Jane Austen’s First Love Holiday Blog Tour

Jane Austen's First Love Holiday Blog Tour banner

Jane Austen, the holiday season and gifts go so well together that I am pleased to share the news that Austenesque author Syrie James is going on a holiday blog tour with her new novel Jane Austen’s First Love.

Readers will remember that Austenprose is a big fan of Syrie’s work and have reviewed many of her books here including:

In celebration of the holiday season and the release of Jane Austen’s First Love there will be over 40 stops on the virtual blog tour featuring an assortment of fun, including interviews with Syrie, excerpts from the novel, reviews, spotlights, and unique guest post by Syrie on a variety of topics–such as the true story of the remarkable Edward Taylor (who stole Jane’s heart), Jane at fifteen, wacky parlor games in the Georgian era, the research for and challenges of writing Jane Austen’s First Love. And, to top it off there are 5 incredible giveaway prize packages available for international shipment.

GRAND PRIZE PACKAGE

Jane Austen's First Love Holiday Blog Tour Grand Prize

Just visit any and all of the stops along the Jane Austen’s First Love Holiday Blog Tour and leave a comment to qualify. Additional images and details of the five Austen-themed prize packages are listed on Syrie’s website. Good luck to all.

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

© Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose.com

Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Calendar, by Jane Odiwe – Preview & Exclusive Excerpt

Mr Darcys Christmas Calendar by Jane Odiwe 2014 x 200I have often thought of Pride and Prejudice as the ultimate fairy tale. While it does not have the traditional folkloric fantasy figures such as dwarves, fairies or giants, Jane Austen did create iconic romantic characters that have become prototypes for modern writers and a plot that includes the perfect happily-ever-after ending. It is easy to see why we want to return to that fantasy and live in the era with her characters again and again through new stories.

Austenesque author Jane Odiwe has written two Austen-inspired novels with strong fantasy elements: Project Darcy and Searching for Captain Wentworth. She has a particular talent for time-slip novels where a modern heroine, like her fairy tale compatriots—Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella or Belle in Beauty and the Beast—are touched by a magic that changes their lives, setting them on a course of discovery and romance. Her latest is a novella, Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Calendar, is set during the holiday season in modern day and Regency England. Jane has generously supplied an exclusive excerpt of her new work. I hope you enjoy it.

PREVIEW (from the publisher’s description)

A novella for the Christmas holidays – Lizzy Benson visits Jane Austen’s house in Chawton, and buys a special advent calendar in the gift shop, but strange things start to happen when she opens up the first door and finds herself back in time with all the beloved characters from her favourite book, Pride and Prejudice. As she finds herself increasingly drawn into an alternate reality, Lizzy discovers not only is Mr Darcy missing from the plot, but Jane Austen has never heard of him. All Lizzy can hope is that she can help to get the story and her own complicated love life back on track before Christmas is over!

EXCERPT (from chapter 4)

When Lizzy awoke next morning, she couldn’t think where she was at first. And then she remembered that she was lying in Jane Austen’s bed, and that the whole reason she was there was because she’d bought an Advent calendar in the shop at Jane Austen’s house. The memories of the day and evening before slowly returned. None of it seemed to make any sense, and the idea that she’d somehow passed into some unknown and strange reality was a growing concern. Ever since she was a little girl Lizzy had always felt there was a fine line between what she imagined and what was real. Spending a good amount of time in her imagination, whether daydreaming or in reading books meant that reality and fantasy were often blurred in her mind. But nothing had ever felt so real as the strange episode she was now experiencing. Never before had her mind co-operated quite so much with bringing to life the worlds she’d often visualised. Every detail had been thought of, but she could not think her brain quite capable of summoning up the mended patches on the curtains, or able to supply a darkening stain on the ceiling by the window where it seemed ice water was seeping in through a hole in the roof. It would probably be better if she didn’t think about it too much, Lizzy decided, and she really would have to make an effort to get home today, she thought, her mother would be worried to death. But, one glimpse at the window told her there’d been no cessation in the weather. Snow was falling thick and fast, and pulling at the bedclothes to trap in the warmth, she hoped she wouldn’t be stuck there for another whole day.

