On Saturday, I will be signing the JANE AUSTEN MADE ME DO IT anthology for the very first time. I’m so nervous that I’ve been obsessively practicing my signature so that it’s just right. Don’t want to make any screw-ups in someone’s book!
Ugh! And what if I spell a person’s name wrong… white-out just won’t cover that.. And do I put the person’s name in the book. Do I inscribe a message or just sign my name? And exactly WHERE do I sign it? Title page or on the first page of my story? (Page 367, by the way) Am I over-thinking this ? I tend to do that.
*Pulling out hair* Off to practice some more, I guess!
And as a parting treat, here is Laurel Ann Nattress, editor of the anthology, at the Seattle-area book launch party. In this clip, she is introducing the anthology, discussing her inspiration for it and then she gives a reading.
To my utter delight, I’m proud to say that Laurel Ann chose to read the beginning of my story for her author reading at the book release (watch at the very end). Woo hoo!
*off to pinch self again*
**Note: I’m not usually given to all these sorts of self-injurious behaviors. **
I’ve been invited to guest post on several different blogs this next month. Now stop laughing, you in the back row. I know what you are thinking. “But she barely posts on this blog…” And I guess you would be right. I haven’t had much to write about until the last month or so. But it seems I have more subjects at my disposal of late, so you may find I’ll tend to get rather chatty. Just ask my friends… sometimes they can never get me to shut up!
Without much further ado… here’s where I’ll be and when during the month of November (cyberly speaking*, of course).
November 2 = Vicariously Jane Austen (An Interview)
November 12 = If you are local to Southern California and want to meet in person, I’ll be signing the anthology at the Orange County Chapter of the Romance Writers of America
November 18 = Get Lost in a Story (Another Interview)
November 26 = The Ballroom Blog (conversation with Tessa Dare)
November ? = The Jane Austen Made Me Do It blog for the anthology. (Guest post. I’ll update as soon as I know when it’s going up on the blog).
Winning the short story contest and being included in a wonderful anthology—aside from all the awesomeness implied in those things—also provided me with a unique opportunity to get my feet wet in the shallow-end of the publishing business without being thrust into deep, cold waters to flounder my way back to the edge. It was an education that I greatly appreciated and think would be of value to pass on. So, here, I discuss my microcosm lesson in publishing. The first, I hope, of many such experiences to come.
The editor of the anthology, Laurel Ann Nattress, called me on a Tuesday night to deliver the wonderful news that I had won the JAMMDI contest and that my story would be included in the collection. Naturally, I was thrilled and barely remember our conversation that night but I do remember how kind and complimentary she was. She had even passed on some nice remarks from her editor at Ballantine. At the time, Laurel Ann warned me that things would move rather fast from that point because the book was only five months out from publication and all the other stories had been polished and edited. She told me I had a busy few weeks ahead of me.
And was she ever right! I heard nothing else from Laurel Ann until that Friday morning, when I opened my Outlook before racing off to work and had an email with an attachment waiting for me. Laurel Ann passed along the edits from the Ballantine editor, Caitlin Alexander, with the request that I have them finished and back to her by Monday morning. Laurel Ann added at the end, “I hope you didn’t have any big plans for the weekend.”
I groaned out loud. Actually, I did have big plans. I had a huge exam to take the next day in connection with my teaching credential. Three exams, actually. My plans had been to come home and study Friday night, sleep in Saturday morning, get up and study for a few more hours (thanks to my husband who had arranged to have the kids out of the house that day) and then go to the test at 1 p.m., when it was scheduled, likely to stay the full six hours of testing. I didn’t have time to do edits. A new job for the new school year was riding on this new credential.
But this was a dream come true and I wasn’t about to blow it off and miss my very first deadline. Thus, I revised my plan: instead of going out to celebrate on Saturday night after my exam, I resolved to come home, open up the document and work continuously through the wee hours of Saturday night and all day Sunday to get the edits done.
Of course I resolved this all in about three seconds before opening up the document. Caitlin had included her edits using “track changes” in Microsoft Word and putting her comments in bubbles along the margin using the “comments” feature. When I saw all the red text crisscrossing the entire document, I almost cried—I think I sniveled a little and hunched my shoulders. I may—for a moment—have been tempted to curl into a fetal position.
Now Caitlin had some wonderful things to say about the story. Her comments were not all negative—in fact none of them were harsh at all. And she did take time to make positive remarks throughout the story such as “I love the hook sentence,” and “This is beautiful”—all neatly filed away in the “I don’t completely suck” file. I treasured those comments and still do. Caitlin’s feedback meant a lot to me. A real, live,New York editor had read my stuff and, mostly, liked it.
Her comments were insightful and her sentence and word choice suggestions were spot-on. I only disagreed with one suggested change to one sentence so did not end up changing it. The rest, though, was fair game.
