Friday, December 05, 2014

Blog Tour: The Muse by Jessica Evans



Today I am part of the blog tour for Jessica Evans' new story, The Muse. Jessica will be sharing an excerpt from the book today, and I am lucky enough to the have a giveaway - details below!
 
 
 
 
"Elizabeth Bennet, the newest corps de ballet dancer at Ballet Theater of New York, dreams of rising through the prestigious company’s ranks to become a prima ballerina. When she’s cast in superstar choreographer William Darcy’s newest work, she believes she’s one step closer to realizing her dream–until she meets him.
 
William Darcy, the former dance legend and ballet bad boy, is a jaded perfectionist whom dancers both fear and admire. Although touted as the next big thing in the ballet world, he secretly battles a bad case of artist’s block–until he meets Elizabeth Bennet. 
 
Tempers ignite between Elizabeth and Darcy, but he’s irresistibly drawn to the stubborn and beautiful corps de ballet dancer. Could she be the muse he needs to reignite his passion for ballet?"
 
 
This scene happens during the second rehearsal for William Darcy's new work of choreography at Ballet Theater of New York. Elizabeth is a dancer in his piece. 

Rehearsal finished with Darcy proclaiming, “This choreography is about artistic expression, so I need to start seeing some from you!”
 
Not a positive end to two hours of grueling drills. A few dancers trudged out. Elizabeth stayed behind.
 
She had no clue what Darcy had meant. Attack the descent but don’t short-change the jump. Was she supposed to defy gravity? In the back of the room, Elizabeth studied her glissade in the mirror. A few other dancers honed steps around her as well, but the choreographer’s eyes settled on her. She noticed him pacing towards her—studied, cat-like.
 
“Your rhythm is off,” he said, when he was no more than a few feet away. “Duh-duh, duh-duh,” mimicking the music with his voice and the rhythm of the jumps with his hands.
 
She tried again, and he shook his head. Elizabeth placed her arms akimbo and looked down in frustration. Head still down, she cut her eyes up to the choreographer. “I must be having an off day all around.”
 
He looked annoyed. Rather than frightening Elizabeth, it made her feel triumphant.
 
“Don’t go for height. Go for movement. Imagine that someone’s carrying you across in the air. Both legs out.”
 
Unlike Caroline or even Lydia, Elizabeth did not have the quickness of feet to be a virtuoso jumper. She tried once more, and Darcy looked as if he was ready to give up and leave. Her temper flared. She suspected he was giving her BS corrections and nit-picking just to be a jerk. Well, she could be a persistent jerk right back. Elizabeth cocked her chin and looked him square in the face in a wordless challenge to show her the right way.
 
Sighing, Darcy suddenly walked behind her and grabbed her waist. Elizabeth sucked in a quick breath.
 
Glissade,” he ordered.
 
Heart thudding, she obeyed. His hands were strong but light on her back, gliding her over the floor. Then, she felt the pressure of his hands on her sides, guiding her down again. He had barely moved her off the floor, and yet the dynamics of the jump felt completely different.
 
“That,” he said, “is what I want.”
 
She tried it a few times herself. It pained her that the sequence now took on a different and vibrant musicality. Darcy looked at her smugly and then turned away. Success had never felt so defeating.
 
***
 
“Partnering a woman is like making love to her,” Mr. V had once told William’s pas de deux class in his heavily-accented English. They had been teenagers at the time, and most had chuckled with feigned knowing.
 
“You need to touch woman gently, but not too gently. You need to be strong but not too strong. Then the woman feels uncomfortable. You have to hold her just right. Good partner is good lover,” his teacher had said. William had never forgotten that advice.
 
Was it the chicken or the egg, he wondered? Had he bedded so many dancers because he had been a good dance partner? Or had he become a good dance partner by sleeping with so many women? In any case, he thought of that advice often before he touched a woman on stage or in the bedroom. The thought had been in his mind, too, as he placed his hands around Elizabeth Bennet’s waist and lifted her.
 
In his experience, the same truth held for women: The ones who let themselves be partnered were usually the ones who melted, molded, and danced under the sheets; the ones who blushed, flinched, or stiffened when a dancer touched her on the floor usually shriveled up in bed.
 
Although she had tensed initially, Elizabeth Bennet, he noted, had eased into him when he grabbed her. She had been light and pliant. A small detail, but one that was on his mind as he stood in the center of Studio B, staring at his feet, thinking of what came next.
 
In the choreography, he had reached a dead-end. He didn’t know how to get his dancers off stage and get the principal dancer on. Well, it wasn’t really a matter of not knowing how; it was more that he suddenly didn’t care. Did it really matter? He could have his dancers clip their toenails on stage, and the critics would call it a brilliant feat of post-modern dance.
 