As she lay there familiarising herself with every last feature of the room, she heard the sound of a pianoforte being played. It must be Elizabeth or Jane practising, she thought, and Lizzy remembered reading that Jane Austen loved to play before breakfast. Whoever was playing sounded very accomplished to her ears, and the tunes were very pretty, some longer concertos, and others quite short songs. When it stopped, she decided it must be time to get up, but wasn’t quite sure whether she should attempt to do that herself or wait for the maid to come in. Swinging her legs out of bed, she sat on the side and listened to the sounds of the little clock on the mantle, a soothing sound that made her feel as if she might easily be hypnotised.

Lizzy’s eyes were drawn to the Advent calendar propped up against the looking glass on the dressing table. Number four was shining with a bright white light bursting from its centre like a Christmas star, and it looked far too inviting to ignore. Lizzy fetched it and opened the door, gasping when she saw the picture inside. It looked rather like her, the painting of the girl who stood observing her reflection, and the longer she stared, and the more she thought about Miss Lizzy Benson depicted in a beautiful ball gown, the more she found herself drawn into the painting. And just moments later, it was as if, like Alice in Wonderland, she’d shrunk, closed up like a telescope until small enough to pass through the tiny door, but it was done so seamlessly and swiftly, in such a blink of an eye that it was impossible to know how it had happened at all.

Lizzy admired herself in the glass. She looked just as if she’d stepped out from a period production on television, rather like Elizabeth Bennet herself, she thought gleefully. The gown was quintessentially Georgian, made of fine cambric embroidered with a panel of whitework leaves and flowers tumbling down the front and along the hem. There were puffed sleeves, cut to show off her slender arms, and a white satin sash tied at empire height made her appear tall and elegant. Her hair was twisted up behind, and dressed in curls, garlanded with a band of white sarcenet and pale pink roses. A pair of elbow-length gloves, a fan of silk and mother-of-pearl, and a reticule on silken strings were the final accessories chosen to show off her dress, complementing the beautiful pendant round her neck.

It was getting dark outside, and though she felt quite excited about the turn in events, she also felt more than a little worried. Mrs Bennet had said she could telephone her mother, and at the very least, that was what she must do next. Lizzy could not find a single light switch, and resorted to picking up the only candlestick, whose candle was rather badly illuminating the room, as the light was fading. It really did make the place feel very authentic, but never before had she appreciated electricity so much. It was easy to see how the writers of the past were so inspired to write gothic tales of ghostly happenings and ghoulish goings-on. She thought how much more her senses seemed alerted in the dark with only the flickering flame lighting her way. Tiptoeing down the creaking wooden staircase, she frightened herself rather badly once or twice as her own shadow loomed and shrank against the walls like a cowering thief in the night, waiting to pounce.

She found the telephone in the hallway, an object she hadn’t noticed being there before and quite incongruous in this setting, which in every other respect made her feel as if she’d travelled back in time. An antique item that looked like a model from the 1930s, Lizzy didn’t feel very hopeful on picking up the receiver as all she could hear at the other end were crackling and clicking noises, certainly not like any telephone tone she’d ever heard at home. Inserting her index finger, she set about dialling the number, each turn of the black and white numbered dial swiftly whirring back into place. Then she waited to hear the ringing tone but heard nothing, not a sound, so she tried again thinking she must have dialled incorrectly. It was no use; the line was completely and utterly dead. Still, perhaps Mrs Bennet might know what to do and would help her.

‘Are you ready?’

Lizzy recognised the brusque voice that barked out of the darkness and she turned guiltily, as if caught out doing something she shouldn’t. He loomed out of the shadows, and for the second time Lizzy actually thought that if Mr Williams didn’t look so disapproving he might be considered almost handsome. He was dressed ready to face the cold night air, the cloak he wore made him appear taller than ever and his broad shoulders were just the kind she would admire on anybody else. She really didn’t want to ask him to help her, but if she didn’t telephone her mother soon, there wouldn’t be another opportunity.

