Saturday, December 1, 2012

Elizabeth Bennet Miniature Pendant Free with Book Purchase

Christmas Season Special:

Elizabeth Bennet Miniature Pendant
Free with Book Purchase made from this page
Limited Time Offer!

Purchase a signed copy of One Thread Pulled directly from me on this site, and I will include, absolutely free, an Elizabeth Bennet Miniature Pendant, in the style and finish of your choice.

The pendants feature a lovely image of Lizzy from One Thread Pulled, beneath a glass cabochon.  Available in three vintage styles or a simple oval shape, this pendant will be treasured by the Janeite in your life! Note that these are costume jewelry, so the silver finish is not real silver.

Select from the styles and finishes depicted in the image below.  Note that not all finishes are available for all styles.  You can either put it in the inscription text box or email me with your preference.  I do wish I was a better photographer - the images do not do justice to these pendants!  

The copper and brass have a vintage feel, while the silver is shiny.  Feel free to contact me with any questions about the offer:

There are also couple of fun blog links I'd like to share with you from this past month.
My guest Blog Post at Darcyholic Diversions tells a bit more of the story of how I came to write One Thread Pulled, and features a few pictures from my recent cruise:  Darcyholic Diversions

Jakki Leatherbury of Leatherbound Reviews posted a great review this month: Leatherbound Reviews by Jakki 

And for those who are wondering about my next chapter for Constant as the Sun, I confess that November caught me suffering from a bit of writer's block.  I've conquered it now, and back to pounding on the keyboard!

Happy December everyone!

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Next Big Thing ... I've Been Tagged!

Today folks, I’m “it.”  That’s right, when you get tagged, you’re “it”, right?  Well, Wendy Sotis tagged me, and I’m game, so here we go!

This is a blog game called “The Next Big Thing”, and it’s a mechanism for authors to shamelessly plug their work share valuable insights and amusing anecdotes about what’s up and coming in their writing pipeline.

The format is Q & A, like an interview. 

What is the working title of your book?

I’m currently working on two books:
Constant as the Sun: The Courtship of Mr. Darcy – it is a WIP with the draft posting on several JAFF forums.

Dancing with the RoseThis one is on its seventh edit.  Only twenty-two more edits to go. J The title might not make the next edit…

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Constant as the Sun is the sequel to my debut novel, One Thread Pulled: The Dance with Mr. Darcy. It is an extension of that story, so the idea came when I realized that I could not do proper justice to their engagement without a sequel.

Dancing with the Rose was certainly Austen-inspired, but it is an original novel with spiritual themes as well as those of class and culture. 

What genre does your book fall under?

Both are romanceConstant as the Sun is a Jane Austen FanFiction (JAFF) Regency, and Dancing with the Rose would be classified as religious, (LDS) possibly even venturing into the paranormal.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Oh, now we are into the realms of fantasy!  I have always thought that a young Hugh Jackman would have made a spectacular Mr. Darcy, but he’s probably too old for it now.  I would happily write a mature Mr. Darcy story if Mr. Jackman were lined up as the lead! Since that isn’t possible, any Colin Firth or Hugh Jackman look-alike will do!

I think that if there was going to be a movie, I would just have to insist and sitting in on the casting sessions – I’d know my leads when I saw them! (Dream on, I know – but like I said … realms of fantasy!) As long as we’re in that realm, let’s say it’s a much anticipated blockbuster … I think it would be really wonderful to have a film be an actor/actress who has paid their dues and not hit it big yet have the adaptation of one of my books serve as a breakthrough role.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

This is where we see the devious side of the framers of this game. They all know that things like a one-sentence limit can serve as the undoing of a writer unaccustomed to sparing words.  I refuse to be defeated by this.

Constant as the Sun: Before they may marry, Darcy and Elizabeth are forced to endure a six-month engagement that takes them through the London Season; unfortunately, the matrons of society are the least of their problems.

Dancing with the Rose: When Allison Rafferty, a struggling artist in a small town, meets Michael Conley, heir to a business empire, the chemistry is there, but he must overcome both her skepticism and the machinations of conspiring adversaries and relations to win her.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Self-published.  Give me a decade or so and then ask me if I made the right decision on that.  Only time will tell.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Constant as the Sun is a work in progress, so I can’t say, but I’m shooting for 6-8 months.

Dancing with the Rose was written in about a year and a half.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Would it be presumptuous to compare my story with Pride and Prejudice? Of course it would, but you can’t blame a girl for trying.

