Chocolate and books – how can you go wrong? I’ll be signing books at Books by the Sea in Osterville from 1:00-3:00 as part of the amazing Osterville Chocolate Festival. There’s a chocolate dessert contest and tasting, plus events and free samples throughout the village. Books by the Sea will also have samples of chocolate covered cranberries and chocolate cranberry truffles. It’s a great chance to support a fine independent bookseller and enjoy a chocolate-filled day. I’d love to meet some of my readers there!
Every so often it’s good to try to do something impossible, like creating a major website in just a couple of days. And, thanks to the help of many Austenesque writers and amazingly supportive readers and bloggers, the impossible has just happened. Austen Variations is open for business! Stop by and see this new multi-author site dedicated to Jane Austen-inspired fiction and the people who love it. I’m one of the founders, and I’m very proud of it.
If you haven’t discovered the amazing group story The Darcy Brothers, it just moved to Austen Variations and you can catch up on the story to date there. Enjoy the free downloadable stories and enter the truly massive opening week giveaway including 25 ebooks , 12 autographed paperbacks, 4 Jane Austen magnets, 3 tote bags, 2 audiobooks, and a Jane Austen wristwatch.*
It’s going to be a grand adventure. I got to write the opening day post, which has more details of the plans ahead for this exciting site.
*The partridge in a pear tree is prohibited by local regulations.
My fellow Austen Authors and I have just released the published version of our P&P200 project, now titled Pride and Prejudice: The Scenes Jane Austen Never Wrote. I’m very proud of this 790 page tome, in which 22 authors of Austen-related fiction took turns filling in the blanks from Pride & Prejudice – writing scenes that happened off-stage and actual P&P scenes from a different point of view. The e-book is already available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The paperback will be available soon, but due to its length, it will only be available from Amazon, as distributing it to other booksellers would add $5 to an already hefty $19.99 price tag. All the authors have agreed to donate their royalties to Austen-inspired charities, so proceeds with go to organizations such as The Jane Austen House Museum, JASNA, and Chawton House Library.
The e-book normally sells for $2.99, but we’re celebrating its release with a $0.99 sale to help Janeites fill their new ebook readers and tablets. From January 8-11, in addition to Pride and Prejudice: The Scenes Jane Austen Never Wrote, you can get over 20 Austen-inspired ebooks for 99 cents each. Five of my ebooks are included in the sale: A Pemberley Medley, By Force of Instinct, Mr. Darcy’s Letter, Mr. Darcy’s Refuge, and Morning Light.
The full list of sale books can be found here.
Back when I first wrote To Conquer Mr. Darcy (first published as Impulse & Initiative) for a Jane Austen fanfic sites, I wrote two versions of the story, one with intimate scenes and one without. The two versions started off the same, but then the ‘PG’ version, The Rule of Reason, went off in a completely different direction, so I ended up with two different books that shared the same beginning. I could only choose one version to publish, but so many readers have requested copies of The Rule of Reason that I decided to make the pdf version available to everyone. How much does it cost? Whatever you want. You can get it for free, or you can pay what you wish.
Since I first announced this yesterday, there have been lots of questions. I’ll try to answer them all here.
- Is it a Pride & Prejudice variation? – Yes.
- How different is it from Impulse & Initiative? – The beginning third is close to identical, but contains a Caroline Bingley subplot that was cut from I&I. The stories diverge during the visit to Pemberley. One section of the later part was adapted into the short story, “Reason’s Rule”, published in my anthology A Pemberley Medley.
- Which is it – is it free or do I have to pay for it? It’s up to you. You name the price – anywhere from $0.00 on up. If you enter $0 in the price box, the part asking for your credit card info will disappear.
- Why would I pay when I can have it for free? It’s totally fine to download it for free, but paying something encourages other authors to do the same thing with their unpublished work, or in my case, with the scenes that were cut from my published works. It also helps support Gumroad which is being kind enough to host this at their own expense.
- Why did you write 2 versions of the same book anyway? I didn’t mean to. I was posting the story as I wrote it on two fanfic boards, one with a PG rating and one with an R rating. I planned for the story to have a PG rating, but as the characters developed, I realized that wasn’t what they had in mind. Rather than stop posting at the PG site and leave the readers there hanging, I decided to write an alternate chapter or two to avoid the intimate scenes, thinking the story lines would come together again after that. Unfortunately, I discovered that you can’t change a decision made by a character without altering the outcome. Elizabeth and Darcy’s decision to anticipate their wedding vows made them into different people, and the story lines never came together again.