‘I can’t seem to get the telephone to work … just wondering if it’s me.’

Mr Williams picked up the receiver and Lizzy saw him shake his head. ‘Nope, it’s not working … completely dead, in fact.’

‘Is there another? Or have you a mobile I could use? I really need to phone my mum, and mine’s run out of battery.’

‘No, that’s the only one, and I don’t use modern technology, I’m afraid.’

‘What about the others? Will anyone else have one?’

‘Absolutely not. Look, there’s nothing to be done, and if we’re not careful we’ll be late. It’s time to go.’

Lizzy really didn’t want to be left on her own with Mr Williams any longer, or have to travel with him by herself. ‘Oughtn’t we to wait for Mrs Bennet?’ she said, thinking that couldn’t possibly be the real name of the lady who’d arranged everything.

‘No need for that’, he said, ‘she’s left already with her daughters. I’m to escort you, so hurry up before the coachman leaves. He must be thinking we’ve forgotten him. Here, you’ll need this.’

To her great astonishment he took a pink velvet cloak from the coat hooks and held it out so she had no choice but to allow him to place it round her shoulders. She turned and felt the warm silk of the lining envelop her and when she moved back to thank him and before she had a chance to register the fact, he was tying the ribbons at her neck. His fingers brushed her throat momentarily, and she started in surprise. It wasn’t an unpleasant feeling, but it disturbed her. When he wasn’t looking she rubbed at her neck as if to get rid of the feelings, but the sensations lingered, whatever she did to make them go away. 

END OF EXCERPT

Many thanks to author Jane Odiwe for sharing an excerpt from her new novella, Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Calendar, with us. Be sure to check out Jane’s other recent publication, Mrs. Darcy’s Diamonds too.

ARTHOR BIO

Author Jane Odiwe (2014)Jane Odiwe is the author of seven Austen-inspired books, Mr Darcy’s Christmas Calendar, Mrs Darcy’s Diamonds, Project Darcy, Searching for Captain Wentworth, Mr Darcy’s Secret, Willoughby’s Return, and Lydia Bennet’s Story.

Recent television appearances include a Masterchef Special, celebrating 200 years of Sense and Sensibility, and an interview for the 200 year anniversary of Pride and Prejudice on BBC Breakfast.

Jane is a member of the Jane Austen Society; she holds an arts degree, and initially started her working life teaching art and history. With her husband, children, and two cats, Jane divides her time between North London, and Bath, England. When she’s not writing, she enjoys painting and trying to capture the spirit of Jane Austen’s world. Her illustrations have been published in a picture book, Effusions of Fancy, and are featured in a biographical film of Jane Austen’s life in Sony’s DVD edition of The Jane Austen Book Club.

Website           Facebook        Twitter             Goodreads 

Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Calendar, by Jane Odiwe
Whitesoup Press (2014)
Trade paperback & eBook (190) pages
ISBN: 978-1502961068

Cover image courtesy of Whitesoup Press © 2014; excerpt Jane Odiwe ©2014, Austenprose.com

Giveaway Winners Announced for First Impressions by Charlie Lovett

First Impressions A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen, by Charlie Lovett (2014 )It’s time to announce the 3 winners of hardcover copies of First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen, by Charlie Lovett. The lucky winners drawn at random are:

  • Missyisms who left a comment on Oct 21, 2014
  • Ladysusanpdx who left a comment on Oct 20, 2014
  • Cozynookbks who left a comment on Oct 21, 2014

Congratulations to the winners! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by November 5, 2014 or you will forfeit your prize! Shipment to US addresses only. One winner per IP address.

Thanks to all who left comments, to author Charlie Lovett for his guest blog, and to his publisher Viking (Penguin Group USA) for the giveaways.

