Wednesday, 9 January 2019

A Very Austen Valentine Story Anthology - Blog Tour

Blog Tour: A Very Austen Valentine
Today the blog tour for A Very Austen Valentine stops by. This is an anthology from the same four authors who brought us A Very Austen Christmas, plus another two authors! I am happy to bring you an author interview from 3 of the authors of the anthology. There's also an opportunity to enter a giveaway to win a copy of A Very Austen Valentine for yourself! Read on for more...


Book Cover: A Very Austen Valentine
Book Description - Overall

Six beloved authors deliver romantic Valentine novellas set in Jane Austen's Regency world. Robin Helm, Laura Hile, Wendi Sotis, and Barbara Cornthwaite, together with Susan Kaye and Mandy Cook, share variations of Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, and Sense and Sensibility, featuring your favorite characters in sequels, adaptations, and spinoffs of Austen's adored novels.

Experience uplifting romance, laugh-out-loud humor, and poignant regret as these authors deftly tug on your heartstrings this Valentine's Day.

I Dream of You by Robin Helm
Newly-married Elizabeth Darcy has a plan: to charm her too-busy husband into desiring her company as much as he did when he was courting her.  A series of romantic dreams gives her just the push she needs to put that plan into action.

Sir Walter Takes a Wife by Laura Hile
Faced with a lonely future and finding himself strapped for cash, Persuasion’s Sir Walter Elliot manfully decides to marry again. But his careful plans go sadly awry! A lighthearted Valentine mash-up featuring two of Jane Austen's worst snobs.

My Forever Valentine by Wendi Sotis
Jane and Charles Bingley have married, even though Miss Elizabeth Bennet remains certain Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy gave his best effort to keep them apart. After Mr. Darcy refused to stand up with Bingley and did not attend the wedding, she despises the gentleman more than ever and finds his company intolerable. How will she endure her visit to Kent if Mr. Darcy turns up everywhere she goes?

Pretence and Prejudice by Barbara Cornthwaite
A chance encounter with a handsome stranger forces Elizabeth to resort to subterfuge in order to discover his true intentions.

My Valentine by Mandy H. Cook
Little Charlotte was always determined and independent, traits which served her well as she battled a serious childhood illness and later as she took on Polite Society. Will those traits now deprive her of true love? Or would her lifelong Valentine win her heart?

The Lovers’ Ruse by Susan Kaye
In this Persuasion alteration, Anne is so altered by Wentworth's love in the summer of 1806, she refuses to give him up when both her godmother and father try to persuade her. “The Lovers' Ruse” follows Frederick and Anne through their whirlwind courtship and their secret engagement. When Wentworth returns for his Annie girl, the cat comes out of the bag.

Book Cover: A Very Austen Valentine
Buy Links

This book is available to buy now!


Author Interview x 3!

I have such a treat for you today. Not just one, but three author interviews! Robin Helm, Laura Hile and Wendi Sotis join us for an interview.

Author Robin Helm
Author Interview: Robin Helm

Q: Where did you get the idea for your story?

A: My friend, Laura Hile, suggested I go back and look at my earlier one-shots and short stories for ideas. I realized I could make them into dreams to drive the story.

Q: Did you have any goals for this book when you wrote it — to get published, or just to finish, etc.?

A: Yes, “I Dream of You” was written specifically for A Very Austen Valentine: Austen Anthologies, Book 2. I had already published eight books when I wrote it.

Q: How did you begin writing? Did you intend to become an author, or do you have a specific reason or reasons for writing each book?

