Tag Archives: corrie garrett

Last Hour for Love – A Persuasion Time Loop Story

I combined my love of Groundhog Day with my love of Persuasion! This is a story I wrote for the Austen Authors blog, but it’s been taken down, so I’ll be giving it away for new sign-ups to my Romance Readers! If you are already one of my subscribers, just shoot me an email with “Last Hour for Love” in the subject line and I will send you the link also as a new year’s present! Much love to everyone and happy new year!

Click here to sign up! You will receive a free digital copy of Last Hour for Love.

Exclusive Excerpt

Anne set down the teapot without pouring and pressed her hands to her eyelids. She could not keep on doing this.

What about the last day with her mother? Why could she not repeat that day?

Or the day she had thrown over Frederick Wentworth and condemned herself to a life of growing loneliness? What couldn’t she change that day?

Instead it had to be this absolute—absolute canker of a day. If she was not watching Captain Wentworth woo Louisa, she was watching the poor girl fall lifeless on the pavement of the Cobb! Or she herself was being knocked off the Cobb. Or Captain Wentworth.

Once, memorably, it had been poor, kindly Mrs. Harville!

And if it was not injury, she was beset with Mary’s crotchets, Charles’s lackadaisical deafness to his wife’s errors, and Henrietta’s tiresome speculations on her beau’s prospects.

“Anne? What is the matter?” Henrietta asked.

She shook her head mutely. If she claimed to be sick, she knew exactly what would happen. If she pressed on, she knew what would happen.

A half sob choked its way out. She buried it in her hands.

Never in her life had she grown rigid and drummed her heels on the ground the way some young ladies did. Never had she screamed and fainted. She had never boiled over with frustration or disappointment in her father.

She had mourned her mother deeply and privately. She had mourned her mistake with Frederick deeply, but with moderation. She had never shirked her duties at Kellynch Hall.

She had never run away from her problems.

“Anne?” Mary demanded. “I’m thirsty. What is wrong?”

“Is she choking?” Louisa gasped. “Can you speak, Anne?”

“What is it? Is she ill?” Charles asked. “Anne?”

And Frederick’s beloved voice nearly drowned out by the others, “I say, Anne…”

Anne fled the parlor. She stumbled down the stairs of the hotel and out into the salty wind and clouds of Lyme. She swiped tears from her face onto her dress.

She had no coat or pelisse, not even her lace shawl, but she didn’t feel the cold. She turned away from the hotel, and away from the dreaded paved walk along the sea.

She was nearly at a run.

She didn’t even realize Captain Harville and his wife were approaching until they were nearly upon her.

“My dear Miss Elliot,” Mrs. Harville exclaimed. “What is the matter? Has there been some accident?”

Anne laughed and wiped her stinging eyes. “No, no accident today. Please excuse me.”


Poor Anne deserves the chance to make things right, but first she must discover that every day holds life-changing choices, if she can be brave enough to see them.

Click here to sign up for my author newsletter! You will receive a free digital copy of Last Hour for Love.

Persuasion Meets Groundhog Day – A short story

Hey folks! I posted this story earlier this month on AustenAuthors. It turned into a fun, angsty look into Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth. Read on!


Time Loops

It’s not quite Groundhog’s Day yet, but I usually see the movie pop up sometime in January and I always have to watch at least five minutes of it. Definitely one of my Top 5 Movies of All Time.

In December I usually watch “12 Dates of Christmas” which is a festive romantic comedy with the same idea, and my husband and I both really enjoy “Edge of Tomorrow” with Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt where they’re trapped in a day fighting aliens.

Twelve Dates of Christmas

I am a SUCKER for the time loop trope. I love everything about it. The confusion, the despair, the hope, the growth, the incremental learning, and the uncertain romance!

All this to say, this is my (early) Groundhog Day post! There are some great Pride and Prejudice time loop stories, but I haven’t seen one done with Persuasion. (If you know of one, let me know in the comments!) I doubt I’ll turn this into a novel, but it is so delicious to explore the idea of Anne learning and growing and changing her fate with a time loop. She can be active instead of waiting for others, as the poor woman too often had to do. Can you guess what day she’ll have to get right?

Hands Tucked In, Part 1

Anne woke at the hotel in Lyme with a sense that some impending doom had been averted. The quiet sounds of the hotel were tranquil, and she lay with her hands tucked under the pillow, not quite awake enough to question her sense of relief.

