Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Heroine Wants Love

Third post on Pride and Prejudice.

Elizabeth's quest is to find love within marriage. Women today look for the same thing, but now, many women are capable of supporting themselves, so marriage is not a dire necessity. In Regency England, however, women of the upper social classes had two choices: marry well or become a spinster and live off your relatives in poverty. Love didn't often come into consideration when looking for a husband. Neither are ideal choices, as today we know how many marriages break down. Elizabeth is twenty, hardly a spinster, but she lives in a rural area with limited choices, and her dowry is meager. Oddly, in a few months, her journey will introduce her to four possible suitors, and she endures three proposals. Luckily, even in this pre-baseball era, Elizabeth need not fear three strikes and you're out. Her third proposal is a homerun.

At first, she finds Mr. Darcy an arrogant man, caught in his pride and uninterested in her. Shortly thereafter, the Trickster-Herald, her cousin, Mr. Collins, arrives at Longbourn with the intention of ending a family dispute and marrying one of Mr. Bennets' daughters as a solution to the entailment of the estate. Since Mrs. Bennet tells him Jane is taken, Mr. Collins sets his sites on Elizabeth. Why is he a Trickster? Because of his comedic effect. You cannot but find his behavior humorously appalling. He toadies up to everyone while he admitting to Mr. Bennet that many of his flattering comments are rehearsed. In his proposal he acts like a Threshold Guardian, taking Elizabeth near the innermost cave and the conundrum found there: financial security while married to a foolish man or an eternity alone. Mr. Collins remains the Trickster with Mrs. Bennet, encouraging her to believe in his good intentions, but when Elizabeth thwarts him, he proposes to her best friend; another trick, and breaks his word.

The horror for Elizabeth is that Charlotte accepts and may have even worked to bring about the proposal. How is Charlotte to live with such an overweening, egotistical man whose abject humility only exposes his overwhelming pride? As a Herald, Mr. Collins calls Elizabeth to the adventure of marriage; but Elizabeth's intelligence tells her how awful a marriage with such a man might become. Her refusal of the call only shows her good innate sense.

She also meets Mr. Wickham, a ShapeShifter Shadow character in his attractive disguise. Everyone welcomes handsome Mr. Wickham to Meryton. Elizabeth enjoys his attentions and he seems very gentlemanly, plus he encourages her prejudice against Mr. Darcy. He tells her of Darcy's perfidy to himself. This seeming gentleman turns into the worst type of cad later in the story, his actions bringing evil and disrepute the Bennet family. Wickham never proposes to Elizabeth, but certainly behaves in such a manner that the reader believes he wants to.

When Elizabeth goes to visit her best friend and her rejected suitor, she encounters Mr. Darcy again, visiting his aunt, Lady Catherine De Bourgh, Mr. Collins' patron. He brings with him Fitzwilliam Darcy, his cousin. Colonel Fitzwilliam also pays attention to Elizabeth, but he is upfront that his desire will not lead to marriage; he cannot afford it. A proposal appears, though, from Mr. Darcy. Again, Elizabeth rejects the proposal when he asks "Could you expect me to rejoice in the inferiority of your connections? To congratulate me on the hope of relations whose condition in life is so decidedly beneath my own?" She answers, "You are mistaken, Mr. Darcy if you suppose that the mode of your declaration affected me in any other way than as it spared the concern which I might have felt in refusing you, had you behaved in a more gentleman-like manner."

In my baseball metaphor, Eliza has been to bat twice and stuck out, deliberately made a choice not to play. Mr. Darcy, she thought and believed the most arrogant, conceited, with a selfish disdain for the feelings of others. In his own way he disgusted her as much as Mr. Collins.

Mr. Darcy throughout the story plays several archetypes. In the next pages he becomes a mentor, a wise person who gives the hero a gift to help them on their journey. For all of Elizabeth's poor opinions of him, the very next morning he very civilly approaches her, and hands her a letter.

The letter, the mentor's gift, provides Elizabeth inner vision. In two or three readings, she learns her own blindness, sees her actions and her family's behavior for how it looked to others. She learns truth. The mask of her self-blindness has been ripped off, and from now on, Elizabeth will see.

The five posts on Lizzy's journey:

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sexy Heroes by Phyllis Campbell

I want to give a big thanks to Rhobin for letting me be a guest on her blog!! Love ya, girl!

So, what makes a hero sexy? To me, it's his personality. It's the way he treats the heroine. And of course, he must have a soft side to him. He MUST be yummy inside and out. (grins) I hope I've made all my heroes yummy, and so far my readers tell me I'm doing a good job. Hee hee. That's good to hear!

I have two more books coming out this year, which brings a grand total of NINE books released in 2009. Whew! I feel exhausted. But I'm still pushing to get more published next year.

Tomorrow will be my next release - Queen Of Hearts will be released with Bookstrand Publishing.