A: I was making up stories nearly as soon as I could talk, and my mother encouraged it. She kept daily journals for many, many years, and she wrote a book. One day, I will publish it. I published a poem when I was very young, and I distinctly remember my second grade teacher calling me to the front of the room on numerous occasions to entertain my classmates with tales I made up as I went. After I retired from teaching school full-time, I began to write. My first three books (The Guardian Trilogy: Guardian, SoulFire, and Legacy) were the stories I felt compelled to tell. It was as if I had to write those before I could write anything else. My second series (Yours by Design series: Accidentally Yours, Sincerely Yours, and Forever Yours) a Regency/Contemporary time swap, addressed my love of science fiction and fantasy. Understanding Elizabeth, a Regency Romance, was my first standalone. The two books of the Austen Anthologies series (A Very Austen Christmas and A Very Austen Valentine) were born of my desire to produce books with like-minded friends who were also authors. We hope to collaborate on at least three more anthologies.

Q: What authors do you like to read? What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?

A: I have so many favorites, it’s hard to say. Certainly Frank Peretti and Jane Austen influenced my first three books. I know that seems to be a strange pairing. C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ray Bradbury, Madeleine L’Engle (A Wrinkle in Time), H.G. Wells, Mark Twain, Isaac Asimov, and Jules Verne probably guided me to time travel and fantasy. I also have a fascination with all things Star Trek and Star Wars.

However, Jane Austen and the Bible have certainly been the biggest influences on me in everything I have written so far.


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Author Laura Hile
Author Interview: Laura Hile

Tell us a little about your background as a writer.

I began writing Jane Austen fiction when the Internet was young—does anyone remember the Republic of Pemberley’s “Bits of Ivory” storyboard?  Even in those early days, I had a fondness for telling stories that were fun and a little off the beaten track. My “Freaky Friday” Darcy By Any Other Name has long roots!

In my first published novel, the multi-volume Mercy’s Embrace, I took on Jane Austen’s arrogant Elizabeth Elliot from Persuasion. As I wrote and posted installments, she dominated every scene. I soon realized that the beautiful Miss Elliot makes the perfect Regency heroine: spirited, opinionated, and best of all, desperate. Desperate lends itself to all kinds of storytelling fun. Then too, this “Other Elizabeth” is not quite as smart as she thinks. Better and better, right?

Mercy’s Embrace brought me into contact with Persuasion’s outrageous snob, Sir Walter Elliot. He, along with whiney Mary Musgrove, proved invaluable as comic relief. Which brings me to Sir Walter Takes a Wife, my comical contribution to A Very Austen Valentine.

Because everyone needs a laugh. Even on Valentine’s Day.

A good ten years ago the idea for this “romantic” mash-up presented itself. (Don’t worry, Sir Walter Takes a Wife, like everything in our anthology, is a clean read!) Who better to court The-Lady-We-Love-To-Hate than the equally-prideful (but always broke) Sir Walter? That story has waited until now to come to life. I think you’ll enjoy it.

What authors, or books, have influenced you?

Favorite authors include the much-loved Golden Age “Queens of Crime” from the 1920s and 30s: Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Ngaio Marsh. My Regency novels favor the lighthearted style of another favorite, Georgette Heyer. Other authors I enjoy (in addition to Jane Austen) are Charlotte Bronte, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Ralph McInerny.

Share with us a brief bio.
Well, let’s see. I am married with three grown sons. I enjoy choral singing, browsing in antique stores, and “messing about in boats.”

I also like gardening, but when I unearthed a wasps’ nest I discovered that I am deathly allergic. So outdoor activities, like hiking, have been somewhat curtailed. You might like to know that my lavender garden continues to flourish. I’ve learned that bees “drunk” on nectar do not sting.

Because I am an idealist, I teach at a Christian school for rather less money. So writing is both my hobby and my long-term retirement plan!

What are you working on now?


I teach middle school (12-year-olds), all subjects. This means that I am tired most of the time! In other words, I write slowly. In the works is a Pride and Prejudice romantic romp called As Only Mr. Darcy Can. No body-swaps in this one! However, it packs a few surprises that I think you will enjoy. Look for it later in 2019.

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Author Wendi Sotis
Author Interview: Wendi Sotis

Wendi: Thank you for having me today. It’s a true pleasure!

