Coming JAFF Attraction: The Mist of her Memory by Suzan Lauder

Members of the online Austenesque reading site A Happy Assembly will enjoy a sneak peek at my latest story, The Mist of her Memory, a Regency romantic suspense/mystery. If you’re not already a member, you should seriously consider joining this excellent Jane Austen Fan Fiction site with over 2000 stories, some of which are better than most published works. It’s the largest JAFF only site on the Internet with nearly 10,000 members. Registration is easy and intended to keep the site membership to the 18+ age group since a few of the stories are mature rated (they are marked MA for those who wish to avoid them). The personal information requirement is minimal and kept personal, there are no ads, and best of all, it’s free. The site isn’t limited to stories–there are also excellent Regency resources and discussion groups included.

The Mist of her Memory is a Regency romantic suspense with a strong mystery element. It will appeal to all JAFF lovers as well as mystery/suspense lovers who’ve read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Update July 24, 2018: Now Posting Sundays and Fridays at this link!

Why first person? Suzan Lauder’s #LfmM

Why did I write A Most Handsome Gentleman in first person point of view?

The answer: because it came out of me that way. End of post.

Just kidding. I can elaborate a little more than the actual answer above.

In the past, I had written in first person point of view in a novelette length story, but it was in the modern part of the time-travel story (Performing to Strangers; posted at A Happy Assembly in 2010). I had channeled a friend as a parallel character to Elizabeth Bennet, so it was easier.

Elizabeth Bennet with a parasol, Brock drawing from Wikimedia Commons

I know that some readers don’t much care for first person, and for that reason, I would normally have avoided it. But when I finally started typing my “Hot Collins” story idea, the words that came out of me were Elizabeth Bennet’s, and the way they were phrased used “I” instead of the third person deep point of view that I had honed my craft on in Letter from Ramsgate, which is the most common style for Regency romances these days. No one was more surprised than me.

My Meryton Press editor Gail Warner was just as surprised and told me she’d never edited a first person novel before. It sounded like a warning about her abilities, but I think this novel was easier to edit than the other ones—at least, Gail made it look easy!

First person is commonly used in Young Adult and New Adult novels, however, A Most Handsome Gentleman, as a Regency comedy-romance, doesn’t fit either of those genres no matter how much it might get a laugh from the readers.

But I think first person works far better than any other point of view device would for this story. In fact, the only other POV I would consider writing this in would be from Mr. Collins’s view, and I think it could be first person there as well. However, we would lose the nuances of Elizabeth’s thoughts about Mr. Darcy even if Collins would watch their relationship blossom and grow. It’s much better told by Elizabeth, first as her unconscious attraction and later, similar to Pride and Prejudice, where she laments that he is the right man for her even though she can’t expect Darcy to be interested in her.

And that’s the reason we read Jane Austen Fan Fiction—for that Elizabeth and Darcy happily ever after!

A Most Handsome Gentleman was successful in earning the praise of all its blog tour reviews with consistent four and five star reviews. It was also selected as a top book for 2017 by three book bloggers (Diary of an Eccentric, Margie’s Must Reads, and More Agreeably Engaged). So authors, don’t be scared to try something like first person point of view if it fits your story. It’s not a mistake if you’re successful, it becomes part of your style and voice. But mind not to take that to an extreme and become an editor-resistant diva—“voice” does not mean mistakes that a good editor would check!  A truly successful book is a well-edited one, by both the author and a professional, no matter what special techniques are used.

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Learning from my Mistakes will probably have one more “Official” post: a summary of all the lessons learned, with links back to the articles. This does not mean I won’t occasionally identify a problem area that’s worth sharing to help other authors avoid it. In fact, in my reading, I still encounter books that are brilliant with the exception of the editing. A recent example would earn a two star rating, it was so full of homophones, misspelled words, sentence fragments, and redundancies though the plot and writing ability in general deserved four stars. The moral of the entire blog series is still “Get an Editor!”

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Disclaimer: I’m not a writing expert. I’m just a writer who learned some stuff other writers might like to know instead of learning the hard way. My approach is pragmatic, and my posts are not professionally edited!

#HOTCollins Bonus #1: Highlights of the Blog Tour

I’m one of those people that will prepare for something well ahead of time if given the opportunity. Part of the reason for this is that my illness demands I limit my energy stores each day so I don’t over-do it. So if I can perform a portion of a large task ahead of time, I will. I risk doing too much or having a part of the work require a re-do at times, but I’m clever and flexible enough to work with that.

