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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Behind the Scenes Story of Christina Boyd, Editor of The Darcy Monologues

Behind the Scenes Story of Christina Boyd, 
Editor of The Darcy Monologues
I would like to welcome Christina Boyd to Darcyholic Diversions.  I hope that you enjoy learning a bit more about the editor who is the brain and the quill behind The Darcy Monologues.  I am very excited about the book as it features so many of my favorite Austen inspired authors, many of whom are good friends.  Be sure to read to the end of the post to learn about all of the give aways that you have a chance in, as well as an exclusive give away for Darcyholic Diversions which will be drawn on May 2nd.  And here is Christina.....

Thank you, Barbara, for inviting me to share my story how The Darcy Monologues came to be. To nick Jane Austen's own words, "Which of all my important nothings shall I tell you first?” 

Since 1813, readers have loved Mr. Darcy. My own love affair with the master of Pemberley began when I discovered on-line Jane Austen fan fiction years ago when my now teenagers were toddlers. Why do we love him? As Pride and Prejudice is established through Elizabeth Bennet’s fine eyes, how are we to know his mind? How does Darcy progress from “She is tolerable: but not handsome enough to tempt me” to “I thought only of you”? 

Mr. Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien, and the report, which was in general circulation within five minutes after his entrance, of his having ten thousand a year. —Chapter III, Pride and Prejudice.

And that is how Jane Austen first established the hero of Pride and Prejudice. With a succinct one line description, he garnered the attention of all in Meryton, not to mention every reader. But in the very next sentence, his proud and haughty manners proved to have turned all goodwill against him. Worse yet, he insulted our heroine, Miss Elizabeth Bennet, by stating he was “in no humor to give consequence to ladies slighted by other men.”

I love Elizabeth because she is unaffected by his wealth—rejecting his first marriage proposal—and eventually falling in love with him notwithstanding the spoils and splendor. Despite the manifold of faults against him, Darcy has estimable qualities that have stood the test of time. Darcy is flawed but willing to change. Further, I will be bold and state that I believe many of our book boyfriends are essentially Darcy in disguise. If I were to create a Venn diagram listing Darcy-like ideal traits—handsome, rich, powerful, cerebral, constant, cool-headed, honest, gallant—you might recognize Darcy in great literary and romantic heroes or film icons like Gilbert Blythe, John Thornton, Gabriel Emerson, Edward Cullen, Lloyd Dobbler, Jake Ryan, Richard Blaine, Gaston Lachaille, Mr. Big, Poldark… For me, I have always had a weakness for the rich, powerful, and handsome protagonist who improves for the love of an admirable woman.

Long before kindles and the upsurge of publishing Austen-inspired novels, I had long dreamt of a collection of stories all from my favorite Austen hero’s eyes. While editing fourteen books in the last four years, I frequently returned to that same idea of an all-Darcy collection—and finally decided last summer to make it happen. Yes, Pride and Prejudice has been told before from Darcy’s point-of-view by the talented Pamela Aidan, Stanley Hurd, Amanda Grange, Janet Aylmer, and Mary Street, to name a few—but with the many amazing Pride and Prejudice-inspired stories, I was also interested in reading his re-imagined stories in his own words…and I suspect that there might be a few other Darcyholics who also think as I do: there can never be too much Darcy.