Caitlin did so much more than just cross my t’s, dot my i’s and fix my tenses. Her work on my story was invaluable. She pointed out logic flaws where I had mentioned that my characters were doing something without giving any evidence beforehand that they had been doing those things. For example, Mark mentions in one scene that he had run into Justine that morning in her front yard gardening. But Caitlin pointed out that when I had described that meeting in the previous scene, I had made no mention or showed no evidence that Justine had been gardening. I believe my original phrasing was that she was “wandering about like a lost soul.” So I went back and added the flowerpot that she was bending over and her brother’s huge gardening gloves that gave her hands a comical appearance.
Caitlin did this all throughout the document. And boy, by the time I was done (and rather exhausted) on Sunday night, that story was gleaming. Or at least so I thought. But I still had to go through two more rounds of edits (the copy edits and the page proofs).
And those I’ll cover in later posts…
Many authors advise against reading reviews of your own work. I can see where it could be difficult to read tactless criticism, however, I just can’t resist finding out how people are reacting to my story and the anthology as a whole.
I’m pleased to say that it is getting good reviews! And the lovely thing about an anthology is that usually people are bound to find something within the covers that they like and, hopefully, something that they love. And with this anthology, it is not difficult.
I’m particularly thrilled to see that the reviews that mention my story specifically have been positive. It’s so exciting! The thought that there are so many readers out there reading and liking my story is just an amazing feeling. Before this point, the only “reviews” I got were from my crit partners.
Thanks to the magic of Google, I’m able to collect them all in one place…
It was so clever and beautifully written!” Jane Odiwe, popular Austeneque Author
Some of the stories I liked best were by authors new to me. … Brenna Aubrey’s prize-winning story “The Love Letter” is a lovely account of how Wentworth’s written declaration of his love for Anne Elliot in Persuasion leads a young doctor back to the great love from his past.” – Just Janga
Here are the highlights or rather my thoughts of some of my favorite short stories from JAMMDI… The Love Letter by Brenna Aubrey (grand prize winner of JAMMDI short story contest) This was a great read! I loved how the present characters’ relationship mirrored the Jane Austen’s Persuasion characters’ Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot. Definitely a deserving grand prize winner as I really loved and enjoyed reading it and the title of this novel was mentioned too!” ~ Pride & Prejudice 2005 blog book review
Brenna Aubrey won a contest hosted by the Republic of Pemberley website with this story, the prize being inclusion in this collection. Honestly, I think it’s the collection that won, and Ms. Aubrey did it a favor by contributing this – it was beautiful.” Stewartry Book Reviews
The Love Letter is a contemporary but also very nicely written and with a perfect last sentence!” – Ana at Historical Tapestry
I wanted to specifically comment on Brenna Aubrey’s story The Love Letter. Brenna was the winner of a short story contest that was held to choose one story to put into the anthology. I was very impressed with it, and thought it held up pretty well in comparison to the other stories in the collection.” – Marg at Historical Tapestry
Some of the stories aren’t so easy to put in a box,which is to their benefit. … “The Love Letter” by JAMMDI contest winner Brenna Aubrey that has a medical student reconsider a lost love due to receiving a page torn out of a certain Austen novel mysteriously in the mail.” –Living Read Girl
I was genuinely moved by “The Love Letter,” winner of a contest to be included in this book by currently unpublished author Brenna Aubrey, in which Persuasion influences a young doctor to try again with his own lost love. ” –Goodreads
Some of the riveting stories (and my favorites) are: 1) “The Love Letter” by Brenna Aubrey ” –Goodreads
I found Aubrey’s Persuasion inspired contemporary story, written from a male doctor’s point of view, quite lovely. That contest certainly discovered a talented writer.” ~ Christina Boyd, reviewer for Austenprose
And I was especially impressed with Brenna Aubrey’s story, “The Love Letter.” Aubrey won the online story contest hosted by the Republic of Pemberley, of which the grand prize was having her original story included in this collection. “The Love Letter” is aheartwarming, bittersweet and hopeful look at first loves, love lost and the unexpected opportunity for a second chance. Inspired by Persuasion, Aubrey does a tremendous job at recapturing the feel of Anne and Wentworth and I found I really liked the twist of having a man as her main character.” — Librarian Next Door
I can see why this story won the Jane Austen Made Me Do It short story contest. It was another one of my favorites. Dr. Mark Hinton receives a mysterious page from a book in the mail, and discovers it is from Austen’s novel Persuasion. He learns more about the novel and also meets his old love Justine again.” –Laura’s reviews
NOTABLE FAVORITES: …The Love Letter by Brenna Aubrey: The winner of the JAMMDI contest and a well deserved winner at that. She writes a modern twist on Persuasion, which is wonderfully executed and exhibites the same tense emotion of the original work which inspired it.” –For the Love of Austen blog
