This summer is passing entirely too fast. I believe I have mentioned it before, but my daughter graduated this year and will be headed to college in three weeks. Needless to say, we are attempting to cram as much as possible into that time while still working, running a non-profit organization, prepping a book for publishing, and (just because I love a challenge) taking a copyedit class. You see where this is going. I opened my calendar this morning and gasped when I realized it was time for another blog.
I am on my third cover designer, so As a Proper Lady Would will NOT be released the end of this month. The new plan is for a September release since August is going to be filled with comings and goings. As I mentioned last month, you have already gotten a chance to read several scenes from the new book and I don’t want to reveal everything before it publishes. Instead, I decided to go back and share the opening scene again so you can remember what started it all. But first, here is the Dedication for the book.
This one is for the Readers and Admins at Austen Authors. For years I was adamant I would not write a blog as I felt I had nothing to share that would interest anyone. Then I received an email from the Admins at Austen Authors asking me to join the site. How could I say no to that? Though there are still months that I have no idea what I am going to blog, the acceptance and encouragement I have received from the Admins, my fellow Authors, and the wonderful Readers has gotten me through. As they can tell you, this book began because of a blog on that site. The original blog is not part of this story––indeed, I had not intended to write the story that went with the initial blog––but it spawned another idea and here we are. Enjoy!
Lizzy Bennet sat on the park bench next to her seven-year-old sister, Jane, who read aloud from her current favourite book. It was not Lizzy’s preference, but she liked hearing her sister’s sweet voice. Their new Aunt Gardiner was nearby, visiting with her friend and glancing in their direction every few minutes, so Lizzy sat quietly, holding her new doll on her lap. Her feet swung in time to a tune running through her head as her gaze roamed over the park and she considered the easiest way to climb the great chestnut tree. Not that she would. Proper young ladies did not climb trees. A sigh escaped her lips when she saw two older boys run into the park, dashing towards the tree, the taller one reaching the massive trunk a second or two before the other.
“Not fair, Fitzy! Your legs are longer. I should get a head start,” the loser whined.
“Don’t call me Fitzy, Georgie,” the taller boy responded through gasps to regain his breath before straightening. “Phillip is shorter than you and he can beat us both.”
“He’s older,” George replied as he picked up a fallen branch and beat it against the tree.
Lizzy frowned. The tree hadn’t hurt him; why was he hurting the tree? When the peevish child began kicking at the roots, she jumped down from the bench, leaving her doll behind and ran across the green.
“Thtop it!” she cried as she pushed against the older boy. “You’re hurting it!” She wrapped her arms as far around the trunk as she could reach, placing herself between it and the tormentor.
The boy looked at her in amazement before a cruel gleam entered his eye. “What are you going to do about it?”
“Leave her alone, George,” the taller boy said as he knelt beside her. “What’s your name?”
Placing her tongue in the spot where her front teeth had been, she hesitated a second before answering. “Lithy.” Hearing the annoying lisp, her cheeks warmed.
“Elizabeth!” Aunt Gardiner called as she and Jane walked in a more ladylike manner towards her. “Come along.”
Lizzy eyed the bully but knew she would have to return to her aunt or be in trouble once again.
“I won’t let him hurt the tree,” the boy who still knelt beside her said.
She looked at him doubtfully but decided she had no other choice than to trust him. Giving George her best glare, she ran to her aunt, who grasped her hand tightly and softly scolded her while they made their way back to the inn. Before they left the park, Lizzy looked to see the boys playing amongst the trees. George stuck his tongue out at her when he saw her watching them, and she did the same.
“Elizabeth Bennet, that is not ladylike,” Aunt Gardiner scolded with a hard tug on her hand. “You will sit with your father and uncle while Jane and I visit the bakery. Little girls who forget their manners do not get sweets.”
“Yeth, ma’am,” Lizzy muttered as she hung her head and trudged alongside her aunt.
It wasn’t until much later that she realized she no longer had the pretty new doll with the curly brown hair. Uncle Gardiner went back to the park but returned empty-handed. She cried herself to sleep while Jane told her the doll had probably been found by a little girl who had never had one and would treasure it. Jane couldn’t understand what the doll meant to her. All their other dolls had blonde hair just like Jane. This was the first doll that looked like Lizzy, only prettier.
Don’t you just want to hug her? I promise the next blog will contain the cover reveal as I have gone back to the photographer who did my last two covers and she is much more organized and punctual than me. Take care everyone!!