When my dream team of Austenesque authors joined me in creating this collection, I knew I had a singular opportunity to collaborate on this collection of fifteen short stories. Each has written a complete story between 5000-15,000 words, and though all can be considered romance, there are no scenes that I wouldn’t be able to share with my teenage daughter or eighty-year-old mother-in-law. And yet, I am ever amazed how these writers can turn a phrase and turn up the heat. Have your fans handy—and even a few tissues!
These fifteen Austenesque writers, who I have either had the privilege to work with before or have simply been a loyal fan, have sketched Darcy’s character through a series of re-imaginings, set in the Regency through contemporary times—from faithful narratives to the fanciful. The man himself reveals his intimate thoughts, his passionate dreams, and his journey to love—all with a previously concealed wit and enduring charm.
Stories by: Susan Adriani * Sara Angelini * J. Marie Croft * Karen M Cox * Jan Hahn * Jenetta James * Lory Lilian * KaraLynne Mackrory * Beau North * Ruth Phillips Oakland * Natalie Richards * Sophia Rose * Joana Starnes * Melanie Stanford * Caitlin Williams
“The only way to get a man like Mr. Darcy is to make him up.” —‘Jane Austen’ fictionalized in Miss Austen Regrets (BBC, 2008). And thank heavens, the real Miss Austen created him. The ladies from The Darcy Monologues invite you to spend some quality time inside the head of this enigmatic hero and get to know him on more intimate terms. And as we pay homage to Jane Austen on the bicentennial of her death, it is our hope that these 409 pages help extend the moments with a most beloved character. “It’s your turn to say something now, Mr. Darcy.”
                                                                                                           — Christina Boyd

N.B. The Darcy Monologues, a short story collection edited and published under my own banner, The Quill Ink, is available in trade paperback and e-book format May 21, 2017. This anthology, inspired by Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy, features fifteen never-before published stories by some of my favorite (and hopefully yours too) Jane Austen-inspired authors—all bound by their esteem of the literary world’s ultimate catch. Pre-Order Link: Amazon US
I am offering a giveaway of 10 notecards designed by JT Originals, “A Walk in the Woods”. To be entered to win, simply add the anthology to your “Want to Read” list on Goodreads or comment below. I am all curious as to what intrigues you most about The Darcy Monologues?

Many thanks!

(Also see information about the grand prize below)

Christina Boyd wears many hats as she is an editor under her own banner The Quill Ink, a contributor to Austenprose, and a ceramicist and proprietor of Stir Crazy Mama’s Artworks. A life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, Christina lives in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest with her dear Mr. B, two busy teenagers, and a retriever named BiBi. Visiting Jane Austen's England was made possible by her book boyfriend and star crush Henry Cavill when she won a trip to meet him on the London Eye in the spring of 2017.
 Book Description
“You must allow me to tell you...”
For over two hundred years, Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy has captivated readers’ imaginations as the ultimate catch. Rich. Powerful. Noble. Handsome. And yet, as Miss Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” is established through Elizabeth Bennet’s fine eyes, how are we to know what his tortured soul is indeed thinking? How does Darcy progress from “She is tolerable: but not handsome enough to tempt me​” to “I thought only of
In this romance anthology, fifteen Austen-inspired authors assemble to sketch Darcy’s character through a series of re-imaginings, set in the Regency through contemporary times—from faithful narratives to the fanciful. Herein “The Darcy Monologues”, the man himself reveals his intimate thoughts, his passionate dreams, and his journey to love—all told with a previously concealed wit and enduring charm. 
Stories by: Susan Adriani * Sara Angelini * J. Marie Croft * Karen M Cox * Jan Hahn *
Jenetta James * Lory Lilian * KaraLynne Mackrory * Beau North * Ruth Phillips Oakland * Natalie Richards * Sophia Rose * Joana Starnes * Melanie Stanford * Caitlin Williams

Blog Tour Giveaways

In addition to the notecards for this blog stop at Darcyholic Diversions, there will be two special blog tour giveaways.

One winner will win our grand prize of 24 paperback books, each one autographed by the author, and mailed to the winner’s home. Please see the enclosed graphic for the list of books included in this giveaway. 
The second winner will win their choice of either a Pride and Prejudice ​pocketbook or a Pride and Prejudice ​Kindle Fire Case with stand​ - Pride and Prejudice Book Cover Case for Amazon Kindle Fire 7" and 6" - Kindle Fire / Fire HD / Fire HDX tablet. Please see that attached graphic for these choices. All giveaways are international.

