It’s Jane Austen Festival Time in Bath!

13914080I love Bath at any time of the year (and I’ve been there in every season!), but there’s something incredibly special for me about September in the city.

I’m not sure if it’s the autumnal light and the way it bathes the natural stone with such warmth, whether it’s the gold and russet leaves starting to tumble in Henrietta Park, making a crisp nest beneath the majestic trees, or whether it’s the influx of eager fans arriving from all over the world for ten days of indulgence in all things Austen!

Whatever the reason, I’m incredibly excited to be returning to my favourite English city tomorrow for several days, and reconnecting with like-minded friends who are set on enjoying everything the Festival has to offer, from promenades to bonnet making, musical recitals to comedy walks, and dances to presentations on a vast range of entertaining subjects.

This year’s full programme can be found on the Festival website here, and it’s never too late to decide to come along and join in the fun!

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Some of the ‘extras’ in our book!

What makes this year (my 6th at the Festival!) particularly special, of course, is that now I will be walking in the footsteps of not only Jane Austen, but also the characters from our book who accompany her on her journey through The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen.  In fact, I’m going to be looking for Jane and her new friends everywhere I go!

Ada and I spent over a year ‘living’ at the Jane Austen Festival in Bath as we wrote the book. We have walked the streets daily, lived and breathed the city and the Festival (despite one of us being in Switzerland and the other in California!), and our characters have become so real to us as they laughed, ate*, chatted,  occasionally freaked out and even – a little bit – fell in love along the way!

(* As Ada wrote earlier this week on our Blog, Tabby Cow, with our book at your side, you can learn How to Eat your Way Thru Bath!)

So I am going back excited as always to be there at this special time of year, but I’m also just beginning to realise how melancholy it will be that our characters won’t be there too!

Or will they…

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SALE NEWS!!

We’ll be putting the eBook of The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen on sale for the duration of this year’s Festival. Instead of the regular retail price of $5.99, it will be available at 50% off – just $2.99!

Details will be posted on Tabby Cow on the first day of the Festival (Friday, 9th September).

 

 

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A Particularly Charming Time – Part II: Winchester, Bath and Lacock

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Outside Winchester Cathedral

So… what day is it?

This was a frequent question during the three days Ada Bright and I spent together on our trip last month to celebrate the launch of The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen. For me and my husband, this was more about being on holiday and easily losing track of the day of the week once out of routine.

For Ada and her husband, it was down to having left LA on a Monday and arriving in the UK on a Tuesday… except for them, it was still Monday!

So, after our busy morning in Alton and Chawton straight after arriving at Heathrow, it’s no surprise things were getting confusing! We arrived in Winchester at lunchtime (at least, our lunchtime. For our friends, I think it was still the middle of the night!) It was raining a little, so we headed straight to The Wykeham Arms, a lovely pub and restaurant tucked away behind the cathedral and just around the corner from the house in College Street where Jane Austen spent her final days and sadly died on 18th July, 1817.

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Jane Austen’s Grave

The friendly staff serve delicious food here, but it also has a huge amount of charm. The tables in the main bar are old school desks (from Winchester School, I believe), with old-fashioned lamps above them. There are interesting things on every wall, shelf and even the ceiling – you almost don’t know what to look at first (after you’ve consulted the menu, of course)!

After lunch, we meandered back into College Street and some welcome sunshine and followed the route of Jane’s last journey back to the cathedral and went inside. There are many impressive churches and cathedrals, and Winchester is no exception, having the longest nave and greatest overall length of any Gothic cathedral in Europe!

We paid our respects at Jane’s grave, as you do, carried out a little research and recording for what may be the next book and then made our way through the town and back to the car for the onward journey to Bath, our base for this short trip.

Outside No 4 Sydney Place

Outside No 4 Sydney Place

Soon settled into our lovely apartment just off Great Pulteney Street, we made a quick trip across the road to say hello to No 4 Sydney Place (the venue for the book launch party later in the week).

Then, it was a quick raid on Waitrose for essential supplies for the apartment (wine, rum, vodka, biscuits, cereal, popcorn and lots of Cadburys!) before heading into town to… yes, you’ve guessed it: have another meal!

One of the fun things about setting a story in a place that actually exists, like Bath, is choosing the places where your characters will act out their scenes and, of course, have those all important meals where significant conversations are taking place!

This was something we enjoyed looking into in April 2015 when plotting out the book (and we made sure to visit many establishments, all the in the name of research, of course!)😉  Our first stop had to be Hall & Woodhouse, especially as it features in not one but two particular scenes in the story.

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Relaxing in Hall & Woodhouse as we await our food!

Hall & Woodhouse is housed in a fabulous building on Old King Street, tucked away just off the north-east corner of Queen Square. It’s in a former warehouse and offers a huge ground floor bar area, an upstairs restaurant and a roof-top terrace with views over the rooftops of Bath – perfect on a summer evening. They do great food and there’s a relaxed, friendly atmosphere at all times of the day.

This particular day, however, had been long, and all that was on our minds was sustenance. Soon fed and watered, my husband and I shepherded our two tired travelling friends back to the apartment, where we could relax and reflect on our busy first day and make plans for the next one!

The following morning, once we had established that it was a Wednesday (it took some debate!), we headed out to Wiltshire to visit the village of Lacock.

Outside the Red Lion Inn (featured as the Meryton Assembly Rooms)

Outside the Red Lion Inn (featured as the Meryton Assembly Rooms)

Lacock is a small village owned entirely by the National Trust. It has played a starring role in many film and television productions, including, of course, as Meryton in the iconic 1995 TV series of Pride & Prejudice.

After having some lunch in one of the village pubs (I’m beginning to wonder if this should have been a gastronomic tour!), we strolled around, paying our dues to the Red Lion Inn as we passed (location of the Meryton Assembly Rooms in the aforementioned series) and then walked back to explore Lacock Abbey.

The abbey has also been used in several productions, not least hosting a few scenes from the Harry Potter film series. At the time of our visit, the great hall had a display of costumes from The Hollow Crown starring, amongst others, Benedict Cumberbatch and Dame Judi Dench.

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Lacock Abbey

Adjacent is the Fox Talbot Museum which tells the story of the history of photography, and we also explored this before leaving for Bath in time for a quick freshen up. It was then time to go out to meet friends who had started to arrive in Bath for the impending book launch party on the following day!

Our friend, Chrystal, had flown in from Texas, and she joined us in The Boater, a traditional pub located in Argyle Street, just off Laura Place, for a quick, pre-dinner drink (yet more locations for scenes in the book, of course!) before we walked into town to meet with another friend, Julia, who had travelled over from Sussex.

We had a fun meal in Bill’s Restaurant (yes, you’ve guessed it!) before being joined by Rachel and Rob from Harrogate. I do believe we made quite an evening of it and were the last people to be kicked out… er, I mean asked to leave!

And so ended the second of our three days. More later…

More information on The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen can be found at our Blog, Tabby Cow, here, including a couple of excerpts from the book!

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All photo credits go to: Ada Bright, Cass Grafton, Steve Scheidler

 

 

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A Particularly Charming Time – Part I: Chawton & Alton

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Trying on bonnets at the Jane Austen House Museum

Well, what a whistle-stop week we enjoyed recently, celebrating the launch of our new novel, The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen! So much happened in so little time, but I’m finally taking time to look back on a wonderful few days spent with some very special people!

It all began early on the Tuesday morning, when my husband and I met my co-writing partner and dear friend, Ada, and her husband, at Heathrow airport. It had been more than a year since Ada and I had last met – back in April 2015 – when we got together in the beautiful city of Bath to map out the plot for our book, defined the main characters – their names, ages, backgrounds and appearances (cue a rather enjoyable hour or so on Google Images!) – and started writing the opening scenes.

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Chawton Cottage

Despite having flown in from LA, Ada and her husband were up for anything, so we headed straight for Hampshire. Two scenes in the book are set in Chawton, where the Jane Austen House Museum (Jane’s former home) is, but Ada had never been there. With the word ‘sequel’ whispering in our heads already, it seemed important to let her experience the village first-hand at last!

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Joan in her stunning coat!

Before that, however, we had our first joint book signing with the lovely Joan Mossop. Joan runs a beautiful B&B, St Mary’s Hall, located on the outskirts of Alton and only a mile’s level walk to the picturesque village of Chawton. She welcomed us warmly, plied us with hot drinks and biscuits, and modelled for us the gorgeous coat she recently purchased for her son’s wedding!

Then, it was time for us to sign a copy of the book for her – I felt incredibly self-conscious, but with Ada by my side and her husband ‘directing’ us, we managed to get some lovely photos of a very special moment!

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St Mary’s Hall (photo from website)

If you’re ever visiting the area, we cannot recommend Joan’s B&B highly enough! It’s housed in a converted chapel – full of character but with every luxury you could hope for! It has a charming garden, parking, excellent WiFi and a fridge for chilling your wine. What’s not to like?! As if that wasn’t enough, it is, as previously mentioned, located an easy walk from Chawton, as well as from Alton town centre, where there are plenty of pleasant hostelries (though we must give a special shout out for the excellent George Inn!) The welcome from Joan could not be warmer or the breakfasts more delicious! I’m lucky enough to have stayed there around half a dozen times in the last 6 months or so, and I can’t wait to go back!

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Great time of day to visit – nice and quiet!

We said our farewells, and drove the short distance to Chawton (not having the leisure of time to enjoy the walk), and before long we were living and breathing a scene from the book as we entered the beautiful, peaceful cottage gardens and then the house.

It’s always a moving place for me to be, though rarely melancholy, except for when I stand in the small room on the upper floor and read Cassandra Austen’s letter of Jane’s final hours and her feelings over her loss. I can feel Jane all around me here, and it’s a comfort more than any other emotion.

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On the drive to Chawton House Library

We then headed down the lane to visit St Nicholas’ church, where another key scene is set. Ada took a seat on a significant bench, a very special moment, which you’ll ‘get’ if you’ve read the story! We also ventured inside the church and then visited the graves of Jane’s sister and mother.

Then, with a last glance down the drive to Chawton House Library (known to Jane as ‘the Great House’), we clambered back into the car and headed for Winchester and more welcome refreshment!

To be continued next week in Part II: Winchester & Bath…

 

More information on The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen can be found at our Blog, Tabby Cow, here, where there’s also a double giveaway still running until Sunday, 31st July!

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Photo credits (unless otherwise stated): Ada Bright, Steve Scheidler, Cass Grafton

 

 

 

 

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Now Available! The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen

split pileIt’s finally here!

So delighted with my delivery of books, and so excited to say that The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen is now available!

It’s a contemporary mystery-cum-romance, set in the beautiful city of Bath during the annual Jane Austen Festival – with one particularly special attendee!

We hope you’ll give the story a try! Full details are available on our Blog, Tabby Cow, which can be found here.

We have plenty of deleted scenes which ended up on the cutting room floor which we will be sharing over coming months on the Blog too, along with all the news from Bath next week, where we will be holding the official launch party of the book’s release at No. 4 Sydney Place.

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Pre-Order Now Available for The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen!

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We’re just over a week away from the official release date of our new novel, The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen, and the book is now available for pre-order from all the usual online book stores (links below)!

There are TWO chances to to win copies of the book tomorrow over at Tabby Cow, our new Blog, as well as other gifts (open internationally) and further chances to win coming up as we visit the following Blogs, where you can also learn more about the story as we talk about the characters, the setting and share excerpts:

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Ada’s map of key locations in the story

1st July – Jane Austen Sequels

5th July – More Agreeably Engaged

11th July – Austen Variations

18th July – Diary of an Eccentric

Other dates to be announced soon!

The Blurb:

What is The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen about?

Well, it raises a question: what might life be like if something had prevented Jane Austen from ever publishing any of her books? Our heroine, Rose – a dedicated Janeite – is about to find out!

When the story opens, it’s September, and the city of Bath is playing host to the Jane Austen Festival, an annual celebration of the famous author and her works.

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The location of Jane Austen’s main Bath residence

Rose, a Bath resident as well as an avid Jane Austen fan, can’t wait for her friends to arrive and for the Festival to start, but she’s unaware one of the recently arrived guests will turn her life upside down by sharing with her a secret that ultimately puts Jane Austen’s entire literary legacy at risk.

With the support of a displaced two hundred year old author and a charmed necklace, can Rose help to bring back some of the most beloved stories of all time and turn her own life around in the process?

~o0o~

The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen pre-order links:

Amazon.com (Kindle)

Smashwords  (for all eBook format, including Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iBooks, PDF etc)

Barnes & Noble (Nook)

Kobo 

iBooks (for iPad, iPhone etc)

~o0o~

We hope you will join us over the coming weeks as we celebrate the release of the book on 7th July 2016!

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Cover Reveal, Giveaways and More!

I’m so excited to be able to reveal the cover for our upcoming release (July) of The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen!

My writing partner, Ada, produced the images for this cover and, in the hands of our talented designer, Kevin Rylands, they became this gorgeous combination:

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We love it, and we hope you love it too!

What’s the book about? Well, it’s September, and the city of Bath is playing host to the annual Jane Austen Festival, a celebration of the famous author and her works.

Rose Wallace, Bath resident and avid Jane Austen fan, can’t wait for her friends to arrive and the Festival to start, unaware one of the recently arrived guests will turn her life upside down by sharing with her a secret that ultimately puts Jane Austen’s entire literary legacy at risk.

With the support of a displaced two hundred year old author and a charmed necklace, can Rose help to bring back some of the most beloved stories of all time and turn her own life around in the process?

~oOo~

We’ve a series of guest bloggers lined up for our Blog, Tabby Cow, in the run up to publication in early July, and there will be lots of giveaways too, so please follow us over there to have multiple chances to win prizes and copies of the book.

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The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen

I’ve been in self-imposed hibernation this past 12 months, but for very exciting reasons.

