Guest Post ~ Julie Klassen on “A Jane Austen Promenade” ~ Blog Tour and Giveaways for “The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill”

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Dear Gentle Readers: Please join me today as I welcome Julie Klassen with a guest post in celebration of the release of her newest book The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill. Julie tells of visiting Bath this past September for the Jane Austen Festival and the joys of dressing the part – Regency-style – for both she and her husband Brian. Below her guest post is information on her book and how you can enter to win the giveaways.

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A Jane Austen Promenade
by Julie Klassen

This year, for the first time, I attended the Jane Austen Festival in Bath, England. The festival, held every September, draws hundreds of Jane Austen fans (like me) to one of the biggest gatherings of Regency reenactors in the world.

lrbrian_cravatOn Saturday, my husband and I participated in the “Grand Regency Costumed Promenade.” The Bath Jane Austen Festival achieved the Guinness World Record for “The largest gathering of people dressed in Regency costumes” in 2009 at 409. The number rose up to 550 in 2014. Since Bath already holds the record, they did not try to set a new one this year. Instead, we paraded through the streets of this historic city simply to enjoy ourselves, honor Jane Austen, and entertain the hundreds of onlookers who lined the parade route—locals as well as tourists from all over the world. This was fine with me, because I was not terribly interested in setting a world record, but I was determined to dress my husband as Mr. Darcy, and knew this would be my best chance.

Months ahead of time, we contacted an historical costume maker in England who has made similar gentleman’s attire. She sent us fabric swatches and I sent her Brian’s measurements. After some postal delays, we received the outfit. It did not fit Brian well at all at first—likely due to my poor measuring skills. But thankfully a friend-of-a-friend is a skilled seamstress, and she altered the pieces to fit Brian better. I also ordered Brian a top hat, gentlemen’s historically-accurate silk stockings, and pointy-toed shoes, which allowed him to dance at the ball better than he could in tall riding boots. You really can find almost anything online. He also wore his old Bell Ringer gloves. I didn’t bring any “how to tie a cravat” instructions, but thankfully another participant helped Brian tie his.

lrbrianjulieBrian’s cutaway frockcoat is a bit more Georgian in style than true Regency, which worked better with his build, though he had to add suspenders to keep up those high-waisted breeches.

And I want you to notice his long sideburns or “side-whiskers” as they were called, which he grew out to please me and look more the part of an early 19th century gentleman.

I wore my new bonnet and the spencer jacket I blogged about previously (made by Matti’s Millinery), over my gold gown (made by my niece), as well as gloves and reticule. I also brought a silk parasol. The style is not 100% historically accurate, but with rain in the forecast, I decided it was “better safe than sorry.”

And, unfortunately, it rained a LOT during the promenade, and I was very glad indeed to have the waterproof umbrella. The streets and paths we trod were wet and dirty and I saw several ladies with hems “six inches deep in mud,” to quote Pride and Prejudice. But rain or shine, it was an enjoyable time anyway.

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Have you ever participated in a Regency costume party or reenactment?
What did you wear?

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The Giveaways!

Please comment below about your own Regency fashion experiences and you will be entered into the random drawing for two giveaways! The winner will receive a $20 Teavana gift card and a package of four inspirational British romances from four different eras (The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen, A Haven on Orchard Lane by Lawana Blackwell, The Lost Heiress by Roseanna M. White, Not by Sight by Kate Breslin). Deadline is December 21st – the winner will be notified on December 22.

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Here’s the blog tour schedule (you can comment on any of the blogs to be entered into the drawing):

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cover-innkeeperAbout The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill:

The lifeblood of the village of Ivy Hill is its coaching inn, The Bell. When the innkeeper dies suddenly, his genteel wife, Jane Bell, becomes the reluctant landlady. Jane has no idea how to manage a business, but with the town’s livelihood at stake and a large loan due, she must quickly find a way to save the inn.

Despite their strained relationship, Jane turns to her resentful mother-in-law, Thora, for help. Formerly mistress of The Bell, Thora is struggling to overcome her losses and find purpose for the future. As she works with Jane, two men from her past vie for her attention, but Thora has promised herself never to marry again. Will one of them convince her to embrace a second chance at love?

As pressure mounts from the bank, Jane employs new methods, and puzzles over the intentions of several men who seem to have a vested interest in the place, including a mysterious newcomer with secret plans of his own. With the help of friends old and new, can Jane restore life to the inn, and to her empty heart as well?

Visit talesfromivyhill.com to find a map of the village, character profiles, a book giveaway, and more!

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My thoughts:

I will say that Julie has done it again! – offering her readers a fully-developed world in a small English village during the Regency period, this time an intriguing tale of Inn-keeping – we have: Coaching inns and Carriages; Women characters in precarious positions trying to manage in a patriarchal world; there is Cookery and housekeeping details (love this!); every character has a secret and there is a mystery to be solved; and of course there is Love – of various sorts and with a fair amount of guessing as to who might be best suited. This is Book I of Julie’s projected series of three books – all with characters introduced here. As Julie says in her interview on the blog From Pemberley to Milton:

The series tells the stories of four women facing life-altering challenges with the help of their quirky neighbors and intriguing newcomers. Each novel will have a romance and drama wrap up in a hopefully satisfying way, while the main character’s story spans all three books. The series celebrates the strong bonds of friendship, because in a small village like Ivy Hill, everyone is connected, like leaves on a vine.