The Darcy Monologues ​Continuing Blog Tour Schedule 

April 24 / Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review & Giveaway
May 1 / From Pemberley to Milton / Book Review & Giveaway
May 8 / Just Jane 1813 / Excerpt Post & Giveaway
May 15 / Austenesque Reviews / Book Review & Giveaway
May 22 / Austenesque Reviews / Guest Post & Giveaway
May 25 / Of Pens and Pages / Book Review & Giveaway
May 29 / More Agreeably Engaged / Book Review & Giveaway
June 5 / So Little Time / Book Excerpt & Giveaway
June 12 / Diary of an Eccentric/ Book Review & Giveaway
June 19 / Book Lover in Florida / Book Excerpt & Giveaway
June 26 / My Vices and Weaknesses / Book Review & Giveaway
July 3 / Savvy Verse & Wit / Book Review & Giveaway

Spotify Playlist

Each author has contributed a song based on her story for this Spotify playlist. 
"The Darcy Monologues" Playlist

 The Darcy Monologues Pinterest Board

To follow us on Twitter, use the hashtag, #TheDarcyMonologues.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

An Interview with Linda Beutler

An Interview with Linda Beutler
While on Her
My Mr. Darcy & Your Mr. Bingley
Book Tour
What a treat it is to be hosting Linda Beutler on her current blog tour!  Her bolder Jane and Bingley make for an intriguing variation.  I hope you enjoy getting to know her a bit better in the interview here and have a chance to check out her newest book as well.  Welcome Linda!

Dear Barbara,

Before I dive into your many “home questions”, as Colonel Fitzwilliam would say, I just want to thank you for making the time for this interview and for me! We live in busy times, and for you to have signed on to the blog tour and then read My Mr. Darcy & Your Mr. Bingley to prepare is kindness plain and simple, and very much appreciated. As you commented as we communicated in advance of this, there are so many JAFF titles out right now, how do we authors distinguish ourselves? I’m hoping that’s a rhetorical question, because there are as many answers as there are readers! Perhaps the best way is to just keep at it? And of course inspiration striking is always helpful.

With that thought in mind—how does inspiration come?—I’ll get right down to addressing your questions.

Thanks again for hosting MMD&YMB,
Linda B

Q: When did you first find Jane Austen’s books? How did you discover them?

LB: There is a pesky little memory in the back of my mind of watching what must have been a TV dramatization of Pride and Prejudice with my mother and sister when I was quite small (maybe a rerun of the 1958 version?). I only recall not liking any of the men, and wondering why Jane got to have Bingley and Lizzy didn’t (now there’s a plot bunny). As I say, I was quite young. It wasn’t the Olivier/Garson production, because I’d have remembered when we watched it in high school. That was memorable because one of my friends, who went on to become a costumer for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, was appalled at the antebellum gowns. She was so deeply offended that she spent days designing proper costumes, earning a massive extra credit points in our theater class. Maybe the woefully anachronistic hoop skirts worn by Greer and the gang are what sent my schoolmate off on her successful career! At the time, my heart was not so easily touched.

During my years as an English major—studying Wilde and Shaw and F. Scott Fitzgerald—I picked up Jane Austen’s Sanditon on the paperback rack at the five-and-dime where I worked. It was fascinating to think of her dying in the middle and others presuming to finish it. I’ve come to many famous authors the same way, wriggling my way in through minor works. In 1980 I was an interested follower of the BBC P&P TV adaptation (Elizabeth Garvey and David Rintoul), and sometime during my career at the Multnomah County Library I purchased Jane Austen’s collected works (the six novels) and barreled through the whole thing.

Q: How did you find Jane Austen inspired literature?
LB: Sometime in early 2011 I read a review of one of Abigail Reynolds’ books in the Sunday arts & leisure section of The Oregonian newspaper. I thought it a highly singular thing to have done, audacious and arrogant, but gave it no more thought.  That September, during the break between summer and autumn teaching terms, there was What Would Mr. Darcy Do? on the “staff recommendations” shelf at my local library. Everything about it blew me away. It was a portal to a world I had never dreamed existed. I read everything Abigail had written up to then, and moved on to everyone else. Even then there was a wide array of great, good, bad, and indifferent and at a certain point, I started doodling my own paragraphs and storylines. By December of 2012 I had written two novels. On January 10, 2013 I hit the “send” button to Meryton Press with the first three chapters of The Red Chrysanthemum. It was published that year.

