Previews of the Coming Attraction

This has been a busy week for me and my upcoming release, The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen. Yesterday, the cover reveal post , which I’ve reproduced for you below, went live over at Austen Variations. Isn’t the cover lovely? One reader commented, “This is one book that I shall want in print rather than ebook. The cover has that aged look of all my old friends that need held and petted. Just gorgeous.” Many thanks to my designer Micah Hansen!

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00034]

And today Austenprose is featuring a preview and brand new excerpt from the book – the scene where Jane first meets the intriguing Captain Devereaux. Sparks fly! Drop on over there and take a look. Laurel Ann Nattress, the lovely proprietress at Austenprose, has also offered to host the official launch party for The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen on August 11th, with prizes and books being given away!

…and every one concerned was looking forward with eagerness. There seemed a general diffusion of cheerfulness on the occasion… (Mansfield Park, chapter 18)

So the countdown has officially begun. For me, that means a lot of fun… and a lot of work to be done between now and then (final edits, formatting, promoting). For readers, it hopefully means some building anticipation. You’ve seen the cover. Now, here’s the blurb that goes with it:

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For every fan who has wished Jane Austen herself might have enjoyed the romance and happy ending she so carefully crafted for all of her heroines…

The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen

by Shannon Winslow

What if the tale Jane Austen told in her last, most poignant novel was actually inspired by momentous events in her own life? Did she in fact intend Persuasion to stand forever in homage to her one true love?

While creating Persuasion, Jane Austen also kept a private journal in which she recorded the story behind the story – her real-life romance with a navy captain of her own. The parallel could only go so far, however. As author of her characters’ lives, but not her own, Jane Austen made sure to fashion a second chance and happy ending for Anne and Captain Wentworth. Then, with her novel complete and her health failing, Jane prepared her simple will and resigned herself to never seeing the love of her life again. Yet fate, it seems, wasn’t quite finished with her. Nor was Captain Devereaux.

The official record says that Jane Austen died at 41, having never been married. But what if that’s only what she wanted people to believe? It’s time she, through her own private journal, revealed the rest of her story.

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So there you have it – the cover and the official blurb about my upcoming release! I’m so excited about this new book. It has been a labor of love, spanning the last three years of my life, to prepare this story about our favorite author for you. It’s dedicated to every Jane Austen fan who has ever wished her a better fate, because that truly was my motivation for writing it. I hope you will enjoy discovering this alternate interpretation of the facts!

Remember, The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen officially launches August 11th! Stay tuned for further details. In the meantime, I invite you to brush up on Persuasion itself, read my first chapter  (in an earlier post here at Austen Variations), and peruse the never-before-seen excerpt (Jane meets Captain Devereaux) at Austenprose. Thanks for your continued interest and your patience!

 

Posted in Austen Variations, Jane Austen, Jane Austen Quotes, my books, Shannon Winslow, Shannon Winslow's writing, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Popular Highlights: Words of Wisdom?

persuasion - kissAs I promised last time, I’m back with part two on the subject of the “popular highlights” feature on your Kindle. But first an update on the progress of my upcoming novel, The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen. I’m in the middle of some final rewrites based on feedback from my beta readers. When I’m finished, the manuscript will go to the proof reader for a final line edit. Meanwhile, my graphic designer is hard at work trying to translate my vision for the cover into reality. It’s almost there – just a bit more tweaking – so hopefully my next post will be the exciting cover reveal!

Okay. As I mentioned before, the passages most frequently highlighted in my books tend to fall either into the category of romance or what I’m calling “wisdom.” Last time I covered the romantic; this time it’s wisdom.

To start, let me say that I don’t set out to teach or influence readers by what I write. Some authors do, of course. They may have an agenda – hidden or otherwise. And it was not uncommon longer ago for tales designed to teach valuable life lessons to literally end with the words, “And the moral of the story is…”

My goal is purely entertainment. Still, it’s possible that I might happen to say something sage occasionally, purely by accident. Which reminds me of our Jane Austen quote for the day. It’s not exactly the same situation, but you’ll get the idea. Lizzy Bennet, when she’s acquired a little more wisdom of her own, says about Mr. Darcy:

“I meant to be uncommonly clever in taking so decided a dislike to him, without any reason. It is such a spur to one’s genius, such an opening for wit, to have a dislike of that kind. One may be continually abusive without saying anything just; but one cannot always be laughing at a man without now and then stumbling on something witty.” (Pride and Prejudice, chapter 40)

20140525_213841To carry it one step further, one cannot write 100,000 words to create a novel without accidentally stumbling on something wise or witty. So, according to my readers’ highlights, here are my best:

…despite apparent indifference toward their own infants, men seem to have no lack of interest in the activity that leads to their existence.

