What day is it again? I am highly thrown off by that question, but otherwise overjoyed to have spent another day with Cass and family and friends in Bath.
We are so thankful for the support of family and friends far and near – but we’ll save that speech for tomorrow.
For now, here is what we were up to on WEDNESDAY (that’s right, right? Yes, Wednesday)
We went to the beautifully preserved Lacock. We had a great lunch on The Carpenter’s Arms where I learned “lemonade” here is basically Sprite.
Then we had a drink at The Boater before dinner at Bill’s Restaurant (both highlighted in our BOOK which launches TOMORROW). At dinner we met with the wonderful Julia, the effervescent Chrystal, and the fantastic Rachel & Rob.
We are gearing up for tomorrow where we might not get things posted here for a little while, but we’ll try! Thank you!
We’re so excited to share with you the cover for our soon-to-be-released novel, The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen! The blurb for the story can be found here.
We knew what we wanted the cover to ‘say’, and Ada put the components together in a draft, including using some of her photos and the helping hands of a friend! Our cover designer, Kevin Rylands, completely understood our wishes, and produced a sleek and charming design which we love, and we hope you do too!
In further news, we’ve got an exciting series of guest blog posts coming up throughout June from some lovely people whose lives have been touched in some form or other by Jane Austen.
There will be giveaways to accompany these posts, so stay tuned!
First, a disclaimer. I am very good at a lot of things. I remain calm in crisis, am willing to try new things (albeit grudgingly) and can play the piano. I have a degree in Art and English and I know a lot about baking cookies. I’m even up to date on my family scrapbooking! My point here is that I can hold my own in many different situations.
I am bad at directions. I believe I was born this way. I believe diligent work can help improve my everyday directional life, but I know to my very core that my directional intuition will always be suspect. I don’t know why directions get me so mixed up – I am a visual person, I am a smart person. And yet, as soon as something involves directions I will 100% make wacky weird wrong assumptions.
I once got lost going to my local market. There are three parallel N/S streets I knew it must be one of them. And yet, though I tried two of the several times I refused to believe it was on that one that it actually was on and never made it there – went to a market slightly farther away.
No matter how much mobile phones/tablets destroy society I will always love them because without the maps app on my phone I would probably have long since become permanently lost; forced to restart my life twenty minutes from home, never knowing how to get back.
Which is why it is beyond ironic when one of our beta readers suggested we draw a little map of Bath to insert into our book, The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen , that I was the one most qualified to do it.
Is Cass bad at directions you ask? NO. Not at all. But she’s unfamiliar with photoshop which is where we knew we’d end up needing to make it all work together considering our timeline and the lateness of the hour that the idea was given to us.
I shouldn’t get all the credit however as, despite the internet’s help and Cass sending me three emails, I could not for the life of me get the 4 Sydney Place map marker in the right spot. At one point, Cass (who KNOWS of my directional disability) was wondering if I was doing it on purpose to get out of doing the map at all! Hint: I wasn’t.
SO yes, this map of Bath will be in our book, highlighting some of the sights of Bath and some of the locations important to our characters. Some of these references are relevant only in the book, so don’t take anything too seriously. Also, do remember it was made by me (a person that when I am in Bath cannot move more than a window’s length before getting lost since all the buildings look the same and I don’t want to spend a million dollars on my cellphone data plan so I don’t have my maps app open!) so don’t count on it’s accuracy in a life or death situation.
We are happy to be sharing it online since it will likely be too small to read in the actual printed copy!!
In case we haven’t mentioned it a dozen times already, I have lived my entire life in Southern California and Cass has lived most of her life in the UK. Despite the shared language, we are often delighted (or flabbergasted) by the differences in our speech that crop up between us. (One time I wrote a scene for one of our English stories that involved the family getting together for Thanksgiving. I know, I know! It’s just that Thanksgiving is such a staple holiday here in the states I didn’t even think about where it came from/meaning!)
Anyway, knowing Cass as long as I have, I’ve naturally dropped some words that don’t translate well from US English to UK English from my vocabulary to avoid confusion. Chips, sweaters, sneakers, and bangs to start.
But guys, I can’t give up pants. Pants in the US are just… pants. I have a really hard time remembering that pants are underwear to the UK.
Dropping pants from usage means I constantly have to classify the two legged things I wear. Jeans, sure, ok, thats fine… khakis, cords…slacks (do you really say slacks???) yoga pants… (well shoot – I’ve already ruined it again, do you have a term for yoga leg coverings?).
Now, let me be clear: No one in the UK is pressuring me to reserve the word pants for underthings. The issue is that I am not ok with the images that must be conjured in the minds of English people when I use the word pants meaning legwear, not underwear. Unlike the passing laugh of confusion between offering someone a cookie or a biscuit, this can get way more cringeworthy:
“I bought all my in-laws sweatpants for Christmas!”
“I tried on three different pants with this top but none of them worked so I threw out my pants and just went with a skirt.”
I use the word pants MULTIPLE times a day. I holler at my kids to put on their pants, to change into their baseball pants, their comfy pants, their pajama pants. I literally don’t even know what I’d substitute all those things for (Baseball uniform knickers? Aren’t knickers underwear too for you all?).
