Friday, February 26, 2010

Now you can read my story here!

Thanks to my new internet friend, Carrie (you rock, girl!),  I now figured out how to post my story here.   Simply click on the link under "Home" and my first five chapters will show up.  I'm still posting on three JAFF sites, and will update every Monday and Friday.  I guess I will keep the same schedule here--or maybe I'll do it here a day earlier...  Hmmmm.  What do you think?

Everyone has been wonderful.  Please let me know if you see a mistake, so I can fix it.  I'm excited about where the characters are taking me.  Wrote a VERY emotional scene yesterday--PMS can help make those brilliant!  :0)

Enjoy, and drop me a comment if you are so inclined.

Monday, February 22, 2010

What Have I Done?

Okay, so I posted my first three chapters last week on a couple of fan sites.  No big deal.  NOT!  (I haven't said that out loud for years!!)  I was not prepared for the amount of comments and emails that would accompany it.  One of the sites has a running count of how many people were actually viewing my story, and while I slept the first night it shot up to over one thousand.  (As of this morning, it is nearing two thousand.)  It boggled my mind to actually picture one thousand random strangers from all over the world reading my little personal project.  I suddenly felt exposed, self conscious, and now responsible to make all of them happy.

I heard from Sweden, Italy and France.  I feel like a Good Will Ambassador, spreading the love of Elizabeth and Darcy for all to enjoy.  Not really.  But it truly gives me pause, and opens my eyes to just how big a community this is.  And these people know P&P.  I mean know know.  They own Elizabeth and Darcy in their minds, just as I do.  I could lose readers easily, if I do something they deem out of character, or take a turn they find unbelievable, unpalatable.  I would like to say that I am doing this only for me, and do not care if I lose a reader or two, but I do care.  I want this book to go all the way to being published if I possibly could, and the fans are my most important ally.

I had an "I really need my mommy moment," and called her when I felt the full force of it.  She giggled with me about my knocking knees, but assured me that I was not in over my head.  She loves me, she believes in me, and this is what she gets paid the big bucks for.  Thanks Mom.

Promising two postings per week, I posted Chapter 4 just a while ago.  I am also posting on a third site this afternoon and will upload all four since I don't want to have to remember who gets what chapters when. 

So, now that I am over the shock, I am hoping that I can actually get some helpful feedback.  I have been taking advantage of the forums, and already have some seasoned vets helping me with what to do with Wickham.  This journey has just been kicked up a notch or two, and I'm excited and even more motivated.  I will have to work hard to keep ahead of my posting schedule which is two chapters every week.  I'm good for a few more weeks...

Thank you to everyone of my new friends, who are on this interesting little journey with me.  Don't be afraid to help me along with little nudges.  I'm terrified, but exhilarated at the same time.  I couldn't ask for a better way to keep accountable. 

Goodbye for now.  And Miss Austen?  Were you this scared?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

First Three Chapters Are Up!

Something inspired me, possibly choosing a title.  I went ahead and posted my first three chapters, pimples and all, on a JAF site called A Happy Assembly.  Hope you enjoy!

A Time Line, and Possibly, A Title...

I'm doing a time line jig! Isn't it purdy?? (Can you see the artwork of Mr. Darcy in my P&P book from 1940? He looks so darn snooty, it makes me giggle.) So, my novel takes place in a ten month period. I just found that out last night, when I started putting a time line together. I was starting to lose track of key events, and was having to search for certain passages I had written, to know who did what and when. I went to a wonderful sight that has already been invaluable called the Regency Encyclopedia, and found an old scanned written time line of P&P. I took notes, and was able to make my own time line using P&P's, since some of the same things still happen in my book after my jumping off point.

We start in November the day after the Netherfield ball and go to the following September, which is exactly one year from the day Bingley decided to take up residence in Hertfordshire. I just finished writing what happened in March, which you can see many many major things happened. So, now my book has progressed into April, which is slow and sort of uneventful. I'm ruminating and trying to figure out what our star crossed lovers are thinking--how they are processing things, because things will pick up in the summer. I'm actually catching my breath, since writing about the events in Hunsford exhausted me. (Lizzy does go to visit Charlotte, but the events are very different from P&P.) I was actually tensed up while I was typing, and my heart was pounding. How nerdy am I?