Now mind you, to that point, I had no idea of the even larger online world. When I signed my contract with MP, they suggested I have a look-in at the Meryton Literary Society and their A Happy Assembly forum (AHA), and I’ve been happy there. I have not posted online anywhere else, and I have stayed with Meryton Press as my publisher.

Q: Did one of the Austen film adaptations become part of the reason that you found Jane Austen inspired literature?

LB: The 1995 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice wasn’t the reason I found the “JAFF-o-sphere”, as I call it, but it is by far the version exerting the greatest influence on my work. If I try to be high-minded I credit Andrew Davies’ screenplay, but if I’m honest, it is the casting. I saw the mini-series when it first ran, but after reading Abigail Reynolds, I watched it again and bought my own DVD set.

As to Austen’s other novels, I have found much to like in each of their adaptations, but something about how those novels are plotted keeps me from venturing away from P&P for source material.

Q: Is there anything about your life outside of writing that was part of your creative decision to write your latest book?

LB: Life outside of writing? Between garden writing, technical writing for work, and all of the writing involved with teaching horticulture, I am pretty much writing something or other everyday! But I don’t necessarily work on Jane Austen-esque writing everyday.

My current novel started out as a brief short-story wherein Bingley’s sisters are not at home when Jane Bennet calls in London, but Bingley learns she’s there and sweeps her off her feet. I’ve always thought Louisa and Caroline took a big risk not responding to Jane’s letters telling them she was coming—quite a thing to leave to chance. In one of the discussion forums at AHA, a spirited debate (one wouldn’t want to say heated at an assembly such as that) arose about Bingley and the nature of personal responsibility. Rather than engage in the discussion, I scuttled off for a little consultation with Mr. Bingley and began writing Your Mr. Bingley, as the present novel was first known.

How does inspiration come, and how did I create a stronger Bingley and Jane? The story really did flow out of that online debate. If Bingley did as I’m sure every Austen reader wishes and returned to Netherfield on his own, how does that tilt the story? What if Jane is still in London? How does Darcy take it when his duplicity to Bingley is revealed? What if Jane doesn’t want to appear to be chasing Bingley by returning home? This one action by Bingley opened a whole glorious and fun-to-write can of worms!

After I was several chapters into the thing, I sent it off to a cold-reader. She quite brutally said it was an interesting premise, but she would not continue reading if Darcy wasn’t given a bigger role. Truth to tell, neither would I, were I reading and not writing. I modified the outline and went from there. Some early reviewers have said it is as if the book has two halves, the Bingley half and the Darcy half. I think that’s a fair observation.

Q: I find it interesting that there are a couple characters from the original that are almost entirely absent from your story—Carolyn Bingley and Mr. Collins.  There has to be a reason.  Do tell us... 

LB: I’m not sure I’d call Caroline absent, exactly. But the poor dear never shows up without Darcy delivering a set-down. Mr. Collins got a lot of face-time in my last novel, A Will of Iron, and here, the story at Rosings and Hunsford really drills into Elizabeth and Darcy misreading each other. Wickham is mentioned for the canker he always is, but with his true character becoming more generally known through other means, his only appearance merely serves to strengthen Elizabeth’s resolve to do the right thing. I usually do not add outside-of-canon characters, but in this story a mysterious lady emerged. The next thing I know, she’s the love interest for Colonel Fitzwilliam!  Yes, characters can take over!

Q: Do you have certain actors that are 'cast' in your story?

LB: Oh, I do. But it has become a thing with me to not impose my cast on my readers. I think cover-artist Janet Taylor was really clever to keep us from seeing all of Bingley’s face and only Jane’s hands. I suppose I’m this way from reading so much at AHA. I get entranced with a story, then it publishes and the characters on the front don’t look a thing like I imagined. I don’t want to do that to my readers. Now that you’ve got me thinking about this, I have to laugh. My covers are almost totally hands or feet!