Actually, although I have read a great number of books in the same genre, I would have a hard time comparing, since I worked very hard not to repeat what others were doing.  The one time I had the audacity to tell another writer in my genre that I thought our styles were similar, I was slapped down—hard.  I won’t be doing that again.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

Dancing with the Rose was written after a fairly obsessive marathon of watching the A&E Pride and Prejudice series, but the point of my effort was to try to inspire the same sort of feelings, not to tell the same sort of story.

Constant as the Sun was inspired by dozens of readers who begged me not to end One Thread Pulled. So although I gave it a proper Regency ending with an engagement and a kiss, I didn’t wrap it up neatly – There may have only been one thread pulled at the beginning of the story, but there is a whole lot of “threads” dangling at the end.  I believe that's called a set-up for the sequel.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Constant as the Sun explores the dire predictions that Lady Catherine de Bourgh makes in the original Pride and Prejudice, about how Elizabeth Bennet will be regarded in the first circles of society and among the aristocracy.  Jane Austen never addressed this question.  Elizabeth Bennet’s season in London has high stakes, although she does not know it.  If she is not happy, Mr. Bennet will rescind his consent.

Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.

This is the hard part – I have no idea who has previously been tagged, since I’ve been doing more writing than reading lately.  Sincere apologies if this is a duplicate (and if it is, I think you’re off the hook.)  When you get the notice that you're tagged, let me know if you'd like to see the link point to a different URL or have your name displayed differently.  Send me a note at:


Rules of The Next Big Thing:
***Use this format for your post
***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (Work In Progress)
***Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.
Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:
What is the working title of your book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Signed Copies of One Thread Pulled

Signed copies right now are scarce, due to the reality that I have to pace my book orders.  I simply don't have thousands of dollars laying around to order a large inventory of books.  My first order of 15 books (the miracle of POD, or "Publish on Demand") is nearly spent, so I have another 15 on the way. 

I hope you aren't disillusioned now.  My house is not a book warehouse like my grandfather's was when he self-published his book back in 1968.  I thought it was about the coolest thing ever back then.  I wonder now, what my grandmother thought about all her closet space being commandeered by stacks of books.

The reality is that I won't be placing many books out in the world on consignment until I can fund them - which will come in time I think, for Christmas, but for now, if you want my siggie in the book, you'll have to get them from me in person, or order this blog using that handy-dandy "Buy Now" button you see in the right-side panel.  I'll even throw in that nifty sticker!

I'll eventually do some book signings in Utah, but I don't have dates yet.  I'll post them when they're scheduled.

In the meantime, any bookstore can order a copy in as long as you have this number:
            ISBN-13: 978-1475149616.    

Thanks everyone, for your support.


P.S.  I am not doing "digitally signed" e-books.  This offer is for the soft-cover only.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ruminations on a One Week Anniversary

As an author, something I do is expose the inner thoughts and feelings of characters, which gives them depth and substance.  They are animated by the words I give them, by the lives they live in the fictional world they exist in.  It can be pretty heady stuff to make someones heart race with the stroke of a pen. (okay, I don't actually use a pen, but the imagery is lovely, don't you think?)

So here I am, a real breathing, living person who is terrified of exposing the inner thoughts and feelings I have experienced this past week, from the moment I pressed the "submit" button on the Kindle file (and realized I had pressed the wrong button so I wouldn't have a chance to review it before it was OUT THERE) to the elation I felt holding that proof copy of the book in my hands and loving it so much I was giddy and silly with excitement.  I even took a picture of myself with it, no makeup, hair in stringy strands - just happy me and the book.  The book was gorgeous.  Me? not so much.

I wrote about that class act we all love, Elizabeth Bennet in my story, but this week, as I was "exposing myself to the world", I felt much more like Lydia! Were Mr. Bennet to have to defend me to my friends and family, he would have said something like this:

Do not make yourself uneasy, you will not appear to less advantage for having a very silly friend. We shall have no peace if Diana does not attempt to publish. Let her do it then. The readers of the world are generally sensible, and will keep her out of any real mischief; and she is luckily too unknown to be an object of much interest to any body. At Amazon, she will be of less importance, as a common self-published novelist, than she has even been here on her blog. The readers will undoubtedly find authors better worth their notice. Let us hope, therefore, that her being there may teach her her own insignificance. At any rate, she cannot grow many degrees worse without authorizing us to lock her up for the rest of her life.''

