The West Yet Glimmers: The Lord & Lady Baugham Stories Blog Tour with Authors Gail McEwen & Tina Moncton & Giveaway!

The West Yet Glimmers, by Gail McEwen & Tina Moncton (2012)Please help us welcome today authors Gail McEwen and Tina Moncton during their blog tour of their new novel, The West Yet Glimmers, the third book in their Lord & Lady Baugham series.

Originally inspired by Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice, the series started as a “what if” variation of the classic and then developed into a new story with its own unique plot and characters. I read the first book in the series, Twixt Two Equal Armies, and enjoyed it immensely.

Writing three books is an incredible accomplishment, but I was even more in awe of how two writers who lived on two different continents could collaborate and write together. I asked the ladies to share their story and a bit about their latest novel, The West Yet Glimmers. Enter a chance to win signed set of the trilogy to one lucky winner and three individual Kindle Copies to three winners. Details of the giveaway are at the end of the post.

Welcome Gail & Tina!  

The Art of Ping Pong

Hi, Gail and Tina here! Laurel Ann has graciously invited us to contribute a blog article to talk about what we do, and why and how we do it.

The ‘what we do’ part is easy. We are the writing team responsible for the Lord and Lady Baugham Stories – Twixt Two Equal Armies, Love Then Begins, and the recently-reviewed-on-Austenprose, The West Yet Glimmers.

The ‘why we do it’ is equally simple—we have fallen in love with our characters and their story and we can’t help ourselves.

And then when people ask us, ‘how is it to write as you do, together?’ the answer is really also very simple, it’s the best thing in the world! Sure there are plenty of other things to do with our time, and the truth is, we often get caught up in those other, urgent matters—family, school, work, life. This can go on for a while, but if too much time passes, the itch to write goes painfully unscratched and we find ourselves looking around and wondering why we’re feeling so cranky.

Twixt Two Equal Armies, by Gail McEwen & Tina Moncton (2010)We previously blogged about how we met through the wonders of the internet and a mutual love of Jane Austen: To Begin our Posting with the Beginning of our Posting… but the simple most important thing is that, in finding each other, we were both blessed with just the perfect writing partner. And by perfect we mean someone who shares a passion for the same things— interesting and well-crafted side characters, finding out who and what the Baughams are through writing about them, attention to research and getting to know your subject, whether it’s Regency time policing, seaside holidaying or the geography of London—as well as each of us bringing our own special traits to this common experience: Tina has a muse that lives on a commuter train, Gail’s muse hides in the shower. Tina is relentless in her insistence on historical accuracy, while Gail is like a dog when it comes to meticulous read-through. On top of everything, we are both quite hopeless when it comes to incessant editing, re-writing and second guessing of a draft. It’s a wonder we ever manage to finish anything!

Some things, however, we don’t want to put “The End” to. Case in point: our latest book, The West Yet Glimmers. Originally, the story of Holly Tournier and Lord Baugham was not supposed to go beyond the meeting, the courtship (if you can call it that) and the inevitable risky plunge into married life together—the story of Twixt Two Equal Armies. But when we got that far, we realised it was not enough. “We should be careful never to imagine, that the wedding-day is the burial of love, but that in reality Love Then Begins…” It was true! We weren’t finished with them by a long shot! We wanted to know more, write more and follow them as a married couple on their road together, because by that time, we knew them well enough to understand that their road would by no means be smooth or perfect, but would be terrific fun to explore.

Love then Begins: The Lord and Lady Baugham Stories, by Gail McEwen & Tina Moncton (2012)And that is where the art of Ping Pong comes in to play! Actually, that’s how we’ve done most of the dialogues we’ve written and much of our writing and plotting, as well as this blog post. We send the text back and forth, adding and perfecting, playing around and, best of all, surprising the receiving party with a new twist or turn that takes the characters and story onwards and upwards and beyond what we could possibly achieve on our own. As with all games, there are a few rules. Okay, one rule: There’s no room for ego in tandem writing. If your partner in the game changes something you wrote, moves it around or even removes it completely, don’t let yourself feel injured or put upon. Because 99% of the time, she’s improved upon it. And, in the case of that 1%, don’t be afraid to speak up and say “I really liked that bit. Can’t we keep it?” She will usually see the error of her ways and comply. (Does that count as another rule? Or maybe it’s a promise?)

We keep each other accountable, give slack when life gets in the way of progress, or a kick in the pants when it’s just laziness or complacency holding one or the other of us down. We inspire one another. We are great friends. And we think we make a pretty good team.

That’s the art – and the fun! – of Ping Pong.

Many thanks to Gail & Tina for joining us today. I hope you are inspired to continue the adventures of Lord & Lady Baughham.

Author Bios

It was a shared love for Jane Austen and a fascination with the world she so vividly portrayed in her novels that brought the international writing team of Gail McEwen and Tina Moncton together. Meeting on an internet chat board devoted to Miss Austen, they soon discovered, despite living on opposite ends of the globe, they had quite a bit in common—not the least of which was a mutual frustrated passion for writing—and what began as a virtual acquaintance quickly blossomed into a true friendship.

When they began to experiment with writing together, they chose a path somewhat different than might be expected from such ardent fans. Rather than explore the what-if’s and variations possible within Austen’s existing works and much loved characters, Moncton and McEwen introduced two new players to navigate the Regency world of Pride and Prejudice alongside Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. This experiment was so successful and satisfying that it led to an entire series of P&P companion books.

Gail is a married mother of four and grandmother of two. In real life she lives in a small mountain community in California, works in accounting and still wonders how an English major ended up in the unexciting world of numbers and calculations. Tina is a married mother of three. Her real life is in the metropolitan area of Helsinki, Finland and though she would rather make her living out of writing about Lord and Lady Baugham, she works in the equally idealistic world of non-profit NGO’s. You can find Gail and Tina at their blog: Two Perfect Scheming Wenches; or contact them on the Meryton Press Facebook page.

A GRAND GIVEAWAY!

Enter a chance to win one of three digital Kindle copies available of The West Yet Glimmers or a signed set of Lord & Lady Baugham trilogy to one lucky winner by leaving a comment asking the authors a question about their books or writing experience, or what intrigues you about reading an Austenesque “what if” story, or Regency-era historical romances by 11:59 PT December 26, 2012. Winners will be announced on Thursday, December 27, 2012. Print book set mailed to US addresses only. Digital copies available internationally. Good luck to all!

The West Yet Glimmers: Lord and Lady Baugham Stories, by Gail McEwen & Tina Moncton
Meryton Press (2012)
Trade paperback (312) pages
ISBN: 978-1936009121

© 2012 Gail McEwen & Tina Moncton, Austenprose

Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen Blog Tour with Sally Smith O’Rourke & Giveaway

Yours Affectionatley, Jane Austen, by Sally Smith O'Rourke (2012)Please help me welcome today Austenesque author Sally Smith O’Rourke during her blog tour for her new novel, Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen, a sequel to her popular The Man Who Loved Jane Austen (2009). A time-travel novel from present day Virginia to 1813 Chawton, England, Sally broaches the eternal question: was Mr. Darcy based on a real character in Jane Austen’s life or from her fertile imagination?

An English friend told me after reading The Man Who Loved Jane Austen, that it was the first time he had ever thought of Austen as a real person. To him she was an icon who was not particularly interesting. I think Jane’s sister Cassandra’s attempts to create a perfect personification by editing and destroying her personal correspondence really did her sister a disservice when she was such a wonderful, inventive and interesting individual.

