The Book Talks

Miss Georgiana of Pemberley cover AUDIBLEYea! I’m thrilled to say that my latest novel – Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley – is now available in audio format!

It seems like it’s been a long time coming. First I had to wait for my favorite narrator, Marian Hussey, who is very much in demand, to become available. And then the production process itself took a few weeks.

Marian HusseyShe studies the material ahead of time with some general direction from me as to how I see the characters and what I want. In this case, since Marian had already narrated my previous two P&P sequels (The Darcys of Pemberley and Return to Longbourn), I just requested that she voice the characters the same way to make the transition from book to book as seamless as possible for the reader/listener. After she had recorded the book, I “proof listened” to it, noting the changes I wanted as I went along. Once I was satisfied, the entire audio book had to go through a final quality control review before being released.

I think the result was well worth the wait, though. I especially appreciate Marian’s gift for unique character voices and the way she transitioned from a young, tentative-sounding Georgiana in the beginning to a more mature and confident young lady by the end of the story. (The audio book is now available at Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.)

Personally, I love the audio format, which allows me to multiply my reading time. In addition to whatever book I’m reading with my eyes at any given period, I always have a second one going – reading it with my ears whenever I’m in the car. It sure makes traffic slow downs easier to take. I’m in no hurry to get where I’m going when I’m wanting to find out what happens next in the story! Sometimes I’ll even sit for a few minutes after I arrive, just to get to the end of a scene or a chapter.

Although reading while driving could be considered a sign of our busy times – another form of multi-tasking – I think audio books also hearken back to a simpler age. Didn’t we all love having bedtime stories read to us when we were children? And in Jane Austen’s day, before television and other modern options, it was a common form of group thCAF6W1WVentertainment. She refers to it in this passage from chapter 14 of Pride and Prejudice, for example. Unfortunately, this is not a very resounding endorsement of the entertainment, thanks to Mr. Collins’s limitations:

Mr. Bennet was glad to take his guest into the drawing-room again, and…glad to invite him to read aloud to the ladies. Mr. Collins readily assented, and a book was produced; but, on beholding it… he started back, and begging pardon, protesting that he never read novels. Kitty stared at him, and Lydia exclaimed. Other books were produced, and after some deliberation he chose Fordyce’s Sermons. Lydia gaped as he opened the volume, and before he had, with very monotonous solemnity, read three pages, she interrupted him.

I also had fun finding references to reading aloud in several of Jane Austen’s preserved letters. Here’s an excerpt from one dated December, 1816, to “My Dear E.”

Uncle Henry writes very superior sermons. You and I must try to get hold of one or two, and put them into our novels: it would be a fine help to a volume; and we could make our heroine read it aloud on a Sunday evening…

Wentworth's letter_SodabugI’m not quite sure of the context, except that I’m assuming this letter is to one of Jane’s many nieces and that the Henry mentioned is Jane’s brother. In any case, Jane apparently found Henry’s sermons much more worth listening to than Fordyce’s!

Below, she is writing to another of her nieces with literary aspirations – Anna, who has sent chapters of her own work to her Aunt Jane for her comments. The letter is from May/June, 1814.

I am very much obliged to you for sending your MS [manuscript]. It has entertained me extremely; all of us indeed. I read it aloud to your Grandmama and Aunt Cass, and we were all very much pleased… A few verbal corrections are all that I felt tempted to make… If you think differently, however, you need not mind me. I am impatient for more, and only wait for a safe conveyance to return this book.

Imagine the privilege of having the great Jane Austen critique and compliment your book!

But her comment about a few verbal corrections reminds me of another aspect of producing an audio book. I mentioned above that as I “proof listened,” I made note of changes to request. What I didn’t mention was that some of those errors were the author’s, not the narrator’s. Oops! There’s nothing like hearing my own words read back to me – exactly as written instead of what I thought I wrote – to bring the flaws to light. Thanks to this process, I’ve been able to correct a half-dozen minor typos and a couple of annoying word repeat issues.

So now that you know, should you feel disappointed that you had already purchased the earlier, slightly flawed version? Not at all! You now can claim to own a special, limited first edition!


For related posts on the audio book experience, see Books Read Aloud and A Pleasure Shared.

