My latest novel is with the editor, and it’s time for the fun stuff: covers and giveaways and sneak peaks!
I’ll be doing a giveaway at Austenauthors in April, that’s my other primary blog spot, but if you’re in a hurry, I’ve got another giveaway active this month atAustenprose! There’s also a sneak peak at the novel there, an excerpt I haven’t shared elsewhere. Fun times!
When Lizzy Bennet spends the winter in Highbury, it will be anything but the dull visit she expects. Particularly with Mr. Darcy visiting his friend Mr. Knightley!
Between dueling with Emma over Harriet Smith’s future and discovering secret love letters to Jane Fairfax, Lizzy is soon invested in her new friends. Then she becomes an unwelcome witness to Lady Catherine warning Emma not to think of Mr. Darcy!
From there it is a carousel of mistaken affections, relentless gossip, repressed emotions, and fateful decisions.
How will the new knots ever be untangled?
Between winter balls, outdoor frescoes, and fireside chats, the Highbury community is in for all the drama their village can hold.
My kids have a great picture book called, “The Big Orange Splot” that I took this title from because it fits so well the intimacy that homes and houses represent in Jane Austen’s books.
There’s Lizzy running into Darcy at Pemberley, arguably the best scene in any of the movies!Mr. Knightley walking into Emma’s house at all hours (plus the pivotal scene of his reprimand happening at his estate). Captain Wentworth’s sister moving into Anne Elliot’s house. The symbolism of Barton cottage compared to Norland Park. Jane spending several days of sickness at Netherfield…
It’s only practical, of course, that many scenes would be set at one or other of the character’s homes, but there’s definitely a sense that a new level of intimacy occurs when the love interest visits (or lives!) in their significant other’s home. This is particularly true with the more reserved characters. Bingley is friendly and gregarious, so we tend to feel that he and Jane would have been totally fine without that house visit. With Darcy, on the other hand, Lizzy starts to feel that she’s violating his privacy before they even get to Pemberley! Anne Elliot, as well, is quiet and introverted, and the knowledge that Frederick will be walking around her house is enough to make her (and my) heart flutter. Then there’s poor Fanny Price, essentially homeless as she fits neither with her uncle nor with her family, who ends up with only a single, cold room to call her own, which she eventually fills with her books and plants and personality. It’s the room where she feels safe, and of course, only Edmund is a welcome visitor, which makes it all the more painful when she must listen to him praise another woman there.
And beyond personal identity, there is also the fact that being in someone’s home creates uncomfortable intimacy. That’s the tension us romance readers crave, amirite? It’s the basis for so many romance tropes like arranged marriage or the governess angle. Leaving Jane Austen for a sec and moving to the Brontes, I don’t think any book did it better than Jane Eyre. No matter what you think of the romance, the fact that Jane can’t easily avoid Rochester forces her to face what she feels for him. Over and over.
Some people just call this angst, but I confess I can’t get enough of it in the romance books I read. I want to feel the heart of the character’s emotional dilemma, and nothing does that like being unable to escape their S.O.’s presence or the intimacy of having them in their home.
In that vein, here’s a short excerpt from the second of my Austen Ensemble series, A True Likeness. In this book, in the interest of using the “forced to live with your crush” trope, I made Georgiana’s love interest a portraitist, hired by Darcy and Bingley to paint Lizzy and Jane before the wedding.
Georgiana felt restless with her brother gone, and when she felt restless, she played the piano. This pianoforte, in Miss Bingley’s style, was noticeably fashionable. The wooden panels were decorated in the Chinese style, with strange shapes and patterns. The edges of the panels were lined with black, glossy wooden trim. The tone of the instrument was… well enough. Nothing to scoff at, but still not to compare with the sound of her pianoforte at Pemberley. That one was of plain blonde wood, well-crafted and perfectly toned, but nothing extraordinary to look at.
Mrs. Annesley slipped in with some white work in her hands and settled down across the room near the window.She played several scales and arpeggios, mindful that she had not truly practiced in many days. Eventually however, she let her hands go to her favorite pieces.
