Tag Archive: Jane Goes Batty


Belated Birthday Wishes

Dear Jane,

Please accept my belated birthday wishes to you. I meant to get this letter out much sooner but you know how it goes with a busy family.

I hope you were able to celebrate in high style. A trip to London, high tea, a night at the theater, perhaps a stroll in the public gardens; these are great activities in my eyes. My birthday is in a few weeks, as you well know, and I have no idea how we will celebrate that event.

Jane AustenI have been thinking of you lately as I work on my first novel. I try to write 500 words a day and right now I am at Chapter 8 of 15. But recently, I looked back at Chapter 2 in order to present it to my writing group. I have not sent anything in for a while despite making real progress on the book. While going over the pages to take out any passive verbiage and tighten it all up, I realized that most of this chapter is terrible.

More truthfully, it sucks.

I am now considering re-writing it or ditching the chapter all together. It does not seem to fit or make sense with the rest of the novel that I have written. I think that I have not introduced the problem soon enough. Worse yet, I no longer love my heroine.

Did that ever happen to you? Elizabeth is so lively and charming that I would find it hard not to love her. Elinor, on the other hand, I can imagine getting a bit weary despite her wonderful qualities. Then again, she was a poor woman in Regency England who had known a better life. Her sadness at the loss of her father and potential husband must have been great.

Since working on this novel, I notice how I read a book has changed. I no longer simply enjoy the prose. I am paying attention to how characters are introduced. I listen to how different characters speak. I look at when the problem becomes a problem. The dead body does not always seem to show up by the end of Chapter One but one issue or another is presented that eventually leads us there.

I do no enjoy reading novels any less. I recently finished Kipling’s Captain Courageous and enjoyed the transformation of the rich boy saved by a fishing boat crew. Right now I am re-reading Jane Goes Batty by Michael Thomas Ford in which you are a vampire.  I am discovering little things I did not notice before and quite enjoying it, which is the whole reason why I re-read books. Sometimes in my rush to read a book, I miss details.

Book Cover Image from Amazon.com

Book Cover Image from Amazon.com

One book that has been quite difficult for me to get through is Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. I know her writing is wonderful and I enjoy the descriptions. I know the book was ground breaking for talking about mental illness – battle fatigue in particular – and making that character sympathetic as opposed to a maniacal fool.

It is the stream-of-consciousness style of writing that gives me a headache and I have to put the book down after a page or two. The jump between characters happens so quickly that I am not always so sure who is speaking. I hope that the book I am writing does not give others headaches should I ever finish writing it.

I appreciate any words of wisdom you can send me in this matter. And please let me know about your birthday celebration; I want all of the juicy details.

As always, your devoted friend, etc.

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Wishing the Happiest of Birthdays

 

 

 

Curling Up With a Good Book

Product Thursday

For those of you who have been long time fans of my blog, you know of my love affair with Jane Austen.

I have read her works, even the unfinished novels and her juvenilia. I tried a few of the copycat books but had a hard time getting into those that tried too hard to get her tone.

Picture by Karyn Bowman

The Austen rip-off I find I love more than anything are the ones that take a distant aspect of a book or fandom. I would like to believe I am a fan and not a fanatic although I did buy a tea cup and saucer set last year because it looked like one from the Amanda Root/Ciaran Hinds version of Persuasion.  

Last year I became enamored with Jane Bites Back by Michael Thomas Ford.

What a delicious book.

We find out that Jane Austen is alive (sort of) in upstate New York and running her own bookstore. She has a novel that has been rejected by several publishers and wonders if she had only those six or seven novels (if you include Lady Susan which I do) in her to write.

But then an Austen ripoff artist finds out the truth about the bookshop owner. she doesn’t remember a thing but we do. And so starts our journey with Jane Austen, vampire. It was a jolly good romp and I was eager for the second book.

Image from Barnesandnoble.com

Last week I finally picked up my copy of Jane Goes Batty that I ordered it through a local book store (Paperback Reader in Kankakee). A second book in a series can suffer because it has to live up to the liveliness of the first, the freshness of the new world we are seeing and characters we grow to love.

The problem is becomes how to enlarge the space you have created without breaking consistency. How do you broaden the worldview of the characters without destroying everything your readers loved about the original world.

So I started reading the book and I had the book finished within a day. I loved just about every moment. We learn new things about vampires - new skills and new members. Jane, Brian and Walter remain true to their characters although new details are added to Jane’s history that I am not sure matches what we already know.

And then there is the addition of Walter’s mother, Miriam. She is a Jewish mother who knows when her child is lying just by looking at him. Oh, and Walter forgot to mention to Jane that she is converting. Luckily, she finds an understanding rabbi who tries to help Jane help herself.

If that isn’t enough, they are making a movie out of her bestselling book  in her hometown and a rival writer is working on the screenplay. Then there is the evil new editor trying to get Jane to write a book as great as Valley of the Dolls.

What I love is still there: the sarcasm; the wit; the constant drama. Byron remains a lover of any bit of fun and willingness to hog the spotlight but he also displays how he has managed to stay around so long. Walter is the consummate antique home restorer and good-guy boyfriend.

It makes me hungry for the third book, Jane Vows Vengeance, as we get to know Miriam better. I have a feeling there is a little more to Sherman than meets the eye. And Jane has a lot on her plate as she and Walter finally tie the knot. But I am really curious if she will ever tell Walter the truth.

I will probably read the book at least one more time. I am running the church rummage sale this weekend and I will need something to escape to afterwards.

I am soooo looking forward to it.

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