Q: What was your favorite part of your own novel?
LB: The scene at the theatre in London, followed second by the scene in the streets of Meryton when Darcy returns. The theatre scene happens when Darcy and Elizabeth are back in London just after the Hunsford contretemps. They are in no way emotionally prepared to see each other so soon. All of their feelings are completely raw. They think they’re being cool, but their friends and family are well aware of the tension. At the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, the scene in Meryton is written for laughs and finds some characters way, way out of their comfort zone.

Q: Are you currently writing anything else?

LB: A friend has been encouraging me to write a Jane Austen/P.G. Wodehouse mash-up, set in the 1920s. I have an outline, lots of research done, and a few chapters written. I’ve promised to post it at AHA, but I am not sure about publishing it. That will depend on if copyrights to Wodehouse’s early work have been renewed. This will put my reputation for comedy to a real test. It’s like putting a big, hilarious puzzle together and hoping others are amused, too.

Barbara—Thanks enormously for allowing me to natter on. Your questions helped me reveal a few insights into My Mr. Darcy & Your Mr. Bingley about which I haven’t said much thus far. But I am quite sure that by now your readers are hoping you will get back to writing, too!

I am indebted to your generosity! —Linda B

Book Blurb: 

One never quite knows where the inspiration will strike. For award-winning author Linda Beutler and My Mr. Darcy & Your Mr. Bingley, the moment of genesis arrived in a particularly contentious thread at the online forum A Happy Assembly. What is the nature of personal responsibility? Where do we draw the line between Mr. Bingley being too subject to Mr. Darcy’s “persuasion” and Mr. Darcy playing too heavily on Mr. Bingley’s “sensibility”? This is a conundrum guaranteed to raise even more questions.

            What happens to the plot and character dynamics of Pride & Prejudice if Mr. Bingley is given just a dash more spine? Or if Jane Bennet decides enough embarrassment is too much? How does Mr. Darcy manage the crucial apology a more stalwart Mr. Bingley necessitates he make? What if Mr. Darcy meets relations of Elizabeth Bennet’s for whom she need not blush on their home turf rather than his? Suffice it to say, this is a story of rebuked pride, missing mail, a man with “vision”, a frisky cat, and an evening gown that seems to have its own agenda.

Author Bio:

Linda Beutler’s professional life is spent in a garden, an organic garden housing America’s foremost public collection of clematis vines and a host of fabulous companion plants. Her home life reveals a more personal garden, still full of clematis, but also antique roses and vintage perennials planted around and over a 1907 cottage. But one can never have enough of gardening, so in 2011 she began cultivating a weedy patch of Jane Austen Fan Fiction ideas. The first of these to ripen was The Red Chrysanthemum (Meryton Press, 2013), which won a silver IPPY for romance writing in 2014. You might put this down as beginner’s luck—Linda certainly does. The next harvest brought Longbourn to London (Meryton Press, 2014), known widely as “the [too] sexy one”. In 2015 Meryton Press published the bestseller A Will of Iron, a macabre rom-com based on the surprising journals of Anne de Bourgh.

            Now, after a year-long break in JAFF writing to produce Plant Lovers Guide to Clematis (Timber Press, 2016)—the third in a bouquet of books on gardening—we have My Mr. Darcy and Your Mr. Bingley bursting into bloom.

Contact Info: 
(Each website is linked to the name.)

The eBook is available on Amazon. The Paperback should follow in two to three weeks.

To Enter the Drawings--Terms and Conditions:

Remember to comment on today’s post in the comment section below...

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post that has a giveaway attached for the tour. (1 comment/blog post) Entrants should provide the name of the blog where they commented (which will be verified). You may enter once by following the author on twitter and once by following the author on Facebook.

Remember, tweet daily and comment once per post with a giveaway to earn extra entries. 

Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter.

