The Making of Time & Tenacity, Part 1: Why Mr. Farnsworth Had to Die

When I was a little girl, the only thing I loved more than Disney movies were those specials on the Disney Channel about the making of Disney movies. I’ve always been fascinated by how things are made, so it’s probably understandable that I’ve always liked to talk (and talk some more) about how my own creative works came to life. As I await the final(!) proof of Once Upon My Mind, I thought I’d give you a little peek into the process behind my first published book, Time & Tenacity (which, incidentally, you can totally buy the second edition of now! Makes a great holiday gift!)


Death seems like a gruesome way to start off this short behind-the-scenes special, but I’m starting with it because one of the first things I decided and stuck with since wondering one night “What if Pride and Prejudice ended with Mary or Kitty Bennet running away with the Doctor?” was that Mr. Bennet’s Time counterpart had to be dead when the story started. His death, as hypothetical as it is the entire time in Pride, is the Sword of Damocles that hangs over the entire proceedings, and one of the first things I wondered was what would happen if Mary/Kitty (one of my other early decisions was to composite them into one character, Jane, so I wouldn’t have to marginalize either of them) was still unmarried when Mr. Bennet moved on and Mr. Collins moved in to the Bennet house.

The rest of Jane’s circumstances were somewhat different, at first. The character who ultimately became Lady Jennings, in this original version, was Mrs. Farnsworth, Jane’s mother, but just as malicious and partial. (Basically Mrs. Bennet with her redeeming qualities stripped away.) Edward, in this version a composite of Bingley and Collins, was the distant cousin who had inherited everything (more Downton Abbey than Jane Austen, I know.) While he didn’t turn Jane and her mom out before her dear dad was cold in his grave, he and Cassandra were a bit too distracted by their own affairs to take proper care of them. Eleanor wasn’t even in the opening chapter when I introduced Jane’s family at all, being at her Pemberley counterpart lying-in. Isabella was pretty much the same as her current boastful, impetuous version, however! Jane would have gone travelling with Riley around various points in time without any of them.

I threw this version out after a few months after realizing even with the change of names and certain circumstances, I was making all our beloved Pride characters absent, aloof, or jerks to make Jane more sympathetic. Also, a plot comprised entirely of loosely-connected episodes of Jane travelling in time didn’t really have a larger purpose or even much of a Austen-esque “feel”. It took reading a sweet Pride sequel to help me realize any retelling of Pride without utilizing more of the wide cast of characters we love so much like Lizzy, Darcy, Bingely, Jane, Bingley, Georgiana, Bingley (ha ha, take a wild guess who my favorite character is), and even Lydia was empty and lifeless.

But even in this new and much improved version, poor Mr. Farnsworth was dead. I can’t really explain why, since in the published version there is still a Mr. Bennet-like figure in Sir Francis. I suppose I was still interested in exploring the consequences of being an unmarried, fatherless woman (or women, since in this case all four Farnsworth girls are left behind at first) in a world where she would have very little resources or opportunities to take care of herself, much like Jane Austen was for a significant part of her real adult life. (Also, like the real Jane’s father, my fictional Jane’s father ended up being a clergyman.)

Mrs. Farnsworth had to be removed from the picture too, for reasons that are obvious to anyone who’s made it to Chapter 15 of Time (and that’s all I’m going to say about that for now!), so the cruel matriarch figure quickly became Lady Jennings. Be sure to follow this blog to learn more about Mrs. Farnsworth’s story and how the other characters, including their names, came to be. If there’s anything about the making of Time & Tenacity that you’re curious about, please let me know in the comments!

Once Upon My Final Release Date Change (Really!)

October is almost gone (got my fairy wings ready for Halloween!), and as you have probably noticed, there were no updates on Once Upon My Mind as well as none of the bonus content from Time and Tenacity I promised.


I have been working on Once since 2003 and when it came time earlier this year to get it ready for publishing, guess what: I found about fourteen years’ worth of continuity errors and inconsistent characterization. I have my dear friend Cara to thank for pointing out some problems were much more extensive than I realized. With Colbie Gray Books being such a small publishing house (as in, entirely made up of my awesomely hard-working family and me), it took a lot longer than I expected to make the changes while still working my day job and making sure Georgie, Jane, and Lizzy weren’t living in squalor.

I am very close to making all the fixes needed, but I need just a little more working space. So for what I promise is the last time, I am delaying the release on Once Upon My Mind, this time by one week to Tuesday, November 14th. While you will have to wait one week longer, I promise the results will be a much more satisfying experience than if I just threw everything the way it was in Scribus and called it a day. I still haven’t forgotten that there’s a surprise for you as well, plus another very special one you’ll find out about on release day!

While you’re waiting, please consider buying a print copy of the second edition of Time and Tenacity to help local organizations working with those affected by the recent disasters in Northern California, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. I’ll go ahead and extend that fundraiser to next Monday, November 6th. Thank you so much for your patience and I look forward to sharing more with you soon!

It’s Time for another Time and Tenacity Update!

Sunday, September 24th, is the 22nd anniversary of the first episode of the 1995 “Colin Firth takes a swim because of course he does” Pride and Prejudice miniseries. I’ll leave you to (politely!) fight it out in the comments whether it’s the “best” adaptation, but other than the original novel, it probably had the most influence on Time and Tenacity, from the obvious (let’s face it, “Laurence Darcy, and yes that’s my real name” wouldn’t have the same ring to it) to the less so (Gillian Bennet was partially modeled after Jennifer Ehle’s Lizzy.)

Also, I totally mentally read every one of Edward’s lines in this guy’s voice.

So, in a way, it’s a rather appropriate date to release the second print edition of Time and Tenacity! Jane will still run away with Riley, but I have rewritten some small sections to make the story flow clearer. There’s also a fun surprise at the beginning of the book to help you keep the characters sorted! (It’s not chocolate, sorry.)

The current print edition of Time will be unavailable to purchase starting this Thursday, September 14, so I can proof the second edition. The Kindle edition will still be available to purchase or read on Kindle Unlimited. If you bought the first print edition and would like a free second edition, please message me. Stay tuned to this site in October for some Time bonus content and more information about my next book, Once Upon My Mind!

Another Writer’s Thoughts on Pacing and Prologues

It’s not my intent on this blog to share many “writing tips”, since the Internet’s pretty well-saturated with those already. Anything I’d say has probably been said many times before, maybe even everything you’re about to read. However, a book I read this spring reminded me of the only thing that immediately turns me off of a book. It’s not too many grammar mistakes.

It’s bad pacing.

I won’t name the book or the author, because my personal policy is not to criticize fellow writers unless they’re spreading harmful messages, but the book I read took almost fifty pages of introductory material to get to the stuff I wanted to know. Nine times out of ten, I’ll know I’ll love a book from the first few pages. In other words, I much prefer it when Lucy walks through the wardrobe in Chapter 1, and I get the rest of the background details later in the story.

That said, my personal “get Lucy to Narnia in Chapter 1” rule didn’t quite work out for Once Upon My Mind. Rachel, my protagonist, spends her days making up stories about characters from a fictional book called The Park Avenue Prince. Every attempt to throw Rachel into Fabula right away and summarize The Park Avenue Prince later didn’t give my beta readers enough information to understand what was going on. It became more and more apparent that a prologue was the most effective way to get the Park Avenue Prince summary across.

I was determined, however, that even though there had to be a prologue, it didn’t have to be 50 pages of lifeless information before the stuff the readers actually picked up the book for happened. The opening gets the onerous task of summarizing The Park Avenue Prince for your benefit accomplished through a major character having a conversation with other characters, with little hints of this character’s personality being revealed in the process. Because another one of my few rules is “don’t tell when you can show”, here’s your very first look at the opening lines:

“My favorite book,” Emily murmured.

“Please speak up, Emily,” Mrs. Stevens, the third grade teacher, said.

“My favorite book, by Emily Koslowski. The Park Avenue Prince is my favorite book. It is by Robert Hadley. It is about two seventeen-year-olds named Jack and Carlos who live in New York City. One day Carlos is in Grand Central Station because he is running away from his mother. He sees Jack there, and they end up in Fabula.”

“How did they end up in Fibula?” Tommy Baker interjected.

“It’s Fabula. Um, first they found a library that just appeared out of nowhere.”

So, is a prologue right for your book? Instead of a black-or-white, yay-or-nay approach, what I would recommend asking myself is: “Does the story still start with the prologue, or does the prologue read like something I have to get out of the way before the actual fun stuff starts?” To paraphrase a quote attributed to Nathaniel Hawthorne, readers find writing that appears effortless to be effortless reading.

And, of course, there are always exceptions to the “rules” when you do it in the most epic way possible:

Cue the rousing John William score.

What is your personal philosophy on prologues? Have you seen this advice before from other writers? I’d love to hear from you in the comments! 



Back from the U.K., with a full heart, memory card, and stomach.

As you might have seen from my Facebook page, I’ve just returned from beautiful Birmingham, England, birthplace of time travel discoverer Dr. Gillian Bennet. One of my greatest passions in life, other than writing, is helping refugees and other recent migrants develop the literacy skills they need to thrive in their new homes. I was privileged to have the chance to visit friends who are doing this work in one of the world’s most diverse cities. There was also ample time for some first-hand research for the upcoming Once Upon My Mind quadrilogy and other possible future works.