There was a murmur from the hotel man putting the gentlemen’s polished shoes back in place as one of the guests stepped into the hall to ask him about the weather. There was the nearby chink of china as one of the serving maids set the table in their private dining room for breakfast. The smell of roast beef and fish and the ocean made even Anne’s appetite awaken with a low rumble.

How happy she was to be in Lyme—how long since she had felt so happy to be anywhere! Certainly she was glad not to be returning to Uppercross with the terrible news of Louisa’s fall—


With a start, Anne sat straight up in the small bed, catching the wool blanket against her chest. Louisa had fallen onto the pavement of the Cobb and been severely injured. They feared for her life and Anne had been packed off in the coach with Captain Wentworth to tell the poor girl’s parents.

But now—a bell below tokened another guest’s arrival at the inn and the merry bellow of a ship’s horn indicated that she was certainly still at the hotel, in the harbor city of Lyme.

Had they returned with Louisa’s parents yesterday? Had Anne fainted from the anxiety and care? Why did she not remember?

Anne threw off her night things with trembling hands. She’d left the previous day’s dark blue walking dress hanging on the hook by her bed. She’d soiled it the yesterday kneeling on the wet, gritty pavement of the sea wall, but what did a thing like that matter when she was so confused? She pulled it on over her head and did up the buttons.

Though her anxiety did not lessen, she paused long enough to pull her hair into a simple knot at the back of her head. If she had fainted or otherwise been taken ill yesterday—which she more and more thought she must have done—she ought to present a decent appearance to the others or they would insist on coddling her all day when they ought to be focused on poor Louisa.

When she was neat enough, she jerked the hall door open.

The gentleman across the passage was just coming out as well—now wearing the boots he’d just gotten from the hotel man. He looked at her inquiringly, for her countenance must show agitation.

Anne blinked at him. “Mr… Mr. Elliot?” She had nearly forgotten the handsome man she briefly met yesterday during their walk. He had admired her, and she had noted it, only to be very surprised to learn after his departure that he was their estranged cousin. Louisa’s fall had put it all out of her head. “Have you come back to Lyme? I thought you were headed to Bath.”

Only her confusion and disorientation excused such a direct question to a veritable stranger.

He paused, wrinkling an intelligent brow. “Why, yes, I have not been here in some years, and I am headed to Bath later today. I am afraid you have the advantage of me, Miss…?”

One of the hotel maids exited the dining room and Anne turned to her, too intent to attend him any longer. “Excuse me, has there been word of Miss Louisa Musgrove this morning? Has my sister sent word?”

The maid jerked her head toward the dining room. “I believe Miss Louisa is still asleep, Miss Elliot, but Miss Henrietta is just in here having a cup o’ chocolate.”

“Miss Henrietta is drinking chocolate?” The last Anne had seen of Henrietta, she was prostrate with fear for her sister and had been given a composer and put to bed.

Mr. Elliot was looking bemused, and Anne recollected him with effort. “Excuse me,” she curtseyed slightly. “I—I mustn’t detain you.” At any other time, she would be quite interested to meet her cousin and see what manner of man would inherit her father’s land and titles, but not this morning.

“But I declare that you must detain me,” he said, half-joking, half-affronted. “If you are indeed a Miss Elliot. Dare I believe that you are Miss Elliot of Kellynch Hall?”

“No,” said Anne, moving towards the dining room. “That is my older sister. I am Miss Anne Elliot.”

He fell into step next to her, smiling. “I have yet to learn that Miss Anne Elliot has less claim on the name than her sister. I suppose you must already be aware of my identity, but I am quite taken aback. Please allow me—”

“I’m sorry, sir,” said Anne, “I can attend to you presently, but I simply must ascertain the health of my sister-in-law before I do anything else.”

He had followed her into the private parlor where the Musgrove family was to be served and indeed, Henrietta was there alone. She was looking quite cheerfully out of the window and sprang up on seeing Anne. “There you are! The beach looks so lovely this morning and it is still an hour until breakfast. Do come walking with me, Anne! I feel I shall quiver myself to death with delight if I sit here any longer.”

“But—Louisa,” poor Anne protested. “How is she? Have you heard from Captain Harville and his wife? Has Louisa regained consciousness?”

Henrietta’s pretty brow furrowed. “Louisa left our room before I did. She is out walking with Captain Wentworth, and she is perfectly fine.” She smiled ruefully and a little self-consciously. “Perfectly fine except that she preferred to walk alone with the Captain and thus I was waiting for you.” Henrietta took in Mr. Elliot and blushed a little. She rose from the table and curtseyed a schoolgirl’s dip. “How do you do, sir? Are you a friend of my dear Miss Elliot?”