- Why didn’t you just publish The Rule of Reason? Because I couldn’t ask readers to pay twice for two books that shared the same beginning. I had to choose between the two versions, and overall I thought Impulse & Initiative was the stronger story.
- Gumroad wants my email address before I can download it. Am I going to get spam? No. At most you’ll receive a notification if another one of my stories becomes available at Gumroad, or a thank you from me if you decide to pay for it.
- Wait a minute – why do you have other pdfs available for sale there? None of my usual outlets (Amazon, B&N and Kobo) sell pdf versions. Since some people prefer pdfs, I’ve made those available through my website via Gumroad.
I think that covers everything! You can get your copy here.
Readers are still jumping in as part of the Austenesque Reviews Group Read for Mr. Darcy’s Noble Connections, and I’ve been thrilled with the comments it’s been getting there. A lot of readers have said they think it’s my best book yet, which means a lot to me because it has 11 other competitors, and I’ve had lots of requests for follow-up stories about the characters. It’s not too late to post a comment at the Group Read for a chance to win one of the many prizes – books, ebooks and more!
Now I’m back to work on The Darcys of Derbyshire: What are Men to Rocks and Mountains. The first draft is close to done!
I’ve always wondered if people actually read the “About the Author” section in books. Apparently the answer is very few, since only one person has asked me why that section in my new book, Mr. Darcy’s Noble Connections, says I live in Massachusetts when I actually live in Wisconsin. Some people might have thought I was just tired of being called a Cheesehead, but in fact I’m moving to Massachusetts at the end of the summer.
This is both exciting and terrifying. I’ve lived in this house for 25 years and raised two children here, so clearing it out is going to be a big job, but once it’s done, I’ll be living on Cape Cod, which is something I’ve wanted to do since I spent a summer there almot 30 years ago. I’ll be living near Woods Hole, where The Man Who Loved Pride and Prejudice is set, and I’ll be able to walk through Cassie’s salt marsh whenever I want to. My new home is located about a mile (and $3 million) away from Cassie & Calder’s house on the bay.
I know, I know! This is all well and good, but what does it have to with my books? For one thing, it determined what my next project would be, since I didn’t want to have to take a long break to move in the middle of writing a novel. It’s too easy to lose the momentum and the feeling of a story when I do that. Instead, I pulled out one of my ideas for a novella. The scenario is an accidental meeting between Darcy and Elizabeth in Derbyshire, but not at Pemberley, and it incorporates the story of Darcy’s parents meeting for the first time as a story within the story. It’s called The Darcys of Derbyshire: What are Men to Rocks and Mountains? It’s sweet and angst free, and about 2/3 of the first draft is already done.
Wish me luck!
It’s here at last! After several delays, my new book, Mr. Darcy’s Noble Connections, is out in Nook, Kindle, Kobo, and paperback. It’s getting some great responses from readers, and if my goal in life was to prevent my readers from sleeping, I apparently did pretty well with this book! You can read the blurb and the first chapter here. As a special bonus, I’ve compiled pictures of the settings of key scenes here.
Rather than telling you about the book myself, I’m going to quote in full an early Amazon review by Dara Montyne:
Abigail Reynolds was the author that got me hooked on JAFF. She still remains my favorite Austenesque author. Previously, The Last Man in the World was my favorite of her novels–it had angst and passion. Mr. Darcy’s Noble Connections is similar. It definitely has the angst and the romance to take the top spot on my list of Abigail Reynolds’ novels!
The story takes place shortly after Darcy’s first proposal at Hunsford. Instead of meeting again at Pemberley, Darcy and Elizabeth meet at a house party at Bentham Park, the home of Elizabeth’s friend Lady Eleanor and Darcy’s cousins. Thrown into the mix are many new characters whose matchmaking and flirtations end up with Elizabeth and Darcy thrust into each other’s company so soon after Elizabeth’s rejection. Emotions run high for Darcy and Elizabeth upon first encountering each other. Darcy tries to act indifferent to Elizabeth, but, happily, we know it will all be for naught. Reynolds, however, throws a delightful twist in the form of Lord Charles Carlisle (Eleanor’s brother and notorious rake). Lord Charles appears as a suitor to Elizabeth, which, of course, does not make for a happy Darcy! Chaos ensues as Darcy tries to protect Elizabeth from Lord Charles as well as help his friend Geoffrey Paxton (whose low connections do not endear him to the Eleanor’s family) meet Lady Eleanor in secret. I won’t go into more detail of plot, as you’ll just have to read it yourself!
