerpt and enter for your chance to get your hands on The Best Laid Flight Plans. And don’t forget to check out Leigh’s answers in this year’s Janeite Convos!



August has arrived which means—for many around the world—that summer is nearly over. We spend our last days in the sun swimming, going on holiday, or scampering after the best school supply sales. Personally, my last hoorah will be attending the Reno Air Races and a NASCAR race in September. In Reno I will be doing some on the ground research for the third planned novel in my series. The first book, The Best Laid Flight Plans, was launched back in April. 

The Best Laid Flight Plans follows the storyline of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, but places the characters in a new, modern setting. The story follows Lieutenant Elizabeth Bennet as she goes through United States Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training as a student pilot on her way to becoming a fighter pilot. Captain William “Fitz” Darcy is an instructor pilot at the same Meryton Air Force Base. Of course, their love story is hampered by Lieutenant Wickham, the Senator Catherine De Bourgh, and the Air Force’s fraternization policies.  Book 2, The Flight Path Less Traveled is expected sometime in the winter.

I’ve included an excerpt of chapter one, where we first meet Darcy as he soars over the base in Hawaii just before his move to Meryton. I hope you enjoy!


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Chapter One

    The clouds burst below and wispy peaks spiraled out as the plane surged through the sky. Captain William Darcy gazed at the horizon, crimson ribbons blazing across the sunrise. These peaceful moments were the only time he participated in anything resembling prayer. He checked his altitude and trimmed up.

    “Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth

    And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings...”

    Darcy recited these lines from “High Flight” to himself as he scanned his surroundings and instruments again, his situational awareness high. 

    This mission was bittersweet. His last in the F-22. He would miss the deep alien whistle from the engines as it flew over the base, close enough to wave at families walking near the harbor. This sortie was an easy ride, nothing but practice and war games, but he took it seriously. He knew a few meters off perfection meant life and death. A slight left bank and the deep green mountains were to the east as he approached the runway for a quick touch and go.

    Those jade Hawaiian mountains rising from the blackness of the earth were what he loved most about this base. Oddly, they were quite alien to his upbringing in Central New York. The woods surrounding Pemberley were green but never quite this other-worldly, tropical color. Somehow Pemberley’s hills and forests were more real, and he missed seeing the horizon curve over the gentle hills of his land. Here, that prospect was only available in the sky and he ached for it. He loved that feeling of being alone in the world and watching it go on forever.

    Pushing forward on the stick, he felt the quick descent in a tactical approach before touching the runway for a split second—up on the thrust and away again, off to his place in the clouds and his head. He ran through the memorized checklist he needed to complete on this ride... Touch and goes: check. Ship car: incomplete. Go to the TMO office: incomplete. Schedule movers: incomplete. He blinked, staring unseeingly at his controls. Damn moving checklist! He halted the intruding checklist and reoriented to task. Tactical approach: check. One more turn and then in for landing.

    He could not allow himself to think about moving again as he had spent enough energy on it already. He would have a quick Pilot Instructor Training in San Antonio and then the three-hour drive to the Mexican border to Longbourn City and Meryton Air Force Base to train America’s best and brightest student pilots. He loved flying more than anything in the world but wondered if that love extended to the staleness of helping brand new pilots grasp the basics of the T-38 Talon.

    Darcy hated moving; it was the worst aspect about the Air Force. Having grown up at Pemberley, near the Finger Lakes, Darcy always knew his place in that perfect, idyllic world. He did not understand how anyone would ever want to leave where they had grown up. Pemberley was the place his soul lived. He looked again at the green around him as he flew, but it was not the right shade—nothing like the bright emerald leaves at home. Pemberley had the best views the world had to offer: brilliant green trees in the summer, vibrant fall colors in autumn, winters full of snow and sledding, and fields of wildflowers to rival any florist shop in spring. There were lakes for swimming, canoeing, or fishing. There were large rocks and mountains to hike. Darcy had never known a bored moment in his childhood.

    His father had taught him to fly at twelve, first in a small Cessna and then later in the Bonanza. Together with his father, Darcy had grown up looking down on the prospect of his family’s holdings and missed them every time he was in the air. Flying was the only thing that kept him connected to his father and, thus far, the only reason he continued to tolerate moving by whim of the Air Force.

    Meanwhile, Meryton, Texas was stuck in the middle of a desert. When he looked up information about the base, the pictures only showed brown dirt, brown grass, brown sage bushes, and brown mesquite trees. The only positive was that there were ranches nearby. Bingley had even talked about leasing a little working farm and maybe living together when he arrived. Perhaps this move would be fun if he could put himself back in wide, open spaces where he belonged. He might even mentor Bingley in the business of agriculture along the way. William Darcy and Charles Bingley had become best friends at Cornell despite Bingley being a couple years junior. Both had been business majors and in the challenging program, Darcy’s reticence had balanced Bingley’s natural exuberance; it was a relationship that worked well for them both and followed into their military careers.

    Darcy shook his head brusquely. He could feel his precision lagging as he pulled back from his daydreaming. Bank left, roll right. He held the stick just a little tighter and felt the metal, hot and slippery in his hand. It was hot. The cockpit was always hot, regardless of the external temperature, and as he pulled his damp flight suit away from his sticky chest, he smelled the musk of his sweat. It would be even hotter at Meryton. Hotter than Pemberley, to be sure. Possibly hotter than Hell itself, if his friends were to be believed.

