How the Queen’s English Has Evolved over 200 YearsThis is part one of my two-part series on the evolution of communication.
This month, two lucky visitors to Austen Authors will each win a copy of Pulse and Prejudice; and although these prizes do not have much monetary value, a price cannot be placed on the heartfelt devotion expended on this project of some twenty-four months. Not that I would ever refuse an excuse to go to Britain! Indeed, I even elected to travel to The Netherlands and Belgium to write the second draft with the idea that I would incorporate the Battle of Waterloo and the Treaty of Ghent in the sequel. (Alas, the site of Waterloo is a nondescript field – reminiscent of my visit to Valley Forge, which resulted in dozens of photographs of grass with the occasional cannon thrown in for good measure.)
I could expend an entire blogpost on the research I undertook on the Regency era, using primary sources – from periodicals to weather reports – and secondary sources, as well as vampire lore and literature, to ensure historical accuracy (I discuss much of this in a recent Authors After Dark Spotlight Interview), and how I came to possess a 200 year-old edition of Sothey’s The Life of Nelson just because I thought it might be a book Mr. Darcy would read (OK, yes, I can be a bit obsessive). Today, however, I address the changes in literary conventions since the publication of Pride and Prejudice.
In approaching Pulse and Prejudice as an authentic (albeit paranormal) adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic rather than a variation or modernization, I committed myself to remaining true to her language and writing style. Cognizant of the changes in language and literary conventions over the last two centuries, and diligent in my efforts to avoid any historical or linguistic anachronisms, I did not use a single word in Pulse and Prejudice that was not in use in 1813, which meant the loss of many good words! I had used the word “befuddled” until I found out it wasn’t in use until the 1830s. (I suppose no one was confused before then.) And don’t get me started on “credenza”! Fortunately, one of the editors assigned to the project, Julie Reilly, is not only a fellow Austenite but also British. She understood my commitment to Regency language and double-checked not only for anachronisms but also Americanisms. For example, what we call “French doors” are called “French windows” in England even today; and across the pond, they use “draught” for “draft,” and not just at the pub.
Unlike today’s authors, Miss Austen did not have Strunk and White or The Chicago Manual of Style on hand and instead maintained the punctuation usage of the 18th and early 19th centuries. This would account for the 1500+ semicolons found in Pride and Prejudice, most typically in lieu of periods, as well as her liberal use of commas. Even that famous first line – It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. – would not have any commas if written today. When first submitting my own manuscript to the publisher, I had to present my argument for keeping as many semicolons as possible (a misunderstood and under-used punctuation mark, in my opinion).
Modified rules of punctuation only scratch the surface of changes in writing standards in the last two hundred years. As any aspiring author knows, today a writer must “show” rather than “tell,” meaning that full descriptions must be used in place of adverbs and adjectives. Stephen King sums up the current attitude: “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” Yet Miss Austen utilizes adverbs “liberally.” In his book On Writing, King modifies his position somewhat: Continue reading →
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” – Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)
In the grand tradition of Mark Twain, George Eliot, and Dr. Seuss, I have chosen to use a nom de plume. I did so not only to preserve some modicum of privacy in our Instagram world but also so as not to embarrass my grown daughters, who might not want their friends to know their mother could write a love scene. (By their estimation, I have had sex exactly twice since two of them are a set of twins.) Often I am asked how I chose the name “Colette,” so today I will tell you how the name was bestowed upon me. These events occurred over twenty years ago, and I promise, they are all true.
As with most stories, mine began when my ex-husband went to a party. He called me early the next day in a highly excitable state, which in and of itself is not so unusual except in this case he wanted to tell me about the psychic he had met the night before. By this point, I had known the man for several years, and although at times he could slide into mild paranoia – and I never have been able to convince him that Oswald acted alone – he had never struck me as someone to give credence to fortune tellers, horoscopes, or the like. In this case, however, he insisted that the woman had been spot on with everything she had said about him and me and our girls, although he refused to elaborate. Instead, he said I would have to go talk to her myself. I took her information more to get him off the phone than for any interest on my part of actually seeing her.
