Jane Austen-Inspired & Approved

***WARNING: This blog post is a book-crush gushing of MEGA proportions. Just so you know . . .

I started reading this book at 8:30 PM. (Got it from my library, but will be changing that status ASAP…I want my OWN COPY, to hold in my hands, to caress, to underline, to quote . . .)

Finished it at 1:30 AM. (Just in time to give my hubby a kiss and send him off to deliver happiness in the form of cookies.) I’m a devourer of anything Jane Austen and Austen-inspired, and Dear Mr. Knightley is HANDS DOWN the BEST Jane Austen-Inspired book EVER!! I can’t get it out of my head. I feel like I did when I first discovered and read Pride and Prejudice. I can still see my young self sitting, curled up on the couch, snorting and crying, not wanting the story to ever end.

I so wanted to savor Dear Mr. Knightley, make it last more than 4 hours (I know the YEARS it takes to write a story…and it only took me 4 hours to read), but I couldn’t stop. This book was an emotional ride of heart-grabbing honesty, REALness, tear-duct perpetually filled and refilling–like reading pages from my journey.

I LOVED EVERY minute.

 This morning I find myself still “in the book.” So, in the spirit of the book (Samantha writing letters/sharing her heart and thoughts to “Mr. Knightley”) and of Jane Austen herself, I’ve decided to write Ms. Reay a letter. Commence the book-crush gush:

Dear Katherine Reay,

“There could have been no two hearts so open, no tastes so similar, no feelings so in unison.” ― Jane AustenPersuasion

I’m wearing a T-shirt today that says “It’s all Katherine Reary’s fault.” It’s your fault that I’m red-eyed and look like I haven’t slept in days. Your fault that I want to plant myself on my couch with J.A. in one form or another (Sherlock may join the party too). Your fault that I’m super emotional, but full of praise to the God I’m in a relationship with. Your fault that I won’t get any writing done (Well, maybe, I am feeling inspired). Your fault that my three-year-old just ate a bag of popcorn for breakfast…

I’m not sure what your writing journey has been like. But if it’s anything like mine, it’s been filled with years of WAITING, happy dances, supporters and hindrances, WAITING, tears, frustrations, WAITING, screams, thoughts of giving up and becoming a super model (JUST KIDDING, in my case at least), WAITING, and of course, more WAITING.

I just want to tell you IT WAS ALL WORTH IT! Thank you for pressing onward, for persevering through all the “chains”, and for getting Samantha Moore’s story in print. Her journey was my journey. I was in the same “I’m worthless” boat as she was. But like Sam’s journey, mine led me to the “I surrender ALL” and “I’m Worthy and Loved” camp.

Samantha’s story was a huge reminder as to why I write–what I desire my novels to be like. I write because I have trouble speaking/sharing my heart, but I am slowly finding my voice off the page and without ink. I’m an avid Jane Austen fan, and a firm believer and supporter of REAL. I spent most of my life living behind a mask of perfection, a mask of fake. It wasn’t until I found my identity as CHILD OF GOD, that I was able to surrender and take off the mask. Now I’m real (sometimes too much–tend to scare people . . . haven’t had much practice yet with speaking).

Reading Samantha’s story was like reading pages from my journal–my heart has thought and said much the same. (Excuse me while I quote you…)

P. 151: “Through it, I found a new character. Me. She’s bold and fairly feisty, with serious timidity issues at times. Every step she takes forward, she glances back and even retreats. But she’s got courage. I think she’ll make it…I hope to like this new character.”

P. 200: “Changing, being real and becoming who you want to be, is hard work.”

Again, THANK YOU for writing your heart and sharing it with the rest of us. You wrote on page 198 that: “Austen’s descriptions of human nature are spot-on.” I’d have to say that “Katherine Reay’s descriptions of human nature is spot-on.”  

With all my heart,

J. L.

 

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Turning Point

     I recently picked up The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkein. It’s been a long time since I’ve read the book. But with two of the three Hobbit movies out, I figured it was time to read it again. The Hobbit is such a delight–twist of phrases, quirky banter, action, and of course all the wonderful characters: goofy/silly mixed in with the serious. 

“He guessed as well as he could, and crawled along for a good way, till suddenly his hand met what felt like a tiny ring of cold metal lying on the floor of the tunnel. It was a turning point in his career, but he did not know it.” -from Chapter V: Riddles in the Dark

 

     These sentences struck me, and got me thinking about the turning points in my writing career–Turning points that I didn’t know would be turning points when they occurred. As I look back, there have been several already. 

Turning Points (that I know about now)

#1: Going to my first writers conference. This started me on my path of “serious writing.” My path has been filled with tears of frustration and joy. I’ve seen growth in every area of my life. It’s taught me much about patience, but at the same time it’s been crowded with many, many writing friends and “bouncers” that have made  the journey exciting.

#2: Handing BOUND (my YA urban fantasy) to my dad, and asking him to edit it. This was one of the hardest things for me to do. My dad is the one who cultivated in me a love for reading and writing. I knew that if he read my WIP, he would let me know honestly what he thought—in a nice way he’d tell me to take up knitting or to stick with things that I was good at, singing and giving him grandchildren . . . But I got past my fears and handed him my WIP. (He did tell me later that he had been hesitant to read my work as well. He didn’t want to have to tell me it was bad . . .) But to my relief, and my dad’s great joy, he LOVED my writing. It actually surprised him by how good and funny/quirky it was. (WOOT!) His style of editing was to read BOUND out loud to me. This was a journey in and of itself. It was quite embarrassing at times to hear my dad read my book out loud–especially when it’s written in first person, from the point of view of a seventeen year old girl. (I made him read the kissing scenes to himself. I wouldn’t have survived that . . .)

#3: Finding a wonderful editor. I have the best editor in the world! She’s amazing and super- talented! (Oh, and she just happens to be one of my best friends.) She is one of those people, like my dad, that I knew would be lovingly-honest with me. I was scared to give it to her. But I’d gained some courage since I had survived my dad’s editing. She told me right up front that she would tell my what she loved, and what she didn’t love, she’d help me make great!

I’m still on my journey. And, who knows, I may be able to look back in a few days or a few weeks and find another event that actually was a turning point.

**How about you? And events that have turned into turning points for you? I’d love to read about them.   

  

AGAIN!

Writing word of the day = AGAIN!
I have to edit this chapter, AGAIN.
I have to reformat page numbers, AGAIN.
I have to rewrite this chapter, AGAIN.
Do it AGAIN! And AGAIN! And AGAIN!
And all you want to do is get to the FUN part!

This clip of Diego De La Vega teaching/training Alejandro Murrieta (The Mask of Zorro), is a pretty good/accurate portrayal of the writer’s life. As an eager “beginner” in the serious writing world, you see it as easy. “The pointy end goes in the other guy!” You know how to spell. You can write complete sentences. You have great characters with the perfect names. You’re ready. You’ll be published in no time. Publishing houses would have to be completely insane not to publish your book!
But then you learn there are “rings.” There are “levels” that you have to pass through before you can get to the center and finally get your novel published. Honing your craft isn’t an easy task. It’s aggravating, slow (extreme patience builder!), and makes gambler/horse racing look like a stable career choice. (At least it’s faster!)
The process is taking FOREVER, but you love it and wouldn’t give it up. (You tried to give it up, but you’re family was ready to check you in to the loony bin–safer for everyone if you just write!)
So you do. You finish your tenth draft. You’ve edited and re-edited. There’s nothing more you can add to it, nothing that’s wrong with it. Your characters will be like Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett–remembered and loved 200 years later! And then you submit it to an agent. You get a nice note that says: “I like it, but it’s just not ready yet.” So you hire an editor. You rework some things and resubmit to another agent. And that agent says: “Do it AGAIN!”
The cycle continues. Submit = write it AGAIN!
And then when you finally reach the point where you have an agent and a contract with a publishing house, what word do you think you’ll hear? Yep. AGAIN! And you’ll probably hear it a dozen (or a million) more times until your book is on the shelf at the bookstore . . .
With excitement you’ll read through it again, and behold, you wish you still had an again as an option!

So, here’s to an AGAIN day! In the AGAIN’s is the story really written. So enjoy it, AGAIN!

The Headmistress of Rosemere

By: Sarah E. Ladd

I get so excited, and am honored, when asked to read a book and review it. Just finished reading The Headmistress of Rosemere, by Sarah E. Ladd. This was the second book in the Whispers on the Moors Series. (Here’s the link to the review of the first book in the series, The Heiress of Winterwood, https://janelleleonard.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/timeout-tuesday-2/)

Here’s my FIVE coffee-cup review:

I love Jane Austen. And anything that has the backdrop and feel of Jane Austen is high on my list of book-loves!

Patience Creighton and William Sterling are perfect for each other. But circumstances, secrets, past indiscretions, accidents, and people keep getting in the way of their happily ever after. William is a gentleman–with a dangerous, rakish reputation–who has accumulated substantial debts, and is being hounded by his creditors henchmen. Patience is the Headmistress of an all girl’s school, and William’s tenant. Neither one of them wants or thinks they deserve to get entangled with the other. But a late night meeting–after William is severely wounded–reacquaints them. Their lives become entwined when they find they can’t stay away from each other. But circumstances change, and secrets, events, and more characters are thrown into the equation: The carriage house at Rosemere is burned, and a student is injured (which opens a door to a room full of secrets). Patience’s brother returns home with a wife and plans that will change everything Patience has worked toward. An old suitor returns and vies for Patience’s hand, reopening wounds. And a broach and romance from William’s past resurfaces.

The Headmistress of Rosemere takes you on a fast-paced carriage ride all the way from page one until the satisfying conclusion.

Thanks Sarah for the privilege of reading this. Loved this, and can’t wait to read the next book in the series!