“I am in fact, a cousin of your dear Miss Elliot.” He bowed. “However, I am afraid perhaps that she isn’t well.”

Anne was not well. She sank down on one of the spindle legged stools against the wall and put a hand to her head. “Henrietta. Please tell me plainly, did Louisa fall and hit her head yesterday?”

“Why, no.” Henrietta looked questioningly between the two of them. “You were with us the whole time, Anne.”

“I suppose I was.” Had Anne dreamt it? Had she indulged in a perfectly frightful and realistic nightmare? On occasion, she dreamed of her mother in quite life-like moments. But then—Anne had known Mr. Elliot’s identity. She closed her eyes and pressed her hand over them.

Mr. Elliot’s gentlemanly voice was heard to request that Henrietta ring for some tea. “I think Miss Elliot has had some fright this morning.”

“To be sure,” Henrietta agreed.

When Anne had drunk some hot tea, scalding her tongue a little but not minding, for at least it was real, she felt more composed. It was inexplicable and strange, but then… she was old enough to know that all of life was inexplicable and strange and she could not put too many demands on it.

Besides which, she was distracted by Mr. Elliot, who—without being at all flippant or condescending—was blending humor and concern in such a way as to make her smile.

“Now, Miss Henrietta—do I have your name correctly? Ah, good—I believe we have chased the ghost out of her eyes. Now I believe is the perfect moment for you to renew your request for a walk. And I, being at hand and also desiring a walk in the fresh breeze I see whipping the Union Jacks along the wharf, will offer to escort you.”

Anne agreed that the sea air would help clear her head and soon she and Henrietta were on the high Cobb on either side of Mr. Elliot.

The Cobb overlooked the sparkling gray ocean, and a fine cool breeze reddened their cheeks. At intervals there were stairs leading from the highwalk to the lower one nearer the ocean and rock. The stairs made Anne uncomfortable, for she could still picture Louisa jumping a moment to soon. She could hear the horrible sound as Louisa’s head bounced off the stone stair and her body crumpled limply to the ground.

Mr. Elliot must’ve felt her tension, for he looked at her a little searchingly. He was too well-bred to demand further explanation for her confusion this morning, which she appreciated.

Anne knew, of course, that Mr. Elliot had had a falling out with her father. He had been painted as quite a black sheep, in fact. She saw nothing of it now. In fact, based on one morning’s acquaintance, she was quite encouraged to know that a man of intelligence, information, and kindness was to inherit Kellynch. The good people of Kellynch, the tenants and the village folk, would be in better hands than she had hoped.

That Mr. Elliot was equally pleased with her was clear. He seemed genuinely delighted to make an acquaintance of Sir Walter’s daughter. His eye often caught hers, and she thought that perhaps—in her dream? Premonition? Nightmare?—at least she had not been wrong that he admired her.

It made her color up a little, for she was no longer used to a man’s eyes on her face with that sort of admiration.

Henrietta was perhaps not quite oblivious to it, and when they stopped to admire the view at the end of the Cobb, where the wharf and warehouses left off and the ocean stretched away, she moved off on her own a short way.

It left Mr. Elliot and Anne in a surprisingly intimate moment. Anne sighed gently. She would not allow herself to think of how much rather she would have the moment with Captain Wentworth. He was off walking with Louisa, whom he would marry, and whom she must and would be happy for.

“This morning—” Mr. Elliot started again. “I hope that you—I was quite—”

“Please forget my confusion,” Anne said. “I cannot explain it.”

“I was not asking for an explanation,” he said, “and I could readily forgive far more, if there was anything to forgive!”

“You must think I was very silly.”

“On the contrary, I suspect that you are not at all silly.” He looked at her keenly. “I suspect, in fact, that your life has not been easy. I see in you something I recognize.”

Despite his good looks and manner, Anne did not know him. She swayed a half step away. “My life has had no great difficulty. I cannot complain.” Though even as she said it, she thought of her grief over Captain Wentworth, her grief at her mother’s passing, her grief at leaving Kellynch to strangers.

“That is exactly what I would expect you to say,” he said smiling, as if he knew her quite well. “Not at all easy, I gather, and you have the stamp of someone who has found their way despite mourning. I felt an immediate jolt of recognition when I saw you this morning—though I doubt I would’ve realized the source if you had not spoken to me. I feel as if—and I only take such a liberty on the basis of cousinship!—that you and I are something akin.”