**NOTE: Ebook copies are available for 8 winners and the giveaway is international! 8 eBooks will be given away to 8 different winners.**

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Sweetest Grapes Are Grown in Rocky Soil by Barbara Tiller Cole

The Sweetest Grapes Are Grown in Rocky Soil

By Barbara Tiller Cole

(For those that are visiting this website for the first time for Authors in Bloom 2017, welcome!  Many wonderful authors are featured on this site if you want to read more.  GIVEAWAYS-- For the blog tour, remember to comment below for the grand prize of a $200 ereader.  You must comment on ALL the blog tour sites to be eligible to win the grand prize.   Most of the other blogs have individual give aways.  I have 2 give aways--an ecopy of each of my two books for a lucky winner.  Extra entries will be given for following this blog, liking my Facebook author page, and friending me on Facebook, sharing this post on Twitter or Facebook, or requesting to join Darcyholic Diversions: All Things Austen Posting Board on Facebook.  Good luck!)

Did you know that the sweetest grapes are grown in rocky soil?  I didn’t either until recently when I heard about it in a Hallmark movie I happened to be watching (Autumn in the Vineyard).  So, I looked it up and found that it was true.  It made a lot of sense to me, not just for grapes.   I have often found that to be true in life as well.  Those things we struggle for, those times that are the toughest, when we arrive at our destination or when the fruits of our labor come to fruition it is all the much sweeter.

In preparing for the Author in Blooms Blog Tour, I decided to study grapes and how they grow and look at it as an analogy for life.  