I’ve often wondered if Cassandra’s zeal in protecting Jane’s memory included the destruction of journals. Here was a woman who wrote regularly, thousands of letters (although only 160 remain), a history, poems, prayers; she even wrote sermons for James, her eldest brother. How was it possible that she kept no diary or journal of any kind? A question, I’m afraid, that will never be answered.

At one time I thought it would be fun to create a journal, ostensibly written by Austen. A chronicle of the five days Fitzwilliam Darcy spent in Hampshire the spring of 1810. After several false starts and an overwhelming feeling of pretention (who was I pretending to be Jane Austen?) I opted instead to write the sequel to The Man Who Loved Jane Austen. Here is the backstory:

Researching a letter she found from Jane Austen to Fitzwilliam Darcy takes Manhattan artist Eliza Knight to a centuries old Virginia estate, Pemberley Farms. There she meets Fitz Darcy, his tale of love and romance in Regency England leaves Eliza in no doubt that he is the embodiment of Jane Austen’s legendary hero. And she’s falling in love with him. But can the man who loved the inimitable Jane Austen ever love average, ordinary Eliza Knight?

Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen takes place for Jane during the summer of 1813 after the successful publication of Pride and Prejudice. For Darcy it is the week following his heritage Rose Ball in present day Virginia.

While Eliza and Fitz’s relationship starts to blossom things begin to happen in the quiet hamlet of Chawton, England that could change everything. Will the beloved author become the wedge that divides Eliza and Fitz or the tie that binds them?

For your enjoyment, here is an excerpt from chapter 5 of Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen.

Author Sally Smith O'Rourke (2012)Author Bio:

“Where shall I begin? Which of all my important nothings shall I tell you first?” (J.A. June 15, 1808)

That I reside in a Victorian village; a mere two miles from my place of employment. A local hospital where I spend most daylight hours in the operating room as a scrub nurse.

That I am a native Californian, and spent most of my life in and around Southern California with a relatively short span of years in Nevada where I attended school.

That I was widowed some time ago. That I have very domestic hobbies like sewing, cooking, baking, candy making and cake decorating. Oh, yeah I write, too. Mike, my late husband and teacher, taught me that writing has to be treated like a job so every day no matter how tired I am I edit, research one or more projects and write.

That I am working on a new book; a story of reincarnation that takes place in Pasadena, CA and am making notes for a ghost story set in San Francisco. Two stories running around in my head and often colliding but I untangle the debris and continue on.

There you have a few of my nothings.

Visit Sally at her blog Sally Smith O’Rourke Author; websites Austenticity and Austen Authors; on Facebook as Sally Smith O’Rourke; and on Twitter as @Chawton1810.

Thank you for visiting with us today Sally and sharing a bit about your new novel. I look forward to reading it. Best wishes on its success.

Giveaway of Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen

Enter a chance to win one of three e-book copies available of Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen by Sally Smith O’Rourke. Just leave a comment answering if you believe if Austen’s character Fitzwilliam Darcy was based on a real person she knew or from her imagination. The contest is open until 11:59 pm Pacific time, Wednesday, October 10, 2012. Winners will be announced on Thursday, October 11, 2012. Digital shipment internationally. Good luck!

Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen, by Sally Smith O’Rourke
Victorian Essence Press (2012)
Digital e-book (261) pages
ISBN: 978-1891437052

© Sally Smith O’Rourke, Austenprose

Searching For Captain Wentworth Blog Tour with Author Jane Odiwe

Searching for Captain Wentworth, by Jane Odiwe (2012)Huzzah! We have a treat for you today. Jane Odiwe, author of Willoughby’s Return and Mr. Darcy’s Secret has just released her new novel, Searching For Captain Wentworth and is sharing an audio extract and insights into its creation.

We have had the pleasure of reading this new Regency-era time-travel novel and are so pumped up to tell all, but shan’t, until we review it next week. Until then, enjoy Jane’s lovely guest blog and audio excerpt.

Please help me welcome Jane by asking her a question about her new characters or historic locations she used in the book.

I’m really thrilled to be a guest on Laurel Ann’s blog today and I thought it would be a little different to do a reading! I’m celebrating the release of my new book, Searching For Captain Wentworth this week.

I’ve absolutely loved writing this book – it’s been a total self-indulgence because I’ve been able to write about the things I love most in the world! Jane Austen, my favourite places, painting, portraits, gorgeous men and the novel Persuasion are just some of the inspirations behind my book. I’ve always loved time travel books and it’s been fun to write one of my own – especially when you can break any scientific rule. That’s what’s so fantastic about being a novelist – you can mix and match facts with fiction and make it all up!

The city of Bath is a favourite place of mine and some of the experiences Sophie has in the book are based on dreams I’ve had or on real (or what I thought were real) events. I’m not usually someone who believes in ghosts but I’m pretty sure I have a friendly, teasing one who visits me occasionally when I’m in Bath. It opens doors in the night that I know I have firmly shut and it will occasionally pull my hair – so slightly that I wonder if it’s just got caught in a clasp of a necklace – before I realize I’m not wearing one! But, you’ve only got to walk around Bath for an hour or so especially on a winter’s day, when it’s shrouded in mist and decorated with cobwebs sprinkled with sparkles of raindrops, to ‘feel’ and ‘see’ its Georgian inhabitants walking along the cobbled streets. There is such an atmosphere! Blink – and I think you could pass through a layer of time to the one of your choice.

Jane Austen's home at 4 Sydney Place, Bath, todayNo 4 Sydney Place, Bath

Everyone has their own ideas about what Jane Austen was like and I’ve loved having my own encounter with Jane in this book. My heroine, Sophie, gets to meet Jane and her family as she finds herself living next door to the Austens in Sydney Place. From my window in Bath I’m very lucky to be able to see Jane Austen’s house and her garden – every now and again I get a glimpse of a rosy-cheeked girl with chestnut curls looking out of a window – but perhaps it’s just my imagination! I’ve always felt that Bath must have been a special place for Jane despite the argument that because Anne Elliot disliked it, so must she. I want to know why she set two of her most romantic novels here if she didn’t like the town. We have so little information about that time in her life that I feel we may have dwelt on the negatives and not examined the positives enough. There isn’t a happier scene than the one where Anne and her Captain stroll along the Gravel Walk – and the youthful exuberance from Catherine Morland must surely be a young Jane talking of her own experiences.

Front entrance of Sydney Hotel & Gardens, Bath, England circa 1800Front entrance to the Sydney Hotel and Gardens in Bath circa 1800

I’ve walked with Charles Austen in Sydney Gardens – he is even more handsome in reality and exactly befitting an Austen hero in his naval uniform. He, of course, helped me with the research for my book and I’m very grateful to him and to Jane and Cassandra for taking me up to Beechen Cliff where I enjoyed the wonderful views and a picnic.

Holidays in Lyme are always an inspiration – I’m sure Jane walks along the Cobb wall every now and again – it’s such a lovely, unspoiled seaside town. The houses and streets I’ve described can still be seen and the countryside about is as beautiful as when Jane wrote about it!

Jane Austen Rice portrait

Lastly, I wanted to mention the Rice Portrait of Jane Austen that is pictured on the cover. Mrs Henry Rice very kindly granted me permission to use it in my design. It’s a wonderful painting! Having seen the portrait myself was just fantastic and the many interesting discussions we had inspired my writing.