I cannot remember the last time I read a JAFF novel where I literally felt like my stomach was being twisted in a million different knots. The emotions Elizabeth and Darcy were put through left me feeling emotionally exhausted (in a good way!). Reynolds truly has a gift of placing the reader in the minds of her characters. You feel their joy, their passion, their heartache. Yes, this novel has angst, but don’t let that deter you from reading it if you’re not a big fan of the angst. Granted, there were a few moments in the novel where I was afraid for Darcy and Elizabeth, but I knew Reynolds wouldn’t let me down with my desired happily-ever-after! The ending of the novel and the stolen moments between Elizabeth and Darcy are reward enough for surviving the angst!
It is such a worthwhile, emotional journey when you read one of Abigail Reynolds’ novels. Lovers of Darcy and Elizabeth will rejoice when picking up this novel. Reynolds truly has a love for Darcy and Elizabeth and she understands that her readers do, too. She is always spot on with her characterizations. I always feel like I understand Darcy and Elizabeth a little bit better after reading one of her novels. So if you want a passionate, angsty read or you just want to spend a little extra time with Darcy and Elizabeth, read this book. You won’t think of hairpins the same way again!
I’ll be posting a few more times this week with more news. I hope you enjoy the book!
It’s a big day for birthdays in my house. Today my son turns 19, and Pride & Prejudice turns 200. I’m taking part in today’s Pride & Prejudice Anniversary Blog Hop, hosted by my fellow Austen Author Alyssa Goodnight, so I sat down to think about what I could say to celebrate Jane Austen and Pride & Prejudice – - and drew a complete blank. That’s a little scary, given how much I adore both the author and the book! Then I realized why I was stumped. I celebrate Jane Austen and Pride & Prejudice every single day, usually multiple times. So I decided instead to figure out all the different ways I’ve celebrated her in the last week.
- Writing and editing my new variation of Pride & Prejudice
- Writing the first chapter of The Bennet Brother, an interactive group writing project at Austen Authors
- Blogging at Austen Authors about the effect having a son would have had on the Bennet family, and responding to 30+ reader comments about their views.
- Giving a 45 minute interview to the Wall Street Journal for their fantastic article on Austen Power
- Making a video about how Jane Austen inspires me for the BBC anniversary celebration
- Adding my two bits to the Austen Authors anniversary post
- Celebrating the audiobook release of By Force of Instinct and preparing for the upcoming release of the audiobook of Mr. Darcy’s Obsession (released today!)
- Proof-listening to the audiobook of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World (to be released in late February)
- Tweeting as @edwbennet as preparation for unveiling of The Bennet Brother
- Preparing for a Jane Austen Day in Milwaukee in March
- Last but not least, during the course of these 7 days, I opened my pdf of the text of Pride & Prejudice 23 different times, and Mansfield Park 3 times.
No wonder I have nothing left to say besides this:
Happy 200th Birthday to Pride & Prejudice
My life wouldn’t be the same without you!
I posted this on Austen Authors today, but decided to share it here as well. This month my muse has deluged me with ideas too good to ignore, so instead of my usual two works in progress, I have no less than four. I was going to give you an excerpt from the WIP that I’m trying to focus on, but then my muse laid down a challenge for me. I’d just seen a powerful play about a good marriage turned bad by personal tragedy, and that’s not the kind of marriage that I want to think about. So out popped this little vignette, completely unlike anything I’ve ever written before, and I have no idea if it’s any good or not. That’ll have to be your decision!
With satisfaction, Darcy scanned the crowd of friends and family gathered in the Pemberley dining room. It had been a good day. Darcy approved of the young lady of good family to whom Thomas was now safely married. Her impertinence sometimes dismayed him, but she reminded him of his Elizabeth when he had first met her, before he knew the warm heart that lay under her teasing. But it was good that Thomas’ bride had spirit; even as a baby, he had been the most energetic of their four children, the one who always spotted trouble and managed to find the messiest part of it. The army had settled Thomas a little, but still, his wife would have her work cut out for her.