Georgiana didn’t immediately notice when another figure paused outside the door, not until he shifted. Then she saw Mr. Turner leaning against the door frame, listening.
She smiled a little and somehow, when one song led to another, found herself naturally playing her favorite pieces, even the romantic sonata she had played for Wickham.
As the notes fell like raindrops from the instrument, Georgiana felt that two paths were opening up before her. There was Mrs. Annesley, who represented everything peaceful and proper in her life: a woman Georgiana genuinely loved. Then there was Mr. Turner. He represented something else, something exciting, challenging, and profound.
Mrs. Annesley could not see him from where she sat, nor could Mr. Turner see her companion. Georgiana was balanced between the two. He did not enter the room but continued to lean against the threshold with his eyes shut, enjoying the music.
She loved his square face and smudged hands and broad shoulders. She loved his intense beliefs, his self-control, and his gentleness. She loved his art and skill and humility. She loved him.Georgiana loved him in that moment, but she knew she could not choose him. Her future, like every young lady, was not her own to give away. But her heart was hers, and she could acknowledge what she felt for Mr. Turner. For John. Because she was in love with him.
She would not fancy herself a tragic character—many women loved when there was no hope of marriage, or like her cousin Anne, chose to marry without love—but she was quietly glad to acknowledge it was real. It was far more real than the giddy infatuation Wickham had encouraged in her. Perhaps someday she would feel something like this for another man, and she would know it was worth pursuing…
Thanks for reading!
“My house is me and I am it. My house is where I like to be and it looks like all my dreams.” – “The Big Orange Splot” by Daniel Pinkwater
It’s finally out there! My Pride and Prejudice retelling is complete and available in ebook or paperback on amazon.com.
Phew, it always takes me a couple months to come off the high of finishing something. In the meantime, here is the description:
During the tumultuous 2016 presidential election, three Latina sisters navigate life and love in Southern California.
Elisa Benitez is happy to help her family clean cabins for the summer, but when her older sister falls hard for one of their rich guests, Elisa expects heartbreak. Her sister is a Dreamer, an undocumented immigrant, and he’s an elected state representative.
Even worse is his infuriating friend Darcy! He’s arrogant, rude, and based on a comment Elisa overheard, probably racist. He’s one of those guys who get by on money and looks, and she wouldn’t mind poking a hole in his self-image.
Darcy certainly didn’t intend to fall for a beautiful, well-spoken Latina on his short vacation to the mountains. Elisa would sooner turn off his hot-water heater than agree with him about anything. Why is debating with her more fun than agreeing with anyone else?
But when Elisa’s little sister runs away, and her parents are scared to go to the police, Darcy realizes just how serious she was. And how serious his own feelings have become.
Pride and Prejudice and Passports is a modern variation on Pride and Prejudice with heart and humor, a wholesome romance that brings Darcy and Elizabeth to life all over again.
Phew, time to move on from Kindle Scout to other news! I’m so happy to have my Little Mermaid retelling included in the most recent anthology by C.J. Brightley. If you love J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle, and other uplifting fantasy writers, this anthology is for you.
“Noblebright fantasy is fantasy with a thread of hope even in the darkest hour, with characters who strive to do the right thing, even when it costs them everything.
In this exciting collection of noblebright fantasy, fresh new fantasy voices and award-winning authors explore grief and hope, sacrifice and heroism. Rediscover the best aspect of classic fantasy – the noblebright ideals that made heroes heroic, even when the world grew dark around them.”
My fairy-tale adaptation is called “The Ice of Heaven” and was actually inspired by my nine-year-old daughter. She wrote a fun little story about Galileo traveling to one of the moons he discovered and finding life. (She totally has the heart of a historical fantasy writer, if I do say so myself!)
Check out the anthology, you’ll love it. Links for all retailers below:
I’m ten days into my Kindle scout campaign, and several other writers have asked how much information I get as I go along. This may not be every reader’s cup-of-tea, but I thought I’d throw some thoughts up here.