Searching For Captain Wentworth is an affectionate tribute to Jane Austen, Bath and Lyme – I hope you enjoy it!

Author Bio:

Jane Odiwe is the author of Effusions of Fancy, Lydia Bennet’s Story, Willoughby’s Return, Mr Darcy’s Secret and Searching For Captain Wentworth – all Austen-inspired books. She a member of the Jane Austen Society, the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelist’s Association. In addition to her many writing talents, Jane is an accomplished artist. She lives with her family in North London and Bath, England. You can visit Jane at her website Austen Effusions; her blog Jane Austen Sequels; on Facebook as Jane Odiwe and follow her on Twitter as @JaneOdiwe

Searching For Captain Wentworth, by Jane Odiwe
Paintbox Publishing (2012)
Trade paperback (320) pages
ISBN: 978-0954572228

Further reading

© 2012, Jane Odiwe, Austenprose

Mr. Darcy’s Refuge Blog Tour with Author Abigail Reynolds & Giveaway

Mr/ Darcy's Refuge, by Abigail Reynolds (2012)Please help us welcome Austenesque author Abigail Reynolds today during her blog tour in celebration of the release of Mr. Darcy’s Refuge, the ninth novel in her popular Pemberley Variations series.

Whenever I read one of her creative and romantic takes on roads not taken in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, I feel a bit like I am in an Austen Twilight Zone. Readers familiar with Austen’s classic story will recognize characters and settings, but Reynolds always mixes it up, placing new impediments and challenges to Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet’s romance. There are always surprises, and, this new novel is no exception. The first few chapters had me laughing out loud as the story unfolds from Darcy’s point of view. He is even more arrogant and assuming then we ever realized. Ha!

Abigail has kindly shared her thoughts on her writing career and her new book. Leave a comment to enter a chance to win a copy of Mr. Darcy’s Refuge. Enjoy!

I’ve just spent the weekend at the Decatur Book Festival enjoying the company of readers and authors of Austen-inspired books, both fiction and non-fiction. One topic that arose repeatedly was how the world of publishing has changed in the last two years, and even in the last two weeks – yes, really, we discussed some significant changes that have taken place in the last fortnight!  It made me think about how my personal writing process has changed as well.

Mr. Darcy's Letter, by Abigail Reynolds (2011)It took me 25 months to write and edit Mr. Darcy’s Letter, which was released in December 2011. In contrast, I started writing my latest release, Mr. Darcy’s Refuge in mid-January of this year, completing it in 7 months.  Why so much faster?  The easy answer is that I started cutting back on my day job early this year, giving me more free time to write, but that doesn’t completely account for it, since I probably spent one-third the hours on it overall as I did on the last book.

The biggest difference was that I could write every day.  When I have to take a break from writing for a week or more, I lose track of the flow of the narrative, and if I want to have good pacing, I have to go back and rework already written text before I start again. Even with detailed notes, I have trouble keeping scenes on track when there’s a large gap in time. It’s much harder to keep characters consistent and I have to do more revisions in order to keep the tone consistent through the book.  Interestingly, when I look back at my books, the ones that are most popular with readers are the ones that I wrote the fastest.

Certainly a book can be written too quickly, without enough care being taken to make it into a quality product, but can it also be written too slowly?  Obviously, in my case, it can be.  But what about Jane Austen?  We have a reasonable amount of information about how long it took her to write her books.  What does it show us?

The Annotated Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austenm edited by David M. Shapard (2011)Let’s look at Sense & Sensibility, which Jane Austen referred to as her ‘suckling child’ – an interesting metaphor since it implies that she both loved it and felt drained by it.  She had finished the first draft, then entitled Elinor and Marianne, quite quickly, since she read it aloud to her family before she was 20 years old.  She returned to it two years later to do a full revision, changing it from an epistolary novel to a traditional narrative.  Twelve years later she took it out again for yet another full revision, this time changing the name to Sense & Sensibility.  It was published in 1810, fifteen years after she read the first draft to her family.  She had been working on it for her entire adult life.

The Annontated Persuasion, by Jane Austen and David Shapard (2010In contrast, she started Persuasion when she was 39 years old, and wrote it from start to finish, including revisions, in just under a year.  Naturally, she was a more experienced writer at that point, but I also wonder how the speed of her writing affected the book.  I think of Persuasion as a delight – the tone, the themes, the characters, the background, all seem to flow seamlessly together as I read it.  Sense & Sensibility, on the other hand, reminds me in some ways of Shakespeare’s ‘problem plays’ where there are gaps of style, consistency, or just basic characterization.  I think of it as Jane Austen’s problem novel.  While more polished than Shakespeare’s ‘problem plays,’ the flow of Sense & Sensibility isn’t as smooth as Persuasion, nor are the characters as consistent, and it’s sometimes hard to follow why certain characters care about other characters.  It makes me wonder if Jane Austen also had to struggle with changing vision and loss of flow when the writing of a book spanned so many years.  After all, a character created at age 19 would have to go through a major metamorphosis before meeting the standards of an author at age 34, and it would be almost impossible to erase all the traces of the earlier characterizations.

My writing will never come close to equaling Jane Austen’s, or even make it into the same order of magnitude.  I write light fiction for my own pleasure and that of my readers, and I’m very content producing the literary equivalent of comfort food rather than haute cuisine.  Still, given how much I adore Austen’s writing, it’s very nice to be able to find some potential similarities in our experience as writers!

Thank you for sharing your insights on your writing Abigail. Jane Austen also wrote for her own amusement and that of her family, so you share more than a few similarities.  Best wishes for a great success with Mr. Darcy’s Refuge.

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

Author bio:

Abigail Reynolds is a great believer in taking detours. Originally from upstate New York, she studied Russian and theater at Bryn Mawr College and marine biology at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole. After a stint in performing arts administration, she decided to attend medical school, and took up writing as a hobby during her years as a physician in private practice.

A life-long lover of Jane Austen’s novels, Abigail began writing variations on Pride & Prejudice in 2001, then expanded her repertoire to include a series of novels set on her beloved Cape Cod. Her most recent releases are Mr. Darcy’s Refuge, A Pemberley Medley, and Morning Light, and she is currently working on a new Pemberley Variation and the next novel in her Cape Cod series. A lifetime member of JASNA and a founder of the popular AUSTEN AUTHORS group blog, she lives in Wisconsin with her husband, two teenaged children, and a menagerie of animals. Her hobbies do not include sleeping or cleaning her house. Website: Pemberley Variations; Blog: Austen Authors; Facebook: Abigail Reynolds and at Twitter: @AbigailReynolds

GIVEAWAY OF MR. DARCY’S REFUGE

Enter a chance to win one of two digital copies available of Mr. Darcy’s Refuge, by Abigail Reynolds by leaving a comment either asking Abigail about writing her Pemberley Variations series, her new novel, or a remark about Jane Austen’s writing style by 11:59 pm PT, Wednesday, September 12, 2012. Winners to be announced on Thursday, September 13, 2012. Digital copies are available to download Internationally. Good luck to all.

Mr. Darcy’s Refuge: A Pride & Prejudice Variation, by Abigail Reynolds
White Soup Press (2012)
Trade paperback (238) pages
ISBN: 978-0615669755
Kindle: ASIN: B00919X9CW
NOOK: BN ID: 2940015170801

© Abigail Reynolds, Austenprose

Dear Mr. Darcy Blog Tour with Author Amanda Grange & Giveaway!

