Tag Archive | Jane Austen

A tall tale featuring my top ten tags

Julia Child

Today’s blog post is a statistical experiment. Never fear, I know that sounds dreary, but I’m going to have fun with it by creating a fictional journal entry using key words and phrases that seem to have drawn people to my blog.

I study my stats religiously, and they’ve been down in the past week. Perhaps my topics haven’t been uplifting or intriguing enough – I wrote about the death of an artist friend, website anxiety, agita and acid indigestion. On the other hand, “affordable funerals” has been one of my most popular topics to date, so go figure. Today, I’ll start with a true statement; after that, all bets are off. I’ll highlight the popular tags in turquoise, and see if I can drive up my stats for the day.

As Administrator for the Memorial Society of the Hudson-Mohawk Region, I get a lot of inquiries about affordable funerals. I’m fairly well versed in what’s going on with funeral homes in upstate New York, but I decided it was time to broaden my horizons. What better place to start than Baltimore and the grave of Edgar Allan Poe? I’d visited there before when I went to Bouchercon, but I didn’t want to linger, so after paying my respects I caught a shuttle to the Baltimore-Washington airport.

Next stop: London. Once there, I realized I wasn’t in the mood for research, at least not of the kind I’d come for, so I decided to cure my jet lag by exploring the local nightlife. I found a pub in the Soho district, and lo and behold, a devastatingly handsome bloke named Harold was soon chatting me up. He looked much the way John Lennon might have if he’d lived to see 60.

Jimi Hendrix

I regaled him with tales of my past – how I’d shown my paintings and won a prize at the Woodstock Festival in 1969, how a disc jockey had helped me sneak my paintings into the Beatles’ suite at the Warwick Hotel, how I’d lived in New York City’s SoHo district at the height of its glory. How Jimi Hendrix bought me a screwdriver and asked for my phone number at a Greenwich Village club, and I stayed in my loft for a week waiting for his call in vain.

Baseball diamond

Harold and I discovered we both had a passion for blogging. I told him how amazed I was to be getting hundreds of hits a day, but that I couldn’t figure out what made certain posts more popular. I could understand the appeal of “Norman Mailer ogled my chest” and “Julie and Julie and Julia” Parts 1, 2 and 3, but why “My blogging story arc – a field of dreams?” Enid Wilson’s steamy take on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice was a big hit too. Michael Jackson I could understand – I blogged about Michael as the archetype of a tortured artist. Harold and I agreed about the poignancy of his death, but that he’d probably passed his prime, and that the brilliant film “Michael Jackson’s This Is It” was a fitting legacy.

After my second Black Russian, I was feeling confident enough to pull both my mysteries out of my carry-on bag. He raved about my cover illustrations, and immediately insisted on buying both Eldercide and Mood Swing: The Bipolar Murders. My first sale on English soil! I was thrilled.

“I’d love to show you more of London tomorrow,” Harold said.

“That would be great, but I’m not sure my husband would approve.” I pulled out my BlackBerry. “Come to think of it, I’d better give him a call. . . .”

 [the scene ends here]

Actually, it turns out that most of the above is fact, not fiction. I’ve been to Baltimore for Bouchercon and and visited Poe’s grave, but I don’t have plans to return any time soon. I didn’t jet off to London and meet a dashing Englishman, but everything I told him about my background and my blogging is true. Now I’ll type in all the tags and see what happens.

Hey, this isn’t a bad creative writing exercise – maybe I’ll try it again sometime. You’re welcome to try it as well. What tags and subjects have drawn the most people to your blog? Can you turn them into a story? I’d love to hear from you.

Enid Wilson’s retelling of Pride and Prejudice has a steamy angelic twist

Today I’m delighted to welcome Enid Wilson, one of my colleagues from last year’s Blog Book Tours course. Enid’s book Really Angelic: Pride and Prejudice with a paranormal twist arrived in today’s mail, and I’ve had a hard time putting it down long enough to write this post.