“It seems the law has only a nodding acquaintance with justice and an even more tenuous association with common sense.”

“Even as young as you are, you have learnt that life is full of trials. Yet I pray you never allow bitterness to take root in your soul. It is a deadly poison, Jo, and life is too fleeting to waste a moment on resentment or recriminations.”

“I should be sorry to discover that I must surrender my reason in proof of my affection.”

When unscrupulous men behave dishonestly, it surprises no one. But when an honorable man acts against his known principles, it threatens to turn to quicksand the ground on which we all stand.

“In my experience, venturing to ascribe motives to another person’s behavior is a singularly perilous undertaking.”

“…for rarely is one person solely to blame in a dispute and the other completely innocent.”

“Nothing will destroy your love more quickly than discovering that you cannot truly esteem your husband.”

Rereading this list, I do see a couple that are pretty close to my own thoughts (and, no, it’s not the last one!), grown out of some experience in my life. But ideally, rather than me, they should sound more like the characters to whom the words/thoughts are ascribed. That’s one of the incredible things about writing fiction. Your characters take on lives and personalities of their own, and sometimes even the author is impressed by the wise or witty things they come up with!

What do you think? Do you have a favorite from this list? Or better still, give us your favorite Jane Austen words of wisdom.

 

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Popular Highlights: Romance

20140525_213841Kindle has this wonderful, but slightly scary, feature called “popular highlights.” As you’re reading your book, you have the opportunity to add virtual bookmarks or notes and to highlight passages you especially like – things you may want to come back to for another read. Convenient, right? Right.

The slightly scary part? The folks at Kindle somehow know (because of the wireless connection, I’m sure) what you’ve highlighted in your books. Well, maybe not you specifically, but you collectively, the reading public. They keep track of which lines are highlighted and how many times. Anyone can see these “popular highlights” by selecting that item from the menu.

This feature is also pretty wonderful for me, though. It’s very cool, as an author, to be able to see which thoughts from my books stand out to those reading them, which lines were “profound” enough to be worth remembering. Not many people bother to highlight, so I can’t help but feel a little thrill discovering that something I’ve written was exceptional enough to warrant that bit of extra effort!

Most of the highlighted passages in my books seem to fall into one of two categories: love or wisdom. I thought I’d share the top romantic passages with you this time and save the “sage advice” for next time. So here goes. The first example is from For Myself Alone. The other three are from The Darcys of Pemberley.

 There is an intenseness of feeling in our embrace that is new to me – a unity of spirit, and a powerful longing for a deeper oneness in every other sense.

As their eyes met, a familiar, knowing look passed between them, causing her to take a sharp breath and feel a quickening of her heart. With private delight, she noted that nearly a year of marriage had, if anything, increased rather than diminished his power to affect her in this way. Elizabeth had no means of perceiving it, but at that moment Mr. Darcy entertained similarly pleasant thoughts about her.

“Here, with you, I shall always be, so far as it is withing my control. We must trust to God for the rest.”

Yet his conscience would not allow him to rest without giving his wife some token of his steadfast affection. Before extinguishing the candle, he turned to her and softly kissed the back of her head, lingering long enough to take in the sweet scent of her hair and whisper the words “I love you” as a blessing over her. A tear ran down Elizabeth’s cheek and soaked into her pillow.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite – one of these or an alternative? For some reason, readers of Return to Longbourn have been remarkably stingy with their highlighters. I know I wrote some romantic Wentworth's letter_Sodabuglines in that book too. Didn’t I? Somebody find and mark them, please! As for a favorite romantic line from Jane Austen, there are many to choose from. Hard to beat Captain Wentworth’s letter from Persuasion, however, which I enjoyed adapting for my upcoming release: The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen.

“You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been but never inconstant.”

What’s your favorite romantic Jane Austen quote? Do you ever highlight in your Kindle? Why or why not?

