Tag Archive for: jane austen

Visions of the Future

He says he fell in the deep end,
thank goodness, or he’d’ve
hit his head on the steps.

Y’all my 65-year-old fully dressed husband fell into our pool whilst washing down the deck. It reminded me of something I’ve seen recently that said “You can tell if you’re old by how people react when you fall. If they laugh first, you’re young. If they immediately run to you to ensure you’re okay, you’re old.”

Well, I did the second scenario with him. All he needed help with was the removal of his hearing aids. Which made me laugh and then our 17-year-old son and I fell into a huge fit of the giggles. My sweet husband may never live this down. It’s been three days and his shoes are still soaked because he won’t listen to me tell him to take out the soles and set the shoes and the inserts in the hot almost-summer sun we’ve been enjoying here on the outskirts of Charleston.

In April he turned 65, which makes this the once a decade nine months of teasing I get to subject him to because our ages are flipped. He’s 65 and I’m 56. I think it’s hilarious. He shakes his head at me a la Desi at Lucy.

Which got me to thinking about the romance that we write, the beginning, falling in love, and getting to know one another. The first time they fart is kinda cute, the “don’t go down the hall or near the guest bathroom anytime soon” is equally adorable but never written about.

When I was a child, our family would go on two-week trips with another couple and their niece and nephews. I usually shared the room with the couple and the niece. Once I caught the wife trimming her husband’s bushy eyebrows. I said, “Wait, is that a thing? Am I going to be doing that when I’m older?” She replied, “Only if you’re lucky enough to be in a relationship this long.”

Mary Grace Coker Couch and 
Dud Spiegel (DS) Couch, Jr.

When I could drive myself to Easley, SC from either college in Columbia or home in Charleston, I’d visit with my grandparents once a month of my own volition. My grandfather would wait until I visited so I could cut his nails. He said when I trimmed them; they didn’t need filing. Whatever magic I did, left them perfect. He might have said this so I’d visit more often, but it worked.

My grandfather got very sick toward the end. My grandmother and I would sit at the kitchen counter playing solitaire and not speaking before nine in the morning (her rule). Papa would venture down the hall to the restroom from his bed. Nanny would eagle-eye and sonic-ear his every move. It made me sad but joyful that their intense love affair had lasted over sixty years. She was attuned to his every move.

As I’m writing my stories of the blossoming of love, I’m instilling in that depth of feeling the longevity and faithfulness of many years to come. The stinky bathrooms, the wiry eyebrows, the missteps into pools while fully dressed and while the spouse is on a conference call, the never getting the order right at the drive-thru, the refilling of the coffee cups without asking, the Batman signal of the empty tea pitcher on the counter, the kiss every time one of them departs or arrives, all melt into one beautiful love story that’s lurking in the unwritten epilogue.

When you read a story, do you ever picture the hero and heroine as a long-time couple with all their quirks and habits?

For example, imagine Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy in their fifties. They’re 21 and 28 when she accepts his proposal. How will they change but still be in love thirty years later?

What would they be doing to get on one another’s nerves? What would they do to show their deep love? Would they finally be straight with one another and not hide behind their words? Will she still think he’s hot when his dad bod goes swimming in the pond?  Will she caution him not to be reckless on his horse? What’s his reaction when she’s gone on one of her extensive walks and hasn’t returned by tea-time?

Are they enjoying being home together all time, since Mr. Darcy lives off interest income? How do they spend this time? Do they have couple friends? Dinner parties? Travel? Is she exasperated with him now that she’s hit menopause? Is he worried about losing his hair?

My take? I think Fitzwilliam will take joy in his wife being her own person and speaking her mind, I can see him watching her with pride at dinner parties or when she’s taking the lead in community events. And Elizabeth/Lizzy will pamper on him and sit in his lap by the fireplace for years to come, much to their children’s and servants’ chagrin.

I might be embedding my relationship with my husband in their storyline though, what are your thoughts?


Robin Hillyer-Miles writes romance of the contemporary, magic-realism, and cozy mystery varieties. “West End Club” appears in the anthology “Love in the Lowcountry: A Winter Holiday Edition.” She’s writing “Cathy’s Corner” a 45,000-word contemporary romance set in the fictional town of Marion’s Corner, SC.

Robin lives near Charleston, SC where she works part-time for the YWCA Greater Charleston (she took this photo <<< on 12/11/2020 her first day on the job) and gives tours of downtown Charleston (when there’s not a shutdown because of a pandemic). Her yoga instructing has fallen by the wayside but she strives to continue her home practice (it’s fallen by the wayside too, honestly).

She and her husband of 24-years love working from home together. Their teenage son enjoys finishing his junior year of high school online. The dogs don’t know what’s going on but they are digging all the attention. Her husband insists she needs a pool wherever they live, and she’s been enjoying the heck out of it during this stay at home order.

You can find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RobinHillyerMilesAuthorTourGuideYoga

The anthology is offered on Amazon in paperback or e-book here:

Clicking Our Heels: Shadowing Any Writer – Dead or Alive!

Clicking Our Heels: Shadowing Any Writer –
Dead or Alive!
The Stiletto Gang members admire each other,
but for the fun of it, we all explained what writer (dead or alive) we’d want
to shadow and why.

Judy Penz Sheluk: Truman Capote when he
was researching In Cold Blood. It was
a different time, before 24/7 news cycles, and he paved the way for true crime.
I’ve seen the movie Capote a dozen

T.K. Thorne: Shakespeare, to plum the
mysteries of his genius.

Bethany Maines: James Patterson maybe.
Just to see his marketing machine work. But in general, writing is pretty dang
boring. I think possibly “shadowing a writer” would turn out to be code for
staring at them while they type.

Shari Randall: Agatha Christie, of
course! I’d love to ask her for plotting tips and I imagine she’d always stop
writing at tea time, just like I do.

: Jane Austen strikes me as a woman who wrote despite the obstacles society
put in her way. Her acerbic view of her society spurs me to write about family
and place and love.

Dru Ann Love: Linda Castillo. She
writes about a group of people that I would never think would be as evil and
dangerous and she makes it believable.

Linda Rodriguez: Virginia Woolf would
be my choice because she wrote groundbreaking novels, crystalline nonfiction,
and wickedly funny letters and diaries and she knew all of the most fascinating
people of the time (though she and her husband were the most fascinating of all
of them).

J.M. Phillippe: Oooh. Probably
Shakespeare so I can finally put the debate about if he was real (and really
wrote everything he is attributed to writing) to rest.

Juliana Aragon Fatula: When I was a
teenager, Pearl S. Buck made me fall in love with Asian Culture, people, land,
language. I would love to tell her how much her writing inspired me and led me
to believe a woman could write and be published.

Sparkle Abbey:

Mary Lee Woods: This question is so
difficult! First, dead writers. I’d love to shadow Agatha Christie and I’d love
to have a conversation with Mark Twain. Such unique views of the world and
their views clearly influenced the stories they told. Secondly, living writers.
I’d love to spend a day shadowing Nora Roberts. She seems to have so many
stories in her head and works on multiple projects at one time. How does she do
it? I have many stoires in my head, but the ability to work on them at the same
time escapes me. I suspect it comes down to a brilliant brain, a love for
storytelling, and a solid work ethic. But… if there’s a secret…I’d love to know
what it is!

Anita Carter: That’s hard. Can I pick
two? Lisa Gardner because I struggle with plotting. She’s a master at it, and I’d
love to know her process. And Agatha Christie. From my understanding she’d
start with the murder, then move to the suspects. It’s very similar to how I
work, but I know there are ways I could improve my process.

Kay Kendall: Shakespeare. What a
fertile mind he had.

Debra H. Goldstein: Anne George. Not
only was she a wonderful humorous Agatha award winning mystery writer and the
Alabama poet laureate, she wrote one of my favorite literary works, This One and Magic Life. She also was
generous with her time bringing the beauty of words and writing to children.

Untitled Post

By AB Plum

The picture of a woman with forefinger to her lips greets me as I enter Cedar Crest Nursing Facility. Rays of sunshine slant through the dim reception area. A woman at the desk whispers for me to sign in. Behind her is a duplicate picture of the shusher at the front door. I write my name, mimic the discreet tone, and ask for Room 40.

Quiet permeates the hallway. Residents in wheelchairs or walkers congregate in doorways and near the nurses’ station. A few of the residents make low, unobtrusive noises. Air freshener—intended to mask old age, sickness, and death—screeches from the corners like a badly tuned violin.

My first and longest writing partner lies in her bed at the end of the long corridor. She is dying. 

The silence in her room is broken only by a nearly inaudible whirr of a machine next to her bed. When I approach her, she doesn’t open her eyes. Frequent doses of morphine provide a buffer against the pain.

And, the drug suppresses her tendency to shatter the silence with non-stop Wagnerian arias. She loves opera almost more than she loves reading and writing.

Close to ninety, she has written often about death—usually about the Holocaust. Escaping to England as a young child, she grew up safe. But death haunted her lovely stories.

“I do hope,” she said, paraphrasing Dylan Thomas more than once, “that I can go gentle into that long night.”

Long night versus good night, I reckon. She came to Cedar Crest more than a month ago–long enough to transfer to another room. She clings to no false hopes of recovery. Time, however, is stretching out too long.

As if reading my mind, she opens her eyes and smiles, asking without a segue, “Have you read Jane Austen, The Secret Radical”?

This question reflects how so many of our writing sessions began that I’m caught off guard. Before I can answer, the morphine claims her again. She’s gone to a temporary place of silence, where I hope she remembers she lived a good, long, gentle life.

AB Plum lives and writes in the shadow of Google in Silicon Valley. She is currently working on a light paranormal trilogy. WEIRd MAgIC features witches and warlocks. No vamps, weres, or zombies.

In Love with Austen

by Marilyn Brant

Thanks to Susan and everyone here at the Stiletto Gang for letting me visit today. Happy (early) Valentine’s Day, too!!

My debut novel, ACCORDING TO JANE, is the story of a modern young woman who has the ghost of Jane Austen in her head, giving her dating advice. The number one question I’ve been asked since the book came out this past fall is: “Why Austen? What is it with everyone choosing HER to write about lately?!”

Well, the short answer is that for me, anyway, Austen-love was in no way a recent phenomenon. I was first given PRIDE AND PREJUDICE as a 14-year-old high-schooler in English class, and I raced through the novel way ahead of the reading assignments. I loved both the story and Austen’s writing style immediately. She was so insightful about the way human beings thought and acted. Her characters were fascinatingly flawed, multidimensional and very real to me, and their stories timeless and universal. Reading Austen’s work instantaneously changed the way I perceived the behavior of everyone around me, and I spent the rest of freshman year (and much of the 1980s) trying to figure out which Austen character each of my friends and family members most resembled. I, of course, was the beloved and witty Elizabeth Bennet–at least in my imagination–LOL!

Even years later, as a teacher, when I found myself encountering difficult administrators, staff members or parents, it helped me to think of what Jane might have said about them. How she would have instructed her most heroic characters to deal with these frustrating individuals. So, my love and appreciation for the author started decades before any kind of zombie/sea-monster/vampire craze and it even pre-dated the famous Colin-Firth-as-Mr.-Darcy version of the P&P film!! (Although, who wouldn’t be inspired by seeing him all wet from jumping in lake, hmm?!)