Q: Where did you get the idea for your story?

A: When we decided the theme of this anthology to be Valentine’s Day, I started doing research on Valentine’s Day in Regency times. I found two “Valentine Writer” books had been reprinted, one from 1780 and the other from 1794, which had a number of valentine verses listed out to give young men and maidens ideas as to what they should write to their valentines. Everything else just filled in around that idea.

Q: Did you have any goals for this book when you wrote it — to get published, or just to finish, etc.?

A: Last year, Robin Helm, Laura Hile, Barbara Cornthwaite and I had decided to publish several anthologies together, and including other guest-authors’ stories as we go along.

Q: How did you begin writing? Did you intend to become an author, or do you have a specific reason or reasons for writing each book?

A: I wrote some as a child and teen – my life’s goals were to have children and to see my name on a card from the card-catalog at my local library. With the latter in mind, I took a creative writing class in college. The professor told me not to bother writing any more. His words shattered my dream, and crushed the tiny bit of confidence I had about my writing. I didn't write again for many years.

Twenty-six years later, I found Jane Austen Fanfiction forums online and couldn't get enough of reading the stories I found there. I kept coming up with story ideas, but my confidence was still zero. One morning I woke up from an especially good story-idea-dream and said, "I'm going to write this myself!" You have no idea how much courage it took to actually post that story on the forum, but to my surprise, people liked it! :-) I haven't stopped writing since.

A writer writes, and author is published. I call myself an “Accidental Author.” One year, I tried NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). The “prize” for managing to write 50,000 words in 30 days was a handful of print books. I wanted to hold a bound copy of my story in my hands. I wanted my triplets to have something they could pass down to their children. And maybe, just maybe, I’d have enough copies printed to donate one to the local library and see my name in the (now electronic) card-catalog at the library after all.

As I was preparing the document to have it printed, Gayle Mills and Robin Helm talked me into making it available to the public as a print book and ebook. Since I wasn’t expecting anyone to purchase it, I figured there was no possibility of being disappointed, so I did it. I still get all choked up when I think about the surprise and the honor I felt when people actually bought the book!

Q: What authors do you like to read? What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?

A: If you haven’t already guessed, Jane Austen has been a huge influence! I read so many authors, I couldn’t possibly list them all here. I enjoy Austen-inspired romances, historical or contemporary, though while I’m writing one, I usually don’t read them in the same time period. I read romance, suspense, mysteries, paranormal, and thrillers, historical or contemporary. I especially like if there are several of these genres mixed together. 

Q: Could you describe the mundane details of writing: How many hours a day to you devote to writing? Do you write a draft on paper or at a keyboard (typewriter or computer)?

A: I’ve tried dictating but my writer’s-brain doesn’t seem to be hooked up to my mouth ;-) I used to write on paper, but I enjoy the computer keyboard much better. I haven’t been writing as many hours a week as I’d like lately, but for 2019 my plan includes writing 25+ hours a week.

Q: Do you write every single day?

A: I do whenever possible.

Q: Any writing rituals?

A: I need quiet unless a song inspired the story I’m writing, then I’ll listen to the song a thousand times while I’m writing! I drink coffee and tea only out of one of my Jane Austen mugs while I’m writing J

Q: Do you meet your readers at book signings, conventions, or similar events?

A: No, I don’t. I’m too shy! I’d never be able to get up in front of people. I’m also dyslexic and cannot read aloud, so book readings could never happen.

Q: Aren’t writers supposed to be solitary?

A: I am – big time – but I know quite a few writers who aren’t.

Q: What’s the worst job you’ve had?