Posted in Jane Austen, Jane Austen Quotes, my books, Shannon Winslow, Uncategorized, writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Is it Spelled or Spelt?

readersWhile my upcoming novel (see Work-In-Progress) is out to a few trusted beta readers for some feedback, and my graphic designer is working on the cover, I’ve assigned myself a project or two toward readying the book for publication. Probably the most daunting of these is the task of trying to discover all the words where my American spellings differ from the British English spellings, and converting them. I’ve never worried about this before. I’m American and a majority of my readers are American too. It would seem unnecessary, even false, to pretend otherwise, I reasoned.

This book is different, however. What is written in it represents Jane Austen’s own thoughts, expressed in her own words. So in this case, it seems just as anachronistic to have her using American spellings as it would be to have her making a telephone call or driving a car.

I knew, of course, that differences existed -colour/color, behaviour/behavior, theatre/theater, cosy/cozy, learnt/learned, for a few common examples – but little did I know HOW MANY! This “comprehensive” list, which I discovered today, states there are around 1800 roots and derivatives that vary from one dialect to the other. I was floored. How did this happen? Don’t we all speak the same language? Apparently not.

dictionary pageIt seems that in the 18th century, before “the colonies” parted ways with Mother England, spellings had not been standardized. Thus, writers of the most popular dictionaries were free to subsequently decide spellings for themselves… and for all of us as well. Whereas the British mostly followed Samuel Johnson, Noah Webster (a proponent of spelling simplification and reform) was taken as the authority in America. Thus, the great divide developed.

Some of the new reform rules? If extra vowels don’t influence the sound of a word, don’t put them in (colour becomes color, foetal becomes fetal, catalogue becomes catalog). If it sounds like a “z”, make it a “z” (cosy becomes cozy, finalise becomes finalize). Drop unnecessary doubling of final consonants before adding suffix (levelled becomes leveled, etc). Great! I’m all for it.

Two problems, though. There are, naturally, many exceptions to these rules, and I don’t think Webster went far enough! While he was at it, I wish he had taken care of a multitude of other spelling inconsistencies. Examples abound, even within this very paragraph. I give you the perplexing case of the “gh.” Notice first of all that it sounds nothing like either of the letters of which it is comprised, and secondly that the sound the two letters makes together is not even uniform. Now throw in the “ph” in words such as paragraph and phone, and we’re hopelessly confused. And there are dozens more.

spelling is hardIn an ideal world, every word would be spelled (or should we go with the British spelt?) exactly like it sounds, and every letter should make one and only one sound. I realize (or realise) this would require a drastic rewrite of the English language and the addition of several more letters, mostly vowels. But I think it would be worth it in the long run, especially for people like me. Spelling has never been my strong suit.

But back to the task at hand – the process of converting my novel to British English. I bet there’s a computer program out there somewhere that can handle the job. If I don’t find it, however, I hope Jane Austen and my readers in the UK will forgive any errors I make.

Do you think the fine points of spelling really count, as long as the meaning is clear (see my popular related post on the intriguing Cambridge study)? With all our electronic devices, spelling may soon be a lost art anyway, like calculating by hand and cursive writing. What do you think?

“You may think me foolish to call instruction a torment, but if you had been as much used as myself to hear poor little children first learning their letters and then learning to spell, if you had ever seen how stupid they can be for a whole morning together… you would allow that ‘to torment’ and ‘to instruct’ might sometimes be used as synonymous words.” (Northanger Abbey, chapter 14)

writing superherosPS – In case you missed it, I gave an interview this past week for Maria Grace’s blog, Random Bits of Fascination. Among other things, I answer the question, “What superhero powers lurk beneath that mild mannered exterior?” Read the interview here.

Posted in guest blog post, Jane Austen, Jane Austen Quotes, Shannon Winslow, Uncategorized, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Persuasion200 Project

finalcobblogo (2)If you’ve followed me for a while or if you used to read the now-defunct Austen Authors blog,  you will remember our popular P&P200 series, which was later compiled into Pride and thPrejudice: The Scenes Jane Austen Never Wrote (with proceeds going to a JA charity). Well, now we’re doing the same thing with Persuasion at Austen Variations. It’s the 200th anniversary of the year the story took place, and we’ll be tracking right along in “real time,” supplementing the original novel with scenes Jane Austen alluded to but didn’t write herself.