And yet - like Lydia headed to Brighton, I was determined to do it, and enabled by several wonderful and talented friends, I took the plunge, honestly not expecting much, but happy to make it available to anyone who wanted a copy.  I had been encouraged by so many people that I confess to having secretly harbored a degree of HOPE for some marginal success, but having read literally dozens of articles about how friends and strangers alike will lie to you and tell you what you write is great, but once you get into the real world, the sharks will eat you alive and then pick what remains of your ego from their teeth with no thought for whether your health insurance covers psychiatric trauma, that I was pretty much braced for the worst.  Something along the lines of 5 sales, comprising my mother and a couple of my siblings making mercy purchases while the others expected a free copy sounded about right.  Seriously.

The first six days, however, were actually fairly pleasant.  I made a few sales, got a couple of nice reviews. I had friends tell me they saw mention of One Thread Pulled here or there.  I held the drawing for a few free autographed copies of the book.  I was having fun!  My numbers were, I thought, respectable, though I had nothing to really compare to. 

This morning, on the one-week anniversary of "going live", things got interesting.  I inexplicably woke up at 5:45 AM.  Yeah.  For reals.  I know!  Then, instead of going straight back to bed, I decided to see if I had made any sales overnight.  I pulled up the browser and refreshed the pages, and was surprised to notice something new.  The Amazon page said that I was ranked #99 in the Regency Romance genre.  Cool!  I showed my husband and went back to bed for a bit.  When i got back up, the rank had disappeared, and I told my husband that I was glad I'd seen it when I did since it  was surely an anomaly and I didn't expect to see it again for a long time.  By 11:00 AM I had been proven wrong - I was ranked at #87 in my genre.  A few hours later, it was at 74, then 63, then 60, and right now, I am ranked at #54 in the genre.  Here is a screen capture I took when it was at 63.  I like this one because of the title at the top of the page - who ever thought I'd see the words "Best Sellers" on the same page as my name?  You can see the navigation links showing the genre too:

So back to the topic of this post - being afraid to admit to the feelings I'm having right now.  I'm incredibly gratified, and thankful, but I'm also in shock and absolutely terrified.  I had equipped myself to deal with potential failure, and given no significant thought to coping with potential success.  I didn't know really what to expect, but THIS was not it!

Here's what I do know.  I love to write, and I love making a connection with the people who are reading what I have written.  I'm going to keep writing.  I hope you'll all keep reading, because I think I'm here to stay.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

One Thread Pulled On Sale Now

We're a week or so away from being for sale at Amazon, but you can get order a copy today from

Would you like to see this on YOUR coffee table?

Go to the FaceBook page for One Thread Pulled and "like" it to get the discount code for $2.00 off from now through the end of August 2012.  This book is 6 x 9 and over an inch thick - well worth the price even without the discount. There is also a drawing for some autographed copies.  Names will be drawn on Sunday, 8/19.  

Monday, August 6, 2012

New JAFF Forum: Beyond Austen

It is rare in this world to have the opportunity to be a part of something truly special at the ground floor.  I remember when I was growing up, there was a recreational center built in the area I lived in and my parents purchased a family membership early.  That gave us the bragging rights of being "Charter Members", and I recall the pride I felt in knowing that we were.  I don't recall if there were any true perks to being charter members, but the pool at the Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center was my playground for many years.

I have only been aware of the JAFF world for a few years.  JAFF, or "Jane Austen Fan Fiction" is a thriving literary community that explores the themes, characters and life lessons that Jane herself wrote about. Once I discovered it, it didn't take me long to get hooked.  We don't just TALK about her stories, endlessly dissecting our interpretation of Jane's novels, but do so through stories centered in one or more aspects of that world. Some are period pieces while others are contemporary, paranormal, science fiction etc.  The book I'm preparing to launch this month, One Thread Pulled is an example of the Regency period JAFF genre. 

The Internet is host to quite a few websites dedicated to Jane Austen and her works, with a subset of these devoted to JAFF.  I have spent many pleasurable hours on several of these sites, notably and but other than directing people to my own story, One Thread Pulled, I have hesitated to recommend these sites wholesale since there are often stories posted on them that I wouldn't be comfortable having my mother see.  Yes.  That is the ultimate standard.

I am now thrilled to be not only a Charter Member of, but also a Forum Moderator on a new JAFF website, Beyond Austen

The initial launch of this site occurred one week ago, and the response has been fantastic.  The content includes stories, poetry, blogs, games etc., and we are just getting started.  The best part is that I can confidently recommend this site not only to my mother, but to people from church, to my young nieces and other youth as well.  The writers agree to the keep what they post within the G to PG-13 rating and the founders of the site, Stephanie Hamm, Gayle Mills and Robin Helm are committed to maintaining that ideal.   