Book II, The Ladies of Ivy Cottage will be released in December 2017, and Book III, The Bride of Ivy Green, December 2018. I am only disappointed that I must wait so long to engage with these endearing characters once more!

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For more on Julie’s trip to England to research her novels, here’s her tour of Lacock Village,
the inspiration for The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill:

**(You might be interested to know that Julie is going to be leading a tour next September (2017) to many of the places that have served as inspiration for her novels. You can view details here: http://concertandstudytours.com/julie-klassen-coast-tour/).

klassen_julie1About Julie:

JULIE KLASSEN loves all things Jane–Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full-time. Her books have been honored with the Christy Award for Historical Romance, the Minnesota Book Award, and the Midwest Book Award, among others. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. For more information, visit www.julieklassen.com and also at these author links:

 |  Facebook  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

You can find The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill here: [ISBN  9780764218132]  Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

A hearty thank you to Amy Green of Bethany House Publishers and to Julie Klassen for inviting me to join this Blog Tour. Don’t forget to comment to be entered into the drawing – Good luck one and all and Happy Reading!

c2016 Jane Austen in Vermont

Julie Klassen’s “The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill” ~ Blog Tour Schedule and Giveaways

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Julie Klassen’s latest book, The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill, has just been released and there are various bloggers offering up reviews, excerpts, interviews and guest posts. I will be posting about the book on December 20th, but wanted you to see and follow the other posts that began on December 5th – please be sure to comment on any of the blogs in order to be entered into the random drawing: the winner will receive a $20 Teavana gift card and a package of four inspirational British romances from four different eras (The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen, A Haven on Orchard Lane by Lawana Blackwell, The Lost Heiress by Roseanna M. White, Not by Sight by Kate Breslin). The winner will be notified on December 22.

Here’s the blog tour schedule:

The Prizes:

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Stay tuned for my post on December 20th, where Julie tells of attending the Jane Austen Festival in Bath this past September!

c2016 Jane Austen in Vermont

Author Julie Klassen on her Lady Maybe ~ With Book Giveaway!

Is there a better summer read (we still have three weeks left – don’t rush it please!) than a Regency Romance? And one laced with a mystery, a good number of secrets, and echoes of Jane Eyre?  [Please see below for the Book Giveaway info].

Cover-LadyMaybeJulie Klassen’s latest title is Lady Maybe, a tale of a young woman, an unwed mother, who does all in her power to protect her son, and unwilling to divulge the father’s name. This is one of the many intriguing secrets in this historical romance, and once again Klassen portrays the gruesome reality of the “fallen woman” in Regency England – Hannah Rogers’ only choice is to leave home and try to manage on her own, an impossible task in a world where women are the victims of a system that affords them no way to survive alone, or at least survive respectably.

The book begins with a horrible carriage accident and from there we encounter so many secrets and betrayals that to write any sort of substantial review would spoil the reading journey! Nothing is as it seems – you must puzzle it all out along with the characters – and though it is clear who our Heroine is after the first few chapters, the Real Hero is not truly revealed until the end. And along the way, any number of social issues in early nineteenth-century England are spread before the reader: the plight of unwed mothers, the difficulties of divorce, the prejudicial justice system, and the vagaries of gossip – all this, with some compelling bits of Jane Eyre hovering about, makes Lady Maybe an engaging must-read.

I interviewed Julie here earlier this year for her The Secret of Pembroke Park  – so today I asked her to share with us something about Lady Maybe, and here she tells up how she chose the North Devon coast as the setting for this story.

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On a Cliff’s Edge

                          by Julie Klassen

Jokingly, I say the real reason I write books is to justify my long-held desire to travel to England. But the truth is, my research trips there enrich my novels’ settings and add a great deal of historical detail. So far, I’ve been able to go three times.

While writing Lady Maybe, set in Regency England, I needed to find a road dangerously near a cliff’s edge overlooking the sea. Initially, I searched for the location using Google Earth, old maps, and web sites. I finally found the ideal setting—a coastal road in North Devon along the Bristol Channel near Lynton & Lynmouth. These twin villages are nestled amid the dramatic landscape of Exmoor National Park—also the setting of the novel Lorna Doone by R.D. Blackmore.

