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 You Want to Co-Write a Story

Copy of USA 08 126
Brainstorming in San Diego in 2008 – a story interrupted by real life and duly abandoned!

There are only two main reasons I co-write:

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!

IMG_5683
Where we first met!

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?

Cass: …

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.

Ada: …

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.

Ada & Splatt
Getting to know each other in person for the first time – California, 2003

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…

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A small section of Ada’s Inbox from the last year!

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?!

 

 

Welcome to Our Blog!

We’re still unpacking and settling in, but do feel free to drag over a tea chest, sit down and start helping us to unwrap the fun as we take the exhilarating and terrifying steps towards publication of our new novel, The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen – available via a website near you this summer (see Book Releases for the blurb)!

We’ll be blogging about all sorts of things, from our co-writing experiences, the inspirations behind the story, the key locations and all sorts of other minutiae, such as how many emails does it take to decide what a side character is going to order for their fictional lunch, and just how significant a kiss on the cheek can be.

As Jane Austen once wrote to her sister, Cassandra:

“Which of all my important nothings shall I tell you first?”

We’ll let Ada begin, with the tale of a coat!