Dear Mr. Darcy, by Amanda Grange (2012)Please join us today in welcoming author Amanda Grange on the launch of her blog tour of Dear Mr. Darcy, a new retelling of Pride and Prejudice from Mr. Darcy’s perspective.

Wait! Didn’t Amanda already write Mr. Darcy’s Diary? Yep, she did, but this novel has a new slant that readers will find enchanting. Leave a comment to enter a chance to win one of three copies of the book available from Amanda’s publisher Berkley Trade.

Welcome Amanda

Hi, Laurel Ann, thanks for inviting me to guest blog. I’m very excited to be here to talk about my latest book, Dear Mr Darcy.

I’m sure people are wondering why I have written another retelling of Pride and Prejudice, and why I have used the epistolary form. The reason is very simple. As some of you will already know, Jane Austen rewrote Pride and Prejudice considerably between 1797, when it was begun, and 1813, when it was published. It was originally called First Impressions and it was probably written in the epistolary style.

I’ve often thought about the early version of Pride and Prejudice and wished we still had it to read. Over the years an urge started growing inside me to recreate it. Of course, my version is only my idea of how it might have been, and I’m not Jane Austen, but the idea gripped me. I thought it would be a fantastic way of providing another way into the story, and another way into Mr Darcy. I decided to start with the death of his father, because his relationship with his father was obviously very influential in turning him into the proud, haughty man of Pride and Prejudice.

Almost the first letter in Dear Mr Darcy is written by Mr Darcy’s father, when he is on his deathbed. He wants to give our Mr Darcy some advice for the future, including these words, which have a lasting effect:

Remember that the woman you favour with your hand will not only be a wife to you, she will also be a sister to Georgiana and the mistress of Pemberley. She will need to command the respect of the servants and the love of your family; she must reflect the greatness of the Darcys; she must be a gracious hostess and a model of feminine virtue; she must be a modest lady and she must be possessed of a refined taste and true decorum. And she must be a woman you can admire, respect and esteem, as well as love.

For advice on matters of this nature I refer you to my brother’s son, your cousin Philip.

Darcy’s cousin, Philip, is my own invention. He proves very useful throughout the book as his character is similar to Darcy’s, he is of the same social level and therefore Darcy feels he can confide in him.

The following extract is from one of Mr Darcy’s letters to Philip later in the book, written from Rosings, when he is tempted, against his will, to propose to Elizabeth – who is definitely not the sort of woman his father advised him to marry!

It would degrade me to marry her. I would be laughed at by all my friends, jeered at by my enemies and pitied by all. I could never possibly marry her. And yet – and yet I cannot keep away from her. The lightness of her spirits, her humour, her arch smile, her teasing, her eyes – oh! Philip, her eyes! which sparkle when she teases me and show she knows her power over me – all these things drive me to distraction.

I can tell no one but you. You know my character, you know how proud and disdainful I am, but against my better judgement I have been enraptured by her. It is out of the question for me to marry her; out of the question to make her my mistress.

I would leave if I could, but if I go now it will look particular and that is something I very much want to avoid. I do not know what to do.

Your beleaguered cousin,

Darcy

*******

Mr Philip Darcy to Mr Darcy

London, April 22

Darcy, leave at once. Make some excuse and go today, this minute, never mind if it looks particular, it will soon be forgotten. Do not linger another moment. This kind of fever is virulent and the only thing that can control it is a prolonged absence from its source. Have your valet pack your things and meet me in London straight away. If you stay you will regret it.

Philip

 *******

Mr Darcy to Mr Philip Darcy

Rosings Park, April 23

Dear Philip, you are too late. I have proposed.

This is just a sample of the letters, but Dear Mr Darcy is full of them! Letters from Elizabeth to her friend Susan (my own invention) as she talks about Mr Darcy’s arrival at Netherfield and her subsequent frustrating yet stimulating meetings with him; Caroline Bingley’s scheming as she persuades Charles to introduce her to his eligible friend Mr Darcy; Mary’s moralising and more. But at the heart of the book are the letters to and from Mr Darcy as he manages his estate, cares for his sister and fights a losing battle against his love for Elizabeth Bennet.

I love all my books, but every once in a while, I feel that one of them is extra special. I felt it when writing Mr Darcy’s Diary and I felt it when writing Dear Mr Darcy. I hope readers agree.

Author Bio:

Amanda Grange was born in Yorkshire, England, and spent her teenage years reading Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer whilst also finding time to study music at Nottingham University. She has had over twenty novels published including six Jane Austen retellings, which look at events from the heroes’ points of view. Woman said of Mr Darcy’s Diary: “Lots of fun, this is the tale behind the alpha male,” whilst  the Washington Post called Mr Knightley’s Diary “affectionate”. The Historical Novels Review made Captain Wentworth’s Diary an Editors’ Choice, remarking, “Amanda Grange has hit upon a winning formula.” Austenblog declared that Colonel Brandon’s Diary was “the best book yet in her series of heroes’ diaries.”

Amanda Grange now lives in Cheshire, England. You can find out more by visiting her website Amanda Grange. You can also find her on Facebook as Amanda Grange Author.

Grand Giveaway of Dear Mr. Darcy

Enter a chance to win one of three copies available of Dear Mr. Darcy, by Amanda Grange by leaving a comment revealing what intrigues you about reading Mr. Darcy’s personal correspondence by 11:59 pm Pacific time, Wednesday, August 15th, 2012. Winners will be announced on Thursday, August 16th, 2012. Shipment to US addresses only. Good luck!

Dear Mr. Darcy: A Retelling of Pride and Prejudice, by Amanda Grange
Berkley Trade (2012)
Trade paperback (400) pages
ISBN: 978-0425247815

© 2012 Amanda Grange, Austenprose

Pride and Pyramids Blog Tour with Authors Amanda Grange & Jacqueline Webb & Giveaway

Pride and Pyramids, by Amnada Grange and Jacqueline Webb (2012)Please join us today in welcoming authors Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb on their blog tour of Pride and Pyramids, a new Austenesque sequel to Pride and Prejudice that takes Elizabeth, Darcy and their family to Egypt. Leave a comment to enter a chance to win one of three copies of the book available.

Welcome Amanda and Jacqueline…

Amanda: I’d long wanted to write a sequel to Pride and Prejudice, but there were already a lot of sequels available and I didn’t want to repeat the usual story of Elizabeth and Darcy settling down at Pemberley. I didn’t want to write about the Darcys having marital problems either, since I firmly believe they live happily ever after, but a book needs incident in order to make it interesting, which created a dilemma. Then one day I was emailing Jackie, whose first book was set in Egypt, and something clicked, because it reminded me that Egyptology was a huge craze in the Regency era. The wealthy young men of the eighteenth century often extended their Grand Tour of Europe to include Greece, Turkey and Egypt, and interest was heightened in 1799 – when Jane Austen was writing Pride and Prejudice – because of the discovery of the Rosetta Stone. The Stone was brought to England and it was displayed in the British Museum from 1802 onwards. Interest continued to grow and Belzoni’s account of his adventures in Egypt, in 1815, (which was very useful for our research!) added more fuel to the fire. So it seemed a perfect setting for a sequel which would be new and fresh, but at the same time accurate for the period. I was very excited by the idea and suggested we write it together because Jackie had researched Egypt intensively for her previous book and had all the relevant research books at her fingertips.