Really Angelic is a melding of three genres I’m unaccustomed to reading: it’s a retelling of a Jane Austen novel, it has a strong supernatural aspect, and it’s over-the-top romantic and sexy. Enid explores what would have happened if Elizabeth Bennet were actually Darcy’s guardian angel. I’ve read about a third of the book, and Elizabeth is still somewhat perplexed by her newfound powers, including the ability to sprout wings and fly when the occasion demands. She and Darcy have already had some steamy and highly explicit encounters, but they haven’t fully consummated their relationship. They’ve just been abducted by highwaymen . . .

Enid has me hooked, and I can’t wait to see what happens next. I also plan to reread Pride and Prejudice. I became newly intrigued by Jane Austen when I saw the wonderful exhibit about her at the Morgan Library in New York City last December, and I wrote about her early self-published status in my December 4th, titled “Was Jane Austen a professional writer? Not according to the Mystery Writers of America.” I hope you’ll check it out, and by all means, leave some comments for Enid on today’s post.

 Enid sent me this article about the mother-daughter relationship in Pride and Prejudice. Read to the end to learn how to win a copy of Really Angelic!

 MOTHER AND DAUGHTER

“Come here, child,” cried her father as she appeared.  “I have sent for you on an affair of importance.  I understand that Mr. Collins has made you an offer of marriage.  Is it true?”  Elizabeth replied that it was.  “Very well–and this offer of marriage you have refused?”

 “I have, sir.”

“Very well.  We now come to the point.  Your mother insists upon your accepting it.  Is it not so, Mrs. Bennet?”

“Yes, or I will never see her again.”

“An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth.  From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents.  Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do.” – Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 20.

If you still remember Pride and Prejudice, one of the most interesting issues of the book was Elizabeth Bennet’s relationship with her parents, especially her mother. Mrs Bennet “disliked” her for refusing to marry the heir of Longbourn Mr. Collins, thus failing to save the family from destitute should Mr. Bennet met his destiny.

Many Pride and Prejudice retelling stories explore this aspect to the fullest. On the one hand, there are stories which found Mrs. Bennet to be a woman of sense and took care of her daughters financial needs while her neglectful husband hid in the library with his books.

On the other hand, there are many scenarios which talked about Mrs. Bennet’s dislike of Elizabeth:

  •  Mrs. Bennet tried to drug Lizzy and compromised her with a rich suitor
  • She tried to kill Elizabeth because her second daughter happened to be alive, while the male twin heir was a still born
  • She tried to sell Lizzy to Mr. Darcy to repay a debt

Ecstasy of St. Theresa by Bernini

In my latest novel, Really Angelic, Pride and Prejudice with a paranormal twist, I’ve given a reason for Mrs. Bennet’s fluttering about Lizzy’s escapades and marrying well.

Elizabeth is in fact an angel fallen from Heaven found by Mrs. Bennet, as a “compensation” for a goddess snatching away her baby Lizzy.

Too far fetched? It may be. But that’s a retelling. In the beginning of the novel, mother and daughter had a similar relationship as in Jane Austen’s original tale but towards the end of the novel when Lizzy’s life was threatened, her mother’s genuine love for her was shown.

Below is an adapted excerpt from Really Angelic about this.

         “Lizzy! Oh, my Lizzy, you are safe!” Mrs. Bennet, rushing to her side, hugged her tightly and sobbed aloud. “I cannot bear it if you are taken away from me again.”

          Elizabeth was stunned. Her mother did not consider her the favourite and had seldom shown her much affection. She knew that her mother loved her, in her own peculiar way, but she was very touched by her expression of worry over her safety. Elizabeth hugged her back.

       “Come, Fanny, we should go inside.” Mr. Bennet said. Elizabeth was surprised at the tender tone of his voice.

       “I do not see the reason for all this fuss and the rush,” a new voice said, and Elizabeth turned to see her youngest sister Lydia jumping down from the coach. “Lizzy, did the highwaymen ravish you? Did you enjoy it? Were they handsome?”

        At that, Mrs. Bennet gasped and swooned.

Well, what do you think of the relationship of Elizabeth with her parents, in the original Pride and Prejudice or some of the retelling stories?