I’m very excited about this project, both because I had a blast writing for P&P200 and because I love Persuasion so much. A story about youthful error, mature love, and second chances, it runs P&P a close second in my affections. Now I’ll have reason to spend more time with this wonderful book.

I’ve been inhabiting Anne and Captain Wentworth’s world for a year now anyway, as I worked on my new novel (see Work-in-Progress), a Persuasion tie-in with Jane Austen herself as the heroine. In it I’ve drawn a parallel between a previously unknown romance in her own life and the one she was writing about in her novel. [Update: The book, titled The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen, is finished except for final rewrites and it should be out sometime this summer!]

We’ve just gotten underway with Persuasion200 at Austen Variations, featuring some prequel scenes (things that take place prior to the live action of the novel). In fact, I had the privilege of writing the very first scene called Beginning with an Ending. It shows Anne Elliot as a 14-year-old girl about to lose her mother and receiving some final words of affection and advice from her.

The end approached. As Lady Elizabeth Elliot lay there, gravely ill and helpless, on what she expected would prove to be her deathbed, she could no longer flatter herself that it might be otherwise. Although she had no particular fear for what was to come, she did have enough duty and pleasure in this life as to make her very sorry indeed to be quitting it so soon – especially to be leaving behind her children in want of love and proper guidance. In vexation of spirit, she wondered who was to provide them these and other necessities when she was gone. Certainly not her husband, Sir Walter.

Looking back over a life too brief, Lady Elliot regretted nothing so much as that she had been far too careless in the choosing of her children’s father… (continue reading here at Austen Variations)

Lady Elliot’s death is really the first pivotal event in Anne’s life, and it effects everything that follows, including why she decides she must give up her engagement to Captain Wentworth later, when she is 19.

She was persuaded to believe the engagement a wrong thing – indiscreet, improper, hardly capable of success, and not deserving it. But it was not a merely selfish caution under which she acted in putting an end to it. Had she not imagined herself consulting his good, even more than her own, she could hardly have given him up. The belief of being prudent and self-denying principally for his advantage, was her chief consolation under the misery of a parting – a final parting… (Persuasion, chapter 4)

I’m scheduled to write the engagement scene (look for it at Austen Variations on May 13) and the break-up scene too (May 23)! Which do you think was the most fun for me to write? Actually, I had a little head start with both, since I was able to draw on what I’d already written about the comparable events in my novel.

So, I hope you’ll come along on the journey. Get acquainted (or reacquainted) with the heart-warming story of Persuasion, now with the addition of these new scenes. And at the same time whet your appetite for my new book, coming soon!

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“The End”

Last LineI could apologize (again) for going so long between posts, but instead I’ll simply thank you for sticking with me through thick and thin. And I trust you will be glad to know I’ve been hard at work finishing my current novel, entitled The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen. It’s a Persuasion tie-in with Jane Austen herself as the heroine telling her own story of lost love and second (and maybe third!) chances, which, according to my theory, she pays homage to in her final novel. (see Work-In-Progress)

“The End”

So, I typed those last two words a couple of days ago, and it felt great. I have enjoyed every minute spent writing this book, but it was gratifying to finally get to the end. Progress had been slow, due to other demands on my time, and there’s always that nagging worry that the story won’t come together in the end. It’s a real danger since I don’t plot the entire book out in advance. Things turned out well, however. Now, there will be a couple months’ worth of rewrites and editing, which I won’t mind. I’m not quite ready to let go of this one yet.

Anyway, I announced the book’s completion by sharing the above photo on Facebook. At the same time, I somewhat inadvertently shared the final line of the book as well. In case you can’t make it out, it says: 

Without another word, I lay aside my work and allow Philippe to lead me inside through the cinnamon-colored velvet curtains. 

This drew a few comments, and it got me thinking about last lines in general.

Much is made of first lines of books (“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” “Call me Ishmael.” “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”) – how important they are in grabbing the reader’s interest, and so forth. I wrote a post about that sometime back ( Prize First Lines),  which includes a fun montage of Jane Austen’s first lines.

But what about final lines, I wondered? That could be interesting. Turns out I already wrote a post about that too, almost four years ago, complete with a quiz to see if you can identify JA’s last lines, which I have cleverly disguised by changing names, etc. to throw you off the scent. It’s good for a giggle. (I got to read it and be entertained all over again – the advantage of a short memory.)

