There are three ways that I put foreshadowing in what I write.

1. I have it planned before I write the scene. Sometimes it is planned before I write anything. Obviously, I plan to have Darcy and Elizabeth together when I start a book and can put foreshadowing anywhere. In some cases, I know from the very beginning what is needed for other threads in the book.

For example, in The Long Road to Longbourn I knew from the beginning that Darcy and Elizabeth would successfully get to Longbourn. I also knew that Wickham would be with them at least part of the way and the two men would reveal their real characters while traveling.

When I started writing, I didn’t have anything specific in mind as to what would happen that would enlighten Elizabeth. I wanted to make Darcy very much the gentleman, but not a superman. I didn’t want him to singlehandedly fight a dozen men and win, nor did I want him to  turn some random items into a gadget that saves them all. I wanted him to triumph because he was an intelligent, fit, caring man, who did what he had to do to protect Elizabeth.

2. I foreshadow while I’m writing the scene, but I don’t yet know the details of what I am foreshadowing.In More Than He Seems, I put something in very early without knowing exactly where it was going. All I knew was that a certain character would be a bad guy. So, I wrote a few lines that foreshadowed, well, something. I wasn’t certain exactly how it would fit in, but it became vital later on.

But sometimes I put something in which I don’t use, and it seems either irrelevant or awkward. In that case, I make use of the delete key.

3. I put foreshadowing in after I put in what I foreshadowed. I’ve decided that the book should go in a certain direction well after I’ve written much of the book, so I look back to find a place where I can foreshadow it. It may be a matter of just adding a few lines, but it might mean some significant rewriting or even writing new scenes.

Summer and I are currently working on To Catch a Poisoner, which should come out within a month. The first scene I wrote took place at the Netherfield ball. Later, I went back and added two scenes to the beginning, and Summer added a third scene that I had referred to with few sentences. Those three scenes were needed to explain the Netherfield ball scene. When I started writing, I had no idea of how I was going to explain the situation at the Netherfield ball.

One thing that may surprise readers is that authors don’t always want to surprise readers. In Pride & Prejudice and Planets there is a revelation near the end of the book. A reviewer said, somewhat contemptuously, that they did not think that anyone would be surprised at that revelation. I wanted most readers to be unsurprised. Sometimes I’m not after a reaction of “What a surprise” but a reaction of “I was expecting that.”  In this case, there we provided too many blatant clues to be missed by astute readers.

There is an example of this that has become a cliché. When in a novel, a woman is annoyed with a man, readers often correctly guess that the man will be the hero, not the villain. Yet annoying the heroine does not make a man the hero. In Pride and Prejudice, I doubt anyone ever thought Mr. Collins would be the hero. At least, I hope not.


I like to consider all possibilities when thinking about a plot for a Pride and Prejudice variation. Here is one I considered, but will not use, because I can’t figure out where it goes from here.


Darcy and his cousin, Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam, entered Rosings Park for their usual Easter visit. Darcy expected his only pleasure would be in the time he spent with Richard and the use of the beautiful grounds of Rosings. His and Richard’s mutual aunt was not a pleasant companion, but family duties took precedence over pleasure.

Aside from his aunt’s desire to dominate conversation, one anticipated ordeal was Mr. Collins, who was his aunt’s rector. Darcy had met Mr. Collins in Hertfordshire and did not think he would enjoy his sermons, nor would he enjoy any interaction with Mr. Collins. But duty was duty and even long Easter services could be tolerated.

As they walked up the steps, Higgens, Lady Catherine’s butler, told them, “I was ordered to have you come to the principle drawing room immediately upon your arrival.”

“Surely, we need time to freshen up after our journey,” Richard asserted.

“My orders were ‘immediately.’”

Darcy and Richard exchanged a glance. Richard shrugged and they headed for the principle drawing room. “Bad news?” Darcy anticipated.

“Lady Catherine stubbed her toe,” Richard replied, deliberately using their aunt’s title.

Lady Catherine was not in her usual chair. Instead, Mr. Collins was. She was next to him. Darcy and Richard both looked from one to the other. Mr. Collins announced, “Welcome to Rosings. My wife and I are happy to see you.”

Lady Catherine did not look happy.

Announcing Besieged Heiresses by Renata McMann

Besieged Heiresses

Elizabeth didn’t expect to be wealthy, and certainly didn’t expect the problems it would create. However, she rapidly discovered that she wasn’t the only one with both the wealth and the problems.

Darcy was given an irresistible incentive to handle her financial affairs. Because of their financial relationship, he would be taking advantage of her if he courted her. But she not only needed his help with her money, but she also needed his protection.

Besieged Heiresses is available as an eBook alone or as a paperback book which also includes Why Wed? and Is Esteem Enough? The three books will soon be available as an eBook at a slight savings over buying them all separately.

This Pride and Prejudice variation novella is about 34,000 words long.

Using A.I. in Books

A.I. can create beautiful images.

Except the woman’s hand does not look quite right.

For my book, Becoming the Enemy, I thought it would be fun to illustrate it with A.I. images. (Becoming the Enemy is science fiction and not a romance.) I found it very frustrating because it took many trials for me to find what I could use. I decided to create some examples to show some of the problems.

For the fun of it, I tried the prompt, “Darcy and Elizabeth.”

Elizabeth is shorter than Jane and Lydia. Darcy is tall. Are Jane and Lydia as tall as Darcy? Is Elizabeth standing on a stool?

Here are two pictures, out of four, I got using the prompt, “A regency era woman wearing a gown with a high waist standing in front of a table.” (Yes, I know “Regency” should be capitalized, but I don’t think the computer cares.)

She isn’t standing and her dress is not high waisted.

She is standing, but not in front of the table. Her gown is not high waisted.

None of the gowns were high waisted. Perhaps A.I. doesn’t understand “high waisted.” So I googled “empire waist” and got, “An empire waist is a style of clothing where the bodice is fitted and ends just below the bust.”

I used the prompt, “A regency era woman wearing a gown with an empire waist walking briskly with a dashing gentleman in a garden.”

This does not look like a couple walking briskly. Also, I don’t think Regency women would wear their hair down like this.

I was never able to get a high waisted gown.

Here is an image I used in Becoming the Enemy despite the rather weird left hand the woman has. Daisy is a minor character, but I think I would have mentioned it if she had such an unusual hand.

I was hoping no one would notice the hand.

My prompt was, “Two men and two women playing cards in the Regency era with a militia lieutenant observing.”

Where are the observer and the second woman?

In the following image, I think the man’s right hand appears twice and I’m not certain what is going on with the woman’s left hand.

I’ve been asking for four images and only using one. For my last example, I’m giving all four. My prompt was, “A carriage with matched bay horses is driving through Regency London.”

This doesn’t look like it will work.

I’m not certain what is attached to what.

It is customary with one horse to put it in the center. Also, having one horse simplifies the problem of finding those that match.

Is there a carriage? What is the horse on the left attached to?

Perhaps A.I. will take over many jobs, but it still needs some work.

I hope you will try reading Becoming the Enemy where I was able to get pictures I could use.

Becoming the Enemy – Prologue

Becoming the Enemy will be published sometime in February. There is no romance in the book. None. It is a post-apocalyptic, science fiction story.

A devastating war killed most of Earth’s population. A few of the survivors resolved that they would repopulate the world but do so in a way that would ensure that such a war would never happen again. How could they avoid future violence when they couldn’t eliminate it in the present?

Sandra would have liked to step aside and let others make decisions. The others were senior citizens and probably would be wiser than she was. However, her pregnancy gave her a greater stake in the future.

This short novel (about 46,000 words) describes the aftermath of the deaths of most of humanity. Although it was inspired by Renata McMann’s and Summer Hanford’s Pride & Prejudice and Planets, it contradicts that book in many ways.

There are A.I. illustrations in the book.

When his connection died, Ben closed his laptop and put it in his backpack. He headed out with his backpack and suitcase, wondering if they had waited for him. They had. Alice’s SUV was at the door. Ben’s, James’, and Daisy’s cars were still in the parking lot. Ben had never seen the parking lot so empty.

