Summer Hanford, my co-author, has just published Once Upon a Time in Pemberley, a Pride and Prejudice variation she wrote without me. She apparently wanted the fun of making up the plot. I offered to read it pre-publication, but she reasonably said that she would be too inclined to feel she had to follow any suggestions I made.
Category: A Writer’s Life
Large Print Books
Summer Hanford and I have made To Fall for Mr. Darcy and After Anne available in large print.
I live in a large independent living community. The residents vary from those who are still employed to those who need help from aides or spouses. There is more than a forty year age gap from the youngest to the oldest resident. Not surprisingly, many people here are not computer literate, especially those over ninety.
But computer literacy does not mean people necessarily prefer eBooks. Many love the feel of a book in their hands. I understand that. I have spent too many pleasant hours with books not to love the physical book. But when traveling meant not being able to pack enough paperbacks, I saw to it that my kindle was well supplied. As my eyesight deteriorated, I embraced larger fonts, so I wouldn’t need reading glasses. And as someone who loves words, I liked being able to put my finger on a word and get a definition. I no longer keep a dictionary nearby when I read.
An additional problem is that I am a person who rereads. Sometimes I will open a book to reread a certain scene. I’ve read Pride and Prejudice completely through at least eight times, and I read many scenes much more often. Thus, I want to own books I’ve loved. But downsizing meant limited shelf space, so I had to make choices. A college roommate, majoring in library science, told me that shelf space is more expensive than books. I don’t think that has changed in the intervening years.
Summer Hanford and I don’t expect many sales of the few books we’ve put in large print, but we hope to expand the availability of some of our books to a few more readers. Thus, for those who have followed a different path than I have, we are offering two more large print books.
Was Bingley a Substitute for Wickham?
Was Bingley a Substitute for Wickham?
Two of Darcy’s friends were Wickham and Bingley. It is interesting to compare them. Jane Austen’s early description of Bingley said, “Mr. Bingley was good looking and gentlemanlike; he had a pleasant countenance, and easy, unaffected manners.” Wickham is initially described as having a “most gentlemanlike appearance.” Elizabeth tells her aunt he is “beyond all comparison, the most agreeable man I ever saw.” Even Darcy describes him as being “blessed with such happy manners as may ensure his making friends — whether he may be equally capable of retaining them, is less certain.”
The second part of Darcy’s comment is certainly negative, but it is likely based on Wickham as an adult, not a child. It is suggested that Darcy remained on good terms with his childhood friend when they were both children. But Darcy said of Bingley, “I had often seen him in love before.” It isn’t an extremely negative comment, but it certainly isn’t a positive one.
There is a subtler similarity between Wickham and Bingley. Both wanted to be a gentleman. Bingley had the education to be considered a gentleman and the money to buy an estate which would make him a landed gentleman. Wickham could pass for a gentleman but had no realistic chance of becoming one.
Whenever I have wondered if something in Jane Austen’s works is coincidental, I remember this is Jane Austen. She could hit you with a sledgehammer with characters like Mr. Collins or brush you with a feather by making Mr. Bennet, with all his flaws, into a character that most people like.
Was Bingley a substitute for Wickham? Colonel Fitzwilliam felt that Darcy took care of Bingley by saving him from a “most imprudent marriage.” Was Darcy’s care of Bingley based partially on the feeling that, somehow, he failed with Wickham but would not fail Bingley? Only Jane Austen knew, and she is unavailable.
Advertisement time: (This is more hitting with a sledgehammer than brushing with a feather, but I don’t expect to fool anyone, so why not admit it.)
Advertisement number 1: Our next book will be Mr. Collins’ Will. We have not yet written the blurb for the book, but Mr. Collins dies in a fire, and it is believed he willed his property to Elizabeth, thinking she would marry him. If the will was destroyed in the fire, it doesn’t matter. But was it destroyed?
Advertisement number 2: Summer Hanford and I think the best book we have published is More Than He Seems which gives an alternate view of Wickham. This review suggests that we succeeded in making that plausible. If you think I have been too careful in selecting reviews, read more of them here.