Anne knew that his life had been difficult. He had taken a low-born wife for her fortune and been—by report—very unhappy and still more so when she died untimely.

“Perhaps there is some small similarity,” she said.

He smiled at her again, pressing her hand which was tucked around his arm. Whether he would have continued this interesting conversation, she did not know, for Henrietta returned to them. “Look, here is Louisa and Captain Wentworth coming toward us. We can walk back with them.”

Captain Wentworth’s eyes had found them out already, and he was taking in the tableau. Anne’s hand was tucked around Mr. Elliot’s arm, and he had placed his other hand over hers. His eyes were bright, and he had just been murmuring something in her ear.

Captain Wentworth’s eyes fixed on Anne’s for a moment, and there was a flash of recognition, as he suddenly saw the quiet beauty he’d fallen in love with twelve years ago.

And saw that she was being squired, appreciated, and admired by another man.

It was only a moment, and then there were introductions. That Mr. Elliot was her cousin seemed to strike Captain Wentworth between the eyes. His mouth opened slightly, and he clamped it shut, doffing his hat.

“We must walk back along the lower Cobb,” Louisa declared in her self-assured way, “where it is not quite so windy and we can test the delightful crunch of the shingle under our feet!”

Anne’s hand tightened compulsively on Mr. Elliot’s arm. The stone stairs led down the wall at an angle, with no railing and very little depth. They were slick with spray and salt and worn into softer shapes by years of wind and waves.

“Surely up here is better,” Anne said. Her words fell on deaf ears, for already Captain Wentworth was descending.

“Be careful!” Anne said. “Louisa—take care!”

Louisa laughed. “I am careful enough for my small part, and the Captain is careful enough for the rest of it. Do hop me down, Captain Wentworth!”

Anne dropped Mr. Elliot’s arm. Henrietta was on the point of following her sister, and Anne darted in front of her and onto the steps.

“Catch me!” Louisa cried happily.

Captain Wentworth was at the bottom. Perhaps he had been distracted by Mr. Elliot’s arrival and had not properly heard Louisa’s request. “Sorry, what was that?” he said, turning.

But Louisa was throwing herself toward him, expecting to be caught under the arms. Anne grabbed for her wrist or her shoulder… Surely it could not happen again!

Anne’s lunge did not save Louisa. In fact, it knocked her own neat boots loose from the precarious friction offered by the limestone steps.

They both fell and Anne saw Captain Wentworth’s horrified face before her head struck something and she knew no more.


Anne woke at the hotel in Lyme with her hands tucked under the pillow, and to the murmur of voices as the gentlemen’s boots were delivered first thing in the morning.

Her head did not hurt, thankfully, but she didn’t feel the same sense of relief as she had the last time.

What was happening to her?

<End of Part 1>

That’s it for now! Let me know if you also are a fan of time loops! If you enjoyed this, you can find Part 2 here!


Release Day! + 6 Terrifying Stages of Writing a Sequel

Originally posted at: Austen Authors

Duels, Dancing, and Destiny!

Today, September 30, is the release day for my newest book! E-book and paperback available on Amazon now!

The Highbury Variation continues! Elizabeth’s quickly ended engagement to Mr. Knightley, as well as her sister’s engagement to Mr. Bingley, has people throwing around words like fortune-hunter and hussy. Will Mr. Darcy be deterred by the resistance of society and his family?
Meanwhile Jane Fairfax’s position as a governess is threatened by the unwanted attention of several gentlemen. When a bet is made about her in a gentleman’s club, her reputation teeters on the edge of a cliff. But is Mr. Tom Bertram of Mansfield actually offering insult or… something more? How could she possibly trust this rakish friend of Mr. Churchill’s?
Join Elizabeth and Jane as they navigate love and loyalty in the refined drawing rooms of Regency London.

From London with Loyalty is the most action-packed Regency novel I’ve written, and it was a blast to write. It did take more planning and plotting and well, work(!), than some novels have, but I am very pleased with the result. In fact, as (almost) always happens by publication day, I feel like this might be the best book I’ve ever written! I know that feeling is mostly a writer’s high, but it is so satisfying to see one’s skills improve. I know if I had attempted a book this complicated and humorous and dramatic five years ago… it would not have turned out the way I imagined it!