Cover image courtesy of Viking (Penguin Group USA) © 2014; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2014, Austenprose.com

First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen Virtual Book Launch Party with Author Charlie Lovett

First Impressions A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen, by Charlie Lovett (2014 )We are thrilled to welcome bestselling author Charlie Lovett to Austenprose today as guest of honor for the virtual book launch party of his new book, First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen, just released by Viking (Penguin Group USA).

This intriguing new novel combines two of my favorite genres – historical romance and contemporary mystery. It features dual heroines: English author Jane Austen while she is writing her first draft of Elinor and Marianne (later entitled Sense and Sensibility) in 1796 Hampshire and Sophie Collingwood, an antiquarian bookseller in modern day London who stumbles upon a literary mystery that casts doubt upon the true authorship of Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s second published novel and her most famous work.

ADVANCE PRAISE FOR FIRST IMPRESSIONS

  • “[An] ingenious novel….Ardent fans of Jane Austen and lovers of gripping stories will enjoy following Sophie’s pursuit of the truth.” — Publishers Weekly
  • “[An] appealing combination of mystery, romance, and bibliophilism….An absolute must for Austen fans, a pleasure for others.” — Booklist
  • “A delightful read that Janeites will love….[Lovett] adds bookish intrigue to the life of another luminary of English literature.” — Library Journal

Mr. Lovett has generously offered a guest blog sharing his inspiration to write First Impressions—and to add to the festivities—his publisher has also offered three hardcover copies of the book in a giveaway contest. To enter, please ask Mr. Lovett a question or leave a comment following this blog post. The entry details are listed below. Good luck to all.

PLEASE JOIN ME IN WELCOMING CHARLIE LOVETT: 

When I first wrote my novel The Bookman’s Tale (Viking 2013), I titled it Marginalia, which would have been a great title if the only customers were rare book librarians and literary scholars. My agent wisely suggested a change. He sold the book as The First Folio, and it ultimately became The Bookman’s Tale, but the idea of The First Folio stuck with me. If one book was titled The First Folio might my next book be titled The Second . . . something? That’s when I started thinking about the idea of a book that was worthless in its first edition but, for some reason, priceless in its second edition. Once I threw in Jane Austen, the idea for First Impressions was born. I talked to my agent about the idea very early on and he encouraged me to do two things: not write a sequel to The Bookman’s Tale, and have a female protagonist. Those two ideas are what really solidified First Impressions in my mind.

I spent several months making notes and when my wife and I were in England in the summer of 2012 I visited Steventon in Hampshire, where Jane Austen had grown up and where part of my novel would be set. I relate very strongly to place in my writing, and even though we spent less than an hour in this peaceful village, I began to see Jane there. I visited other sites associated with Jane Austen—from Bath to Winchester to Chawton—but I wanted to write about young Jane Austen, and Steventon is where she spent her formative years and where she started writing. That one hour spent basking in the quiet, looking out over the fields shimmering in the summer sun, sitting inside the cool stone church Jane had attended for all those years, provided more inspiration than a hundred hours of research possibly could.

Why Jane Austen? Well, it seems that Jane Austen was always in my house. My father, now retired, was an English Professor at Wake Forest University, and his specialty was the eighteenth century. True, Jane Austen’s novels were not published until the early nineteenth century, but her work was very much a part of his syllabus and he often talked about her. In seventh grade, I made the rather impetuous decision to read more “grown up” books in my spare time. I read Brave New World and then I moved on to Pride and Prejudice. Now I can’t tell you exactly who Jane Austen’s imagined audience was, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t seventh grade American boys of the 1970s. To me, the novel was nothing more than a soap opera. How could my dad spend all his time with this stuff? Sadly, I let this impression of Austen guide me for the next couple of decades. I was probably in my thirties when I picked up Pride and Prejudice and gave it a second chance. The first thing that surprised me was that it was funny—really funny. And it was smart and incisive and observant. I regretted having spent so long laboring under my seventh grade misconceptions, and since then I have read Austen frequently and with much enjoyment.