I also might be able to do an "I Chose a Title" jig. I'm just not positive it's the best marketing choice. From the research I have done, if you really want to grab true Austenites, they recommend that you title your books with something recognizable in it, like Pemberly, Darcy, or Longbourn. Or to do a play on the original title--like Pride and Pestilence, which is still a viable option for me. :0) But my really awesome, well-obsessed-over title is neither. Writers love to be either extremely clever, or want deep and prophetic strings tied to their works. One of my produced scripts, which was a modern day Jonah story, I entitled "Hold the Anchovies." It still makes me proud. (Of course I had to explain to my scientist hubby, "What if Jonah ordered pizza?" Three seconds later, he smiled and nodded.)

So, my maybe-title "Speak Not Against the Sun," will not stop a Jane Austen fanatic in her heels at the bookstore, but it is a fun and meaningful thread throughout my book. When Elizabeth wants to distract herself in my novel, she recites Latin verses she has memorized. She did just that under her breath within earshot of Darcy,"Adversus solem ne loquitor," which translates as "speak not against the sun", or "why argue when you have no chance of winning?" Darcy understands her and it becomes a private joke or spear point between them the rest of the book. Should I go for the marketing method or with my vanity? What think you, esteemed reader?

I'll post something new from my book next time. If any of you have a good book title idea for me, give it up! Until then, forgive me, dearest Jane...

Friday, February 12, 2010


When I first decided that I was going to write a JAFF book, I had to choose between a modern adaptation and a Regency era "what if." I had a list going of pros and cons for both, and one of the cons for a Regency era book was the vernacular. I thought it would be difficult trying to use words that I have only read, and most likely never uttered out loud. Also the order of the words--they are unintuitive. And the predicates are all over the board with Jane. I just didn't think I could get in the groove. I was wrong. No. How wrong I was.

We all know that there are little freaky pockets of our brains that stow away bits of information that we never intended to keep. But I was not expecting that I had a little stash of words and phrasings that I would use on a whim some day. All those years of period dramas, Masterpiece Theater, Bronte books, and of course my beloved Austen books and screen adaptations paid off. When I chose Regency, I dove right in, and out of my subconscious came flowing a river of words that I would never have strung together in every day life. It surprised me how easy it was. Thanks little freaky brain.

The problem for me now is that those words that I spend hours on, meant for characters living and breathing in 1800, are starting to come out in my every day conversations. "Make haste!" and "Are you quite well?" are escaping without any thought. I'll be lucky if I don't start running around in empire waisted frocks instead of my everyday blue jeans, and buying ugly bonnets to make over.

Some words are new to me, and some are old friends. One word that I have fallen in love with during this journey is "great." The power of that word is lost in our language today. We use it to mean awesome, wonderful or sometimes large, but it's lost its weight. Its heaviness. Its poundage. "A great slap" is sooo much better than a "hard slap." There is more force, but also more class attached to it. A "great shout" is ten times better than a "loud shout"--or is it just me? I have been having to quell (another ancient word I never used before) my liberal use of "great" and rein myself in, but I have enjoyed my new appreciation for that great word.

Okay, back to my work in progress. I've written about 130 pages so far. The checklist helped a great deal. I will leave you with a little paragraph that makes me laugh each time I read it. Poor Caroline is the one lady everyone loves to hate, and I'm no exception. I hope you enjoy it too. Thanks for keeping up with me.


Surprisingly, and most likely against Caroline’s wishes and knowledge, Mr. Bingley came calling at Longbourn two days later. Elizabeth wondered if he had to lower himself from an upper story while his sister was distracted cooking plump children. She also noted that it was fortuitous that her young visiting cousins were mostly lean and thus safe. Mrs. Bennet could barely contain her raptures, and Mr. Bingley was immediately invited to dinner the following night, which he graciously accepted, though they were merely having fish.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Checklist... check!

Yay! I did it! I got my checklist (that we are not calling an outline) done! I have 11 major "things" that need to happen to forward my story to it's happy conclusion. My characters now have somewhere to go, and I can't wait to have them all pile in the bus and get this show on the road.

I will leave you with my first few opening paragraphs of my book, since I have nothing new to share with you. It's important to hit the ground running when you write, because the first two sentences can either turn someone off, or get them excited about turning the page. So, I literally have Elizabeth run right out of the door without a word to anyone.

See you all soon!


No quicker did Elizabeth open the door, then did Mrs. Bennet step forward with an exaggerated expression of great felicitation. Elizabeth, having spent all her humor trying to convince Mr. Collins that her refusal to his marriage proposal was indeed sincere, had none left for her mother. She simply stepped around the lady and strode as calmly as she could manage through the vestibule, and out the front door.