I wrote my first draft before I ever visited the area. Then, last year, an old friend and I had the privilege of traveling there. We drove on winding, breathtakingly-narrow roads as far as we could, then continued on by foot, walking on a carriage road hundreds of years old. Wind whipped hair in our faces, pulled hoods from our heads, and drowned out our voices as we searched for the perfect spot to send a carriage careening down into the water far below. Standing on the edge of that cliff, overlooking the sun-streaked blue and gray water, the opening scenes began to play like a movie in my mind: a lady’s companion, a carriage accident, and a desperate woman trying to rescue her child…

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[Lynton, © Julie Klassen]

During an earlier trip to England, my husband and I visited a carriage museum in Devon. There, I learned the difference between a landau, barouche, traveling chariot, gig, chaise, and more. How fascinating to see so many historic carriages up close, to peer into the rich interiors, and imagine my characters heading off on their life-changing journey.

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[a Barouche]

I hope readers will enjoy the journey as well!

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Lady Maybe synopsis (from the rear cover):

A woman’s startling secrets lead her into unexpected danger and romance in Regency England…

One final cry…”God almighty, help us!” and suddenly her world shifted violently, until a blinding collision scattered her mind and shook her bones. Then, the pain. The freezing water. And as all sensation drifted away, a hand reached for hers, before all faded into darkness…

Now she has awakened as though from some strange, suffocating dream in a warm and welcoming room she has never seen before, and tended to by kind, unfamilar faces. But not all has been swept away. She recalls fragments of the accident. She remembers a baby. And a ring on her finger reminds her of a lie.

But most of all, there is a secret. And in this house of strangers she can trust no one but herself to keep it.

Lady Maybe
Berkley Trade, July 2015
Price: $16.
ISBN: 978-0-425-28207-6

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For those of you who love Klassen’s Regency novels, the wait for the next one is short one! The Painter’s Daughter will be released on December 1, 2015 (it is available for pre-order now). Here is the synopsis:

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Sophie Dupont, daughter of a portrait painter, assists her father in his studio, keeping her own artwork out of sight. She often walks the cliffside path along the north Devon coast, popular with artists and poets. It’s where she met the handsome Wesley Overtree, the first man to tell her she’s beautiful. Captain Stephen Overtree is accustomed to taking on his brother’s neglected duties. Home on leave, he’s sent to find Wesley. Knowing his brother rented a cottage from a fellow painter, he travels to Devonshire and meets Miss Dupont, the painter’s daughter. He’s startled to recognize her from a miniature portrait he carries with him–one of Wesley’s discarded works. But his happiness plummets when he realizes Wesley has left her with child and sailed away to Italy in search of a new muse. Wanting to do something worthwhile with his life, Stephen proposes to Sophie. He does not offer love, or even a future together, but he can save her from scandal. If he dies in battle, as he believes he will, she’ll be a respectable widow with the protection of his family. Desperate for a way to escape her predicament, Sophie agrees to marry a stranger and travel to his family’s estate. But at Overtree Hall, her problems are just beginning. Will she regret marrying Captain Overtree when a repentant Wesley returns? Or will she find herself torn between the father of her child and her growing affection for the husband she barely knows?

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Author Julie Klassen 2015 x 200About the Author:

Julie Klassen loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. She is the bestselling author of ten novels set in Regency England, including her new release, Lady Maybe. Julie is a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, and enjoys traveling to England to research her books whenever she can. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked as a fiction editor for sixteen years and now writes full time. Three of her novels have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. She also won the Minnesota Book Award, and has been a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Awards. Julie and her husband have two teenaged sons and live in St. Paul, Minnesota.

For further reading:

Julie’s other novels:

  • Lady of Milkweed Manor (2008)
  • The Apothecary’s Daughter (2009)
  • The Silent Governess (2010)
  • The Girl in the Gatehouse (2011)
  • The Maid of Fairbourne Hall (2012)
  • The Tutor’s Daughter (2013)
  • The Dancing Master (2014)
  • The Secret of Pembrooke Park (2014)
  1. Website: http://www.julieklassen.com/
  2. Her research page, with pictures: http://www.julieklassen.com/Research.html
  3. Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Julie-Klassen/102060596587055
  4. Twitter page: https://twitter.com/Julie_Klassen

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Book Giveaway!

Please comment or ask a question of Julie in the box below to be entered into the random drawing for a copy of Lady Maybe, with hearty thanks to Julie and her publisher Berkley Books. Deadline is Tuesday September 15, 2015 11:59 pm – winner will be announced the next day – domestic mailings only, sorry to say.

Good Luck! and Thank You Julie!

©2015, Jane Austen in Vermont

Julie Klassen’s The Secret of Pembrooke Park ~ Interview and Book Giveaway!

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I first had the pleasure of discovering Julie Klassen while on an camping trek along the East coast – I was looking for some late-night reading while tucked away in that comfortable Airstream bed. I cannot recall exactly how I first came upon The Apothecary’s Daughter – it may have been some kindle special, but though I didn’t know a thing about the author, nor that she was classified as a writer of “Christian fiction,” I loved the title and was hooked from the first page. Since then (and no longer stuck in that Airstream) I have read all of her eight novels, each of them a mix of mystery and romance, with gothic elements and literary illusions in abundance. You will find Jane Austen and the Brontes well represented, especially Jane Eyre.