In the case of my blog tour for A Most Handsome Gentleman (aka #HOTCollins) in October-November 2017, I prepared a few too many posts. What to do? Well, I decided to share a blog tour bonus here on road trips with the redhead. It’s too late for the giveaways, but not too late to read the hijinks that went on during the fifteen days of blog posts.

Today’s post is the first of four and consists of a recap of the blog tour for those who missed any posts or want to re-read the hilarity or benefit from the excellent book reviews. Below are direct links to the A Most Handsome Gentleman blog tour posts with a description or quote for each post to entice you to click the link and enjoy the read.

 

A Most Handsome Gentleman aka #HOTCollins Blog Tour Highlights:

10/20   My Jane Austen Book Club: Suzan Lauder interviews Elizabeth Bennet, narrator of the novel A Most Handsome Gentleman, PLUS an excerpt with Elizabeth Bennet and her handsome cousin, Mr. Collins.

10/21   My Love for Jane Austen: Guest Post: A Glimpse into the Family Life at Longbourn.

10/22   Obsessed with Mr. Darcy: Review: “Fantastic dialogue and surreal conversations, which made me laugh out loud numerous times. I liked lots of things in this book, but best, Darcy’s and Elizabeth’s proposal.”—5/5 ice cream bars.

10/23   Austenesque Reviews: “A New Rector for Hunsford, part 1.” This brand new vignette chronicles Mr. Collins’ first job interview with Lady Catherine from the grand lady’s point of view. Part 2 at Laughing with Lizzie (below).

10/24   Tomorrow is Another Day: Review: “…changes in the development of the love story between Darcy and Elizabeth [are] described in a very sweet way (I loved many of the scenes that see them together). Congratulations to the author for having made such a famous masterpiece comic while still keeping Jane Austen’s style.”—Rating: 5/5.

10/25   Babblings of a Bookworm: Guest Post: In Praise of Voluptuous Ladies.

10/26   From Pemberley to Milton: Review: “I had a great time reading A Most Handsome Gentleman and could not recommend it enough for those who want to relax and enjoy a good comedy. It is a highly entertaining book that will make readers laugh out loud from the first page until the last. Suzan Lauder took a risk by venturing into this new subgenre but she nailed it!”—4.5/5 stars.

10/27   Just Jane 1813: Guest Post: The Many Men who Inspired “Hot Collins.”

10/28   Darcyholic Diversions: Saucy Salutations with Suzan: an Interview with Suzan Lauder.

10/29   My Vices and Weaknesses: Meryton Residents speak about Mr. Collins: a modern/Regency mashup interview featuring Katherine Bennet, interviewer.

10/30   Half Agony, Half Hope: Review: “I will be reading this book again as it was funny as hell. I definitely recommend this book if you want something to read that’s fast and funny.”—4/5 stars; Excerpt: Mr. Collins breakfasts with the Bennets.

10/31   Laughing With Lizzie: “A New Rector for Hunsford, part 2.” A continuation from Mr. Collins’ point of view, this brand new vignette chronicles Mr. Collins’ job interview with Lady Catherine. Part 1 at Austenesque Reviews (above).

11/01   Diary of an Eccentric: Review: “Just as Jane Austen herself portrayed the ridiculous in her novels, Lauder does so here. Mr. Collins’s over-the-top speeches and Elizabeth’s first-person narrative, alternately witty and snarky, had me wishing the book wouldn’t end.”—5/5 stars.

11/02   So little time…: Excerpt: Jane Bennet’s pudding PLUS a Guest Post: Recipes from great-Grandma Lauder and an 1823 cookbook.

11/03   Margie’s Must Reads: Review: “Suzan Lauder can write! She writes such wonderful prose, such wonderful dialog and such an exceptional plot it was so hard to put down. Complete with scandal, intrigue and merriment, A Most Handsome Gentleman has so many laughs and so many swoons you will love every single word!” —5/5 hearts.

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A bonus non-blog tour post on November 21, 2017: Obstinate Headstrong Girl: Excerpt: The Bennets meet Mr. Collins for the first time. This filled a gap between the blog tour and my resumption of blog posts on road trips with the redhead.

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If you missed the giveaway of eight e-copies of A Most Handsome Gentleman courtesy of Meryton Press, I encourage you to go out and purchase and review this funny book. Authors love reviews of all types! Or, read on for a chance to win a signed hard copy.

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The future three posts for this series will be two excerpts from the book and a Learning from My Mistakes related post about the point of view I utilized in A Most Handsome Gentleman. Look for them on Tuesdays over the next few weeks.