A day or two later, I mentioned this in passing to the guy I was seeing – No, he was not my “boyfriend” because, for one thing, he was a DKE, and for the purposes of this story, I shall refer to him as “Leo Bolt.” Well, Leo listened in rapt fascination and was quite keen to meet the psychic; so the next thing I know, I’m calling and making an appointment for a “reading.” Continue reading →
“In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
These words first published 200 years ago this week – and just before St. Valentine’s Day – perfectly express a theme found not only in literature but in our lives as well. The heart wants what the heart wants, despite any reasoning against it.
Two central motifs dominate Pride and Prejudice: love and money. For some characters, the two go hand in hand, as with Mrs. Bennet’s hope that a young man of large fortune “will fall in love with one of” her daughters. Even she is not so callous as to hope for marriage without love; and once Mr. Darcy has insulted the least favourite of her children, his ten thousand a year loses its luster.
The association of the human heart to love and, indeed, all passions goes back to ancient times. Jane Austen could not have known that the embryonic heart begins beating before the brain has formed, or that a person may be declared “brain dead” whilst the heart beats still. Yet, she weaves the idea of heart over head throughout the narrative in such a way that one is left to wonder if she herself has taken a position in favour or against. Although clearly dismissive of love at first site and that “hackneyed” expression “violently in love,” Miss Austen comes across as ambiguous at best, even qualifying the basis of her heroine’s change of heart – “If gratitude and esteem are good foundations of affection, Elizabeth’s change of sentiment will be neither improbable nor faulty.” – with IF. Continue reading →
I am thrilled to announce here on Austen Authors the kick off for an exciting and fun contest with valuable prizes – including an iPad4! Contest begins tomorrow, January 1st, 2013.
As I mentioned in my first blog here, Confessions of a Fan Fiction Convert, once I had embraced my JAFF-ness, I jumped head first until I was completely submerged. In admission and recognition of the “fan” aspect of my paranormal adaptation of Pride and Prejudice – as well as to recognize the wink-wink nature of even a serious endeavour such as this vampire variation – I decided to strew about throughout the prose tiny references to other things and people in film, music, and literature that I have enjoyed over the years, all of which are listed on the Acknowledgements page of Pulse and Prejudice.
Since the publication of Pulse and Prejudice, I have been prodded relentlessly to reveal all of the pop culture allusions hidden throughout my novel like Easter eggs, which I am prepared to do; however, I thought it might be fun to give you, dear readers, the opportunity to find them first.
The rules of the contest are simple: Find the most pop culture allusions within the text of Pulse and Prejudice, and you will win a Fourth Generation iPad with Retina Display! PLUS, if you find ALL 25 of them, you will win a CASH BONUS from an ever-growing Jackpot! There are even prizes for runners-up!
There is no purchase necessary to enter or win, so feel free to borrow a copy from a friend or the library – although I’m sure you will want your own . Just don’t use a pirated copy, or you will be disqualified.
Submit your contest entry to: email@example.com by October 31st, 2013. We are keeping the challenge open long enough for everyone to participate AND to allow the Jackpot to grow! (Plus I’ll be revealing a few hints from time to time.) For complete contest rules and more information, please go to PulseandPrejudice.com. Good luck – and have fun!