Since stories post a chapter at a time, they are fun to follow as they unfold.  I'm an anticipation-aholic, so I love digesting a chapter of a story at a time, thinking about it, discussing it, and jumping to read when the next chapter comes up.  Anticipation nirvana!

It isn't too late for you to be a Charter Member too!  I have found my new playground and I'm splashing around in the pool! Join us today!  Find out more, and stay abreast of new postings and events on the Beyond Austen Facebook Page.  Be a part of something special on the ground floor.  Opportunities like this don't come along every day!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

July Short Story Contest - Third Place

I entered the July Short Story contest in the "Writers" group on LinkedIn.  The results were announced today.  I tied for third place, which was gratifying but not truly satisfying for some reason ... I think I'm going to have to try again in the August contest!

I thought some of you might enjoy the change of pace from the JAFF Regency Romance I've been writing lately.  If not, well, there's more JAFF coming.

The Korne Field
by Diana Oaks

The tires on the ancient Ford Falcon crunched the gravel as they passed the sign that read “Danny’s Korne Maize.”

“That’s lame.” Yvonne giggled from the back seat.  “They spelled corn wrong.”

“Shut up.” Isabelle glanced over her shoulder.  “It’s their name, idiot.  Isn’t that right, Bradley?”

Bradley Korne smiled.  “Uncle Danny thinks it’s funny.  He likes the puns, ya know?  Maize for maze was his idea too.  Just tell him you think it’s corny and he’ll love you forever.”

“It is corny,” Yvonne rolled her eyes and turned to look out the window at the golden stalks that lined the road.

“Corny is his specialty.  He’ll probably make some crack about seeing double when he spots you two.  Just laugh.”  Bradley laughed and swung the car under the shade of a lone tree in the parking area.  “That cornfield is his pride and joy, and his maze is a goodun too.  It’s gonna be fun.”

They approached the entrance, which was marked by some stacked bales of hay and pumpkins.   Isabelle hung onto Bradley’s arm possessively as they stepped across the threshold.

“I dunno about this.” Yvonne peered into the labyrinth of corn plants as she instinctively grabbed his free arm.  “It’s kinda creepy.”

“Nah,” He flexed slightly.  “It’s just a corn maze.  I’ve been through it a thousand times.”
“Yikes!” Yvonne jumped and squealed, clinging tighter to his arm while her feet danced in place.  “That was a snake!”

“Crap Vonn, grow up whydoncha. It was just a garter snake.” 

“Turn left,” Bradley instructed.  “I said left!” He repeated when Isabelle veered to the right. 

“Keep your eyes open girls.  I lost my dad’s ring out here last year.  It would be freaking awesome if we found it.”

“You should get one of those metal detectors.”  Yvonne suggested.  “I think my dad has one you could borrow.”

“Get a clue, Vonny,”  Isabelle snorted a little. “They plow these fields under before they plant ‘em.  Ain’t no way some silly ring’s gonna turn up like magic.  It’s gone.”  She looked sympathetically at Bradley and squeezed his arm.  “Sorry.”

They pressed deeper into the maze, their conversation continuing much the same.  Yvonne released her hold on Bradley’s arm, and she fell back, watching silently as her twin flirted and teased the tall, athletic farm-boy who’d brought them here.  He looked over his shoulder once, to make sure she was still there, and smiled and winked at her as though he could read her jealous thoughts.

She allowed the distance to grow, daydreaming in the warmth of the October sun, grateful that they had not come at night.  Then she realized that Isabelle and Bradley were gone.  She listened for their voices, but only heard the sound of rustling around her.  In a panic, she started to run, calling their names, turning blindly down corridors of cornstalks in a desperate attempt to find her way.  She was forced to stop abruptly when she turned a corner and faced a dead-end.  She spun and fell, a board in the ground shaking beneath her in a puff of dust when she landed.

Brushing some dirt aside, she found an old, hinged, plywood door.  A handle formed of a metal ring was centered along the edge, and hesitantly, Yvonne lifted it, shifting her weight to gain leverage until the door crashed open.  Stairs led downward, and with a hesitant look over her shoulder, she descended into the dank, dark room beneath the corn maze, battling a cobweb and flinging the spider who lived in it from off her arm.

A lone beam of sunlight pierced the room from the hatch, providing enough illumination for her to see that the walls were lined with thick shelves laden down with mason jars, all of which contained a clear liquid.