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Fall Roundup

A few images of the season and a catch-up on what’s happening in my world:

20151016_124133They sauntered about together many an half-hour in Mrs. Grant’s shrubbery, the weather being unusually mild for the time of year, and venturing sometimes even to sit down on one of the benches now comparatively unsheltered, remaining there perhaps till, in the midst of some tender ejaculation of Fanny’s on the sweets of so protracted an autumn, they were forced, by the sudden swell of a cold gust shaking down the last few yellow leaves about them, to jump up and walk for warmth.

I thought this quote from Mansfield Park (chapter 22) was appropriate for today’s post in that I, much like Fanny Price, have been enjoying walks outside while the weather is still mild enough to be comfortable and while the turning leaves are showing off. Also, it gives me an excuse to share some of the fall-color pictures I’ve taken.

But I should say 20151001_131536autumn, not fall, I suppose. That was a mistake I made in my first book, The Darcys of Pemberley (three times, actually). Using the word “fall” in place of “autumn” is an Americanism, as it turns out, and very un-Jane-like. My apologies, especially to my readers in the UK.

Elizabeth shuddered at the very idea.

“What is it?” Darcy asked. “Are you cold?”

“A little,” she answered, accepting his interpretation. “Fall is upon us, and the evening air has taken a decided chill.”

In response, Darcy settled a rug over their laps and his arm about her shoulders. “There, is that better?”

“Oh, yes. In fact, had I anticipated such an agreeable solution, I should have discovered myself to be cold a good deal sooner.”

20151016_124033The other reason I thought a Mansfield Park quote appropriate is that my next book (still in the planning stages) will have strong ties to that novel – something a little different with a time-travel element thrown in just for fun! I hope it will serve as a bridge for Jane Austen fans to the publishing of my long-forestalled novel First of Second Chances. In fact, I plan to release them both together as the first two in what could, if well received, turn out to be a loosely connected series.

20151016_123552I can hardly wait to dive into some serious writing again, but I don’t dare until I’ve finished off a heavy-duty family responsibility (sorting out my parents’ house) first. I’ll leave the tempting idea of starting a new novel dangling in front of my nose as motivation and then my reward. In the meantime, the story is spinning itself and taking shape nicely in my head!

I do want to mention, for the sake of anyone in or passing through the Seattle/Tacoma area this weekend, that I will be appearing at a local book event in Puyallup on Saturday (Oct. 24) 1 – 4pm. It’s going to be very informal, so I will be available to chat as well as sign books. I’d love to see some of you there! Here’s a link to the details.

P&P 20th anniversaryFinally, I couldn’t let an important milestone anniversary slip by unacknowledged. Did you know that the A&E mini-series of Pride and Prejudice starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle debuted twenty years ago in 1995? I didn’t realize it at the time, but that event would quite literally change my life, introducing me to Jane Austen and ultimately launching me on a second career as a writer (see People You Meet at Costco). In my opinion, it’s still the best film adaptation out there, and my life is far richer for it. Thank you Andrew Davies and Sue Birtwistle!

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P & P Personal Ads

The virtual book tour for Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley is wrapping up, but you may still have a chance to win a free copy if you hurry (see previous post, Launching without Getting Wet, for the full schedule with links). Meanwhile, it’s time for me to think about moving on. 

I came across a clever blog post I thought you might enjoy (please read it here at Bas Bleu). The author of the article has taken on the job of writing dating profiles (or personal ads, if we think a couple decades back) for some of our favorite literary personalities: Miss Havisham, Mr. Rochester, Nancy Drew, Hamlet, Anna Karenina, etc. But the one that naturally caught my eye was Fitzwilliam Darcy’s, transcribed below.

A Three-Hour TourFitzwilliam Darcy –
Single man in possession of a good fortune in search of a wife to help manage my estates and serve as a respectable role model for my younger sister. I have little interest in dancing or the theater, though I do appreciate a pretty singing voice and a pair of fine eyes. In fact, I have no time for frivolities beyond the usual social responsibilities; I much prefer more intimate pursuits such as quiet evenings in my library, long rides across my vast country estate, and intimate tête-à-têtes with women of deep intellect and charm. You should know that I am fiercely protective of my friends and family and will do whatever is necessary to keep them safe.