Only open to residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia, age 18 and older at the time of entry. Void in Puerto Rico and where otherwise prohibited by law. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. A PURCHASE DOES NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING; HOWEVER, ANYONE USING A PIRATED COPY OF PULSE AND PREJUDICE WILL BE DISQUALIFIED. For complete contest rules and more information, please refer to the Contest Rules link on PulseandPrejudice.com. Continue reading →
“If thou think’st to clasp my form with joy, Thou must learn this secret sad to know; Yes! the maid, whom thou Call’st thy loved one now, Is as cold as ice, though white as snow.” Then he clasps her madly in his arm, While love’s youthful might pervades his frame; “Thou might’st hope, when with me, to grow warm. E’en if from the grave thy spirit came! Breath for breath, and kiss! Overflow of bliss! Dost not thou, like me, feel passion’s flame?” Love still closer rivets now their lips, Tears they mingle with their rapture blest, From his mouth the flame she wildly sips, Each is with the other’s thought possess’d. His hot ardour’s flood Warms her chilly blood, But no heart is beating in her breast. From “The Bride of Corinth” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Pulse and Prejudice retells Jane Austen’s classic love story from the perspective of Mr. Darcy but reimagines it with this paranormal twist: Mr. Darcy is a full-fledged blood-drinking, night-walking, neck-biting vampire. (Oh, and Wickham is as well.) The reader need only refer to Pride and Prejudice to gain Elizabeth Bennet’s point of view; however, for reasons that elude me to this day, Miss Austen did not provide Elizabeth’s reaction after learning the secret of this dark facet of Mr. Darcy’s intricate character. Hence, I felt obligated to add a few such scenes to my narrative.
Whilst doing so, I took it upon myself to right a few wrongs in Miss Austen’s story, one of them being dinner at Pemberley. Miss Georgiana Darcy had invited Elizabeth and the Gardiners to dine there; but Lydia’s shenanigans disrupted their plans, which I always found quite unfair. Therefore, I allowed Elizabeth to attend a dinner party with Mr. Darcy and Georgiana, which is not included in the original text.
In the following excerpt of Pulse and Prejudice, Elizabeth has just dined at Pemberley, during which Miss Darcy entertained her with stories of racing her brother through the hedge maze on the estate. Although it is night, and the moon is not quite full, Georgiana has convinced Elizabeth to go into the maze together and then race out. After Georgiana leads her to the centre of the hedge maze, Elizabeth assures her she is confident she knows the way. Let us see how she does, shall we? Continue reading →
Mrs. Hill rushed up the path from Meryton to Longbourn, anxious to bring Cook the ducks and spices required for the elaborate dinner Mrs. Bennet had planned for Mr. Bingley that afternoon. If only Mrs. Phillips had not detained her, begging that she pass the message to her sister that Miss Bennet’s engagement had indeed hushed the gossip surrounding the elopement of Miss Lydia – er – Mrs. Wickham. Honestly! Has the woman not sense enough not to speak of such matters to the housekeeper? Even one who has been with the family four and twenty years. But Mrs. Phillips and Mrs. Bennet both readily relied on the assistance of the servants to bring them news.
Mrs. Hill’s thoughts were thus occupied when she noticed the approach of two young people. Assuming they to be Miss Bennet and her Mr. Bingley, she took a deep breath and adopted a smile to greet them; but within a few steps, the couple halted, and she realized it was not Mr. Bingley but his friend Mr. Darcy – and in close conversation with Miss Elizabeth!
Her polite smile faded as she stopped walking. They had not yet noticed her, quite seriously engaged and – Good gracious! – Mr. Darcy had taken Miss Elizabeth’s hands in his! A genuine grin now spread across Mrs. Hill’s face as she quietly slipped off the path into the sparsely wooded grove.
Mrs. Hill scurried towards Lucas Lodge then back on the path to Longbourn and entered the Bennet house through the kitchen where the cook and a housemaid were at work on the meal preparations.
“Thank heavens, Mrs. Hill!” cried Cook. “You are finally come. I hope you have my mace. It seems we are to have another guest at table today.”
“Mr. Darcy?” Mrs. Hill responded with a sly smile. Continue reading →
Although I live in Southeast Louisiana, I have many friends and colleagues in the Northeast. They frequently extol the delights of the changing “seasons” and how it would not even be Christmas without snow. Indeed, the spectacular colours seen in the autumn leaves is a sight to behold; but on December 26th, 2002, when I went out in my pajamas and bare feet to get the newspaper and saw there on the front page that a Nor’easter (which has nothing to do with Easter) had dropped over twenty inches of snow on my friends the day before, I laughed and laughed and laughed. Although it isn’t white, and we have to set the A/C all the way down so we can enjoy a fire and hot spiced cider, we do have Christmas. (Not to mention, despite the purloining of a Pagan holiday, baby Jesus most assuredly was not born in winter.)
