The West Yet Glimmers: The Lord & Lady Baugham Stories Blog Tour with Authors Gail McEwen & Tina Moncton & Giveaway!

The West Yet Glimmers, by Gail McEwen & Tina Moncton (2012)Please help us welcome today authors Gail McEwen and Tina Moncton during their blog tour of their new novel, The West Yet Glimmers, the third book in their Lord & Lady Baugham series.

Originally inspired by Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice, the series started as a “what if” variation of the classic and then developed into a new story with its own unique plot and characters. I read the first book in the series, Twixt Two Equal Armies, and enjoyed it immensely.

Writing three books is an incredible accomplishment, but I was even more in awe of how two writers who lived on two different continents could collaborate and write together. I asked the ladies to share their story and a bit about their latest novel, The West Yet Glimmers. Enter a chance to win signed set of the trilogy to one lucky winner and three individual Kindle Copies to three winners. Details of the giveaway are at the end of the post.

Welcome Gail & Tina!  

The Art of Ping Pong

Hi, Gail and Tina here! Laurel Ann has graciously invited us to contribute a blog article to talk about what we do, and why and how we do it.

The ‘what we do’ part is easy. We are the writing team responsible for the Lord and Lady Baugham Stories – Twixt Two Equal Armies, Love Then Begins, and the recently-reviewed-on-Austenprose, The West Yet Glimmers.

The ‘why we do it’ is equally simple—we have fallen in love with our characters and their story and we can’t help ourselves.

And then when people ask us, ‘how is it to write as you do, together?’ the answer is really also very simple, it’s the best thing in the world! Sure there are plenty of other things to do with our time, and the truth is, we often get caught up in those other, urgent matters—family, school, work, life. This can go on for a while, but if too much time passes, the itch to write goes painfully unscratched and we find ourselves looking around and wondering why we’re feeling so cranky.

Twixt Two Equal Armies, by Gail McEwen & Tina Moncton (2010)We previously blogged about how we met through the wonders of the internet and a mutual love of Jane Austen: To Begin our Posting with the Beginning of our Posting… but the simple most important thing is that, in finding each other, we were both blessed with just the perfect writing partner. And by perfect we mean someone who shares a passion for the same things— interesting and well-crafted side characters, finding out who and what the Baughams are through writing about them, attention to research and getting to know your subject, whether it’s Regency time policing, seaside holidaying or the geography of London—as well as each of us bringing our own special traits to this common experience: Tina has a muse that lives on a commuter train, Gail’s muse hides in the shower. Tina is relentless in her insistence on historical accuracy, while Gail is like a dog when it comes to meticulous read-through. On top of everything, we are both quite hopeless when it comes to incessant editing, re-writing and second guessing of a draft. It’s a wonder we ever manage to finish anything!

Some things, however, we don’t want to put “The End” to. Case in point: our latest book, The West Yet Glimmers. Originally, the story of Holly Tournier and Lord Baugham was not supposed to go beyond the meeting, the courtship (if you can call it that) and the inevitable risky plunge into married life together—the story of Twixt Two Equal Armies. But when we got that far, we realised it was not enough. “We should be careful never to imagine, that the wedding-day is the burial of love, but that in reality Love Then Begins…” It was true! We weren’t finished with them by a long shot! We wanted to know more, write more and follow them as a married couple on their road together, because by that time, we knew them well enough to understand that their road would by no means be smooth or perfect, but would be terrific fun to explore.

Love then Begins: The Lord and Lady Baugham Stories, by Gail McEwen & Tina Moncton (2012)And that is where the art of Ping Pong comes in to play! Actually, that’s how we’ve done most of the dialogues we’ve written and much of our writing and plotting, as well as this blog post. We send the text back and forth, adding and perfecting, playing around and, best of all, surprising the receiving party with a new twist or turn that takes the characters and story onwards and upwards and beyond what we could possibly achieve on our own. As with all games, there are a few rules. Okay, one rule: There’s no room for ego in tandem writing. If your partner in the game changes something you wrote, moves it around or even removes it completely, don’t let yourself feel injured or put upon. Because 99% of the time, she’s improved upon it. And, in the case of that 1%, don’t be afraid to speak up and say “I really liked that bit. Can’t we keep it?” She will usually see the error of her ways and comply. (Does that count as another rule? Or maybe it’s a promise?)