Enid is delighted to offer a paperback copy of Really Angelic to one of you. Warning: The book contains mature content and is not for the Jane Austen purist. Just tell us what you think by commenting below before 5 February and you have a chance to win the book. Entry opens to worldwide readers. To read more about Enid’s books, you can visit http://steamydarcy.com

Was Jane Austen a professional author? Not according to the Mystery Writers of America!

Jane Austen

This past Wednesday, December 2nd, both literally and figuratively, I suffered through my crappiest visit ever to New York City. I’d been looking forward to a day in Manhattan, culminating in the gala holiday party held by the Mystery Writers of America at the National Arts Club. I caught Amtrak’s 8:05 Empire Express from the Rensselaer station, but as I exited Penn Station, I experienced an acute attack of what might politely be called gastrointestinal distress.

I barely made it to the women’s restroom on Macy’s second floor – having lived in Manhattan for 18 years, I still knew my way around, even managed to find the secret old-fashioned escalator with the wide wooden treads – and found blessed relief in the nick of time. Next, I found a Duane-Reade drugstore, popped some Immodium, and headed for the Morgan Library to see the exhibit of William Blake watercolors and engravings. Happily, I also stumbled upon an exhibition titled “A Woman’s Wit: Jane Austen’s Life and Legacy.”

I’m shamefully ill-acquainted with Austen’s work, but the exhibit was fascinating. I was especially intrigued by the display featuring the first edition of Sense and Sensibility, written between 1795 and 1797. The description read in part:

It was published on commission by Thomas Egerton in 1811, an arrangement in which Austen paid all the publication expenses but retained the copyright and increased her potential profit.

Wow! That sounds exactly like my arrangement with my publisher, Virtualbookworm. So Jane Austen started out as a self-published author. Would she have been eligible for active membership in Mystery Writers of America? Absolutely not.

Today I received an e-mail from MWA, which begins as follows:

Dear MWA Member:

The Board of Mystery Writers of America voted unanimously on Wednesday to remove Harlequin and all of its imprints from our list of Approved Publishers, effective immediately. We did not take this action lightly. We did it because Harlequin remains in violation of our rules regarding the relationship between a traditional publisher and its various for-pay services.

What does this mean for current and future MWA members?

Any author who signs with Harlequin or any of its imprints from this date onward may not use their Harlequin books as the basis for active status membership nor will such books be eligible for Edgar® Award consideration. However books published by Harlequin under contracts signed before December 2, 2009 may still be the basis for Active Status membership and will still be eligible for Edgar® Award consideration.

When they address me as “Dear MWA Member,” they don’t mean I’m a full-fledged Active Status member. Rather, I’m an Affiliate Member, meaning I’m not a legitimate author, and I don’t get any of the major perks, but they’re willing to take my money. In fact, reading the criteria on their website, I may not even qualify for this level of membership. They mention agents, attorneys, editors and other professionals, but nowhere do they mention authors who are self-published, pre-published, or published with a press that doesn’t meet their lofty criteria. In their eyes, apparently we don’t exist.

National Arts Club

Perhaps it’s no coincidence that I was too sick to attend that fancy MWA party. I’m a firm believer in gut reactions and synchronicity. Normally, though I go through a fair number of Tums, my own gut is pretty sturdy, so I didn’t know what was happening to me. The Morgan Library is equipped with a beautiful new ladies’ room with lovely tiling and a large handicapped stall with which I became intimately acquainted over the course of several hours. During my fourth stay in that stall, fearing I might be coming down with the flu, I realized I was never going to make it to the Kandinsky show at the Guggenheim, much less the MWA party, so I trudged back to Penn Station and caught the 4:40 train back home.

The party would have been great; I had a wonderful time last year. But in addition to the lavish hors d’oeuvres, there was an open bar, and I might have said things I’d regret in the cold light of morning. Instead I spent the evening in bed – no food, no booze. I was fine in the morning, so fortunately, it wasn’t the flu  – just something I couldn’t stomach.