The Learning from My Mistakes series will resume after this break with a few additional posts before the draw for the prize. Blog followers and all commenters during the Learning from My Mistakes series are entered in a draw for a gift package including a signed paperback copy of A Most Handsome Gentleman, an A Most Handsome Gentleman book bead to hang on your purse or backpack, and the winner’s choice of a handmade Thrift Shop Regency Costume Experiment item by Suzan Lauder (pineapple reticule or “grown-up lady’s” lace cap).

Best of luck, blog followers and commenters!

Book Birthday and Fun Announcements!

For a detailed image, click on thumbnail.

A year ago today, Letter from Ramsgate was released to quickly become an Amazon bestseller, thanks to the readers. I got a giggle when I saw an old post that wondered what its cover would look like (speculating on who would be Mr. Darcy), as it’s an awesome cover with a terrifically handsome Mr. Darcy on the back.

Today, in anticipation of the release of A Most Handsome Gentleman, Meryton Press announced a book sale for Letter from Ramsgate and my first published novel, Alias Thomas Bennet.For those who are new to these two books, both are variations of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and have happy endings. Letter from Ramsgate has a great deal of angst, and is suited to all readers mature enough to read and appreciate Pride and Prejudice. Alias Thomas Bennet has a mystery component and is suited to mature readers who are not sensitive to trigger scenes. Both are highly rated by readers, earning Amazon reviews averaging greater than four stars out of five. I myself enjoy re-reading them from time to time!

If that was not enough fun for you, Meryton Press has posted a Q&A session with me along with the book sale announcement. Find out a little more than you can usually read in the author bio!

I’m also pleased to note that I’ll be stopping at 15 blogs during the A Most Handsome Gentleman Blog Tour starting on October 20. Six of the stops will include book reviews to help readers get excited about purchasing this latest book of mine, which is a comedy suitable to all readers mature enough to read and appreciate Pride and Prejudice. Excerpts, vignettes (new scenes written expressly for the blog tour), author guest posts (stories about the book and similar bonus material), character interviews, and an author interview fill out the rest of the schedule. A giveaway of eight A Most Handsome Gentleman e-books will be part of most stops on the tour, and fans can enter once each day: that’s 15 potential entries plus bonuses!

Speaking of giveaways, for fans who have been following my blog series on writing tips, Learning from my Mistakes, there will be a few more posts after the blog tour is over, then a giveaway! The gift package consists of a signed paperback copy of A Most Handsome Gentleman, a Suzan Lauder designed Regency pineapple reticule, and some really nice small gift items I have on hand. Followers of road trips with the redhead and commenters on LfmM are eligible. I’ll post a photo of them once I have the paperback to complete the set.

And speaking of that paperback: Look for its release in e-book and paperback sometime this week, and enjoy a hilarious twist on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I jokingly refer to A Most Handsome Gentleman as a mini-novel, and the book is priced to suit its shorter length. If you rush to Amazon to purchase it as soon as it’s released, your reading pleasure will enhance the fun of #HOTCollins in the AMHG Blog Tour and other events, including discovering what’s with the back cover! Besides that, you’ll have a chance to laugh and laugh and laugh!

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#HOTCollins: The Cover

After a vote on A Happy Assembly to pick the favourites from 20 or so potential Regency gentlemen and nearly two months of sharing the faces of the some of the hottest Regency men who didn’t make the cut for the cover of A Most Handsome Gentleman, we’ve shared Janet Taylor’s cover on the blog From Pemberley to Milton. For those of you who missed it, here’s #HOTCollins, front and centre:

For a larger view, click on the thumbnail.

Janet and I will continue to post insider stories about this cover and its four handsome men on the Meryton Press blog and during the upcoming blog tour for A Most Handsome Gentleman. I’ll be alerting you to these events on Facebook and Twitter @SuzanLauder, so like and follow to get the latest news. In the meantime, feel free to swoon over the gentlemen on the cover.

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The engagement scene in Suzan Lauder’s bestselling Letter from Ramsgate

dsc_0134-2The inspiration for using the Royal Menagerie at Exeter Exchange for the final chapter in Letter from Ramsgate came from my dear friend Maria (defiantfalcon at the Meryton Literary Society’s A Happy Assembly), the plot beta for the story and a zoo fanatic. In fact, Maria’s best meditative, self-indulgent, de-stressing moments come from hauling out a humongous zoom lens at her local zoo. She’s an avid supporter of the Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance (ALTA), and her photos of the extremely rare Amur leopards at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, LA have been used in their promotional material. Though there were no Amur Leopards in the Menagerie at the Exeter Exchange, they had a pair of adult leopards. Based on the artwork by Jacques-Laurent Agasse, they were most likely from Africa or Indonesia. I love this painting, and a scene is based on it!

