21 Reasons to Choose our Book for your Next Book Club Selection!

IMG_5563c copyWhat Book Club charm does The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen hold? We’ve been considering just that question after the subject was broached by some of our friends indicating we might be their next pick.

  1. IMG_1416FRIENDSHIP is a strong theme in the book and also sometimes in Book Clubs! (I mean, I guess it’s not a pre-requisite for those of you into the serious art of reading literature, but I assume it helps!)
  2. It’s got history in it! I mean, not all of it is totally true, but a good amount of it is, and I think it’s fairly easy to spot where we deviate (intentionally anyway).
  3. IMGP2161It’s a virtual tour of Bath, UK.  And trust me, Bath is AWESOME.  I hate traveling.  But I love Bath.  When a cranky traveler gives a place a thumbs up, I feel that should mean something.
  4. It’s FUNNY.  And considering the sometimes subtle, sometimes substantial differences in UK and US humor, the fact that we both thought it was funny might just mean it is.
  5. It’s LIGHT (the Kindle edition is anyway – *insert rim shot here*).  In some Book Clubs, the books (no matter how worthy of being read) can be a tad heavy and depressing.  The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen can be a nice palette cleanser between Nobel prize winning novels.
  6. NChands - Copy (2)ROMANCE that you don’t have to cover your eyes for.  I mean, I enjoy extra steamy love scenes as much as the next gal, but I grew up with the sort of subtle, funny romance that was almost like a secret between the writer, the characters, and only some of the readers.  All my favorite romance novels have dog-eared pages where I’ve distinguished hints that the relationship is progressing, but would otherwise struggle to find those moments again.
  7. Most our characters have British Accents!  Okay, perhaps not as fascinating to you British people, but I love the British accent and feel extremely lucky to have an actual, real, live British person writing with me, transforming my Americanisms into verified Britspeak (unless I’m writing for an American character).
  8. It has at least one American accent! No? This doesn’t get anyone excited? Of all the billions of people that adore the British accent, I thought maybe there would be one oddball who wanted an American one but no… How about… It has an American! Which I find funny and refreshing because it does help to highlight some of those subtle but all important differences between our cultures and why we should appreciate each other.

    The Brit & The American (authors, that is)!
    The Brit & The American (authors, that is)!
  9. The characters are NERDS for Jane Austen (for those of you less nerdy than me, a nerd nowadays can be another way of saying fanatic). I know there are people out there that would not count themselves as nerds for anything, but these people are basically nerds about not being nerds.  I mean, you kinda have to work at not being a nerd nowadays.  We are in the Age of Nerd! a time when you can nerd out on gourmet cooking shows as easily as you can Star Trek.   I can proudly list a dozen things in which I am overly invested (read: nerdy about) and a million ways to connect with others through each and every one of them.
    York, July 2007
    Nerd Alert!

    Nerds create communities in which to be our most nerdy selves and these communities can be long- lasting, rock solid, and immeasurably fulfilling. Hey! Book clubs are communities too!  Even if it’s not Jane Austen that you’re nerdy for, I bet you will recognize that spark – that love that inspires your nerd-hood in our characters’ love for Regency fiction.