Her first book The Lady of Milkwood Manor, tells the tale of unmarried motherhood, and each succeeding book focuses on a social issue of the Regency period and the plight of women in this constrained patriarchal world. And yes, there is the Romance, with various brooding Heroes vying for attention, great British houses with secrets to be unearthed, and lovely Heroines who are strong in the face of societal missteps, where faith plays a part in finding one’s way, and all adding up to a perfect read.

Today we are celebrating Ms. Klassen’s most recent book, The Secret of Pembrooke Park, currently on a blog tour sponsored by Laurel Ann at Austenprose, and where this book was awarded “Best Regency Era novel of 2014.” [the blog tour goes from February 16 – March 2nd]

In the spring of 1818, twenty-four-year-old Abigail Foster fears she is destined to become a spinster. Her family’s finances are in ruins and the one young man she truly esteems has fallen for another woman — her younger, prettier sister Louisa.

Forced to retrench after the bank failure of Austen, Gray & Vincent, the Foster family optimistically pool their resources for another London Season for her sister in hopes of an advantageous alliance. While searching for more affordable lodgings, a surprising offer is presented: the use of a country manor house in Berkshire abandoned for eighteen years. The Fosters journey to the imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left, the tight-lipped locals offering only rumors of a secret room, hidden treasure and a murder in its mysterious past.

Eager to restore her family fortune, Abigail, with the help of the handsome local curate William Chapman and his sister Leah, begins her search into the heavily veiled past aided by unsigned journal pages from a previous resident and her own spirited determination. As old friends and new foes come calling at Pembrooke Park, secrets come to light. Will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks…or very real danger?

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We are fortunate to have Julie join us here at ‘Jane Austen in Vermont’ for an interview. [Please see below for the Grand Prize Contest and book giveaway details]

Welcome Julie!

JAIV:  You heartily credit Jane Austen as the greatest influence in your writing – tell us how and when you first discovered her, and how she has continued influencing you. And what do you think it is about Jane Austen that she is more popular than ever, in both academia and popular culture?

JK:  I have been a fan of Jane Austen ever since I fell in love with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in the 1995 BBC/A&E adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Seeing it led me to read all of Jane Austen’s books and in turn, to set my novels in the Regency period, when her books were published. As far as her on-going popularity, no doubt experts could answer that better than I could, but for me her novels’ endless appeal lies in the ideal they depict–family affection, chivalry, romance, and true love triumphing over adversity–things so many of us long for. Jane Austen’s timeless humor is the icing on the cake!

JAIV:  You have many references to Jane Austen’s characters in all your novels. The Girl in the Gatehouse for GirlintheGatehouse_cover.inddinstance, reads like a sequel to Mansfield Park – a young woman sent from her home, her reputation compromised by the seduction of a rake of a man named Crawford – her name is Mariah, her sister Julia [though I do have to say I was happy not to see Mrs. Norris hanging about!].

In The Secret of Pembrooke Park, we have a handsome, intelligent and caring vicar – does he have a Jane Austen model? Tell us something of your research into the Anglican clergy during this time period.

JK:  The Girl in the Gatehouse is one of my favorites. I fondly call it my “ode to Jane,” since it has the most nods to Miss Austen. In The Secret of Pembrooke Park, the character of William Chapman was in a great way inspired by Austen’s wry and witty Henry Tilney in Northanger Abbey. (Although he is more like Edward Ferrars in that he hasn’t a living of his own, nor a wealthy benefactor).  Mr. Chapman is handsome and humble, godly and kind, but also a man’s man—athletic, good-humored, and hardworking. To research Anglicanism, I read biographies of 19th-century clergymen, attended several Anglican services in the US and England, and consulted the Book of Common Prayer. But it would take much more than that to become expert, so I had a London vicar’s wife read the manuscript to help me avoid errors. Her husband kindly answered questions as needed.

JAIV:  You write what is termed “Traditional Regencies” – i.e. more like Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer than Eloisa James and other “bodice-ripper” writers – Romance for sure with lots of butterflies, quivering lips, and stolen kisses, but no explicit sex scenes. [Jane Austen approves heartily!]. Has it been easy to find a publisher for your Christian-based tales? And have your three Christy Awards helped in spreading the word about your books?

JK:  When my first novel was published seven years ago, most historical fiction from Christian publishers was set in post-Civil War America. Now, there are many authors writing traditional regencies. Because of this, I am often credited with inspiring the growth of the genre in the inspirational market. I don’t know if the awards have helped or not, but I am certainly grateful and humbled to have won them!

JAIV:  Your books all strongly emphasize the power and presence of a Christian God – both your Heroines and Heroes go through times of doubt and loss and then embrace their faith to find themselves. Do you think this aspect of your work limits your readership? How has your own faith influenced your writing?