Did you know that grapevines are long term plants?  Yes, they can live between 50 to 100 years. 
  • Hopefully most of us will live beyond 50, but the time frame for grapevines is similar to humans. 
Grapevines thrive in sloped and hilly areas that offer up plenty of drainage and sunlight.  If you are inspired to plane grapevines from this article, be sure to plant your grapevines on a downward slope.  And pick a south-facing hill in an area clear of other trees and plants if at all possible.
  • Life has many hills and valleys as well.  I often find myself on a slope, walking up hill in my latest challenge in life.  But just like the grapevines, I thrive with sunlight. To me ‘sunlight' is in my spiritual program.  In the midst of the biggest struggles in my life, God is my source and strength and keeping plugged into the light makes all the difference.  I don’t always see how I am going to make it through, but if I have proper ‘drainage and sunlight’ I know I will find the answers.  
Grapevines are a bit picky about their soil conditions.  Soil that is slightly rocky and/or sandy with a pH just above 7 yields the best crop.  Plan for drainage and adjust the pH if necessary.  
  • Even when I am in the midst of challenges, my life is best when I plan in what conditions I will live my life spiritually.  Over the years I have found that I need to surround myself with positive God-centered people to be sure that I can thrive.  
Avoid over fertilizing the soil as grapevines don’t do too well when the soil is too nutrient-rich.
  • Well, what can I say!  Too much ‘fertilizer’ in my life (i.e. b.s.) and I just don’t thrive. I also believe that discovering what ‘nutrients’ I do need is imperative.   I think this can have a lot to do with complacency.  If my life conditions are ‘too comfortable’ I forget to do the spiritual self care I know I need to do to life a balanced life.  I am strongest at the broken places, when I KNOW I have to turn to God for support and strength we find the nourishment we need.
Grapevines need support.  Either you grow them next to an existing structure such as a fence, or you plan to buy or construct a trellis to provide them with a health support system. Sometimes the grapevines may need a bit of assistance to begin to use the support you have built for them.
  • Do you have an adequate support system in your life?  Mentors?  I have built a foundation of friends in all of the various aspects of my life whom I can turn to for support.  It is important to remember to USE the support system you have when you are struggling.  This is probably the biggest struggle in my life as I am much more likely to pull inwards and lick my wounds when I am in the midst of tough times. The few special friends who reach out to me when they have not heard from me are life lines.  When I am not reaching out they reach out to me, knowing I might need a little bit of help to use my support system.
Plant your grapevines.  You can’t just plan to do it, you have to do it.  If you want grapes, then you have to execute your plan.    How deep you plant seedlings will depend on the age and size of each plant.
  • Not only do I have to dream and plan but I have to take the chance and do the leg work.  Sometimes I am successful and often times I am not.  But if I never take a risk I won’t ever bear fruit in your life.  Set backs come.  I learn from my mistakes and try again.
Be sure to give your grapevines a good watering.  But do not over water them.  Set up a drip system directly at the roots so the grapevines get the water where it needs it on a regular basis.  
  • What you feed your roots is important. Prayer, meditation, spiritual readings, exercise, healthy food, etc.  Learn what you need and how much you need it.  I have found that when I am struggling the most I have to struggle to make myself get the nourishment I need.  But it is important to include it in my regular routine.
Cut back all fruit the first year as your grapevines are not healthy enough to bear the weight of the fruit.  If you are impatient and decide you have to have fruit too early, your vines are not going to last for the long haul.  Also cut back all the vines except for the strongest that branch off from the main cane.  In later years cut back 90% of the new growth on older vines each year.  
  • Pruning may be the hardest lesson to learn.  Particularly when you have to wait a long time for the fruit of your labors.  Be patient in your life with yourself and your friends and family.  Pruning time may hurt.  We may lose ‘stuff’ we thought we needed.  We may face financial hardships.  There is a reason for it. The lessons in the struggle will make us stay alive and hearty for the long haul.  I may not be where I want to be today, but I know I am in a pruning time.  The time will come when it is time for me to bear fruit again.
The time for pruning is when the grapevines are dormant.  Otherwise they will bleed their sap and lose their vigor.  Best time for pruning is in late winter when it is no longer cold enough outside for frost. 
  • Have you ever hit that place in life where you seem stuck?   A dormant place?  This is the best time for spiritual pruning.  Accept where you are.  Do an inventory of what you need and what you need to get rid of in your life.  This may include an inventory of your character traits and defect.  It may include getting rid of extra stuff in your life and selling it or giving it away.  It may be a time to get rid of destructive habits. It may be time for you to find healthier people to spend your time with.  In the midst of the dormant phase can grow the action that will get us to where our dreams can come true.
Harvest your grapes only when it is best for the vines.  Strong, edible fruit likely won’t appear for anywhere from that 1-3 year period.  Don’t be tricked by what it looks like.  Taste the fruit to know if it is time to pick them.  Grapes do not ripen at all after picking as is the case with some other fruits.  So don’t pick them prematurely.  
  • Only harvest the healthiest, sweetest fruit of your labors.  Yes, we have to pay our bills and sometimes we have to do things that aren’t that ‘sweet’.  But when it comes to our creative energies, keep striving till you find the healthiest fruit.  Your patience will pay off.  The struggle I may be in today will be worth it in the end.  
The things we appreciate the most in our lives will be those we have struggled over and overcome much to accomplish.  So, be like the grapevine and you too will live for up to 100 years with the sweetest of fruit.
The fruit of grapevines is grapes.  And for many, the reason for grapes may be the wine produced from them.  But several years ago I attended the Naples New York Grape Festival and tasted delightful grape inspired food.  The following recipe was inspired by attending that event.  
Grape Cobbler
4 ¼ cups Concord Grapes or Canadice Red Grapes
2 tsp lemon juice
1 cup sugar
¼ cup flour or 2 tbsp. quick cooking tapioca
1 package Duncan Hines butter recipe golden cake mix (or comparable cake mix)
1 stick of butter
(optional) chopped pecans                                                                              
Wash the grapes and remove skins by pinching at end opposite stem.  Popping the naked grape out of the skin can be very therapeutic and fun if you let it be.  Reserve skins. Place pulp in sauce pan and bring to a boil, cook a few minutes until pulp is soft. Put through strainer or food mill, while pulp is hot, to remove seeds. Mix strained pulp with skins. Stir in sugar, flour or tapioca, and lemon juice. Cook for 5 minutes to thicken.

In a separate bowl put the cake mix.  Microwave the butter (microwave in a microwave safe dish) for 20-sec on high.  Note that not all the butter may melt.  Mix the cake mix and the butter together. (as an option add a half of a cup of chopped pecans)

With the paper from the butter, grease a 9” by 13”.  Put in the grape mixture on the bottom, spread evenly.  Sprinkle the buttered cake mix over the top, covering evenly.

Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly.   Let the cobbler cool 5 minutes before serving.

Ideally, serve the cobbler warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

For more about growing grapes:   http://www.wikihow.com/Grow-Grape-Vines

 The Authors in Bloom Grand prize is a $200 ereader.  You need to comment at all blog tour locations to be qualified to win.  Most of the blog tour stops have prizes and the particulars will be on their blog.  MY GIVE AWAY. I am giving two commenters a choice of my two book ecopies.  Enter by commenting. Extra entries will be given for following this blog, liking my Facebook author page, and friending me on Facebook, sharing this post on Twitter or Facebook, or requesting to join Darcyholic Diversions: All Things Austen Posting Board on Facebook.  Good luck!

For the other stops on the blog tour follow this link:   Authors In Bloom Blog Tour Participants Links

Barbara Tiller Cole, Author
Barbara Tiller Cole, a professional therapist and clinical manager in the field of addiction, is a Decatur, Georgia native. Under her professional name, she is included on various Who's Who listings, including Who's Who in American Women, and has been named to The Honorable Order of  Kentucky Colonels.  While she was encouraged by her mother to expand her mind through extensive reading, her father gave her the unconditional love she needed to test her wings in various pursuits. Barbara's writing has been influenced by the works of Jane Austen and today she proudly refers to herself as a Darcyholic.  She has published two successful Austen inspired novels, White Lies and Other Half Truths andFitzwilliam Ebenezer Darcy.  Her next novel, Adventures of a Darcyholic, a modern romantic comedy, will be released late Fall, 2012. 

Barbara Tiller Cole's Books

Fitzwilliam Ebenezer Darcy
'Pride and Prejudice' meets 'A Christmas Carol' A Jane Austen/Charles Dickens crossover story, 'Fitzwilliam Ebenezer Darcy' takes the best of both classics and spins them into a delightful Holiday yarn! F.E. Darcy has fallen into pitiful self-loathing and sorrowful angst-ridden despair; all of this due to his belief that he has lost forever the chance to marry the only woman he has ever loved—Elizabeth Bennet. Seeing her son in such a state, the Ghost of Anne Darcy reaches out to him; informing him that three ghosts would visit him and give him hope. Will these Spirits provide him with the courage to try again to win the esteem of his one true soul mate? Barbara Tiller Cole, an Atlanta native and the writer of the popular book 'White Lies and Other Half Truths', presents this family friendly classic—a delightful combination of the best of her two favorite authors, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. Barbara credits her parents with fostering a love for both of these authors. Each Christmas, Barbara’s father would sit and read Dicken’s classic 'A Christmas Carol' to the family. Her mother consistently challenged her to improve her mind by extensive reading, Jane Austen style. This book is dedicated to the memory of Cliff and Jeanne and the season they loved the best.
Barbara Tiller Cole shines a comedic, sexy light on the characters of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, turning it into a delightful romp. Open the pages and take a look at maiden fears, the consequences of white lies, and the hope for redemption. If Fitzwilliam Darcy were alive today he would say, "If Jane Austen had written a Regency Sex Manual, this would be it!" Elizabeth Bennet would have said, "A fun,  light, sexy yarn! What I would give to be taught by Professor Darcy!" Take a delightful journey with your beloved characters as you read this delightful farce!
Adventures of A Darcyholic
It is a proven fact that when a man or woman become obsessed with an object of desire, particularly when that personification is a fictional character such as one Fitzwilliam Darcy, it may be necessary to surrender and admit defect to intervention, and seek help when simple infatuation becomes an addiction.  In Adventures of a Darcyholic our hero and heroine have a deep need to find some balance in their lives. Is support available to assist them to find a path back to normal?  But then again, if Darcy is the problem do they wish for a cure?

Barbara Tiller Cole, an Atlanta native and author of her third novel, brings to light this Jane Austen inspired laugh-out-loud comedic delight.