He knew he shouldn’t complain. As a young choreographer creating dances for barely four years, William should have been grateful for the rebirth of his dance career. Life after his career-ending knee injury had been bleak, and choreography had resurrected him. For several years, he’d traveled to new dance companies, working with new dancers, pumping out new ballets, receiving ovations, and tasting glory again, even if it was from behind the wings. But over a year ago, choreography stopped being the panacea it had been. William began to feel empty again.
 
He approached the mirror and studied his face. Lines had emerged at the corners of his eyes. Twice in the past month he had yanked out a stray gray hair from the mass of dark brown waves on top of his head. William frowned. He was growing old. Once he could no longer dance, he began to feel the heaviness of time dragging down the skin on his face. The wrinkles didn’t show much now, but give them a few years. He sighed and sank into the chair at the front of the room.
 
After several minutes, William saw visions of his younger self bolting down the diagonal in a rapid series of leaps, turns, and beats of the leg. As a dancer, he had been a completely different person, cocky and brash. He had smiled more, charmed more. There had been nothing more ego-inflating than catapulting himself three feet off the floor in a grand jeté, whirling around in a quadruple pirouette. Nothing more gratifying than the explosion of applause after a perfectly executed variation. And now it was gone.
 
In envisioning his younger days, William suddenly thought of Elizabeth Bennet. He thought of her dancing. She was still clumsy in some of her movements, but she danced with an energy that he recognized: fierce and delicate at the same time. In her eyes, he recognized a passion for expression that he, too, had once felt. Elizabeth Bennet, he could tell, loved to dance.
 
William rose again and paced towards the center of the room. She definitely had a strength for balancés, those rocking steps done in a waltz rhythm. Perhaps less vertical movement and more horizontal would work better in this section. He attempted an impromptu phrase of balancés and piqués, and ending with a series of chaînés. It fit the music. It would work. Suddenly, William had direction. He got out his notebook and scribbled down the steps, imagining their execution by a petite corps de ballet girl with a penchant for haughty lifts of the chin and a pair of cold, glittering eyes.


Links:



 

A middle school English teacher by trade, I cut my writer’s teeth in various fan fiction forums starting at the tender age of fifteen. My debut novel, The Muse: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, is set to be published by Meryton Press in late November 2014.

In my spare time, I read a lot of Young Adult literature, cook and eat as organically/sustainably/artisanally/grass-fed-ally as possible, and work on improving my life one affirmation at a time. I live in Brooklyn, NY though am not a hipster. I swear.







**GIVEAWAY - ends Monday 15th December**

In celebration of the release, the lovely Jessica is offering a paperback copy of her story. This is open internationally.  

To enter, leave a comment below and the winner shall be picked randomly.


Please leave your email address. I will then be in contact for your address.


Good luck, and thank you again to Jessica for offering this giveaway! And good luck with the book and thank you for such an intriguing excerpt!

 

Your affectionate friend,
post signature

49 comments:

  1. Sounds like an intresting book. I would love to win a paperback copy of the book. e-mail: heleanna(at)gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for commenting! Good luck in the giveaway.

      Delete
  2. I love books with a Mr Darcy! And yours sounds really interesting. I would love to win a copy please suzannemoss@talktalk.net

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the compliment! Hope you enjoy the book!

      Delete
  3. Darcy and Lizzie are dancer?? It sounds very very interesting!!
    I would love to read this novel becouse this exercpt caught my attention!!!
    Congratulation on your release and thank you for the giveaway.
    My email: chiarapiccirilla@hotmail.it

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you liked the excerpt and premise of The Muse. I hope you enjoy the rest of the book!

      Delete
  4. T
    It sounds very interesting & Iwould love to read it :) Thank you for the giveaaway :)

    My email : miette68@hotmail.fr

    Miette

    ReplyDelete
  5. He really was pushing it with that smug look and assumption about her as a bed partner when she wants nothing to do with him. Yikes! Enjoyable excerpt.

    Thanks for the giveaway opportunity.
    sophiarose1816 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL. Sometimes, I'd read over some of the scenes that I wrote and think to myself "What a jerk!" He gets better by the end. ;) Glad you enjoyed the excerpt!

      Delete
  6. I agree with Sophia, you can feel the build to the big fall! I find sometimes in modern versions Darcy's pride isn't built up enough which makes Elizabeth's feelings towards him more unreasonable, but here he really seems very cocky indeed. Really looking forward to reading this. Thanks for the giveaway, I'm at frawli1978 (at) gmail (dot) com.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's true. I think we as Mr. Darcy fans sometimes go a little easy on him in our renditions. I tried to depict him as jaded and arrogant in the beginning...definitely in need of a good woman to set him straight! ;)

      Delete
  7. wow...I wanted to smack Darcy....what a jerk lol. This sounds so amazing! I love reading P&P Variations and this one looks very unique! I would love to win a paperback copy of this!

    dramaqueen4ever96@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha, glad I got you riled up! ;) Good luck in the giveaway and I hope you enjoy the book.