The back of the SUV opened invitingly, and Ben stowed his luggage. As he was doing so, he asked,“No one else?”

“They didn’t believe me,” Alice said. “They think I’m a crazy old lady with delusions.”

Ben didn’t think it would be wise to comment that believing her was the only strategy that had a chance that he would be alive in a week. He did voice one practical thought. “Shouldn’t we bring another car in case of problems?”

“It’s too easy to get separated. The roads will be crazy.”

Everything was crazy. Why should the roads be an exception?

As Ben was getting in the SUV, James said, “Dying for a cause can be praiseworthy. Dying for a lost cause is stupid. No one will care that you stayed at your post until you lost connectivity.”

“Ben cares,” Daisy said.

Yes, Ben did care. He still expected to die along with the rest of mankind. Alice’s safe place was so unlikely that he could easily consider it to be a delusion, no matter how reasonable she had been in the past. But the man, who is dying of thirst in a desert, still crawls toward what he perceives as water, even if his rational mind knows it’s an illusion.

A slight hope is better than no hope.

Pride & Prejudice and Planets Images

Long before eBooks, I read a library book with no dust jacket. I had a vague image of the heroine in mind. Later, I saw the cover illustration and my reaction was that the picture on the cover wasn’t the heroine. Using an AI program, Summer Hanford has been trying to create images of the characters in our forthcoming book, Pride & Prejudice and Planets. Although the images are nice and don’t contradict the book we have written, they aren’t my characters.

Wait a minute. If the images aren’t the images of the author of a book, aren’t they wrong? Not really. There are two of us and I could happily live with the images being Summer’s images. But the AI program Summer is using doesn’t read minds. The words used don’t perfectly translate into pictures. I doubt that the program could find the perfect Darcy or the perfect Elizabeth.

Jane Austen never described Jane Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. We know she was more beautiful than any of her sisters, but we don’t know the shape of her face or the color of her hair or eyes. We know she was shorter than Lydia and heavier than Elizabeth, but that isn’t helpful in knowing what she looked like. Jane Austen left that to our imagination.

Perhaps we should have left character images to readers’ imaginations, but the AI images are fun, and we decided to share the fun with our readers. Feel free to say to yourself, “That is NOT Darcy!!!” You will be right. Summer did not get the AI to do exactly what she wanted and agrees with that sentiment.

As a teaser, a picture of Georgiana is included since I doubt that anyone will be too offended if their imagined version of Georgiana isn’t the same as the illustration.

A portraite of a young woman with dusty blonde hair. Her face is narrow and she has a smattering of light freckles. We can see the collar of her white button down shirt. She's in a rectangular frame with imaginary planets at each corner.

Statement From Renata

Summer Hanford, my co-author, has just published Once Upon a Time in Pemberley, a Pride and Prejudice variation she wrote without me. She apparently wanted the fun of making up the plot.  I offered to read it pre-publication, but she reasonably said that she would be too inclined to feel she had to follow any suggestions I made. 

Large Print Books

Summer Hanford and I have made To Fall for Mr. Darcy and After Anne available in large print.

I live in a large independent living community. The residents vary from those who are still employed to those who need help from aides or spouses. There is more than a forty year age gap from the youngest to the oldest resident. Not surprisingly, many people here are not computer literate, especially those over ninety.

But computer literacy does not mean people necessarily prefer eBooks. Many love the feel of a book in their hands. I understand that. I have spent too many pleasant hours with books not to love the physical book. But when traveling meant not being able to pack enough paperbacks, I saw to it that my kindle was well supplied. As my eyesight deteriorated, I embraced larger fonts, so I wouldn’t need reading glasses. And as someone who loves words, I liked being able to put my finger on a word and get a definition. I no longer keep a dictionary nearby when I read.

An additional problem is that I am a person who rereads. Sometimes I will open a book to reread a certain scene. I’ve read Pride and Prejudice completely through at least eight times, and I read many scenes much more often. Thus, I want to own books I’ve loved. But downsizing meant limited shelf space, so I had to make choices. A college roommate, majoring in library science, told me that shelf space is more expensive than books. I don’t think that has changed in the intervening years.