Click on thumbnail for larger view.

Click on thumbnail for larger view.

The inspiration for other details within the chapter came from reading about the animals of the menagerie, finding the handbills that advertised them, and particularly, from two blog posts.

Click on thumbnail to enlarge photo.

Click on thumbnail to enlarge photo.

Also known as Polito’s Menagerie after its original owner, the Menagerie at Exeter ‘Change was situated in the upper levels of the Exeter Exchange building on the Strand from 1773 to 1829, and housed a “grand assembly of living curiosities” literally from every corner of the globe. Handbills and artwork from the Regency era indicate “majestic” and “noble” lions, “elegant” leopards, a rhinoceros, and “hundreds of other rare and interesting quadrupeds, and birds of the most exquisite plumage, all in fine health and condition, and so perfectly clean and secured, that the most timorous and delicate may approach them without fear or being annoyed.”

rachel-knowles-a-perfect-match-coverRachel Knowles’ article in Regency History: Researching Regency and Late­ Georgian History helped me to imagine the scene better. The author, costumer, and blogger’s Georgian novel, A Perfect Match, was a lovely read. If you like sweet historical romance novels with a subtle Christian back story, you should try this one. She has an upcoming non-fiction release called What Regency Women Did For Us due to be published by Pen & Sword in April 2017 that should prove a valuable resource for historical fiction authors like me.

Click on thumbnail to enlarge.

Click on thumbnail to enlarge.

The second article was about a particularly important resident of the menagerie at the time Elizabeth and Darcy would have visited. Chunee, a “Fine, Large Male Elephant” from India, was the star attraction of the menagerie, as well as a performer at the Covent Garden, and was often paraded in the street outside the menagerie. The coin trick in the engagement scene was described by Lord Byron in 1813: “The elephant took and gave me my money again – took off my hat – opened a door – trunked a whip – and behaved so well, that I wish he was my butler.”

Chunee had a history of violent “paroxysms” likely brought on by inhumane treatment. While in pain with an infected tusk, Chunee became extremely violent, and the methods used in an attempt to calm him were bizarre. A decision was made to put him down, and the difficulties encountered in the attempt to end his life have become one of the most horrifying stories in the history of zoos.

marie-antoinettes-confidante-by-geri-walton-coverThe above and the ability to feel so much for this elephant that I wanted him in my story is thanks to author, blogger, and historian Geri Walton, who blogs about fascinating tidbits of the 18th and 19th century. She’s released a non-fiction book in the UK about the Princesse de Lamballe, the confidante of Marie Antoinette. It will be available in the US in January 2018. Watch for it, because if it’s anything like Geri’s blog, it will be a fun and fascinating approach to history!

The non-historical part of the story is that of the three-toed sloth, Noëlle. Her scene was based on a real life incident witnessed by my beta friend. Because of her helpful photo logs of the animals, defiantfalcon gets behind-the-scenes visits at the Audubon Zoo once in a while, and she got to hold and pet a three toed sloth. She said the fur is the softest she’s ever felt. I’m so jealous!

Thanks to these three women for their generosity in sharing their passion in their own unique ways. Their stories became the basis for one of my favourite scenes in all of my writing.

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vertical-blog-tour-bannerThanks to everyone who followed me around on the blog tour. Thanks so much to each blogger who hosted and each reader who commented. I had a great deal of fun thanks to their willingness to try something a little different, and readers say this has been one of the most fun blog tours they’ve ever seen. Thanks to Rita, Loren, Tina, and Anna for your generous reviews, and thanks to the Meryton Press team for helping me share links. The most special thanks go out to Janet B. Taylor for organizing everything as the blog tour host.

While we were gallivanting around the blogging world with our parasols, readers were voting with their “buy now with one click” fingers, and Letter from Ramsgate enjoyed a short period as a #1 Bestselling Novel in two Amazon categories: Historical Classics and Romance Classics. It also climbed to #8 in Regency Romance. The latter is the big coup, as the competition is fierce from famous authors with dozens of great reviews!

The blog tour may be over, but the giveaway is not. Because we had a problem with Rafflecopter at first, the Letter from Ramsgate blog tour giveaway has been extended to November 3, 2016. If you commented on a post but didn’t get to include it to get your extra entries, now you can enter the name of the blog you commented on. One comment counts per blog site, and only one comment entry per day!

Rafflecopter Link

I’d love comments from readers here on my blog. They won’t count as a blog tour stop, though. Use the other sites for that purpose, and to show those bloggers how helpful they were to my Letter from Ramsgate blog tour.

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