Sunday, October 20, 2013

You know You’re a Jane Austen Addict When?????

With the recent release of the movie Austenland about a woman who is so obsessed with Jane Austen that she spends most of her savings on a trip to a Jane Austen theme park, I thought it might be fun to see how many of us fall into the “Addicted to Jane Austen Zone.” Ask yourself the following questions. If you answer yes to only one to three, you’re a mere fan. Five to eight, you’re an aficionado. If all ten apply then you wish you could step into a time machine and go back to 1812!


 1)     You have a t-shirt, bumper sticker, and duffle bag all bearing the logo “I Love Mr. Darcy!”

2)     You have both the VHS and DVD version of the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice, but your friends and family wonder why you bother – you can recite the whole thing.

3)     You have a Jane Austen figurine on your desk at work.

4)     Your pet bears the name of one of your favorite Austen characters.

5)     Whenever someone makes you mad, you look them in the eye and say, “You have insulted me with every possible method, I must beg to return to the house.”

6)     Your dream vacation is a trip to England to visit the Jane Austen museum’s at Chawton and Bath and once you arrive, you never want to leave!

7)     You compare people you know to Jane Austen characters. On a regular basis.

8)     You drive an hour to take English country dance lessons. And then several hours to attend an authentic Regency ball.

9)     The contents of your closet look alarmingly early nineteenth century with bonnets and gowns that you plan on wearing to aforesaid ball.

10) When you first heard about Austenland, your immediate reaction was – “how soon can I book a ticket?”


To fuel your Jane Austen and all things Regency addiction, books and movies are released year after year. One of my favorite authors, Laurie Alice Eakes, just released a new winner A Reluctant Courtship. This novel, the third in the Daughters of Bainbridge House trilogy is a stunning conclusion to the series. Full of Laurie Alice’s usual combination of romance, intrigue, and Regency glamor, you will love this novel.  I looked forward to this story ever since the second title, Flight of Fancy was released.


In honor of this release and for all of you that answered yes to any of the above questions, I am giving away a copy of A Reluctant Courtship, plus a copy of Julie Klassen’s most recent novel, The Tutor’s Daughter. So leave a comment with your email to win this great Jane Austen Addict/Regency Package!!


***Congratulations to Jillian, our winner of the copy of Rebellious Heart by Jody Hedlund and Wives of the Signers that I gave away last week!
*****Don't forget to leave your email with your comment to get the great Regency Package above!
As usual - Happy Reading and Writing!


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Great History = Great Fiction!

Recently, I had the privilege of reading a novel by one of my favorite authors. As usual the novel did not disappoint. It was filled with the combination I have come to expect from that author, a blend of adventure, intrigue, and swoon-worthy romance. Best of all, the characters in the book were based on one of the most famous couples in history. The book: Rebellious Heart, by Jody Hedlund, is a fictional account of the lives of John and Abigail Adams.

It takes a talented author to create compelling fiction from real life events. The seamless detail required of fiction makes this task, at the very least, daunting. But Rebellious Heart, does just this. Since I analyze everything I read, I thought it might be interesting to see just how Jody did this.
First of all, the book wasn’t a true biography. Although many Hollywood critics complain when a biographical movie deviates from the actual incidents that occurred, in fiction this is often necessary to weave a compelling story. Deciding what to cut and change in the lives of people as famous as John and Abigail Adams, must have been a challenge. But as an author, we can remember that this is first and foremost fiction, therefore liberties can be taken. The novel also contains an intriguing subplot that may have never happened to the real characters but added interesting conflict to the lives of the fictional ones. This, plus so many other elements, kept the pages turning and what could have become a dull story for the modern reader became a true gem in the hands of a talented author.

The facts in the book blended seamlessly into a fictional story and as I was not familiar with the life of this couple, other than obvious basics, it was a surprise to me to learn in the end what was true and what wasn’t. I appreciated that there wasn’t long paragraphs of back story and that it read like a novel based on fictional characters. Be careful of this in your own historical novels. Readers want first and foremost a good story with characters they can relate to whether they are real or fictional.

To help us, as writers, I’ve come up with three tips for writing a story based on actual people or events.

Three Tips for Writing Biographical Fiction:

1)     Be Accurate: While most people will not know whether or not everything in your story is historically true, you should try to be as accurate as possible. If not, readers who are familiar with the history may wonder whether or not you did your research. Use the author’s note to relay to your readers the changes you made.

2)     Be Accurate but Use Author License: Depending on whether or not you are writing a story loosely inspired by true events or a full-fledged fictionalized account, use author license to make the story compelling and riveting. Don’t sacrifice readability for getting the facts straight.

3)     Research as Much as Possible about the Real People: In the author’s note of Rebellious Heart, Jody even listed several of the books she found helpful. This was a nice addition for readers who might want to delve further. I’ve found in my own writing that extensive research about the people or events you intend to fictionalize also sparks new ideas and new elements. Often the things that happen in real life really are more compelling than the things you try to think up yourself.

In conclusion, I’ll reiterate the title of this post – great history really does make great fiction. From movies such as Titanic or Lincoln, to novels such as Rebellious Heart, history, like fiction, has the ability to sweep us away into another world.


To celebrate the recent release of Rebellious Heart, and to give one blog reader a chance to win a copy of the book along with a copy of the book, Wives of the Signers, an anthology that includes Abigail Adams, leave a comment with your email address about your favorite real events based book or movie. You will be entered into a drawing to win this package of two great books!! Don’t forget to leave your email so I can contact you!  I will draw a winner this Friday, October 18th.


Calling All Jane Austen Fans!
Do you like Historical Romance and everything Jane Austen? Next week I will be giving away another two fabulous books. Laurie Alice Eakes's book, A Reluctant Courtship is being released this week on October 15th!! Plus, along with that will be a copy of  Julie Klassen's newest book, The Tutor's Daughter. So check back next week for a chance to receive both of these great Regency Romances.  

Happy Reading and (of course) Writing!


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Starts That Will Make Readers Finish!

As well as being a writer of fiction, I am also an avid reader. And in the course of my reading I have put down several books because the first few chapters weren’t going anywhere. Either they were bogging the book down with unnecessary backstory, or they were too involved that the reader had no idea what was going on. Here’s five ways to avoid the above mistakes, and write starts that will make readers finish.

1) Start with an unusual statement, something that goes against the status quo. By unusual, I mean a line that will keep the reader hungering for more, not confusing them. Some classic examples include,

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” — A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way” Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy

"Scarlet O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.” - Gone With The Wind, Margret Mitchell

2) Never start with long winded backstory. Although I love the starts of the above novels, and although writing standards have changed drastically since the era the novels were written in, I don’t advise beginning with the entire history of the hero’s life, or what happened to the heroine when she was six. Unless, of course, that’s where the story starts. Instead, weave in backstory as needed, slowly and seamlessly.

3) Don’t begin with the character waking up or hearing his alarm clock. (lol) We all know what happens when someone gets up, we don’t need to read about it. If the character’s morning rituals are essential to the story, weave them in later, rather than throwing them at the reader at the beginning. Or show them as a flashback. Anything but on page one.

4) Don’t begin with a battle or car chase. The oft quoted story of the Hollywood producer and the young screenwriter applies here. We want to know who’s in the car or who the armies are. Instead, begin with a different pivotal point and save the car chases for a few chapters later.

5) Last but not least practice, practice, practice. Try several beginnings, and see which one fits. Poll friends and family. Read authors you admire and study their first page. And most importantly never give up.

 Do you prefer a cinematic beginning or does a description draw you in?

Happy Writing!