Friday, April 29, 2011

Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim

The ENCHANTED APRIL: THE ENCHANTED APRILYesterday, on Austen Authors, Cindy Jones, author of My Jane Austen Summer, asked her fellow authors to share where they would like to vacation if they could be dropped into one of their favorite novels. I immediately thought of Elizabeth Von Arnim's The Enchanted April. The setting, post World War I England, is a sad place. In addition to the hundreds of thousands of men who died in the war, there are even a greater number of men who returned home wounded in mind and body. War widows and those who have lost fathers, brothers, and friends walk about in the dreary colors of mourning.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What I'm Doing and Why I'm Doing It - Part II

Three weeks ago, I self-published my novella, For All the Wrong Reasons. I had no idea how it would be received. Now I know. The reception has been terrific. I have sold more than 400 copies which pleases me to no end, and I thank everyone who bought the book. I priced the novella at $2.99. That price is the lowest I can go and still get a 70% royalty from Amazon. Below that price, the royalty drops down to 35%. Since Amazon didn't write the story, I thought that giving them a 70% profit was a bit much.

Elinor and Edward's Plans for Lucy SteeleToday, I self-published my first short story, Elinor and Edward's Plans for Lucy Steele. This story is a parody of the love story between Elinor Dashwood and Edward Ferrars in Austen's Sense and Sensibility. I really don't expect to sell a lot of copies because it is not Pride and Prejudice, but I do enjoy writing parodies (e.g., Anne Elliot, A New Beginning). With Elinor leading the way, the couple pulls strings behind Lucy Steele's back in order to get her to break off her engagement to Edward. But the course of love never did run smooth (especially in a parody). Since it is a short story, I am charging only $1.49, and Amazon will get the bulk of that because I am below their price threshold. But I wanted the story to be affordable, and it is a short story.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Jane Austen, A Life by Carol Shields - A Book Review

Jane Austen: A Life (Penguin Lives)If you are interested in whether Jane Austen preferred strawberry to raspberry jam, then you will want to look for a biography other than Carol Shields’ Jane Austen, A Life. However, if you want a broad sweep of the life of the early 19th century author, then this slim volume is the perfect cup of tea. Carol Shields, who won the Pulitzer Prize for The Stone Diaries, was asked by Penguin Books to write this biography. Because it was not meant to be comprehensive, I found it an easy read with a nice mixture of Jane’s personal life juxtaposed with her writing. From the biography:

We think of Pride and Prejudice as Jane Austen’s sunniest novel, and yet it was written during a period of unhappiness. No letters survived from the year 1797, and this is a clue, though an unreliable one. Cassandra, we know, was recovering from the death of her fiancĂ©, and Jane from her disappointment over Tom Lefroy. The household at Steventon had shrunk. Visitors continued to arrive, but the ongoing bustle of life in the country rectory had faded… Theatricals in the barn were a thing of the past. The Austen parents were growing older, and finances, too, were thinner. Yet from this difficult time sprang a fast-paced, exuberant, much loved novel with a new kind ofheoine, a young woman of warmth and intelligence who, by the flex of her own mind, remakes her future and makes it spectacularly.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Have a Joyful Easter

Vintage Easter Card

I will be taking Easter week off to visit with family and friends. To those who celebrate Easter, I wish you a joyful day. See you next week. Mary

Friday, April 15, 2011

Tulips and Puzzles ala Jane Austen

About tulips: With spring bursting out all over, I found myself thinking of the tulips I planted in my garden in Maryland before moving to the Desert Southwest. Did you know that tulips were at the heart of the first economic bubble?


From Wikipedia: The tulip was introduced to Europe in the mid-16th century from the Ottoman Empire and became very popular in the United Provinces (now the Netherlands). Because of its symbol as a luxury item, the contract price of rare bulbs continued to rise throughout 1636. At the peak of tulip mania, some single tulip bulbs sold for more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsman. It is generally considered the first recorded speculative bubble (or economic bubble)... However in February 1637, tulip bulb contract prices collapsed abruptly and the trade of tulips ground to a halt.

Friday, April 8, 2011

What I Am Doing and Why I Am Doing It

For All The Wrong Reasons
The book industry is changing rapidly. Although I love roaming the aisles of brick and mortar stores, more and more people are opting to get their books on line. With the rise of e-readers, such as Nook and Kindle, sales of e-books have skyrocketed. I have decided to go with the flow. But first, a little history.

Before Sourcebooks published Searching for Pemberley and The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy, I was self-published. Even after I signed with Sourcebooks, I self-published two novels: Anne Elliot, A New Beginning, and The Second Date, Love Italian-American Style, because Sourcebooks declined to publish them, and I understand their reasons. There is a much smaller market for an Austen re-imagining that isn’t Pride and Prejudice. As for The Second Date, I was told that since it was neither modern nor historical (it was set in the late 1980s), it was a hard sell.

But while my novels were being published, I was also busy writing novellas. I find this length of story particularly attractive to my style of writing. I’m not real big on descriptions. For example, you will never read a detailed description of Caroline Bingley’s clothes or Lady Catherine’s parlor in my novels. Without a lot of description, the page count goes down, and a novel becomes a novella.