The Love Letter by Brenna Aubrey, the winner of the Jane Austen Made Me Do It short story contest, is a beautiful retelling of Persuasion. –Diary of an Eccentric
Knowing this short story was from the Jane Austen Made Me Do Itcontest winner, I was skeptical that it would be a memorable one. Much to my delight, new author Brenna Aubrey has written a delightful piece, drawing heavily from themes found in her favorite Austen novel, Persuasion. “The Love Letter” was well done, and had me fully engaged, even up to the last moments. Of the short stories inJane Austen Made Me Do It that are set in contemporary times, this one is my favorite by far. I’m thrilled to read that Aubrey is working on a full-length novel. –Calico Critic
I 100% agree with the winner of the short story contest, “The Love Letter” by Brenna Aubrey; its modern equivalent for Persuasion had me cheering on love that can endure. –Goodreads
The winner of the story contest was one of my favorites. It is a modern version of “Persuasion” and definitely not to be missed. I hope the writer continues writing. I thoroughly enjoyed the story!!! –Goodreads
As a brand-new author myself, I was most anxious to read Brenna Aubrey’s “The Love Letter.” As you may know, Brenna won a contest last year to be included in this volume. This is her first publication credit, and I have to say, it was an excellent way to begin her career. “The Love Letter” is a fresh, modern take on Persuasion which I absolutely loved, and I cannot wait to read her next work–perhaps a longer piece of fiction? –Nancy Kelley, Austenesque Author of His Good Opinion
This is the story that won the contest for inclusion, and it’s simply beautiful. A good example of how Jane Austen can still play key roles in ‘modern’ lives (and romances). from “A Word’s Worth” book review
“…si on avait droit à une seconde chance, dans la vie ? The Love letter, la nouvelle qui a été élue grande gagnante de cette anthologie, est très très belle aussi… elle remet en scène une histoire moderne avec un twist à la Persuasion comme vous n’en avez jamais vu…” from “In Books We Trust” review blog.
Bren’s translation: “If you had the opportunity for a second chance in life? “The Love Letter,” the short story grand prize winner (of the contest) is very very beautiful, too. It recounts a story that is a modern twist on Persuasion that you’ve never before seen.”
“The Love Letter” by Brenna Aubrey is an enthralling tale of Dr. Mark Hinton who receives an anonymous note–a page torn fromPersuasion. Inspired to understand the meaning of this letter, Hinton reads the novel, seeing himself as Captain Wentworth and, in the role of Anne, his lost love, Justine. It is left to be seen what he gleans from the novel and how it will change his life.– Curled up with a Book Book Reviews
Psst, just our little secret… these are going into my “You don’t suck” file.
If you are one of my two regular readers, or if you came here via a link regarding the Jane Austen Made Me Do It anthology, you no doubt already know that, as the grand prize winner, my story, “The Love Letter” was included in this amazing book. This came about as the result of a contest that I entered in early 2011. And after all the time of anticipation, release day has come.
At the beginning of September, it was publicly announced that I had won the contest. It was an indescribable feeling of joy and enthusiasm to know that thousands of readers will read “The Love Letter” and, hopefully, enjoy it.
Around this time, I lost a person very dear to me. My big brother passed away very suddenly and unexpectedly. When I learned of the news, it felt like being hit with a 2 x 4. I dropped everything and went out of state to be with my family. Hence the reason I have been silent on this blog and elsewhere. I’m still struggling to find words. And yes, that means in my fiction-writing as well.
September has passed. But my family’s grief—and that of his many friends—will only fade slowly. He is missed. Dearly. But we think of him every day. And will continue to do so.
In an anthology, there is no opportunity for a contributor to post a dedication. So I make my dedication here:
I dedicate my story to my brother. In loving memory.
Below, I included a touching song written and performed by Tori Amos that she wrote when her older brother died in a car accident. Ironically, the cathedral she mentions at the end of the song, La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, I once visited many years ago with my brother.
The lyrics to “Toast” by Tori Amos
I thought it was Easter time
The way the light rose
Rose that morning
Lately you’ve been on my mind
You showed me the rope
Ropes to climb
And to pull myself
Out of a landslide
Of a landslide
I thought it was harvest time
You always loved the smell of the wood burning
She with her honey hair
She would meet you there
In the winter
The flames you stirred
Yes, you could stir
I raise a glass
Make a toast
A toast in your honor
I hear you laugh
And beg me not to dance
On your right standing by
Is Mr. Bojangles
With a toast he’s telling me it’s time
To raise a glass
Make a toast
A toast in your honor
I hear you laugh and beg me not to dance
On your right standing is
With a toast he’s telling me it’s time
To let you go
Let you go
I thought I’d see you again
You said you might do
Maybe in a carving
In a cathedral
Somewhere in Barcelona