Anyway, I just wanted to let you all know that I really appreciate the community and encouragement here! The awesome readers and writers who come here make it a joy to be a Jane Austen writer.

6 Stages of Writing a Sequel with a Deadline

I was pondering the differences between writing a first book and a second (or third, fourth, etc.) where you’ve given yourself a deadline, so I though I’d share my experience/blueprint!

  1. Stage 1 – Basking: Well, I’ve put up a sequel on Amazon for preorder. I had better write it. But… I mean, the preorder date isn’t for months! Look at the sales coming in on Book 1! The Goodreads reviews! My friend from high school actually read it! My mom even likes it! Wow!
  2. Stage 2 – First Reality Check: When did I set that preorder for? Wait. WUT. I was definitely on a writing high when I made that adventurous deadline. People have expectations for this! I had unfinished plot threads! It must be written! But everything will still be okay. I’ve been thinking about it for months and I know exactly what I want to have happen and the character arcs and the setting and the climax. Let’s open that Word doc and see where I was… Immediately and completely overwhelmed. Shut Word Document.
  3. Stage 3 – Lift off: I open Word Document again, because I’m a professional, darn it! I type 3 sentences and find myself eating cottage cheese out of a carton while staring moodily at the Nutella chocolate. Stop! Go back to the couch! In this stage the writing actually begins. It is punctuated by FREQUENT trips to the first book to remember some detail that I thought I would remember. I did not.
  4. Stage 4  – Second Reality Check: A solid beginning and middle has been written. But I realize what I thought ought to be the climax has come and… isn’t the climax. It’s interesting and exciting, but clearly it’s building to something else. Keep writing. This phase is often punctuated by the need to look up a Regency word or detail… but not as often as it was with my first historical book. The tension is still building. If I was reading this I would feel like a great ending was coming. I HOPE A GREAT ENDING IS COMING.
  5. Stage 5 – Ground Effect: The momentum of writing has finally taken hold and it is getting easier to pour out this story the same way a plane gets upward push at a certain altitude. (I got this analogy from Dean Wesley Smith. I love his writing advice.) I furiously write to the end! Look through my character list and double check that I’ve given each of them at least a moment of closure. Add another scene. I remember that readers like to dwell in the happiness for a bit. Add three more scenes. WHERE IS THE END OF THIS BOOK? Oh, wait. There it is! Heavenly chorus!
  6. Stage 6 – Editing: Now I’m eating the Nutella. Some chapters, it’s like – wow, I wrote this! Others it’s like – wow, I wrote this? Some dialogue is great, other parts are cringe-worthy. Did I change the name of that character mid-book? (I did.) Read through one last time for continuity and error-check. Then, I clench my muscles like I’m an astronaut trying not to pass out from 4 g’s and send the document to my copyeditor! (Then I stay up all night thinking of better ways to phrase the final proposal.)

And that’s it! Easy peasy! (Much like drawing the reindeer!)

Thanks so much for your encouragement along the way. From London with Loyalty is available in both eBook and paperback!

Happy Release Day!


“From Highbury with Love” Coming April 21, 2021!

My latest novel is with the editor, and it’s time for the fun stuff: covers and giveaways and sneak peaks!

I’ll be doing a giveaway at Austenauthors in April, that’s my other primary blog spot, but if you’re in a hurry, I’ve got another giveaway active this month at Austenprose! There’s also a sneak peak at the novel there, an excerpt I haven’t shared elsewhere. Fun times!

When Lizzy Bennet spends the winter in Highbury, it will be anything but the dull visit she expects. Particularly with Mr. Darcy visiting his friend Mr. Knightley!

Between dueling with Emma over Harriet Smith’s future and discovering secret love letters to Jane Fairfax, Lizzy is soon invested in her new friends. Then she becomes an unwelcome witness to Lady Catherine warning Emma not to think of Mr. Darcy!

From there it is a carousel of mistaken affections, relentless gossip, repressed emotions, and fateful decisions.

How will the new knots ever be untangled?

Between winter balls, outdoor frescoes, and fireside chats, the Highbury community is in for all the drama their village can hold.

My First Bookbub Feature…and #3 on Amazon!

I was very excited to get a feature with Bookbub for January! They are pretty selective and I have been applying off and on for about six years. I was shocked when I received their acceptance for A Lively Companion as applying had become a habit, not an expectation!

Generally I try not to obsess about Amazon or other rankings–readers make a career, not rank–but I am making an exception and doing a big happy dance today!

Thanks for all the reads, purchases, comments, and encouragement over the years!