Not far behind, Mr. Collins appeared at the breakfast room door with a look of self importance, mixed with the after effects of straight vinegar. He caught a glimpse of Elizabeth’s white frock disappearing around the corner. Mrs. Bennet turned toward him hoping for clarification.

“Mr. Collins?” Mrs. Bennet asked as she tried to decipher his odd expression.

Elizabeth had not even stopped to pick up her bonnet. Her legs would not let her tarry. They moved swiftly without being instructed. They carried her further and further away from Longbourn, and that horrible ridiculous man. “Almost as soon as he entered this house…” How arrogant! How insulting! How self-serving can one man be? And how could he accuse her of being bashful? Had he not observed her for more than one second? Or did he see only what flattered his shallow mind?

Without any thought beyond driving the memory of Mr. Collins’ nearness and his breath from her mind, Elizabeth picked up her skirt and hastened into the trees. She had no destination, and no will to return anytime soon. Her mother and her ever-present nerves would be in similar spirit no matter what time she returned. Charlotte Lucas was due to come by and relive the Netherfield ball minute by minute, but Elizabeth would not regret missing the reveling. Too much had happened. This morning. Last night. Oh, last night! Elizabeth’s head was full of it, and did not get one wink of sleep. Mr. Collin’s superior timing had only added to her misery, and she was exultant to be free of everyone. Of everything--even if only for a while. She would take all day, she determined as she gauged the sky, before its vastness got lost behind the towering firs, and gave no thought whatsoever to her thin muslin or delicate slippers.

The trees provided desperately wanted shelter. Her face was flushed, and the coolness of the shaded wood was the answering remedy. Elizabeth had felt exposed out in the open; exposed to Mr. Collin’s insincere overtures, her mother’s unbridled tongue, her sisters’ wild behavior, the poorly concealed contempt emanating from Caroline’s and Louisa’s smug faces, and his inescapable eyes. Those eyes. Why she could not get Mr. Darcy’s stare out of her head even now, was beyond her comprehension.

Though she ran to escape, uncontrollable thoughts kept stride and swirled around her head. The unexpected and very intense dance with Mr. Darcy would not leave her alone. Though they sparred, he very gently held her hand. Though his face severe, there was something altogether different in his eyes, almost soft. Though she accused, the way he looked at her seemed to be communicating to her something far beyond their spoken conversation. This would not do! If ever she could disappear, she wished it would happen at that very moment.

She picked up her pace along with her gown and even dared to clear small boulders and fallen branches without any fear. This might not be acceptable behavior for a woman of almost one and twenty, but the surge of release Elizabeth felt with each stride and bound kept her from caring one straw what the trees and woodland creatures would think. She filled her lungs with the scents of moss, earthy lichen, and sharp resinous sap. The damp coolness of the ground spread quickly through her house shoes and chilled her feet, and it gave her a certain measure of boldness. If the tiny beasts were to have a forest ball this evening, she was happy to give them all the scandalous conversation they would need.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Outline, schmoutline

My writing process would make most professionals cringe. I've never been one for outlines. I just jump in to my stories with both feet and see where they take me. I'm just as surprised as anyone when a story takes an unexpected turn, or if a character does something out of the ordinary. Honestly, I feel like I'm an unseen reporter in the corner, writing furiously as the characters interact with each other without any interference from me.

In high school, I remember having to turn in outlines before we wrote essays or term papers. I actually wrote the papers first. It was already in my head and came out almost perfectly organized with little tweaking needed. I would then make my outline from the finished product. The cart waay before the horse. I'm sure that if the teacher changed something in my outline, I would then do the same to the essay, but it just seemed so pointless to me.

Essays, apparently, are very different from books. I'm assuming length has the most to do with it, which is directly tied to my brain capacity. Eighty some odd pages came flowing out of me almost effortlessly for this book, but then my characters started yawning, lolling about and fiddling with their frocks. Subsequently, someone glanced over my way, did a double-take, and told the others I was there. Now they are staring at me and waiting. I wished I dressed better for the occasion.

They did work hard, so I decided to give them a respite. I left them alone and let myself be distracted for several days when a great screenplay idea came to me (actually this book sparked it.) I thought that when I came back to my book, the characters would be rested and ready to move forward, and to surprise me once again. I was wrong.