“Yikes!” She whispered in astonishment, and with a shiver, turned to go back up the stairs. In her haste, she stumbled, and as she caught herself, her fingers wrapped around a tiny artifact embedded in the dirt on the step.  She groped for the cold, hard thing, and found herself in possession of a man’s gold ring, which quickly found its way to her pocket.

Thirty minutes later, she emerged from the maze to find Isabelle and Bradley waiting by the car with mutually reddened lips.

“Where you been?” Isabelle demanded.

“I’ve been to the dark side of the cornfield,” she grinned at Bradley as she fished in her pocket, “where the moon shines. I found this.” She handed him the ring. “And I think I understand now, why your uncle loves his corn.”

Friday, June 29, 2012

Back to Writing Again

It seems that a plot will only buzz around in my head for so long before it forces itself out.  I find that sometimes, a slight delay in committing it all to words enriches what I write - it has been given time to ripen in my mind and develops a deeper, richer meaning from my pondering and reflection, but if I stall too long, yikes!  What a mess it is!  

I think a good analogy is frosting on a cake.  When the cake is baked, you have to let it cool for awhile before you add the frosting, or you wind up tearing the thing up.  Once it's cooled and you've frosted it though, LET IT BE.  If you keep going at it, the frosting texture changes, or the thickness becomes uneven or you break up the little crust that forms on the surface and then you get a weird texture and appearance.  You have to time it all right.

And the timing is right.  My daughter's wedding is over, and the plot for the second book in the series, Constant as the Sun has gelled enough to start assembling the cake that is the sequel.  Okay, I recognize that the cake analogy only goes so far, but I have had this happen before.  When the timing is right, it all just flows, and I am FLOWING again. 

One of the big changes from this story from the first in the series is that we are now on a completely separate timeline from the one Jane Austen established in Pride and Prejudice, and we'll be introducing new original characters.  There is a pretty intense string of events lined up already - Charlotte's wedding, Mary's wedding, an Easter trip to Pemberley and all of the soirees and balls of the London season must come and go before we can reach our conclusion.  I can promise just as many unexpected twists and turns in this story as you had in the last.  If you like fluffy romance combined with some suspense and surprise, I hope you'll join my other readers for this journey.  I plan to post regularly!

I'm excited this time around to have found two beta readers, Kris and Betty.  They'll help me work out the lumps in the icing (why am I so fixated on cake?)  I look forward to their assistance and expect it to enrich the writing experience for me overall.

The first chapter of the sequel, Constant as the Sun is now up on two sites:

To read it at Darcy and Lizzy, you need to be a registered member of the site, but FFN is an open site and you can read without registering.   Here is a brief description of the story:

When Elizabeth accepted Mr. Darcy's proposal of marriage, Mr. Bennet complicated his consent with a condition, known only to himself and Mr. Darcy. Elizabeth must spend the season in London, associating with the first circles of society as Mr. Darcy's fiancee. If Elizabeth is unhappy with the experience, Mr. Bennet will withdraw his consent. Will their love withstand the test?

I will be taking One Thread Pulled off of both sites in early July, so if you are reading it and haven't finished it yet, this is your heads-up to get it done sooner than later.  Of course, you will always be able to buy it from Amazon once it goes on sale there.  Anyone who buys a hard copy that would like it signed, I am happy to work that out.  Just sayin...


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Peace Gardens as English Country Garden

The book-cover is on it's way.  Yes...that book cover!  One Thread Pulled: The Dance with Mr. Darcy is the name in case you forgot it (or never knew it), and we are closing in on finalizing the last big obstacle to publication.

When I say closing in, what I mean is that we have had the photo-shoot - step one in the process.  The photographer, Elizabeth Taylor Frandsen, is a phenomenal talent - she's primarily a wedding photographer, so I'm lucky that she agreed to step outside her typical genre to help me with the image for the book cover.  The model in the role of Elizabeth Bennet is my own lovely daughter.  I dressed her up in a pretty empire-waist dress and styled her hair in a ringlet-y updo.  We brought along some fun Regency period props to play with.  I very much wanted a "real" person for the cover rather than stock photography.  I am so glad we went this route.

The evening was breezy, so her curls were tossed to and fro by the wind until her hair was a little mussed-up - just as I imagine Elizabeth's would be.  The park was bathed in the soft light of a spring evening.  We were at the International Peace Gardens in Salt Lake City.  The park is full of old trees and ivy-covered brick and stone structures, hedges, bridges, stone benches, and an arbor of wisteria in full bloom.  There are far too many architectural structures to detail, but I think this little spot is one of the jewels of our city, and it's free to the public!  It will have to do as an English country garden since it just wasn't in the budget to fly us all out to England.  