Jacqueline: When Amanda suggested we collaborate on a Jane Austen sequel I was delighted. My first book The Scarlet Queen is based in Egypt about a young woman searching for an elusive cache of treasure in the Valley of the Kings, so I had already done a lot of research around this topic. My novel was set in the Edwardian era, about a hundred after Pride and Prejudice, but Egypt had been popular with the Europeans since Georgian times. Elizabeth, Darcy and their growing family were well-off and had enough leisure time to make the journey seem plausible and it was the kind of thing wealthy Europeans would do, although it would have been adventurous. However that aspect fit in well with the characters of Elizabeth and Darcy and allowed us to imagine them in a whole new environment, as well as meeting up with some old faces.

Amanda: Yes, we wanted to include some of the minor characters from Pride and Prejudice in Pride and Pyramids, as well as introducing some new ones.  As the book starts in London, then moves to Pemberley, before heading off to Egypt, we get a chance to catch up with Jane and Bingley. Then Lizzy and Darcy find they see rather more of Mrs Bennet than they intended! They have six lively children by this time, as the book is set fifteen years after their marriage. They’re still recognisably the characters from Pride and Prejudice, but we see them in their role of parents as well as in their interludes as a couple. And, of course, there are tombs and pyramids and an eerie little doll, which causes quite a bit of trouble! It was a lot of fun to write and I hope Pride and Pyramids will be just as much fun to read. It’s Elizabeth and Darcy as you’ve never seen them before!

Author Bios:

Amanda Grange was born in Yorkshire, England, and spent her teenage years reading Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer whilst also finding time to study music at Nottingham University. She has had over twenty novels published including six Jane Austen retellings, which look at events from the heroes’ points of view. Woman said of Mr Darcy’s Diary: “Lots of fun, this is the tale behind the alpha male,” whilst The Washington Post called Mr Knightley’s Diary “affectionate”. The Historical Novels Review made Captain Wentworth’s Diary an Editors’ Choice, remarking, “Amanda Grange has hit upon a winning formula.” Austenblog declared that Colonel Brandon’s Diary was “the best book yet in her series of heroes’ diaries.”

Amanda Grange now lives in Cheshire, England. You can find out more by visiting her website Amanda Grange. You can also find her on Facebook as Amanda Grange Author.

Jacqueline Webb lives on the Wirral, which is near to Liverpool, England, with her husband, two sons, two cats and one dog. She is a teacher of French and English and she has had two historical romances published by Robert Hale – The Scarlet Queen  and Dragonsheart. She has also just had a paranormal romance e-book published by Lyrical Press Sophronia and the Vampire, under the name Jacqueline Farrell. She has always enjoyed writing but didn’t get really serious about it until she was in her early forties. Her sons were very small and she was working part-time and feeling as though she was just rushing from work to babies without any time doing something she enjoyed. So she joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association and submitted a novel to their New Writers Scheme. Although she didn’t get anywhere with that submission she was given some great advice and wrote another novel which did get published.

Giveaway chance for Pride and Pyramids

Enter a chance to win one of three copies of Pride and Pyramids by asking either author about their research and writing experience, or, which of Jane Austen’s original characters from Pride and Prejudice you would like to fall victim to the mummy’s curse by midnight PT, Wednesday, July 11, 2012. Winners to be announced on Thursday, July 12, 2012. Print edition shipment to US and Canadian addresses only. Ebook edition internationally. Good luck!

Pride and Pyramids, by Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb
Sourcebooks (2012)
Trade paperback (320) pages
ISBN: 978-1402265358

© 2012 Amanda Grange & Jacqueline Webb, Austenprose

Austenesque Author of the Month – Laura Hile: Guest Blog & Giveaway!

Laura Hile Featured Austenesque Author May (2012)We are very happy to introduce Austenesque author Laura Hile as our featured author in May on Austenprose.

Laura has written a trilogy to Jane Austen’s last novel Persuasion which continues the story of Elizabeth, Sir Walter Elliot’s eldest, unmarried daughter. Those of you who have read Persuasion or seen the great movie adaptations of it will remember that Elizabeth is quite condescending and spiteful to her younger sister Anne, and one wonders out loud why would we would want to read three novels inspired by such a unappealing character? Her faults are truly onerous, which, makes her story all the more intriguing. How will she be transformed, or will she?

Every Saturday this month we will offer a guest blog, book reviews & giveaways, elaborating on why this series is so popular with Jane Austen fan fiction lovers. Here is the schedule:

  • May 05 – Introduction and Guest blog by Laura Hile
  • May 12 – Review of Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story Book 1 – So Rough a Course
  • May 19 – Review of Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story Book 2 – So Lively a Chase
  • May 26 – Review of Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story Book 3 – The Lady Must Decide    

Mercy's Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot's Story, by Laura Hile

Without further ado, welcome Laura:

Meet Jane Austen’s “Other Elizabeth”

Such a heroine I’ve chosen for my Austen novels! What can I say? I simply could not resist her.

Her name is Elizabeth, but she’s not from Pride and Prejudice. I’ve taken on none other than Anne Elliot’s awful elder sister from Persuasion. Yes, that Elizabeth. The woman most Austen readers frankly love to hate.

Now don’t go by what you’ve seen in the movie adaptations. Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Elliot is poised and graceful, and at twenty-nine is more beautiful than ever. She has exquisite taste, is sure of herself, and is fond of having her own way. She is also the eldest daughter of a very fine woman, which means she behaves badly but knows better.

In other words, she is me.

Well, except for the beautiful part. And the graceful part. And the always being able to get her way part. Thank the Lord I have never been pretty enough to get away with airing all of my fine opinions!

At the end of Persuasion Elizabeth Elliot is left in dismal straits, though she is too proud—and too stubborn! —to admit that. One way or another she must marry well, and so she begins to scheme. However, Miss Elliot is not as smart as she thinks, and that’s where the fun begins. She’s a scornful damsel in distress. What a delicious premise for a story!

And now I’ll share another sorry truth about myself. As a book-lover, I am a hopeless snoop. Oh, I’m too polite to listen at keyholes or peer through windows. But with a novel I don’t need to do those things! Everything’s laid out for my inquiring mind to devour: private conversations, innermost thoughts, and daring undertakings! All of the excitement of real life with none of the risks!

So perhaps the best way to introduce the “Other Elizabeth” is to allow you, my fellow book-lover, to snoop a bit. I present for your inspection a letter of Elizabeth’s. Can you discover what she’s about?

* * *

My Dear Mrs Darcy,

I wonder if I might solicit your advice regarding a mutual acquaintance, Miss Caroline Bingley. Having suffered disappointment in your novel, she must wander into mine!

And let me tell you, in Mercy’s Embrace Miss Bingley is making a thorough nuisance of herself. You viewed her as a rival (and I am heartily glad she was bested!) but I am seen as a social asset. Honestly, I do not know which is worse! What some people will do to advertise a connection with my family! Simply because my father is a baronet of ancient lineage, she must twitter and simper and hover round!

And when my odious cousin, William Elliot, returned to Bath, what must she do but set her sights on him! I know what she’s after—my late mother’s title as Lady Elliot! And she mistakenly assumes that intimacy with me will further her cause. Not only does she cling like a leech at public functions, but she insists on mauling my name, calling me Eliza, or worse, Lizzy. As if anyone but a fishwife would wish for that!