      Delete
  8. I don't know much about ballet moves and the like, but regardless I really want to read this book! I enjoy P&P variations where Darcy and Elizabeth are put in an environment very different to their traditional setting - sometimes it doesn't quite work, but from what I've read in the extract it seems this one will workly splendidly! Look forward to reading it - regardless of the outcome of this giveaway! :)

    lambaa97@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I tried not to go too heavy into ballet terminology, because I realized that most readers will not have much experience with ballet. I think it's a approachable book. Glad you liked the excerpt and let me know your thoughts once you've read it!

      Delete
  9. Oh, thank you for the giveaway and I so look forward to reading your book. The tension between Darcy and Elizabeth is always there, and this is such a different variation!
    evamedmonds(at)gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gotta love that sexual tension between them! It's one of my favorite things about P&P. Thanks for commenting!

      Delete
  10. I have to read this book!
    A wonderful idea for a retelling. :)

    pottypo(at)yahoo(dot)it

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I hope you'll let me know your thoughts after you're finished reading.

      Delete
    2. Of course. Here's my blog. It's an Italian blog, but you can translate my reviews. ;)

      Delete
  11. I really enjoyed reading this excerpt—thanks for sharing it! The cover of the The Muse is beautiful :).

    NovEllaandBanannabelle(at)Gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome! I hope you'll enjoy the rest of the book just as much!

      Delete
  12. This is one of my absolute FAVORITE Pride and Prejudice AU stories of all time. I have read it multiple times and will rec it to anybody in need of a good story. It's beautiful and so well written. I'm incredibly excited that it's being published!

    cutiejd4@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay! Thanks for reading and recommending The Muse for all these years! I've improved upon the story (I hope) through revisions so please let me know what you think when you read it this time around.

      Delete
  13. This is a delicious excerpt, Jessica. I'm not familiar with the dance routines in ballet. Is there any chance that there is additional info that readers like me can look up and understand the terms used? Maybe like a video link on your blog or some illustrations that can help capture what you mean?

    evangelineace2020(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't have anything linked up to my blog yet, but based on your feedback, I will get on that ASAP. Look for a post in the coming week.

      Thanks for the great suggestion!

      Delete
    2. You're most welcome, Jessica. I look forward to reading the info that you will share with us.

      Delete
  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I've read this online and I'm really glad it's now available in a published version! Congratulations!
    Sorry, forgot to add my e-mail! It's kookblogs@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay! So glad that you remember this story! Good luck in the giveaway.

      Delete
  16. I enjoyed reading the excerpt! It's always interesting to see a modern day version of Darcy and Elizabeth. Love the concept!

    Thank you for the giveaway opportunity. My email address is tdungnvu (at) yahoo (dot) com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you enjoyed the excerpt. I hope you like the rest of the story, too! Thanks for commenting!

      Delete
  17. Think that I must read this one! I'm always looking for well written books & being that this is by an English teacher AND is Jane Austen fanfic-- that is extremely exciting!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. :D Haha! I laughed at the English teacher comment! I tried to follow all of the same rules and advice that I give to my 6th graders, so hopefully it'll be a good story. Thanks for commenting!

      Delete
  18. What a unique storyline. Darcy in ballet dancing tights has me wishing your book was a movie! Fantastic giveaway opportunity. Thanks.
    Email. carol.perrin@att.net

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are many other good "visuals" in the book too...some involving no tights at all! ;) Let me know what you think after you've read the book.

      Delete
  19. I absolutely loved this story,and looked forward to Tuesdays as my favorite day of the week for months as you were posting. Looking forward to reading it again cover to cover. Thank you for offering this give away. Fingers crossed... Best of luck with your sales Jessica. 😊

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So glad you remember Tuesday Muse-days! Those were fun. Thanks for entering the giveaway and good luck!

      Delete
  20. Jessica, great excerpt. I loved picturing the movements in my mind. Just delightful. Best wishes for your launch. Confetti, champagne, and chocolate!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I'll definitely take you up on the chocolate! ;)

      Delete
  21. I love the descriptions of the feelings and dance moves. I am looking forward to reading this book. Thank you for the generous give away. skamper25 (at) gmail (dot) com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your compliment! It was difficult describing dance steps so I'm glad those translated for you.

      Delete
  22. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha! I love this comment! Your agony won't last much longer, I hope. ;)

      Delete
  23. I really want to read this and would love to win. I am obsessed with alternate tellings of P&P. dez3b@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hopefully you will enjoy this alternate telling! Let me know what you think when you're finished reading.

      Delete
  24. Can't wait to read this one! A combination of two of my loves: ballet and P&P. culitalibre@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wonderful! A ballet aficionado! Please let me know your thoughts after you've read the book!

      Delete

"I cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible", therefore, I would dearly love for you to comment and let me know what you think!

Thank you for stopping by at Laughing With Lizzie and I hope you will take the time to visit again before too long!