A Man After My Own Heart


August 1983

In honor of our Valentine’s Day party at Austen Variations, I thought I’d share a special story from my own real life romance. It’s about the oft dreaded “meet the parents” experience.

As with many couples, my husband and I met because we worked for the same company in California. After we had been dating several months and were beginning to get serious (yes, I know that’s fast), Norm had to go to New York on business. His family lives in Michigan, and so he planned to take the Friday night red-eye to Detroit, visit with his family for the weekend, and then continue on to New York on Monday.

My family lived about an hour south of the Detroit airport in Toledo so somehow we came up with a plan for my parents to also go to the airport to meet his plane. Then Norm along with his parents and mine would go out to breakfast together. This seemed like a perfect plan. Since he was clearly becoming very important to me, I had been wishing I could introduce him to my family.


The Sign Still Hangs in Our Room

Upon hearing about these plans, several of our friends at work started kidding around about how my parents would recognize him when he came off the plane. Those were the days when you could still actually go to the gate to meet arriving passengers! Norm laughingly said that he would be the guy carrying the slide projector, but that wasn’t good enough for our friends. They made him a sign to carry that said “I (heart) Susan” so my parents couldn’t miss him.
Much to my astonishment, he was all in favor of the sign but said he’d have his hands too full (the projector to show recent vacation photos, the briefcase, etc.) to hold the sign. They responded by attaching a red ribbon to the top corners of the sign so he could wear it around his neck.

Now up until this point, I had thought it was just a big joke, but when I discovered he actually planned to wear the sign, I was in shock. I told him if he wore that sign I would die of embarrassment. His response? “You won’t be there!”


Our 30th Anniversary – August 2013

So my sweetheart flew off to Detroit, wore the sign as he came off the plane, and won the hearts of my parents who thought any guy who would do that must be pretty special and must really love me! Needless to say, he received their stamp of approval. The breakfast with all the parents was successful and not too long after he returned to California, we decided to get married. But that’s a story for another time!

(This story is adapted from another blog post from about two years ago, but I thought it was worth revisiting!)

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Austen Variations

AVA-badge-2-e1390713940174Please join me at my new home – Austen Variations! The focus of this new group blog will be on group and special writing projects. We’ll also have excerpts from Works in Progress, free fiction from participating authors, and more opportunities for interaction between readers and authors. The Reader’s Choice story I’ve been participating in, The Darcy Brothers, has moved there, too.

This spring we’ll be starting the Persuasion200 Project which is a retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion in real time. What does that mean? If the story was “real” it would have begun 200 years ago this spring. We’ll be adding all the scenes Austen never wrote following the timing of the original story. If you join us, you’ll read scenes from before the story began such as Anne and the Captain’s first courtship and naval scenes from Wentworth’s career, scenes that were omitted, and existing scenes from different points of view. Plus we’ll have historical background of the times.

You can follow us on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter (@JAVariations), too.

I will still be maintaining my personal author blog here in addition to my contributions to Austen Variations.


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Pride and Prejudice: Scenes Jane Austen Never Wrote

It’s here!  The P&P200 Project has been published as a book. It’s in ebook format and also print.

This is not a novel. It is a unique collection of the back stories of Pride and Prejudice. What was Darcy thinking when Elizabeth and Jane left Netherfield? What was it like at Longbourn as the sisters prepared for the Netherfield ball? Did Jane forget Mr. Bingley when he didn’t return?

On Sale January 8th to 11th!



For the answers to these questions and much more, get your copy today. It’s on sale for just $0.99 from January 8th to the 11th. That’s a bargain. The book is over 700 pages long. It’s designed so you can read cover to cover or just the chapters that interest you. Mr. Darcy’s Proposal is also part of this special sale along with books!



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Please, Mr. Darcy – Cover Reveal!

While I’m toiling away on completing the book, I wanted to share the new cover of Please, Mr. Darcy with you. It’s so beautiful! The story of how I found this photo is quite interesting in itself. I had wanted to use another old portrait from the Regency period but couldn’t find just the right one. So many have already been used by other authors! I used Bing to search for something like “Regency dresses” and was directed to Flickr where I found a page called Hathaways of Haworth. Further digging revealed that the photos were of costumes designed by Lyn-Marie Cunliff who also has a storefront on Etsy called Abigail’s Ateliers.