The wedding breakfast was proceeding without a hitch. The new housekeeper whom Elizabeth had hired seemed to know her job, although it was odd to have a housekeeper who was younger than he himself was. He still missed old Mrs. Reynolds, who had retired not long after Elizabeth found her feet as Mistress of Pemberley. It had not been an easy transition for his own bride; several times in the first months of their marriage he had found her in tears of frustration over learning some aspect of the work she was required to oversee. Of course, she had mastered the complex role as quickly as anyone could expect, but then again he had known she would. Those few servants who had been foolish enough to question that when the new Mrs. Darcy arrived had found themselves rapidly replaced by Mrs. Reynolds, who allowed no criticism of his choice of bride.
He shifted as close to Elizabeth as her voluminous skirts would permit, thinking for the thousandth time how much he wished for a return of the fashions of their youth. Girls might look pretty enough in these modern dresses with their bell-shaped skirts buoyed out by masses of petticoats and their waists constricted to an unnaturally tiny size, but he missed those high-waisted gowns that had fallen so naturally along Elizabeth’s form. How he had loved watching her in them, the thin muslin clinging to her shapely body, the translucent fabric exposing just a hint of the shape of her legs. He pitied the young men of today, condemned never to catch a glimpse of a woman’s true shape except in the most intimate moments. Thank heaven Elizabeth had never adopted the full modern regalia. Her public dresses were fashionable, but she managed to look lovely despite keeping her corset comfortably loose, and, knowing his preferences, she often dispensed with some of the petticoats when they sat together in the privacy of their rooms. And she was still lovely, after all these years, with four children grown and a world changed beyond recognition.
How unimaginable all of this would have been to him in those early days! Had the world ever before altered so much in the course of one generation? Theirs had begun in a bucolic world, and now they were surrounded by the new industrial age. The huge factories in Manchester and Birmingham, the ugly railroads that were springing up everywhere, the influx of the poor into the cities where they became poorer still, forced to endure terrible conditions until they were near collapse from exhaustion. Oh, he could admit that it was pleasant to be able to reach London from Pemberley in a day, forgoing the jolting ride of carriages over rutted roads for two or three days at a time, and not having to worry about changing the horses or the quality of the coaching inns. Still, he did not like being locked up in the noisy box of a train car, even the elegant first class ones. He likely would never have boarded one in the first place had it not been for Elizabeth’s urging. She loved new experiences, and he loved to give her the pleasure of them. Giving her pleasure was still one of his greatest joys.
Of course, he had not always been able to protect her from unhappiness. The tears and depression that had followed the death of little Emma, just three months old, had seemed to last forever, and he had not known how to help her, just when she had needed him the most. But life had gone on, and another disaster had brought them together again – that cursed year of 1816, when they had to work together for the sake of Pemberley, through famine and a smallpox epidemic. The Irish Disease had come close on its heels, carrying off many of their servants, and for a time they had feared for Georgiana’s life. Thank God they had managed somehow to keep the tenants of Pemberley fed when the harvests had failed! That was when he congratulated himself on choosing such an intelligent and capable wife whom he could depend on as a helpmate rather than a society miss without a thought in her head.
He chuckled at the idea that he had chosen to marry Elizabeth – his need for her in the early days had been more like a force of nature – causing his wife to give him a quizzical glance. Patting her hand to assure her all was well, he smiled into her eyes that were every bit as fine as when they had first met. Her hair might be threaded with silver now, but he could still see the laughing, teasing, bewitching girl he had married all those years ago when she tilted her head in that special way of hers, an arch curve to her lips. When she had first accepted his hand, he had believed that no man could ever love a woman more than he did at that moment, but he had been a callow youth. Passion and fascination were powerful, but they were nothing to the love that grew over the years, improving like brandy with age.
So much had changed, but some things never would. He leaned close to her and said softly, “In vain have I struggled. It will not do. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” Her eyes lit up, and he felt the power of their bond, which had survived misunderstandings, great joy and equally great pain. She was, indeed, a woman well worth pleasing.
I’m once again taking part in the Austenesque Extravaganza, but this year I’m doing something new and different. I had the pleasure of being interviewed via Skype by Team Austenesque, and they’ve made a lovely podcast from the recording – their first podcast ever. It includes some of my radical views on Darcy and how my medical background influences character development. If you’re interested in listening, you can find it on iTunes. If that link doesn’t work for you, try this one.