When I set about writing Jane Austen as a character, I didn’t want to know too much about her. Yes, I wanted to get the facts of her life correct—where she lived, when she wrote her novels, the names of her family members—but I was creating a character in a novel. So, instead of looking to her biography to discover her personality, I looked to the novels. What kind of person, I asked myself, would write Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility? To me Jane had to be not just smart but witty, energetic, a tad irreverent, and quietly revolutionary. I did my best to make her all of this as she interacts with her fictional mentor, Richard Mansfield. I also endowed my contemporary heroine, Sophie Collingwood, who fights to save Jane’s reputation, with some of the same qualities.

I truly enjoyed spending time with these two remarkable young women, and I hope you will too.

Charlie Lovett 2014AUTHOR BIO: Charlie Lovett, author of the New York Times bestselling novel The Bookman’s Tale, is a former antiquarian bookseller who has collected books and materials related to Lewis Carroll and Alice in Wonderland for over thirty years. He has written several books on Carroll and served as president of the Lewis Carroll Society of North America. As an educator, he served for more than a decade as writer in residence at Summit School in his hometown of Winston-Salem, NC. There he wrote twenty plays for young audiences, which have been published and seen around the world in more than 3000 productions. Charlie is a member of the Grolier Club for book collectors and is currently at work curating an exhibit at Lincoln Center on “Alice in Performance” in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice in Wonderland. He and his wife Janice live in Winston-Salem and in Kingham, Oxfordshire. Please visit him online at his website, charlielovett.com, on Facebook as Charlie Lovett Author, and follow him on Twitter as @CharlieLovett42.

ASK MR. LOVETT A QUESTION OR LEAVE A COMMENT TO ENTER A GRAND GIVEAWAY

UPDATE 10/23 – Q&A with author Charlie Lovett has closed, but the giveaway contest

remains open until Oct 30th. Just leave a comment to qualify. 

In celebration of the release of First Impressions, please enter a chance to win one of three hardcover copies available by leaving a question for Charlie Lovett or a comment sharing what intrigues you about this novel before 11:59 pm, on Wednesday, October 22, 2014. Winners will be drawn at random and announced on Thursday, October 30, 2014. Shipment is to US addresses only. Good luck to all.

First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen, by Charlie Lovett
Viking (Penguin Group USA) 2014
Hardcover and eBook (320) pages
ISBN: 978-0525427247

Cover image courtesy of Viking Adult © 2014; text Charlie Lovett © 2014, Austenprose.com

Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-thon Jane Austen Style

Dewey's 24-hour read-a-thon (2014)

I am participating in a special celebration of reading today – Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-thon. And, of course I have a Jane Austen theme!

For those of you unfamiliar with this bi-annual event, a book blogger named Dewey started the tradition in 2007. Here is a description of the event from it’s website:

For 24 hours, we read books, post to our blogs about our reading, and visit other readers’ blogs. We also participate in mini-challenges throughout the day. It happens twice a year, in April and in October.

It is an all day and night total celebration of reading! The best thing about participating is that you can read as much or as little as you like. I chose to read the first few chapters of three new Austenesque novels (no spoilers) and live-tweet my reactions as I progress. Here are the novels that I have selected:

First Impressions A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen, by Charlie Lovett (2014 )FIRST IMPRESSIONS: A NOVEL OF OLD BOOKS, UNEXPECTED LOVE, AND JANE AUSTEN by, Charlie Lovett

(publisher’s description)

A thrilling literary mystery costarring Jane Austen from the New York Times bestselling author of The Bookman’s Tale

Charlie Lovett first delighted readers with his New York Times bestselling debut, The Bookman’s Tale. Now, Lovett weaves another brilliantly imagined mystery, this time featuring one of English literature’s most popular and beloved authors: Jane Austen.

Book lover and Austen enthusiast Sophie Collingwood has recently taken a job at an antiquarian bookshop in London when two different customers request a copy of the same obscure book: the second edition of Little Book of Allegories by Richard Mansfield. Their queries draw Sophie into a mystery that will cast doubt on the true
authorship of Pride and Prejudice—and ultimately threaten Sophie’s life.