    On the upside, at Meryton, he would be able to go home to Pemberley occasionally as Meryton was near an airport and the ops tempo was significantly lower. As an instructor, he would be able to enjoy holidays, a luxury he had not experienced in the last four years; he might even be able to get other leave approved for once. Hawaii was too far to go home often and when he did go, he just depressed himself. Georgiana deserved more than a brother who moped around the house, seeing ghosts around every bend, and hearing voices that could no longer be heard. Besides, he missed Mrs. Reynolds’ meals. He added “Enjoy a glass of Pemberley cabernet franc” to his moving checklist.

    “Tower, this is Fitz 27. Request five-mile initial for the overhead.”

    “Fitz 27, this is Tower…” Darcy listened and noted the vectors to begin his landing. After breaking, he threw down his landing gear and banked right, watching his speedometer and began to slow to two hundred and fifty knots after breaking over the numbers.

    “Fitz 27 in the Break.” Darcy spoke clearly into the mic, adjusting the mask slightly closer to his lips in an effort to maintain clarity for the air traffic controllers watching the field.

    “Fitz 27 Clear to Land,” the tower replied through the scratchy radio.

    “Roger. Clear to Land.”

    Darcy snapped the aircraft right again and applied the slightest of back pressures to the stick continuing his turn through the perch. He crossed the runway at fifty feet and grimaced as he felt the thud of a harder than usual landing. He pushed on the brakes and began his taxi to park. The runway was smooth, and he felt the long muscles of his legs flex as he steered toward the hangar.

    Per tradition, with his last flight in the F-22, his squadron would be waiting for him with ice water and champagne ready to dump it over him in celebration before his move. He was not ready for the fini-flight celebration and began to recite another checklist to calm his rising anxieties. Smile during taxi to park. He promptly raised the corners of his mouth into what he hoped was a look of glee. Check. Take everything important out of flight suit pockets: check. Done before even leaving for the flight.

    The plane slowed and stopped smoothly while the air traffic marshaller crossed his arms in front of him signaling the stop. Next to the controller, a tall teenage girl echoed his movements, blonde hair blowing in the morning breeze. Darcy’s plastered smile grew as his lips turned into a real grin when he recognized his sister, Georgiana. As she crossed her arms in front of her chest, he put the brake on and stopped the plane’s rolling.

    His flight stood with pressurized water hoses, coolers, and champagne bottles at the ready. He threw off his belts, helmet, and mask and opened the cockpit. As he stepped onto the ladder, the deluge started. The other pilots laughed and hooted in celebration. He closed his eyes to the onslaught of water and champagne and blindly stumbled down the ladder to the runway.

    Shouts assaulted his ears while the pressured veins of water stung his skin beneath his flight suit.

    “Fitz!”

    “Darcy, you call that a landing?”

    “Don’t spray the cockpit!”

    “Hooray!”

    “Fitz!”

    “William!” His teenager sister’s voice rose out amongst the tumult.

    Darcy ran toward Georgiana and as Darcy reached her, he felt the cool, sticky flood of champagne down the neck of his flight suit. Her thin frame was crushed and soaked by his hug. The cascade continued, sending chills down his spine and down into his leg and boots. The sweet smell of the alcohol mixed with his sweat and Georgiana’s perfume. He released her and turned to his cousin and was grasped in a bear hug.


****GIVEAWAY****

As part of Austen in August, Leigh would like to give away one copy of the eBook and one signed paperback! Please fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter! And for 5 bonus entries, comment below with your end of summer plans!

Ebook giveaway open INTERNATIONALLY!
Signed paperback open to US!
Fill out the Rafflecopter to enter.
Anyone caught trying to “game” the system will have their entries invalidated, and will be barred from future giveaways. Void where prohibited.
PLEASE do not leave sensitive information, home addresses, or email addresses in the comments. These comments will be deleted and entries invalidated.
All Austen in August giveaways are open until September 7th at 11:59 Eastern.
Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


You can find The Best Laid Flight Plans here: https://www.amazon.com/Best-Laid-Flight-Plans-Prejudice-ebook/dp/B07CQXQ61M/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1532895281&sr=8-1&keywords=the+best+laid+flight+plans

Follow Leigh Dreyer on Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorleighdreyer

Leigh Dreyer’s Website: http://www.leighdreyer.com

9 comments:

  1. I enjoyed that sample and love that research is taking her to the Reno races. I've been when I was a kid.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am so beyond excited to run up there in a few weeks!

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  2. excerpt was interesting

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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  3. I liked the excerpt, you have great knowledge about Air Forces. it was very interesting to read.
    I wish I had some big end of summer plans, but I will be happy with a weekend hiking. It's one of my favorite activities, apart from reading JAFF of course.
    Thanks for the giveaway.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would love to go hiking, but it has been about 114 here so I'm not about that outside life right now. Hahaha. I'm jealous of you though! What are men compared to rocks and mountains?

      Delete
  4. I'm interested in this unique setting for Darcy and Elizabeth. Moreover, I find the dynamics of Darcy as a trainer and Elizabeth as a trainee interesting, regardless of the subject.

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a bitter sweet moment for Darcy. The scene is quite touching, Leigh.

    As for my summer plans, I have none. I'm quite busy with work these days so I cannot take time off to enjoy except during weekends.

    ReplyDelete

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