Summer Hanford and I don’t expect many sales of the few books we’ve put in large print, but we hope to expand the availability of some of our books to a few more readers. Thus, for those who have followed a different path than I have, we are offering two more large print books.

To Fall for Mr. Darcy Cover Reveal

I write the first draft of the books Summer and I publish together. I don’t plan a theme for the books, but sometimes one occurs. This happened in To Fall for Mr. Darcy. Five characters: Elizabeth Bennet, Mr. Darcy, Lydia Bennet, Georgiana Darcy, and Anne de Bourgh all made choices that had repercussions. All faced the consequences of their choices. Elizabeth’s actions caused her to marry Mr. Darcy, a man she knew nothing about. I don’t think it will surprise anyone that both Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy learned to be very happy about those choices.

Cover Reveal

Darcy’s Other Letter

Darcy’s Other Letter

Darcy’s explained his actions to Elizabeth in a letter. The letter mentions another letter Darcy wrote, one he wrote to Wickham. In Darcy’s letter to Elizabeth, he wrote about Georgiana planning to elope with Wickham. Darcy then wrote:

I joined them [Georgiana and Mrs. Younge] unexpectedly a day or two before the intended elopement, and then Georgiana, unable to support the idea of grieving and offending a brother whom she almost looked up to as a father, acknowledged the whole to me. You may imagine what I felt and how I acted. Regard for my sister’s credit and feelings prevented any public exposure; but I wrote to Mr. Wickham, (emphasis mine) who left the place immediately, and Mrs. Younge was of course removed from her charge.

What did Darcy say in that letter to Wickham?

Darcy probably didn’t offer Wickham money, because he would end up paying again and again. Also, the offer of money would involve making an offer, negotiation, and agreement. It is not suggested that any of these things happened. There was a single letter mentioned, and it is unlikely Wickham left a forwarding address. What Darcy certainly didn’t write was that Georgiana had told him about the planned elopement. That would have been stupid, since Wickham could sell the letter back to Darcy for a large sum.

Darcy could not depend on Wickham keeping silent for Georgiana’s sake. This is confirmed to the reader by Wickham telling Elizabeth, “I wish I could call her [Georgiana] amiable. It gives me pain to speak ill of a Darcy. But she is too much like her brother–very, very proud.” Wickham only valued himself, not others

One possibility for the other letter is, “I’m here. Go away.” Aside from the likelihood that Darcy could never write a letter that short, what would he accomplish by it? Even if Darcy arrived late in the evening with tired horses and thus no ability to leave immediately, he would have at least two servants, possibly more. His servants could be instructed to turn Wickham away, and Darcy could leave with Georgiana in the morning.

It would be more satisfactory to pack up Georgiana and take her with him. If he ensured Mrs. Younge and the servants left too, it would give Darcy some satisfaction imagining Wickham arriving to an empty house. The household almost certainly had a carriage and Mrs. Younge and at least some of the other servants could leave in it. Even if he felt the need to stay a while, why inform Wickham? What Darcy wanted to accomplish was to physically separate Georgiana from Mr. Wickham and ensure that the intended elopement was kept secret.

Wickham hated Darcy. One thing he could easily do to hurt Darcy was publicize the truth: Georgiana had agreed to elope with him. The downside of this is that it would put Wickham in a somewhat bad light. But Georgiana (and thus Darcy) would be hurt more. The only credible reason I can come up with for Darcy’s confidence that Wickham would keep silent was that Darcy knew that Wickham valued his image so much that he would give up the opportunity to hurt Darcy a lot if he hurt himself a little.

When writing More Than He Seems, where we made Wickham a hero, I consciously changed this. Instead of a letter in More Than He Seems, in the aftermath of the non-elopement, Darcy and Wickham had a conversation. It was partially done for the dramatic impact, but also done because I had no idea what Darcy said in the letter. Summer probably kept it in because of the dramatic impact. In More Than He Seems, Wickham was not planning to elope with Georgiana, but Georgiana, Wickham, and Mrs. Younge all lied to Darcy for their own reasons.

Despite having solved the problem of Darcy’s other letter for our book, I still wonder what Jane Austen thought was in that letter.