The book cover itself is to be a surprise, but as a teaser - just a little taste of what you might expect to see on the upcoming cover, I am going to share just a couple of images with you.  The first one has the title of this blog on it - the second is a sweet little sepia-toned photo of lovely Lizzy.  I hope these will help you share my excitement for the upcoming release of the book, which will hopefully happen sometime this month.  In the meantime, you can still read the story for free on or  

And yes, the sequel, Constant as the Sun is underway - I won't be posting it until after the wedding, but sometime this summer, the fun will begin anew!


Saturday, May 5, 2012

On Losing Weight

Today, I marked off pound number 60 of my weight loss journey, so I am going to talk about the weight-loss thing.  It isn't my favorite topic, but it is a part of my daily reality now that I have made health one of my highest priorities. 

I weigh 60 pounds less today than I did on June 18 of last year when I took the leap. For those among us who don't measure in pounds, that's 4.29 stone or 27.22 kilograms!  Nothing else in my life has changed very much except for when it comes to what I eat, how much I eat, and how much I move.  Oh... and my wardrobe.  I have been FORCED to buy new clothes.

I started off with a 6-day "cleanse" that I got from the Tahitian Noni company.  The other new tools in the arsenal I started out also came from the FIT line they offer.  Protein powders, snack bars, vitamins, probiotics and a fiber-filled lemonade drink that helps you feel full and keeps things, um, moving.  They also offered some guidance on calorie restriction and exercise.  UGH!  There is no magic pill or powder that will ever remove the  diet and exercise part of the equation.

I knew that if I was going to be 'all in' on this venture, I had to give the calorie restriction a try.  I have always resisted the idea of counting calories - it was just too hard.  I'd taken a brief stab at it years ago, and had a dictionary size paperback calorie guide that I had used to look everything up.  To be honest, it was a huge pain to manage, so I gave it up fairly quickly.  This time around however, I was the owner of a new iPhone, and I thought that I might be able to find a calorie counting app that would assist me in tracking the calories.  I thought correctly, and downloaded the free My Fitness Pal iPhone app.  Unlike many of the other free apps I had downloaded, this one didn't have advertising, and it was powerful, easy to use, and had cool tools I liked, as well as a companion website with even more features.  I have always been a sucker for FREE.

I had some products, that although gimmicky did help me feel equipped to do this thing, coupled with an application that made tracking my diet and exercise simple.  It was a good start, but it was my determination that actually launched the venture.  Had I not been firm in my resolve to do it this time, I would have given up the first week - it was so hard!  I was hungry and in pain all the time.  I had started walking for exercise, but it made my feet hurt so badly that even a short walk made me feel like a cripple.  I would slather my feet with Aspercreme just to get them to stop spasming and throbbing. 

I decided to try the treadmill since I could stop walking whenever I felt like I needed to.  10 minutes at a 1.5 incline going 2.0 mph and I was dripping sweat and panting like a dog on a hot day.   Yes, that's incredibly out of shape.  Once I got up to 30 minutes on the treadmill, I tried walking outdoors again, and with the aid of a lovely parkway that has benches I could rest on when needed, I eventually built up to a route of 3.1 miles. It was many months before I could walk it without rest-stops, and many pounds before I realized that my feet no longer hurt at the end of a walk, but I am there now, and I LOVE walking, especially outdoors. 

I set my target weight to something in the upper range of a healthy BMI, and on day 1, I had 117 pounds to lose in order to achieve that weight.  I am generally an optimistic person, but I must admit to being pessimistic about the possibility of losing that much weight, yet it seemed self-defeating to set my goal for something higher.  If I was going to do this, I should at least aim to be healthy, right?  My goal weight just happens to be the same amount I weighed on my wedding day 30 years ago.   I have 57 pounds to go until I reach that weight.  

Somewhere along the way, my pessimism has evolved into certainty - I know I can do this.  I don't care how long it takes me to get there, as long as I am making progress toward it, I will be fine even if it takes me years to get there. I think that I finally became okay with that thought the day I accepted that I will always have to be mindful of what I was putting in my body, and that I will always have to make it a point to get up and move.  I'm cool with that.

So in the end, the key to weight loss turned out to be:  Eat less.  Move more.