We keep each other accountable, give slack when life gets in the way of progress, or a kick in the pants when it’s just laziness or complacency holding one or the other of us down. We inspire one another. We are great friends. And we think we make a pretty good team.

That’s the art – and the fun! – of Ping Pong.

Many thanks to Gail & Tina for joining us today. I hope you are inspired to continue the adventures of Lord & Lady Baughham.

Author Bios

It was a shared love for Jane Austen and a fascination with the world she so vividly portrayed in her novels that brought the international writing team of Gail McEwen and Tina Moncton together. Meeting on an internet chat board devoted to Miss Austen, they soon discovered, despite living on opposite ends of the globe, they had quite a bit in common—not the least of which was a mutual frustrated passion for writing—and what began as a virtual acquaintance quickly blossomed into a true friendship.

When they began to experiment with writing together, they chose a path somewhat different than might be expected from such ardent fans. Rather than explore the what-if’s and variations possible within Austen’s existing works and much loved characters, Moncton and McEwen introduced two new players to navigate the Regency world of Pride and Prejudice alongside Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. This experiment was so successful and satisfying that it led to an entire series of P&P companion books.

Gail is a married mother of four and grandmother of two. In real life she lives in a small mountain community in California, works in accounting and still wonders how an English major ended up in the unexciting world of numbers and calculations. Tina is a married mother of three. Her real life is in the metropolitan area of Helsinki, Finland and though she would rather make her living out of writing about Lord and Lady Baugham, she works in the equally idealistic world of non-profit NGO’s. You can find Gail and Tina at their blog: Two Perfect Scheming Wenches; or contact them on the Meryton Press Facebook page.

A GRAND GIVEAWAY!

Enter a chance to win one of three digital Kindle copies available of The West Yet Glimmers or a signed set of Lord & Lady Baugham trilogy to one lucky winner by leaving a comment asking the authors a question about their books or writing experience, or what intrigues you about reading an Austenesque “what if” story, or Regency-era historical romances by 11:59 PT December 26, 2012. Winners will be announced on Thursday, December 27, 2012. Print book set mailed to US addresses only. Digital copies available internationally. Good luck to all!

The West Yet Glimmers: Lord and Lady Baugham Stories, by Gail McEwen & Tina Moncton
Meryton Press (2012)
Trade paperback (312) pages
ISBN: 978-1936009121

© 2012 Gail McEwen & Tina Moncton, Austenprose

39 thoughts on “The West Yet Glimmers: The Lord & Lady Baugham Stories Blog Tour with Authors Gail McEwen & Tina Moncton & Giveaway!

  1. If you had to swap homes who would be more of a “Fish out of water” ? Tina in a small mountain town in California or Gail in Helsinki? And – would you be able to continue writing if you had to switch or would it be too traumatic to continue writing?

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    • I’ll have to let Tina speak for herself, but as far as I’m concerned, I think it would be me. Notwithstanding the language barrier (which would not be a problem for my brilliant partner), I don’t do well in crowds and big cities. Also, being from California, I’m used to a LOT of sunshine, even in the mountains, and I don’t think I’d manage the dark months of Northern Europe well.

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    • Hi Agnes! Goodness me, what a sneaky question! The obvious answer would of course be that both of us would be just fine as long as we had the other one at the other end of the world! Right now, though, I’m willing to declare Gail the potentially most waterless fish of the two of us because here it’s been snowing for two weeks straight,we’ve had 25 inches of new snow over the weekend and only have about 6 hours of daylight to enjoy it! As for the writing, since it really is an escape and a lifeline in our normal lives, I think it would not be threatened at all. I sometimes think that the writing we do, lives in its own universe in some sphere somewhere in between where we physically are. We really do meet in “the middle”. Hard to explain, hard to analyze, but a lovely state to be in!

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    • I quilt and attempt to garden. Tina is an avid knitter. I think I can speak for both of us when I say that as enjoyable and fulfilling as those things are, nothing can touch the feeling of looking back on something you’ve written when you can say to yourself, “Wow! That’s really good!”

