Jul 11 2017

A most difficult and delicate issue

Hard to spot and harder to stop, emotional abuse often slips under the radar.

In Mistaking Her Character, I ended up tackling the issue of an emotionally abusive family relationship.  I say ‘ended up’ because I honestly can’t say I set out to deal with the topic when I started the book. The entire family dynamic I had envisioned when I started ended up turned upside down and a far darker, more complex one emerged as several emotionally abusive characters moved to the forefront. Their behavior was so subtle that my readers were the ones that pointed out to me how abusive the characters were.  This goes to show how very difficult emotional abuse can be to identify.

Emotional abuse is a difficult and often misunderstood issue. Very often, neither the abuser nor their victim recognize the abusive nature of the relationship. To both of them, it is just the way things are. Often the abuser never learned healthy coping mechanisms for the normal challenges of healthy, positive relationships. They respond to the normal ups and downs with an offensive pattern of verbal threatening, bullying, and criticism, with more subtle tactics like intimidation, shaming, humiliation, isolation, and manipulation thrown into the mix for good measure. The goal, conscious or not, is to control and subjugate the other person into obedience and even dependence in the relationship.

Although verbal and emotional abuse does not leave physical marks like physical abuse, its victims often assert that physical abuse would have been easier to bear because then, they and others around could more easily have recognized that abuse was happening. As the abuse continues and the emotional wounds deepen, abuse victims feel so emotionally unsafe that they begin to doubt their own feelings and abilities, their senses, opinions, memories, and even their judgement.

To prevent negative reactions from their abusers, they will refrain from expressing their opinions and wants, leading to increasing feelings of vulnerability, and insecurity as they are trapped and powerless against the emotional control of their abuser. They become hypervigillant, guarding against anything that might trigger a bad response from the abuser as they accept the maxim that they are at fault for any and everything that disturbs their abuser. In the long run, depression, anxiety disorders and even post-traumatic stress disorder can result.

Abusers often share in a set of common characteristics, often beginning with having been abused themselves or witnessing abuse in their family of origin. Not all abuse victims or witnesses go on to be abusers themselves, though. Abusers often have explosive tempers, fed by possessiveness, jealousy and an intense desire to control the other person.

Abusers tend to have low self-esteem and extremely rigid expectations of relationships. The other person and only the other person must compromise to meet expectations. More difficult still, the abuser projects blame for their own bad mood or behavior on the other person. They are never at fault, only the other person. Despite all this, they are able to project a very charming and likeable persona to the world around them.

Many behaviors qualify as emotional abuse. These may look normal, even innocuous in a one-off situation, and in truth, they might be excusable if they were to happen only on very rare occasions. However, one of the things that makes them abuse is the frequency with which they occur.  Abusive behaviors include (but are not limited to) verbally abusive speech like name calling, putting the victim down with constant criticism, yelling and screaming, and intentionally embarrassing the victim in front of others. 

Abusers often seek to control their victims, isolating them from friends and family, determining what they may or may not do, even what they might wear. Abusers frequently blame their own anger and bad behavior on the victim—‘if you didn’t make me so angry…’.  If the victim does not capitulate, the abuser may progress to threatening to damage or destroy the victim’s possessions, to harm the victim or people the victim cares about, or even commit suicide themselves. The list goes on, but taken together, the abuse leaves the victim feeling helpless, powerless, worthless, and wondering if they have any worth apart from their relationship to the abuser.

Consequently, recognizing and breaking free from an abusive relationship is very difficult. Chances are, if one is wondering if their relationship is abusive, there is a good chance it is, especially if friends and family hate the way one’s significant other treats them.

Can an abuser change? Very, very rarely, if there is a very deep commitment to change and to an accountability system, like a therapist or group, that will help them along the way. But an abuse victim should not rely upon the abuser’s promises to change. Ultimately, most victims find that leaving the relationship is their only option to stop the abuse.

If you believe you might be in an abusive relationship, here are some online resources that may be of help:

Out of the Fog 

Love is Respect 



Jul 08 2017

Reason #65 Why writing takes so long

#65 It’s Rude to Watch Someone Bathe



People ask all the time, how long does it take to write a book. I always reply it depends on a great deal of things–many of them things one would not expect might interfere–unless one has cats, and then it all makes sense.

I mean, really, who else would bathe sitting on top of your desk? Who else but a cat would plop down in the middle of your work surface and then invite a buddy to come over and wash behind his ears?

And the final straw? They look so adorable in the midst of it  all?

The nerve! The audacity! The pomposity!

Who else but a cat can achieve that level of arrogance? I swear they are proud of themselves to boot!

I wish I could be annoyed, but gosh darn it, they are so cute. Then the purring starts…

Who can get anything done under those circumstances?

Yeah, there’s a reason we currently have more cats than people in the house.

And guess who just jumped on he desk…




Jul 06 2017

Heir of Rosings Park Chapter 13

Heir of Rosing Park iconMary examines her options…and herself.


Find additional chapters HERE

 Chapter 13

Her cheek burned where he had touched her. She pressed her palm to her face, but even the cool touch did nothing to alleviate the sensation.