A: I once worked in a large building. The office directly under us had at least one bomb-threat a month. The police and fire departments would evacuate the building every time, since they felt one day the threat might actually be real. Well, one day, the owner of the company I worked for got tired of his staff spending hours away from work and refused to allow us to evacuate. In my opinion, he had no right to decide for us that it was not a real threat, and there was no way I was going to be injured or die for that job, so I listened to the authorities and left anyway. The rest of the office rose and followed me out the door. That didn’t put me very high on the list of my boss’s good graces! Suddenly, my job included making collection calls. I wasn’t very good at it; I kept giving everyone more time. I believe the goal was to get me to quit. It worked!

Q: Are you planning to adapt any of your stories to the screen?

A: Believe it or not, I’ve had several requests to do just that, but I’ve not thought about actually doing it. It would be fun, though!

Q: What’s more important: characters or plot?

A: Characters, because they usually end up taking the plot in a direction I didn’t intend, and that usually works a lot better than what I’d plotted out. You’d think they’d follow my commands, but it’s not always so. It’s a very strange feeling when they don’t want to do what I tell them to do!

Q: Any last thoughts for our readers?

A:  “It isn't what we say or think that defines us, but what we do.”
                         ― Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

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Author Bios

Author Robin Helm
Robin Helm bio
Robin Helm's books reflect her love of music, as well as her fascination with the paranormal and science fiction.
Previously published works include The Guardian Trilogy: Guardian, SoulFire, and Legacy (a guardian angel protects a supernaturally gifted girl), the Yours by Design series: Accidentally Yours, Sincerely Yours, and Forever Yours (Fitzwilliam Darcy switches places in time with his descendant, Will Darcy), and Understanding Elizabeth (Regency romance).
She contributed to A Very Austen Christmas: Austen Anthologies, Book 1, an anthology featuring like-minded authors, in 2017. A Very Austen Valentine: Austen Anthologies, Book 2  was released on December 29, 2018. A Very Austen Romance: Austen Anthologies, Book 3 is planned for December 2019.
She lives in sunny South Carolina and adores her one husband, two married daughters, and three grandchildren.   

Amazon Author Page • Beyond Austen • Twitter • Facebook • Instagram • Goodreads Author Page •Blog • Austen Anthologies FB page


Author Laura Hile
Laura Hile bio
Readers are loving Laura Hile's joyous Regency novels. Her signature style—with intertwined plots, cliffhangers, laugh-out-loud humor, and romance—keeps them coming back for more.

The comedy Laura comes by as a teacher. There's never a dull moment with teen students!

Laura lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and a collection of antique clocks.
Her fiction is for everyone, even teens.

Author Wendi Sotis
Wendi Sotis bio
Wendi Sotis lives on Long Island, NY, with her husband and triplets. While searching for Pride and Prejudice from Darcy’s point of view, she became thoroughly enamored with Jane Austen Fan Fiction or JAFF. In early 2010, she dreamed of an idea for a story and hasn’t stopped writing since: Promises, Dreams and Expectations; All Hallows Eve; The Keys for Love; Safekeeping (with just a dash of Austen); The Gypsy Blessing; Foundation of Love (The Gypsy Blessing 2); and A Lesson Hard Learned.

The Marriage Pact, and some of Wendi’s works-in-progress, have branched away from JAFF to Regency Romance (the Loving an Aldridge Series) and Contemporary Romantic Mysteries (the Implicated series). Wendi will also continue bringing Darcy and Elizabeth together again and again in an unusual manner.


Author Barbara Cornthwaite
Barbara Cornthwaite bio
Barbara Cornthwaite lives in the middle of Ireland with her husband and children. She taught college English before "retiring" to do something she loves far more; her days are now filled with homeschooling her six children, trying to keep the house tidy (a losing battle), and trying to stay warm in the damp Irish climate (also a losing battle). She is surrounded by medieval castles, picturesque flocks of sheep, and ancient stone monuments. These things are unappreciated by her children, who are more impressed by traffic jams, skyscrapers, and hot weather.


Author Susan Kaye
Susan Kaye bio
Susan Kaye discovered Jane Austen and writing at about the same time. She leads a quiet life with her husband and dog, Harley. "I don't know a lot, but I do know I've probably spent more time with Frederick Wentworth and Anne Elliot than just about anybody else."