It’s an impossible situation and I feel no less paralyzed by the problem now that I’ve shared it with you!
How about you? Any funny cultural miscommunications you’ve had with friends?
p.s. Upon hearing what this blogpost was going to be about, Cass asked me what photo I was going to use for illustration. Ha. Ha. So, I’ll spare you from the many inappropriate ideas I had and leave you simply with this handy illustration of my position:
1. There is a story that I want to tell that I don’t feel I can get thru alone.
2. There is a writer I want to write with.
Considering how much total joy I get from co-writing, it takes me aback sometimes when people are shocked that I do it and enjoy it. People have lauded our patience and humility when actually, (I mean, for me, at least) the big draw is that I get to share half the burden of writing with someone else.
Is there anyone out there thinking of co-writing? Or just interested in how and why we do it? Then keep reading!
Now, for me, this was not a difficult decision. I love seeing what another generally like minded author can do to a scene I’ve just thrown at them. But in order to get to that place, I first needed to find a like-minded author – ah – there’s the catch!
Cass and I started as friends online, so, way before we started writing together, we knew the other’s basic humor, and basic ability to string a sentence together. Also, we didn’t start with an original novel. We started writing within a shared fictional universe where the rules were basically established.
I had no idea how important this would be. It meant we didn’t have to have a conversation like this:
Ada: How about we write about a monkey called Sal who befriends a golfing nurse named Jackie?
Ada: Okay, well what were you thinking of for a plot?
Cass: I was thinking more like a hard hitting political thriller that ends on the moon.
Which might devolve into a fight about monikers:
Ada: I don’t want to name any character after anyone I’m related to.
Cass: Your father has twelve siblings and they all had children and grandchildren, there aren’t any names left that you’re not related to.
We saved all those discussions for our original work; which we never would have gotten to if we hadn’t started out with other, smaller projects and enjoyed writing them together.
SO we found each other. That was the hard part. Next it was just about surrendering all our pride and ego in order to map out a story we both could get behind. Then add to that the willingness to humiliate ourselves by showing each other the very rawest of rough drafts of scenes where we just sort of…lose steam and forget how words work and abandon it and…
Cass: Ah yes; one of the fun challenges of co-writing with Ada! Her fondness for stopping half way through a sentence, assuming I’m going to know exactly what she’s thinking and what a character should say or do next!
In all sincerity, we went into this with dual top priorities. First, we promised each other that our friendship trumped the story, so if either of us could not handle the pressure, we would stop. At the same time, we went into this deciding we could and should write a novel together, and therefore we’d do our best to make it work, so that neither of us would have to bow out from the pressure.
Does any of this make sense? Maybe I’ll just pass it on over to Cass to polish the end. That kinda seems apropos, right? Or maybe…
Cass: It makes perfect sense to me, but then I have spent an awful lot of time “with” Ada this last year – more than in any from our 14-year friendship. Which is pretty funny really if you think about where we live.
We only met in person once during the writing of our book (that memorable trip to Bath a year ago) to hammer out a plot, establish our characters and find a coat for Ada.
But then, what’s a few thousand miles and a 9-hour time difference between friends?!
On this day, a year ago, I was in Bath, England with Cass. I was very cold even though the sun was shining. You see, not only am I a stereotypical Southern California girl in that I am only comfortable in weather above 68 F, but in order to pay for the trip I had first stopped over in Washington DC to do a few photoshoots (and see my sis-in-law, but she didn’t pay for my ticket, so that’s irrelevant, no matter how fun she is); and in my haze of leaving her apartment for the airport I left my coat on her couch.
People without Southern Californians in their life might not understand the significance of this, because surely, knowing I was sensitive to weather, I had brought warm clothing? You don’t understand! I don’t have warm clothing. They don’t even really sell warm clothes here – unless it’s for camping at like REI. I had struggled to find shirts with sleeves to pack and, in the end, had not bothered because, hey! I had a coat… well had being the operative word.
SO, first thing on the agenda when we got to Bath was to find me a coat. Of course they weren’t selling warm clothes either because they thought the weather was perfectly lovely. Which, ok, it looked like this, so judge me how you must:
SO, after wandering through shops of Spring clothes for a couple hours, I FINALLY found a coat in the sale section of Banana Republic – discounted to just 20 pounds. To give you an idea of how little I’m exaggerating that no one else in town was looking for coats, the first coat I tried on had a spider in it.
I’m talking a lot about this coat, which might seem weird since the other thing that happened on this day a year ago was that Cass and I started outlining the plot for our book. But you see, I was worried about freezing to death and whining during my time there. I was not worried about writing this book. In fact, I wasn’t sure why Cass thought it was going to take so long. By my calculations it would take us three weeks (tops) to write it; tack on an extra week for tweaking and proofreading and we’d be golden.
Yes, yes, laugh all you want, but I had reason to to be confident. Cass and I had alot of experience co-writing. She does everything brilliant, but she especially does everything that I hate writing brilliantly. We have a rhythm where when we’re stuck or sick of a scene we just toss it over to the other person. It’s awesome. I didn’t have a care in the world… except buying a coat. This coat to be precise: