Monday, November 28, 2016

Interview over at Becton Literary!

We just released the fifth book in the HOLIDAYS WITH JANE series, THANKFUL HEARTS and Jennifer is showcasing the various authors on her blog. (Thanks!!)

The wonderful Jennifer Becton, multi-genre author of the thriller series SOUTHERN FRAUD and the Austenesque PERSONAGES OF PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, interviewed me for her blog.

Read the interview here.

You can check out Jennifer's books here and learn more about her here.

And you can still read THANKFUL HEARTS even though Thanksgiving is over. (It's still November, right?) Pick up the paperback or the Kindle edition on

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Thankful Jar...and ALL THE FOOD

Holidays with Jane: Thankful Hearts
(ebook available on Paperback coming out soon!)

It’s time for crisp weather, colorful leaves, and a Thanksgiving feast. The authors of the Holidays with Jane series bring you Holidays with Jane: Thankful Hearts with six modern-day adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels. Join your favorite heroines around the fire with a cup of hot apple cider for heart-warming takes on these classic stories.

"The Construction of a Heart"
by Melissa Buell
Elizabeth Bennet credits the success of Bennet Homes to her close-knit family, however dysfunctional they might be. The Meryton Chamber of Commerce calls on local businesses to host the annual All-Town Thanksgiving Feast. Unfortunately, Elizabeth is paired up with pretentious businessman Will Darcy of Pemberley Estates, her main rival in the construction business. Will Elizabeth be able to fill up her Thankful Jar this year?

In my short story for HOLIDAYS WITH JANE: THANKFUL HEARTS, I reimagined PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen. If you've read my blog at all or you know me IRL, you know that PRIDE AND PREJUDICE is my favorite novel. Do you know how hard it is to reimagine your favorite novel into a short story?! It's hard, guys. The struggle is real. But I got through it with copious amounts of coffee, tea, and brownies at Panera Bread. I owe much to the wisdom and enthusiasm of Jess and Rebecca. (Thank you!)


In my story, I write about a "Thankful Jar" and also about food. Lots of food.


I love the idea of a "Thankful Jar" for the month of November. Every day, write down one thing (or several!) that you are thankful for and add it to your jar. On Thanksgiving, read the things you are thankful for as you eat your Thanksgiving feast. Some might be silly, some might be romantic. I want to remember that we have so many blessings and much to be thankful for. Will you start a Thankful Jar this year?


One of the many things to be thankful for at Thanksgiving is the FOOD! (Am I right?) My mom's family is from the Midwest, which means we have all of the best food. Butter. And gravy. More butter. We've added different dishes over the years as my generation has learned to cook and bake but we always have the old standbys: turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, rolls, and PIE.

Oh, pie. I love pie at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Especially with Reddi-Whip. (Homemade whipped cream is great but Reddi-Whip is awesome.)

We always have pumpkin pie and pecan pie. Sometimes there's a random apple pie or cobbler thrown in. My sister-in-law told me about five years ago that she saw a recipe from Paula Deen for Pumpkin Pecan Pie. My seester and I both don't love pumpkin pie so we were excited at the idea of something different without being too weirdly different. I found the recipe and I've been making this pie for Thanksgiving ever since.

Link to Paula Deen's Pumpkin Pecan Pie recipe

Link to Pinterest Board of "Holidays With Jane: Thanksgiving Food

Now that you've read about being thankful and pie, here's an excerpt of my story! (And keep reading because down below is the Rafflecopter link for the giveaway that I'm hosting!)


"The Construction of a Heart"