Fits him, don’t you think? And the long rides across Pemberley and quiet evenings in the library sound pretty good to me. How do you suppose he’ll do with this profile? Some ladies may be disappointed that he doesn’t care to dance and spends most of his time in the country, but I expect that the hint to his exceptional wealth (“good fortune… vast country estate”) will overshadow the negatives and bring him a bushel full of responses. Would Elizabeth Bennet be among them, though? What kind of man does she originally have in mind? Remember, she liked Wickham far better than Darcy on first acquaintance. I think her ad might look something like this:

bonnet - elizabethElizabeth Bennet – A gentleman’s daughter of independent spirit seeks companion with open manner and amiable temper. Must be honorable, generous, and in possession of a quick, lively mind. He who thinks too well of himself and too meanly of others need not apply. As to fortune, I am not completely indifferent. Plain or handsome, one must have something to live on, after all. But my needs are fairly modest. Where there is true affection, I should be just as happy with a curate as with a lord. I love to laugh, to take long walks in the countryside, and to improve my understanding by reading widely. I play the pianoforte only moderately well, but I am often complimented for my light figure, my pleasing singing voice, and my ability to hold my own with the best in a joust of words and wit.

So much for Darcy and Elizabeth. I trust that fate will see they find each other in the end, with or without personal ads. But what about some of the less glorious personalities of P&P. Perhaps they’re the ones who truly need all the help they can get.

Mr. CollinsReverend Mr. William Collins –  On the explicit advice of my noble patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, I now seek a suitable partner for my future life. She must be a gentlewoman, but not brought up too high – someone useful, who is able to make a modest income go a long way. Not that what I have to offer a wife is so small a portion! I flatter myself that any woman must deem herself fortunate indeed to acquire by marriage, in addition to a competent living and a comfortable home, the notice and kindness of one of the greatest ladies in the land! And there is the expectation of a tidy estate in Hertfordshire as well, when my cousin, who is without heir, should die. Duty requires that I presently offer to make the family some amends. But, after that, my conscience will be clear and I shall be free to chuse for myself.

Miss BingleyMiss Caroline Bingley – Statuesque lady, who has graced the finest drawing rooms of London and Derbyshire, desires to do the same in yours. I possess all the usual accomplishments (music, dance, and the modern languages) as well as that certain indefinable something in air that testifies to style and good breeding. The first blush may be off the rose, but is not the flower the lovelier for being a bit more fully in bloom? Money and position are of the highest consideration; affection no doubt will follow. Even failing that, I see no reason why the partnership should be unsuccessful. If all my longstanding hopes in a different quarter come to nothing – something likely to be soon determined – I shall then be willing to entertain other offers.

But is there someone else secretly desiring to find a mate? Someone very unlikely, and yet perhaps lonely?

lady caherineLady Catherine de Bourgh – Widow of excellent fortune and noble birth is willing to consider a second liaison, if the situation is right. I must say at the outset that my standards are extremely high. I am accustomed to having my way and the very best of everything. I see no reason to accept less than that in a husband. I lack nothing as to wealth, position, and autonomy. And let me be rightly understood; I will surrender none of these to marriage. My first husband learned these things by degrees, but I have no intention of being so patient a second time. Still, I can appreciate that an intelligent, entertaining companion could be of service at my time of life. If you have what is required, send application to my solicitor, who will be managing the preliminary screening for me. On no account should you have the effrontery to present yourself without a proper introduction.

What do you think? Is there any hope for these lost, lovelorn souls?

She began now to comprehend that he was exactly the man who, in disposition and talents, would most suit her. His understanding and temper, though unlike her own, would have answered all her wishes. It was an union that must have been to the advantage of both… (Pride and Prejudice, chapter 50)

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Launching without getting Wet

celebration-balloonsWoohoo! Today’s the day my latest novel officially debuts! Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley is now available in paperback, Kindle, and Nook. Audio will be coming soon too.