Dr. Cecilia Ashby is forced to disguise herself as a man in order to practice medicine in a small Southern town after the Civil War. When she stumbles across an injured gambler in an alley one night, will her ruse get the better of them both? Especially when she finds herself attracted to him.

Gambler James Lawrence has played his last hand and finally has enough cash to buy back his family’s plantation that the carpetbaggers took from him…until he’s blindsided, robbed and left for dead. After an interesting stay with the town doctor, he finds his stolen earnings in the hands of the young thief and his sister, Cecilia Ashby, now residing on his plantation.

James and Cecilia both want the plantation, but do they want a long-lasting love even more? Battling deceit, betrayal, and disguises, the two must confront their biggest challenge yet – themselves.

And in December, my historical - Belong To Me will be released with The Wild Rose Press.

Please check out my website for more of my SEXY heroes!!

Now you tell me...what do YOU think makes a hero sexy?


Guest Author Phyllis Marie Campbell

Look for posts from Historical and Contemporary Romance author, Phyllis Marie Campbell, who will be talking about her books. When you read below you'll see this story sounds absolutely scrumptious. If you go to Phyllis's site, you'll see some covers that just beg you to read the story!

Look for BELONG TO ME, coming Dec. 11, 2009, to THE WILD ROSE PRESS……
A masked ball—a night of seduction.

Tired of being without her wayward husband, Charlotte Hamilton travels to New York to find him. She discovers him at a masked ball. Her revenge on him is that he doesn’t know who she is, so she seduces him. He talks her into a bargain—to stay as his wife for a month and then if they don’t suit, he’ll grant her a divorce. What she uncovers about his life is far more than she bargained for. In addition to the disguises in his closet from his investigative business, she stumbles across secrets. Those of which she wished she’s never known.

Swept into a whirlwind of mystery, passion, and adventure, Charlotte must discover the truth of her own heart before it’s too late for them both.

Gray Days

It's hard for me to be cheerful when everyday looks like this! 
However, it isn't snowing, so perhaps maybe I should be happy about that! 
I am! I am!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Yin and Yang in Pride and Prejudice

A second post on Pride and Prejudice.

To understand the hero’s journey, a reader must be aware that the underlying issue is psychological rather than a reflection of life. In general, the meeting, fussing, and melding of the hero and heroine is about the integration of yin and yang within each of us or the acceptance of the conflicting opposites of self; men accepting their feminine side, and women accepting their masculine. Most romance stories are expected to end with happily ever after or at the very least a happy for right now, ending. This union creates the required ending -- the soul has integrated assimilating all aspects of itself forever.

Perhaps you disagree. Why isn’t a romance just a romance? Anyone who has been in love knows that there are facets of the person they love which they do not understand, that within any healthy real relationship there will always be conflict and that even soul-mates have occasionally gone their separate ways. We know change comes with time, and even the most perfectly paired partners may grow apart. Accepting that happy ever after is about this unification, and the gratification arising from our inner being makes sense.

If the yin-yang part is true, then do the other characters in a novel represent a part of the reader’s psyche? Simply, yes. They are archetypes representing characters present in mythology and folklore from around the world, and from our very dreams: mentors, heralds, shapeshifters, shadows, and tricksters. Does Pride and Prejudice have them? Yes, it does, starting with allies and enemies present right within Lizzy’s family.

As parents, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet are obvious mentors. It is important to note all mentors don’t give sage advice, because in reading Pride and Prejudice, both Mr. and Mrs. Bennet are often portrayed as self-serving. Perhaps by the standards of the early 19th Century, they were good parents, but from some of the author’s observations, I doubt it.

Lizzy admits to Lady Catherine that her family had no governess, yet all the girls seemed educated. They could all read and write, and Mary seems to delve into books for her amusement. Who taught them? My guess, Mr. Bennet as a good mentor. Who else could have? He lives in his library to escape Mrs. Bennet. He has passed his love of observing the foibles of his contemporaries to Lizzy, the child closest to his heart.

As Lizzy’s closest sister and ally in all things, Jane often acts as a mentor. She cautions Lizzy about listening to Mr. Wickham’s gossip about Mr. Darcy. It is partially on Jane’s behalf that Lizzy rejects Mr. Darcy’s first offer of marriage.

Mary, as middle sister, is almost an outsider. She is neither close to her older sisters who are the more beautiful and brighter, nor is she a companion to her younger, much sillier sisters. Her bon mots and the inappropriate quotations garnered from her studies drive not only her family to laughter but also the reader. She is a rather vague character, overlooked by everyone, even Mr. Collins for whom she might have made a perfect wife. The reader learns she is the least attractive of her sisters, loves music but is too pedantic for a good performer. So what is her function? My guess is that Mary stumbles through the story as an ineffectual family herald. Her words often give hint to the troubles her sisters will face.