  10. A reader recently said of our book that “Loving Jane Austen is not a prerequisite but is a repercussion“. Speaking of, The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen has a lot of Austen references: JANE AUSTEN character references, JANE AUSTEN book scene location references, etc.  It was a little unbelievable for me to be walking the SAME streets, seeing many of the same facades, the same views not simply of THE Jane Austen, but of her imagination as well. BUT you don’t need to ‘know’ Jane Austen or her life to enjoy the book. We know; we’ve been told!
  11. There are animals!  Both Cass and I adore animals and maybe your Book Club does too!  One animal in particular changes the course of our character’s lives in an unexpected, but we hope charming, way.IMG_6146
  12. Our main female characters are SMART.  There are no damsels in this book, though one of our main females does tend to be flighty about directions and keys which may or may not reflect the real life of one of the two authors of this book who still believes she is smart despite this defect and a few more she may or may not have.  No, don’t ask my husband if it’s me, I don’t want to talk about it! I have degrees people!  Okay, they are in English and Art, but that doesn’t make me any less of a female person!
  13. Our male characters are smart too.  Our female characters do not need to puIMG_6147t men, individually or as a gender, down to prove their own salt.  Everyone’s great in their own way – except for that one character and, face it, we all know that one person we wish no harm to, but would rather not be forced to work with daily!  It’s probably that person you talk about with your Book Club before you all buckle down to business and discuss the book you’re supposed to have read but didn’t have enough time to because THAT person mucked up the workflow and you were late.
  14. There are HATS.  Actually, this is just a test to see if you’re still reading.
  15. This novel is rare in that it is co-written.  That could be an interesting topic of discussion in a Book Club.  It certainly was an interesting topic of conversation between us while we were co-writing it!
  16. There is a lot of talk of what influences shaped our characters that could be good Book Club discussion.  What are the small things that would change in your life if one key influence from your past disappeared?  What were those influences? How would their absence have affected your life (if at all)?  And would you be the only one who’s life changed?  Would an entire industry or city change? Or… would there simply be something indefinable in the universe missing?

Love Hearts17. It introduces us Americans to the Love Hearts candy which you can have shipped and available to serve at your Book Club meeting.  Cheerful colors, sweet messages and it doesn’t even have to be Valentine’s Day!

18. There’s an element of fantasy to The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen.  And how often do you have an element of fantasy in your Book Club selection?  Probably often if you’re fantasy fans… but if you are… all the more reason to choose us.

19. Our characters love books too! I mean – if you’re in a Book Club you are probably there for one of two main reasons.  1. You wanted to spend more time with the people in your Book Club; 2. You wanted to read more books.  Both of these themes – friendship and the love of reading – are of central importance in The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen.

13914098     20. Our book is set during the Jane Austen Festival in Bath.  This is an amazing annual event that you and your book club could attend together after reading the novel!  And if you book thru Bath Boutique Stays, you might even be able to stay in 4 Sydney Place (one of Jane Austen’s actual residences!).

PC front and back21. And finally, our TPCoMJA (wow, what a catchy acronym!) would be a great addition to your Book Club list because: For a limited time we are trying to figure out a way to get you a discount on the physical books if you buy 6 or more for your Book Club.  Full disclosure: We haven’t figured out shipping costs yet, and I am slightly concerned that shipping will end up making this less exciting.  But we’re working on it! Message us and you might be the Beta group for this offer!!

Once Upon a Time

Many years ago, I lived with my husband in a house on a hill.  We were both working for my Father-in-Law and we had three cats even though we didn’t realize my husband was allergic to them yet.  I was (and still am) a homebody and a book worm – which made online friendships extremely handy.

As with most people, the illusion of anonymity on the Internet lent me to do things that I wouldn’t normally do… like share my stories with them (thought I was going somewhere else with that didn’t you? Get your minds out of the gutter!).

You see, I’d been writing fanfiction long before I knew what fanfiction was.  In high school, I used to write stories for my friends using their real life hopes and dreams… mostly about the boys they liked.  So, when I was introduced to the idea of fanfiction thru the Scarecrow & Mrs. King community, it made absolute sense to me.  Looking back, I realize it was an incredibly small and oddly like minded set of people compared to most fandoms.  When I discovered them, they were just a bunch of fans rejuvenating a television show that had limped so sadly to its end.  It was incredibly cathartic.

So when I quickly became obsessive about Harry Potter and impatient for the publication of new books in the series, I innocently searched for what the fans were doing in the fanfiction world.  And… my eyes! my eyes!!!!

I realized quickly that what I had to find was another, smaller, set of like minded fans to obsess and share with.  And that is where Cass comes in.  On a sweet little Harry Potter site, a fellow forum poster and I hit it off.  We were both totally hilarious, if I do say so myself.  Once we were both assured that the other was not a psycho serial killer pretending to be an awesomely funny person, we became “real” friends who talked about “real” life.  And one day, I honestly can’t remember how or why (maybe she does?), we started writing Harry Potter fanfiction together.

And that is how Cass and Ada first met and…why Cass and Ada finally met in person.

Ada & Splatt
California, 2003

(TO WRITE!  Isn’t that crazy? And 14 years later, that’s what we’re STILL doing!)