So instead I went looking through my bookshelves to see if I could find any other interesting last lines. Here’s a sampling of the ones I liked best, beginning with one of my own (Of course I like it, or I would have written something else, right?):

He tugged his wife a bit closer; the music of the opening dance began; and with its heady strains, they moved off together as one. – Return to Longbourn, Shannon Winslow

But they value it all at nothing beside the discovery which gives them happiness: that the wise make of their mistakes a ladder, the foolish a grave.  -  The Hungry Heart, David Graham Phillips

Should we tell her about it? Now what should we do? What would you do if your mother asked you? – The Cat in the Hat, Dr. Seuss

“We could have had such a damned good time together.”… “Yes. Isn’t it pretty to think so?”  -  The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway

For never was a story of more woe than is of Juliet and her Romeo.  -  Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare

Do you think last lines are important? Why or why not? Do you have a personal favorite of your own?

I will leave you with a picture of spring and your Jane Austen quote for the day. It’s taken from one of her lesser works – Lady Susan – and, according to the theme, it’s the last line.

daffodils

 I confess that I can pity only Miss Manwaring, who coming to town and putting herself to an expense in clothes, which impoverished her for two years, on purpose to secure him, was defrauded of her due by a woman ten years older than herself.

 

 

Posted in fun & games, Jane Austen, Jane Austen Quotes, my books, Shannon Winslow, Uncategorized, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Time Flies

time fliesWhere has the time gone? That’s what I ask myself when I’ve been writing. I kind of get lost in the work, and the next thing I know, three hours have passed, often with less to show for it than I had hoped. The same thing happens on a larger scale, of course, as weeks and months go flying by at an ever-increasing rate.

I have my own personal theory about why time goes faster the older we get.

It all has to do with your frame of reference. Remember when you were six and it took FOREVER for Christmas or some other much-anticipated event to arrive? A year seemed like a really long time then because it was 1/6 of your total life experience! By contrast, as an adult, a year is constantly being reduced in your frame of reference to a smaller and smaller fraction - 1/40, 1/50, 1/60 of your total life experience – a mere blink of an eye. Now, though I love Christmas, it seems to roll around again all to soon!

Although Jane Austen was only 41 when she died, she was aware of this phenomenon, and I found a couple of fun quotes from Emma to illustrate my point.

Between useful occupation and the pleasures of society, the next eighteen or twenty years of his life passed cheerfully away. (of Mr. Weston, Emma, chapter 2)

Poof! 18 or 20 years gone, just like that. I had to laugh when I read this.

So why this topic? Two reasons, the first being that I’m about to have another birthday (I’ll be 39 again, in case you’re wondering). The second is by way of an apology of sorts, or at least an explanation, for allowing so much time to pass without a new post. When I checked, I already knew it had been too long, but I could hardly believe an entire month had gone by!

frank churchill“Three-and-twenty! Is he indeed? Well, I could not have thought it, and he was but two years old when he lost his poor mother! Well, time does fly indeed!” (Mr. Woodhouse of Frank Churchill, Emma, chapter 11)

So what do I have to show for all that time? As usual, less than I would have hoped! Life and family must take precedence over work. But I have managed to get some serious writing done too. 

I’m now about 3/4 finished with my current work-in-progress, entitled The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen. If you aren’t yet a Persuasion fan, you should be! And the good news is that you’ve got time to read (or re-read) this, my second-favorite JA, before my tie-in novel comes out later this year (August?). To whet your appetite for the new book, sample chapter 1 here at Austen Variations. I’d like to know what you think of it.

BTW, Austen Variations is a newly launched site designed as a place for readers and authors of Jane-Austen-related fiction to connect. That’s a change in the last month. Austen Authors sort of went up in flames and Austen Variations has risen out of the ashes, with most of the same authors coming on board. I hope you’ll take some time to look around when you get there.

So what, besides writing, do I have on my plate next? Income tax preparation! That yearly ritual rolls around all too quickly too, and it’s a lot less pleasant than Christmas! Wouldn’t you agree?

Posted in Jane Austen, Jane Austen Quotes, life, Shannon Winslow, Uncategorized, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments