Monday, 28 March 2011

Passionate Geniuses

I spent most of Saturday reading Karen Smith Kenyon's book The Bronte Family: passionate literary geniuses.  While it is written as a young adult biography, I found it equally excellent as an adult reader.  It is filled with fantastic pictures of artifacts and photographs of places the Brontes frequented.  I was struck by how lonely their lives were, set apart as they were in the parsonage in a small town.  Only Branwell seemed to get out visiting much, and then mostly at the local pub. 

The lives of the Brontes were not previously well known to me.  I have read Agnes Grey, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights and this book made note of several ties between the real lives of Charlotte, Anne and Emily to these books.  Whenever I read fiction, I wonder where the life of the author intersects his or her creation.  My own fiction often reflects my experiences, but at the same time, nothing is exactly true.

After finishing the book, I felt deeply saddened by the shortness of the lives of the Brontes and especially for Charlotte, so recently married.  Kenyon surmises that she died due to excessive vomitting due to pregnancy.  As someone who struggled with morning sickness, I often wondered what became of women with extreme morning sickness before the advent of our modern day medications. 

I am rereading Wuthering Heights and am fascinated with Emily's creation.  Kenyon made no mention of any romances in Emily's life.  How did she come up with Heathcliff and Catherine?  I've decided I need to read more biographies of writers.  So inspiring!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

What Are You Working On?

I seem to be working on too many projects at once right now.  So, mostly for myself, I thought I'd write down what I'm working on to keep it all in order:

1.  Marketing - I've just uploaded my novel Expectations: A Continuation of Pride and Prejudice to Kindle.  It should be ready to sell as an ebook sometime today!  Also, new to Twitter, I'm trying to figure out how one markets a book in that Twitchy little universe!  I find I am spending a lot of time wandering around, getting continually sidetracked. . .

2.  Editing - I recently received a proof copy of my next book to come out.  It is called Subgirl and is written for middle grade readers, although as a substitute teacher, I find it very amusing.  Jordana Simkins is a twelve-year-old genius who has finished University and decided to substitute teach.  This book covers her first day of teaching in a Kindergarten classroom.  I had meant it to be a series, but we'll see how well this one does!

3.  Searching for publishers and agents - Oh, this is a soul-sucking venture.  I've been searching for publishers for about 15 years with very little success.  I just started searching for agents this fall, with even less success!  My next novel, Taking Comfort, is the story of four young women in 1993.  One of them becomes a teenaged mom.  The story starts in 2009 when this mom decides to tell her daughter the truth about her conception.

4.  Restarting a novel - I started my next novel in the fall while between projects.  I'm about 30 pages in, but had to leave it for a while.  Now I'm trying to get back into it.

5.  Short Stories - I have several of these that need a home!  I'm really enjoying writing them.  It's so nice to be able to see the whole story, rather than one chapter at a time.  My latest was inpired by a writing exercise at writing group.

Add to this parenting, substitute teaching, cooking and homemaking and you can see why I worry that I have ADD sometimes.  Oh yes, and blogging.  Ack!  What am I thinking?

Monday, 21 March 2011

Why another Austen sequel?

With so many Austen sequels to choose from nowadays, one might wonder why I would write one myself?  It happened after watching the final episode of the 1995 Pride and Prejudice (yes, the one with Colin Firth) on PBS in February of 2008.  I was by no means a major fan of Jane Austen at the time.  I had only read Pride and Prejudice and some of Sense and Sensibility.  I was more familiar with the movies made of her work than her books.  But my sister was a huge fan of Pride and Prejudice and her birthday was coming up in April.  I thought, I'll just write a little 20 page short story continuing Pride and Prejudice.  I jotted a few notes which went something like this:

Continuation of P&P
-Pemberley was fine indeed, however married life was far from bliss.
-misses sisters and knowledge of place in world
-ostrasized by Darcy's Aunt Lady Catherine de Bourgh
-romours of her sister's folly
-how to run servants?
-hard to find friends
-sick and pregnant
-loves Darcy, but he is a man of few words
wonders where the excitement of life is.  Finding a mate had been such a huge part of life

From such beginnings, my novel was born.  I was shocked when I eventually did an internet search of Pride and Prejudice to realize there were already over 100 sequels.  I thought "Why didn't I do this before I started my book?  I could have just bought my sister a present!"  However, I am so glad I continued with my sequel.  I also wanted to get to know Austen's work more deeply and to improve my writing ability.  I know painters improve their work by imitating other painters and I thought I would do something similar.  I've never had so much fun writing a novel.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

An Austenific Saturday

I was able to participate in one of my favourite activities today - a meeting of The Jane Austen Society of North America, Calgary Branch.  Today we heard from Dr. Diana Patterson about Josiah Wedgwood and from Michelle Agopsowicz about the theme of charity in Austen's works.

Having recently finished reading Jane Eyre, I considered the similarities between the story of Jane Eyre and the story of Mansfield Park.  Of course, I'm aware of the tensions going between Austen and the Brontes, but I love them all and so I will dare to post a few of the similarities I realized today:

Both Jane Eyre and Fanny Price were left as children to the care of rich relations.  Both women were very concerned with morality.  Both were courted by two very different men.  They each had the choice between a 'bad boy' of fortune and a minister of comparatively less fortune.  

An altogether inspiring day and now I have begun work on a youtube video of my book, Expectations: A Continuation of Pride and Prejudice.  What fun! 

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Addicted to the Internet

I can't seem to get off the internet lately.  I'll be playing with the kids or cleaning up the kitchen when I start to get the itch - Gotta check my facebook page, did he email me back? Has anyone else started following me on Twitter?  I'm an undercover ludite.  I resisted facebook for at least a year before I caved.  I didn't even have the internet in my house two years ago.  I guess I knew I was prone to this kind of addiction.  Can anybody relate?