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    • We-ell, I seem to find some sort of refuge in the lovely, soft, woolly world of knits and knitting. Not surprising, perhaps, considering the winter climate around here! Gail does absolutely amazing quilts! The great thing about these particular creative outlets is, of course, that writing is quite a solitary pursuit and you can be much more available to your bustling family when it’s just your hands that are busy. Oh, and handicrafts make you smart, did you know that? But sometimes I think juggling family and work and having time for yourself is the most creative pursuit of all!

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  2. Hi Agnes! Goodness me, what a sneaky question! The obvious answer would of course be that both of us would be just fine as long as we had the other one at the other end of the world! Right now, though, I’m willing to declare Gail the potentially most waterless fish of the two of us because here it’s been snowing for two weeks straight,we’ve had 25 inches of new snow over the weekend and only have about 6 hours of daylight to enjoy it! As for the writing, since it really is an escape and a lifeline in our normal lives, I think it would not be threatened at all. I sometimes think that the writing we do, lives in its own universe in some sphere somewhere in between where we physically are. We really do meet in “the middle”. Hard to explain, hard to analyze, but a lovely state to be in!

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  3. I love the idea of writing a what if story. There are so many possibilities. I always end a book and start thinking what if or what happened next. Usually because I’m so reluctant to let go of the characters. Is this how it happened for you?

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    • It was! That is the lasting value of a wonderful reading experience, isn’t it? A luxury! And, to me, the lasting proof of an author’s ability to create real characters and a compelling story that reaches across time and space.

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    • That is most definitely how it happened – and it was the search for more about Jane Austen’s characters led to us finding each other on a message board. It took some time before it occurred to us that, instead of waiting for someone else to come up with the ‘what-ifs’, we could just do it ourselves. And the rest, as they say, is history.

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  4. There are so many wonderful quotes by classic poets and writers like Dunne laced throughout your stories and even titles– how do you find such perfect quotes or pieces… Do you have a personal preferance in a poet?and one more –who would you choose to play Holly n David in “the movie” version?

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    • I have to confess I like classic English poetry because it is like a beautiful riddle. Like a labyrinth. Something you have to put your mind to and that will open up if you work on it. I love poetry for the exact opposite reason I love spontaneous, real-sounding dialogue. It is the art of thoughtful articulation v. the honest human emotion. And maybe that is why Donne makes to through to so many of our stories. He’s beautifully articulate but gloriously human. And ever so slightly naughty, which can only be to his credit!
      And the movie… Lately I have considered letting Tom Hiddleston attend the never-ending audition process for the part of his lordship. The part of Holly is much tougher! Especially since I’m much more willing to spend my time giving young, blue-eyed young men my attention even if they might be quite inappropriate for the part of Lord Baugham.

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    • When we first started writing, we made a kind of game out of putting a random literary reference in the mouth of one character and waiting to see where the other would take it. That’s how we discovered that we both loved and knew the great old poets. And I must confess that the practice of inserting quotes in a conversation or chapter heading gives me the perfect excuse to spend hours (probably far too many hours) in the happy pursuit of just the right line.

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      • Forgot to answer the movie question… While Tina plays Miss Fickle and is willing to audition any number of handsome young men for the part of his lordship, my heart is irrevocably set on Mr Rupert Penry Jones in the role. I couldn’t picture anyone more perfect.

        I haven’t found anyone yet who is Holly to me – I know what she looks like, but I haven’t seen her in real life yet. We would be very interested to hear who our readers think Holly and David should be, though.

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  5. I like to read variations because I wish to know how the same characters that I read about are put into different situations and how it affects them and the story. Will they still stay the same or change as a result of this? There are endless possibilities to this question which really open my mind.

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    • I agree whole-heartedly with your analysis, Luthien. And when you have strong characters that basically stay true to themselves, as a writer it makes for an experience, which is very educational! But as I said, it requires strong characters that carry the story instead of the story carrying them. That’s the challenge, which we’ve also let seduce us into writing (unpublished) stories for our own amusement setting the characters of Lord and Lady Baugham in as diverse settings as 1068 Britain, 1768 America and 1968 California!

