Upcoming Reading & Writing Challenges, & Literary Blog Events in 2011

Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Celebration at My Jane Austen Book ClubThere are great reading and writing challenges, and  literary events in the queue around the blogosphere that have come to my attention. So many in fact, that I decided to combine the announcements into one grand post, so here goes.

Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Celebration

Maria Grazia at My Jane Austen Book Club is celebrating the bicentenary of the publication of Jane Austen’s first published novel, Sense and Sensibility by hosting a year-long blog event. Each month will feature a blog on a topic inspired by S&S from Austen enthusiasts and authors. I will be contributing as the final leg in December with my essay, Marianne Dashwood: A Passion for Dead Leaves and Other Sensibilities. You can check out the full list of bloggers participating and all of the prizes offered each month at Maria’s great Jane Austen inspired blog.

Jane Austen Twitter Project

Author of Murder at Mansfield Park, Lynn Shepherd asks if you would like to be part of a Jane Austen story project? If you are on Twitter, you can participate in a new multi-author story in the works.

She has been developing the idea with Adam Spunberg (@AdamSpunberg on Twitter) and they plan to run a storytelling session one day every week for about three months this year. Each week’s chapter will be posted online and on www.AustenAuthors.com on Sunday. You don’t have to be a published writer to join in – you just have to love your Jane! If you are ready to get your creative juices jumping, then check it out.

The Gaskell Reading Challenge

Katherine at GaskellBlog is hosting a six month reading challenge, January to June, 2011 of Mrs. Gaskell’s works. It’s as easy as selecting two to read and leaving a comment to commit. I have selected Moorland Cottage and will be participating also in her reading group event on the book February 1st to the 15th, 2011 to fulfill one of my challenge commitments. We shall see what my second book is as the year develops. Wives and Daughters? Ruth? Sylvia’s Lovers? I’m undecided. Any suggestions?

The Classics Reading Challenge 2011

Courtney at Stiletto Storytime is hosting a classics reading challenge in 2011. What is a classic you ask? To Courtney, a classic is a “book that has in some way become bigger than itself. It’s become part of culture, society or the bigger picture. It’s the book you know about even if you have not read it. It’s the book you feel like you should have read.” I heartily concur. There are four levels of commitment from 5 books to 40 for those seriously addicted classics readers. I have committed to the Student level at 5 books and will be reading Sense and Sensibility, a Gaskell novel, and three Georgette Heyer novels, because I consider her a classic of the Regency romance genre.

Heroine Love

Yes. We can never have enough love! It makes the world go around. Erin Blakemore, author of that great celebration of our favorite heroines, The Heroine’s Bookshelf: Life Lessons from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder is hosting a blog event February 1st – 18th, 2011 featuring 12 book bloggers writing on their favorite heroine’s and how they changed their lives. Yours truly will be participating on February 18th, (Last again. I know!) honoring one of my favorite heroines Elizabeth Bennet. In addition to the great gush of love for the literary ladies in our lives, there will be tons of swag, yes, great giveaways to reinforce the love all around!

Well gentle readers, get motivated and join in the literary love of writing, reading and books. My two challenges for 2011 are still open: The Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge and the Being a Jane Austen Mystery Challenge 2011. So…take the leap, and join the celebrations.


Laurel Ann

Being a Jane Austen Mystery Reading Challenge 2011

Being a Jane Austen Mystery Challenge 2011We love a good mystery – and when that mystery is combined with our favorite author Jane Austen – all is right in our reading world. Happily since 1996 we have been spoiled beyond measure with author Stephanie Barron’s Being a Jane Austen Mystery series.

About every year or so a new novel has appeared and been promptly devoured. This last fall we had the honor of reading Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron, the tenth mystery in the series. It reminded us again what a great writer she is. “For fourteen years, and to much acclaim, she has channeled our Jane beyond her quiet family circle into sleuthing adventures with lords, ladies and murderers. Cleverly crafted, this historical detective series incorporates actual events from Jane Austen’s life with historical facts from her time all woven together into mysteries that of course, only our brilliant Jane can solve.”

Being a Jane Austen Mystery Reading Challenge 2011

We are very pleased to announce the Being a Jane Austen Mystery Reading Challenge 2011. If you have not discovered one of her wonderful mysteries, this is a great opportunity to join the challenge along with other Janeites, historical fiction and mystery lovers.

Novels in the Series

Challenge Details

Time-line: The Being a Jane Austen Mystery Challenge runs January 1, through December 31, 2011.

Levels of participation: Neophyte: 1 – 4 novels, Disciple 5 – 8 novels, Aficionada 9 – 11 novels.

Enrollment: Sign up’s are open until July 01, 2011. First, select your level of participation.  Second, copy the Being a Jane Austen Mystery Reading Challenge graphic and include it in your blog post detailing the mysteries that you will read in 2011. Third, leave a comment linking back to your blog post in the comments of this announcement post. If you do not have a blog you can still participate. Just leave your commitment to the challenge in the comments below.

Check Back Monthly: The Being a Jane Austen Mystery Challenge 2011 officially begins on Wednesday, January 12, 2010 with my review of the first mystery in the series, Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor. Check back on the 2nd Wednesday of each month for my next review in the challenge.

Your Participation: Once the challenge starts you will see a tab included at the top of Austenprose called Reading Challenges. Click on the tab and select Being a Jane Austen Mystery Reading Challenge 2011. Leave a comment including the mystery that you finished and a link to your blog review. If you do not have a blog, just leave a comment about which book you finished with a brief reaction or remark. It’s that easy.

The Prizes

Oh, of course there are prizes! Author Stephanie Barron has very generously offered one signed hardcover or paperback copy of each of the novels that we will be reviewing each month here on Austenprose to be drawn from comments left with each post, and one signed paperback copy of each of the eleven novels in the series to one lucky Grand Prize Winner to be drawn from comments left at any and all of the reviews left on this blog or yours. Yes, that means that your readers who comment on your challenge reviews have a chance to win too. Winners will be announced monthly two weeks after the blog post, and Grand Prize winner will be announced on January 01, 2012. Shipment to US or Canadian address only.

Bonus Stuff: Yes, of course there is more to get happy about. Availability of each of the novels in the series is great. The books can be purchased or eBooks download at most online etailers and brick and mortar stores. Since the series is so popular, your local library should be a great resource too.

One of the delights of the series is the incredible historical detail that parallel Jane Austen’s life. To expand upon our reading journey in 2011, author Stephanie Barron will be blogging about researching and writing each of the novels as we progress through the series at her Stephanie Barron blog. What an incredible resource and motivation for your reading challenge!

So, make haste and join the challenge today. I am so looking forward to revisiting all the novels in the Being a Jane Austen Mystery series in 2011 and hope you can join in too.


Laurel Ann


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Being a Jane Austen Mystery Reading Challenge Graphic by Katherine Cox of November’s Autumn