Okay, deets. When you have a campaign going, you get a dashboard that looks like this:
The “Hours in Hot & Trending” seems to b a key metric, though I’ve heard anecdotally that it’s only one factor the Amazon team looks at. There have certainly been titles who trended a ton and didn’t get selected and vice versa. This dashboard updates once a day, in the morning.
Anyway, I had a big push at the beginning (mainly from friends and family and readers (thanks!) and from the visibility of being new. My page reads have been pretty steady since then, but we’ll see how it goes. So that’s my sneak peek. Good luck to my fellow writers who are planning on giving it a whirl!
Hurray! Almost three years after starting a contemporary retelling of Jane Eyre, it is polished and almost published! During the month of October, it will be up on Kindle Scout for readers to sample and nominate.
About the book: Jane Agosto wants to leave her lonely, dysfunctional past behind when she gets a job as a nanny at Miles Hayes’s mansion. It only takes a few encounters with Miles for her to feel drawn to him, but Jane refuses to be THAT nanny, the one who falls for her boss. She’s no Cinderella, and she won’t break her heart on a wealthy player, or raise the hopes of the little girl she cares for. But when attempted murder shakes up the family, Jane’s heart falters. Should she trust Miles, or hit the road?
What are the difficulties of writing a Jane Eyre re-telling or spin-off?
Well, first of all, it’s been done. It’s been done well. It’s been done with literary and poetic excellence. I’m thinking Wide Sargasso Sea and things of that magnitude. Yikes, right? I’ve also enjoyed several modern re-tellings, plus the innovative YouTube show The Autobiography of Jane Eyre that I loved!
So, I tried to decide what I hadn’t seen in the re-tellings that I wanted:
I wanted morefaith. It is an integral part of the original story, but most modern re-tellings gloss right over it. I particularly wanted a Jane who wasn’t sleeping with her boss by the time the big twist comes. For me, without the moral and spiritual conflict, most of Jane’s reaction is lost.
A twist with the “Bertha” character that is not drugs. I get that drug addiction or related mental problems make sense in this retelling, but I wanted to do something else.
A Gothic sense of dread and supernatural. In the original, particularly the end when Jane hears Rochester’s voice over thousands of miles, there is a sense of natural (and divine) wonder. Almost a magical realism, in that Jane just accepts it and the story doesn’t pause to figure out what happened and how.
How did I include those? Well, it was tricky. I don’t want to give away the twists that I did use, but I can say that I fell a little further into the paranormal spectrum than I meant to, and that some mythology is used. There aren’t any shifters or vampires, but there are definitely some mysteries to be uncovered.
Most of all, I wanted it to be a compelling and un-put-downable love story!
There’s a great little site called Instafreebie where you can try out new authors for free. It’s similar to finding free ebooks on Amazon, but it’s more helpful to the author, besides offering Nook, Kobo, etc. I’m part of a big science fiction and fantasy promotion where you can pick just one book or all of them! I submitted a new Christmas fantasy romance called That Christmas You Remember. Enjoy!
Survival is sanity, or so they say, but sixteen-year old Akemi has survived in such an unorthodox fashion that even her sister fears for her sanity. As part of an alien computer system, installed in a space station orbiting Earth, Akemi is both uniquely powerful and uniquely isolated.
When the space station explodes in the night sky, sabotaged by unknown enemies, Akemi survives yet again, but this time suspicion for the catastrophe falls upon her. Determined to discover who is truly responsible for the attack, Akemi and her sister set out to track the other suspects to a foreign world far from Earth.
Accompanied by capable Sam and irrepressible assassin Shara, they find themselves drawn into a political game with one of the most powerful aliens in the galaxy. With the perilous feeling that they are playing right into his hands, Akemi and her friends must uncover the truth about the sabotage without jeopardizing humanity’s fragile new status. Or exposing Akemi’s fragile existence.