Miss Bingley must have rocks for brains, for she will not listen! I have told her, for example, that William Elliot has not yet inherited. It is most unwise to gamble on that, for so often the proper person does not die! And may I congratulate you, Mrs Darcy, for so wisely refusing Rev. Collins’ offer of marriage? I know all about marital desperation, but Longbourn was not his! It would have been madness to accept him!

As to my own affairs, you may have heard various tales. I would like to point out that though newly divorced, Mr Rushworth is in full possession of both the Sotherton Estate and its princely income. As to remarks about his person, why, I have confidence that he will improve. Besides, I am accustomed to managing a foolish gentleman. Have I not put up with my father for years? As to rumors that I have been meeting a clerk in a Bath tea shop, kindly disregard them. My father’s business affairs are again in a sad tangle, and this time I am handling things. I refuse to discuss business in a counting house! I suppose there are women who find Mr Gill attractive. I am not one of them.

But enough about me. If you would kindly reply, Mrs Darcy, listing any little thing that will irk Miss Bingley, I would be most grateful.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Elliot

Author Laura Hile (2012)Author Bio:  

As a girl Laura Hile pored over Victorian novels on her grandmother’s shelves, smitten with stories from a bygone era.  The wonder of Gothic Romance and Jane Austen’s Regency came next.  But it was not until serialized Austen fiction became popular that Laura summoned her courage and began to post stories of her own.  To keep readers interested, she developed what has become her signature style:  intertwined plots, cliffhangers, and laugh-out-loud humor.  The comedy she comes by naturally in her job as a middle school teacher—there’s never a dull moment at school!  Laura lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, the eldest and youngest of her three college-age sons, and a collection of antique clocks. Visit Laura at her website Mercy’s Embrace; at her blog Jane Started It; on Facebook as Laura Hile Author and Mercy’s Embrace; and follow her on Twitter as @LauraHile.

Grand Giveaway of Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story

Enter a chance to win one of three (3) copies of Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story Book 1 – So Rough a Course, by Laura Hile, or one (1) full set of the trilogy which also includes Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story Book 2 – So Lively a Chase and Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story Book 3 – The Lady Must Decide, by asking Laura a question about her series or by sharing your reaction to any of the three reviews posted during our month-long author event each Saturday in May.  Entrants will qualify for a chance at the drawing of one (1) copy of book one, or one (1) each of the entire set. Both print editions and ebooks are available. Contest ends at 11:59 Wednesday May 30th, 2012. Winners announced on Thursday, May 31st, 2012. Shipment internationally. Good luck!

Just in time for Mother’s Day, Wytherngate Press is offering the full series of Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story at a discount through May.  You can receive a 25% off the print edition at their online shop, or $2.00 off the ebook editions on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other etailers.

Many thanks to author Laura Hile for her wonderful guest blog introducing us to her heroine Elizabeth Elliot and for generous giveaways! Enjoy!

© 2007 – 2012 Laura Hile, Austenprose

Reading Austen: Guest blog by Meredith Esparza

Jane Austen, by Cassandra AustenGentle readers: We are happy to add the story of another conversion to Jane to our monthly column, Reading Austen. Today’s guest blog is by Meredith Esparza who shares her personal story of how she discovered Jane Austen and why reading her novels is so special for her.

Finding Jane Austen During My Awkward Stage

You’ve heard that everyone goes through an “awkward stage,” right?  That awkward time of life, between the ages of eleven and fifteen where teens experience growth spurts, braces, and acne?  But the term doesn’t just apply to a teenager’s physical appearance, does it?  It can also apply to their social and behavioral development, as well.  During the “awkward years,” teens not only mature into their adult bodies, but they mature into their adult mindsets and personalities, too.  Some teens do it gracefully, while others, like me, experience some awkwardness…

When was my awkward stage?  It started when I entered middle school and lasted until about sophomore year in high school. (Kind of long, I know!)  These years were awkward for me because, unlike many of my friends, I wasn’t in a hurry to grow up.  I wasn’t into boy-bands, make-up, or cellphones.  I was still content with being a little girl, playing with my American Girl dolls and watching Disney movies.  I knew it was time to mature and leave my childhood interests behind, but I just didn’t know where to go next.

I didn’t find the answer until the summer of my sophomore year of high school when I borrowed the 1940 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice from my local library.  Up until that time, I felt isolated, socially awkward, and unsure of the person I wanted to become.  But after seeing my first Austen adaptation and subsequently reading all of Jane Austen’s novels, I saw with perfectly clarity the type of person I wanted to become: an Austen heroine.

I didn’t necessarily want to dress like these heroines and live their lives, (although, that would in no way be disagreeable to me!) I wanted to possess their strength of character, their moral compasses, and their sense of self-worth.  What better guides could a young girl ask for than Elinor Dashwood, Anne Elliot, and Elizabeth Bennet?  Who better to learn life’s lessons from than a writer who perfectly illustrates the flaws in human nature while gently imparting instruction in each novel?

After discovering the world of Jane Austen it no longer mattered to me that I didn’t have a boyfriend, or that I wasn’t friends with the popular crowd at school.  I didn’t feel the desire or need to fit into that world any more.  I found a whole new world that I’d much rather be a part of – one without AOL chat rooms, MTV, and peer pressure – a world that manifested itself in my life and gave me the feeling that I belonged.

From that point on, Jane Austen became a part of my everyday life.  With movie adaptations, Austenesque novels, and fantastic Austen blogs to follow, I found a niche for myself and grew out of my awkward stage.  And what’s even more wonderful, is that I discovered a community of the people that feel the same ways I do.  A community of readers and authors that love witnessing Darcy and Elizabeth fall in love over and over again, that secretly wish Anne Elliot could be their best friend, and that live by the motto “All Jane Austen, All the Time!”  What could be more perfect?!?

Looking back, I feel that Jane Austen entered my life at the perfect moment, not too soon and not too late.  She found me during my awkward stage, helped me survive my adolescence, and taught me how to be an Austen heroine.  She is more than just a writer, interest, or hobby, she is a part of my life, and I don’t think that will ever change.

At what point did Jane Austen enter your life?

Author Bio:

Meredith Esparza is a music teacher living off the coast of North Carolina with her very own Mr. Darcy.  She is a long-time admirer of Jane Austen and an avid reader.  Her blog, Austenesque Reviews is devoted to the reading and reviewing of numerous Jane Austen sequels, fan-fiction, and para-literature.  Currently she is hard at work planning her annual blog event, Austenseque Extravaganza, a month-long celebration of Austenesque novels and authors, which will be in September of 2012.  She hopes to see you there!  Visit Meredith at her blog Austenesque Reviews, follow her on Twitter as @austenesque and on Facebook as Austenesque Reviews.

Would you like to share your personal story of reading Austen here with fellow Janeites? Submit your essay of approximately 750 words revealing how you discovered Jane Austen’s novels and why they are so special to you to Austenprose. It just might be included in our monthly column, Reading Austen, which will be published on the first Friday of every month.

© 2007 – 2012 Meredith Esparza, Austenprose

The Jane Austen Guide to Life blog tour with author Lori Smith & giveaway!