Once again, I have the honor of “launching” the book at Austenprose, where my hostess is the lovely and gracious Laurel ship launchingAnn Nattress. There will, I trust, be no water involved (first definition of launch: cause to slide into the water). Water and books don’t go well together. Other definitions fit better for the occasion. Yes, the book will be put forth, start, set going, and set out into the world. That’s cause for celebration, and that’s exactly what’s happening at Austenprose. Read about my inspiration for the book and enter to win one of the exclusive prizes being offered!

Miss Georgiana of Pemberley - blog tour banner (1)Then I hope you will follow along on my virtual book tour in the weeks to come. I have been invited to stop by the blogs listed below to share about Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley – something new and different at each one. If you stay with me, not only will you have a pretty good chance of winning a prize, you should also be quite an expert on the book when we finish. Of course, I hope that somewhere along the way you’ll decide to read it as well!

“I shall be miserable without you – t’will be a most pleasant tour to you… pray, be persuaded.” (chapter 6 of Jack and Alice – a juvenile work of Jane Austen)

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Georgiana Darcy’s Full Cover Revealed!

A few days ago, I revealed the cover for my upcoming book at Austen Variations – front only – and shared some of the thoughts behind the design. But I had to hold a little something back for my own blog. So now, for the first time anywhere, here is the full cover for Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley, scheduled to release in a few weeks.
Miss Georgiana of Pemberley cover wrap comp 14

As I said in that earlier post, I wanted the design to reflect the fact that this book is related to The Darcys of Pemberley but not to be so similar that it’s mistaken for it. So we’ve used the same artwork, the same color palate, and some of the same words in the title, but it’s all assembled in a fresh, new way. I’m delighted with the way it has turned out!

Comments from others have been all positive as well – from the “elegant” background to the “perfect” miniature painting on the front. One reader thinks the oval frame makes the picture look like a brooch someone might wear, which I thought was an inspired idea. I may look into what it would take to get such a thing made. Anybody want to pre-order one of your very own? Notice that the oval motif is repeated on the back as well, where my designer, Micah Hansen, has created another lovely vignette from the original artwork.

We have nothing from Jane Austen on the subject of the perfect book cover, since nothing of this sort was known in her day. But in a word search of the data base for “cover,” I did come across this passage from one of her letters, where Jane advises her niece Anna on that young lady’s attempt at a novel:

Your Aunt C. does not like desultory novels, and is rather afraid yours will be too much so… I allow much more latitude than she does, and think nature and spirit cover many sins of a wandering story…”

Does my story wander? I admit, it does meander a little, following Georgiana’s narration along her indirect path to a happy ending. Perhaps the fact that I have wrapped the whole thing a pretty cover will help to obscure any flaws.

I hope you are as pleased with the cover as I am – both front and back. More importantly, though, I’ll be eager to hear what you think about what’s in between!

Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley will be available on July 21st! If you want a sneak peek before then, I invite you to read the first chapter here on my site. Other preview excerpts are posted at Austen Variations on March 23March 30, April 27, and May 26.

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Springtime in the Country

20150528_115744Every year about this time, I feel compelled to expound on the glories of spring in some way or another. Today is a beautiful day in the great Pacific Northwest. The sun’s out, the birds are singing, and it’s the perfect temperature – not too hot or too cold. I’ve got all the windows of the house open for fresh air and, if the breeze blows the right direction, I can smell this fragrant azalea that’s blooming outside my front door.

I’m fortunate to live in a beautiful part of the world and in a semi-rural area where tall evergreen trees and tangled undergrowth still dominate the landscape. On days like this, there’s no place I’d rather be. Fanny Price felt the same way about the lush greenery of Mansfield Park.

It was sad to Fanny to lose all the pleasures of spring.  She had not known before what pleasures she had to lose in passing March and April in a town.  She had not known before how much the beginnings and progress of vegetation had delighted her – what animation both of body and mind she had derived from watching the advance of that season which cannot, in spite of its capriciousness, be unlovely, and seeing its increasing beauties, from the earliest flowers in the warmest divisions of her aunt’s garden, to the opening of leaves of her uncle’s plantations, and the glory of his woods.     (Mansfield Park, chapter 45)

20150518_152624She’d been sent back to Portsmouth where confinement, bad air, bad smells, substituted for liberty, freshness, fragrance, and verdureThe contrast made her appreciate the delights of her adopted home all the more. Fanny Price’s preference for country life over town reflects her author’s own bias.  Jane Austen spent five unhappy years in Bath, where the family moved after her father retired and was obliged to give up the Steventon rectory in Hampshire.