Also #5 in Canada and #16 in the UK! (Canadian readers don’t intimidate me, but British ones do. <Corrie waves nervously, knowing she’s doing it wrong.>)

In other news, my Emma/Pride and Prejudice crossover is also up for pre-order and the wonderful lady who edits for me, Gabriella at editforindies.com, will be starting on it in March before it goes live in April.

G’night folks!


Worst Martian Playlist: A short novel of space exploration and survival

My latest science fiction offering is live on Amazon! It was a ton of fun to write this summer (harder to get further from lockdown than Mars), and its been a lot of fun to get it ready for publishing. As always, much thanks to Gabriella at Edit for Indies who did the copyediting. Hyphenated words and adjectives are the bane of my existence, and she helped me get all the spaceships and terms consistent. I tend to get excited and little details like NAMES get lost in the mix, which is no good for the poor reader.

So what is it about? In my head, I’ve been describing it as a mashup between The Martian (by Andy Weir) and Smart House, a fun campy Disney movie from my tween years. Lol, make of that what you will! It took a lot of twists and turns from the original premise, and I’m happy with how it turned out.

Here’s my description from Amazon:

If you love tense, survival sci-fi, join a pair of shell-shocked astronauts on a catastrophic day of dangers in Worst Martian Playlist, a short novel exploring trust, identity, and loyalty.

The first caverns of the new Martian base were dug by rovers, but when the first long-term crew is on its way, catastrophe strikes. Miranda Oceveda and Caleb Wexler are the sole survivors.

In the caverns and tunnels that comprise the new base, Caleb and Miranda have soldiered on for months, but it’s frustrating and exhausting with only two people. Their AI assistant helps with day to day tasks, but it can’t replace a living crew.

And Miranda isn’t at all sure that Caleb hasn’t cracked under the pressure–he’s angry and aggressive in a way he never was before. Of course, she isn’t sleeping well either, and they both probably have PTSD and adrenal fatigue… But they only have to hold out until the Respite crew arrives.

But with only two weeks to go, one fateful day of storms, solar interference, and human error, their survival will depend on trust and intuition… and neither has much to spare.

Thanks for reading, go check it out!

Interview over at Poseidon’s Scribe

Thanks to Steven Southard for hosting me for a guest interview over at his blog! He had some good questions that made me think and some that made me laugh. Go check it out!

Meanwhile, I’m getting closer on publishing Best Martian Playlist, coming December 1, and working on an untitled Emma/Pride and Prejudice mashup. Good times!

Best Martian Playlist — My Latest Sci-fi Story!

After finishing An Austen Ensemble, I was ready to venture back into the world of speculative fiction. I love carriages, phaetons, barouches, curricles, tumbrils, and farm wagons, and all the details that go along with historical novels, but I was more than ready to MAKE SOME STUFF UP by the time I was done.

So… Thus came about my near-future story on an underground Martian base (as I blow a kiss to Elon Musk!) which takes place on a single terrible day in the lives of two astronauts.

I just got the book back from my wonderful editor, Gabriella West over at Edit for Indies, so I am just whipping it into shape before publication. I am also learning how to use Adobe InDesign for covers, because writing a novel for NaNoWriMo this month was not enough. (I peer dubiously at the schedule written on my hand… Was this the plan?)

Anyway, cover and blurb to follow soon! But here’s an excerpt while I get things ready.

Thanks for reading,


Best Martian Playlist

Tenacity Base, Tharsis Montes, Mars

“You should allow yourself to rest,” the AI assistant said, “as the vehicle is in crawl mode. You can close your eyes. Caleb is taking a surface walk to the solar array.”

Miranda half-reclined on the driver’s seat of one of the huge rovers, her feet propped on the locked steering wheel, her head tilted back. She stared at the line between the foil sheeting that partly coated the Martian tunnel and the raw rock beyond, her eyelids heavy. A few feet further and the tunnel disappeared into blackness. She tapped her tablet and spoke to the AI, Ero, through a painful yawn. “Shouldn’t I use the time he’s gone? You said you had a list of options…”

“Steps may be necessary today, but you’ll need to be rested. Shall I begin another album? I can make suggestions based on your profile.” Ero was originally one of Amazon’s proprietary personalities, so he was always trying to get them to try new music or binge-watch new series.

“No, just play the mix I listened to last night.” Miranda felt her shoulders ease and she relaxed for real, getting as comfortable as possible in the bucket chair as she sipped citrus-flavored water out of the tube in her suit. Her position would be ridiculously uncomfortable on Earth, but in the low Martian gravity, it was workable.

The tunnel was twenty feet tall; that was the current calibration on the digger machine that had gone through this tunnel first. And the walls, though still lined from the teeth of that machine, were relatively smooth, half-melted from the high heat that was used to fuse rock and dust into firm walls.

If the caves were natural, they’d be considered quite beautiful. Parts of the rock seemed to hang in long, vertical folds like the finest drapery on a Michelangelo statue.

The thick layers of magnetic foil sealed themselves to the magnetic crust of Mars and crinkled faintly as soft wheels pushed them into place. She could hear it in the pause between one of her songs and the next.

The rock wasn’t perfectly smooth, and the aluminum sheeting wasn’t shiny like kitchen foil, but Miranda could make out the wavy image of her own red and white insulated suit reflected back from the roof of the tunnel. Her reflection was surrounded by that of the huge maroon construction rover, which she affectionately called Ironman.

Miranda felt a sneeze coming and wiggled her nose futilely before sneezing three times in succession. She tried to point her face down to avoid splatter on her faceplate, but having just reclined, she didn’t entirely make it. Ugh…

Miranda released the double-locking ring at her neck with guilty pleasure, rotating it counterclockwise, and gratefully removed her helmet. These suits were streamlined, vastly improved from the first bulky EMU suits early astronauts wore, but a mask was still a mask.

Her hair was in a ratty ponytail, sweaty, and she used her hand to flick a little water from the reservoir tube over her face. She rubbed it over her forehead and cheeks with her gloved hand. Relief. Without the connection to the helmet, the purified air blew from an open valve past her neck. She used the tablet to shut off the suit and preserve its store of liquid oxygen.

With a low rumble, Ironman jolted sideways like a crab, repositioning further down the tunnel. Its spotlights illuminated the front and back rollers applying the foil sheeting up the walls and across the ceiling. Its flat center held the cylinders of aluminum foil like colossal rolls of metallic wrapping paper, and a large robotic arm slotted the next roll into place while magnetic clamps unwound a new section.

“You shouldn’t have your helmet off,” Caleb called down the tunnel.

Miranda flinched. As he came into the lights from Ironman, she saw he was suited in neon green, one of the upper-surface suits which were easier to spot on satellite or in the dark. “Shouldn’t you be at the array?”

“No. Ero just had me servicing tanks in the basin this afternoon.” He came down the tunnel like a lightning bug in the dim glow of her machine, his walk the weirdly bouncy one that they’d grown used to in Mars’s light gravity. His reflection bounced along with him on floor and ceiling as though he were skating on ice.

Miranda gripped the steering wheel, wondering why Caleb would lie, or if she truly was just going crazy.

With her helmet off, she couldn’t ask Ero, but even as she thought the question, her tablet lit up. A brief message from Ero read, “I apologize. I did not realize he chose to ignore the array assignment. Drones are recharging.”

Yeah, Ero would have told her if he knew Caleb was coming her way. She wished she could hit the gas on Ironman and drive away. Or maybe drive right over Caleb. “Do you need something?”

“Yeah. I need you to put your helmet on.”

Miranda used a rag to wipe her face shield before putting the helmet back on.

“Thanks,” Caleb said. “Ero’s telling me there are three new messages, but he won’t display them until you’re there.”

Astronaut in a space-suit looking at starry sky

My House is Me and I Am It: Musings On Austen and an Excerpt

(My post today from austenauthors.net)

My kids have a great picture book called, “The Big Orange Splot” that I took this title from because it fits so well the intimacy that homes and houses represent in Jane Austen’s books.

There’s Lizzy running into Darcy at Pemberley, arguably the best scene in any of the movies!Mr. Knightley walking into Emma’s house at all hours (plus the pivotal scene of his reprimand happening at his estate). Captain Wentworth’s sister moving into Anne Elliot’s house. The symbolism of Barton cottage compared to Norland Park. Jane spending several days of sickness at Netherfield…

It’s only practical, of course, that many scenes would be set at one or other of the character’s homes, but there’s definitely a sense that a new level of intimacy occurs when the love interest visits (or lives!) in their significant other’s home. This is particularly true with the more reserved characters. Bingley is friendly and gregarious, so we tend to feel that he and Jane would have been totally fine without that house visit. With Darcy, on the other hand, Lizzy starts to feel that she’s violating his privacy before they even get to Pemberley! Anne Elliot, as well, is quiet and introverted, and the knowledge that Frederick will be walking around her house is enough to make her (and my) heart flutter. Then there’s poor Fanny Price, essentially homeless as she fits neither with her uncle nor with her family, who ends up with only a single, cold room to call her own, which she eventually fills with her books and plants and personality. It’s the room where she feels safe, and of course, only Edmund is a welcome visitor, which makes it all the more painful when she must listen to him praise another woman there.