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Bath

A year ago this week I was in Bath, England, meeting with my friend, Ada Bright, and we were sketching out our plot and characters for a co-written novel we planned to work on (title above). The book is now finished and is in the hands of the proof readers, formatters and cover designer, and we can’t wait to start telling people about it!

As a result, we’ve started a new joint Blog called Tabby Cow (yes, it’s a strange name, but the reasoning behind it seems perfectly logical to us!) and you can find it here.

It’s nothing like my first venture into publishing a few years ago. The story is a contemporary mystery-cum-romance, set at the annual Jane Austen Festival in Bath, and the only Mr Darcy in it has four legs – furry ones!

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Ada and I in Bath, April 2015

You can see the blurb for it on Tabby Cow here – and aside from writing it for ourselves, it’s also for fans of Jane Austen, the city of Bath and friendship. We hope you’ll join us for the undulating ride towards publication this summer by following our exploits over at Tabby Cow!

 

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The Darcy Brothers Virtual Book Launch Party with Authors, Monica Fairview, Maria Grace, Cassandra Grafton, Susan Mason-Milks and Abigail Reynolds

Exciting news!

I am delighted to announce the release today of The Darcy Brothers, a story co-written by five Austenesque authors (including me!)

Come and enter the fab giveaways at Austenprose and follow Theo Darcy as he goes ‘on tour’ (but shhh, don’t tell his brother!!!)

Austenprose - A Jane Austen Blog

The Darcy Brothers by Monica Fairview, Maria Grace, Cassandra Grafton, Susan Mason-Milks and Abigail Reynolds We are very pleased to welcome Monica Fairview, Maria Grace, Cassandra Grafton, Susan Mason-Milks and Abigail Reynolds to Austenprose for the official virtual book launch party of their new novel The Darcy Brothers, released today by White Soup Press.

Inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, The Darcy Brothers is an original variation based on Austen’s classic in which Mr. Darcy has a charming younger brother named Theo who meets Elizabeth Bennet and vies for her affections. Written by five Austenesque authors, you may well ask, as we did ourselves, how they could pool their talents and create one novel together? Abigail Reynolds has kindly supplied a revealing guest blog to share the experience with you. And, any  celebration would not be complete without gifts. Please enter a chance to win one of the four fabulous prizes being offered by their publisher by leaving a comment. The giveaway details…

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Mrs Darcy’s Diamonds: A Jane Austen Jewel Box Novella, by Jane Odiwe – A Preview & Exclusive Excerpt

Jane Odiwe is one of my favourite Austen-inspired authors (and artists!), and I am delighted to say she recently released a new novella, Mrs Darcy’s Diamonds. There’s a lovely excerpt and some background to the story over at Austenprose, an excellent Austen-related Blog with all sorts of interesting and entertaining posts relating to everything to do with Jane Austen. Just follow the link, sit back and enjoy!

Austenprose - A Jane Austen Blog

Mrs Darcys Diamonds by Jane Odiwe x 200We are very happy to introduce you to Austenesque author Jane Odiwe’s new novella called Mrs. Darcy’s Diamonds, just published last month by White Soup Press. Jane tells me that she loves Georgian-era jewellery, and thought it might be fun to write a series of books with a jewellery theme, and have every piece different. She imagined there would be some family jewels at Pemberley, and that a ring given to Elizabeth by Mr. Darcy could help create much tension and drama for a wintry tale.

PREVIEW (from the publishers description)

Elizabeth is newly married to Fitzwilliam Darcy, the richest man in Derbyshire, owner of a vast estate, and master of Pemberley House. Her new role is daunting at first, and having to deal with Mr Darcy’s aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, is a daily challenge. But, Elizabeth is deeply in love and determined to rise to every test…

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Jane Austen’s First Love Virtual Book Launch Party & Blog Tour with Author Syrie James, & Giveaways

Fabulous news! A new novel from the talented Syrie James! Read on for some delicious background on how the story evolved, an excerpt and some great giveaway prizes!

Austenprose - A Jane Austen Blog

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I am very pleased to welcome author Syrie James to Austenprose today to officially open her virtual book launch party and blog tour of Jane Austen’s First Love, published by Berkley Trade. This new Austenesque novel is a fascinating combination of fact and fiction, exploring the first romance of fifteen year-old Jane Austen with the handsome and sophisticated Edward Taylor. 

Syrie has generously offered a guest blog sharing her inspiration to write her new book—and to add to the festivities—we will be offering an amazing selection of giveaways including: trade paperback copies of Jane Austen’s First Love, a muslin tote bag stuffed with Jane Austen goodies, and a specially commissioned painting inspired by the novel. Just leave a comment following this blog post to enter. The contest details are listed below. Good luck to all. 

Please join us in welcoming Syrie James.

The inspiration for my…

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