The photos on Flickr show amazing costumes from many different historical periods including what I was looking for – Regency. I found several possibilities and contacted Lyn to explore obtaining permission to use one of these on my cover. I was thrilled when she said I could do that as long as I gave credit in the book – which of course, I am very happy to do!

Next, I sent several of the possible photos to Leslie Newman, a designer I’ve known for years and who did my first book cover (which I’m still in love with). The result is this lovely unique cover that is so different from my first book. It looks fresh and inviting and I’ve received so much positive feedback on it!

You’ll find an excerpt from Please, Mr. Darcy on Writings and Ramblings of Colette Saucier.

I’m hoping for a release in late December or early January! Now back to work!

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Coffee With Colette Saucier

Today, I’m having coffee – or in my case tea – with Colette Saucier on her blog, The Writings and Ramblings of Colette Saucier. She’s convinced me to share an excerpt from my work in progress, Please, Mr. Darcy.

This story is full of humorous misunderstandings many of which are related to Caroline Bingley’s attempts to sabotage any relationship between Elizabeth Bennet and Darcy so that she can secure him for herself. It’s been lots of fun to write because we all love to hate Caroline. Georgiana also plays a significant role as she tries to play matchmaker and bring her brother and Elizabeth together.

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The Darcy Brothers – A New Reader’s Choice Story on Austen Variations

Austen Variations have started a new Reader’s Choice story called “The Darcy Brothers.” What if Fitzwilliam Darcy had a younger brother? It’s an interesting idea that we’re going to explore with some help from our readers. At the end of each chapter, readers will have the opportunity to vote for one of several possible directions for the story. Sound like fun?

His name is Theophilus Darcy or Theo. He’s a younger son and not at all like his brother Fitzwilliam. In fact, he sometimes refers to his older brother as Prince William or simply His Highness. You can see he has a sense of humor!

This time we’re also using other social media. Theo has his own blog where his correspondence is posted. You can sign up to “follow” Theo’s blog so you’ll receive an email every time a new letter is posted. You can also make comments and ask questions. Several of the authors involved in the project will be writing Theo’s letters and responding to comments left by readers.

The first letter was to his dear friend, Sir Montgomery Preston. Theo also writes regularly to his little sister, Georgiana so you’ll see letters to her on the blog, too. Theo has his own twitter account (@Theo_Darcy) if you would care to follow him. Other characters in the story will also have twitter accounts and will be tweeting from time to time.

The first Reader’s Choice story which began earlier this year and ended in September was a great success not to mention lots of fun. The story took some unexpected twists and turns thanks to our readers! Please join us and follow the exploits of Theo Darcy. Here’s a link to the first chapter.

The authors contributing to this project are: Abigail Reynolds, Maria Grace, Monica Fairview, Cassandra Grafton, Regina Jeffers and yours truly, Susan Mason-Milks.

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An “Austenesque” Lunch

Left to right: Me, Christina, Meredith, Katherine, Laurel, Shannon

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Meredith Esparza, who writes the blog Austenesque Reviews, to let me know she would be in Seattle over Labor Day weekend and would like to meet some Austen-related authors in the Puget Sound area. Would I be interested in meeting her? Yes, of course!

I contacted Laurel Ann Nattress (Jane Austen Made Me Do It and creator of Austenprose blog) and Shannon Winslow (The Darcys of Pemberley) and suggested we meet at my house in Seattle as it is centrally located. It also seemed like it would be more fun and relaxing to meet at someone’s home rather than a restaurant. Along the way, we also added Christina Dudley (The Beresfords) and Katherine Reay (Dear Mr. Knightley) to the party. Everyone contributed something yummy to the potluck lunch.

Coconut Cake

Of special note was Laurel’s made-from-scratch coconut cake! Wow!

A few of us had met before, but none of us had met Meredith in person. I guess having a love of Jane Austen in common made getting to know each other easy. There was never a lag in the conversation. During lunch, we each told about how we “met” Jane Austen and how we came to write an Austen-inspired book. It was fun to hear everyone’s stories – so different and yet so similar!

Sunflowers from Meredith

Several hours later, we parted knowing each other much better and also feeling inspired to go home and get busy writing!

For more about our lunch, here’s a link to the write-up on Christina’s blog.

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