JK:  I came to faith in my twenties. Like the characters in my novels, I have made many mistakes in my life and am still far from perfect. But I have experienced forgiveness and second chances and this naturally weaves its way into my novels. Considering the time period, it would be more unnatural not to include things like church services and family prayers, which were a regular part of Jane Austen’s life as a clergyman’s daughter and common in society in general. As far as limiting readership, that’s the wonderful thing about publishing—we all like different kinds of books. A good thing, too, or we would need only a few authors rather than the broad spectrum writing today! As writers, the content we choose to include—or not to include—affects our readership. Some people avoid steamy novels, for example, and some avoid sweet ones. The books I write reflect the kind of fiction I like to read and who I am as a person. I appreciate reviews like this one from Booklist, that says, “…the author’s deft incorporation of the faith-based component of her story means this well-crafted romance will have wide appeal beyond inspirational romance fans.” And thankfully, this seems to be the case, because I hear from readers from various backgrounds who enjoy the books.

JAIV: Your epigraphs show a wide reading of early women writers, as well as Jane Austen’s works and letters – is there anyone you have read that you have enjoyed as much as Austen or Bronte [I know you love Jane Eyre!] who has influenced your own writing?

JK:  Thank you. I also love Elizabeth Gaskell, Frances Hodgson Burnett, and Georgette Heyer. And no one created characters like Charles Dickens!

Elizabeth Gaskell (1832) - wikipedia

Elizabeth Gaskell (1832) – Wikipedia

JAIV:  Each of your eight novels has a strong heroine who finds or places herself in a situation that reflects her Cover-SilentGovernesslimited choices as a woman: servant, governess, teacher, medicine healer, a novel-writer [think “Anonymous”!], etc. You cover the topics of unwed motherhood, the life of servitude, loss of inheritance, loss of reputation, herbal medicine, the “evils” of dancing, and more … all about women trapped in social and personal prisons. As a woman of the 21st century, it is difficult to imagine that world of 200 years ago. How do you get it right?

JK:  I am sure it helps that I love this time period—my favorite novels, costume dramas, blogs, and research books, are all set in or around this era. I spend a lot of time in Jane Austen’s letters and check my dialogue on an online etymology dictionary to make sure each word spoken was in use at the time. I sometimes have experts read sections or answer questions on certain topics (the military, cricket, blacksmithing, English country dancing, etc.). I am a member of JASNA and learn a lot through their meetings and speakers. And I go to England when I can. It’s an ongoing education! I am certainly fallible and make my share of errors, but I do my research and work hard to accurately portray the era. That said, I write fiction, not history, and occasionally take liberties for the sake of the story. When I do, I acknowledge this in my Author’s Note at the back of the books.

JAIV:  The Secret of Pembrooke Park is your longest novel to date, offering again your reader-pleasing combination of mystery, scary gothic elements, and of course Romance, to tell a tale where the reader is never quite sure who the Hero might be and how the mystery will play out – did you know when you set out on your writing journey how it would all be resolved?  Which brings us to: can you share with us your writing process? – do you start with a social issue, or a character, or a mystery to be solved?

JK:  I submit a synopsis to my publisher in advance, so I have a fairly good idea of how things will be resolved, but there is always room for surprises along the way. My process has evolved over the years and I’m still fine-tuning it. But I usually begin with a situation that intrigues me, e.g. a lady who finds herself working as a wet nurse, or having to go into hiding as a housemaid or, in this case, moving into a long-abandoned manor. From there, I think about what kind of character would be most interesting and satisfying to see in—and grow through—that situation. Specific plot points and twists develop from there.

JAIV:  Your next book is already available for pre-order: Lady Maybe, due out in July 2015. Can you tell us something about it? And, what’s up next??

Cover-LadyMaybeJK:  Lady Maybe (Berkley) is about a woman whose startling secrets lead her into unexpected danger and romance in Regency England. And then in December comes The Painter’s Daughter (Bethany House), which is my first novel with a marriage-in-name-only premise.

JAIV:  Thank you Julie for so generously sharing your thoughts on writing, your faith, and your forays into the Regency period! I very much look forward to your next two books – such a treat to have two in one year!

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Please leave a comment or a question for Julie and you will be entered into the Giveaway Contest!

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Grand Giveaway Contest 

Win One of Four Fabulous Prizes!

In celebration of the release of The Secret of Pembrooke Park, four chances to win copies of Julie’s books and other Jane Austen-inspired items are being offered.

Three lucky winners will receive one trade paperback or eBook copy of The Secret of Pembrooke Park, and one grand prize winner will receive one copy of all eight of Julie’s novels:

  • Lady of Milkweed Manor (2008)
  • The Apothecary’s Daughter (2009)
  • The Silent Governess (2010)
  • The Girl in the Gatehouse (2011)
  • The Maid of Fairbourne Hall (2012)
  • The Tutor’s Daughter (2013)
  • The Dancing Master (2014)
  • The Secret of Pembrooke Park (2014)

…and one DVD of Northanger Abbey (2007) and a Jane Austen Action Figure.

Secret Pembrook Park Blog Tour Prizes x 350
To enter the giveaway contest, simply leave a comment on any or all of the blog stops on The Secret of Pembrooke Park Blog Tour starting February 16, 2015 through 11:59 pm PT, March 9, 2015. Winners will be drawn at random from all of the comments and announced on Julie Klassen’s website on March 16, 2015. Winners have until March 22, 2015 to claim their prize. The giveaway contest is open to residents of the US, UK, and Canada. Digital books will be sent through Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Good luck to all!