My friends up North can keep their autumn, winter, spring, and summer. In South Louisiana, we have our own seasons: football, Mardi Gras, crawfish, and hurricane. Of course, whereas I cannot bear the idea of being buried by two feet of snow, my Northern friends do not understand how I can live under the threat of hurricanes year after year (although now we know even New York City is not immune); but I grew up here and learned the ABCs with Audrey, Betsy, and Camille. Each year on June 1st we begin the routine of restocking the hurricane kit with processed foods and batteries and making sure we have plenty of sandbags, ice, and propane. My husband becomes an amateur meteorologist, fixating on each Invest that forms in the Atlantic and cyber-stalking Dr. Jeff Masters. And then we wait. On guard for an invasion, which most likely will not occur. Whereas winter can be counted on to deliver snow to the Northeast every year, just because we have a hurricane season does not mean we will have a hurricane – and usually we do not. Continue reading →
Soon after the wedding of Lydia to Wickham, Darcy stood between his solicitor and the Gardiners outside the house at Gracechurch Street watching the newlyweds’ coach depart for Longbourn, and the last tenuous thread tying him to Elizabeth snapped. In a few hours, they would be with her, the woman he loved whom he would never see again.
Darcy knew scores of reasons he should decline the Gardiners’ invitation to dinner, but he heeded only the one reason he had to accept: he could not yet cede all connection to Elizabeth. To himself he acknowledged that, a mere four months before, he would not have deigned to break bread with a family so far below his social strata; and now he could scarcely conceal his eagerness.
The house near Cheapside had defied his expectations. While certainly the furnishings were not comparable to his own in worth, unharnessed from the weight of generations of wealth, they bespoke a lightness, so fresh and new, which Darcy found appealing. The laughter and chatter of children contributed to the harmony that caused a bittersweet sensation to well within him. Here was a home the likes of which he would never know. Continue reading →
I am a serial hobbyist. I take on a hobby full-speed ahead until I completely burn out on it and give it up completely. I did it with sewing, tatting, crocheting. When I took up aromatherapy, no one could leave the house without a jar of bath salts. I truly enjoyed ceramics – from greenware to painting to glaze – until I figured out how much more “efficient” it would be if I went through the process like an assembly line. Dotting the eyes on a dozen Santas in succession was much quicker, but it did kind of take the fun out of it.
When a friend of mine in Metairie invited me to go with her to Corks N Canvas, I jumped at the chance! I had always wanted to learn how to paint, and here we could drink wine during our lessons. What could be better? Let’s just say my first effort – a New Orleans-style shotgun house – left quite a bit to be desired. Naturally I blamed the wine! So I tried it again but drank less. Somehow that painting turned out even worse. I returned again and again – sometimes with a bottle, sometimes without – eventually obtaining paints, canvases, and an easel so I could try on my own; but for some reason, no matter how clearly I could see something in my mind, I could never translate it onto the canvas.
A few years ago, I spent five days at a retreat centre nestled in the hills of Andalucía, surrounded by olive trees and vineyards as far as the eye could see. As a family of Anglophiles, we seem to attract Brits, so naturally the centre was owned and operated by a Welshman and two ladies from London. They cooked all of our meals, too, so the only opportunity I had to eat Spanish food was in the airport. We did go to a rather rustic, uh, pub near the village one night, where I had the chance to meet some of the locals as well as utilize my extensive Spanish vocabulary: Una cerveza, por favor. ¿Dónde es el baño? (In the interest of full disclosure, the first two times I asked for the bathroom, I actually spoke in Italian.)
All the other guests were British as well. Two women were from Liverpool (although we talked about the Beatles and not Miss Mary King) and a third from Brighton. She and I did talk a little about Lydia and Wickham and the Prince Regent, but we mainly discussed the possibility of her age-appropriate son marrying my daughter, who says she would only consider marriage if it were to a man from the UK so she could live there.