Insolent, arrogant, disagreeable man. ! How dare he touch her like that, uninvited?

Family he might be, but truly this was too much. It would be entirely proper, even justified for her to demand her things be packed and she leave. Perhaps that might even teach him something about propriety and restraint. She was not the kind of woman he was accustomed to, if he thought that was appropriate treatment.

Was this the beginning of what Charlotte feared might happen? No, that was too much to believe, even of him. He had not been suggestive or demanding in any way. Only tender and considerate.

But Charlotte would argue that is what he would want her to believe, in order to lure her into … something.

Granted, he did not fear Darcy, but neither was he so callous that he would intentionally do something to hurt his closest friend and cousin. No, this was not about seductions, just the lack of appropriate boundaries.

But those were important. Perhaps she should indeed go.

But where would she go? After Fitzwilliam’s show of dominance, she could not return to the parsonage, at least not so soon. And even if she did, Collins’s temper would be worse, if anything, not better.

She squeezed her eyes shut as the echoes of Collins’ voice and the sharp smack of the back of his hand across her cheek seared through her. She blinked back the burning in her eyes. No, this was not the time to rehearse those memories. Foolish girl.

Why should she be so fragile now? He was not the first man to treat her thus … and he might not be the last, but his hand had been unexpected. She had been guarded at home, but fool that she was, she had dropped her defenses here. Without time to prepare herself, steel herself against the outburst, it affected her as Father never had.

Must put that out of her mind now. She needed a few moments to gather herself for the next trial.

Lady Catherine proved tired and a bit whiny, like a child in need of a nap. It required only a little encouragement to take to her rooms for a rest. It seemed almost too easy.

Mary returned to her chambers, asking not to be disturbed until dinner. Would anyone honor the request though? It seemed likely; who was left that had not already visited her?

She paced the perimeter of her room and the adjacent dressing room. The rooms were pretty, in a garish sort of way, larger and better appointed than any she had ever enjoyed before. Would it really be such a trial to stay here now?

No. But that was not the point. Not at all.  She pumped her fists at her side. How dare Fitzwilliam take away all her choices? What right had he to make decisions for her? Imperious, pretentious, domineering popinjay. He did not deserve to win this hand.

She fell into a small chair near the dressing room window—a rather lumpy affair with a particularly hard bump right in the center of her back. If only she could escape Rosings as Lizzy had.

But how could she?

Lizzy had not managed her escape alone. Far from it. Long Tom and Ames, Parkes, the Gardiners, Darcy; they all took up for her and came—quite literally—to her rescue. True enough, she had earned their regard with everything that she had done for them; that was her doing. But without their help, she would have been victim to Lady Catherine’s machinations.

Lizzy was fortunate.

A chill spread from the top of Mary’s head all the way to her toes.

There was no one to rescue her.

No one. If she were to run from Rosings this moment, no one would notice until they needed something from her.

No, that was not fair. Michaels would notice. No doubt, he would.

But what would he do?

When Lizzy went missing, Darcy turned into a desperate madman, nothing would get in the way of his search for her. He had to be all but tied down not to go out sick, in the rain to continue his search. He was a force of nature who would stop at nothing, absolutely nothing, to find and protect the woman he adored.

Such intensity was not Michaels’ way. A precise, well-ordered man, he would do things with planning and control. To be sure, he would search for her in his own way. He was far too loyal to allow her to disappear easily.

She wrapped her arms around her waist. But how long would he continue to look? How persistent would he be if she proved difficult to trace?

Enough! Enough! He did not deserve such doubt!

She pushed herself to her feet, nearly knocking over the chair. Blast and botheration! It struggled within her grasp  her as she fought to steady it.

What point was there in driving herself to misery with such thoughts? Comparing Michaels to Darcy was as ridiculous as comparing herself to Lizzy. It was foolish.

But how could she not compare herself to the one person who had what she most wanted …

She clutched her temples and groaned. Of course, she would have to admit that now, too. One more ugly truth. Yes, Lizzy had what she wanted, but what was that precisely?

 To be loved passionately? To be recognized as strong and competent? To be respected? To have the power of choice? What was it really that she was looking for?

And did she have any right to hope for it when she was so plain and ordinary and had little hope of being otherwise? No one had ever told her differently. Heroines were all beautiful, gay and sparkling. Like Lizzy and Lydia.

And now she had a headache. A thundering, skull-shattering, knee-weakening headache, a battle of Napoleonic proportions playing out in the confines of her skull.

She staggered to her bed and threw herself headlong upon it. What perfect justice to be meted out for her uncharitable thoughts.


So, what do YOU think Mary really wants? Tell me in the comments.

Don’t miss the first two books in the series:



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Jul 04 2017

Mistaking Her Character Giveaway

Lady Catherine will do anything to stop Darcy from marrying her – even if it means Elizabeth will lose everything she loves.

Comment on this post for a chance to win an ebook. 

Mistaking Her Character


Dr. Bennet owes his livelihood to his patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, but his headstrong daughter Elizabeth thwarts the great lady at every turn. For the sake of his patient Anne de Bourgh, Elizabeth is forgiven–until she refuses to turn her back on Mr. Darcy.