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Author Julie Klassen 2015 x 200Author Bio:

Julie Klassen loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. Three of her books have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. She has also been a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Awards. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in St. Paul, Minnesota. Learn more about Julie and her books at her website, follow her on Twitter, and visit her on Facebook and Goodreads.

For more information:

-Twitter handles: @Julie_Klassen, @Bethany_House
-Twitter hashtags: #PembrookeBlogTour, #JaneAusten, #HistoricalFicton, #RegencyRomance, #Reading, #GothicRomance, #Austenesque

Publication info on The Secret of Pembroke Park:

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Remember, please leave a comment or a question for Julie here or at any of the other stops on the blog tour to qualify for the book giveaways by March 9, 2015. Blog tour stops are listed here: http://austenprose.com/2015/02/15/the-secret-of-pembrooke-park-blog-tour/

Thank you again Julie!

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c2015 Jane Austen in Vermont

Winner of Book Giveaway of “The Introduction of a Gentleman”

Pardon delay in announcing the winner of the giveaway of The Introduction of  Gentleman by Heather Brothers – I was trying to get in touch with the winner before I announced it on the blog and have now heard back – Fran Politi of our own JASNA-Vermont group wins the honors this time around! – Congratulations Fran! – very happy to have you win. Heather will send off the book to you pronto … I think you will enjoy it very much! And thank you Heather for the interview and offering a copy to us – the best of luck to you in your first publishing venture!

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c2014, Jane Austen in Vermont

The Introduction of a Gentleman, by Heather Brothers ~ Author Interview & Book Giveaway

Gentle Readers:  I welcome today one of our very own JASNA-Vermont members, Heather Brothers, to talk to us about her very own, just published, novel! – The Introduction of a Gentleman.  A long-time Jane Austen fan, Heather has been coming to our meetings for the past several years – she loves the Regency period and this is her first go at a Regency historical romance – it is a great read, full of all the things you expect from the genre – good guys, bad guys, a naïve heroine, an estate in jeopardy, a bit of a mystery, and a fine Scottish setting both in the country and in Glasgow. Heather has graciously offered to tell us a little bit about herself and how she came to write this first book, and she will provide a free copy for a giveaway –  see below for the giveaway details. 

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Deb: Welcome Heather!  All of us in Vermont are very excited for you, about this, your first published book! Tell us something about The Introduction of a Gentleman and what set you on the path to writing it… 

Heather: The seed that grew into my love of the Regency Era was planted – as many others may have experienced themselves – when I saw the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. I lived in Australia at the time and was visiting my best friend’s family. Being proper members of the Commonwealth, they were shocked that I had not seen P&P. The first day at their house we sat and watched it from beginning to end – I was so enraptured by it, I didn’t want to leave my seat for anything!

Being your typical enthusiast, I proceeded to throw a Pride and Prejudice New Year’s Eve party the following year – complete with country dance jammed into a most decidedly un-Pemberleyan dance hall (i.e. the living room of a cape house.) I had movie-viewing parties, read through each novel, connected with other Janeites, and after a trip to Scotland in 2008 for a friend’s wedding, I began the story that is The Introduction of a Gentleman.

Inspired by names such as Carrick and Strathclyde (both of which my husband has refused to name any future children), I began thinking and working on who these characters would be. And being fairly recently graduated from that tumultuous match-making time of life myself, I wanted to create that time and those feelings in Laura’s life.

After two years, I had created a rough draft and then fell victim to the precursor to the most glorious blessing one can possibly experience in life. Morning sickness led to hospitalization. Thank heaven for anti-nausea medication. And incidentally, if you throw up in the waiting room, you’ll get a hospital bed really fast. Keep that in mind.

My daughter being born was so amazing and during the nursing phase I was able to read a ton of books – the first being re-reading Emma. I learned so much about writing from that intense reading-filled timeframe.

I found that self-publishing really relies on your network of friends and family members. I got three critical reviews from friends – one who is a published writer, one who is an award-winning writer and Regency Era subject matter expert, and one who has a PhD in the Classics and is qualified to teach writing at the college level. My husband was also an invaluable help since, in self-publishing, you have to do all the formatting yourself (i.e. become a software expert.) I would really recommend Createspace, though. They have a lot of tools and all the channels set up for you.

And this is how I come to be where I am now. I really hope you enjoy The Introduction of a Gentleman.  It doesn’t compare to the works of Jane Austen, but I think it’s a good read if you like that era.

Deb: What sort of reading have you done to prepare you to write a Regency historical novel?

Heather: Reading Jane Austen’s novels are in themselves a tutorial on many levels. I have also read some great books about the era – most recently The Jane Austen Handbook by Margaret Sullivan. I have done online research as well as learned a lot from the JASNA-Vermont meetings.