The Jane Austen Guide to Life, by Lori Smith (2012)Happy May Day everyone! Please join us today in welcoming author Lori Smith on the launch of her blog tour in celebration of the publication of The Jane Austen Guide to Life: Thoughtful Lessons for the Modern Woman, released today by Globe Pequot Press. Lori has generously shared with us some insights on her inspiration for writing her second Jane Austen-inspired book and offered a giveaway to three lucky readers.

I’m thrilled I was able to write The Jane Austen Guide to Life, but I can’t fully take credit for the idea.  A while back, an email unexpectedly popped up from an editor I hadn’t heard from in a while, one I’d always wanted to work with.  She’d been thinking, she said, about a book that would combine a light biography of Jane Austen with practical “life lessons” for the modern reader, drawn from Austen’s life as well as her books.  I thought for about fifteen seconds and concluded, “Yes!  That book should be written!”  And that was the beginning.

As normal as it seems to me to take advice from Austen—I’ve loved her writing for years, even followed her life through England for my last project, A Walk with Jane Austen: A Journey into Adventure, Love, and Faith (2007), —I thought it might seem strange to some.  After all, Austen was a 19th-century spinster.  She wasn’t terribly concerned about fashion, knew nothing about platform heels, and, if she’d had the chance, she very well might have married a first cousin (as was common practice back then).  So what could she possibly teach our modern selves?

In some ways, Austen was more modern than we might think.  She embraced the 21st-century idea of making your dreams a reality.  After all, in her day, a lady should not have written fiction.  Not only was writing un-ladylike, but novels were frivolous and of questionable value.  But Austen had to tell her stories—she had to write—so, acceptable or not, that’s what she did.

In other ways, Austen challenges us, her own good sense in contrast to current cultural extremes.  Many of us strive for our fifteen minutes of fame, while Austen didn’t even want her name to appear on her books.  As a nation, we’re saddled with pervasive credit card debt; Austen lived within a tight and carefully kept budget.  She would encourage us to cherish our true friends rather than focusing on building extensive and ephemeral social networks.  And Jane Austen never had sex—so what would she say about a culture that has a word specifically to describe meaningless sexual encounters.  (Hookup, anyone?) Continue reading “The Jane Austen Guide to Life blog tour with author Lori Smith & giveaway!”

For Myself Alone Blog Tour with Author Shannon Winslow & Giveaway

For Myself Alone: A Jane Austen Inspired Novel, by Shannon Winslow (2012Please join us today in welcoming author Shannon Winslow on her blog tour in celebration of the publication of For Myself Alone: A Jane Austen Inspired Novel, released last month by Heather Ridge Arts. Shannon has generously shared with us some insights on her inspiration for writing her second novel and offered a giveaway to three lucky readers.

Thank you, Laurel Ann, for inviting me back for another visit with all your lovely readers at Austenprose. I’m delighted for the opportunity to announce the debut of my second Austen-esque novel, For Myself Alone, and to share my inspiration for writing it.

First, I should say that I might never have authored one word were it not for Jane Austen and my desire to spend more time in her world. I adore her subtle stories of love triumphant, and her witty, elegant prose suits my taste exactly. I longed for more, though, and so decided to write the sequel to Pride and Prejudice that I envisioned. I had the time of my life creating The Darcys of Pemberley, and I was totally hooked on writing after that.

On to the next challenge! Not a sequel or tie-in this time, but a new story – one I imagined Miss Austen might have written next. But what would that have been? Well, she was very progressive for her time and would, I believed, have looked for a new angle or a different way of telling a story. So I didn’t feel forced to confine myself to ground she’d covered before. How about giving the heroine a lot of money for a change? And the problems that come with it? That opened up all kinds of possibilities!

Set in nineteenth century Hampshire and Bath, For Myself Alone is the tale of Josephine Walker, a bright, young woman whose quiet life is turned upside-down by an unexpected inheritance. With a tempting fortune of twenty thousand pounds, she’s suddenly the most popular girl in town. Yet Jo longs to be valued for who she is, not for her bank balance.  She cannot respect the men who pursue her for her money, and the only one she does admire is considered the rightful property of her best friend.

A sojourn in Bath, for treatment of her father’s gout, gives Jo a chance for a fresh start in a place where no one will know about her monetary attractions. But, as you might guess, even there the path to true love and a Jane-Austen-style happy ending does not run smoothly.

When I began For Myself Alone, I didn’t have in mind any direct reference to Jane Austen’s existing work, only a compliment to her style. With her words so deeply entrenched in my mind, however, I often found myself thinking of and alluding to various passages from her books as I went along. Rather than fight the temptation to borrow some of her expertly turned phrases, I decided to go with it, making kind of a game out of tucking these little gems between the pages for Austen aficionados to find. What fun!

Jo parrots Marianne Dashwood’s immortal words, “Will you not shake hands with me?” saying them to boy-next-door Arthur Evensong instead of the attractive but dangerous Willoughby. And in another place she asks her father about his gout, saying, “Is there nothing you can take to give you present relief?”  You get the idea.

This wouldn’t work if my own writing style was too modern or different from the original, making the insertion painfully obvious and interrupting the flow of the story. But I flatter myself (as Mr. Collins would say) that I have enough flare for Austen-style language to allow the borrowed lines to blend fairly seamlessly in with my own. Here’s a sample from the prologue. Be sure to read it with your best British accent!

Mr. Pigeon recapitulated the account to his wife. “They say the mother is to blame. But mark my words, Agatha, it is the money at the heart of the matter,” he concluded with irrefutable sagacity. “By heaven! A woman should never be trusted with money. No doubt it has completely gone to her head. She would have done much better never to have been given it the first place. Bad judgment on the part of the uncle; bad judgment indeed.”

This excerpt features a rather obscure reference from The Watsons fragment, making it more difficult to detect. But could you tell what part was Jane Austen’s and what was mine? Hope not.

All this goes to illustrate my purpose in writing For Myself Alone, which was to give the reader an experience much like reading a brand new – or possibly long lost and just rediscovered? – Jane Austen novel. How close I came to achieving that goal, you will have to be the judge.

Author Shannon Winslow (2011)Author Bio: Shannon Winslow, her two sons now grown, devotes much of her time to her diverse interests in music, literature, and the visual arts – writing claiming the lion’s share of her creative energies in recent years.

In addition to three short stories (one a finalist in the Jane Austen Made Me Do It contest), Ms. Winslow has published two novels to date. The Darcys of Pemberley, a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, was her debut. For Myself Alone, a stand-alone Austenesque story, now follows. She is currently working on the next installment of her Pride and Prejudice series entitled Return to Longbourn.

Shannon lives with her husband in the log home they built in the countryside south of Seattle, where she writes and paints in her studio facing Mt. Rainier. Visit Shannon at her website/blog Shannon Winslow’s Jane Austen Says, follow her on Twitter as @JaneAustenSays, and on Facebook as Shannon Winslow.

Giveaway of For Myself Alone: A Jane Austen Inspired Novel

Enter a chance to win one of three copies (print or eBook) available of For Myself Alone: A Jane Austen Inspired Novel, by Shannon Winslow by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about reading this new Jane Austen-inspired novel by 11:59 PT, Wednesday, May 02, 2012. Winner announced on Thursday, May 03, 2012. Shipment of print copies to US addresses only, eBook internationally. Good luck!

Many thanks to Shannon for her delightful guest blog, and to her publisher Heather Ridge Arts for the generous giveaways. We must chime in and reveal that Shannon is also a talented artist and created the image for her book cover. Brava!