The first time they had met was at the Chamber of Commerce “Salute to Summer” mixer at the end of August. Elizabeth, Jane, and their younger sister Lydia were scheduled to take turns manning the Bennet Homes booth that evening. Elizabeth and Jane took great pride in setting up an attractive booth at each Chamber event.
            As she and Jane approached the booth just before the mixer began, it was obvious that someone had ignored the schematic that Elizabeth herself had developed that kept similar businesses from being next to each other.
            The table in the booth next to them was overloaded with glossy tri-fold brochures, plastic scale models of houses, and a laptop with a gallery of high impact photos flashing on the screen. Sterling silver trays held macarons and chocolate tarts while urns with gourmet coffee burbled away. A Lucite sign proclaimed “Pemberley Estates Welcomes You!” in purple letters. A blond man and a brunette woman were chatting quietly outside of the booth, gesturing towards the coffee urns.
            Elizabeth glanced over at her humble homemade lemon squares and peanut butter cup brownies with chagrin. The blue gingham tablecloth and collection of white porcelain cake plates looked charming along with their framed photos of houses they had rehabbed into a “Bennet Home.”  Charming compared to classy? No, Elizabeth shook her head. They can make fun of my booth but I’d rather be personal and homespun than fake and plastic any day. I need to make the best of the location and meet our new competitors.
            “Are you ready to meet our neighbors?” Elizabeth whispered to Jane.
            The blond man in front of the Pemberley Estates was already making a bee-line towards them. He extended his hand with a friendly smile.
            “Hello, I’m Chase Bingley,” he said as he shook the hands of both sisters. “We’re new in Meryton and so happy to be a part of the mixer. It was gracious of the event coordinators to include us.” He gestured behind him. “This is my sister, Carla Bingley.”
Carla Bingley strode over and looked down at Elizabeth and Jane with a haughty expression. “Nice to make your acquaintance,” she stated in bored tone.
“Our booth is right next to yours,” Elizabeth said with a determined smile. “Bennet Homes. Feel free to have a lemon bar or brownie. They’re homemade,” she added when she saw Carla’s mouth twitch unpleasantly.
“How delightful!” Chase said as he stepped forward to pick up a brownie. “I don’t know the last time I had a homemade treat.”
“That’s because I have better ways to spend my time,” Carla murmured just loud enough for Elizabeth to hear.
“Would either of you be available to introduce me to the other vendors here?” Chase asked, his eyes fixed on Jane.
            Elizabeth smiled as she stepped behind the table. “I have the first shift at the booth.”
            “I’m available,” Jane said shyly. “We can start with Mayor Lucas. He just arrived.”
            “Carla, be sure to introduce Darcy, won’t you?” Chase asked as he walked away.
            And Darcy is…another sister? I hope she takes after Chase, not his sour faced sister, Carla.
            The community room was slowly filling up with guests from the Chamber of Commerce and Elizabeth put all thoughts of Pemberley Estates and their employees away as she handed out business cards and treats. A dark haired man with dark, brooding eyes walked toward her booth during a lull. Elizabeth checked her phone and was unsurprised to see that Lydia had texted her that she would be late for her shift.
Elizabeth turned to replenish the cake plates with baked goods and found the dark haired stranger standing in front of her booth, looking at each framed photo carefully. He glanced up as if he felt her eyes on him. He nodded at her and said, “Will Darcy.”
She deposited the fresh brownies on the plate and replied, “Will Darcy do what?”
“Will I do what?” he asked, a confused expression in his chocolate brown eyes. “No, I am Will Darcy.”
“Oh!” Elizabeth shook her head. “I thought you were asking if Darcy would do something. The Bingleys have a sister named Darcy…” At the look on his face, Elizabeth knew she had made a mistake. “Wow. Never mind. I assumed a sister when Chase said to introduce ‘Darcy’ to me. It’s one of those guys-call-each-other-by-their-last-name things.” She smiled and stuck out her hand. “Let’s start over. I’m Elizabeth Bennet of Bennet Homes.”
            “Will Darcy of Pemberley Estates,” he stated as he shook her hand in a brief but firm handshake.
            “Yes, you are our friendly competition,” Elizabeth said.
            “There’s not much of a competition,” Carla drawled as she stalked over to where Will stood. “We build designer houses. You paint old relics.”
            “We do more than ‘paint old relics’,” Elizabeth said, struggling to keep her cool. “We revitalize homes that need some love. We match up our customers with the best home for them. We partner with our customers to give them their forever home.
            Carla waved a well-manicured hand through the air dismissively. “Take a page from Pemberley’s book and knock the wreck down. It saves time and money. Not to mention removes an eyesore from the community.”
            “Is that Pemberley Estates marketing tagline? ‘Removing landmarks one at a time.’ That’s not going to work well here in Meryton. We are all devoted to preserving our history.”
            “Mayor Lucas and the zoning commission just approved our proposal to build on the old bowling alley site off Route 1.” Carla’s dark eyes gleamed. “We’ll be putting up our model homes in no time.”
“I wouldn’t call the bowling alley a landmark, exactly,” Elizabeth admitted. “But I’m still disappointed that the zoning commission would not want to rehab it into something else.”
“You are opposed to new buildings?” Will asked. “Isn’t that antithetical to your construction company?”
Elizabeth chuckled. “I’m not opposed to new buildings. That would be the kiss of death to any construction business. We are happy to build anything our customers want. I personally prefer a building with a history. Old buildings have such character and charm to them. I don’t want to haphazardly knock them down just to make room for something plastic and shiny. Steel is great for girders but for a family room? Not so much.”
Will Darcy quirked up one eyebrow. “You obviously feel very passionate about this. Excuse me.” He took out his phone and walked away.

Well, that was awkward. Was it me or was it him? I’m pretty sure it was him. If only Jane was here to evaluate it. Though she most likely would have said that he was self-conscious. It doesn’t matter. We’re not likely to have much to do with Pemberley Estates. She glanced over to Carla Bingley preening in front of her booth. Not that I want to.


Giveaway time! Check out the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Thankful for a new book!

Holidays With Jane: Thankful Hearts is now available!

Be sure to check out all of the bookish fun coming your way in the next week. Indie Jane Press (publisher of the Holidays With Jane series) is hosting a week of festivities which includes a readalong on Twitter with author Jennifer Becton & Melissa Buell (myself) and giveaways from all of the HWJ authors. The Facebook page has lots of info.

Check out the links below for the awesomeness!

Tuesday 11/1 – Jessica Grey
Wednesday 11/2 – Nancy Kelley
Thursday 11/3 – Melissa Buell
Friday, 11/4 – Rebecca M. Fleming
Saturday 11/5 – Cecilia Gray
Sunday 11/6 – Jennifer Becton
Monday 11/7 – Winners Announced