In a dual narrative that alternates between Sophie’s quest to uncover the truth—while choosing between two suitors—and a young Jane Austen’s touching friendship with the aging cleric Richard Mansfield, Lovett weaves a romantic, suspenseful, and utterly compelling novel about love in all its forms and the joys of a life lived in books.

PLEASE JOIN the Virtual Book Launch Party for FIRST IMPRESSIONS on Monday, October 20th with author Charlie Lovett and enter a giveaway chance for one of three copies available of this exciting new Austen-inspired novel.

Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas by Stephanie Barron (2014)JANE AND THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS: BEING A JANE AUSTEN MYSTERY, by Stephanie Barron

(publishers description)

The twelfth installment in Stephanie Barron’s fan-favorite Being a Jane Austen Mystery series

Christmas Eve, 1814: Jane Austen has been invited to spend the holiday with family and friends at The Vyne, the gorgeous ancestral home of the wealthy and politically prominent Chute family. As the year fades and friends begin to gather beneath the mistletoe for the twelve days of Christmas festivities, Jane and her circle are in a celebratory mood: Mansfield Park is selling nicely; Napoleon has been banished to Elba; British forces have seized Washington, DC; and on Christmas Eve, John Quincy Adams signs the Treaty of Ghent, which will end a war nobody in England really wanted.

Jane, however, discovers holiday cheer is fleeting. One of the Yuletide revelers dies in a tragic accident, which Jane immediately views with suspicion. If the accident was in fact murder, the killer is one of Jane’s fellow snow-bound guests. With clues scattered amidst cleverly crafted charades, dark secrets coming to light during parlor games, and old friendships returning to haunt the Christmas parties, whom can Jane trust to help her discover the truth and stop the killer from striking again?

PLEASE JOIN the Virtual Book Launch Party for JANE AND THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS on Tuesday, October 28th with author Stephanie Barron and enter a giveaway chance for 1 of 3 copies available of the new mystery novel. 

Jane Austen's First Love by Syrie James (2014 )JANE AUSTEN’S FIRST LOVE: A NOVEL, by Syrie James

(publishers description)

Inspired by actual events

Fifteen-year-old Jane Austen dreams of three things: doing something useful, writing something worthy, and falling madly in love. When she visits her brother in Kent to celebrate his engagement, she meets wealthy, devilishly handsome Edward Taylor—a fascinating young man who is truly worthy of her affections. Jane knows a match between her and Edward is unlikely, but every moment she spends with him makes her heart race—and he seems to return her interest. Much to her displeasure, however, there is another seeking his attention

Unsure of her budding relationship, Jane seeks distraction by attempting to correct the pairings of three other prospective couples. But when her matchmaking aspirations do not all turn out as anticipated, Jane discovers the danger of relying on first impressions. The human heart cannot be easily deciphered, nor can it be directed or managed. And if others must be left to their own devices in matters of love and matrimony, can Jane even hope to satisfy her own heart?

AUSTENESQUE GIVEAWAYS DURING DEWEY’S 24-HOUR READ-A-THON

ON OCTOBER 18, 2014

There are hundreds of books being offered as prizes to the participants in Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-thon. I have donated six Austenesque novels to be awarded during the event.

  • Signed finished paperback copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress
  • Finished paperback copy of Undressing Mr. Darcy, by Karen Doornesbos
  • ARC paperback copy of The Pursuit of Mary Bennet, by Pamela Mingle
  • ARC paperback of Dear Mr. Knightley, by Katherine Reay
  • Signed ARC paperback copy of Longbourn, by Jo Baker
  • Finished paperback copy of Jane Austen’s First Love, by Syrie James

To find out more about Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-thon please visit their website, Facebook page or follow all of the action on Twitter with hashtag #readathon.

Good luck to all who are participating.

Cheers, Laurel Ann

Cover images courtesy of Viking Adult © 2014, Soho Crime © 2014, Berkley Trade © 2914, text Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose.com