Friday, May 4, 2012

Marrying Off a Daughter

I hope that I am not a great deal like Mrs. Bennet, but I do have one thing in common with her - we both find ourselves in the enviable position of marrying off a daughter.  In her case, she took it upon herself to seek husbands for multiple daughters - I have but one daughter, who is to be married this month, and there was no 'seeking' on this mother's part.  She met him at church. 

I find myself contemplating their story and their relationship, and recently I realized that when I consider these events through the lens of Jane Austen, I find just a little bit of insight I believe, into Mrs. Bennet's motives and behavior.  Just a little.

I understand for one thing, why Mr. Bingley's amiability and charm was so appealing to Mrs. Bennet.  None of us have a crystal ball with which we can discern the future, so all we can do to gain some assurance of future happiness and felicity in the marriage of a child is to examine the personality and character of the prospective mate as markers of the probable outcome.  Mr. Bingley seems to be everything she hopes for in a son-in-law.  He is financially secure, he is pleasant, he is handsome, he is generous.  One does not observe him brooding or having fits of temper.  He is incredibly patient with his own sisters, and obviously allows the one sister who is still dependent on him financially a great deal of latitude in her expenditures.  None of this is lost on Mrs. Bennet - or Mr. Bennet for that matter.  Mrs. Bennet sees nothing but fancy clothes, jewels and carriages in her daughter's future - obviously things she values, perhaps because she is deprived of them herself.  Mr. Bennet on the other hand, predicts financial trouble ahead when he jokes that they will always exceed their income.  While it is treated lightly in the book, the truth is that he has observed a character flaw in Mr. Bingley that concerns him.  Indebtedness is never a good thing.

Mr. Darcy on the other hand, has but one positive in the eyes of Mrs. Bennet, and that is his wealth.  I find it interesting that although she values riches very highly, she fairly quickly rules Mr. Darcy out as a contender for any of her daughters.  She harps on his pride, how cold and disagreeable he is, and she snubs and cuts him on every occasion, barely tolerating his presence.  I think perhaps that she feels inadequate around him, and supposes that he is judging her - and in reality, he is doing exactly that, and she gives him plenty of negative behavior to feed his judgement.  Her only recourse is to judge him back.

So, when I look at my own future son-in-law, what do I see?  I see that he makes my daughter happy.  I see that he is kind, he is intelligent, and he is not the least bit shallow.  He is reserved, he is funny, he is sweet.  He is not rich, but he is well-educated and careful and wise with money, so I do not worry on that score - I suspect my daughter will ultimately enjoy a higher standard of living than she was raised with.  He is not perfect, but he is a good and wonderful man.  In the end, I think that is what we all want for our daughters.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

On Needlework, Bonnets, Fans and Lace

Having spent the better part of the past few days immersed in embroidering on a handkerchief and trimming it with lace, decorating a fan and making up a bonnet, I have realized that I was perhaps born in the right era after all.  Actually, I never doubted that I belong to this era - I am rather attached to flush toilets, disposable hygiene products and Tupperware among other things.  

I actually found the embroidery relaxing, although the skin on my fingertips is terribly torn up from the needle, and I am feeling quite critical of my work - thinking of unpicking and redoing it, but I know that sometimes that just makes it worse.  I recognize that I don't sit for hours perfecting the craft - in fact I haven't embroidered in years - but I'm afraid it would take many more hours of practice before I would be truly accomplished again.  The handkerchief I embroidered and added lace to represents the handkerchief in my story, and has the "ED" motif that delighted Mr. Darcy when he discovered it.  I'm hoping we can find a way to work it into the cover art for the book.  The handkerchief really is lovely even though the stitching isn't perfect.

The poke bonnet was fun to make.  I had to literally dust off my sewing machine though.  It was sitting unused in the bottom of a closet for a couple of years now and the outer case was incredibly dusty.  I worried that it would give me problems after not being used for so long, but the old Vigorelli was up to the task although she does need a good oil job and probably a tune-up - that will have to wait for another day.

I used the instructions given on this video to make the bonnet and added some style elements of my own.  I'm not entirely pleased with it though - I learned some lessons along the way but hot glue, while fast and easy, is not always forgiving.  I can also relate to Lydia's fussing over the bonnets not being quite right and wanting to make them over again.  When we do the photo shoot for the book cover of One Thread Pulled,  I'll have some nice photos of my projects to share here, but till then, I will be leaving it up to your imagination.