Author Mandy Helm Cooke
Mandy Helm Cook bio
Mandy Cook was an RN for over ten years, half of which she served in the Navy, living in far-flung places, enjoying experiencing the world while following her calling. Just before she and her handsome Marine were both deployed to different places, they married. They now have three children, ages four and younger.

She previously published The Gifted, using her nursing experience to lend accuracy to her story about an ER nurse who is handed a gift that changes her life forever. Adversity, and a long history of secrets, constantly battle against her natural instinct for truth and justice, but will the truth be worth the dare?


Giveaway Time!

Book Cover: A Very Austen Valentine
There are 10 ebooks of A Very Austen Valentine, open to international entrants, and 1 paperback, which is open to US entrants. To be in with a chance of winning the prize, please use the rafflecopter.


Blog Tour: A Very Austen Valentine
Blog Tour Schedule

06 Jan Just the Write Escape; Guest Post, Giveaway
07 Jan Margie’s Must Reads; Review, Giveaway 
08 Jan So Little Time…; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway
09 Jan Babblings of a Bookworm; Author Interview, Giveaway
10 Jan Half Agony, Half Hope; Review, Excerpt
11 Jan Austenesque Reviews; Vignette, Giveaway
12 Jan My Love for Jane Austen; Vignette, Giveaway
14 Jan From Pemberley to Milton; Excerpt, Review or Vignette, Giveaway
15 Jan My life journey; Review, Excerpt, Giveaway
16 Jan My Vices and Weaknesses; Guest Post or Vignette. Excerpt, Giveaway
18 Jan Diary of an Eccentric; Review, Giveaway
20 Jan Darcyholic Diversions; Author Interview, Giveaway
21 Jan Austenprose; Author Interview

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38 comments:

  1. Enjoyed the interviews. Thanks for the giveaway!

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    1. I enjoyed the interviews as well. There are always new things to learn -- like Wendi's "bomb-threat building"! Good luck in the giveaway, darcybennet.

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    2. Hi, Darcybennett. Good to see you!

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    3. Thanks! Good luck in the giveaway, darcybennett!

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  2. Lovely interviews! Yay, for another anthology! Looking forward to reading it!

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    1. Dung Vu, when we released A Very Austen Christmas, the plan was to see what happened. Readers enjoyed it! So we decided to keep going and write more. Good luck in the giveaway!

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    2. Thank you, Dung Vu. I'm so glad you enjoyed the interviews. I fear I'm rather a boring individual. Good luck!

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    3. Thank you, Dung Vu! Good luck!

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  3. Ceri, thank you for hosting us. These interviews are great! Learned a few things about Wendi and Robin, I did.

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    1. I second that. Thanks, Ceri!

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    2. Yes, thank you for the opportunity to appear here, Ceri!

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  4. A very enjoyable post and the book looks delightful. Many thanks for the generous giveaway too!

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    1. So glad you enjoyed it, Tea Guide. Good luck in the giveaway!

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    2. Thanks so much, Tea Guide! Good luck!

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    3. Thank you for the kind encouragement. These anthologies are our way of introducing our writing friends to our reading friends. Good luck in the giveaway, Tea Guide.

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  5. Ceri, What a delightful post. I enjoyed reading the author Q&A sessions and reading their bios. What fun. I have this book on my wish-list and would love to win a copy. I don't Face or Tweet so I was glad for the comment option so I could join in that growing list of hopefuls who wish to win a copy. Good luck to everyone in the drawing. Special thanks to the authors and the publisher for the generous giveaway. Blessings on the success of this work. I look forward to seeing what you guys do in the future. Have a Blessed rest of the new year.

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    1. How sweet you are, J W Garrett! Thank you for your good wishes, and good luck to you. 😁

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    2. Thanks so much, J. W. Garrett! I'm glad you were able to enter. Good luck!