From Persuasion, here’s more evidence of Jane Austen’s dislike of town, Bath specifically:

Anne entered [Bath] with a sinking heart, anticipating an imprisonment of many months, and anxiously saying to herself, “Oh! When shall I leave you again?”

In The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen, where Anne’s character is a representation of Jane’s own life and views, I expanded on this thought. On her return to Bath from a seaside holiday, Jane is thinking…

IMGP2528The setting itself gave me no comfort, for I had learnt to dislike Bath. Not least among its detractions for me was the familiar din that greeted us immediately upon our arrival – the dash of other carriages, the heavy rumble of carts and drays, the bawling of newsmen, muffin-men, and milk-men… For me, it was a sad thing indeed to exchange the natural music of wind and wave for the mechanical clatter of town.

>Part Three: Hampton Court, Sonehenge, and BathI visited Bath once a few years ago and didn’t find it at all unpleasant. But I guess I wouldn’t want to live there – or in any other city – permanently either. I much prefer the country. That’s another thing Jane Austen and I have in common.

Well, the wind chimes outside my window have just stirred, generating their natural music and reminding me that I shouldn’t be sitting inside at my computer, not on such a perfect spring day. I think I’ll go out for a walk or take some more pictures of flowers to share.


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Me, Myself, and I

20150427_155238Yay! I just finished my most recent book, which will probably be titled Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley – a companion novel to The Darcys of Pemberley, this time written from Georgiana’s perspective. (Learn more about it in Work-in-Progress). There will of course be rewrites, editing, proofreading, cover design, and formatting before it’s published, but it feels good to have the story itself completed.

Since the whole point of this book was to give Georgiana’s view of events, I decided to write the book in first person, as if she were telling you the story herself. So there’s a whole lot of “me, myself, and I” in it.

Writing novels in first person seems to come into and go out of fashion periodically. It was pretty much unheard of in Jane Austen’s day as far as I know, and her six novels are all written in third person omniscient point-of-view. So that’s what I used for my two P&P sequels (The Darcys of Pemberley, Return to Longbourn). But I tried the first person approach in For Myself Alone and I discovered I enjoyed it. Since then, I used it in The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen as well as this latest book.

So what’s the advantage of writing/reading in first person? I think it allows you to feel closer to the hero/heroine because you’re basically living inside that character’s head throughout the entire story. You see what s/he sees, hear what s/he hears. You are privy to all his/her thoughts, internal debates, and emotions. Whatever s/he knows, you know.

The disadvantages are the flip side of the advantages I just mentioned. Because you are inside the heroine’s head, you can ONLY see what she sees, hear what she hears, experience what she experience, and nothing else. If something important happens elsewhere, you (the reader) don’t get to know about it unless/until the heroine of the book finds out. (Some writers get around this limitation by switching back and forth between two or more point-of-view characters, but that can be tricky too.)

It seems to me, though, that this is the most realistic way to present a story. Think about it. Every one of us experiences life in “first person.” We have no choice. We know only what we know. We’re clueless about what’s going on in somebody else’s head unless they choose to tell us, and even then the chance for miscommunication (or deliberate deception) is high. We have to stumble through life with incomplete information, often basing our actions on the way our minds fill in the blanks – what we’re guessing motivated another’s actions, what we assume someone meant by what they said, etc.

No wonder there are so many misunderstandings! Makes things tough in real life, but of such is good conflict in fiction made. Look at Darcy and Elizabeth:

D & E, back turned“There is, I believe, in every disposition a tendency to some particular evil – a natural defect, which not even the best education can overcome.”

“And your defect is to hate everybody.”

“And yours,” he replied with a smile, “is willfully to misunderstand them.” (Pride and Prejudice)

Their misunderstandings keep us going for nearly the full length of the novel. Why? Because Elizabeth can’t see inside Darcy’s head to know why he behaves as he does, says what he says. Good thing she’s kept in the dark too, or there would be no story.

As a reader, do you have a preference – first-person versus third-person stories? Why?

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