I met Summer Hanford in an online writing class, where the teacher had a master’s degree in creative writing. The teacher described writing a novel as driving with headlights. You could see enough to drive but not much more. Presumably, you knew your goal. Because students could only turn in a limited amount of material, the class encouraged writing roughly a chapter at a time.
There is another philosophy of writing. The writer creates an outline and then follows it. I am a driving-with-headlights writer. Summer is an outline writer. In essence, I give her a detailed outline, which I have achieved without an outline. A twenty thousand word “outline” for a sixty-thousand-word novel is sufficiently detailed, isn’t it? 😊
One of the results of the way I write is that I frequently go back and change things. I decide I want something to happen, so I go back to foreshadow it. Alternatively, I could be originally thinking of going a certain direction, decide not to, but must go back and take out the foreshadowing.
But sometimes things work in another direction. I will put something in and find I can use it. In one case, a character was given a surname of Green. I put something in about green referring to inexperienced or young. I’m sure readers would assume I named the character for that reason, but it happened the other way around.
Yesterday I was working on a novel that is a Pride and Prejudice variation. There is an extremely minor character in Pride and Prejudice named Mrs. Annesley who was Georgiana Darcy’s companion. I didn’t want her in a scene, mainly because a character who is in a scene and contributes nothing makes the scene more complicated to write. Yes, sometimes I’m lazy.
Using the excuse that the carriage taking four people was full, I unkindly left her behind. But Miss Bingley returned early and ended up having a conversation with Mrs. Annesley. I needed that conversation to make Miss Bingley approach something sensibly. Suddenly, I realized here was a character I could use.
I still don’t know how I’m going to use her, but I’m leaning toward pairing her with Colonel Fitzwilliam. But by staying in the background, she achieved a role of a character having at least two scenes. As a fan of Jane Austen, I appreciate the irony.
A Friendly Warning about A Dollop of Pride and a Dash of Prejudice
Two years ago, almost everyone I knew was computer literate. Now that I’ve moved into a retirement community, many people I know aren’t. Summer and I wish to have our stories available to all readers, and that includes people who cannot or will not read an eBook. Many people love the feel of a book. I can hardly blame them. For me, physical books are associated with many pleasant hours of reading.
Cost, the ability to enlarge the type, and lack of storage space has turned me into a fan of eBooks, but others haven’t made the shift. Perhaps they have better eyesight, more space or more money to allocate to books. Whatever their reason for enjoying print books over eBooks, we’ve taken this opportunity to make four of our short works, previously available only as eBooks because they’re simply not long enough to turn into print books, and put them in a single paper book. There is nothing in the paper books that isn’t in the four, previously published eBooks. We’ve also turned the collection into an eBook because it is very easy to do.
Although we love for people to buy our books, the one thing we don’t want to happen is for people to buy A Dollop of Pride and a Dash of Prejudice thinking it is something new. Consequently, Summer made the cover of A Dollop of Pride and a Dash of Prejudice with the original covers from the stories contained within.
Three of the books can be read using Kindle Unlimited. Those are:
Epiphany with Tea: A Pride and Prejudice Variation
Miss Bingley’s Christmas: A Pride and Prejudice Variation
Their Secret Love: A Pride and Prejudice Variation Novelette
The fourth book, From Ashes to Heiresses: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, can be read for free by going to www.renatamcmann.com
– Renata McMann
Version Control in Writing
Summer Hanford and I work together, but in a way, we work separately. We don’t work in the same room or even in the same state. Most of our discussions are by email. We’ve only physically met twice, and the first meeting was after we started working together and long after we became friends.
When many people work on a software program, which is normal in the business world, there must be some way of seeing that it all fits together at the end. Version control in computer programs is more important than in writing. There are even software programs to help. Wikipedia lists 38 of them. A program with many authors who do not coordinate properly will be very unlikely to do what it is supposed to do. It may not even run.
A book can be written by two writers who do not use any version control, but it may not make sense. If I foreshadow something in chapter two and Summer decides to eliminate it in chapter ten, the work will not be as coherent. To get to the ridiculous, if one of us decides to change the name of a character, that name change must take place everywhere in the book. We changed the name of a character in The Widow Elizabeth. It happens.
Summer and I use a very simple system. Only one of us can edit a particular story. Right now, she has Hypothetically Married. That, by the way, is probably the final title of our next publication. In Hypothetically Married, Elizabeth and Darcy frequently have hypothetical discussions, which often lead to somebody getting married, which explains the title.
Summer hasn’t, as I write this, started working on Hypothetically Married. She is writing another Regency Romance, the sequel to The Archaeologist’s Daughter, in Scarsdale Publishing’s Under the Shadow of the Marquess Series. Nevertheless, I should not, by our method of working, make any changes to Hypothetically Married without first telling her.
I have my version of The Long Road to Longbourn almost finished. The title refers to Elizabeth who is with Darcy, trying to get home with no money. Wickham is with them as well, which makes it not as romantic as many readers would like. If Summer had nothing to work on, I would send it to her. But I plan to sit on it for a month or two, reread it, and see how it can be improved. The title is tentative, but at least a possibility. Summer likes the title, but she hasn’t read the story. A title is never final until we have both read the story and agree on it.
Both Summer and I thus have a story that we are not currently working on. I am working on a file I have named Climb out the Window. That is not the final title. I refer to it to Summer as Climbing. The title refers to Elizabeth climbing out a window to avoid being compromised by Darcy. He was not ready to marry her at that point, but considering how he is courted by Miss Bingley for herself and Lady Catherine for her daughter, it has to be a blow to his ego for Elizabeth to go to that extreme to avoid marrying him.
Therefore, I am working on a Pride and Prejudice variation that will come out after two others, and Summer is working on her next Regency romance and will work on Hypothetically Married next. Both of us know what we can work on in our partnership. We have no problem with version control.
Finding a Co-Author
I met Summer Hanford in an online novel writing class at AllWriters’ Workplace & Workshop in 2010. Every week, all the students emailed each other pages of their current novels and critiqued them in a live, online discussion. Summer and I stopped taking classes together sometime in 2013, but continued to keep in touch and seek each other’s opinions.
About a year later, I tried writing Jane Austen fan fiction. The short story, Pemberley Weddings, sold more than expected, so I wrote four more. Summer was reading my work and expressed an interest in getting into that kind of writing. I realized that Summer had skills that I lacked, so I asked her to try writing with me. It turned out better than I expected.
We have physically met only once. We talk on the phone infrequently. Most of our work is done by email and we email often.
I don’t know what makes a good co-author, but I like Summer’s writing. Her thrice born fantasy series has many interesting and likable characters. There were other writers I met at Allwriters who also wrote well, but I doubt I could work with them. Mainly, I didn’t like their characters, hence the draw of Elizabeth, Jane, Darcy and Bingley. I like to be able to see the viewpoint of the characters I write about, and I want to love my main characters. Yes, sometimes I can even relate to Mr. Wickham, and in the next story we are working on, the conclusion of our smoke and fire books, Mr. Darcy actually goes to Mr. Wickham for help. It is very near the beginning, so readers can find out about it in the sample.
We hope our readers are enjoying our partnership as much as we are.
A New Editor
Renata McMann and Summer Hanford would like to introduce their new editor, Joanne Girard. It’s our belief that she will raise our work to a higher standard than ever. Mrs. Girard’s attention to detail and dedication to getting things right is exactly what our collaboration needs to keep writing the stories we love.
Mrs. Girard will be editing upcoming works and, over time, she will also make her way through our existing offerings. They will be re-released better than ever.
We’re very pleased Mrs. Girard has joined us and know she’ll be invaluable moving forward as we strive to create the best Fan Fiction we can. We appreciate all of our readers and hope this addition to our collaboration will increase their enjoyment of our work.
Look for our upcoming new releases, and for the addition of Joanne Girard as editor, identifying newly improved favorites.