And beyond personal identity, there is also the fact that being in someone’s home creates uncomfortable intimacy. That’s the tension us romance readers crave, amirite? It’s the basis for so many romance tropes like arranged marriage or the governess angle. Leaving Jane Austen for a sec and moving to the Brontes, I don’t think any book did it better than Jane Eyre. No matter what you think of the romance, the fact that Jane can’t easily avoid Rochester forces her to face what she feels for him. Over and over.

Some people just call this angst, but I confess I can’t get enough of it in the romance books I read. I want to feel the heart of the character’s emotional dilemma, and nothing does that like being unable to escape their S.O.’s presence or the intimacy of having them in their home.

In that vein, here’s a short excerpt from the second of my Austen Ensemble series, A True Likeness. In this book, in the interest of using the “forced to live with your crush” trope, I made Georgiana’s love interest a portraitist, hired by Darcy and Bingley to paint Lizzy and Jane before the wedding.

Georgiana felt restless with her brother gone, and when she felt restless, she played the piano. This pianoforte, in Miss Bingley’s style, was noticeably fashionable. The wooden panels were decorated in the Chinese style, with strange shapes and patterns. The edges of the panels were lined with black, glossy wooden trim. The tone of the instrument was… well enough. Nothing to scoff at, but still not to compare with the sound of her pianoforte at Pemberley. That one was of plain blonde wood, well-crafted and perfectly toned, but nothing extraordinary to look at.

Mrs. Annesley slipped in with some white work in her hands and settled down across the room near the window.She played several scales and arpeggios, mindful that she had not truly practiced in many days. Eventually however, she let her hands go to her favorite pieces.

Georgiana didn’t immediately notice when another figure paused outside the door, not until he shifted. Then she saw Mr. Turner leaning against the door frame, listening.

She smiled a little and somehow, when one song led to another, found herself naturally playing her favorite pieces, even the romantic sonata she had played for Wickham.

As the notes fell like raindrops from the instrument, Georgiana felt that two paths were opening up before her. There was Mrs. Annesley, who represented everything peaceful and proper in her life: a woman Georgiana genuinely loved. Then there was Mr. Turner. He represented something else, something exciting, challenging, and profound.

Mrs. Annesley could not see him from where she sat, nor could Mr. Turner see her companion. Georgiana was balanced between the two. He did not enter the room but continued to lean against the threshold with his eyes shut, enjoying the music.

She loved his square face and smudged hands and broad shoulders. She loved his intense beliefs, his self-control, and his gentleness. She loved his art and skill and humility. She loved him.Georgiana loved him in that moment, but she knew she could not choose him. Her future, like every young lady, was not her own to give away. But her heart was hers, and she could acknowledge what she felt for Mr. Turner. For John. Because she was in love with him.

She would not fancy herself a tragic character—many women loved when there was no hope of marriage, or like her cousin Anne, chose to marry without love—but she was quietly glad to acknowledge it was real. It was far more real than the giddy infatuation Wickham had encouraged in her. Perhaps someday she would feel something like this for another man, and she would know it was worth pursuing…

Thanks for reading!


“My house is me and I am it. My house is where I like to be and it looks like all my dreams.” – “The Big Orange Splot” by Daniel Pinkwater

Austen Authors… and me!

A little while ago I was contacted by one of the awesome ladies who runs Austen Authors, a group blog dedicated to all things Jane Austen, and she asked if I was interested in joining. Was I?? Absolutely!

The Pantiles, Royal Tunbridge Wells

As I was finishing my Austen Ensemble series–and obsessively checking details as I went–I’d often stumble upon helpful posts at Austen Authors and then use those to refine my searches and research. I already knew this was a lively and fun community so I pretty much couldn’t say yes fast enough!

And today I get to have my debut post over there! Since my first Ensemble book is set in Tunbridge Wells, a charming little town I knew nothing about, I focused on that for my first post. Go check it out!

Pride and Pantiles: A Jaunt to Tunbridge Wells