Deb: How long have you been reading Jane Austen? And what is your favorite book? Your favorite thing about her?

Heather: Interestingly, I ordered Sense and Sensibility from the Scholastic Book Club when I was in 9th grade. I tried to read it butcover-persuasion-oxford couldn’t understand who everyone was, so gave up. Fortunately, through increased brain development and a more keen interest, since that time, I have been able to enjoy each novel.

My favorite book is Persuasion. What I love about Jane Austen is how funny she is and how brilliant she was in weaving everything together in these books. I’ve written an essay on the book Persuasion called “Might I Persuade You?” which I hope to record in an audio format. After listening to the audio version so wonderfully performed by Juliet Stevenson, I was struck by just how hilariously and wonderfully Jane Austen wrote. The other aspect of Persuasion that is so great is the theme of redeemed love and second chances – which is just irresistible.

Deb: Are you working on another novel? And if so will it be set in the same time period as The Introduction of a Gentleman? Will you continue with any of the characters?

Heather: I am working on another novel – but it is a present-day story set in Vermont about a 10-year old girl who wants to figure out a family mystery amidst her quirky aunts, uncles and grandparents:  Your typical Vermont family.

Deb: Sounds like Cold Comfort Farm in Vermont! Can’t wait! What other kinds of books do you enjoy reading?

Heather:  My favorite books right now are Alexander McCall Smith’s Isabel Dalhousie series and the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series.

Deb: You mention a trip to Scotland and the reason why it is the setting for your book, but have you travelled to other places in the UK as well, specifically to Jane Austen country in England?

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Chatsworth House and Bridge [Wikimedia Commons ]

Heather: My travels in Scotland helped me decide the general areas that I wanted things to take place. Sir William Blair’s country home, for instance, is based on a castle that my husband and I visited. Other scenes were inspired by a prior trip to England. One of my aunts used to live in Nottingham. When visiting her, she took me to some amazing sites like Chatsworth, but this was before I became an Austen fan – so I didn’t realize what I missing out on! I actually had no idea what Chatsworth was prior to her taking me there. I was 18 at the time – with so much to learn! So another trip to England is definitely a hope.

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Hope Greenberg

Deb:  You dedicate the book to your sister, and also “To my husband, who came with me to my first Jane Austen Society meeting…on fashion.”  Was that at a JASNA-Vermont meeting, or another meeting somewhere else? 

Heather: Yes – the dedication refers to my first JASNA meeting – the one where Hope Greenberg spoke in Montpelier at the Vermont College of Fine Arts! I loved it and actually mentioned it to Hope at the Christmas tea when she wore her wonderful dress and hat to that meeting. I have been coming to JASNA meetings – when I could (i.e. not when Claire was tiny…) – since that meeting. [Ed. This meeting was on June 7, 2009 – with our very own regency fashionista Hope Greenberg on “Fashion in Jane Austen’s World” and a great intro to JASNA-Vermont for Heather! (and her husband!)] 

Thanks so much for having me here Deb!

 Deb: Thank you Heather! – and wishing you a great deal of luck with your first publishing endeavor.

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Plot synopsis: In 1797 Laura McCay searches for her path and a husband in the Scottish gentry. When the intriguing Mr. Strathclyde arrives at the May Ball, Laura is captivated by both his stature and his status. Her close friend, Carrick, deplores both the change he sees in Laura and Mr. Strathclyde’s growing influence over her. Heedless of the ramifications, Laura follows after Mr. Strathclyde, leaving family responsibilities and friends behind in the country. Laura disregards Carrick’s admonitions and throws herself into the city life of concerts, dresses and fashionable balls, only to find that not everything is as it seems….

The Introduction of a Gentleman at Amazon
ISBN: 978-1492725480
$8.99
[there is one online on Amazon for $999.11 – don’t buy that one… :)] 

About the Author:

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Heather Brothers and daughter Claire

What Amazon says: Heather Brothers is an avid Jane Austen fan and has had the pleasure of visiting Scotland several times. She lives in Vermont with her family.

More detail from Heather:  I was born and raised mostly in Vermont, with three years of my childhood spent in Germany. I went to McGill University in Montreal, and spent one year in Australia. I studied Political Science, German and French, and like many with a liberal arts degree, my job doesn’t reflect my studies. I work as a loan analyst at the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, where I have worked for eight and a half years.

I love going to Shelburne Farms in the summer with my daughter and husband. My favorite restaurant is Mirabelle’s downtown – which has the best hot chocolate. I’m beginning to wonder if it’s become an addiction, seeing as I stop there every Sunday before church and am on a first name basis with the staff…

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Book Giveaway 

Please leave a comment or a question for Heather at the end of this post and you will be entered into a random drawing for a copy of The Introduction of a Gentleman.  Deadline is Tuesday January 21, 2014, 11:59 pm.  I will announce the winner on Wednesday January 22nd.  US entries only please. [sorry about that – postage rates are sky-high to everywhere else…]

C2014, Jane Austen in Vermont

Life without Jane (Austen, that is); Or, How To Survive Moving…

The Jane Austen in Vermont blog has been silent for the past month, for which I apologize, but as I have now returned somewhat to a “normal” life, I can begin again to obsess on “all things Jane” – blogging, twittering, facebooking, researching, writing, and best of all Reading!