I never found out where the only male guest of the retreat centre came from because, as I am wont to do, I offended him immediately upon our meeting. After we introduced ourselves, he asked for my date of birth and launched into a lengthy explanation about the value of numerology and how he could learn all about me just by my birth date. I admitted that I did not believe in numerology because calendars were a tool created by men for convenience, and dates had even changed after the switch to the Gregorian calendar from the Julian calendar, although some countries still use the latter. His scowl quickly transformed into an expression of horror, and without another word, he skulked up to his room. Another guest told me I should not have said that because the young man has Asperger’s, and I probably blew his mind. Well, how was I supposed to know? He wasn’t wearing a sign or anything. To look at me, one would never know that I…well, never mind.
The next morning, I saw him walking into the main building with a huge bowl full of figs. I absolutely love figs, probably going back to my childhood and my grandmother’s fig preserves, which to this day are the best I ever had. During my
canning phase, I attempted to replicate her process (she only cut the figs in half – so much better for a biscuit!) but they just weren’t the same. As soon as I learned two large and plentiful fig trees stood near the top of the hill across the road from the retreat centre, I was ready to climb.
The climb itself took over half an hour, but what a reward! The branches were heavily laden with plump, ripe, juicy, sweet figs; and I ate them right off the trees. As I picked them, I only wished I had a larger bowl so I could bring more down the hill, although I ate quite a few on my return walk. I wished so badly that I could bring some of them home with me, but as fruit cannot be brought into the US, I decided to arrange some of them and take a photo with the intention, of course, of painting it.
After disappointing myself once again with my fig still life, I gave up painting. I considered attempting a landscape of the hills I had seen in Spain, and I started on an idea for a penguin costume party, but then I figured, “Who am I kidding? I’m not an artist. I will never be able to project my vision onto the canvas. Time to go back to writing.”
Fortunately, I am better at painting my visions with words than a brush. Whenever I have a scene to write, I close my eyes and meditate until I can see it playing in my head like a film. While most of what I write comes from my imagination, there are a few exceptions. For example, the dog Amadeus in Pulse and Prejudice is based on my own dog; but he is the most beautiful dog in the world, and I figured I owed it to him after my pitiful portrait of him.
Then there’s the scene in All My Tomorrows where a character eats figs she picks from a huge tree in a vineyard. Obviously, that fig tree came from real life as well, although I found mine in Spain instead of Napa. I was finally able to share the experience with others through art – the page perhaps always meant to be my canvas, my clay, my ball of yarn. Best of all, dotting the Is in this particular “hobby” doesn’t diminish the fun at all.
Are there any other serial hobbyists out there? How did you find the right hobby for you?
In other news: I am thrilled and excited to be meeting so many of my fellow Austen Authors at the Decatur Book Festival this weekend! I am also looking forward to meeting fellow readers as well! I have been a reader far longer than an author, and this will be only my second book signing. For more information on my novels as well as the festival itself, click here. I hope to see you there!
That Mr. Gardiner could engage Mr. Hurst in lively conversation was a credit to the manners and breeding of the first gentleman. They spoke animatedly of common diversions in London; and Darcy did not remember another time in their acquaintance when Mr. Hurst had had so much to say, perhaps as the early hour had kept him from the port. When introduced to Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst, Mr. Gardiner was amiable without being obsequious and, if he noticed, did not acknowledge that each lady would only see him from the end of her nose.
Darcy, Bingley, Mr. Hurst, and Mr. Gardiner walked down to the trout stream with footmen following with tackle, rods, and bait, as well as refreshment for the anglers. They settled in on the bank in the warmth of the July day and talked genially for a while before falling into a companionable silence more conducive to fishing. Sitting next to Mr. Gardiner, Darcy struggled to remain still, not to prevent scaring the fish but because he feared all that might come pouring forth should he not maintain control.
Some time passed in the quiet of the sounds of nature before Mr. Gardiner, perhaps sensing the younger man’s distress, spoke sotto voce to Darcy. “I cannot thank you enough for this invitation, sir. There truly is nothing quite so pleasant as fishing.”
“You are most welcome any time.” Continue reading →