I also spent a fair amount of time during my dating years thinking about how beneficial it would be to get romantic advice from such a wise and perceptive woman like Miss Austen, not to mention one who was a respected author and the person who’d written my all-time favorite love story. So when, as an aspiring writer myself, someone asked me which classic author I’d most want to borrow a few plot points from, I thought first of Jane. I wasn’t a historical writer by any stretch of the imagination, so I found myself wondering what a modern girl’s P&P experience might be like… What would Jane have advised a teen (one who was sort of like me or my friends) to do in tricky situations if, let’s say, she were witnessing prom night maneuverings or an evening at a local pick-up bar.

Since I was thinking about this and writing the first draft of the story in 2004, there were only two examples of modern Austen re-imaginings that I’d seen way back then: “Bridget Jones’s Diary” (the film and the novel) and “Clueless” (the film). Those were both certainly influences–and I loved them!–but films like “The Jane Austen Book Club” and wild novel spinoffs like PRIDE & PREJUDICE & ZOMBIES had yet to be released. And, though I’d read some Regency continuations, I hadn’t come across anything else in the contemporary realm back then, even if it might have been available.

I suspect that degree of unawareness wouldn’t be possible now. With so many sequels and variations on Austen-related books and so very many movie remakes, it would be incredibly difficult to avoid them these days. Had I known just how many writers were working on something Austen-esque during the time I was writing mine, I might’ve been too overwhelmed or intimidated to continue. I didn’t even know that Austen fan fiction existed until after my book was under contract–and there are thousands of avid fans writing it!

For someone like me who can’t get enough of Austen, though, being a reader and a movie-goer during this current boom of Jane books and films has been awesome. I think interest in her work reached a tipping point and crashed into the mainstream, largely because of the attention the stories got onscreen. With actresses like Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Keira Knightley and many others playing leading Austen heroines, and Anne Hathaway playing “Jane” herself in “Becoming Jane”–not to mention the allure of good-looking actors like Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Matthew MacFayden, Jonny Lee Miller, etc. jumping in to take on the roles of the heartthrobs–it’s not surprising that Austen’s characters started to appeal to a wider audience.

So, I guess that’s my longwinded way of saying that even though I had no idea there would someday be such a huge Austen craze, I’m still very glad to be a tiny part of it!

My next book, though, takes a different women’s fiction turn and doesn’t follow any of the Austen novels. It comes out on October 1st and is called FRIDAY MORNINGS AT NINE. It’s a modern fairy tale about three very different forty-something women, their three very different marriages and what happens a decade or two after the “happily ever after”…

And, because Susan’s my friend and the most excellent author of THE COUGAR CLUB, I’ll add that there’s one hot cougar-ish scene in my upcoming book that I had a blast writing!! My husband rolls his eyes whenever I talk about this male character, but I find the guy to be very charming (as figments of the imagination often are) and I wish I could meet him in real life. Plus, unlike my (pretty wonderful) husband, my hot fictional man COOKS! For me, this is an element of fantasy that I’d love to see more of in reality–LOL! What about you all? Do any of you have a fantasy trait like that? One you wish your mate would surprise you with?? If so, do tell!

May you all have a fun and romantic Valentine’s weekend. Thanks again for letting me spend a little time with all of you ;-).

Marilyn Brant lives in the Midwest where, before she became a full-time novelist, she worked as an elementary school teacher, a library staff member, a freelance magazine writer and a national book reviewer. She’s blessed to have a genuinely supportive husband and son, a loving family and a truly amazing group of friends, all of whom keep her grounded, sane and away from dangerous things like chocolate martinis (usually). She’d love to say she also has killer abs but–so far–this is still a fantasy.

Marilyn, thanks so much for visiting us today! We loved having you, and we can’t wait to read FRIDAY MORNINGS AT NINE! As an early Valentine’s Day surprise, Marilyn’s giving away one signed copy of ACCORDING TO JANE to a lucky reader who comments today. So comment away, and Marilyn will randomly draw a winner! We’ll let you know if it’s you!