From Chapter 2

Lady Catherine loomed in the parlor doorway, her features gathering into her darkest, most menacing scowl. “A word, if you please.” She turned on her heel and disappeared into her lair.

Elizabeth dropped a small curtsey and rushed into the parlor to brave the dragon in all her fury. If only she had remembered to bring her sword in her workbag.

Lady Catherine ascended her throne, a stony mask of creases, gnarls and shadow firmly in place.

Was that the scent of burning sulfur in the air?

“Your ladyship?”

“You think I am ignorant of what you are about, young woman?”

“I have not the pleasure of your meaning, madam.”

“None of your cheek here, girl. I know. Oh, I know.” She shook her finger toward Elizabeth. “You have ambitions beyond your station, beyond all propriety and decency.”

“Excuse me?” Elizabeth grabbed the back of the nearest chair to shore up her liquid knees.

“It is written upon your face—clear in that indecent display I just walked in upon.”

“Mr. Darcy?” She gasped. “You assume far too much. I only met him yesterday.”

“Entirely long enough to form designs upon his person and fortune. You spurned Mr. Collins—I am sure—in the hopes of someone of greater consequence whom you have now found in the person of my nephew.”

The upholstery tore a tiny bit beneath her fingernails. “I assure you, madam, I never considered such a thing. Mr. Collins and I … our temperaments are so different, we could never have made a good match. I am convinced he has a much happier situation with—”

“Are you suggesting happiness may be found in disobeying me?”

“By no means.”

“Then turn your attentions to Mr. Wickham. He studies at the Inn of Courts—.”

“He does not, nor is he likely to, having offended a very influential member.”

She flushed puce.

That could not be healthy.

“Where do you come by this information?”

“Mr. Darcy—”

Lady Catherine slapped the arms of her chair and heaved to her feet. “What were you doing talking to my nephew?”

“We met on the road this morning.”

“While you were driving, unchaperoned, as I have expressly forbidden.”

Her shoulders drew up and she tucked her elbows close into her sides. “Yes, your ladyship.”

One, two, three steps. Lady Catherine stood so close their skirt hems touched. She waved her bony finger under Elizabeth’s nose. “I will make this very plain to you, young woman, so that even you, in all your cleverness, cannot pretend to misunderstand me. Darcy is for Anne. From their cradles, they have been promised to one another. It was the fondest wish of his mother and me. No upstart like you is going to interfere with those plans.”

“What am I compared to Miss de Bourgh?”

“What are you—exactly! Exactly! But do not play coy with me.” She circled Elizabeth, a hungry cat stalking a bird. “We both know you have arts and allurements to distract him from his duty to his family. You have no delicacy, exposed to the basest things of life—of men.”

How did one respond to such raving? Perhaps best not.

“Have you considered why I have been trying to find you a match? Even with your connection to me, few decent men will ally themselves with a woman like you. Despite your youthful airs and arrogance, I have had—and will continue to have—your best interests in mind—unless—” She stabbed her sharp finger into Elizabeth’s chest.

Elizabeth jumped back.

“—unless you insist on preying upon Darcy. You are not his equal and would bring shame upon his name and all his family.”

“Shall I leave Rosings?”

“No, Anne requires your presence. I will not deny her any comfort, no matter how little I fathom it.”

“Then shall I ignore him? Turn my back as the servants do when he approaches?”

“You are not … not … a servant.”

“How am I to behave?”

“With every civility, but nothing more.”

“As you wish, your ladyship.”

 “I will be watching you, Miss Elizabeth. Do not think you can escape my notice if you disobey. Now leave me.”

She curtsied and strode away, fists balled so tightly her arms shook.

Two steps into the corridor, Mr. Darcy blocked her path. She stopped short and barely held back a tiny shriek. How tall he was, towering—or was that, hovering over her.

“I hardly know what to say, my aunt—”

She raised an open hand. “Pray forgive me, sir, but I am truly in no state for conversation at the moment.”

“Will you speak with me later?”

“I do not know, sir. Excuse me.” She curtsied and hurried away.


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Jul 01 2017

Book Sale and Cover Contest

I’ve got big two announcements and I’m so excited, I hardly know where to begin!

My fantastic, amazing, wonderful cover designer Rebecca Young has totally knocked it out of the park with the new cover for Pemberley: Mr. Darcy’s Dragon. I’m not the only one who noticed! The incredible folks at Indie BRAG noticed too and selected the new cover as one of the finalists for their 2017 Cover Contest!

Voting on the cover contest starts today. Would you take a moment and support my awesome cover artist by voting for the cover over at indieBRAG? Click the image below to head over there. But come right back, there’s more good stuff! 

–I just discovered you’ll need to scroll down to the bottom of the first screen and click ‘Next genre” to get to the frame where Pemberley:Mr. Darcy’s Dragon is listed.  Thanks!

The semi-annual book sale for Austen Variations is going on right now! Lots of wonderful books reduced until July 3! Don’t miss out!















I’ve got five books on sale right now, including Pemberley: Mr. Darcy’s Dragon.

The links below point to Amazon but sale prices are good on Nook and Kobo too.

.99 Books

1.99 Books


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