Anyway, I was pregnant, and not at all nervous… until I was at the baggage claim.  Then, several concerns crowded me all at once:

  • What if I didn’t recognize her? All the pictures of her I’d seen to that point suddenly melded together in my mind as one (kind of general) amalgamation of a nice human face with brownish reddish hair.
  • What if I’d screwed up in some way the directions? I am NOTORIOUS for getting directions wrong and giving bad directions.  Granted, the airport should have sent her in a pretty direct way to baggage claim, but… I really can’t take any chances with my direction-challenged brain.
  • What if my cell battery died? Oh – by the way – it did.

For at least five minutes I smiled at every female-ish person in the LAX baggage claim hoping to send a welcoming, non-psycho vibe that I wouldn’t be kicked out of the airport for. It was at this point that anxiety started in.  I jealously thought, well at least SHE knows she’s looking for a pregnant person.  That’s at least SOMETHING.  Why hadn’t we worked out a code? A red hat! A white rose! A Harry Potter Scarf!

But it wasn’t long before a person with a suddenly distinct Cass looking face appeared on the escalator.  Crazy how people look how they are supposed to when you’re not in an anxiety fueled panic.

Anyway, a big hug and a lot of undignified giggles later we were off.

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 4.36.01 PMThe drive to and from LAX had long ago become old hat to me.  Apparently it didn’t feel terribly old hat to Cass who looked green and not at all impressed with my impromptu attempts at tour guide (there may have been some weaving involved).  Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 4.36.07 PM

This started a several years long in joke with me sending her pictures of the Staples Center lit up purple at night (it was midday when we passed it so she couldn’t see how purple it got!).

We learned several things during the trip:

  • California waiters cannot understand the word “water” when said with a British accent
  • My three cats had no hunting prowess (they surrounded a spider and it got away)  Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 4.34.58 PM
  • We CAN write together faster in person
  • We DO like each other in person
  • We CANNOT understand each other in a loud restaurant

And it was upon these truths that our “real life” friendship was founded and these truths have carried us through!*

*ok, the inability of my now deceased cats to catch spiders has not recently affected us, but you get the idea.

 

So Many Thank You’s*

To say our book launch celebration was a success would be a gross understatement.  We had the BEST TIME.  I know so many of our loyal friends and family could not be there, but we love you and appreciate you!  For those of you that could, we can’t thank you enough. There were some serious accomplished authors and just plain wonderful people there who graciously donated to the Jane Austen Literary Foundation for a signed book of The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen.

I am in the US, though still another leg to go before I’m home and I already miss the city of Bath and everyone there (and those in Alton too ;)). Cass was concerned that I would feel my family and friends were not represented at the launch but she forgot I adopted her family and friends long ago as my own.  Plus I felt the love from back home (a reminder social media can be great!).

We hope you enjoy some photos of the evening.  If you look closely enough at them you will see our fantastic husbands who gave us a beautiful toast, a few of our effervescent supporters (including Ann from the Bath Central Library who shared some very appropriate volumes from 1796) and Cass placing our book in the Austen book shelf in 4 Sydney Place maintained and let by Bath Boutique Stays.

For those of you who have already received the book: we are so glad!  Please do us a favor and review the book on your favorite review location.

Thank you everyone so so very much!

 

 

 

*I wasn’t sure whether to use Thank Yous or Thank You’s and I asked the internet and it wasn’t terribly helpful:  http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/166500/100k-thank-yous-or-100k-thank-yous

Cass & Ada in Bath Part 2

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!

Cass & Ada Return to Bath

Hello!

Today Cass & I met up in England and had an incredible day!

We met up with the lovely Joan from St. Mary’s Hall B&B in Alton for our first ever joint book signing!

From there we went to Chawton together (I had never been and it was very moving and worth the stop).  P.S. they have hats.

Then off to Winchester to see Jane’s finally resting place and lunch at The Wykeham Arms.

We made it to Bath and have been having a great time revisiting all the locations we mention in The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen!

More Tomorrow…

Cover Reveal and Upcoming Blog Posts!

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.

Print

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!

Irony

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.

But…

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!!

finalmap