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    • The possibilities are definitely seductive – some of the best and most fun times we’ve had writing together have been when we should have been working on one thing, but have suddenly been captured by an idea that we simply could not resist. Usually it happens like this:

      We are in the midst of finishing up one story – doing the clean up, making sure all the commas are neatly in place and filling in whatever needs to be filled in–you know, the boring stuff–and one of us will say, “You know, once we finish this, wouldn’t it be fun to put Holly and David in the middle of…” and the other will say, “Oh! It would! But we really need to finish this first.” and we dutifully work on it until one of us goes to bed. Then, when that one wakes up the next morning, the beginning of a chapter of that fun, new idea has magically appeared in her inbox! She can’t help adding to that beginning, because, after all, it’s a brilliant idea, and we’re off!

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  6. I really do love this series–or at least, the summary since I haven’t yet been able to read it! :) So my question is: What made you decide to write a variation, but yet with different main characters–did it make you more free to write what you wanted without being tied to all the P and P characters and personalities?

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    • I hope you get the chance to read the whole series, Katie! It’s a labour of love which we are happy to share.

      The seed to the characters of Lord and Lady Baugham was our desire to create friends we quite selfishly felt Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet should have. It always bothered me that Darcy seemed to have friends that were not quite his equals, or he didn’t view them as such. Mr Bingley is most probably a wonderful friend but if he falls in love with the headstrong, obstinate Elizabeth, I should think he would value male company that challenged him in the same way. Hence Lord Baugham! And Elizabeth has Jane and Charlotte but they are both from the very small circle of around Meryton and we so very much wanted for her to have some lifeline out into the greater world (besides her obvious relationship with the city dwellers, the Gardiners) where her intellect could be challenged, too. And then, you see, we were completely seduced by the idea of Mr Bennet having a sister with a “past”, a worldly aunt. Who wouldn’t want a worldly aunt!? And off the whole story went and the gallery of characters expanded and exploded and the excitement in all of this was the freedom to develop a world with new characters that were at our command, and yet at the same time, the fascination with trying to keep the original characters in this new world was irresistible.
      So, trying to answer your question (I realize I got a bit carried away…); yes, the freedom was what seduced us but there is definitely a commitment to the original characters that we want to honor. To be honest, it’s not Darcy and Elizabeth who inspire us anymore. Holly and Baugham are “our” kids now and we write for and about them. They are the ones who pull and push us along. But P&P is our godparent. If it hadn’t been for that book, Jane Austen’s genius, we would never have met, let alone so happily started writing together.

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    • Writing variations that feature original characters has certainly been a mixed-blessing. There is a certain amount of “baggage” that comes with writing such well-known and well-loved characters as Elizabeth and Darcy. The characters have become so real to us that as readers we approach a story with firm notions of just how they would act, or feel, or think. Using original characters carries none of that weight, allowing us the freedom to let our creations grow and develop without pre-set expectations.

      Then again, readers come to Darcy and Elizabeth stories already knowing them and their back stories, they already like them, and they are automatically interested in their story. Conversely, original characters are sometimes viewed with suspicion… can this story possibly be interesting if it isn’t about D&E? So we have to make them interesting, create their back story, know them inside and out, and do our best to make them worthy of inhabiting Miss Austen’s universe.

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  7. I love the idea of ‘shared writing’ because I think it doubles the opportunities. But what are the challenges of having two captains on the ship?

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    • Ah, but you see, our captains are really our characters! Just kidding…but only slightly. Yes, there are challenges and even difficulties. But they are far outweighed by the benefits.

      In the beginning, when we were still trying this model on for size, I guess we had a tacit understanding that Gail wrote more Holly and I wrote more Baugham and that there was a sort of right to veto the other one on what and how they wrote the other. But that soon stopped. Sure, we debate reactions and motivations but that’s half the fun of writing. It’s the organic growing of a story and a plot that spurs us on and the impact of the other writer is too important to be picky about.

      I guess it depends on what kind of writer you are. Do you have a vision, a compulsion to write down what you see and feel and the kind of story you want to tell or are you someone, who likes for the story “to tell itself”, to see it grow, follow where it takes you. In such a case a writing partner can only be a good thing because she inspires and helps you just as much as the personal vision you are trying to follow. Sometimes the other one throws an unexpected twist into the mix and there is nothing better than to sit down, hit the keyboard and try to work with that!

      And when the occasion demands it, we compromise. I think it’s safe to say that we need each other and in such a case, small disagreements are irrelevant. The most wonderful proof is that when we read our old texts, we can’t remember which one wrote what. *We* wrote it.

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    • Honestly, when you think of how much of oneself is tied up in one’s writing, it is surprising we hardly have disagreements. I think our best protection against that is, we never know where we’re going until we get there. We don’t outline our stories, and I can’t remember ever starting a story with a firm idea of how it ends. So if one of us takes it in an unexpected direction, we’re happy to follow and see where it leads.

      We were lucky, too, in that once we started writing stories in earnest, we allowed the other to meddle in our work right from the beginning. This established a pattern of “we are writing our story” instead of “this is your bit and this is my bit”.

      And Tina is right, once we clean up the vagaries of spelling and punctuation, we don’t think anyone, not even us, can tell who wrote what.

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  8. Nobody in literary history has spawned as many sequels, prequels, and mash-ups as Jane Austen. How do you collaborate and plan whether you are creating a story before, after, or combining Miss Austen’s works? There must be some sort of framework that you begin with prior to putting pen to paper (‘fingers to keyboard?’) Thank you for sharing your gifts with us mere mortals who would love to write but don’t have any original ideas! I hope this makes some sort of sense….

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    • That’s the funny part, Jeffrey. There never has been a framework. One will start something, send it to the other who adds to it, and as we said in the post, we Ping Pong back and forth until we come out at the other end with a complete story. The extent of our planning is, “Hm, now that they’re married, how do you think they’re getting along? Let’s send them to Lord B’s estate and see what happens.” Or, (ike in the next book in our series) “What do you think their life in London will be like, and what is Holly’s mother up to these days?”

      The secret must be that, by this time, we know the characters so thoroughly, that we just have to follow them through the circumstances we put in their lives and see what they do. It sounds crazy, but it works for us.

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    • I would say the framework are the characters – both original and our own. When crazy ideas fly into our heads it’s really the characters that decide whether or not it’s a writeable idea or a doable plot. Which means they can do illogical but never implausible things.

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  9. This trilogy looks a really exciting read which I shall have to add to my ever expanding to read list.My question is what made you choose Scotland as the place to send Elizabeth and Darcy? Did you both come to Britain to research the places?
    Thank you for giving us the chance to post questions.

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    • Oh Ann, I tried and tried to remember, WHY Scotland, but I can’t remember! Perhaps it was far away enough from Hertfordshire?

      As for the research, unfortunately we have not had the pleasure of that pretext to go to Britain…yet. I have there traveled some, both before and after we started writing together, although not to do any research as such. Although in March 2006 (heavily pregnant, I might add), I did go on a business trip to London that allowed me just enough time to sit for about 10 minutes on a bench in Berkeley Square and imagine what it would have looked like 200 years earlier and which of the houses would have been his lordship’s! I have to say though, it was easier to stare at the U.S. Embassy building and wonder what on earth went through the mind of the (Finnish American!) architect Eero Saarinen when he was designing it than get anything useful for our stories. But there you go. Your imagination and the Internet are fabulous friends!

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  10. I am intrigued that these are more a series of Austen inspired stories, rather than Austen derived stories. I like that these books seem to be independent of P&P once past the initial set- up.

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    • Thank you! Yes, I think you define what actually happened with our writing very well, indeed. It’s a bit of a strange half-way-in-between world but we like it!

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  11. I’m reading “Twixt Two Equal Armies” and especially love the descriptions of Rosefarm Cottage. Did you model it on any particular real or imagined location?

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    • I think I would be lying if I said no because surely after having spent decades watching British period dramas, Miss Marples and the like, the idea of a cottage called Rosefarm in the Scottish Boarders must be based on some real image somewhere! But more specific than that I’m afraid is impossible.
      P.S. I’m glad you are enjoying the book!

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