I might just have to have another go at the bonnet - it only took a couple of hours, and didn't require a lot of materials, so it was pretty cheap to make compared to some other projects I've done.  But what will I do with two Regency-era bonnets?  I had my daughter try it on, and her fiance took one look at her and inquired as to whether or not she would be needing a pacifier.  Not exactly the compliments I was hoping for.   For the snarky comment he gets the bad Darcy award for the day as in "selfish disdain for the feelings of others."  He's forgiven though - I'm pretty sure he was joking.  

And now, for my one complaint to those of you who have stopped by to read.  I'm getting a good bit of traffic on the blog, but no comments - not even one.  It's pretty much crickets.  Now I am not the type to coerce anyone to  do anything, but I am beginning to get a complex.  For my mental health, I would be obliged if someone said something.  



PS - I am unpicking and re-embroidering after all.  Sometimes I'm a perfectionist and sometimes I'm not.  It's pretty random.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Power of Putting it Out There

One of the great things about Pride and Prejudice is the incredible insight Jane Austen has into human nature.  Her characters sparkle - they remind us just a bit of people we know, and maybe even a little bit of ourselves.  It is their motivations however, that I find myself reflecting on over and over again.  Especially when it comes down to the concept of the self-fulfilling prophecy, of the declarations we make interacting with the universe to somehow to deliver us that which we most desire.  If you pay close attention early on in the story, you can have no doubt about what is to come, for almost every character clearly lays out what they want.  These people put their hopes and dreams out there in a big way, and for the most part, they came true.

Elizabeth wished to marry for love, but for him to be a man of means who would take her without concern for her lack of fortune.
Jane wished for a man who was amiable, and who would give her family some degree of financial insurance against the looming disaster of the entail.
Mrs. Bennet wised to marry off her daughters, and marry them off to rich men.
Mary - oh, she is a tragedy.  She wished for things of course, but she never really said them aloud, and so her fondest dreams were relegated to nothingness.  She didn't put them out there!
Lydia - wished more than anything to marry an officer.
Mr. Bingley - wished to establish himself in society, and find himself 'an angel' of a wife.
Mr. Darcy - wished to marry Elizabeth Bennet.
Mr. Bennet - wished for peace and quiet.
Mr. Wickham - wished to be Darcy's brother.
There are more, but you get the idea.

When you think about it, the universe really did deliver!  Consider Mr. Darcy's wish to marry Elizabeth Bennet.  It begins as a simple attraction, but somehow, through coincidental forces, she shows up again and again, as though she is being served up to him on a silver platter - to torment him at first, but eventually he falls in love with her.  In proposing to her, he puts it out there - clumsily, badly, puts it out there.  Even though he blows it in round 1 however, he gets a second chance when once again through a coincidence of proximity and timing Elizabeth is literally delivered by the Gardiners to his very doorstep - his home turf!  Score a point for the universe.

Now I know of course, that these are fictional characters in a fictional story and that Jane Austen contrived every single bit of it, but it is surprising to me how often I have experienced this phenomenon in my own life.  Our words - the ones we audibly speak - have a powerful boomerang effect and they can come back to us in surprising ways.  Give life to your dreams - utter them aloud - shout them, repeat them and then watch for the universe to deliver opportunities for you to act on.  Don't forget to use this to serve your fellow men - lots of blessings flow when the desires of our heart are pure.

It's a beautiful day when our dreams start to come true!


Monday, April 16, 2012

Peace in the Promise of a New Day

The daily rising of the sun is perhaps as close to magic as we get on this earth. I'm talking about those minutes when soft rays of light pierce through the darkness of night to cast a whisper of dawn on a misty, dewy world.  The birds herald the day, but we often miss these precious moments, head down in our pillow, our mind lost to a dream.

Today, I launch a little blog in anticipation of a joyful event that is soon to dawn, soon to make a debut in the world.  It's not likely to be noticed except by those same persons who hear the warbling of the morning songbirds, but it a magical moment for me - I will soon publish my first book, which is in the final stages of preparation before I spring it on the world.  

It all started as a lark, this writing thing.  One day when I wasn't feeling well, I discovered Pride and Prejudice fanfiction.  After reading two and a half works by other people, I decided on a whim to give it a whirl as a way to get back into writing - for my own pleasure.  I discovered that others took pleasure in what I was writing as well, and (hopefully) sometime in May 2012, my book "One Thread Pulled" will be available to the masses.  Well, it's actually available to the masses today if you know where to look - but not in book form yet.  

Sunrise at Pemberley (my blog) debuts today - there will be lots of obsessing about Mr. Darcy in the coming posts, but I will cover other topics too - never let it be said that I have a one-track mind!