Monday, September 2, 2013

Austensibly an Author

Meredith's Sunflowers
Whew. Just when you thought I would never break radio silence again, I had an Author Adventure. Austen blogger extraordinaire Meredith Esparza came to town and suggested I join her and several other Austenesque authors at a luncheon. Now you all know I only have one Austenesque book, lovingly based on Jane Austen's least popular novel, and all those folks who lo-o-o-o-o-oved Pride and Prejudice (and Colin Firth) did not by any means transfer that love to Mansfield Park.

But Meredith was one Fanny Price fan, and fellow mega-blogger Laurel Ann Nattress of Austenprose another. The two of them were gracious enough to read (or send for review) my little adaptation The Beresfords and to post their reviews, Meredith here and Austenprose here. Which meant, when everyone got together, I got to sit among the gen-u-ine authors of Austenesque books that had sold more than a piddly several hundred copies! Susan Mason-Milks opened her lovely home to us, and we shared a potluck lunch and happy discussion of (1) when we fell in love with Austen and, (2) what we had written or were writing.

"That took four hours?" asked my husband, when I finally returned. Well, no. It was so fun to hear snippets of everyone's story: children and marriages, illnesses and careers (yes, I group them together), (mis)adventures in the publishing world. And then there was plenty of talk about various adaptations--I was happy to learn I wasn't the only one who disliked the recent BBC production of Persuasion with Sally Hawkins running steeplechase through Bath.

A midget among giants
It was a lovely afternoon and encouraging to all--and I got to add some books to my to-read pile! So if you're looking for some more Austen-y books to read, let me introduce you to some new authors.

(L to R: Susan Mason-Milks, Yours Truly, Meredith Esparza, Katherine Reay, Laurel Ann Nattress, Shannon Winslow)
 Our hostess Susan penned Mr. Darcy's Proposal.

(Gorgeous cover and blurb courtesy of Goodreads)
This retelling of Pride and Prejudice asks “what if” events prevented Fitzwilliam Darcy from proposing to Elizabeth Bennet that day at Hunsford parsonage? Darcy arrives with marriage on his mind, only to find that Elizabeth has just received news her father is critically ill and probably dying. In the process of offering his help to her in traveling home, he discovers what she really thinks of him—and it’s not good. Should Darcy deliver Elizabeth home to be with her family and then disappear from her life, or will he propose another kind of help? Will Elizabeth be willing to sacrifice her future happiness to save her family from financial ruin? Or, do she and Darcy, two very stubborn people, have a chance of finding happiness together?
Meredith reads and reads and reads all manner of Austenesque books and reviews them thoughtfully on her site. She was kind enough to do two posts related to The Beresfords and to choose it as her "Favorite Modern Adaptation" of 2012. She also kindly reminded me that I had toyed with the notion of a Northanger Abbey re-do...

Laurel Ann Nattress not only blogs, but will also be leading a Jane Austen tour with author Syrie James in September, and is herself the editor of

Stories by: Lauren Willig • Adriana Trigiani • Jo Beverley • Alexandra Potter • Laurie Viera Rigler • Frank Delaney & Diane Meier • Syrie James • Stephanie Barron • Amanda Grange • Pamela Aidan • Elizabeth Aston • Carrie Bebris • Diana Birchall • Monica Fairview • Janet Mullany • Jane Odiwe • Beth Pattillo • Myretta Robens • Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway • Maya Slater • Margaret C. Sullivan • and Brenna Aubrey, the winner of a story contest hosted by the Republic of Pemberley
“My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” If you just heaved a contented sigh at Mr. Darcy’s heartfelt words, then you, dear reader, are in good company. Here is a delightful collection of never-before-published stories inspired by Jane Austen—her novels, her life, her wit, her world.

In Lauren Willig’s “A Night at Northanger,” a young woman who doesn’t believe in ghosts meets a familiar specter at the infamous abbey; Jane Odiwe’s “Waiting” captures the exquisite uncertainty of Persuasion’s Wentworth and Anne as they await her family’s approval of their betrothal; Adriana Trigiani’s “Love and Best Wishes, Aunt Jane” imagines a modern-day Austen giving her niece advice upon her engagement; in Diana Birchall’s “Jane Austen’s Cat,” our beloved Jane tells her nieces “cat tales” based on her novels; Laurie Viera Rigler’s “Intolerable Stupidity” finds Mr. Darcy bringing charges against all the writers of Pride and Prejudice sequels, spin-offs, and retellings; in Janet Mullany’s “Jane Austen, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!” a teacher at an all-girls school invokes the Beatles to help her students understand Sense and Sensibility; and in Jo Beverley’s “Jane and the Mistletoe Kiss,” a widow doesn’t believe she’ll have a second chance at love . . . until a Miss Austen suggests otherwise.

Regency or contemporary, romantic or fantastical, each of these marvelous stories reaffirms the incomparable influence of one of history’s most cherished authors.

Katherine Reay's book Dear Mr. Knightley is actually forthcoming in November 2013:

Dear Mr. Knightley is a contemporary epistolary novel with a delightful dash of Jane Austen.
Samantha Moore survived years of darkness in the foster care system by hiding behind her favorite characters in literature, even adopting their very words. Her fictional friends give her an identity, albeit a borrowed one. But most importantly, they protect her from revealing her true self and encountering more pain.
After college, Samantha receives an extraordinary opportunity. The anonymous “Mr. Knightley” offers her a full scholarship to earn her graduate degree at the prestigious Medill School of Journalism. The sole condition is that Sam write to Mr. Knightley regularly to keep him apprised of her progress.
As Sam’s true identity begins to reveal itself through her letters, her heart begins to soften to those around her—a damaged teenager and fellow inhabitant of Grace House, her classmates at Medill, and, most powerfully, successful novelist Alex Powell. But just as Sam finally begins to trust, she learns that Alex has secrets of his own—secrets that, for better or for worse, make it impossible for Sam to hide behind either her characters or her letters.
 (Ooh! Sounds a little like Daddy Long-Legs meets my favorite Austen and Bronte books!)

And then there was Shannon Winslow, author of several books, of which she says The Darcys of Pemberley is her "cash cow." (What must that be like??? My former cash cow, Mourning Becomes Cassandra, died eons ago of hoof-and-mouth disease, I suspect.)
A sequel true to Jane Austen’s beloved masterpiece, Pride and Prejudice.

Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy have been married for almost a year, and their heated arguments are a thing of the past. All that passion is now directed into more satisfying pursuits. But how long can the honeymoon last? The couple’s idyllic life together at Pemberley is jeopardized by secrets they begin keeping from each other, the troubles of their closest friends, and the threat of a villain in their midst.

Layers of seemingly innocent deception are building between Darcy and Elizabeth, threatening their relationship. He is conducting some covert business dealings that he’s unwilling to share with his wife, and she likewise begins keeping things from him against her own better judgment. The couple also becomes embroiled in the tribulations of Mr. Darcy’s younger sister, Georgiana, and his friend and cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam.

Fitzwilliam falls victim to their aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, as the object of her latest scheme to make a noble match for her daughter. Georgiana runs the gamut of emotions as she comes of age and learns the pain of unrequited love. Meanwhile, the menacing shadow of Mr. Darcy’s life-long nemesis, Mr. Wickham, looms ever larger.

The Darcys of Pemberley is the tale of two romances: the continuation of Darcy and Elizabeth’s story, and the courtship of Miss Georgiana. For those who didn’t want Pride and Prejudice to end, this novel gives the opportunity to learn what happens after the wedding, to revisit old friends and foes, and to share the next chapter of their lives.

Shannon and I actually met once years ago, when we were both at the PNWA Literary Conference reception for award winners, she for her romance For Myself Alone and me for Mia and the Magic Cupcakes. Since then we both went the self-publishing route.

Coming home rejuvenated, I am hereby sending my Regency romance manuscript The Naturalist to two more members of my critique group, and, once I get the kids off to school this week, I'm going to knuckle down and write. Yay! (For today. Ha ha.) Happy reading to you all.


  1. Thanks for the round up and low down on our fab get together Christina. It was delightful to meet you and I look forward to our next encounter of the book kind.

  2. Yes indeed. Close encounters of the book kind are the best kind of all. Have a wonderful trip!

  3. I'm so glad we met again, Christina! Thanks to you (and to my future reading of "The Beresfords"), I promise I will try to love "Mansfield Park" a little bit more. After all, one's least favorite JA has still got to be better than almost anything else!

    1. Ah ha...if we succeed in converting you, we will not have lifted our pens in vain! And you are too right about Austen on a "bad" day beating out most writers at their best.