And, as you do in 2017, I also took a lot of pictures of food.

You can’t leave England without a Sunday roast, complete with David Andrews’s beverage of choice.


Or Victoria sponge cake, with hot custard.


Speaking of custard, this dinner was just what the Doctor ordered (though I don’t recommend making that much custard.)


I ran into an old friend of mine from the States at the cinema.


Fun fact: the Welcome Break Riley &c stop at in Chapter 2 of Time and Tenacity was originally a Pizza Express. (“What is pizz-uh?” Eleanor would have asked.) I changed pizza to doughnuts when I realize the gang would have to leave earlier in the day, but “pizz-uh” is still a must-stop for me whenever I’m in England.


Unfortunately, I was too busy devouring the delicious curries and kebabs I ate on this trip to take any pictures, but take my word for it, don’t leave England without trying a few, especially with fresh roti or naan! (Pic from Wikipedia.)


And, of course, when you’re right by the home of Cadbury chocolate, you must make a visit to the factory!


Now that I’m in the States again and more or less recovered from jet lag, it’s time to grab a cup of coffee in my new Warwick Castle mug and turn all those research notes from Once Upon My Mind into engaging imagery! I’m looking forward to sharing the first look with you this summer.

Once Upon My Update

onceuponmymind_titlepageWith the arrival of March this week comes two sad commemorations in my life. This Thursday will mark 15 years since my (paternal) grandfather died after a long illness, and then the next Thursday will mark 10 years since my (maternal) grandmother died from complications following routine knee replacement surgery.

These losses are sad, but to me they are not hopeless, as even death has its redeeming qualities. I don’t even mean this strictly in a religious sense; even the Doctor said things have to end, otherwise nothing would ever get started. I started Once Upon My Mind shortly after my grandfather’s death and had an unwanted, but cathartic, opportunity to work through my multiple feelings after my grandmother’s unexpected loss alongside Rachel, my protagonist, as she similarly worked through her feelings resulting from the seemingly arbitrary loss of her mother.

My presence on this site and on Facebook will be minimal in March as I put the finishing touches on Once‘s story, interior design, and cover, but I look forward to sharing some excerpts, character profiles, and maybe even a little special extra or two in April!


Happy New Year (and New Book!)

Thanks Pinterest!

Hope you’ve had a lovely 2017 so far. While I’ve never been very diligent about the whole New Year’s resolutions thing, after wasting too much of 2016 with a dour, ungrateful attitude, a family member’s post about a gratitude jar on Facebook inspired me this year. Since I never have enough jars around, I decided to do a gratitude journal instead. Every day I write down at least five things I’m thankful for from that day, with the intent to read over it next New Year’s Eve and remind myself of all the good that happened throughout the year.

And one of the things I’m the most thankful for lately is the progress I’m making on finalizing my next book, Once Upon My Mind. I’ve actually been working on this one since 2003, but it feels like the perfect book for 2017 because Rachel, my protagonist, must learn to let go after an unexpected loss and embrace new beginnings in her life. The book has action, comedy, assorted fantasy creatures, and homemade Pop-Tarts.

I saw the work-in-progress version of the cover a few weeks ago from my amazing older sister/cover designer and it possibly looks even more stunning than Time and Tenacity‘s. I’m excited to share the cover, as well as more information about the book, with you in the weeks to come!

Happy Holidays from Hannah! (Yes, I do admire alliteration.)

Finding Christmas joy even at Medical City Dallas.

As 2016 comes closer to the end, I’d love to share one of those glowing holiday letter-type updates with every exciting detail of my amazing year, but right now I’m really kind of worn out.

You see, 2016 has actually been a rather trying year for me. Two family members had serious health issues, which is why you didn’t see as many blog posts or Time and Tenacity extras as I was hoping to have shared with you. Despite this, I refuse to label 2016 an “annus horribilis.” Something I’ve learned from my relatively short time on this earth is the only difference between a “bad” year and a “good” year is how much I allow my mind to overstate the bad events (though they do have legitimate, lingering consequences) and marginalize the good. And a lot of good things have happened this year including, but not limited to, my first novel, a wedding in my family, beautiful scenery, seeing Doctor Who on the big screen, the Olympics, and, hey, the Cubs finally winning the World Series!

I’m going to spend these last two weeks of 2016 making as many more positive memories as I can, then I’ll be back here and on Facebook in 2017 with more Time bonus content, more stories from my life on this blog, and more details about my next book. Until then, my sincerest wishes for a joyful, peaceful holiday season!