For Myself Alone: A Jane Austen Inspired Novel, by Shannon Winslow
Heather Ridge Arts (2012)
Trade paperback (262) pages
ISBN: 978-0615619941
Kindle: B007PWINR8
NOOK: 2940014192712

© 2007 – 2012 Shannon Winslow, Austenprose

Reading Austen: Guest Blog by Emma Mincks

Jane Austen, by Cassandra AustenGentle readers: We are happy to add the story of another conversion to Jane to our monthly column, Reading Austen. Today’s guest blog is by Emma Mincks, who shares her personal story of how she discovered Jane Austen and why she is passionate about defending her.

My love affair with Jane Austen’s storytelling began early. I watched the Gwyneth Paltrow adaptation of Emma in eighth grade. At the time, the melodrama and internal conflict that Emma experiences during her discovery of love for Mr. Knightley resonated perfectly with my teenage angst and misunderstandings of love. It also didn’t hurt that the musical score was beautiful, that Emma was a painter (so was I), that she tried hopelessly to set up all her friends (so did I), or that she and I shared the same first name.

Throughout the years Miss Austen has inspired me as a writer and artist, and her timeless stories continue to be a source of diversion. I love reading her novels, and feel that I gain something new each time. Now, Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion are tied at the top of my list for best Austen novel, and I find Emma’s character completely different (thank goodness!) from my adult self.  A large portion of my experience with Austen has been personal, but in recent years, my devotion to her writing has gone pretty public, and I even created a blog, Looking for Pemberley, inspired by my love of Pride and Prejudice.

Jane is an important part of my life, but I often feel like I have to defend her from attackers who question her merits, or who see her as a “silly lady novelist.” Quite frankly, I am glad to do it. However, I also must admit that a part of me wishes that the people who deride her appreciated her as much as they ought.

In my opinion as a reader, scholar, and feeling human being, Austen has made an incredible contribution to the world of literature that cannot be discounted. The main groups I find myself at odds with regarding Jane Austen’s talents fall into different categories, including: anti-canonical modernists, male friends, and skeptics worried she will bore them with her 18th and 19th-century marriage plots.

For the record, I do not believe that all men hate Austen, and in fact, Austenprose has helped counteract the stigma of male Janeites.

Many of my friends studying modernism, contemporary literature, and even comic books, often seem biased against Miss Austen. This comes in part because she has become so canonical, and so popular that they feel bombarded by her.

For those readers who are not familiar, the literary canon is a list of books (primarily written by white men), that scholars have favored for present and future generations to study. The canon is problematic for many reasons, including the fact that it was created and is still being created with a Western Anglo bias. The books from the canon are often seen as the “great” books, or books you “must know” if you are pursuing a career in literature, certainly.

May I say to the anti-canon critics that Austen has earned her place in the history of writers, and even in the canon if we are to study it. Her outstanding attention to detail, illustrative character analysis, the clever, and dare I say at times subversive social commentary in her works, is outstanding. As far as I am concerned, she is one of, if not the best author of her day, and any widespread acceptance she has had is not a valid reason to disregard her work.

Furthermore, Austen’s writing has much more character development than some give her credit for. For example, Anne Elliot’s innovative first person narration in Persuasion is more illustrative of the later Romantic period than Regency in the extreme focus on Anne’s interiority and emotion. As readers, we get to see and feel Anne’s thought process as a primary focus in the novel, a pioneering writing technique that is not frequently enough attributed to Austen.

In my experience, those who have an extreme dislike of Austen, or who are prejudiced against her, are also generally not familiar with her writing on an intimate level, or haven’t read her much, if at all. I realize that everyone has different opinions and tastes, and I respect that. However, I also believe it is silly to discredit a body of work you haven’t read.

If provoked, I will continue to defend the merits of Jane Austen’s writing. However, I have recently come to the conclusion that Jane doesn’t need me to defend her; she does just fine without my help.

After all, her work has been powerful enough to glean hundreds of years worth of loyal fans.

Read the books if you haven’t; they can speak for themselves.

Author Bio:

Emma Mincks is a free spirited freelance writer, editor and English tutor in her mid 20’s with feminist leanings and a love of all things foodie. Emma has been defending Jane Austen for years. She has lived in many different locations, from South Dakota to London and New Mexico, but is excited to currently work and reside in Seattle. Emma is a recovering academic beginning a career with words. You can check out her literary musings at her blog Looking for Pemberley, and visit her on Facebook at Looking for Pemberley.

Would you like to share your personal story of reading Austen here with fellow Janeites? Submit your essay of approximately 750 words revealing how you discovered Jane Austen’s novels and why they are so special to you to Austenprose. It just might be included in our monthly column, Reading Austen, which will be published on the first Friday of every month.

© 2007 – 2012 Emma Mincks, Austenprose

The Jane Austen Guide to Happily Ever After Blog Tour with Author Elizabeth Kantor & Giveaway!

The Jane Austen Guide to Happily Ever After, by Elizabeth Kantor (2012)Please join us today in welcoming author Elizabeth Kantor on her blog tour in celebration of the publication of The Jane Austen Guide to Happily Ever After, released today by Regnery Publishing. Elizabeth has generously shared with us some insights on her inspiration for writing the guide and offered a giveaway to two lucky readers.

The time: Nearly eight years ago.

The scene: Me, reading a Washington Post article on why women love Jane Austen.

The action: Me, yelling at the paper–“No, no, no! You’re getting it absolutely, perfectly, 180 degrees wrong. Women don’t love Jane Austen because her novels are so much like our own lives. Her world has everything we don’t have–and that we’re longing for!” (Or words to that effect.)

So I started writing an article about why women really love Jane Austen, and what we want from her, that we don’t have. Not just the gorgeous Regency dresses, and not just the beautiful grounds of Mr. Darcy’s Pemberley estate. Jane Austen heroines’ love lives have such dignity! And they seem to be so smart about men—not to mention, about what they themselves really want. Lizzy and Elinor and Emma (especially Emma) make mistakes, of course. But their whole conduct of their affairs just seems to be on a higher plane, one we wish we could get to!

As it happened, I was writing another piece at just around the same time–an article about the trials and tribulations of dating in the twenty-first century. And at some point along the way, it dawned on me: Jane Austen is the answer to all the complaints modern women have about our love lives—the solution to all the problems we have disentangling ourselves from the wrong guys, finding the right one, and getting to happily ever after. Her heroines follow rules that have gotten lost in the mists of time, kind of like “the Rules”—if you remember that self-help book from back in the ’90s—only they’re not tricks for manipulating men, they’re fundamental principles of relationships, based in Jane Austen’s keen insights into human nature.

So I started working on a book that would distill Jane Austen’s wisdom and apply it to modern love lives. In the process, several things became clear. As I read more first-person accounts of “modern mating rituals,” it became obvious that an awful lot of women (and men, too!) are really unhappy—bitter, angry, and distrustful of the opposite sex—because of how their love lives are going. And as I continued to read and reread Jane Austen over those eight years, it became increasingly clear that she understood a lot of important things that modern women simply don’t know—so that if I could only find a way to help women today apply her principles to their lives, they might start getting very different results from the ones that were making so many of them so unhappy. Continue reading “The Jane Austen Guide to Happily Ever After Blog Tour with Author Elizabeth Kantor & Giveaway!”

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