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    3. J.W., I am just getting caught up with responses, as my work (school) computer does not have my Blogger info.

      Thanks for your kind interest in our "by-friends-for-friends" anthology series. It's fascinating to me to see the diversity in our stories. Yes, with these books I get to be both a contributor and a fan.

      Oh, and good luck in the giveaway, too.

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  6. I enjoyed the author Q & A. It is nice to get to know the authors better. The stories sound intriguing. I am looking forward to reading the stories in this compilation. Thank you for the generous giveaway.

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    1. Deborah Ann, thanks for your interest. The idea behind these books is to introduce our writing friends to our reading friends -- and there is enough variety here to have something for everyone. Good luck in the giveaway!

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    2. I'm glad you enjoyed it, Deborah Ann! Good luck!

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  7. Thanks for a chance to win. I will read this one way or another. Thanks for all the bio information. I like hearing personal stories.

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    1. Sheila, how lovely to see you here. I am working to get caught up with responses, as my week at school was (to use a modern phrase) slammed. Middle-school students returning after Christmas Break struggle a lot!

      Anyway, thanks for your interest in A Very Austen Valentine. I think you'll get a kick out of my Sir Walter Elliot story. It might not be the most romantic in the collection, unless -- ha! -- unless "self-love" counts!

      Good luck in the giveaway.

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    2. Hi Sheila! I have the honor of working with ladies who have written some really excellent stories - you'll enjoy them! Good luck!

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  8. Carole in Canada10 January 2019 at 20:43

    It's always nice to know that little bit more about the authors who write the books we love. Congratulations ladies and I look forward to reading this! Thank you for a chance at the giveaway!

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    1. Carole, thanks for your kind encouragement and interest in our interviews. My life isn't all that interesting -- unless you come into my middle-school classroom and listen to the back-and-forth comedy routine -- so I try to make up for it with my storytelling.

      Good luck in the giveaway.

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    2. Thanks for commenting, Carole! Good luck in the giveaway! :-)

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  9. You talk about teaching in middle school. There was one year when I was a substitute teacher for a middle school teacher who was on maternity leave. I found 14 years old students to be the most difficult as far as behavior...they were so mean to each other!

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    1. I teach in a Christian school, Sheila, so the behavior is somewhat better ... but yes. Middle school -- and 7th grade in particular (which is what I teach) -- is most people's most terrible year of life. Ask just about anyone.

      It's all about getting attention, even at someone else's expense. Students are trying out sarcasm too, and they're not very good at it. "Mean" sums it up nicely.

      And yet, students at this age can be incredibly honorable and profoundly wise -- and the next minute, the worst selfish pigs ever. It's like sometimes even they are aghast at what what just came out of their mouth.

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  10. I enjoyed the Q&A and the blurbs for each story

    denise

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    1. Hi, Denise! Romance and mystery and misunderstandings and -- what can I say about my story? Snark, that's the word! -- it's all there in this anthology. Something for every reader. Thanks for entering the giveaway.

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    2. Thanks, Denise, I'm glad you enjoyed them. Good luck :-)

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  11. I attended Delaware Co. Christian School from third through 12th grades. However, I have to say that in my class of 24 (16 girls, 8 boys) there was a group of MEAN girls: wealthier, better dressed, nicer cars, fathers' job were white collar vs blue collar like my father, nicer houses & neighborhoods, etc. So it happens even in environments where you would expect better.

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    1. Mean girls. They spoil everything.

      I have only sons, so the girl drama I encounter is only at school. Most of our girls are quite nice, but there are those few who ruin things for everyone.

      Boys are noisy, but much less snide.

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  12. Thanks for the great interviews. Congratulations on the release of this anthology.

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    1. Thanks, Kate, for your interest. Good luck in the giveaway. :)

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    2. Thanks so much, KateB! Good luck!

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