Kitty and Lydia I’m placing together, as Kitty alone has no function. She barely has a purpose as a character except as an inhibitor for Lydia's wilder silliness. For much of Pride and Prejudice, Lydia and Kitty are tricksters, a characters whose purpose is comedic relief, and whose mischief brings about change. Together these youngest sisters bring Jane and Lizzy back to earth, embarrassing Jane and her before the higher society Mr. Darcy and the Bingley represent. They impede their older sisters from reaching too high. When Lydia is removed from the family, and particularly from her counter-part Kitty, to go with the Fosters, Lydia changes to a shadow. A shadow represents those evil impulses we think about in our darkest soul, but seldom act upon. When Lydia runs away with Mr.Wickham, she ruins not only her own reputation, but those of her sisters.

Next ... Lizzy's mythic ordeal.

The five posts on Lizzy's journey:

Friday, November 13, 2009

Elizabeth's Journey As Hero

1st Post on Pride and Prejudice. Finally, back to my topic on Mythic structures in literature.

If the novel Pride and Prejudice follows the Hero's Journey, as laid out by Joseph Campbell, and as outlined by Christopher Vogler in The Writer's Journey, then Elizabeth will follow steps in a psychological journey of mythic proportions. What are the stages?

The beginning one reveals the hero's ordinary world. Shortly thereafter, the hero receives a call to adventure, often with an initial refusal. Afterward, a mentor often induces the hero to cross the threshold into an unfamiliar world to find their personal treasure. Only the strong survive in this new world, and even they are not guaranteed success.

In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth (Lizzy) Bennet's normal world is quickly revealed as is her journey, which is summed up in the first line: It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. So it is the dangerous journey of marriage, the pitfalls, trials, and tribulations of finding a life partner, and the uncertainty of a lasting love that Lizzy travels. Her world is the gossipy, limited upper-crust society of a small, 19th Century English town. This world changes when Mr. Bingley buys the local estate, Netherfield Park, as discussed by Mr. And Mrs. Bennet in the story's opening pages. The mother of five girls, Mrs. Bennet's goal is for her girls to be suitably married as fast as possible, for without a son, Mr. Bennet's estate is entailed away. This leaves her and her daughters' security at risk. The reader soon discerns that the marriage between Mr. and Mrs. Bennet is not one of wedded bliss; however, in this society, girls are expected to marry and accept the resulting marriage no matter how successful or unsuccessful.

At the Assembly, Lizzy, after overhearing a snub of herself, snubs the snobbish Mr. Darcy. It is obvious that Lizzy's pride causes her to refuse her first call to adventure. Since her sister Jane and Mr. Bingley share a sudden infatuation, Lizzy's disgust for Mr. Darcy and her unwillingness to lower her pride and toady up to him like so many of her cohorts are wont to do, turns her from the only other eligible single man in the area. That situation changes with the appearance of her cousin, Mr. Collins, and with Mrs. Bennet as a marriage mentor to her girls, all hell breaks loose...

The five posts on Lizzy's journey:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

6 Months and Counting

April is six months away, and so is the release of Stone House Farm. Here's a short excerpt:

“What could you possibly know about my situation?” Amanda said. “And how does any of this involve you?”

The smile never faltered. “I understand it is a very generous offer.”

Amanda’s rage fired anew. Melisa had no part in this, and her opinion was not only unneeded but also unwanted. “Generous if I were willing to sell out what my family has worked generations to build. I’m not.” Amanda turned back to Wade Preston, grabbed the letter from his hand and clutched it in her fist.

His frowning gaze turned to Amanda, his brows lowering until they nearly touched. “I don’t know what you are alleging. As I said, this is an offer at fair-market price for your property.”

“You missed the threat of an eminent domain seizure. I don’t care what dirty tricks you try with the bank, or the county planning department, or the commissioners, or the township board. I will fight you every step of the way.”

“Then you better hire a lawyer,” Melisa cut in with a practiced tinkling sound that substituted for a laugh.

“Melisa…” Wade’s tone held a warning and his scowl deepened.
Amanda kept her regard on Wade, hoping her expression said I won’t back down. If she hadn’t been so pumped with adrenaline she wouldn’t have felt so defiant, but Melisa’s confidence ate at her self-assurance. Her diffident side advised retreat. Having said what she wanted, she turned on her heel and swept out of the office, escaping any further humiliation.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Yep, God help me, another new cat

No one sleeps with the peace and relaxation of babies. Here is Fred sleeping. He doesn't look particularly comfortable with his head and shoulders hanging off the pillow like that, but he is sound asleep.

Being the youngest, you'd think Fred would be at the bottom of the pecking order. However, Fred is pretty much king of the roost through sheer charm and stubbornness. He has even inveigled the old toms Jack and Tom into playing with him. When Fred wants food, he demands first share. Fred is first to any bowl or plate; he owns an utterly voracious appetite. He climbs into the middle of the plate spreading his legs out as far as they will go, and growls at anyone who attempts to take a bite before he is finished. He is also a obstinate little cuss. We're not going to get along unless he learns some manners!