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Moving is a nightmare, no matter how organized one might be, and of all my various strengths and weaknesses, the will to organize has always been the driving force; so take the contents of one old house, pack it all up and put it all in storage, and six months later, move all into a new maintenance-free house, and spend the next 3+ weeks unpacking, overdosing on cardboard and paper, as 25,000 pounds (or so the mover tells me) of “stuff” (including my own book collection) finds a place in the new home … so bad back notwithstanding, the deed is done, my books are on the shelves (though alas! not yet fully alphabetized, she says shame-faced), all the drawers and closets are organized, the kitchen is in fine working order (surviving on take-out has become a very nice habit – whoever said I actually needed a kitchen in this new place?), and all the pictures are hung – so “normal” returns in a fashion, and time to get back to real life…

What have I done these past 3+ weeks for my sanity? – the quick break from unpacking, organizing and hammering? I have existed, not only on take-out, but also on the comfort-food of reading mysteries and romance novels – my mind might now be a tad mushy, as I fear the worst in trying to get my head around “game theory” in reading the grandly enlightening Jane Austen, Game Theorist (I promise an author interview shortly, but see in the meantime Michael Chwe’s website here: http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/polisci/faculty/chwe/austen/ ) – but it has been great fun – so here is my list, all highly recommended as just great reads, and even Jane might approve, as they are each and every one, “only a novel”!

Georgette Heyer: I should add here that for the packing-up part last fall, I re-read all my favorite Georgette Heyers – hard to choose, but I read at least ten all in a row, and can now safely say that I can barely tell one from the other, but the joy of the moment of reading is nearly perfection!

heyer jatoday[Image courtesy of Jane Austen Today, with thanks]

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cover-duty-to-deadCharles Todd, the Bess Crawford mysteries:  I am a fan of the Jacqueline Winspear Maisie Dobbs series , largely because I love the time between the two World Wars, so was happy to discover that the Charles Todd mother-son duo (of Ian Rutledge fame) had started a similar series a few years ago – have read the first three and have just started the latest. The titles in order:

  • A Duty to the Dead
  • An Impartial Witness
  • A Bitter Truth
  • An Unmarked Grave 

– all featuring Bess Crawford, a nurse during WWI, who seems to forever be stumbling headlong into murder and mayhem, as well as the very-helpful-in-a-murder-mystery-plot-device of  having veritable strangers tell her the most amazing things – great fun – you must read them in order… and the fact that there is a very close family friend who seems to always be there when needed adds a little spice and anticipation – his name is Simon Brandon, so nice to know that Jane Austen, as always, is in the mix somehow… [I think Knightley would have been too obvious…]

See their website at http://charlestodd.com/ for more information.

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Julie Klassen’s The Tutor’s Daughter:  I have read a few of Klassen’s books and find them to be the perfect read, so was happy to take on her latest The Tutor’s Daughter. It does not disappoint: raging Cornwall weather; two brothers with opposite personalities and each with a history with the lively heroine, the nearly-on-the-shelf daughter of the live-in tutor to the two younger sons of the new wife of Sir Giles; add in an old-rambling castle-like home with a wing one is to stay out of and some ghostly goings-on, and you have a fine historical romance that combines Northanger Abbey and Jane Eyre into one delightful confection……

For more information on this and other books by Klassen, see her website here: http://www.julieklassen.com/index.html

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Candice Hern: Thanks to Laurel Ann and her mentions of Ms. Hern, I have read most of the books in the Reading Challenge at Austenprose (though I did not sign up, didn’t think I would have the time! – no matter, it is the reading that counts!): again, each tells a fine regency-era tale with the requisite heroines, rakes, fashions, and settings you will be sure to savor:

  • A Proper Companion
  • A Change of Heart
  • An Affair of Honor
  • A Garden Folly
  • The Best Intentions
  • “Desperate Measures”
  • “Lady Ann’s Excellent Adventure”

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For more information, visit Hern’s website here: http://candicehern.com/ – and be sure to click on the “Regency World” section of her website for a wealth of information about the times of which she writes.  And for those attending the Jane Austen JASNA AGM in Minneapolis this year, you will be fortunate to see Ms. Hern’s collection of Regency artifacts on display – she wrote an article on vinaigrettes for the Mar/Apr issue of Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine.

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Ok, so all of this made the joys of moving more than bearable – I am almost disappointed to have to return to real life after all – but I am not quite done yet: I will be moving all my Bygone Books business back into the house in the next 2 weeks, so I can keep reading these delightful escapist tales after all – Hern’s Miss Lacey’s Last Fling and Todd’s Unmarked Grave await! and then I shall return to Austen and celebrating Pride and Prejudice, so stay-tuned…

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What do you like to read when going through a stressful, energy-intensive time?

c2013 Jane Austen in Vermont