So, I think it's time for an outline. Goals, really. A checklist of sorts, and unlike outlines, I LOVE checklists. So does my husband. There is nothing quite as satisfying as being able to check something off of an official check list with a big flourish and pen leaving the paper and flying up in the air. Last year, my husband and I were getting ready for a vacation, and we both had our separate lists. We were checking things off and getting things done, when he looked over at me with a glint in his eye and said, "I have never been more attracted to you than I am at this very moment." Needless to say, we had to add something else to our lists. :0)

Translating that to my book--I can make a list of things I want to happen and check them off as I go. What do I want to happen? Where should it happen? How do I get this particular character to do this? What or who will be a wrench and keep Elizabeth and Darcy apart just a little while longer? So much better than a boring and restricting outline! I like the openness of it, I can add another line at anytime. Yes, this checklist idea will be the ticket. I can't wait to get to it. Good thing my husband is at work.

Here's a little something for you until next time. Elizabeth came to stay in London with her aunt and uncle, and they are hosting a dinner party that Mr. Darcy and Col. Fitzwilliam have been invited to. Elizabeth knows that people are talking about her and both of the gentlemen, and is not looking forward to the get together. Thanks for keeping up with me, and Miss Austen? Please forgive me...


Friday night came too quickly. Elizabeth considered having a great headache, but she knew how disappointed her aunt would be, if not suspicious. Georgiana would not be coming as Elizabeth had wished. Elizabeth had called on her and promised her that she would not leave her alone for one moment, but Georgiana would have none of it. She begged Elizabeth to forgive her, and claimed she was too young and too awkward for a formal dinner party. Of course Elizabeth forgave her, and the two played duets on Georgiana’s pianoforte until just before the gentlemen were expected home, and Elizabeth felt the need to leave.

Elizabeth helped Mrs. and Mr. Gardiner welcome their guests. Mrs. Boyle came with her ancient husband, and was happy to tell Elizabeth that her grandson was very pleased by her looks and manners, and would not be sorry to dance with her again if the occasion arose. But she also kindly warned Elizabeth not to set her hat on him, since he was still young and very susceptible to pretty faces, and hadn’t learned the merits of what a good match meant. All this had to be repeated very loudly so Mr. Boyle and the servants downstairs could hear that Elizabeth should not set her hat on their precious, scrawny heir apparent. Elizabeth began to think that her name suited her perfectly, and wished for her permanent removal.

Mrs. Gardiner set an elegant table, and after drinks, Elizabeth found herself sitting next to none other than Mr. Darcy. Elizabeth knew it was by design, and tried not to blush when she realized where she would be spending the next hour and a half. She rose to the occasion and graciously smiled and talked to everyone around her. She was in the middle of listening to a Mrs. Grey speak of her recent visit to court where the Prince Regent had fallen asleep during the knighting of the Duke of Somethingshire, when Mrs. Boyle’s shrill voice came up significantly in volume from the opposite end of the table.

“No, dearest! She only has one thousand after her mother’s death, not one thousand per annum! Poor dear. That would be at least something!”

Elizabeth froze for a moment, and she could see that a few faces had turned to her. Quickly and graciously, her dear uncle remarked on something humorous that happened outside of the House of Commons and everyone’s attention was diverted. Almost everyone’s. A low voice spoke next to her.

“Perhaps we should just get cards printed out for you, so no one is confused on the subject, Miss Bennet.”

Elizabeth looked over at Mr. Darcy who was smiling, but not necessarily teasing. She felt so grateful that he was not repulsed by her situation, and that he was making an effort to lighten the situation.

She smiled back at him. “I don’t think that will be necessary while Mrs. Boyle still breathes, Mr. Darcy.”

Darcy lowered his voice further and leaned in a little bit closer to her ear. “Well, we can always hope for a well placed pheasant bone to block her air passage,” he mused.

Elizabeth's eyes widened. Mr. Darcy had made a joke and a very good one! She had to use her napkin to hide a sudden burst of laughter, and Col. Fitzwilliam looked over from across the table noticing their camaraderie.

Elizabeth recovered and whispered back, but while facing her own plate. “You shock me, Mr. Darcy. I did not think that you were capable of such indecorous thoughts. I was under the opinion that I alone was guilty of such things.”

“Not at all, Miss Bennet. Great minds think alike.” And with that, he took a drink of his wine. Elizabeth did the same and looked up to notice Col. Fitzwilliam smiling at her. She quickly returned it.